This is the website of Neil McDougall, a musician/blogger/podcaster/bookie from Ayrshire.

52 Weeks of Music – Week 4: FAIL~!

Sorry folks, couldn’t get a song out this week.  A combination of a lack of anything remotely decent coming out of my brain/fingers and work/personal-related stuff continually getting in the way put paid to any chance of me getting anything that wasn’t utter shite out there.

However, the objective remains the same – 52 songs in 52 weeks, and I’ll do some catching up on my two weeks off work at the start of March.

In the meantime, you can download an album I co-produced and co-engineered back in 2006 (95MB .zip file).  The album is by a band called The Mocha Nights, who are, for all intents and purposes, no more.

My mate James did a new mix on the album to make it sound ‘massive and modern’.  While it’s not the way I would’ve mixed it (and hopefully will mix it one day…I still have all the master multitracks on my hard drive….)  it sounds great and I’m glad that the songs are out there again.  This band should’ve been massive, but things didn’t go the way they perhaps should’ve.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on January 30, 2011 at 7:34 pm, filed under 52 weeks of music, life, music, recording and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



52 Weeks of Music – Week 3: Complications

Song 3, after some teething troubles, is finally done.  It’s called Complications, and it’s a lot shorter than the last song.

Download it HERE.

The song was based on an idea I was originally planning to do for Week 4, but I decided to use it for Week 3.  Why?

Well, my original plan for this week was to revisit one of my old songs, Can You See Me?, but after programming the drums, putting down a bass part and having a play through on guitar, I decided I just wasn’t feeling it, and decided to use the new idea I’d put down on the Voice Memos app on my iPhone the night previous.  And thus, Complications was born.

I could’ve quite easily made it longer – some sort of turnaround bridge section would’ve been nice, and maybe another verse and/or chorus could’ve been squeezed in, but in this case, I quite like it the way it is.

And yes, it’s not my best vocal performance.  Been feeling very tired and under the weather today.  🙁  Still, at least I’m maintaining my 100% strike rate.  🙂

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on January 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm, filed under music, recording and tagged , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



52 Weeks of Music – Week 2: Bring Me Home

Well, here we are again, and after a few hours slaving over a hot DAW, I’m back with another all-new, all-original piece of music for your delectation.

This time, I’ve farted out a blatant Devin Townsend rip-off, all downtuning and delays and Lydian scales. The song is called Bring Me Home.

Download the song here – Bring Me Home

Some technical notes: this song uses my Yamaha RGX-420 Drop 6 baritone guitar, which is tuned down a fourth to B-E-A-D-F#-B as standard.  Unfortunately, this required me to use my 5-string bass, which, to be frank, sounds a bit crap compared to my Ibanez 4-stringer.  Anyone want to buy me a new 5-string bass?

Also, after polling for opinions on Twitter, I’m going to record a podcast where I talk about the songs and the recordings in a bit more detail.  More on that when it’s done, hopefully later tonight.  If not later tonight, then probably Saturday.

Anyway, enjoy the tunes, and be sure and tell yer pals!

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on January 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm, filed under 52 weeks of music, music, recording and tagged , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



52 Weeks of Music – Week 1: Absentee

So, we’re off and running in this mad project of mine, with a bouncy wee ditty called ‘Absentee’.  I actually wrote this last week (hey, I can cheat a wee bit, it’s my project, so I make the rules.  :P), but I did the bulk of the actual recording today.  The only things left over from my original scratch demo were the MIDI drums, the keyboard solo and the guitar solo after the keyboard solo.

Download the song here – Absentee

The whole tune basically stemmed from the riff that makes up the intro and verses.  The frantic octave-ey riff that plays in the instrumental section…I’m not entire sure how I came up with that.  I just sort of…stumbled into it, I suppose.  Cool riff though.  🙂

I had some disasters recording it.  I actually had the whole thing done yesterday, but when I was doing one last save, Sonar crashed and somehow everything I had done went missing from the project file, even the stuff I had saved previously in the afternoon – the whole thing had basically reverted to the scratch demo.  Much rage ensued, as anyone who follows me on Twitter can attest to.  However, today, I picked up tools again and managed to get the song done without anything dying on me.

