Time until sign-ups begin:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Spintunes #4 Round 3 Review: Denise Hudson

I had to really get in a different frame of mind to do these reviews. For me, this was really more about making Eliminate-ive Choices; about ranking. Because I really did like all or most of the songs. Even the shadows. All of you had something redeeming about the songs, and this was a round where I actually DID lament being a judge and feel really regretful that I wasn’t participating as a competitor because you guys know that I do dearly love to throw in on things like this. I would have at least liked to shadow and here I am trying to Pick! But what a showing! I’m really pleased with what I am hearing. I know it’s really lame to say that everyone is a winner, but nonetheless I will still stand up proudly even if some other reviewer or person says "what do you mean?? I thought these songs were weak and they sucked." I will NOT have that moment of double checking and thinking maybe I was crazy or emotional or being foolish. I REALLY did think that this was a really good show and I am normally pretty supportive-yet-casual about these Sorts of Things.

In the end, I had some thoughts about the challenge. In previous rounds, I focused more on performance and recording and song-writing; or how a song made me FEEL ... but this time I wanted to see some All Around Songs. Songs that Covered ALL the bases. Songs that were the ENTIRE space station rather than just the Landing Pad or the part in the middle where you go to buy food and stare at the aliens. I am not making sense so I will just describe the kind of characters *I* heard!

These are the folks who managed to make the song feel like it was meeting the challenge. They kind of referred to the seven-letter concept somehow. I haven’t thought of how many letters some of my favorite songs actually begin-in-words-with. They could have seven, or slightly more or less. If I didn’t count in your lyrics, I might not have known or seen any lyrics violations. But if you were clever and met the challenge and played the game – you made the challenge part of your package and the song was partially or entirely showcasing what we were trying to do here.

Some folks really peered at the challenge and in my opinion, perhaps thought too deeply on it. I felt a little bit snowed under by their utter Brain Savvy-tivity in challenge interpretation in some cases, and this made the song suffer somewhat. I thought "aren't you so witty? where is your song, Oh Contestant?" ... How could it possibly stand alone ..? on the other hand;

...some folks wrote full on songs, man … seemingly at the expense of showcasing the challenge. They chose their seven letters – and then they were off and running to the stage on their own agenda, leaving the judges behind desperately clutching the alphabet and wondering what we'd done to make the song contest so Un-Cozy for them! The song could stand alone, true – you couldn’t dock them for points … but it could just as easily be entered in any other round doing any other thing. It could have been a song with seven Starting Letter Words about a childhood nightmare, for instance (where the hell is that nun, Steve Durand?)

Some of you did both. You did it well, and you did it artistically, and your song put the challenge into a rosy spotlight. And after the contest is over you’ll take that song and play it forever because it’s a lovely song as well.

I'm being cheeky, and basically forcing you to read a blog now, so WITHOUT FURTHER ADO …

Your Song Folks. In Order, Whatever that Truly Means. Because some of these are near ties and you really edged up by mere-hairs. I have listened to some of these SEVERAL times.

1. The way that you write for your style allows you to rhythmically vary things with your lyrics, but only sometimes. This is one of those times when your variations of cadence work against your steady guitar. It still feels like story telling.
2. I know that I’ve got something pretty special in front of me when I wish that it was written FOR me, or that I wish that I had written it for someone else. I wish both of those things. I found myself tearing up and thinking of several different scenarios that I would actually apply this song to.
3. I know that this probably has a lot to do with my own personal perspective when we get down to it. There are some goofy and strange word choices that jump out and seem to almost sound like they could be talking about a specific person or relationship. This is fine with me, because I can completely apply this to myself and I can imagine it’s not a stretch for anyone to do so.
4. Basically, I feel you should be rewarded for bringing it in every round, in every contest I’ve ever seen you in – this round in particular you showed up and put down a reliable and non-distracting demo that showcased yourself, the song contest parameters (and cleverly …. ABCDEFG … wow …), and the song. This is an all around example of the Quintessential song of this round. It could really be the poster child for it. It showed a song that could stand alone and a song that had some substance to it. I don’t feel like that from you each and every time, but this is one of the ones I’ll keep for myself I think. It just feels good.

