Virginmarys ‘Northern sun Sessions’

Hailing from Macclesfield, England, The Virginmarys are a Rock duo composed of Ally Dickaty (vocals & guitar) and Danny Dolan (drums) who first met at music college. They’ve been making noise since 2009, initially self-releasing a handful of sold-out EPs, until their first album ‘King of Conflict’ caused a stir when it broke onto the rock music scene in 2013 debuting #3 on the Billboard New Artist Alternative Chart and #8 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Following this, the act were named buzz band of SXSW, as well as Best Breakthrough act at the 2013 Classic Rock Awards. They also gained major support from US Active Rock and Alternative radio as well as press acclaim from Rolling Stone Magazine and USA Today. 2016 saw the band follow up with their second album ‘Divides’, released on the Cooking Vinyl label, which received major press acclaim and was hailed by Apple Music, Spotify and Yahoo Music. Their most recent release ‘Northern Sun Sessions’ has been turning heads in the British rock scene thanks to the bands’ beautiful compositions, thoroughly capturing the intensity of their live performances.

“I’m more excited about this record than any others we’ve done. We’ve created a beast that sounds massive. There’s a lot of freedom in this record, I’ve felt liberated and closer to the spark that had me writing in the first place. We’ve been working so close with these songs from start to finish and it’s felt right pouring ourselves into them. It’s a very special record that feels closest to the energy of our live performance than any before.” – Ally Dickaty

Touring throughout the US, Europe, and Japan, the band feature a relentlessly energetic live show, supporting artists including Slash, Shinedown, Queens of the Stone Age, Buckcherry, Eagles of Deathmetal , Feeder, The View, and Crobot, including major festival appearances at Reading, Leeds, Sonisphere and the Isle of Wight.

Concept for artwork

For the new album ‘Northern Sun Sessions’ the band worked with Cyclone’s design team to create a stunning and original artwork. Previous albums had always used photograph concepts in their design, but for this release the decision was made to use a strong graphic with a twist… Danny had been messing around with 1980’s Anaglyph 3D images, coming up with the idea of making the album artwork in 3D and to include a free pair of 3D glasses with all physical copies… Awesome! and never done before, we think.

Finished product

With the full album released on both CD & limited edition coloured VINYL as well as a bonus CD of studio demos, the end result is a unique product featuring a design/ print technique that, paired with the glasses, creates an album cover that quite literally jumps out at you!

Everyday Sinners — Limited Edition Vinyl

The Everyday Sinners are back with ‘Shakedown’, their first release since 2013’s ‘Lord of the empty Manor’. This is very much an album of its times and a band making sense of both their personal experiences, the current state of the world around them and the whats-whys-and-wherefores of where life is headed. Vinyl pressing taken care of by Cyclone.

As lead -sinner Jack Cade explains, ‘The main underlying theme of the album has been driven by the turbulent times we’ve found ourselves in, the use of divisive politics to set people against people to distract them from the real problems. It also looks at how we cope with life and the ups and downs it throws at us. I didn’t want it to end up an album of protest songs, more a snapshot of life from the last ten or so years.’

The Everyday sinners has been a slow evolution over the last 6 years, having recorded a debut album ‘This Fiery Road’ with friends and session musicians, a live band was initially put together with Adam Perry a drummer who brings both subtlety and power, Mike Muggeridge the driving heartbeat of the band on bass, Jack Cade on Guitar and vocals and various part time members who dropped in and out over the first few years. In 2012 the band enlisted the vivid vocal talents of Helen Muggeridge and in the last year the exceptionally versatile Ben Cox-Smith on Dobro and guitar has become a more permanent fixture having featured on all the album recordings. Finally the line-up has been completed with the arrival of Chris Davies on Piano and Hammond, giving the band the all round sound live that they get with their recorded work.

The album is released on an initial limited run of vinyl and streaming services only. There will be 5 artists producing artwork for the screen printed covers, with each artist being available on only 50 covers.

Highlights include:

Belly Full A Fire – Call to arms for people to stand up against bigoted views and make your voice heard.

16 Tons – cover of the Merle Travis song about miners trapped by their working conditions, they got paid and then had to pay back to the mining company for their lodgings and had to buy food at inflated prices from the mines store. They were perpetually trapped.

Howlin’ at the moon – I was at Reading Festival years ago, there was a full moon and people, drunk after a day of watching music, started to howl on one side of the site which then spread across the site as the full moon rose.

You were the ammunition – Relating how hateful, misguided views can be whipped up and used by any one person or group to drive a political agenda – We’ve seen it throughout history and most recently with UKIP, Le Pen, Trump, Tories etc.

