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Sign-ups for our 10th contest starts when the timer runs out.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SpinTunes #4 Champion: Steve Durand

Runner Up: Edric Haleen
3rd: Jess Scherer
4th: David DeLuc

Congratulations Steve! You survived all 4 rounds, and you are now a SpinTunes Champion. I wish I had a big fancy prize to give you, but in SpinTunes it's the musicians who provide the prizes. You've done more than your share with your 4 entries. We've given out free t-shirts to past champions (OOOOOoooo fancy), but you'll be getting a little something different (if your heart is set on the t-shirt just let me know). I'll e-mail you the details.

It was great having you involved with the contest, and I hope to see you in SpinTunes #5 as a judge or competitor. (expect an e-mail in May about judging)

ALL the finalists did a great job. You all earned your way into the finals, and I could have been happy with any of you being the SpinTunes #4 champion.

Totals & Reviews:
In the end 20 of 34 people sent in their votes/rankings, and the final count was:

Steve Durand - 3 - 1 - 4 - 3 - 1 - 2 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 1 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 4 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 3 (59)
Edric Haleen - 4 - 2 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 1 - 1 - 3 - 3 - 4 - 4 - 3 - 1 - 4 - 4 - 1 (51)
Jess Scherer - 1 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 2 - 4 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 3 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 4 (50)
David DeLuc - 2 - 3 - 1 - 2 - 4 - 3 - 1 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 - 4 - 2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 2 (40)

Popular vote totals:

Edric Haleen - 14
Steve Durand - 10
Jess Scherer - 3
David DeLuc - 0
(27 total votes)

Donna Schubbe - Dr. Lindyke - Denise Hudson - Heather Miller

Guest Judge's Review: Sam Hart - Cherry Lee
Alternate Judge's Review: Spin

Thank You
Not only to the finalists, but to everyone that signed up or participated in SpinTunes. Judges, shadows, Tom for running the LP, Jules handling my poll, fans who listened & voted... I'll once again be sending out e-mails to everyone in a couple weeks. It'll be your chance to leave feedback with me that I can take into consideration when planning SpinTunes #5.

I'll be updating the "SpinTunes Hall Of Fame & Records" page sometime this week. In case anyone is interested in knowing more about how the stats have changed from 1 contest to the next.

The next contest will probably start around June. Make sure you follow the @SpinTunes feed for contest updates. Between Song Fight, Nur Ein & various other projects, there should be plenty to keep you busy until SpinTunes #5. Keep an eye on my Spintown blog, because I normally post about those type of things there.

Spintunes #4 Round 4 Review: Heather Miller

I was considering reviewing in my usual "order of songs played", but decided since we aren't ranking this round to put the reviews in order of my favorites, most to last. Definitely hard to do and very close, because it was quite the awesome round! Good work everyone!

Steve Durand - A Beautiful Voice
Things I loved about this song - that you really created a melodic, musical backdrop to your lyrics as opposed to just harmonizing or making a rhythmic backing track. The rhyming and wordflow. The honest, earnest message of the song. It doesn't seem to be fishing for compliments, just really just speaks plainly to how you feel and how much you love music. That said, I think your voice sounds great, and at least from this song, I think we DO know what's in your heart with your voice exactly as it is! Beautiful work. I could see this somehow being part of a children's program about believing in yourself or something of the sort, and I mean that as a high compliment, so I hope you take it that way!

Edric Haleen - Exultation!
Google translate thinks this might be Swahili? If it is, the translator doesn't make much sense of it. :-) Whatever it is, whatever it means, it sounds pretty amazing and pretty authentic. Amazing layers of harmony, wonderful rhythms. I'd love to see this performed live with a choir, I imagine it would be goose-bump inducing!

Jess Scherer - Threadbare
Lovely harmonies. The lyrics are very honest and exposed emotionally (threadbare!), which works well with the style of the song. I saw you wrote this from the point of view of a guy, but really, it works from either gender, which is great. Use whatever devices, inspirations and point of views you need to write a song, and then the more ways it works after it's written, more power to it!

