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New Nickel Creek

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Anonymous
August 13, 2005 9:16:56 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Just got the new Nickel Creek release, "Why Should the Fire Die?"

Great music with some truly brilliant writing and performances, but not a
very good production in this listener's opinion.

Here's what got in the way for me: ping-pong, unflattering panning;
veiled, "gray" sounding; and little if any sparkle. (I'm not talking about
the intentional "effects" on some cuts that create an exaggeration of that
sound, the whole thing leans that way to varying degrees. And yes, the top
end is probably mostly there, it's just not very real sounding.)

The production positives are that not all the compression that could have
been used was used, and the bottom end is pretty good.

The band seems to have bought in to a "retro sound," selecting a rock
producer who tracks to analog tape, and who is perhaps attempting to
recast what ought to be jaw-dropping acoustic music into a rigid rock
form. I'm not sure this works for several of the tunes.

Unfortunately, the band has indirectly eschewed the techniques of Gary
Paczosa who, at least on the first NC album, delivered one of the most
remarkably "alive" and transcendent acoustic recordings I've ever heard. I
just put it on again, and you can almost reach out and touch the
instruments they're so alive, 3D, and real. Just the opposite occurs with
the new release. Vibrant realism has been replaced by something that
declares itself to be a "recording" (and detracts from the music in the
process).

I know that artists like to make these "excursions" and they're more than
entitled to do so, but I hope they'll eventually return to the production
techniques that will lift their sound back into the spine-tingling realm.

Frank Stearns
Mobile Audio
--
.

More about : nickel creek

Anonymous
August 13, 2005 9:16:57 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Thanks for the review Frank!

--
John L Rice
Drummer@ImJohn.com

"Frank Stearns" <franks.pacifier.com@pacifier.net> wrote in message
news:11fsao892a2b5b9@corp.supernews.com...
> Just got the new Nickel Creek release, "Why Should the Fire Die?"
>
> Great music with some truly brilliant writing and performances, but not a
> very good production in this listener's opinion.
>
> Here's what got in the way for me: ping-pong, unflattering panning;
> veiled, "gray" sounding; and little if any sparkle. (I'm not talking about
> the intentional "effects" on some cuts that create an exaggeration of that
> sound, the whole thing leans that way to varying degrees. And yes, the top
> end is probably mostly there, it's just not very real sounding.)
>
> The production positives are that not all the compression that could have
> been used was used, and the bottom end is pretty good.
>
> The band seems to have bought in to a "retro sound," selecting a rock
> producer who tracks to analog tape, and who is perhaps attempting to
> recast what ought to be jaw-dropping acoustic music into a rigid rock
> form. I'm not sure this works for several of the tunes.
>
> Unfortunately, the band has indirectly eschewed the techniques of Gary
> Paczosa who, at least on the first NC album, delivered one of the most
> remarkably "alive" and transcendent acoustic recordings I've ever heard. I
> just put it on again, and you can almost reach out and touch the
> instruments they're so alive, 3D, and real. Just the opposite occurs with
> the new release. Vibrant realism has been replaced by something that
> declares itself to be a "recording" (and detracts from the music in the
> process).
>
> I know that artists like to make these "excursions" and they're more than
> entitled to do so, but I hope they'll eventually return to the production
> techniques that will lift their sound back into the spine-tingling realm.
>
> Frank Stearns
> Mobile Audio
> --
> .
Anonymous
August 14, 2005 4:03:01 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Frank Stearns wrote:
> ...Vibrant realism has been replaced by something that
> declares itself to be a "recording" (and detracts from the music in the
> process).

Too bad. They needed a better producer who could capture the energy they
are capable of live but the last thing they needed was to make a rock
recording fashion statement. I'll probably check it out anyways.


--
Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!
615.385.8051 http://www.hyperback.com
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Anonymous
August 14, 2005 10:42:05 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

In article <VSvLe.601942$cg1.517039@bgtnsc04-news.ops.worldnet.att.net> olh@hyperback.com writes:

> Too bad. They needed a better producer who could capture the energy they
> are capable of live but the last thing they needed was to make a rock
> recording fashion statement. I'll probably check it out anyways.

I seem to remember reading something about Chris Thiele saying that
they really wanted to make a pop record using their instruments and
skills. I guess they didn't pull it off very well, at least this time.



--
I'm really Mike Rivers (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
Anonymous
August 14, 2005 7:41:39 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Mike Rivers wrote:

> I seem to remember reading something about Chris Thiele saying that
> they really wanted to make a pop record using their instruments and
> skills. I guess they didn't pull it off very well, at least this time.

Gary Paczosa could have done that for them. I'd consider it smarter to
go toward pop working with someone who has Gary's level of chops, who
also understands their roots, than to bring in a rockster who may well
be clueless of the potential for redirecting roots.

--
ha
Anonymous
August 14, 2005 7:41:40 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

hank alrich wrote:
>
> Gary Paczosa could have done that for them. I'd consider it smarter to
> go toward pop working with someone who has Gary's level of chops, who
> also understands their roots, than to bring in a rockster who may well
> be clueless of the potential for redirecting roots.