PAUL POTTS (a rather non-review, I’m afraid)
1. I know that there has been some back-and-forth about your singing and should you or shouldn’t you. I know you had asked for some help on this track. You were quite vocaall week about EVERYTHING you were doing with this song. I hoped this wouldn’t be ruinous for you. I tried VERY hard to avoid all things having to do with your song so that I could be fair and impartial…
2. Anyway, you doing this song yourself, in the way that you did – probably made this song a complete success for you. It couldn’t have come off any other way. This is my favorite song I’ve ever heard from you. This is also a solid and complete contest from you, despite your Angst about round one.
3. I don’t want to say a whole lot else. I don’t want to talk to you much about this. Because truthfully, you talk too damn much sometimes, and you’ve been talking a whole lot this entire competition with your papers and your instruments and your disclaimers.
4. Fact is, you wrote a song that made me believe in lifelong love again. You gave me hope, and it happened because YOU sang it to your wife with those words in that way, skillful and honest and true – with love applied to every adjustment and engineering decision. That’s pure gold.

1. You give a title that gives vague nod to the challenge. Then you pick seven letters. You meet the challenge, but the challenge doesn’t meet you … nonetheless …
2. This song doesn’t just stand on its own; it STRUTS on its own. I really actually want to play this song for my brother’s band because it’s got serious swamp-blues feel. My foot tapped itself.
3. I’m not going to get on you for lyrical vagaries – au contraire, koala bear … I’m liable to reward for such skill; particularly when you weave such poetry into a simple blue groove. Your prosody is almost TOO fruity for such a groove. Like poet sleeves at a whiskey bar. And I am not finding a whole lot wrong with this song.
4. Even the utter simplicity of this and the complete lack of bang and whistle is punctuated by a timely stop in tempo that is cheap-sunglasses cool and I’d like to buy you a Lone Star, sir! Happy Texas Independence Day, from me to you.
5. Although your meet of the challenge is vague, like Travis, your production is ridiculous-savvy. In particular, your entire presentation can't be argued with in the least.

1. Vocal good. Engineering sensitive with transitions sensitively done and entrances well blended.
2. I think you should stretch out the end as sumptuously as you do everything else – it feels cursory and cut off. The last line feels awkward. I would almost prefer something like “you already sleep …” just because the rhythm of things feels ka-plunk-ka-dy.
3. Throwing that Bb in there is win. It changes your modality and provides just enough tension.
4. You don’t beat us over the head with the challenge, possibly not enough. Song stands alone. Finding rhymes while meeting the challenge is appreciated though and sails you an easy spot in top four, even a wrestle for third.
5. If you keep writing songs in this vein, you will be setting a style for yourself. We shall go to Travis Norris when we get our hearts broken and we want to drive in the rain to the bridge at the edge of town and stare at the wet streets and listen to E-bow-ish music and Sigh Deeply. This is a good thing.
6. Songwriting-wise, it’s your lyrics and poetry that are keeping you in a high place; and how that has consistently wrapped around an ever-evolving sound. Fine tuning over every aspect of every song looking for “hit” might not feel like anything other than a Sell-Out idea at this point and certainly should not be your goal for every song … but you have the formula to sink a “hit song” should you choose to play both the Challenge Sink game and the “I Got your Formula Right Here” thing.

1. The chorus was hooky as all get-out.
2. Some of the lyrics flow in the verses … not as strong as the rest of the song.
3. Plot-wise, this was a really clever way to tackle the subject matter of the challenge and give it an interesting twist no one else really thought of. You thought … like a writer. This impresses me and shows a depth to your cutesy-ness which gives me pause and makes me rethink the cursory ways I Princess Peached some of your other reviews. Still, you’ve got to think of packaging and how you do things and you have got a lot of icing on you.
4. In that vein (sorta …) your instrumentation was precious … (no … wait…) IN A REALLY GOOD WAY. Your solo was just really cool. Like Hello-Kitty-Saloon. When you followed with that stop and then you did the choral thing that bumped you up too. I don’t know how the partner-ship is and how you were working the arranging chops with the person you worked with, but you did that piano and I appreciate a good throwdown like that! {smile}
5. I was inclined to score this lower because your sounds were tinny and electronic. Because of your cleverness about the challenge – had your sounds matched your production I would have had no qualms placing you in this spot but it was hard to place some of the others below you. Had you done some tricks vocally in your mix and really gelled the whole thing together JUST a little more – you might be top four. Special attention to the challenge wins the day, but this won’t grab the crowd at a songwriting circle as much as some of the other folks you beat. I don’t know if that’s your goal though.

