Mariah Mercedes - Ending(eternal)
Simple guitar and vocal, but with a voice this good that is all I want! The guitar style is simple, but with enough rhythmic variety and some wonderful creepy chords. Your voice goes from a whisper to almost a scream over the course of the song. The subject matter of the lyrics is both sad and inspiring, treating the topic of death with respect and strength. It all comes together in a package that reminds me, in tone and style, of Al Stewart's "Roads to Moscow". The only change I would make to it would be to drop the last line - it really isn't needed. My favourite song of this round.
Edric Haleen - The Death Of A Meme
Starting with very understated piano chords and vocal, this is bound to upset plenty of people and I love it. The song moves from sad and reflective to glorious, shout-out-loud life-affirming and I think it might just be my favourite Edric song ever. I can picture it being sung on a blackened stage with a single spotlight on the god and one faintly glimmering on the last believer. Wonderful stuff.
RC - Goodbye Everybody
Such a sweet tune. Such a creepy premise! RC, you know that nobody's going to want to employ you after that song, right? When you said you were leaving a few mementos, I was thinking maybe dead fish in the filing cabinets or a bag of sugar in the boss's petrol tank, but you went totally postal! But you do it in such a pleasant and innocuous manner that makes it somehow even more creepy, like you've been planning this for every one of those 15 years. A nice happy pop song, with a understated guitars and a subtle, tasteful drum part.
The Boffo Yux Dudes - The Ballad Of JJR
The Dudes put together a wonderfully arranged homage to the kind of political statement songs of Dylan, Guthrie and many others. It feels part folk song, part old-time western soundtrack with layers of organs, acoustic guitars and massed voices. It is a serious subject, yet full of good humour. Unlike most of the other songs, this one covers the end of a political/judicial career, from which the judge cannot be fired, but for whom life can be made very uncomfortable to the extent that he has to go anyway.
Wait What - Middle Management
Dude, I want your voice! Country with a sense of humour ("Rectum, yum-yum" made me laugh out loud on public transport). It's slick, it's funny, it's terribly crude and it has some splendidly silly little instrumental and lyrical flourishes. Love it.
Hudson And Day - It Worked Out
I'm back in the 70's and there's soulfull, jazzy stuff going on. The layers of vocals intertwining with each other work well. Lyrically it's simple, but to the point. What strikes me as strange is the way it fades out from the middle of the last verse. Is that intentional? I would understand this particular song being suitable for fading out over a repeated chorus, but in the verse? Had it lasted another minute or two I would have been quite happy. Some of the little farty brass synth parts seemed a little out of place, though they were pretty low in the mix, so no big deal.
Godz Poodlz - It's a Great Day at BigMart® Today
When the rhythm section of this started up, I thought I would hate the song. It's an over-busy synthetic, synth-pop travesty, but the rest of the song is so good that it doesn't matter. The chorus seems to be JoCo-meets-Ultravox (really - compare it with "Hello" from the new Ultravox album), which is no bad thing to this listener. Repeating "hello"s from the greeter are a nice little touch. Another explosive ending to match RC's song, though this one seems less pre-meditated. The vocals are strong and the emotions are believable. It's a bit of a reflection on more than just the closure of one discount store and one employee's lost job. Nice work!
Heather Miller - Not Gonna Miss Your Face
A super-catchy chorus on this simple acoustic pop song that sounds like a demo for a song by the Supremes. I can almost hear the smooth "ooh, ooh"s and horn section in the background. The lyrics are on the disturbing side, with an abusive, useless boss finally getting his, with a nice twist on the meaning of the title.
The Orion Sound - Praying
The attitude of this one is wonderful, life-affirming and ballsy, with some very danceable rhythm guitar and scatterbrained honkytonk piano parts. This isn't as in-your-face as some of the Orion Sound songs from SpinTunes 4, but will probably upset just as many people. So, I'm sorry if it offends, but I can't help but laugh at lines like "Praying to Beelzebub... Praying for circumcision". The only thing that really lets this song down are the backing vocals, which make it difficult to make out the lyrics in places because they are not in time with each other.
Caravan Ray - The Beginning Of The End
Off to a great start with this upbeat song that perfectly sums up what I would expect from this challenge. A standard rock/punk arrangement that's as full of life and playful as the character sneaking around his place of employment and doing the mini-rebel thing. I enjoyed the plan for the future and the little dig at the Spotify rate of return. This made me smile a lot. Good job.
Ross Durand - I'm Lyin'
Another country song about a good old country staple, the guy who gets laid off. A nice clean arrangement centred around some effective acoustic guitar playing. I love the organ/vocal background pads in the chorus and the simple rhythm only appears when needed. The lyrics are really bittersweet in this - a love song, a lie and a horrible position to find yourself in. You made me sad, so now I'll need to listen to Middle Management again.