Roll with them punches – Based on something my grandad used to say, life throws all sorts at you but you have to take it and find your way through.

Temple Boys Choir Working With Cyclone

June/ July 2016 saw Cyclone’s Nick Sheridan and Graham Semark on location at the historic Temple church in London recording the Temple Boys Choir for a new CD release prior to their Australian tour.

Cyclone provided all of the equipment to set up a temporary studio in one of the churches ante rooms and used various microphone set-ups to capture the unique sound of the choir and the ambience of this fantastic location. Live harp, piano, saxophone and the famous Temple “Interstellar” organ were all on the bill for this amazing project!

Using a combination of AKG, Royer, Neumann, DPA and Audio Technica microphones feeding into an S16 digital snake, we ran the mic feeds back to a temporary ‘control room’ 30m away where an X32 mixing desk and Logic Pro X system took care of the recording for us. Using a pair of Munrosonic Egg 100 monitors gave us an exceptionally accurate and high quality reference to ensure that the producer and musical director were happy with the sound being captured.

Recording in a church, and it’s highly reverberant space, has its challenges (not least the sound of helicopters which are a fixture of the London air space!). Getting microphone placement right is key to capturing the sound of the choir, the instruments and the natural reverb with enough separation so that all options are available for the mix – which will happen later in our post production studio, back at Cyclone headquarters!

A Royer SF24 stereo ribbon mic and 2 AKG 414’s configured as an M and S pair were placed behind/ above the conductor to capture the overall balance of the choir, with a pair of Neumann 149 valve mic’s in the centre to capture a closer sound and give us the ability to ‘spot’ the soloist’s. A pair of AT 4033 microphones were used for both the piano and the organ, with 4 DPA 4006 mic’s making a fantastic job of capturing the harp and overall ambience of the church.

Working with the Munrosonic Egg 100 monitors was fantastic, giving us a lot of confidence in knowing exactly what we were taking to the mixing sessions ahead. They are so smooth and transparent, with incredible detail and stereo imaging.

After three days on location, mixing and editing was completed during 9 sessions at Cyclone’s mastering studio before international release on the Orchid Classics record label.

The CD went on to receive a 4 star review in the Guardian later in the year.FacebookTwitterEmailMore

Do I Need A Separate Master For My Vinyl Release?

More and more people are now regularly asking if they need to get a dedicated master made for a vinyl release in addition to their CD. 

Strictly speaking, this is not necessary as a great master for CD can also be a great master for vinyl too. Interestingly enough, most vinyl masters these days are cut directly from a CD production master – with this being common practice for quite a few years now.

If you are mastering a project for both CD and vinyl release, my best advice would be to send the high resolution files directly to the cutting engineer before you step them down to 16-bit 44.1 kHz for the CD. When I am working in the mastering studio, I prefer to work from 24-bit 96 kHz files (sometimes even higher) making adjustments and applying dynamic processing at this resolution before finally converting the files down to 16-bit 44.1 kHz for the CD release. If I know that the project is going to be released on vinyl too, I tend to make A & B side 24-bit 96 kHz WAV files for the cutting engineer to work from as the lacquer cut is an analogue process and this gives the cutting engineer more ‘information’ to work with.

Having said all of this, you shouldn’t worry if high resolution files are not available – a great sounding CD master will work perfectly well in the cutting room even at 16-bit 44.1 kHz.

It is important to make sure that your vinyl masters are not over cooked or clipped. The optimal level for a vinyl cut depends on the RMS (or VU) level, running time and speed (33 or 45rpm) – whereas with a CD, the only absolute technical restriction is the peak level of the program. However, this doesn’t make it a requirement to have a separate master!

In short, it is not necessary to have a separate mastering session. The best way to get a great-sounding release on vinyl is to simply send your hi-res master files directly to the cutting engineer. He or she will choose the best settings to get a great result from the vinyl format based on the sound of your material. For a well-mastered album, it’s simply a case of choosing the correct level and perhaps a few minor tweaks – nothing more!

Medway’s The Galileo 7 Choose Cyclone For 3rd Album Release

Allan Crockfords ‘The Galileo 7’ have a new album now available on CD and vinyl, with the vinyl package including a free bonus CD and download card. The new LP is one of a collection of vinyl titles being manufactured by Cyclone this month. All of the tracks were mastered by Graham and Allan at Cyclone’s own mastering studio earlier in the year.

‘False Memory Lane’ is the 3rd album by The Galileo 7 and is available on their own False Paradise Records label. It is available on vinyl, CD and download… but we say get the vinyl. It will come with a bonus CD featuring 3 extra tracks and download codes.

