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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spintunes #5 Round 1 Review: Steve Durand

First, a few words about how I developed my rankings. I considered the following items in order of importance:

The challenge: I want to see the contestants really embrace the challenge. Find a creative way to address it and make it resonate with the listener. Entries that take the obvious path indicated in a challenge will, of course, get ranked but someone who tries to skirt around it and minimize it will not score well in my view. Of course there is risk in taking the road less traveled if it doesn't really work.

Lyrics and Melody: What some might call Songwriting. To my way of thinking, a song is words set to music. Lyrics that are clever, say something in a different way, have interesting rhyme schemes or otherwise set themselves apart are going to score higher. A melody that is interesting and memorable will score higher. Songs that are strong in both will clearly fare better.

Performance and Production: To me these are the least important items in this contest. A great performance and/or recording is not going to save a mediocre song. Mostly this is going to be a factor that will separate songs that are otherwise similarly ranked.

And now-on with the reviews. In order of ranking.

Menage a Tune – Crowning Glory

Challenge: Met – excellent work taking the challenge in a different direction.
Lyrics & Melody: Great lyrics, even a bit poetic in places. Tying it together with the theme of the golden crown and bringing it forward to the present day was a very nice touch. The melody fits beautifully with the lyrical content.
Performance & Production: I like the eastern themed lead in. It would have been killer with a more authentic eastern instrument. The backing orchestration has plenty of diversity and supports the vocals well. But, once it gets going it is kind of static. It would have been nice to have a changeup of instrumentation or different counter melodies come in. I really liked the out going chorus with the multiple voices. Great job overall.
Rank: 1

Ross Durand – I'm Lyin'

Challenge: Met – good job taking it in a different direction.
Lyrics & Melody: Good take on how you might have to face your family after losing your job. It reminds me of the movie “Falling Down” where the guy continues to pretend to go to work after he has been laid off. The lyrics flow nicely. I like the little section with the angst about feeling inadequate. The melody fits the style very well although I don't think it's going to be particularly memorable.
Performance & Production: Beautiful guitar playing and recording as usual. Nice harmonies. Good harmonica bit. Can't really think of anything I would change.
Rank: 2

Gorbzilla – The Last Day

Challenge: Met – a little different than the standard.
Lyrics & Melody: Nice internal rhymes in the lines. This one has a little more specificity that I like. I can relate better to something like this. Relevant social commentary on whats going on with our education system.
Performance & Production: I'd like to hear a little more than just strummed chords as the backing in the verses. I like the singing.
Rank: 3

“Bucket Hat” Bobby – On The Pogey

Challenge: Met-a good twist.
Lyrics & Melody: A fun tune. Enjoyed the style and the melody is catchy. Highlights to me “giving money to the Government so they gives it back to us”. I like the EIEIO bridge.
Performance & Production: Where's the accordion? I think it could have used something more than the single piano line in the backing track. The vocals sounded like you were enjoying yourself.
Rank: 4

Caravan Ray – The Beginning of the End

Challenge: Met-pretty straight take on the title. I enjoyed this one the best of those that took the obvious path.
Lyrics & Melody: Lyrics pretty much as expected. A couple of crude bits but fitting for the sentiment. I think that your chorus flows smoothly and fits the melody well. The bridge is a nice little tack away form the main theme and fits nicely. I think the melody is catchy and the chorus does provide a nice hook.
Performance & Production: Solidly done.
Rank: 5

RC – Goodbye Everybody

Challenge: Met-pretty straight take, maybe a little bit of a twist at the end with the extent of the revenge.
Lyrics & Melody: Mostly as expected, didn't really take us anywhere unusual except for maybe the extent of the revenge in the last verse. The verse melody was pleasant and the chorus was hooky enough.
Performance & Production: Very pleasant listen. Very clean production, could hear all of the instruments clearly. Competent guitar playing. Some nice chord changes. Singing was fine.
Rank: 6

Mariah Mercedes – Ending (eternal)