David LeDuc - Fear
Very cool beat. Neat to see your video and where the sounds came from! While this obviously is a very personal song the sentiments are so relatable - fear of dying, of not being a good spouse or parent, struggling with money, etc, it's all very universal stuff. The break between "ant" and "worker" threw me a little flow-wise

SHADOWS


Jacob Haller - What Do We Need?
Clever and creative concept, I love how it addressed the challenge head on without actually referencing it directly as in "I can't use any instruments for this song", but rather like it was just a bunch of folks out on the porch wanting to make some music and making the best of a situation where they didn't have anything! The vocals are a little pitchy sometimes and a few of the words have awkward syllable placement but overall it's super fun, and another one I'd love to see performed live with a real "band"!

Drei Viertel Drei - Igor's Jigsaw
This is great! Y'all do creepy so well (thinking back to the Lollipop Lady especially). Wonderful layers and ambience that sounds so like it's in a cavernous castle. Lots of funny puns (I'm quite partial to puns!) that add to the campy feeling of the song, reminds me of the flavor of Young Frankenstein or Monty Python.

Brian Gray - Before You Go
OK, so I was listening to this for the first time on the bus on my way to work and I scrolled down through the words and saw the punchline seconds before hearing it. I both laughed out loud, was slightly disappointed I didn't get the chance to experience it without reading it first, and desperately wanted to turn to someone and share the brilliance of it all. Something like the Backstreet Boys or the Warblers from Glee do SNL. Very funny, very well done.

Menage A Tune - Don't Miss The Rainbow
Hooray for shadow flexibility! I remember when you wrote this awesome song, and obviously as a judged contestant you would have needed to write a new song, but I love what you and Ted have done with it! It's a beautiful message, and well executed. And I can't help it, the end makes me think of Skittles! :D

Spintunes #4 Round 4 Review: Denise Hudson

Fellow Song-tizens...

Without introduction, as I am tres late. And no, no lists. I stand abashed and a little ashamed of myself. The balrog ate my homework.

How very unprofessional,
Den

PS: You guys have been a privilege, and a Delight. I was lucky to have gotten to judge you, and would much preferred to have squarely lost to you. I look forward to meeting you in battle next time. {evil grin}

xoxoxox

Fear - David LeDuc
This is catchy and your voice is pleasant. One of your noises sounds a little like microphone bumpage, but it works for you and is bassy. It’s a pretty consistent beat-box and your rolling-singing bits are hugging it enough … I guess. The delivery seems a little bit shoved in from time to time but you hold onto it real well, almost well enough to establish an indivualis-tic rap style, which is quite something to say. You DO hang back enough for it to be cool and casual because you are behind-the-beat-y enough to pull this off. Never-the-less, I do still feel that Beck has been possessed by the soul of Woody Allen, who is not dead yet. I’m not saying that to be horrible, I’m saying that because I also think that the lyrics are well crafted and intelligent. I don’t know exactly HOW old you are, but I’m assuming you’re possess the same Disaffected Agelessness as me and I think I will just hang back on the wall of the same middle school dance being afraid to sing along. No, that’s a joke. Maybe. If you’re really that scared of all these scary things, why you gotta be so cool wit’ dat body, yo? {smile}

Exultation! - Edric Haleen
Something could be said it seems, each and every time, about Alternative Tricksy Decisions just being “your thing.” I have decided to accept that you are a producer, and a good one.

The folks from Drei Viertel Drei put out a review of you (you know I hate spoilers!) and I learned that you basically made up a language and I know I will enjoy reading your notes later because I am curious about what YOU have to say. In this particular situation, the challenge really is wide open so I’m going to talk about how I feel…

I feel grass and triumph and trees. I see hunters cresting over a hillock out of a forest joyfully pursuing quarry. It makes me want to write a really fun story.

You don’t usually come across subtlety even when you are “being subtle” – sometimes when you are really crafting it, I am thinking “oooh… this is the bit where he is doing THAT and my emotions are meant to do THIS…” I like when I am not in a cynical analysis mode. You did that in ‘Robot Monkey 7.2’ which I didn’t know the “thing” about because I wasn’t that familiar with Coulton (CONFESSION: …I was embarrassed when I “got it,” because I really did get all Emo about it and start welling up. Seriously, I felt all stupid later!!!). Also you did this in a song you wrote that I feel like had aliens in it but I can’t find it although I am looking and this is really irking me and it’s making me really late!