Yes, the vocals aren’t the greatest, the playing’s a wee bit iffy in spots and there’s a couple of bits of breathing left in the backing vocal bus, but I’m not bothered about that – the objective isn’t out-mixing the Black Album, it’s about writing and recording music and getting it out there, and so far, I’m succeeding.

Here’s to the next 51 weeks!

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on January 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm, filed under 52 weeks of music, music, recording and tagged , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



ANNOUNCEMENT: My 2011 musical project

I mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago that I had decided on what my big musical project for 2011 was going to be. Well, the time has come to announce my evil plot…

*FANFARE*

Neil-o-Mac’s 52 Weeks of Music!

*RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE* 

Ahem. 

What I’m planning on doing is writing, arranging & recording a new song every week during 2011.

Why am I doing this? Simple, really. I haven’t really done anything new in 2010, and I need to get the creativity going again. 

One of the reasons I’ve been so lax in making new music is that I’ve been holding myself to what’s probably too high a standard. I need to just *make music* and finish what I start. A finished song that’s maybe not as good as my usual is still more of an accomplishment than a half finished idea sitting in my Cakewalk Projects folder.

This is by no means a unique idea – head over to Mac Mufasa to see the work of a fella doing pretty much the same thing.  I have to say, I love the song title ‘Mac Gestures Made Me A Better Lover’.  Wish I’d thought of it.  🙂

No, it’s not a unique endeavour, but it should be fun to see how my songwriting and recording chops develop over the coming year.

As far as releasing the songs, I haven’t fully decided yet.  I’ll probably release the individual tracks on Bandcamp on a ‘pay what you like’ basis, and maybe do a series of monthly EPs or quarterly albums on iTunes.  I’ll probably stick the songs on YouTube as well, seeing as a lot of people consume music that way.

Thoughts, guys ‘n gals?  How would you prefer to consume my tunes? Any musical styles/lyrical subjects you’d like to see me tackle?  Any of you want to collaborate on something?  Hit me up at Neil (at) neilmcdougall (dot) com, tweet me (@NeiloMac) or leave a comment here on the blog.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on December 27, 2010 at 10:34 am, filed under 52 weeks of music, music, recording and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



So I got Logic Studio

As some of you may know, I record my own music (examples of which will hopefully be on this site in the future.  Although I said that on the old version of the site…).  The program I use to record said music is a Digital Audio Workstation package called Sonar, by the now Roland-owned Cakewalk.

I’ve used Cakewalk stuff for seven years-plus, from Cakewalk Pro Audio 9 through multiple versions of Sonar (up to version 7, the version I use now. Haven’t tried 8 yet, but I bet it’s great), and it’s a great package.  It comes with a bunch of nice effects plugins, software instruments and the like.  Definitely under-rated in the Pro-Tools-dominated DAW world.

However, I now have a Macbook Pro, and I quite fancied the look of Logic Studio, having had a shot of the previous version on my friend’s machine.  The latest version, Version 8 is a whole different kettle of fish to the version I’ve tried previously though – a totally revamped single-pane interface, plenty of bundled effects, instruments, samples, sounds, content, several additional programs (Soundtrack Pro, a stereo audio editor that also comes with Final Cut Pro and Mainstage, an app to help you use your virtual instruments in a live setting, are the two biggies for me) and best of all, it’s cheaper than most of the other equivalent pro-level DAW packages (Sonar Producer Edition, Cubase et al).  And to top THAT, I got it for even cheaper on eBay.  £175 to be exact.  Just.  Over.  Half.  Fucking.  Price.

As Chris Kamara would say, “Unbelievable, Jeff!”

So, the box turned up today, and it’s a sexy beast indeed.  As one might expect, the packaging is up to Apple’s usual standards.  Heck, even the shipping box is up to Apple’s usual standards, with nice foam inserts to protect the box in transit, and an internal sub-box frame thingy with handles to help get the main box out of the shippong box.