Challenge: Met-Good job taking a different direction. My interpretation here is that the protagonist is a mother and a mother's work is never done. I guess until they die.
Lyrics & Melody: Lyrics are touching but a little vague. I think you could get a little stronger emotional tie with the situation by being a little more specific. Kind of stretch on what the “work” aspect is for me. Melody is OK. I like the way it goes at the end of the verse. Otherwise not particularly grabbing me.
Performance & Production: Stylistically this is really not my thing. I think your voice and singing are very compelling. The guitar part is boring. I would like hear something other than just strummed chords.
Rank: 7

Godz Poodlz – It's a Great Day at Bigmart Today

Challenge: Met-a little different than the average.
Lyrics & Melody: I like that you added specifics to the “get revenge” type of take on the challenge. Cynical take on big box stores and the effects on modern society.
Performance & Production: electro pop background works just fine. The doubled voices are in synch and in tune with each other.
Rank: 8

Governing Dynamics – Swing Shift

Challenge: Met-pretty straight take on the title.
Lyrics & Melody: I find the lyrics all a bit vague on whats going on and feel like I would like to hear something a little more specific regarding the situation. It's nice that you put in a bridge with a little stylistic change but the lyrics didn't rally add much. The melody was fairly forgettable.
Performance & Production: Nice guitar work. The singing was fine. I think that there was a little too much of just musical sections. The guitar solo before the last verse was nice but I think that you could lose the section leading into the bridge. I think it just kind of stretches the song out.
Rank: 9

Edric Haleen – The Death of a Meme

Challenge: Met – Using a little imagination to take the challenge somewhere different. Does it work? Partly. I have a little struggle thinking that an idea is doing the work . To my mind it is the person doing the thinking but, for the purpose of this song I can buy it.
Lyrics & Melody: I like the sentiment of your song and I think the lyrics serve it well. But, I think you could have really made the lyrics stronger by addressing more of the effects of this meme, both bad and good. e.g. great artworks, charitable works, genocide, holy wars, etc. Sadly I don't think that we will see this meme's last day of work for a long, long time. The melody is alright and suits the song but I don't think I'm going to be finding myself singing it in the shower.
Performance & Production: Singing is your strong suit and, of course you come across very well. I suppose the piano as the only backing instrument is alright but I could certainly hear the opportunity to put some strings in there.
Rank: 10

Alex Boyd – The Bastard Had it Coming

Challenge: Met – One of the expected angles. Revenge on the boss.
Lyrics & Melody: Lyrics are consistent with the theme. Nothing clever, just straight forward. Melody is also simple but sticks with you.
Performance & Production: Uke only as backing is a little tiresome. Your singing is often not on pitch. (I can relate)
Rank: 11

David Ritter - Graveyard

Challenge: Met – with a twist about zombies.
Lyrics & Melody: Ha, ha managed to get song about zombies out of last day at work. Melody works, I was bopping my head.
Performance & Production: I like the backing track. The lead vocal is a little shaky on some of the falsetto bits. I think the little phone segment was a tad long.
Rank: 12

Heather Miller – Not Gonna Miss Your Face

Challenge: Met-kind of standard take.
Lyrics & Melody: Mostly about how bad your co-worker treated you. Again the revenge angle at the end. Melody suits the song just fine.
Performance & Production: sounds like you're sitting out in the middle of your garage. It would be nice without so much room effect. You could make the song sound so much more immediate. It also be nice with a little more than just guitar strumming to back it up.
Rank: 13

Rats of the Sky – Two Weeks Notice

Challenge: Met.
Lyrics & Melody: So there's a lot of words in there. Since this is a rap tune I appreciate the fact that you didn't lace it with obscenities. Nice gritty lyrics getting to the fact of the matter that, due to various circumstances, a lot of people end up in sucky jobs. I can relate to that. Obviously I can't address the melody.
Performance & Production: OK so, rap is not really my thing. But from my perspective your backing track is OK and your rapping flows well enough.
Rank: 14

