Break It Up, an excellent unheard album by Merchants of Soul

In 2004, I holed up in the basement of a window factory in New Jersey with my friend Jay Russell. Two years later, we had recorded Break It Up (playable below). We never released it, but his untimely death at 48 years old has sparked interest in it among his friends and family. I spent the last 3 weeks re-mixing the songs and set up a Bandcamp account with which to publish it.

I feel honored to have worked with Jay; he put an abundance of trust in me when I had way more ambition than understanding of how the heck to produce and engineer a proper album. He was extremely talented, funny, and a great pleasure to work with; these songs represent Replacements-style classic rock, with blues, punk, and R&B influences and an enormous guitar presence throughout.

Please have a listen and, if you are so compelled, share it and send a few bucks to his family.

Production and Engineering Notes

The entire experience of recording this album taught me many useful recording and production lessons, which I’m only now sorting out. During the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some key details about the album and how we created Break It Up with only two microphones*, a woefully under-equipped Windows computer, and an already-outdated audio interface.

As of now, I have planned three installments to describe key components of this project:

  1. A write-up of general lessons learned;
  2. A video highlighting ways to work with stereo drum tracks (i.e. no way to mix individual components of the drum kit); and
  3. A video showing how I squeezed some strumming out of what was originally a 90s-style buzz guitar in the outro of the song Hey Girl.

* one of which was a plastic computer microphone

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