Posts Tagged: Review

The Other Bones – “Hinges”

I first heard The Other Bones late last year. Their video had been posted in r/maine and I almost ignored it. I had seen the post earlier in the day, and for whatever reason had decided to move past it. By some kind of cosmic intervention, I had a change of heart, and chose to click the link to their debut video, Feels Like Home (directed by Jason M. Bosch).

I remember being shocked immediately at what was going on. There was a guitar loop that sounded something like the Tower Jam at IT, followed by a brilliant sounding looped drum beat, synth rhythm, and vocal track, in that order. One minute into the track, I was hooked. I knew that this band was going to be the most original thing out of Portland in the past 10 years, maybe ever.

Since then, I’ve been hovering around their website like Quimby hovers around my feet waiting for me to drop some food. Slowly but surely, 2 more songs came out. The River, and the Christmas song “What Are You Doing New Years Eve?” Both as equally impressive, yet these were just crumbs. I wanted a fucking sandwich, and finally it’s been delivered.

Hinges Comes out on May 8th

Hinges is a 5 track EP that comes out on Tuesday, May 8th. It starts aggressively with “Not This Way.” It is a stark contrast to the acoustic version that was released in late March. There are layers of tastefully blended electronics and even some vocodoer/autotuning. It is followed by the harmony rich “Say That To Me.” It’s peaks and valleys of varying intensity, with a sweet ass synth bass and some very tasteful less is more guitar work. It becomes clear very quickly that although The Other Bones are a relatively new band, they already know exactly what they want to sound like, and it sounds awesome. Hinges continues with the insanely catchy and memorable Feels Like Home, an building intensely pissed off little number called The Bad In Goodbye, and In/Out/Over, another harmony filled almost club-esque track. Maybe it’s not suited for a club, it’s not like I go to clubs. Just know that it’s good. It’s all good. Fuck, it’s all great really.

Eric, Andrew and Loretta have created music that is like no other trio I’ve ever heard. I have a hard time putting it into a category. It’s a blend of so many genres that I can’t describe it accurately. This is what I always envisioned the music of the future sounding like. This is by far the best EP that I’ve heard in 2012. Go get Hinges on May 8th. Grab your jetpacks and check them out at Slantie on Saturday May 5th. I have yet to see these guys live, but I’m sure it’s fantastic.


Geron Hoy – Lunatic

Geron Hoy really should be a household name by now, but the fact that it isn’t, may be the best thing he has going for him. You may have seen him over on reddit, where he has been sharing his music for free. I’ve been meaning to review this album for the past two months, but because I’m terrible at updating this site, I’m just getting to it now. Shame on me.

Trials, Troubles, and Tribulations

Lunatic is the latest effort from Geron Hoy. The story behind it is filled with frustration and struggle, and it almost never saw the light of day. In 2011, he had released the album Soldier, which was a mix of new material and songs he had recorded in Austin a few years back. Essentially a B-side album, it was still better than most of what came out last year. Geron then worked his ass off to record the album Lunatic. He spent weeks in the studio perfecting his songs, and once recording was complete, the album still needed to be mastered and pressed.

I knew Geron before it was cool.

When he should have been touring in support of Soldier, he was busy trying to get Lunatic released. Essentially, he was doing the work that a label would have normally taken care of, while still trying to make a living. Thankfully for us all, he didn’t throw in the towel. He pushed on, and made it happen. Music is what Geron is supposed to be doing. He knows it, and no way was anything going to stop him. As luck would have it Because Geron is so insanely talented, he won a song writing contest that year that awarded him a couple thousand CD pressings.

Lunatic is a fantastic album. Geron’s song writing ability is quite frankly, some of the best that I’ve ever heard. It comes from a very real, very chaotic place- Geron’s mind. This album is him, and that’s why it’s so damn good. It’s filled with confusion and self doubt, as well as the insanity and chaos of day to day life in NYC. From the foot stomping almost country-esque Mess in Here, to the ballad feel of Breakaway, to the beautifully written and performed Lunatic, there’s something special going on here. His songs are soft and tender when they need to be, but will knock your head off when needed.