Jailhouse Payback - Escalator

Challenge: Met – ordinary take.
Lyrics & Melody: It's a pleasant song but fairly bland all around. The lyrics don't really take us much of anywhere. “Peeling messages in the sunburn”? I have absolutely no idea what that means in the context of the song.
Performance & Production: Clean pleasant sounding production. Decent singing. Nothing wrong here.
Rank: 15

Felix Frost – Leaving Lyman's Liquor Store

Challenge: Met – takes things off in a different direction. It appears that there are two last days here. One of being a liquor store owner and one of being a bandit.
Lyrics & Melody: I like the story. Melody is all over the place. Kinda fun but also kind of disorienting. Doesn't stay in one place long enough to take hold.
Performance & Production: I generally think that the style of the music should be fitting for the lyrical content of the song unless there is a purposeful reason to do something different. This just seems so random with hardly anything that fits the western style lyrics. The only place that the music fits is in the chorus where you kind of have that honky-tonk saloon feel.
Rank: 16

Milton – Today's The Day

Challenge: Met – standard take.
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics are fairly banal for the most part. I do like how you rhymed “freedom” and “be dumb”. I the melody was catchy, enjoyed listening to it.
Performance & Production: Singing was a little rough, in particular the harmonies and doubled voices were out of synch. It would be better to leave them out if you can get it tightened up. Obviously very synthetic backing track but it works OK.
Rank: 17

EvelBist – The Beginning of the End

Challenge: Met-standard take.
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics don't really take us anywhere special. The melody works OK. The chorus is catchy enough.
Performance & Production: The singing sounds very committed. I like your voice. That is one twangy guitar. Sounds like it was recorded direct in. You ought to put an amp simulator on that to give it more body.
Rank: 18

Jeremy Lambright – Empty Spaces

Challenge: Met -nothing special.
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics get you through the song. Nothing really grabbing me about them. Melody is alright but again, nothing special.
Performance & Production: this is waaay too long. Measures and measures of just going through your chord progression is not very interesting. The instrumental track is pretty good and has enough going on but you really buried the vocals. You ought to bring them out more.
Rank: 19

Hudson and Day – It Worked Out

Challenge: Met-average take.
Lyrics & Melody: The lyrics don't really say much and I couldn't really discern much of a melody to hang onto.
Performance & Production: Seems like you made this song all about style and little about content. I enjoyed the 70's soul flashback. The singing was appropriate for the style.
Rank: 20

Glen Raphael - Naked

Challenge: Met-standard take.
Lyrics & Melody: Lyrics are not particularly imaginative. I may be a little thick but I can't really figure out what the chorus has to do with the verses. The chorus sounds like it belongs with a different song. I like the melody.
Performance & Production: Pretty guitar playing, well recorded. I also like your singing voice.
Rank: 21

The Chocolate Chips – My Own Boss

Challenge: Met-nothing special.
Lyrics & Melody: If you're going to use so few lyrics then what you have needs to be really powerful. This isn't. The melody is just fine.
Performance & Production: I like the singing. Doubled guitars provide enough texture for the backing track.
Rank: 22

Trader Jack – Last Day

Challenge: Met-not much.
Lyrics & Melody: Very vague about what's going on. “What? Whoa! I don't know” well I don't know either. I don't get the point of this.
Performance & Production: Whats the point of the horse clip-clop? Very up beat and fun musical track.
Rank: 23

Army Defense – You're Not Paid

Challenge: Met-but just barely. You did mention in the song that it's the last day of work.
Lyrics & Melody: I didn't really find of list of things that you're not paid to do to be particularly interesting. Is the implication that you got fired for doing all of those things on company time? The melody was OK.
Performance & Production: Passable. I thought the reverb effect on the voice was a bit overdone. The ending kind of wore out is welcome.
Rank: 24

