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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spintunes #5 Round 2 Review: Mick Bordet

1. Mariah Mercedes - Hurricane
The rock arrangement is straightforward and keeps things simple for Mariah's throaty howl to take centre stage where it belongs, but keeps a pace that suggests a slow run, probably in slow-motion through a storm, along a lakeside as the waves break over. Yes, this fits the challenge perfectly, feels very cinematic and is probably my favourite of this round. I enjoyed the little eye-of-the-storm moment where everything seems to fall away and apart before the last gusts of the hurricane return.

15. The Chocolate Chips - Nothing Can Stop You
Serious riffage! String noise! What a start! Then the tone changes with a echo-laden vocal that feels and sounds like Roy Harper's "I'm in love with you", then the riff is back, not as intense, but still effective. I'm fairly sure there is a two minute long guitar solo in there trying to get out, but it never does. The reverb on the vocal makes it hard to make out some verses, but the lyrics are not the strong part of the song, so I can let that pass.

11. RC - Get Up
Here's another upbeat 80's rock number, with a crisp arrangement, some sweet guitar licks and layered vocals. It drives along at a good tempo, encourages the listener to "get up, we got things to do" and , despite the singer's desire to find out who is saying those lines and "I'll track 'em down then I'll hit 'em with a hammer", it does feel genuinely motivational. So very cheerful. Maybe too cheerful.

13. Ménage a Tune - Run!
Shouldn't this be titled "Rush?"
The repeated riff and driving drums provide a suitable backdrop to this frantic race for the train (amongst other things), whilst the vocals sound suitably stressed in the verses. The backing vocals help fill out the choruses and sweeten the tone a little, which is otherwise on the harsh side (though this suits the lyrics). The piano break is perfectly timed and provides a moment's breath and a softer contrast before the last chorus takes us to the end.

4. Jailhouse Payback - Kick Your Routine
Now, this song is why I will never step over the threshold of a gym. The only think I want to do as I listen to this is punch the smug instructor to shut him up! I love the music - it has a really fun, up-tempo folk-rock feel that veers into pop and country on occasion, but the lyrics really make me tense. "Polymetric box jumps improve your stamina" - perhaps they do, but singing about them just seems wrong.

3. The Boffo Yux Dudes / Chris Cogott - Big, Bigger, Best
The BYD & CC are surely channeling the spirit of Saint Hubbins on this one - about as close to "Eye of the Tiger" as it is possible to get without selling your soul to the god of big hair. A wonderfully pompous 80's overload. I'm not sure that working-out towards a "shrivelled nutsack" would motivate me to partake in this particular excercise, but the lyrics certainly play to all the stereotypes of the over-pumped body builder. Tight instrumentation is essential to pull something like this off and the rhythm section holds together seamlessly. Nice volcano solos. Ending on a sprain seems appropriate.

7. Ross Durand - Win
A very clear arrangement, with vocals to the front and just-gritty-enough guitars, though the drums are a touch on the sparse side for the genre. A simple, but effective instrumental power chord section and heroic vocals make for an enjoyable package. The lyrics provide a general life-coach type motivation, with a gambling flavour - nothing too deep, but the sort of self-help positivity you might want to hear as you hit the treadmill.

5. Edric Haleen - One More Step
Edric takes a step outside his comfort zone, though the vocals are not such a departure as the music. There's even a guitar solo! (or at least a facsimile of one) Musically we're more in the realm of "Chariots of Fire" than the Spin's suggested rock anthems, but if that isn't motivational, then what is? The synth pads are just a bit too much cheese for my taste, but the final line leading into the guitar solo works well. Lyrically, things are kept open enough to work on at least three levels, but simple.

12. Felix Frost - The Frost Mine
Hmmmm. This starts off with a pounding beat and bracing wind effects, it's going to be motivational, I know it... Then, the beat drops out and we're back into Felixland, with gems and mines and being fired and... hang on... isn't this his round one song? No, it isn't, but there are certain thematic and stylistic similarities. If you didn't like Felix's round one song, then this won't change your opinion, though he has toned down the instrumentation a little this time around, with more rock-type sounds and fewer 8-bit sound effects. The chorus is an effective short grinding rock riff that meets the challenge well, it's just book-ended by that certain Frost thing.

10. Caravan Ray - Pump It Up
A chirpy electronic rhythm kicks off this anthem to chemically enhanced physiques. "Pump it in, pump it up" but " it doesn't matter that your testicles have atrophied to tiny little specs". Are we sensing a theme here about the effects of bodybuilding, at least according to SpinTuners? The song is sung with a sensuous, slightly seedy feel. It's a well put-together, effective dig at the gym world.

