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Saturday, July 31, 2010

SpinTunes #1 Round 3 Review: Julia Sherred

This round was extremely difficult for me on a personal level. It hits very close to home for two reasons. Some of you are aware of these reasons. Others are not. If you at all curious as to why, you can read about it HERE. As a result, I cannot help but judge this from a very personal point of view instead of an objective one. And I suppose since part of the challenge was to induce tears, evaluating the songs from a personal point of view is not unfair.

I do want to say before I continue, there wasn't a single song that I felt “meh” i.e. neutral about or hated. They either really hit me or I liked them. However, despite enjoying all of them to various degrees, there were a couple of songs that left me with a huge cognitive dissonance, which I will explain. I want to say a huge KUDOS to every one who has participated up to this point in the first incarnation of Spintunes. Whoever advances to the final round, congratulations! You've earned it.

9 - Kevin Savino-Riker

Perfect. I know we are not suppose to compare songs from the current round to songs in past rounds, but I do want to let you know, in my opinion this is the best song out of all the songs submitted to this point. This song left me completely devastated. It did exactly what it was suppose to do. It not only jerked tears from my eyes, but left me a quivering and sobbing mess of a person. It hit way too close to home for two reasons: 1) the allusion to the child almost not making it as well, and 2) being left to tell the stories about the mother when she should be the one alive and telling them herself. There are so many wonderful things going on here, from the music setting the tone from the very first couple of measures driving the story forward, your vocals are very well suited for the style and lyrically... I'm just going to say you hit. I could go on but I would be typing pages. Also, the fading heartbeat at the end... gut wrenching. And a huge kudos for Sid and his fiddle. It openly wept right along with me. I'm gushing. Thank you.

8 - Caleb Hines

You broke me. The very first time you sang “But will you miss me when I'm gone?”, I could have died. I wanted to take that baby in my arms and say, “Oh my dear sweet child. I fell in love with you from the moment I first became aware of your presence. I had dreams about your future. I had dreams about our lives together. I would have given anything for you to be here today, even my own life. How can you think for a single moment that I do not love you with all that I am? My heart died the day you were taken from me. I will love you forever and always.” So very sad to even ponder the idea of your song. I think we all have those thoughts as we get old. People wonder who will show up for their funeral. They wonder if they have left any memorable impression on the world. But the idea that a baby not quite born would have those same thoughts is so very tragic and I never want to think about it again because it is a horrible idea. Excellent job!

7 - Governing Dynamics

I do have a slight critique about this song. It is a bit too ambiguous for my liking considering the challenge. Both Kevin and Caleb smacked you in the face with their content. There was no hiding it or being clever. However, I think I understand why you made the choices you did. It is so very difficult to be in your face on this topic. It is why the song I wrote for this challenge will never see the light of day because it is quite devastating when it is so very in your face. It makes you face things you do not want to face. I have to say, when I heard the lyric, “the last nine months I’ve wanted nothing more to shake hands with an angel in a revolving door” during the listening party, tears were jerked. This song would have probably broken me or even devastated me if it were just a little bit more in your face. Another excellent job!

6 - Ross Durand

This song is why I could never give up a child for adoption. This and the reasons I mentioned in Caleb's review. I fell in love with my boys before they were even born. I really do not know what is worse, death or having to make the choice to give up your child. I think I could probably come to terms easier with the death of my baby and having some form of closure than always wondering, “I know they are out there some where... If only I had a moment to see them. To see how they have developed and grown. Does she have my eyes? My laugh? My smile? Does she have any of my personality?” I was hoping someone would write about adoption. My mother, my aunt and my uncle are adopted. So this again is another song that really hits close to home. Did this song make me sad? Yes. Did it jerk any tears? No. There was something a bit too happy in the music even so the lyrics were really well done. Musically, it reminded me a bit too much like one of those country songs you sing to your daughter while she is sitting on your lap about how much you love her. Yet at the same time, there is sadness in the music as well. It is a fine piece of music, but unlike the first 3 songs, it didn't really help to drive the story forward. It didn't really hinder it either. It is somewhere in the middle. Good job.

5 - Edric Haleen

DUDE! The a capella is fantabulous! But dear me. I think this song serves as further proof that I am a horrible person. Or at least it confirms that I have a very morbid and warped sense of humor. This story is beyond tragic irony. Seriously! An event which is one of the most celebrated events in history, the birth of Jesus Christ, is responsible for the obliteration of an entire planet of beings. Millions of people celebrate the joyous day of the birth of their Lord and Savior but did they know what horrendous event had to occur to make it happen? Did they know for them to reach eternal life and salvation, and entire civilization would have to perish? They do now (or they did prior if they read the story this song is based of it). This is truly sad and tragic. However, the reveal made me laugh. Oh, I'm a terrible person. The song was so morose and then you said the lines “Just so this star’s light/ Would shine down over/ Bethlehem?” and I howled! But it isn't funny! It is terribly tragic and sad. I'm just a sick and twisted individual. So, I have to say the fail is probably more to do with me and not all with you.

4 - Charlie McCarron

I hope I understood what this song was about. It is the only time I wish I had a bio that I could have read after listening to the song and coming to my conclusion. At the same time, if I had learned my conclusion is wrong, the song would not have done so well. The song is about the moment when the guy on the moon goes mad and another identity is born, yes? At least that is what I got from the song. It is a shame that I am second guessing my first thoughts about this song, because musically I quite enjoy it. Your style reminds me so much of Jeff Buckley which is a good thing in my books. The song is quite sad. However, it didn't jerk any tears. And the bit of doubt about the subject of the song doesn't do to many favors either. I think maybe people were afraid to be really in your face with this challenge. Which is totally understandable especially as this round is forcing people to face emotions they really don't want to face. I think this piece to be musically very solid but just lacking a little in lyrical clarity.