Anyway. This was percussive without percussion and made me want to strap on gear and bring down some #&$% bison! So “Na-tai-ya! An-ah-tay-ah, hasagai” to YOU good sir…*

A Beautiful Voice - Steve Durand (official top pick)
Okay, something to critique … let’s get that out of the way.

1. There’s no damn nun.

2. The bass and wall of sound-i-ness of your body-cymbal gets a bit relentless.

Now …I REALLY appreciate a person who can whistle without cracking up. As soon as I start whistling I completely lose it and dissolve into hysterics**.

You encapsulated the challenge the best out of everyone, I feel. Clever and tasteful, and making me smile; this was full of variety.

Ironically belying the subject matter, this is in actuality a really strong vocal performance that celebrates a non-perfect vocal; eliciting nothing but feelings of endearment in the listener. You crest over the meme-y concept of Singing About Singing Off Key by messing with The Key and doing it with seamless production that hints at auto-tune and keeps the listener guessing. Did you mimic that? Did you use auto-tune? The lyrics don’t over-emphasize the point too much and hug your personality nicely in a stylistic way. The way the challenge separated you from some of your strongest musical tools was clearly not a detriment to your ability to produce Good Art.

Perhaps best of all, and on a personal note, you have put the final cherry on top of an important Ideological Sundae: You don’t have to have a dulcet soaring vocal to sing a well crafted song. You can have a distinctive and special voice and train and wield it well. There have been several people in this competition who have done this. You’ve done it in Song Fight for years, but you really just sunk the putt here on this subject in a way that really can’t be argued with. Well done.

Threadbare - Jess Scherer
This is really good songwriting. This is also the only official entry where I felt that it was a shame that the challenge took something away from your song. Your vocal is well presented, but I am not buying your timing it feels a bit dragg-y. I want the downbeat to come in just a SMALLLLL LITTLE bit before it does hit. It’s a good length and your rhythm stops and changes are in the right places and your ah-s and ooh-s change in the intelligent places. I think this shows that you really want this song to have something better for it … like a band or a good orchestration. This just isn’t good enough for it. I want a better frame for this really quality picture. So what a good job selling a song to A&R reps that don’t have the good sense to take a meeting on any place but a damn desert island! You win the recording contract, and I’m glad I didn't have to rank! Ha-HA! Also, I want to see this develop, and hell ... I'd cover it myself even.

What Do We Need? - Jacob Haller
This is delightful.

Your kazoo needs a bit more buzz. I realize that I am asking a lot more silliness in what is already supreme silliness. More impressive whistling, not to the virtuoso Symphonic Orchestral levels of Steve Durand’s but that’s not necessary in this song. I’n cracking up I am going to be singing this all the time. This song will stay on my MP3 player. I LOVE this. I really don’t know what to say about it that is bad, really. The recording is quite bare-bonezy, Your vocal is homespun and camp-firey … but it’s pro, and it’s confident, and this song is fun and catchy and infectious and there is just something about you that is unforgettable and you are going to stick in my mind and I hope you never go away or leave this contest-y stuff not ever ever because I look forward to hearing what you are going to do next. So much fun!!

Oh, yeah. I do indeed need a jug band. You also have a smooth and cool, unique style I am totally diggin' on.

Igor's Jigsaw - Drei Viertel Drei
Right away I am in object disbelief that you are producing these sounds with your own bodies. This is really creepy but Developmentally, this is actually really well put together and easy to follow. My brain doesn’t feel like it’s been buried alive, escaped a coffin, and needs a bit of therapy. You guys often confuse me and this is structurally more accessible.

Not to worry, this does not mean in the least that you are slipping! There is still the same odd, over-the-top-ness I have come to associate with your act that wins you (nose-picking? Really? FLARG!!!) a cherished place beside Boffo Yux Dudes and Doctor Demento and some of Duality’s more ill-advised shenanigans in my MP3 player. Thank God. I would have been … disappointed? Putting the sneeze in there made it hilarious and justified your ickyness. Making a character delighted me. Your presence in the song contest was a happy, happy thing and you guys are full of win.