Plymouth State College - 1999

Howard Stern Helps Geron Hoy

On Friday April, 27th, Geron was retweeted by Howard Stern, who has a rabid fanbase of over 1.1 million followers. Geron posted the tweet on reddit, and was soon the top post. Close to a million people saw the tweet. He was shared on facebook by David Copperfield (yes, really!), his website went down for a time, and he was the top selling artist on bandcamp. Over 50,000 people have listened to his music since yesterday, and if anyone deserves the attention, it’s Geron Hoy.

The long and short of it is that Geron worked his ass off to make a damn near perfect album, and the world deserves to hear it. Go do yourself a favor and download Lunatic now.


Rode Videomic Pro Review

Rode Videomic ProWhen making videos for any purpose, sound is always one of the most important factors. Whether you’re making something for YouTube, or you’re working on a big budget production, sound quality will either make or break your presentation. Ask anyone who has been making videos and they will tell you that the ability to record high quality sound is just as important as the ability to capture the images you’re looking for.

Why use an External Mic with a DSLR?

Why is sound so important? Unless you’re telling a story with no dialogue or sound, voice and audio recording plays a large part in how you convey your message to the audience. Most viewers will not notice seamless sound recording and editing, but nearly all will cringe when levels are off and inconsistent. The last thing you want to do is distract your viewer with technical problems. Not only will they lose interest, but you will lose credibility as a filmmaker.

One company that makes a plethora of products that will help your cause is Rode. Rode has a large and diverse line of microphones, and makes some of the most diverse mics on the market today. For example, the Rode NT1-a is one of the finest choices for musicians doing home recording on a budget. At around $230 USD new, it’s great for vocals, acoustic guitar, and many more applications, without breaking the bank. Sure, you can spend more and get better quality, but many consider the NT1-A to be an ideal multi-purpose mic for budget minded musicians. I was hoping that the Videomic Pro would be similar in terms of quality and versatility. After a few weeks with it, here are my results.

Rode makes four microphones that come with camera mounts integrated into the design. It makes for easy attachment to most camcorders and DSLR cameras. This is extremely helpful if you’re shooting in a simple setup, don’t have a crew dedicated to sound, or just want the ability to point and shoot.

Videomic Pro Specs and Features

Rode Videomic ProThe Videomic Pro is a shotgun mic about 6 inches in length. As stated above, it attaches quickly and easily to most cameras, and has an integrated 3.5mm stereo plug that can go directly into your cameras mic input jack. A 9 volt battery powers the 1/2″ capsule and the same signal is sent to the left and right channels. There is a on/off switch that allows you to conserve battery life. It has a native 40Hz-20kHz response, however also offers a built in high-pass option which will cut off all frequencies below 80Hz. This is helpful if you are dealing with a lot of low end outside noise, like traffic. Another useful feature is the -10db pad, and +20db boost. The pad is useful if your audio source is incredibly loud, like a concert. The boost is designed for use with DSLR cameras, more on this below. It has a 3/8″ thread connected to the camera mount for the purpose of using the mic as a boom. It is held in place by elastic bands that keep it suspended, allowing roughly 1/4″ of space on all sides. It weighs 80 grams so it doesn’t really add that much weight to your rig. Full Videomic Pro specs.

How to use the Videomic Pro with a DSLR

My application for this mic is with a Canon T3i DSLR camera. The mic on this camera sounds terrible for nearly all applications, and most reviews will list the mic as the weakest feature. This is the case with nearly all DSLR cameras, not just this model. I have installed Magic Lantern, which offers audio input monitoring, a feature that is a must have if you are not using an external audio recorder. When in use, I have found the best results turning the input volume nearly all the way down (in the cameras menu settings) and then activating the mics +20db boost. By letting the mic do all the work and not having to rely on the cameras digital gain, you end up with a much better sound quality then if you were to turn the -10db pad on, and boost the cameras internal volume. What’s important to understand is that while this may work best for my needs (interviews and events), it may not be ideal for every purpose. It comes down to you liking the sound that is recorded, so you will want to mess around with it yourself.

