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SpinTunes 11 will start around the time the counter runs out:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Champions Vs Shadows #1 Round 2 Reviews: Klopfenpop

I've found a number of musicians on Twitter lately.  Follow one musician, they retweet a different musician, so I listen to & follow that musician as well.  Pretty sure that's how I stumbled on klopfenpop.  Sifting through his SoundCloud account I was impressed with his producing.  I'm very glad we have him as a guest judge this round.  As usual I'm going to highly recommend that you listen to the embedded track as you read his reviews.

- Spin

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“The Dream Is Winding Down (Lucid)” by Governing Dynamics:

Composition
Excellent progression. I love the powerpop sensibility to the colorful chords and key modulations within the verses and chorus. Strong vocal arrangement, which always makes a big difference.

Lyricism
I like the subtle use of clich├ęs as a lyrical device, here. Not overdone. You also have a way of making of turns of phrase and delivering them in such a way that they feel like they’re everyday figures of speech. Very well done.

Production
This is a solid mix. For the acoustic demo feel, this is well done. All the elements are audible and discernable. While maybe not great, it’s definitely a successful mix.

Aesthetic
I’m a big fan of a good pop song, so I’m into it. This reminds me of some of the more stripped down Linus of Hollywood songs.

“4-3-2-1” by Zoe Gray:

Composition
The only thing jumping out at me is that the chord progressive behind the third line of the verses has a very conclusive-sounding cadence. It feels like you are using the progression to end the verse earlier than a standard four bars, but when the fourth line comes up afterward, it’s a bit jarring to the flow of the song as a listener. Points for being unique, though! There something to be said for formulaic compositions, but there is easily as much to be said for experimentation. The key is finding the balance between surprising the listener, but not setting them up for something then letting them down.

Lyricism
You’ve got some great color words in here (tumbling, pretending, etc.). A few of the lines feel like they could have been cleaned up a little to be a bit less clumsy and more “showing, not telling” (“well I know what I’m doing then”) I like the lyrical motifs you setup and call back—very effective.

Production
The mix could be a little less muddy. The low knocking (maybe hitting a guitar case or a desk) is a great choice, but it’s a little indecisive mix-wise. Not enough body to be a bass drum, but too much bass to be McCartney tapping his foot in Blackbird.

Aesthetic
The clapping is fantastic. I absolutely love how all the rhythms build on each other as it progresses. It really give the track a sense of compositionally maturing along with the narrative. The ukulele is a bit out of tune and sloppy, but I actually dig that. It works for the track and together with the impromptu rhythms and xylophone, it reminds me of Adem in a good way.

“Goodbye For Now” by Jenny Katz:

Composition
Nothing too interesting, but it doesn’t get same-y, which is good. While the base progression isn’t unique, it switches up even before the verse is over. I definitely enjoyed the minor four at the end of the bridge, too.

Lyricism
These lyrics show some maturity, but also a little bit of misguided grandiosity. There’s nothing wrong with sincerity and there’s nothing wrong with lofty writing, but somewhere between “the galaxy holds us in golden arms” and “check out my mixtape,” the sense of consistent tone is lost. I feel like some of the metaphors used could be much more powerful if cleaned up a little bit. Instead of “the galaxy holds us in golden arms” (because what is that even supposed to mean?) the galaxy metaphor seems more apt for a comparison like “my arms surround you like the spiral of the Milky Way”. A lot of the imagery feels halfway there—good ideas, not fully realized.

Production
Props for the full band mix. That takes a big commitment for competitions with a quick turnaround like this, and this isn’t bad at all. The drums could definitely use some better treatment, but honestly, the drums aren’t as important in such a vocal-centric song as they might be in other contexts, so I don’t feel like it’s much of a detriment.

Aesthetic
I’m not super into this style, but you definitely nailed it. Success in art is measured by achieving what you intend to, and I definitely get a sense of you as a musician and songwriter from this.

“Tired Of Counting Down” by Bubba & The Amiable Kraken:

Composition
This might be an example of being a little to formulaic in the progression. Fortunately, though, this aesthetic lends itself to simpler progressions. Unfortunately, the vocal arrangement feels largely “first-draft.” It sounds like you two are both relatively adept singers and improvised the harmonization. This will get you a passable result, but taking the time to work out the harmonies with some intention can make a world of difference. Specifically, be mindful of when harmonies bump into each other and end up landing in unison. Unless done for a really good reason, that will always feel off to the listener.

Lyricism
I’ve got to be honest, nothing really stands out lyrically at all. It feels very, “These words that go together in songs.” I do like the imagery of “half-drawn maps” and that you rhyme it with “collapse,” but even the use of “codes and ciphers,” which lend themselves to some great imagery, falls flat.

Production
The drum programming is not obtrusive, which a huge accomplishment with fully synthesized drums in a slow, guitar-based pop song. I like the use of heavily distorted guitar as more of a washed-out pad then as a typical rock rhythm guitar.

Aesthetic
This song feels kinda like homemade Nashville Christian worship music, which is not an aesthetic I’m into. A lot of that might be the simple chord progressions and the way the male vocalist uses his voice, but it’s definitely a barrier for me getting into the song. The way the two singers use their voices make it tough for the timbres to work well together. Very breathy and raspy from him, very clean and chesty from her.