That last sentence had more boxes than a lesbian orgy.

Inside, you get a stack of manuals (including two big ones for Logic itself and another big-ish one for the software instruments – I forsee stuff like the big ESX24 sampler taking up a lot of that), the seven or eight DVDs for all the software, sounds, content, et cetera, a couple of things about Applecare and the likes, and another bit of Apple Foam (you Apple fans know the stuff I’m talking about) to keep everything snug in the box and provide a little bit extra transit protection.

A very nice package so far, and I haven’t even installed it yet!  I plan on using The Metal Shop Podcast to air my thoughts on Logic in audio form at some point in the future.  I’ll blog here about it when that show’s done and up on the feed.

In the meantime, I’ll be taking the big fat Logic manual into work with me tomorrow.  Those double shifts can tick by slowly indeed….

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on April 2, 2009 at 11:51 pm, filed under apple, logic, Mac, music, musings, recording, tech and tagged , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



New Mocha Nights stuff online

Yeah, that band who I’ve been working with on and off since November – the album’s finally in the can and you can hear some tracks at www.myspace.com/themochanights.

Right now there’s Midnight Sleepers (upbeat guitar pop with a cheesy keychange at the end), Chasing Angels (very Queen-ish, big lush ballady thing), Theif of Hearts (no, not a cover of the unreleased Bon Jovi song of the same name, kinda like a cross between ‘Same old Song & Dance’ by Aerosmith and Andrew Lloyd Webber) and The Dinner Party (Like Muse meets The Beatles, all on crack. Or something).

Anyway, enjoy. James Mackenzie (of www.rupturedrecordings.com) did a great job on the mix & master.

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on September 15, 2006 at 2:34 pm, filed under music, recording and tagged , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



It begins tomorrow…

…The recording of The Mocha Nights‘ full length album, that is, with me as co-producer/co-engineer (the band will no doubt be doing ‘producery’ things, being the perfectionists that they are, and James Mackenzie, my old Reverend Neil McDougall bandmate and current Tempercalm main man will be aiding the engineering side of things).

We’re doing the recording at Jonny the bass player’s house for the next month while his folks are off holidaying in Hong Kong and other exotic locales. If it’s not finished by that point (likely), then we’ll probably use the drummer’s rehersal garage, folks’ bedrooms or The Shire (the house in the middle of nowhere that Bush (guitar/vocals) stays in, where we recorded the debut EP in January) to do the rest. My main hope is that we can get all the drum tracks done by the end of the month, as theoretically guitars, keys, bass and vocals could be done damn near anywhere, really, with today’s technology.

I know there’s a bunch of tech geeks/GAS hounds reading this, so here’s a breakdown of some of the gear we’ll be using…

Mackie VLZ 1642 16-channel mixing desk (A temporary fix until Mackie get their fingers out and send the VLZ1604 the guys ordered to Sound Control, should do the job in the mean time though)
PC with M-Audio Delta 1010 sound card (external rack-mountable audio interface with 8 analogue and two digital inputs. Mmmm.)
Behringer rack gear (Composer Pro compressor, 4-channel noise gate, headphone amp/distribution/monitoring unit type thingy)
Mixture of Sennheiser, Shure, Audio-Technica and AKG microphones
Mesa Engineering Single Rectifier and Rect-o-Verb heads (and accompanying closed-back 2×12 cabs)
Peavey bass amp with 4×10 and 1×15 cabs
Gretsch Drum Kit (with various cymbals, Iron Cobra double kick pedal and various other bing-bongs)
Epiphone Les Paul(s), Fender Telecaster(s), Godin SD (mine :P), Music Man bass, some sort of Fretless Bass
Roland RD-700 Stage Piano
Big-ass house in Bridge of Weir 😉

Should be fun. Hopefully I can do a Hitchcock and sneak a musical cameo on there somewhere. 😛

This entry was written by NeiloMac, posted on November 1, 2005 at 10:35 pm, filed under music, recording and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.



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