3 - The Offhand Band

This is a very sad song. Lyrically, the job was done. However, there was a lot of cognitive dissonance with this song. I couldn't help but to bop to it! The music, even so very frantic and serving to mirror emotional frenzy, it was so bloody upbeat at the same time. The music is good. Don't get me wrong. There are so many wonderful things going on with the music and so many great changes but I do not think it matches the lyrics or the tone of this challenge. The music is too happy. It also reminds me of a song or theme show or something from the 80s which I cannot put my finger on. I enjoy this song. It is just too bad that I find myself wanted to bop to it and my brain has to remind me “This is a sad song, Jules. It isn't something you should be chair dancing to.”

2 - Steve Durand

My critique of your song is the same as The Offhand Band's song. I had a very difficult time deciding who should be ranked where since you both left me with the exact same thoughts. In the end, it boiled down to his song made me bop a bit more. Which maybe should have placed him here. It is a bit of a conundrum. By the way, the horns were fabulous! But they were way too happy and fanfare-ish. Good music but I don't think the tone set by the music matches the lyric at all.

1 - Sara Parsons

It is killing me that I am having to place you here. For once, I feel truly horrible about a placement. Your song is very pretty. The lyrics are quite sad. It didn't jerk tears mind you. But, oh dear me, it is a parent's worst dream come true, SIDS. And that is the issue. You didn't meet the first part of the challenge, writing a song about birth. This story takes place after the birth and the child is home. Or that is at least how it came across to me, with the lyrics “We tucked you in tightly,” and “Above you the comets/ And rocketships flew” (a mobile in a crib, yes?). I appreciate the fact you did not harmonize at all in this. There was a loneliness and emptiness to the vocals. In some parts, the music got a bit happy, but it works with what the mother is recollecting and then it gets oh so lonely again.

I want to say something that really pulled at me in this song and why. The line, “And you’ll let me sing you awake “ is heart wrenching for me. And this is why. Before my boys were born, I wrote them each a song. They are quite silly songs. But I would sing the song to them when they woke up, while I was nursing them, while I was bathing them, while I was diapering and clothing them. We still sing these songs.

So there you have it. Very good song but I don't think it met the requirement re: birth.


JoAnn Abbott

I can't really speak to this. Just sitting here trying to explain and I have tears. Another way too close to home since I almost lost kid2 while pregnant and then again during childbirth. There are a few things that don't quite work for me but that is more of a preference thing, such as the style in which I like a story to be told and there are some rhythm issues but that doesn't mean it is not a good song. I hope more people who are not musicians show the guts you have shown and write music, even if it is just for themselves and nobody ever hears it. Good job, Jo.

Brian Gray

Hilarious! That is really all I can say. This song is so absurd and hilarious. The challenge was not to write a funny song but since it is a shadow, you really are not bound by the rules. I thoroughly enjoyed this song. It was also a much needed bit of comic relief during the listening party. Thank you for that.

Dr Lindyke

It is a good thing this song doesn't sound country to me because country don't make me cry. This made me a bit weepy. I wouldn't say tear jerking, but it pulled at my heart for reasons I am sure you are well aware of.

Emperor Gum

Oh, Graham. I said it to you during the listening party and I'll say it again, I love the music in this. You always make such neat and interesting choices with your music. And those choices may not always be successes, I always appreciate them. I think musically, this is my favorite song of yours. There are a couple production issues again, but I don't care. And another thing I really dig about this song, is the approach you took. It seems to be default that when a child is born, you think about the bright and happy future ahead of them. This song is the exact opposite. The child is born into a miserable existence and what should be a time of dreaming about all the wonderful opportunities ahead for this child is spent lamenting whether or not the end of the world is nigh. Totally grok it.


  1. Jules.. I have to take issue with your rankings here:
    How can you place Sara LAST saying the ONLY thing she did wrong was *not hit the challenge* - when Edrics was not about birth (It was about an event that happened MILLIONS of years ago to *celebrate* a birth. Caleb's was CERTAINLY not about birth (You even say so in your review! "Not quite born".)
    And I think your 'overall criteria' for selection is *how much it made you cry* shows exactly how ridiculous this challenge was in the first place to have the words *make it a tear jerker* in it.
    Also, Jules, this is about the songs... Not a place to plug GP ;' )

  2. I've had this discussion already, Joe and I don't need to justify my rankings any more than I have in the reviews. Your rankings place no importance on the challenge at all. What is the point of having a challenge if you are not going to follow the rules? Caleb's and Edric's song had a sense of birth. Sara's did not. It is pretty simple.

    And I did not plug GP.

  3. Hey Jules, I laughed out loud, hard, at the punch line to Edric's song, too :) Just blurted laughing out loud. Only subsequently did I learn that the song was based on an Arthur C. Clarke story, and only then did I rediscover that I'd actually read that story in a Clarke collection I have. But that was about 25 years ago, and I'd forgotten. Then I wished so badly that it was Edric's own idea! Even so, it is a great idea, and he carried it out perfectly, and you're not the only one who laughs at the punch line. We're not bad people, just appreciative of irony. Utterly, unimaginably, profound, perfect irony :)

  4. Jules...
    Sorry, wrong again.
    NONE of them met the challenge for me.
    So they were all judged egually.
    "A sense of birth?"
    Whereas a song about a child being born and then dying *doesn't* ??