9. Godz Poodlz - In The Zone
A pleasant enough rock number, held back by some cloudy, muffled rhythm guitar that seems a bit too grungy for so upbeat a song. An interesting choice of focus for the lyrics, looking at that point of total immersion in an activity, 'the zone', which could arguably be the stage at which no motivation is required. There isn't much dynamic range in this, just a run from beginning to end. There is a moment where a droning guitar threatens to break through for a weird solo, but it doesn't get the chance, which is unfortunate as I think a change of pace would have helped.

6. Governing Dynamics - Forward
A slick-enough arrangement that doesn't really do much to inspire. This brings to mind a war film with tired ranks of troops stumbling onwards through rain and smoke towards their next battlefield. It's more about not giving up than actually pushing towards a goal, though there is plenty of leeway in the lyrics to allow for different interpretations. Musically it is standard modern rock fare, devoid of much in the way of variety or even an interesting instrumental. Well-performed, and probably awesome if this is your kind of thing. It just isn't mine.

8. Gorbzilla featuring The Gorbzookies - Superwoman
This starts of with a nice funky groove and the vocal kicks in, sounding good, but at some point (especially in the verses) the backing becomes too repetitive, cluttered and intrusive, especially the bass line, which really spoils the effect. More needs to be left out. The way that 'Superwoman' is sung is just TOO much like the 'Wonderwoman' from the classic TV show theme, which I also find distracting. The vocals are the high point, though the lyrics are rather repetitive. I did enjoy "even Kryptonite's not your Kryptonite", though.

2. Rats Of The Sky - Dance To The Groove Libido
Well, I preferred this rap to the Rats' last entry, but that's not saying much. This song feels much better arranged and there is an interesting variety of changes to keep my interest (which is quite a feat in any rap). There were actually some tunes in there and I liked the layered vocals in the last chorus, as well as the ending. I have to say that this doesn't feel too motivational to me, but I can imagine some people would find it good for working out too.

14. Glen Raphael - Pump Down The Volume
I'm going to give this the benefit of the doubt and accept that the muffled mix is intentional (since it is a song directed at noisy neighbours who are providing the music). There's a nice choppy guitar riff and some tasteful acoustic noodling over the top, but then there's not much else apart from the pounding bass drum and some occasional synthy sequences and effects. One-dimensional lyrics get the point across, but it's a joke that doesn't really bear repeated listening.

16. Jeremy Lambright - Shut Up And Dance
Okay, I feel motivated. Motivated to ask where the words are. You might argue that this is an instrumental, but it doesn't really have a melody apart from a synth line that sounds like it should come between two verses of that singing stuff. It is a song that doesn't have any words. Or as I prefer to call it... not a song.


18. Dr. Lindyke - A Tune For You (The SpinTunes Montage)
I have to award this the prize for "Most Knowingly Self-referential SpinTunes Song Ever". Great fun, meets the challenge and pokes a bit of fun at the whole SpinTunes lifestyle. Please re-record it without the distortion! This should surely become the official SpinTunes theme song, no?

19. Dr. Lindyke - Monastic Workout
Ever since hearing Judge Smith's "Requiem Mass for Rock Band", I have felt there is not enough Latin in rock. Thank goodness for the good Dr's second shadow! Despite lacking any accompaniment, or perhaps because of it, this actually feels like something I could work out to (if I did that kind of thing). I could certainly imagine cycling along the Danube to the strains of Dave's "Hollywood Monks". Just wonderful.

20. Ménage a Tune - Rat Race
Here's the runt of the litter from M-a-T. It shares some lyrics with their main song, but is not as slick and lacks the polish of "Run!" There are some sections where the vocals are noticeably out of time with each other and there is scattered feeling to the music. Things tighten up in the last section of choruses, but then it's all over. I must say that "Sometimes I wonder if the cheese is really worth it" is my single favourite line from this round of the challenge. It makes me smile every time I hear it.

17. Jeffrey Powers - If I Finish This Workout, I Can Go Get A Beer (Shadow)
The sentiment of this song is something I can sympathise with. Exercise first so you can enjoy your food/drink without guilt. It's a nice simple guitar/vocal folk song that would not sound out of place at a barn dance. Well-played and fun. The only issue is that the lyrics are really squeezed in where they don't fit, particularly in the latter verses. This makes them sound both rushed, unnatural and uncomfortable. Either the tempo needs to drop a little (perhaps as fatigue sets in and the beer beckons) or the words need trimmed and a more rhythmic selection made. Or both.

21. Zoe Gray - Mine
This is so much fun! A simple rock accompaniment with the voice of an angel who just happens to be an armoured giraffe-riding, unicorn flesh-eating psychopath intent on world domination. The Ohhhhh leading into the chorus is a nice touch and the bridge is just right. I would like to hear a slower version of this - it's just over too soon.

1 comment:

  1. I thought Mariah Mercedes had the best song of the round so I'm very pleased that you had me at #2, it means even more to me because I think you got #1 right.

    The negative bits in these reviews are very good because you can learn a lot from unbiased opinions - but it's also nice to get some positive feedback - I appreciate it!