Before You Go - Brian Gray (Unofficial top pick, perhaps a tie, not sure)
The weird chords. Perfect.

Are you really saying that? When you come in? Yeah. You did. You win everything.

I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this. This is full of attitude and you just won me over as a singer and jettisoned yourself out of nerd-camp into “EFF-you, D… I will rock your face off without a band.” If you were an official contestant, you would win … which is ironic and sad because I have no power. You’re not just winning with shock value either. A perfect companion piece to Jacob Haller’s ‘From Your Neighbors’ – this makes a Spintunes 4 BEST OF album blog an absolute certainty from me and I hope I will turn it in far earlier than the sad lateness you all have experienced from me with these late and overly comprehensive, confusing reviews. The subject matter makes this all the funnier because in my previous rankings I now realize your musicianship earned you a place at Valhalla’s table and it’s really too dang bad you don’t have a full leg of mutton in your hand (or… do you …)

I am a Bryan Gray fan, and really, I think that’s more what these contests are about, the likelihood that I will come out of my shell and pimp a song about Pure Unadulturated Regret for the loss of some Fine Uncomplicated Nookie.

(well done, Cookie. ;) )

Don't Miss The Rainbow - Menage A Tune
You’ll get a longer review here. Perhaps complaints get you somewhere … {smile}

You are only so low because of where you are listed on the Spintunes website.

Really nice sonority. Structure is strong as well – although let’s face it, JoAnn has only needed to train in the musicality-knowhow of things to back up already strong structure-writing. The hook is fantastic. JoAnn, at least has always leaned toward making good hook and her partnerships have really let her explore this. In particular I see her stretching her wings well here.

You guys obviously have a message in here that has belief in it – but this song carries a subtlety that I have found lacking in some of your earlier offerings where I have felt a bit preached at (am cringing now because I know I’ll be asked to participate in a Lengthy and Possibly Painful Discussion of such …. XX) … but in this particular way I feel myself agreeing with your delivery and contemplating the spirituality in my life. You are certainly catching the flies with honey here and if your goal is to write these types of numbers – this is a good example of the uplifting sort. You may want to think of this level of finesse in songs of admonishment as this is a good example of one of light instruction that came off nicely.

This is the first time that I am really getting a firm feeling of you guys as a duo – rather than you going and finding a professional to help you flesh out a song idea. The presence of the act is strongly felt, and this song really seems tailor-made to the personality of your group. The reverb works well here, and everything sounds intimate when it is meant to and echo-y when appropriate. Bobbles in pitch that I have critiqued before either crest or fall into effective slides. Bravo, this would have passed on as an earlier round challenge for sure.

*****************************

*I do realize I could be saying “please go bowling strongly with my wet fish.” Who knows these things. It’s the scene that counts, and you are, as always, PENTULTIMATE at writing a musical.
**Yes, there is video footage of this. Yes, it is very stupid. deep sigh…

SpinTunes #4 Round 4 Review: Sam Hart

Ever since I stumbled onto "Mario Kart Love Song" on YouTube, I've been a Sam Hart fan. I've said in the past that it's my favorite song ever, and if that's not still true, it's still in the top 5. The song would have met the challenge for our ST2R4 Album. Another favorite of mine is his "Superhero Song" which would have met the challenge for our ST1R1 Album. You can find out more about Sam by visiting his YouTube Channel.

Just so you can put a face with the name, here's the video that made me a fan. And after watching the original, you can watch a cover that a past SpinTuner did of the song (Austin Criswell).

*You might want to thank him for doing reviews, especially since we had a regular judge drop the ball this round...again.*

- Spin

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1. Steve Durand - A Beautiful Voice

I had a smile on my face the whole way through. The playful instrumentation and clever lyrics come together to produce a nice childlike quality. It's a great take on the kind of "I wish, I want" song that you might find in one of the older Disney flicks. There are definitely some awkward lyrical rhythms throughout the verses, but I feel that the theme and delivery allow the song to use them to its advantage, rather than getting in the way. It's not a beautiful song, but it's very entertaining and cleverly done!

