Better Than Ezra – 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Release

Posted on Apr 17, 2013

I moved to New Orleans in the summer of 1999.  The town has always buzzed with amazing local music and I was determined to find the best of the local fare.  After a few visits to local record stores (remember those?), I kept noticing this Better Than Ezra CD ‘How Does Your Garden Grow’.  It was released in late 1998 and was still going strong in NOLA.  I was already a fan of the band, so why not pick it up and give it a listen?  

I immediately was struck with the fact that this wasn’t a record made for popular format radio.  It was experimental, edgy, lush, bright, and abrasive all in one.  Somehow it worked and I found the songs and sounds to be infectious.  That CD sat in my car stereo for months and living in New Orleans afforded me the opportunity to see the band’s live show quite frequently.  

Live, these songs erupted from the stage and you could see a passion in the eyes of Kevin, Tom and Travis like they were out to prove something with this record. 

I suspected the label had no idea what to do with this record because it couldn’t be put into a box.  It wasn’t soon after that the band parted ways with their label, Elektra and ventured out on their own to forge their own path.  What we’re left with is a piece of magic that’s a snapshot in time.  A fearless band, working diligently in their own studio in the comfort of one of the greatest cities on earth making a record that to this day is still my personal favorite in their catalogue.

The 5.1 remix idea started very innocently in a backstage meeting at the end of 2011.  I threw out the idea and the band obliged.  Flash forward to the fall of 2012, where I hosted the band to a marathon 16 hour mixing session where months of work culminated into the final tweaks to the 5.1 surround remix.  I witnessed first hand the passion Ezra has for their music and the love they have for this record.  It was a labor of love for me to bring this great record to Ezra fans old and new in the way I as a fan envisioned hearing it….in full surround.   Assembling an amazing team of mixing and mastering engineers to take on this task let me take the job of curator of a true work of art…and for that I’m privileged.

The best way to describe the experience I felt after we finalized the mix is this visual.  When I listen, I feel like I’m sitting in the middle of the band’s New Orleans studio while they’re playing these songs live.  It’s a very personal way to hear the record.  What you’ll hear is the live band performances, the string sections, Kevin’s passionate vocal performances, the noise boxes, synths, etc…they’re all here.  This version will take those who know and love this record to another place and they’ll hear things like they never heard before.  For those that are hearing these songs for the first time, I welcome you to the family.

Watch the documentary video about the making of the surround sound remix.


Richard LaBonté, Music Valet