My favorite aspect of the 2013 mix, so far, is how much meatier and fuller the rhythm guitars sound. There’s nothing too different about this song besides that they added the lead guitar’s feedback in the intro following the rhythm guitar. This new mix definitely sounds very, very ape.
What I’ve noticed about the new mix overall is how they’ve made the songs feel more “live” rather than “produced;” by which I mean that Kurt’s vocals or guitars don’t get a huge volume boost over the other instruments. “Milk It” is a good example. While the drums are quieter, they’ve given more of a definite shape, and you hear the room more than Kurt’s cords in this song again. My favorite part about this one is that, in some ways that I can’t totally describe, I hear Grohl wailing away more than I do in the original release.
Like “Frances Farmer,” if you listen closely to the original release, you can hear the tape whir-up—which 2013 has removed—and Kurt clear his throat. They got rid of that too. The acoustic guitar sounds much dryer, and Grohl’s toms and kick fill out their end of the sound spectrum a bit more prominently.
“Radio Friendly Unit Shifter”
In the beginning, you’ll notice that the guitar noise stays on the right channel, and Kurt’s moaning on the left. The snare has less of a pop and more of a crack and bottom-end and, like the guitar, has more body to it. Headphones recommended, but definitely at your own risk.
I’ve always really loved this song, mainly for the punchiness of Grohl’s kick. But I’ve never really liked how “trebly” it is; the 2013 mix fixes this right up. Grohl’s kick retains its pop, but, as is the trend on the new mix, is given more of a body. The guitars and the drums are about as loud as Kurt’s vocals, too, which better emphasizes what the boys were trying to thematize: a noise spasm.
This remix kills it. Overall, the new mix makes this song feel much more like a finale. The classic lead riff is given less prominence, which lets you hear the rhythm riff way more clearly. The introductory cello drone is given more of a place. It’s also a bit quieter, and remains more in the corners of the mix during the verse. On the 1993 mix, you’ll notice that the instruments hang out on the left and right channels and bleed into each other to meet in the middle, but the 2013 mix has them dead center. The ending isn’t much different, except that the refrain is a few seconds longer which, I think, adds that “finale” sense to the song.
I’m really into this 2013 mix. To be a bit hyperbolic, if the band had released this through Touch & Go in 1993, I would like to imagine that it would’ve sounded like the 2013 mix. In the Reddit AMA, Albini notes that there were tons of powers outside of Nirvana pushing and pulling the record in a lot of different directions, and this was what inevitably characterized the sound of the original mix. The 2013 mix sounds more straightforward, bare, and quietly more brutal.