1. This is really well done! Your mix is good and has REALLY amazing pacing.
2. Your guitar sounds REALLY good.
3. I really like this song and it scored really high because I’m going to listen to it again because it grooves.
4. There’s that damn shaky egg. I don’t know why I don’t like them. I own like five of them.
5. Your bridge bit is a little awkward and your drop out kind of gets a little over dramatic and it’s going on and on a bit. You may have beat out a couple more folks if you’d tightened up your structure and kept your momentum up a bit. Still, I can see the drama of this REALLY working live, and I know that’s what you do so yeah!
6. I wish you had some drums. If you had a band behind you would probably kill everyone.
7. I don’t get any sense that you were even participating in a song contest. I almost don’t care because of the vocal slide you do at 1:56. Would it be wrong to totally rip you off? Yowza!!!
8. In conclusion, if you'd done something more topically relevant to the challenge, you'd be sinking the contest. This is a topical contest. If this song is available for sale anywhere, although I can download it for free - this is probably one of the ones I will happily pay money for, and promote to followers.

1. You actually, literally won me over with this song. I could feel the smile on your face the same way you can kind of feel Edie Brickell’s when she does her thing. Everyone says “I don’t like to make comparisons,” but I would only compare someone to her because they sang something like you did. She is singing a song off ‘Ghost of a Dog’ (I think) and it’s about her bra and it’s just delightful. These are those coffee-shop moments and that’s just real nice.
2. Your vocal is really exposed in this fashion and I can see that you have a like-it-or-hate-it vocal (maybe. Maybe everyone likes your vocal and I’m a crazy person). You come off as sounding a little shrill at times though. I think that it completely works in this song though and I liked this vocal better in this than in any of the others that you’ve done. You make me happy.
3. This engineering, I liked. Although … is it REALLY too much to ask (and this is a few of you!) to go through your mix and shave those extra bits of sound that don’t belong and clean up the extra noises? Sometimes it’s distracting! Thank you for using a full bodied shaker, by the way. {smile})
4. Spelling ‘My Tigh(t)s’ is choice, and I noticed.

1. I repeat, where the hell is our nun?
2. No, just kidding (maaaaybbbeeee…). This was Cute. I actually think that this was your best mix, and your fronky little voice you ham up with sometimes suited you here.
3. I’m a sucker for bell sounds.
4. I am NOT really a sucker for too much of the spoken bits because I think they’re a little camp and Novelty Song. It’s gotta be a pretty amazing work of Epic Something or Other to have a talking part and I’m cool with it.
5. Putting an acrostic in it made me Happy.
6. God that arrangement is cool, and it’s going to continue to sit up this high because I’m working on a sound track myself.
7. You sunk the challenge. Also, you could sell this to a kids show, I s’poze.

1. This song got slightly annoying and repetitive, which completely and perfectly hit the subject matter. Nonetheless, I felt bad for feeling annoyed, because it was a good enough song, and I wanted to figure out Why. Why doesn’t one just really like something when it’s just Fine. Because for what it was, it was well done. You are obviously a Talented Fellow.
2. It felt like a long time being blasted over the head with the cleverly creepy lyrics concept. I’m afraid that your well-done song might suffer by comparison. This is unfortunate. Perhaps single folks are distracted by different shiny bright objects than Y’all, maybe that’s it.
3. Nonetheless, your bass line is just splendid. Your chord progression interesting and your lyrics well chosen.
4. I think that it could have benefitted from another voice. Another guitar, or a crunchy organ voice holding a naughty chord – like a WHRRRRONG-B3 or something sklurrrging in. Not for all of it, just some of it. Just because you have so many doubles on the same rhythm, although they are playing very interesting and appropriate voicings.
5. The challenge is not really referred to in any way that I feel, and I feel that writing a song about your chosen topic was more the met goal. I also feel this song perhaps would benefit from liner notes or an introduction. Although in conclusion, it may have been better for not to know of the subject matter – but I’m one of those NOT one of the Us People, and shall Never Be. {smile}

1. Your chorus hook, pretty good. Your melody meanders a little much for my tastes. Last round was a number I liked that in. This one, not as much.
2. This is QUITE a story to get into seven-beginning-letters. Quite the word-smith.
3. I know that you say this is a rough recording, but when you work out a few of your tuning issues and add a few special touches you could make this into an interesting story piece.
4. You may want to consider going outside your usual instrumentation (well, maybe it’s not … maybe you have done this!) and use some bell-like tones and soft organs. Some strings (like a cello) and maybe something mandolin-y or a high-kaepoed guitar.
5. Harmonies well chosen and your structure will come across better with more development. Chorus carries song surprisingly well but you ARE going to have to develop this and get it more confident to sell the shifty melody.

