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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Spintunes #4 Round 2 Review: Donna Schubbe

For those of you who don’t know me yet I am Donna, half of the famed “Matt and Donna” from SpinTunes 3. My husband Matt so graciously decided to judge the first round so I am up for the second. There is a reason we like to make music together, because we have so many similar opinions and ideas about it. And so for the purposes of these reviews you should consider Matt and I a “matched set” like these salt and pepper shakers (they can be separated but they go together. Basically go re-read Matt’s judging criteria because that’s my criteria as well. One thing that may be different is my intolerance of boredom with a song. If a song bores me, or doesn’t keep my attention it does not bode well.

Off we go. I have ordered the songs by what I ranked first to last.

1. David LeDuc – 3rd Grade Valentine
This song really stood out to me above all the others. It felt so full musically. I love the piano & synth and the drums had a pleasing boom bap sound. Your voice is really lovely and you harmonized well with yourself. I liked that I was thinking this was going to be about a 3rd grade crush on a girl and then you surprise us with it being about a bully! This is one of the few songs this round that had a distinct verse and chorus and incorporated a bridge section as well. I could see this song being played on my favorite local music radio station. This is a song that I will go back & listen to even after SpinTunes is over.

2. Brian Grey – Man Crush
I love this song. It almost perfectly describes the relationship between my husband and a friend he calls his hetero-life-partner (except for the stalker vibe). You played the piano beautifully and you have such a nice voice, it was really strong throughout. I love the way it builds up as the song progresses. You have so many great pop culture refs in this song! It is super funny and enjoyable to listen to, great work!

3. Robert Borden – Julia
You have a great voice with beautiful tone! Your harmonies & backing vocals of “Julia” sound fantastic. I love the simple musical arrangement. This song really kept my attention even though I am not familiar with Julia or any of her songs. I thought the pacing was really well executed. Cute Ashton & Demi ref. I hope this song gets Julia’s attention.

4. Felix Frost – Amber Avalanche
Thank you for the song bio; it helped me to understand the story of your song so much more. I really enjoyed it! The marching type snare in the background is great during the verses. You really killed it with the synth; I am such a sucker for some good synth! I love the changes in tempo & emotion in this song - musically you really brought it. Nice instrumental before the last verse, I feel it gives the listener time to imagine the relationship between Wellington and Ms. Avalanche, I imagine there is some great adventures of flight happening in that part. It had a super fun video game type quality to it.

5. Ross Durand – Space Opera Valentine
This one took me a few listens to really get into. The lyrics are so clever – so many great Star Wars nuggets. You vocals are nice, strong and confident, much improved since round one in my opinion. There is a nice ebb and flow to this song that keeps my interest. Nice little guitar solo. This is such a fun concept with great production value. It is a great nerdy valentine with a country vibe.

6. The Orion Sound – You (A Valentines Stalker Song)
Wow, SUPER catchy. I found this song got stuck in my head much more than any other. It was hard to sleep sometimes because I couldn’t stop singing the chorus. Your voice is great, it has great tone and it is very unique, my favorite part was the way you sang, “see the signs”. I love the driving piano behind everything it makes me want to dance. There are few points where the piano gets a bit muddled during the chorus. I like that you didn’t complicate this with too many instruments. It really allowed your unique voice to stand out.

7. Trader Jack – You Can Be My Joey Ramone
This is the exact type of music I listened to in high school, so it holds a place near & dear to my heart. Your vocals aren’t perfect, but they work this the song and I actually like you voice a lot. But I would encourage you to work on your range a bit more. Fantastic guitar & drums, I found myself bobbing my head and really getting into this one.

8. Rebecca Angel – Insignificant You
Beautiful voice! I felt like I was in some swanky low-lit lounge sipping a martini while listening to this one. Nice and jazzy. The piano is lovely, very well played. My one critique - I did feel myself losing interest in the subject matter, this song felt like I could easily talk over it and just have it in the background that is the only reason why it is ranked a bit lower on my list.

9. Faux – Back Down To You
Cute concept of writing to Mother Earth, I loved the sweet & funny lyrics. The piano is nice and strong; it really drives the song along, well-played – great piano solo! I dig the synth in the background. Your vocals are good, but could definitely be stronger; there are parts that seem just a bit off key. This is a fun song and I could easily see this being played on earth day. Good work!

10. Jess Scherer – Carbonated Love
What a cute, fun, “bubbly” song! Your vocals are much stronger since the last round. Though it does seem like you are pushing your vocals too high & out of your range at times. But when you are in range your voice is great. I love the piano, and it sounds like a glockenspiel in the background? Adorable lyrics. Nice work.

