In an attempt to keep up with the highly influential likes of Heidi Montag, Kate Gosselin and the singer of Nickelback, I’ve decided to dramatically change my appearance. Well, at least the appearance of this blog. The old design had served me well for the past 18 months, but I decided it was time to switch things up and produce a fresh new look.
To celebrate the launch of the site design, I wanted to share an entire (and free) loop pack with the loyal readers of this blog. I know I’ve been spending a lot of time cranking out beats for that “other” site, but I wanted to let you know that I’m still here for you guys. I can’t quit you.
Free Summer Loop Sampler
This loop set is a nod to the one and only ?uestlove. With a wide open 18″ Gretsch kick and a cranked up 10″ Premier soprano snare, it’s some dirty hip hop (with the help of a 1×10 tweed combo amp), performed and recorded by a white guy, born and raised in the suburbs of Des Moines (the hip hop capitol of the Midwest).
Well, not for good… but for the next week I’ll be spending the majority of my time sitting here and drinking this. Don’t look for any new loops to be posted on this site, but for some highly insightful, tequila-fueled rants and observations, be sure to keep up with me over on Twitter.
As I pack my bags (and 30 SPF sunblock), I leave you with a loop inspired by this guy:
Some albums totally blow your mind when it comes to production. Other albums inspire you by the incredible musicianship. And some albums hold their own just by the level of songwriting. But it’s not that often when an album comes along and takes all three of these elements to transcend the high bar of awesomeness (wow, what a horrible analogy). D’Angelo’s epic 2000 release, Voodoo, is one of these special records.
Just as I was about to graduate college, thinking I knew everything there was to contemporary music, this album sent me scurrying back to the practice room. Not because of the complexity of the drumming, but the feel and the SOUND. I remember spending hours sitting in front of my Gateway computer, with the adapter speakers blaring (tiny sub woofers kicking out the bass), soaking in every measure of ?uestlove’s drumming and D’Angelo’s production, arranging and composition. It was a humbling experience which would usually lead me to tears, then some nachos, and finally a game of 007 with my roommate, Bob, to help clear my head.
Today’s loop takes some of the production and performance cues found on Voodoo. To get the super dry, ultra-present drum sound, I didn’t use any of my usual overhead and room mics. I pulled out my super thin and trashy hi hats and went heavy on the gating and compression of the cross stick. I also did 3,845 sit-ups, waxed my chest and oiled up my abs.
PS – I just realized that 99% of my recent loops have been in the 80-90 BPM range. I put in a call to my Red Bull dealer, so look for some 200+ BPM loops soon.
Last night I had my ass kicked by a bunch of girls. Lez Zeppelin, the all female Zep tribute band, came storming through Boston, rocking a capacity crowd at The Middle East. I should have been prepared for what was to take place. My good friend and former bandmate (and current Lez Zeppelin bassist), Megan Thomas, contacted me a few weeks ago, telling me about her latest musical endeavor and inviting me to their upcoming Boston show. Megan is an amazing musician, so I knew she would nail all of the classic John Paul Jones bass lines. What I didn’t know, however, was how well everyone in the band would nail EVERYTHING. Especially the drummer.
Today’s loop, while not a direct copy of any particular Bonham groove, highlights the same underlying ghost notes found in many of his beats. In this case, the notes appear directly after the 2 and 4 of each backbeat, almost giving a sixteenth note type delay effect on the snare.
Editors Note – No mudsharks were harmed during the making of this loop.
Today’s loop is my hat tip to J Dilla and his incredible 2006 album, Donuts. While I had been familiar with Dilla’s work as a producer through his collaborations with Common and Talib Kweli, it wasn’t until the release of Donuts (and his untimely passing) that I got to know Dilla as a solo artist. Funky, warm, inventive, melodic and inspiring, Donuts is the kind of artistic statement that every musician should strive to create. Just take a listen to “Stop” and you’ll hear what I’m talking about.
I had intended to spend most of today locked in my studio, laying down all kinds of new loops, guzzling a few gallons of coffee and writing my usual “top-notch” commentary… but that didn’t happen. Boston’s first blizzard of the year had other plans for me. Like shoveling snow all afternoon. Awesome.
I did manage to crank out one quick session before the day was over. While I was breaking my back, digging out my driveway, I was listening to Radiohead’s classic album, “The Bends”. I forgot how much I loved the drum sound of “High and Dry”. Specifically, the slapback type reverb that sits so tastefully in the drum mix. With a much more angular groove, I took this same approach when mixing down today’s session… if even a bit more indulgent in the delay.
After putting my stomach and liver through “The Grinder” (aka Thanksgiving), I figured it would only be fair to do the same with my loops. Digging into some of the other new features in Logic 9, I discovered just what I was looking for: a virtual distortion pedal appropriately named “Grinder”.
Today’s loop takes what was once a pristinely recorded, 16th note-heavy funk groove and runs it through the digital equivalent of something you’d find behind your local meat counter. Pending any FDA recalls, this loop should be safe to consume, as long as it’s stored in a cool area and cooked thoroughly before serving.
Every winter, when I travel home to West Des Moines, Iowa to celebrate Christmas with my family, I also take part in a “reunion concert” of sorts with some old friends from high school. Fourteen years ago, just before packing up my bags and heading to Berklee, I teamed up with some other members of my high school jazz band to find a way to get into bars without a fake ID. The solution? Start a funk band. And give it a really bad name.
At first we were called Pushin’ Chunky. Then we were D.I.M. (Drunkards In Motion). Several years ago, we somehow transitioned into the rather unfortunate moniker, Chach. Our name may change a lot, but the set list never really does. Stocked full of quintessential bar-funk-soul-r&b-band standards such as Sex Machine, Superstition, Everybody’s Everything and Pass The Peas, it’s three hours of music that we can pull off on an annual basis… without a single rehearsal. Consistent? Yes. Tight? Eh. Tight enough.
In preparation for this year’s Chach-fest, I’ve been brushing up on the ‘ol funk chops. Today’s loop is one of the many Kenwood-esque grooves that will be making the annual appearance down on Court Avenue. Two measures, some swung sixteenth notes and an open hi hat on the “one”. It’s what the best bar bands are made of. And yes, it looks like I finally quit the drum replacer habit.