That might have been their best bet - continue with Gary as the engineer,
but hire a pop producer to set the direction. I think that Eric
Valentine (who co-produced and engineered the new record) did a pretty
good job of it, but I also think that he knew very little about what to
do with acoustic music (his prior credits include Smashmouth, Queens of
the Stone Age, and Good Charlette). To his credit, I think he took the
time to understand the music that Nickel Creek was writing and performing
before taking them into the studio. And I think he made some good
choices - it's not perfect, but it's very good.
August 14, 2005 9:13:08 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I must disagree with your opinion but agree with the observations you make.
Whilst the sound of the instruments are not in the traditional realm, I feel
that this is a brilliant production that has brought their music right up to
date and as a result they are finally acheiving the commercial recognition
they deserve.

Pop music is always going to be "manufactured" to sell the most records.
Whether the current sounds and trends take away, or add to the sparkle and
life of the music, is irrelevant to the masses. Nickel Creek have, with this
production, found a new and much larger market. No doubt they will not only
keep many of their existing fans, but they also now have the opportunity to
interest a few "Pop" fans in some more traditional genres of music. In my
opinion this can only be a good thing.
--
Lynn
Wobbly Music
"Supporting the Mature Artist"
=============================
http://www.wobblymusic.net
Latest Release... "Friends" by John McKeon
Order your copy now and get 2 FREE bonus tracks!
http://www.johnmckeon.wobblymusic.net

"Frank Stearns" <franks.pacifier.com@pacifier.net> wrote in message
news:11fsao892a2b5b9@corp.supernews.com...
> Just got the new Nickel Creek release, "Why Should the Fire Die?"
>
> Great music with some truly brilliant writing and performances, but not a
> very good production in this listener's opinion.
>
> Here's what got in the way for me: ping-pong, unflattering panning;
> veiled, "gray" sounding; and little if any sparkle. (I'm not talking about
> the intentional "effects" on some cuts that create an exaggeration of that
> sound, the whole thing leans that way to varying degrees. And yes, the top
> end is probably mostly there, it's just not very real sounding.)
>
> The production positives are that not all the compression that could have
> been used was used, and the bottom end is pretty good.
>
> The band seems to have bought in to a "retro sound," selecting a rock
> producer who tracks to analog tape, and who is perhaps attempting to
> recast what ought to be jaw-dropping acoustic music into a rigid rock
> form. I'm not sure this works for several of the tunes.
>
> Unfortunately, the band has indirectly eschewed the techniques of Gary
> Paczosa who, at least on the first NC album, delivered one of the most
> remarkably "alive" and transcendent acoustic recordings I've ever heard. I
> just put it on again, and you can almost reach out and touch the
> instruments they're so alive, 3D, and real. Just the opposite occurs with
> the new release. Vibrant realism has been replaced by something that
> declares itself to be a "recording" (and detracts from the music in the
> process).
>
> I know that artists like to make these "excursions" and they're more than
> entitled to do so, but I hope they'll eventually return to the production
> techniques that will lift their sound back into the spine-tingling realm.
>
> Frank Stearns
> Mobile Audio
> --
> .
Anonymous
August 15, 2005 11:59:12 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Bob Olhsson" <olh@hyperback.com> wrote in message
news:VSvLe.601942$cg1.517039@bgtnsc04-news.ops.worldnet.att.net...
> Frank Stearns wrote:
> > ...Vibrant realism has been replaced by something that
> > declares itself to be a "recording" (and detracts from the music in the
> > process).
>
> Too bad. They needed a better producer who could capture the energy they
> are capable of live but the last thing they needed was to make a rock
> recording fashion statement. I'll probably check it out anyways.
>
>
> --
> Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
> Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control
> Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!
> 615.385.8051 http://www.hyperback.com


Guess I'll have to get it today.
Thought their first one with AK producing was excellent.
--
http://tinyurl.com/dvgrd
Anonymous
August 19, 2005 4:55:25 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Frank Stearns" <franks.pacifier.com@pacifier.net> wrote in message
news:11fsao892a2b5b9@corp.supernews.com...
> Just got the new Nickel Creek release, "Why Should the Fire Die?"

Hey Frank,

I'm another Nickel Creek fan. Thanks for the review. I got the album
yesterday and listened through twice on a long car journey. I was a little
surprised at the change of production values but I definitely feel that its
going to grow on me and I definitely liked it.

For me, there are a couple of tracks where they've gone for a very
idiosyncratic sonic effect and to my tastes, and on only 2 listens, they've
over-done it. I feel they could have created the same effect, used it to a
lesser degree and thereby maintained the transparency of the recording
without detracting from the "authenticity" of the feel they are trying to
create.

I was much more disappointed by Mutual Admiration Society record. It sounds
like the Nickel Creek members are playing in the room next door with no
clarity to their contributions and only limited impact on the ensemble
sound. I wonder how other people feel about it?

Cheers,
Steve W
Anonymous
August 19, 2005 4:55:26 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Steve White wrote:
>
> I was much more disappointed by Mutual Admiration Society record. It sounds
> like the Nickel Creek members are playing in the room next door with no
> clarity to their contributions and only limited impact on the ensemble
> sound. I wonder how other people feel about it?