11. Gold Lion – I Love My Dog
You have a wonderful voice! This song has a cute camp song feel to it. Handclaps are always a favorite of mine but they could have been a little cleaner. I could see this song in a dog food commercial. Though it doesn’t feel like a valentine card type song to me, it’s more of a love song about your dog. Pretty basic song, but you sang it really well.

13. Kevin Savino-Riker – Got Away
You play the guitar so well; I love it in this song! I really enjoyed the finger drumming on the guitar as well. Your voice is really nice and you harmonize well with yourself. It is such a cute story about thinking you found the “one” and having that girl be the catalyst the finding the real “one”. I would have liked a little bit more variation in range & melody during the verses. This song has a very coffee shop vibe, and maybe that is what you were going for.

12. Edric Hadleen – To My Significant Self
I see what you were trying to do here, but I feel you may have gotten trapped in the concept of just “yourself”. I had to listen to this 3 times to really appreciate it. Your voice is great and this sounds like it could be in a musical. I would have liked some instrumentation to break this up a bit, even just a piano. The song seemed to drag on a bit for me and I found I had a hard time following along, maybe due to the lack of instrumentation.

14. Jacob Haller – From Your Neighbors
Hmm… Obviously a concept most people wish they had the guts to do. Honestly it is not my taste, but the more I listed to it, the more I appreciated it both musically & vocally.

15. Governing Dynamics – I Shouldn’t Blame You
This has a very 90’s vibe & I think it works for the song. Great guitar. Your vocals are the best I’ve heard from you. There are a few pitch issues that could be worked on. I would like to hear some more interesting dynamics from you vocally, I felt like you were on a merry go round looping around to the same notes vocally for most of the song. There is a nice bridge that comes in and has come that adds a lot melodically to the song, but I feel it comes in too late to be as effective as it could be. Because of the repetitiveness I felt the story hard to follow at points.

16. Steve Durand – The Woman Of My Dreams
Nice trumpet & the base lines are really great. Vocally it could definitely be stronger. Do I see a nun theme? This song had a very sleepy vibe to me and maybe that is what you were going for, being that the song was about a woman from your dreams. I enjoyed the bridge with the guitar solo and I wish most of the song sounded more like that.

17. Jon Eric – Friday February 13th
The piano is well played and sounds nice. I like the harmonies in the middle. Some of the vocals seem a bit out of your range and strained, almost whiny sounding. The song didn’t have enough going on musically for me. It seemed kind of “one note” throughout. There isn’t a strong chorus to draw the listener in.

18. Noah McLaughlin – Hey Joe
I like the organ in the beginning. I love the concept, I would write a valentine to my cup of coffee too. The music is great but your vocals aren’t as high quality as your instrumentals. You were off key for most of the song. I like the floating/flying part. It feels like you were pushing your voice in an uncomfortable way. Maybe work on trying to find your range and what is more comfortable for you to sing in. Keep practicing!

19. Hazen Nester – (Bored With My) Precious Little Life
Musically this is pretty fun and played well but the vocal harmonies were really off and I found it hard to enjoy any part with those because it just didn’t work. I like the subject matter of Scott Pilgrim that made for some fun visuals. Great guitar solos! I would probably have ranked this song higher if you had not included the harmonies.

20. Common Lisp – A Brother’s Valentine
Nice base! I felt your lyrics were thoughtful and clever and I appreciated that. I did not enjoy the chorus, the extra high-pitched robot kind of voice really creeped me out and took away from what you were trying to get across in the chorus. Also the deep voice at the beginning and the end was a strange choice, because it didn’t register as the “sexy soul man” vibe you were going for. There are things I enjoyed about this song but, nothing personal, it really just wasn’t my taste.

21. Boffo Yux Dudes – A Letter To Bernie
This song unfortunately annoyed me right from the start. You do have some clever lyrics, but the song is full of cheese to me. The vocals are off key, and I really don’t like the talking parts. I do like the piano… but that is about it. I’m sure to the right listener this song would be hilarious and very entertaining but it is not my taste personally. I see this being made into a cartoon someday.

22. Caleb Hines – To The Administrator Of Extraplanetary Research
My first thought was okay… when is he going to start singing. When 2 minutes passed without any singing it made me frustrated. I really liked your concept but I think you could have made a better song out of this by changing it up musically and singing the lyrics rather than just speaking them or at least singing during a chorus. Also, because it was spoken word, it felt like it dragged on for way too long.


  1. Donna,
    Just curious. Did you listen to the first round songs? My lyrics kind of lose some of the effect if you didn't listen to the first round song.