The Boffo Yux Dudes – The Ballad of JJR

Challenge: Not met. Sounds like you wanted to write song about Judge Roberts and had to figure out a way to shoehorn in the last day at work angle. And it's only maybe there by reading between the lines.
Lyrics & Melody: The melody flows along nicely. Generally I would expect a political commentary to advocate a particular stand but this one just kind of says that Roberts got himself caught in the middle. I don't find that particularly compelling.
Performance & Production: Really nice musical background a lot of nice little touches going on and obvious competence on the instruments. The whole thing sounds very good.
Rank: 25

Wait What – Middle Management

Challenge: Met- standard take.
Lyrics & Melody: First verse I was amused but as you got cruder I enjoyed it less and less. It's been a long time since I was in junior high school. Do you really need to go there? Melody is passable and consistent with the style.
Performance & Production: Recording is alright. Strange that you have the drums panned way off to the left. Singing is so-so.
Rank: 26

Emperor Gum - Pygmalion

Challenge: Not met- how does a song about a robot girl meet the challenge?
Lyrics & Melody: I can follow the lyrics, you couldn't find a girl so you made one. You could have controlled how she behaved but you gave her free will. How does this relate to the challenge? I don't see it. The melody seems fairly random like it could have been something you made up as you went along.
Performance & Production: The backing track is at times frantic and at times non-existent. Odd things popping up now and then like the clarinet. It is sure not cohesive. The singing is OK but doesn't sound like it's in the same place as the accompaniment.
Rank: 27

The Orion Sound - Praying

Challenge: Met-covered a few different peoples last days.
Lyrics & Melody: At first I thought the lyrics were starting off kind of clever and interesting but man, they end up being incredibly stereotyping and insulting. I hate your lyrics. The melody is passable.
Performance & Production: Guitar backing is OK and the lead singing is fine. The second vocal is off in many places and detracts from the overall performance.
Rank: 28

Francis Wms – Redundant Redunit

Challenge: Met however, I don't really think this is a song.
Lyrics & Melody: I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you wrote these words yourself. I think that there are some ideas in there that could have actually been developed into a decent song. I kind of like the final line “Perhaps it's time to go and run a B&B in Wales” I think you actually could have built a decent song around that. Of course there is absolutely no melody to speak of.
Performance & Production: Horrible. I suppose the endlessly repeating bassline was part of the “redundant” theme but ultimately it is just overbearing. The bass line completely drowns out the vocals much of the time.
Rank: 29


Dex01 – Brand New Life

Challenge: Met-standard approach.
Lyrics & Melody: Pretty much the standard “I'm done with this, gonna start something new” nothing unique here to really grab my attention.
Performance & Production: Here and there the bass/guitar and drums are just a little bit off rhythmically. Kind of distracting. Singing is OK.

Dr. Lyndyke – Mayan Holiday

Challenge: Met – a different take, hey it's everybody's last day of work.
Lyrics & Melody: Clever lyrics “sceptical geek-gullible freak” ,“new age woo” I'm liking it. Melodically it's some old time rock & roll. Fun.
Performance & Production: The piano playing is good although it doesn't doesn't sound like it's in the same space as the vocal. The guitar kind of muddies things up. I think you need a little EQ work on that.

Zoe Gray – Say Goodbye

Challenge: Met-good job taking it somewhere unexpected.
Lyrics & Melody: OK so the sun is up there working, making light and heat. And it's going to go somewhere else? And do what? Not make light and heat anymore? Kind of interesting to anthropomorphize the sun and think about what it's point of view might be. The melody is good. I can sing along.
Performance & Production: Fairly pedestrian piano backing but it supports the song OK. I like the singing. I think the little musical bridge comes out of left field. It's kind of weird and doesn't fit the rest of the song.

Greg Hosack – I'm Gonna Go

Challenge: Met- not standing out.
Lyrics & Melody: “Beginning of the end” turned out to be a very common phrase in this round. Unfortunately by the time I got to your song it sounds pretty stale. It would have been nice if you had typed out your lyrics to refer back to because I don't have time to listen to the song over and over to pick up any lyrical nuances. The melody is pleasant.
Performance & Production: Very nice guitar work. Well recorded. Good harmonies. A nice listen.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the wonderful review- I am going to be floating on air about this one for a while!