Jailhouse Payback - Escalator
Another upbeat pop number, this has a killer hook in the chorus that lingers around after listening - perfect use of backing vocals. The lyrics are open enough to be able to apply in a number of situations, despite the title. The instrumentation all works with the song, perhaps lacking a little lick here or there at the end of the chorus, or leading into it, but these are minor points.
Governing Dynamics - Swing Shift
Here is a well-produced rock number, with a bit more variety in the arrangement and some nice dynamic shift and a subtle, laid-back guitar solo leading into rock ballad territory. It feels a bit lacking in emotion or humour for my taste, but enjoyable.
Glen Raphael - Naked
Here we kick off with a beautiful acoustic guitar solo introduction, then it goes all James Taylor. Hmmmm. Yes, it works pretty well. Nothing too exciting happens lyrically apart from giving a fleeting moment of "where is _this_ heading?" with the line "And we're all naked...", but then it wimps out "...under our clothes". Oh well, just heading home then. Seriously, it gives that impression of "Ah, well, that was that, then..." Leaving a long time job being like a damp squib. There were a couple of places where the guitar sounds like it is trying to escape, but everything stays on track. Well put-together and pleasant enough. If this kind of thing is your kind of thing, then this is for you.
The Chocolate Chips - My Own Boss
There's a strange edit after the first verse of this song that seems out of place and yet works because it signals the end of the old job with a side comment and a nice reverse guitar sound. The vocals are Dylanesque, but the lyrics are far from Dylan - very repetitive. Maybe he's still trying to convince himself that things ARE better now. The chorus repeats a bit too often, but I suspect that is just to meet the 2 minute limit. Another weird edit ends the song. Can I suggest the use of a de-esser or a change of mic technique? The 's's in the first verse are overwhelming the sound.
Ménage a Tune - Crowning Glory
Another solo acoustic guitar intro leading into a tribal rhythm with band backing. As for the lyrics, well, finishing a job when that entails building a pyramid, is certainly worthy of an epic song. And this IS epic. It builds up with all three vocalists taking a different view on the task, with all three singing different parts together at the end, which works very well. In fact, this choral part works better than the solo vocals, some of which feel a little unconfident. There is also some weird interplay between the guitar and piano parts at the end that warps the standards set in the earlier verses, helping to make the end really stand out.
EvelBist - The Beginning Of The End
This has a real classic rock feeling to it, as though we've heard it somewhere before, but couldn't say just quite where. It's led by bass and a laid-back drum beat that work very well together, particular at the end of the choruses. Part way through the guitar solo the band seem to be running out of steam, but it's all okay again for the last refrain. The lyrics fit the bill, summing up the feelings of leaving work, but not really expanding on the topic too much.
Trader Jack - Last Day
Okay, I like the way the horse steps become part of the rhythm right at the start of the song. It's a nice touch, but... why? It doesn't seem to have anything else to do with the song. This is probably the song which best gets across the excitement of a voluntary last day at work. It's a crazy 80's footloose long with a flatulent bass synth, choppy piano chords and drum machine. Some of the lyrics don't make much sense, but that's pretty much the idea - being so excited that not much makes sense. Fun.
Felix Frost - Leaving Lyman's Liquor Store
Without reading any of the lyrics on the first listen to any of these songs, I initially didn't pick up on the western aspects of Felix's song and thought it sounded like a Mario Bros adventure brought to life in song. Very 8-bit and cartoony in style. There is no recognisable chorus as such and the instrumentation changes like an ADD squirrel on speed, but it has a certain charm and I'm coming round to it. I'd love to hear Felix do something a bit slower, with different instrumentation. Maybe even take a breath now and then. How he managed to pack all this into one week is beyond me. I'm guessing no sleep and far too much coffee. Felix has yet to find his feet, I think; some of the moves between styles are a bit clumsy, though they are effective when they do work.
Army Defense - You're Not Paid
A downbeat rock number, this feels like it needs a bit of an injection of something. Maybe some of whatever keeps Felix going. It just plods a bit then ends. Or does it? There's a silence, a scrape a drum fill and then everything starts back up and changes in the last 40 seconds or so, taking on a John Lennon vibe with a bit more life and soul, which is much more effective.
"BucketHat" Bobby - On The Pogey
I love the Irish folk / sea shanty feel to this and the lyrics are great, but that argh! The piano is horrible! Really, it drives into my skull. Please remix this and leave it out. I just find it very intrusive - either play more or don't play it at all, but that one-note bass thing is horrible in an otherwise cheerful little number.
David Ritter - Graveyard
Funky zombie rock. Haven't we had enough zombies yet? No? Oh, okay then. I liked the phone call, that was fun, and there is a frantic feeling to the song as it bounces along, but the song doesn't really do much for me. It's not really funny or scary or sad, it's just busy and a bit silly. All the instrumentation is fine, though there is maybe just a bit too much going on at once. Maybe have a verse with only drums or only guitar or something. Change is good. I said "change", not "brains"!
