Welcome to the latest installment of our weekly feature, Sound Off, where Jason P. Woodbury is joined by a different guest each week to listen to and discuss three tracks from local Phoenix artists. If you would like your songs to be considered for future Sound Off columns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jalipaz runs Audioconfusion Studios in Mesa. He has manned the boards on some of my favorite local releases (disclosure: I have recorded with Jalipaz on several occasions), including Knife Man, by Andrew Jackson Jihad, which was released earlier this year.
Jalipaz has a unique approach to music, so I sat down with him at his mixing board to listen to some hip-hop from Brown G.O.D., art-punk from Gay Kiss, and alternative rock from Brian Chartrand.
Brown G.O.D., "Ashes to Ashes," featuring Rampage.
Brown G.O.D. is a Phoenix-based hip-hop artist. This track features Rampage of the Flip Mode Squad. The two emcees have toured together, and this marks their first collaboration. For more information, visit Folded Arms Pro.
Jalipaz: Nucky Thompson [laughs]. You know who that is, right?
Up on the Sun: Captain Kirk, too.
I used to record a lot of rap. Different guys, too. I recorded this one rap act. All the songs were about Japanimation. These two black dudes, and they loved it.
What were they called?
I can't remember...I remember they had a song that had the sample of the Rocky movie. I liked it because it was different. It was in the '90s, when it was all gangsta rap.
So overall, you're impressed with this production?
I thought the production was good. [I like] old-school rap production because the vocals are in with the music, they are not above the music. A lot of new rap stuff is above the music. In this, the main vocals were in with the music, and I really like that.
In the mix, not on top of it.
It's easier for me to listen to rap that way. That's just me. He has good rhymes, good rhythm.
I appreciate that we got a Stella Artois rhyme, we got Nucky Thompson, Star Trek. We covered all the bases there.
[Laughs]. I'm not into words, so I don't really know what they were rapping about.
I like the guitar sample. A lot of what I listen to rap wise is really really laid back, a lot of the "weed rap." I tend to like smooth stuff, this had some of those elements but also the big beat, and horns. It sounded commercial and aggressive.
It reminded me of a rock song as much as a rap song.
In terms of the overall orchestration?
Yeah, exactly. That and also the way it was mixed. Just the energy, too. The energy was way more rockin' than rappin'. Again, I say this a lot, but for a local band, I was really impressed. "For a local band." You shouldn't have to say that, you know what I mean? But I do say that a lot. I would say for a [national] band, this would seem pretty standard. Nothing blew me away, but they are good at what they do. With a band, I would say "I'd like to see them live," but with rap, I don't think any rap band pulls it off live.
It's certainly hard. I mean - there's a live energy to hip-hop. With a rock band, you have a massive difference in presentation, but hip-hop requires a lot of pre-recorded material.
It can be, but you get someone expertly scratching, and an emcee that really moves, gets the crowd into it, it can be a great thing. That said, it's tough. Just like rock bands - most people aren't that great at it. Then there are always the chosen few who can pull it off.
Gay Kiss, "Hunting Party"
What did you think?
Um [laughs]. First thing I think of is the recording.
That's fine, you're a producer. Did something bother you [recording wise?]
No, uh-uh. I thought it was really good. It's trashy...I don't even know what genre this is. I don't know what you call this. Do you know?
Post Hardcore? Big riffs, but the vocals and the bass, a lot of stuff makes this distinct from straight up hardcore.
It's not metal, it's not punk.
It's got an -arty is a shitty word to use, but that's the word I come up with.
It's trashy, art punk rock. I don't know. I was really surprised [by how] it was kind of polished, a little bit. For that type of music, I don't expect that. Again, especially locally. I liked it. I liked the production, I don't know that I would go that way, but I like that they did that. It was interesting to hear that type of music and that kind of production. I've heard about this band, and I recorded the drummers other band...I never actually heard Gay Kiss until now. I was surprised by the big guitar sounds.
