House of Freaks is probably, sadly best known these days for the tragic death of its frontman Brian Harvey, and for being well ahead of its time in featuring the kind of minimalist lineup (just one guitar and drums) that wouldn't be embraced until much later in the post-White Stripes world. They also had some cross-pollination with Cracker and played with Sparklehorse, whose Mark Linkous has also just passed away too soon. Me, I really like Harvey's voice. It's a clear insistent folk-rock tenor, similar in some ways to the underrated Ed Crawford of fIREHOSE, emotive without putting on any kind of forced false grit. It may well come from having been raised on The Kingston Trio, but if I could choose what kind of singing voice I had, I'd pick something very much like Harvey's.
My version went for a sort of (more) noir feeling... I can really get into the vibrato sound of my Fender Twin. The wobbly timing issue sort of compounded themselves over the recording of the track... sorry about that. I do these things rather quickly, you know.
Categorizing this one is a little bit tough... I guess I'd classify it as "Big Production Number (Non-Fake-Rock-Band Division)". I hadn't thought about it much before now, but that's a useful description to have lying around.
Although I do still hear the timing issues alluded to in the blog entry at the time, I'm much more bothered by the inconsistency of the mix. At least I was when listening to it on my car stereo recently... the balance sounds a little better on the tinny speakers of my MacBook. Of course, one of the big challenges with mixing in general is getting the recording to sound as good as possible on as many different sound reproduction devices or situations as you can. This requires a bit of time to be spent trying the mixes out on various sound systems, but over the course of 39-40 I rarely had time to do that. Usually I'd do the mix with headphones, then listen to it on the MacBook speakers, figuring that those were the extremes: super high detail and bass clarity in the phones, crappy everything on the computer speakers. But sometimes things just turn out differently when they come out from blown speakers, or even working ones in your car. There are a few latter day 39-40 songs I may even remix, particularly the ones that seem to me as if they might be quite good indeed if not for the mix, but the mix session for this song was lost along with all the others through September or so of 2010 in the Great Hard Drive Crash.