2. Jess Scherer - Threadbare

I love the chorus. The melody is simple and beautiful, and the lyrics carry a lot of strong emotion, without straying too melodramatic. The theme, worrying what somebody will think when they can see who you really are, is classic and universal, and I think anybody can relate to the content. The performance is much less confident on the verses, but you've got a great natural voice, and with more practice this song could be a hit.

3. David LeDuc - Fear

This is a very honest and direct song, addressing a topic that's often difficult for people to bare so openly. The hook is insightful, and works really well against the candid verses. At times, the conversational vocal delivery on the verses doesn't quite match up to the weight of the lyrics. I would have liked to hear more conviction in the third and fourth verses, where the content is heavier, to give the song more of a dramatic arc. With more polished delivery and cleaner flow, this could turn out to be a great spoken word piece.

4. Drei Viertel Drei - Igor's Jigsaw

The instrumentation and production on this song work well to create a playfully spooky tone for the theme. It's incredible to think that they all came from the human body. The lyrics are very clever, and I love the wordplay and imagery. At times, the vocals seem to stumble or rush the rhythm, just enough that I found it a little distracting. The verses and chorus are built with a very quirky rhyming scheme and rhythm, but I think that works to emphasize the strange theme of this song. Very imaginative and well put together!

5. Edric Haleen - Exultation!

Given the challenge, you did an amazing job creating a full soundscape. I'm listening through some nice studio monitors and I can definitely hear all the track work you put into making it sound like a chorus of singers. Rhythmically, the performance is flawless. The song has a lot of fun rhythmic twists and turns and it's really a joy to listen to. Unfortunately, I can't really comment on the content of the lyrics, but they do flow nicely and I didn't notice any hiccups in the performance. It does sound like you were trying to emulate a particular African style, and I think you could have done a stronger job of using it to inspire your own style.

6. Menage A Tune - Don't Miss The Rainbow

This reminded me (in a nice way) so much of the band Talking Heads. The soft beatbox and background vocals create a really stylish backdrop. I love the theme - that you shouldn't be so preoccupied with the bad that you forget to appreciate the good. The melodic relationship between the verses and chorus works very well. The main vocals stray off key occasionally, especially on the chorus, but aside from that it's well written and produced.

7. Brian Gray - Before You Go

This song is extremely similar to a song called "Before We Say Goodbye" from the MTV movie "2gether," where the lyrics essentially use the same style, format, and joke - "before we say goodbye / can I still have sex with you?" Though done before, I think the reveal is a clever and surprising one. The main vocal track sounds a little over-produced, but you did a good job with the performance, and I can definitely imagine this song being performed by an a cappella group.

8. Jacob Haller - What Do We Need?

I like the theme of building a jug band, and love the idea of adding new vocal instruments as they're introduced with each verse. The repetition here is both the song's strength and its weakness. While it provides a comfortable foundation for the song, the verses really need at least one fresh new line - I would replace "I guess we'll just do the best we can" with a new line for each verse that rhymes with the instrument being introduced. You should look at "Maggie's Farm" by Bob Dylan as an example of a song that uses the same format and a similar tune, but does a better job of balancing and offsetting the repetition.

SpinTunes #4 Round 4 Review: Cherry Lee

I've followed Cherry on YouTube for years now. Her original songs are wonderful, and are the prettiest sounds you'll ever hear come out of a bathroom (TheBathroomGirl is her YouTube handle). You can find out more about Cherry by visiting her website.

Just so you can put a face with the name, here's a video of her singing one of her original songs.

*You might want to thank her for doing reviews, especially since we had a regular judge drop the ball this round...again.*

- Spin

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1. Steve Durand - Beautiful Voice
VERY good use of instrumental and interesting to listen to. Not the best voice but it works with the humour and vibe of the song. Very pleasurable and endearing to listen to, could imagine it on the stage of a musical theatre production with lots of colourful props! Big smiles!!

2. David LeDuc - Fear
Great beatboxing. Meaningful lyrics, and the delivery was genuine and unconceited, so it works in your favour that you don’t sound like a “rapper”. Cool vibe.. would have liked to heard more instrumental build up, and a possible background melody built into the latter part of the song. A lot potential.