1. You’re lucky you kept this short or this might have really tanked. People who keep these simple things in mind show me that they actually have songwriting sensitivities. One of the hardest things for a musician to actually do is to GET OFF THE STAGE. And you make your point, and then you do.
2. You met the challenge in a way that I really never decided … did it backfire? I don’t know. It was an interesting experiment. You could end a set very late with the drunk folks, or march in a parade accompanied by a brass band doing this.
3. Your layering saved you. And the singsong-y Mardi-Gras friendly melody and fade-out served you well too.

1. You know how to “Edric” things. O.K. Yeah. Excellent.
2. The ends (YOU KNOW ……..)

(they BOTHERED you … didn’t they …..?)

3. Oh, you THINK you over-compensated ( ;) ) by yammering on the ends of those thoughts. Eschewing endings. Basically haranguing another arrangement.
4. Everyone … they’d be Ecstatic! Overcome! Knocked the HELL OVER by your Heavenly BRILLIANCE …
5. The bother kept on you …
6. You tried assonance. You tried all KINDS of alliteration … Yearning … Hoping …
7. But. ……….

……..You didn’t get to … REALLY rhyme did you? The ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
: O
Wouldn’t it just have almost been better to break the rules?
; )

1. I really don’t much know what to say because there’s some content in here that’s just kinda WOOSH!
2. Saying that, how can you really lose with Raptor Jesus? But then again, how can you NOT? This is a risk that was a little … risky to risk at this stage. It’s charming, and this too I think is a well done mix from you which showcases your odd, fun sound nicely and will probably give you a nice RARRRRing bounce out of the contest with your silly lyrics and provocative subject matter.
3. I told my roommate “I really don’t like to eliminate a guy who wrote a song about Raptor Jesus,” but there’s a ton of people who wrote all these amazing songs. Raptor Jesus isn’t a horrible song, either. It’s kinda funny and the guy makes me laugh!”
4. You could write a whole, disturbing musical about Religious Figures of the Dinosaur-ical Ages. (Cretaceous Krishna? Priestesses of the Paleozoic?)
5. I kinda walked around the house later muttering Raptor Jesus under my breath. Dude. I’m going to Hell.
6. P.S. Nice vibrato.

(these were nice. because i did not have to rank them. so in no particular order except for the one that won, and got first place. for the entire year. of everything.)

1. I don't have a lot that is bad to say about this. I'm going to say that I want a wetter piano. Okay. With perhaps fuller body.
2. I'm also going to say that I hear a Tabernacle Level Choir and a 50,000 piece orchestra doing a lush and Very Seriously presented version of this with projected images of the Rare and Precious Quetzelacoatlus schwooping in all its majestic glory.
3. This song rules. And soars.
4. Had you still been a contestant, the mighty Quetzelacoatlus would have soared over the rest of the competition into first place and thusly, Spintunes history. Despite everything I have said about fairness or scoring or whatever; despite my vaunted Criteria-tastic Adjustments. I wouldn't have given a HOOT either. I LOVE stuff like this, and you and everyone else knows it.
5. This song is going on a playlist with your song I can't spell and Twangles the Christmas Squid. That is all.

1. I went to Google Translate with your lyrics after I heard this.
2. I'm not going to tell you what you already know about production, except that the wavery bits are actually a bit less wavery than you have been in the past.
3. This is a sad song and you are emoting and arranging it fittingly.
4. There are a couple of parts where you are singing with some serious passion and you connect with the tune(ing) and get pretty dang close to spot on and hold it. I think that with some time and training - this is where you want to go and the way you want to go there (meaning the approach you want to take) Perhaps harnessing this and seizing this core of energy is the direction to go in.
5. Maybe it was the French, because it's your area of study. Perhaps it frees you somewhat. Who knows these things?