The MAS CD was recorded in someone's garage studio, and it sat unreleased
for several years before Sugar Hill finally picked it up last year. I
agree, it's a pretty disappointing record - I'm impressed with neither
the performances nor the production. Their live tour, on the other hand,
was awesome. I hope you got to see one of the shows.

The new Nickel Creek will, I'm sure, continue to grow on you. I've been
listening to it for a couple of months now, and it's definitely one of my
favorite records of the year.

And I agree that they could have accomplished their goals without using
some of the extreme techniques that were used. It's an interesting
situation. When they did "This Side" it became obvious that they were
taking their material in a new direction. But with Alison and Gary
running the production, the general sound turned out quite similar to the
last record.

So they went shopping for a new producer - one who would shake things up
a bit, in keeping with their shift away from the country/bluegrass
pigeonhole.

But a funny thing happened - they continued to mature as musicians and as
a band, and eventually came to the realization that their strength was
not purely in "pop" music, but was instead in this undefinable blend of
genres - folk, pop, jazz, baroque, country, celtic, and yes, even
bluegrass. So they opened things up, allowing the new record to have a
broad set of material that covers a wide range of musical ideas. But by
the time they'd reached that decision point, they'd already contracted
with a "pop" producer (Eric Valentine). So they added yet another
producer - Tony Berg - and as a result the album has something of a mix
of both musical styles and production values.

So it's not a perfect record, but it is a very good one. And it's a
challenging record in some respects. That's a good thing - it will
continue to be an interesting record to listen to for a long time.

Some of the songs are very difficult to get to know. "Evilene" for
example, I always disliked when they played it on stage, but on the
record its dark sound seems to work in its behalf. The vocal arrangement
is well done, and the dense instrumental segment seems to show the
influence of some of the rock bands that they've been listening to
(Radiohead, perhaps).

"Can't Complain" seems to be Thile's attempt to write a song that uses
just one note as the entire melody. That's a pretty weird thing to do.
But he manages to use the chord progression, the harmony vocals, the
dynamics, etc, to make it musically interesting. Still, it's a
challenging piece.

Challenging, too, is the juxtaposition of styles. They go from the dark
"Evilene" to the bouncy bluegrass of "Stumptown", or from the intense
"Helena" to the lightness of the title track. These segues are difficult
enough that they needed a considerable break in between the tracks. How
many records can you think of that needed to be mastered with an 8 or
more second gap between some of the tracks?

I'll be very interested in seeing how well the record sells. Their last
one won a Grammy - will this one follow suit?
Anonymous
August 19, 2005 7:05:58 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"Steve White" <steve@sjNOSPAMTAVERYMUCHwhite.plus.com> writes:

>"Frank Stearns" <franks.pacifier.com@pacifier.net> wrote in message
>news:11fsao892a2b5b9@corp.supernews.com...
>> Just got the new Nickel Creek release, "Why Should the Fire Die?"

>Hey Frank,

>I'm another Nickel Creek fan. Thanks for the review. I got the album
>yesterday and listened through twice on a long car journey. I was a little
>surprised at the change of production values but I definitely feel that its
>going to grow on me and I definitely liked it.

Hi Steve -

That's what I hoped might happen for me as well. Musically, they have done
some really innovative things. And even washing back and forth through the
various effects would be great -- if they had something stunning on the
"pure acoustic" side to "wash into" and anchor the sonics of the album.

>For me, there are a couple of tracks where they've gone for a very
>idiosyncratic sonic effect and to my tastes, and on only 2 listens, they've
>over-done it. I feel they could have created the same effect, used it to a
>lesser degree and thereby maintained the transparency of the recording
>without detracting from the "authenticity" of the feel they are trying to
>create.

Well said.

>I was much more disappointed by Mutual Admiration Society record. It sounds
>like the Nickel Creek members are playing in the room next door with no
>clarity to their contributions and only limited impact on the ensemble
>sound. I wonder how other people feel about it?

I too have Mutual Admiration, and it was something of a disappointment as
well, though for me it had more to do with the music. I like Glen
Phillips; he's a fun performer and good writer, but I'm not sure he has
the same depth that NC and Thile can muster when they're spot on in the
music and the production.

Chris Thile IMO is a cross between Mozart and Isaac Stern -- Mozart in the
sheer quivering-with-life notes he can produce, and Isaac Stern in his raw
power and flawless control.

(Contrary to my sarcastic friends, I'm not old enough to have seen Mozart
live, but I did catch Mr. Stern in one of his later tours. If you haven't
seen someone like that it's really hard to explain what they can do with
an unamplified violin in a 3000 seat house. Years later I saw Thile/NC
live in the same house and they played one unamplified encore -- he had
the same kind artistic and performance power. Brings tears of pure joy.)

Mutual Admiration, in which NC was really a back-up band for Glen, was a
bit like using the space shuttle to get over to the grocery store. A
shuttle mission can be an amazing event; a trip to the store is a trip to
the store.

Frank Stearns
Mobile Audio
--
.
!