The fact that it comes boom mount ready is really a great feature. All you need to use it as a boom, is a pole and a headphone extenuation cord. I’ve been using a 50 foot cord that I got on amazon for $5, and can not detect any loss in quality versus having it plugged directly in. The elastics are a little thin, but do a surprisingly good job at keeping the mic suspended above the mount.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the quality and ease of use from the Videomic Pro. I would say that this is the perfect mic for entry level filmmakers who want to up their sound quality without breaking the bank or needing additional sound recording equipment.

The casing is made entirely of plastic, but it weighs far less than a metal counterpart, so it’s fantastic if you want something light on your rig. My only real issue comes in the fact that he 3.5mm connection is hardwired into the mic. The cord is reinforced, but if you are using it on a boom pole, be sure that there’s no way that it can be yanked on. The good news is that if something does happen to it, Rode has excellent customer service and offers a 10 year warranty on all their products.

The value here lies in the plug and play element, and of course ability for numerous applications, as is the standard with so many other Rode mics. With the features it has, it’s a great purchase for anyone looking for a fast and easy way to high quality sound. At $229, it’s well worth it.

Videomic Pro Examples

I did a couple of very brief experiments with the mic. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to show everything I want, but I will revisit this post once I am able to illustrate some more examples of just how versatile it is.


Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP Review

An audio interface is used to connect your instruments and mics to the computer, so as you can imagine, it’s pretty important in the production of radio jingles and the other custom music produced by Old Port Jingles. I recently decided to search for a new one to use that would provide me with some portability, without sacrificing quality. After looking at several options, I opted for the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP. Here’s a little review of my thoughts after owning the interface for about a month.

Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP Overview

The interface connects with a firewire cable, that is included, along with the wall outlet (with three adapters), and two software of CD’s. The fact it comes with all these adapters is nice forethought on their part. The box itself is made of metal, with the exception of the inputs on the back. I do not know why they did not elect to make these metal, but they are plastic and feel a little weak. The front knobs are pretty standard, although they stick out a little farther than they need to. I would prefer short and fat to this long and skinny design, because when you twist it by the top, it feels somewhat unstable. I can imagine after a couple cups of coffee, an overzealous engineer would snap these off. I do hope that’s not the case. The box it’s in itself is otherwise pretty solid.

Lets take a look at the ins and outs. On the front of the box you have your two TRS XLR inputs. These can also be used as 1/4″ connectors. There are two headphone jacks with separate volume control knobs, a nice feature. The back of the unit has 2 TRS 1/4″ inputs, 6 TRS line outputs, Midi input/output, an optical input connector which can be used as either ADAT or SPDIF, and the RCA SPDIF in/out.

Saffire Pro 24 DSP Software

All of these inputs and outputs are able to be controlled with the software that Focusrite provides. You can also add effects and compression to individual tracks coming in with the DSP chip inside the interface. This is a cool feature if you’re trying to save the CPU processing power, however I would probably only use the compression with a direct line in bass. The reverb has already come in handy. The focusrite also comes with several AU plugins for your DAW, as well as a light version of Ableton Live Light.

Another piece of the software that I must mention is the VRM. It stands for virtual reference monitoring. The idea behind this is that if you mixing in headphones and you want to hear what it would sound like through a flat panel television, the VRM can replicate that sound by using a series of presets that come with the software. The problem with this software, is that it doesn’t have any way of knowing what headphones you are listening with, thus being really only to give you a rough idea what your sound would be like in the pre loaded conditions. It’s too bad, because Focusrite clearly put a lot of effort into making this a new feature. You can choose different kinds of rooms, and many different kinds of speakers. When it really comes down to it, I don’t see it as being all that useful in a studio setting.