There was a solo part that was almost an old hair metal thing. Which is cool. Like, hey, "rock 'n' roll." For me, I like the intensity of hardcore stuff, but a lot of times where that stuff will lose me is in the rhythm. I've never been that into music that's...I like some electronic stuff, or industrial stuff, but I've always been drawn more to music that's looser, and has more swagger. A lot of this stuff doesn't have that. That isn't to say I don't like [repetitive stuff in general] but when I hear big guitars, I don't necessarily want strict rhythms.
Yeah, totally. The drummer reminds me a lot of Murder City Devils. I just really hear those big powerful drums.
Also those rolls.
I liked the choices they made. The bass player was doing excellent. That was a really big sound, and I really didn't picture them to have that. Good stuff.
Brian Chartrand, "Snow Falling On Woodbridge Street"
Brian Chartrand is a singer/songwriter who lives in Phoenix. He performs at D'Vine Wine Bar and Bistro in Mesa on Tuesday, November 1. Visit Brian Chartrand online for more information.
Before you even say anything [Jalipaz laughs] I want to stress to readers, and this is the truth, I have so much of a capacity to enjoy this kind of music than most people I know. I like cheesy funky stuff a lot. I mean, I've had to acknowledge that there are a few Dave Matthews songs that don't drive me insane.
I've had to swallow my music critic pride, and admit that...
I just can't stand his voice.
Dave Matthews or this guy? Both?
That said, here's what I liked about this song. There wasn't a lot I liked about it, but the tones were really good. Guitar sound...
I don't know, there was something weird about it. I was listening to it, and this is one of the things were the music was way stronger than the recording, to me. I don't mean stronger meaning better, but it made me hear the music first and gag a little, and then I listened to the production and I was a little thrown off by it. I heard everything really well, and I got the atmosphere, but there was something really weird, thinking of it as like...muddy. Real dry, but everything has reverb, and bad reverb. I just had a problem with some of the production. The guitar, during that long, long solo at the end, it was played really well, and it had good effects, and it sounded good too, but, uh, yeah. Sorry.
That solo bit started to kill it for me. Eyes glazing over...sometimes I don't know how to necessarily define stuff. I can listen to Neil Young play a twenty minute guitar solo, and just be, in it. Eyes closed, feeling it. The whole stupid thing. And then sometimes I listen to somebody else play a long solo and it's just...the opposite. I don't even know exactly what separates the two. When I listen to Neil Young, or Nels Cline, or Thurston Moore, I have to feel what they are doing emotionally. This guy, he played technically cool things, really noodling, and knows what he is doing, but it just doesn't cross over into that emotional territory.
These are the two guitarists I always think of like that: Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimi Hendrix. I don't like Stevie Ray Vaughan; I like Jimi Hendrix. Stevie Ray Vaughan is too perfect, I just can't get into it. Same as Eric Clapton. It's too perfect.
I find myself asking when "he's going to play the ugly note that makes me sit up in my chair."
"When is he going to hit the effect that make the guitar sound a little bit queasy, you know?" Those are the things I tend to be drawn to. But I don't think I'm the average listener wants to hear that. I think they would be more interested in something like this.
My mom wouldn't want to listen to that.
My mom would be much, much happier to listen to this than if I brought over the new Gay Kiss record I'm really excited about.
I listen to it, and technically there's a lot of like about it.
I like the percussion.
Did you like the woodblocks?
I did! I liked the woodblocks. The thing is, I like some really cheesy mellow stuff.
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I can dig some mellow stuff. I like that one Jack Johnson song that was on the radio. It was really kind of upbeat...
You just described every Jack Johnson song. "It was upbeat, but kind of mellow, the one where he plays an acoustic guitar and he's like...really mellow."
The thing is, I can respect all those people, and this guy, because he's good at what he does. He has a good voice. It's not my favorite voice, by any means, but he did what he tried to do.