Gorbzilla - The Last Last Day
Modern rock ballad time and the music I could quite happily leave behind, though the guitar is distorting in a way that acoustic guitars shouldn't. The lyrics are thoroughly miserable - not only is the protagonist losing his job, but a whole school for the underprivileged getting closed down. Strong stuff, well done, would not be out of place in a made-for-TV movie, but it just sounds like so many other rock ballads (apart from the distortion) and doesn't do anything new. It just seems to stop without
Alex Boyd - The Bastard Had It Coming
I like this song and the sentiment is no doubt shared by many who leave their jobs. It has a cheerful folky style and the lyrics have a hard edge that balance out the so-happy-we-want-to-slap-you-too instrumentation. Some nice uke playing in places, but the vocals need work - the pitch wobbles off on its own in several places. Still, there's nothing like practice, so keep at it.
Jeremy Lambright - Empty Spaces
This really did nothing for me. I didn't hate it, but just had this feeling that nothing was really happening. I suspect I've just become immune to that particular brand of two chord guitar middle of the road rock. It just seemed to repeat endlessly, which might have been okay if the repeated phrase was awesome, but it wasn't. I think I might have fallen asleep somewhere in the middle.
Milton - Today's The Day
This song has a pretty and memorable chorus, but everything else just feels uncomfortable. The verses feel like 80's Madonna songs before she had a band. The rhythm section would be better left out - it feels week and out of place. The vocals sound lost, void of emotion until maybe the last chorus. If you are going to sing "I'm gonna dance and shout", at least do so giving the impression that you might; don't sing it in a monotone. The song feels half-finished, so maybe it was an effort to avoid a deadline disqualification..
Emperor Gum - Pygmalion
The lyrics for this song are touching, as the inventor puts together his clockwork girl and lets her go on her way. Unfortunately the music does not back it up. It sounds like the guitar can't quite keep up with the bass, there are some pretty intrusive synth parts that stick too far out of the mix. There is just something uncomfortable about the arrangement and the vocals struggle to hit the notes in places too. At the very least it needs a re-mix, but a stronger vocal performance would help too.
Francis Wms. - Redundant Redunit
This track does a great job of giving the impression felt in the midst of a mass-redundancy announcement. There is a numbness, a feeling of nausea and all the while somebody drones on about how redundancy is not necessarily a bad thing. This speech waffles on endlessly and repetitively, sometimes totally obscured by the music. You might think that's a good thing, but the music is genuinely horrible - it really does make my stomach feel quite queasy. It doesn't let up the swirling, muffled beat at any point with a change in pace or dynamics, but is quite simply relentless. So, totally successful in getting the challenge across, but as a song? Well, it really isn't a song, is it? It's one of those pieces of art that gets a point across, but is so disturbing and horrible that you don't want to listen to it. Ever. Again.
Rats Of The Sky - Two Weeks Notice
This starts off strong, with a nice riff and powerful instrumentation. Then the rapping starts. There doesn't seem to be any emotion in the vocals and the second voice doesn't add anything, indeed in places it takes away from the lead vocal, as they are not always in sync. The arrangement is fine, but it is fairly repetitive. In a couple of places the vocals stop and some of the instruments drop out as though there was going to be some sort of instrumental break, but then nothing really happens.
Dex01 - Brand New Life (Shadow)
The vocal is disappearing behind the guitars and feels lacking in confidence, but the potential is coming through in places. Some of the arrangement is rather clumsy too - particularly switching between instrumentation, whilst there are maybe just too many guitars clashing in the last chorus. I like the on the spur of the moment decision made by the narrator and the response of the boss - not what I was expecting, and really made the whole thing more touching and human.
Dr. Lindyke - Mayan Holiday (Shadow)
Billy Joel meets the End of the World! I thought there might have been more songs along these lines when I knew what the challenge was, but I couldn't imagine many being more perfect than this. Current, upbeat and fun, but with a bit of sad turn in the last verse.
Zoe Gray - Say Goodbye (Shadow)
The end of the world (and humanity), but from the Sun's point of view. This is the kind of bending of the challenge that I fully support. The piano playing is simple, but effective. The synth break in the middle is a bit out of place and could be incorporated a bit better. Vocals are sad and wistful, there's something poignant about having a character aged over 4 billion sung by someone who sounds like they are barely in their teens. The question is... why are you not competing?
Greg Hosack - I'm Gonna Go (Shadow)
First things first... please turn down the level on your shaker! Oh, and if you could shake it in time with the rest of the song, that would be good too. Almost everything else is good, though. Good vocals with superb doubling and the instruments have been well-recorded. There is one other issue - your levels are overloading like crazy. Please use bit of gentle compression and keep the levels down. It's not just the shaker, either. Try loading your mp3 into Audacity - I could hardly see the waveform for red warning lines!