1. This song is very sad.
2. The things that you did which I thought were awkward in the last round had the potential to show up here in speaker-y bits.
3. It plods a little bit. I think when it gets into it it would benefit from a running pattern or something more sustained in the layering in the accompaniment.
4. I am still not crazy about your reverb.
5. I think that you guys could be mixed a little more subtly.
6. This is a long poem and if it went a little bit shorter I think it would come off Perfectly Well. One example is all the times you mention the word "spouse." I don't know if there is some special reason you have for saying this particular word over and over rather than something like "army wife" or something - but it's a strange and kind of awkward word to sing and to repeat several times through a song, in my opinion.
7. Well done, though. Touching and Beautiful and sensitively done.

1. I don't even know what to say about this. I giggled the entire way through.
2. This was perhaps the most creative and arbitrary song of the entire round. Go. Take your place next to Raptor Jesus in the Halls of Asgard. I raise a tankard in your honor.
3. I think that "like a Camp Volcano" has quite possibly replaced "like a Rhinestone Cowboy" in my thought process in "like-a's" to reach for when I am grasping for Just That Thing to say. Another choice moment was "...navigates a love canal ..."
um .... dude .....
4. The last thing I want to say is that I have no idea how you even wrote this song so I have to admire it because I just listened to it with my mouth hanging open. The melody and way of being were completely alien to me.
5. .....Insulting ladies and contessas ... captivating Italians and anorexic Valkyries. Would you please mail me your brain.

Thanks everyone. for a great round.



    1. The DQs killed me, just KILLED me. You guys were great, GL and CL.
    2. I did not know that Raptor Jesus was a meme.
    3. I am working on a special blog for post Rd Three because you deserve it.
    4. It's pretty telling that the two disqualified contestants wrote such good songs that we almost missed the rules infraction. Also worth noting is that Edrics Big Adventure of the Round was so Skillfully Played again that it distracted me, at least, for stickler-ing rules on anyone else.

    So here is your karmic cookie for that. Enjoy your last round of Spintunes.

  2. Thank you again for another very entertaining review. We really enjoyed putting this one together. So much so that we ended up with two songs. I think the second one without the lyric restriction is a bit better, but without the deadline limits we had the opportunity to fine-tune it a little more. Onwards to the final round...

  3. "Wife" would have meant using an eight letter. I only used spouse twice; once to refer to him, once to her. Didn't seem like a lot to me...after all, I used "She/she's" 23 times.
    Did the potential problems from last time show up here? I can't tell if you are saying that they did or didn't. What do you mean by a "speaker-y bit"?
    I'm also not certain what you mean by suggesting "a running pattern or something more sustained in the layering in the accompaniment." Did you want a heavier beat? More cowbell? Add a ticking clock to show the slow passage of time at night when you can't sleep after a nightmare?

  4. I think this is how these contests should be judged....
    On the SONGS.....
    Kudos Denise - knocked it out of the park and did not get distracted by the usual things that seem to have distracted others.

  5. uh... *CLANG*

    Dear JoAnn.
    I guess I'm a crack smoker. Nice efforts, you should be proud.

    ps. well, I seem a little distracted during JoAnn's review, Joe. :/

  6. Further comments for JoAnn and Ted. :)
    1. no I don't think cowbell would be appropriate in this song.
    2. a ticking clock might be tacky regarding your subject matter.
    3. your insights are timely and appropriate on this matter.
    4. If you like I can give you examples of running patterns and left hand-type accompaniments... moving eight note patterns which flow into and over downbeats and keep a song from plodding along but still keep your tempo even and smooth. You don't have to rush such things and utilize speed. A lot of times strings or harp can create this effect as well - particularly when paired with sustained notes.

    I hope that we can continue to discuss matters such as these in an ever more positive environment and look forward to watching your team grow.


  7. It was in my plans to put more orchestral accomp. in "Please Come Back". And actually, I wished I had more reverb in the song, but I decided against it because I didn't think I mastered bending the effect the way I wanted it. Simplicity seemed more effective.

  8. Reverb is a bit controversial and always a matter of individual taste. It's like loudness in that way I s'poze. You get to a certain point and only you can decide how you want your style to be. Repeat it often enough and it becomes a signature and you will be held up to the standard of that because it will become the Sound you like and prefer - indeed, what you're kind of comfortable with. If it sounds like what you want, stick with it. :) Your ears are ultimately, boss, no matter the critique. All critique is ultimately, suggestion. And all suggestion is ultimately, imperfect. This I know. :)