Other features include the phantom power button, a mute button which will mute all the outputs, and a clip button that will allow you to cut the volume by about 60%. There are also LED monitoring on the front for the frost 4 channels.

Focusrite Pro 24 DSP front/back

click for larger image

After recording on this for a couple of sessions I like the sound quality, however when you hook up your XLR phantom powered condenser mic, the gain needs to be about 8/10 in order to get a good level if you’re recording lyrics. On previous interfaces that I’ve used, I never had to put this gain past 5, giving you more boost for non phantom powered mics. I like having more of a range to work with when getting the levels right for a vocal, and for all intents and purposes, this might as well be an on/off switch. This isn’t a major issue for many people, and were this my first interface, I wouldn’t know the difference. It’s a matter of preference, that’s all there is to it. The VRM is also a good effort, but it’s not that practical. Other than that it’s got a nice natural sound, lots of features and feels like a quality box. I can safely say I would recommend the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP. 4 out of 5

On another note Focusrite just released the USB version of this model. I would imagine that the features are similar. Hopefully we will get to check it out in the future!


Gear Review: MXR Phase 90 (mod)

the MXR Phase 90The Phaser of choice for many musicians is the MXR phase 90. You’ve probably seen it before, it’s used by hundreds of musicians from all walks of life. The reason I like is because it’s simple, and it sounds great. It wasn’t always that way though. Here’s my MRX Phase 90 story:

I needed a good phase effect pedal for live recording and studio work. Plugins weren’t quite cutting it, and I couldn’t take them with me, so I tested out a few different pedals. I eventually bought a used Phase 90 off ebay for around $50, a total steal. First thing I noticed was that it was built like a tank. It has one large knob that controls the speed of the phase. Out of the box it did not sound that great. There was a huge drop in volume when I would turn it on and so I initially thought it was defective.

After some research, I found a modification that was being done by many people, and was apparently quite easy. I found a link to the Phase 90 mod here and cut out the r28, c11, and c12 nodes. I was very nervous about doing it, but the difference that it made in the sound of the pedal was huge. I take no responsibility if you choose to do it to your own pedal, but it’s hard to understand why MXR makes the pedal with those nodes in the first place. Anyway, I don’t see ever using another phaser. This one seems to do the trick perfectly. Deep smooth watery sounds like nothing else.

If you’re in the market for a cool sounding effect that can be subtle, or over the top, the MXR Phase 90 may be just what you’re looking for.


Gear Review: Maxon OD-9

The Maxon OD-9 is a solid pedal which features true bypass circuitry and a legendary distortion sound that most guitarists would love. For those of you who don’t know, Maxon is the company that made the Ibanez Tubescreamer for Ibanez from 1974-2002. That pedal was the preferred overdrive for guitarists like Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and Carlos Santana, just to name a few. Once Maxon and Ibanez parted ways, Maxon did the right thing and continued to make the pedals under their own name, so thankfully, if you don’t have an original, you can get close to the same sound with the Maxon Reissue or the Maxon Nine series.

The OD-9 is essentially a Tubescreamer. The shape and color is nearly the same, which is a good thing, as it’s solid as a rock, and can withstand nearly everything you can throw at it. It has the same simple control knobs, drive, level and tone, and a sound that is unmatched in the right setup. personally I think that this pedal sounds best when coming through a lightly crunched tube amp, like the Fender Deluxe. It adds a richness to the distortion that is hard to beat. It sounds okay on its own, but if you have a mid level distortion setting on your amp and you turn this baby on, your neighbors will know it.

If you’re a guitarist looking for a rich full tube distortion but don’t want to pay outrageous prices for an original, you will not go wrong with the Maxon OD-9.


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