As a member of such semi-legends as the Prisoners, The Solarflares, JTQ, Thee Headcoats (amongst a much longer list), Allan Crockford played an important part in establishing the Medway area’s reputation as a hotbed for spirited, uncompromising garage rock with a strong DIY ethic. Playing with such Medway notables as Graham Day, Billy Childish and James Taylor, his reputation was as the reliable sideman for more flamboyant figures. After finally realising that songwriting wasn’t one of the dark arts, he recruited some of Medway’s least annoying musicians and formed The Galileo 7 to play some of the songs he had been storing up for a few years.

The Galileo 7’s sound leans in a more pop-psych direction than some of Allan’s previous rougher-hewn combos. While the sound still has the trademark gritty guitar, saturated organ, drive and energy of those unashamedly garage-rocking outfits, the new album tips the balance further towards crafted songs and harmonies. If you want a convenient (but probably misleading) label, maybe ‘garage-pop’ will suffice. If you demand unhelpful and inaccurate reference points before you listen to new music, think late-period Soft Boys, Dukes of Stratosphear, The Nazz and any number of bands who went a bit psych and wobbly in 67 than got back to making pop songs when the stuff had worn off a bit. Chuck in a bit of late ’70’s new wave and a Children of Nuggets boxset and you’ll be halfway to getting the wrong end of the stick. This new collection covers such subjects as self delusion, hubris, conspiracy theories and getting old – all in the form of the uplifting 3 minute pop song.  

Buy the vinyl – you’re eyes and ears will love you for it.

Allan Crockford

‘False Memory Lane’ is available on Fools Paradise Records – visit:

CD-TEXT And iTunes

So why do my song titles not show in iTunes, when I know that my CD was encoded with CD-TEXT during mastering?

This is a fairly common issue, as there is quite a lot of confusion regarding how iTunes, Windows Media Player and various other hardware and software based media players source CD track information for displaying song titles etc. This article is designed to help you understand these issues and fix the problem!

CD-TEXT and on-line CD databases

Generally, there are two primary sources of CD track information utilized by both stand alone, and computer based media players: CD-text and online media databases. Many popular computer applications do not support CD-TEXT information! The most notable being iTunes and Windows Media Player – these both use a different method to get the CD track/ title information – online databases.

CD-TEXT is an extension of the Red Book specification standard for audio CDs that was created in the early 1980’s to allow information such as artist name, album title and track names etc to be written into the subcode of an audio CD. Since it’s release in 1996, CD-TEXT has been adopted slowly and support by many CD players, especially CD-ROM drives has been inconsistent. Most modern car players and many multi-disc machines now support CD-TEXT (including domestic DVD players). 

Aside from iTunes and Windows Media Player, many computer-based media players, such as later versions of WinAmp, Realplayer, EAC, Nero and others now support CD-TEXT as long as the CD-ROM drive in the computer also supports CD-TEXT.

On-line databases

Online databases are used to store CD information along with other metadata including album artwork, song titles, lyrics etc and to provide this data to any device that has access via an internet connection. 

The original online database CDDB contained CD profiles that could be stored on your computer or accessed via the internet. Each CD profile was created by a fingerprinting process involving calculations on track start times, track duration and total length information stored in the table of contents of the CD. When a CD is put into a machine using iTunes, it automatically accesses the database to look for the information relevant to that disc. If no record for the CD is found, a new profile can be created and uploaded to the database. Nowadays CDDB is know as Gracenote (as used by iTunes). There are many other databases available as well, most notable being AMG (Macrovision), Muze, freedb and MusicBrainz. Although the CD identification processes used by these databases may differ from the original CDDB process, the concept is the same and it is worth noting that duplicate, erroneous and multiple entries can occur with some systems (especially in systems that report user-submitted data such as Gracenote & freedb).

How to upload your CD information to on-line databases

Assuming that your master has been correctly encoded with CD-TEXT information, the next step is to deal with the online databases. Unfortunately every database has a different submission procedure but below is a list based on the two players in question:

iTunes – insert your CD, click on the first track and select ‘file’, then ‘get info’ and enter the track information. When you have entered all of the track information go to ‘advanced’, ‘submit CD track names’, fill in the requested information and hit [OK].   

Windows Media Player – Send a copy of your CD directly to AMG below:

Product Submissions:

All Media Guide1
168 Oak Valley Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108

AMG takes care of the rest and your information is normally live in approx 4-6 weeks! 

There are many players that reference the freedb database. Visit the website to see a list of supported players you can use to submit CD information (see link below). Popular applications are Exact Audio Copy and Nero.

Useful links:

AMG (now Macrovision)