3. Jess Scherer - Threadbare
Good build up, good effort with instruments. Harmonies are spot on. Wonderful delicate vulnerable voice which gives credit to the theme; easy on the ears.

4. Edric Haleen - Exultation
Joyous, uplifting, energising. Strong and confident melody and harmonies which instil the listener with the same emotions. No one can deny the professional sound of this very polished performance, but I would have liked to see more creative and varied use of “instruments” to respond to the challenge.

5. Menage A Tune - Don’t Miss The Rainbow
Lovely warmth in your unpretentious voice in contrast with slightly eerie back music; nice uplifting lyrics. A creative composition. Like how the ending faded out..

6. Brian Gray – Before You Go
Impressive harmonies and when the beat came in, that was an awesome surprise, and the key change for the chorus kept things fresh. Some of the harmonies in the chorus are off. Good energy maintained throughout.

7. Drei Viertel Drei - Igor’s Jigsaw
Very good and appropriate production and effects used. There were very impressive and imaginative sound effects but sometimes it felt like they did not come together as a song. Felt like when the bass came in it had promise, bass should have continued and come in earlier.

8. Jakob Hailer - What Do We Need
Good effort with creative man made instruments, but unfortunately, not quite pulled off. Melody and “music” don’t match and lyrics a bit too repetitive.

Spintunes #4 Round 4 Review: Dr Lindyke

This is among the most interesting challenges here... produce a song -- any song at all -- using only the instrumentation you can find on your own body... and give us more than just a capella. Believe me, the irony of the fact that this songwriting competion served up what appears to be a 100% production-oriented challenge isn't lost. But you have to remember a few things: by the time you get to the 4th round, you've proved you have songwriting chops. In this last round we're throwing challenges that make you think in different ways.

So how is this a "songwriting" challenge? Easy... here we're forcing you to think about instrumentation in new ways. If you're writing for an orchestra, you need effectively utilize your various sections and even the individuals within them. Same thing if you're writing for a jug band, or a 4-piece rock group. You have to work within your bounds. We simply tightened up those normal constraints an abnormal amount. So if you thought it wasn't a songwriting challenge, then you really missed the point.

In these final rounds, I personally don't want what you "normally" do. I want you to stretch. I also don't expect everyone to be able to complete a fourth-round challenge. So if you looked at this challenge and said, "What the hell were they thinking! I have no interest in that!" then you wouldn't have made it anyway. Only an Iron Chef of songwriting should walk away with the trophy.

Fortunately, of our four finalists, all of you proved you have the chops, A few shadowers did, too!

Your former competitors are ranking your efforts, and the judges don't matter this round. Nevertheless, I have to review you, so I approach it in much the same way: how well did you meet the challenge. Since we said you could write any song at all, I don't care much about lyrical content this time. Something akin to "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" would've been fine if it were original. This challenge is about musicality. Did you exploit the instruments you had fully? Did you use them in interesting ways? Did you give us a tune?

Since my rankings mean nothing this round, these reviews are presented in the order the songs currently appear on the album.

David LeDuc
Fear
This defies categorization. Part is rap, part is song, and most of it is beat poetry. As poetry, it ain't bad; it has the most introspective and frankly interesting lyrics of the lot. I like the rubbing of the forearms. More than one person told me that it was "creepy", and they couldn't listen to the whole thing. That's a shame, because a song named "Fear" should make you feel that way. I think that making somebody shudder and reach for the "stop" button is an artistic victory, Pyrrhic as it may be. Rather than searching for musicality in the instrumentation, it seems to me you've allowed the lack of musicality of the instrumetation to drain the music from the rest of the piece. It's a creative choice, but one that makes me feel that the challenge is somewhat shunted aside.

Edric Haleen
Exultation!
Lyrics? We don't need no stinking lyrics! And actually... we don't. This chant in African style communicated triumph and elation without the audience even needing to know what it's about. I have no idea what language it is, but if it were real and I had to guess, my guess would place it in the Congo or Uganda... Central Africa. The instruments? The instrumentation appears to be entirely handclaps, but with variety and various levels of reverb and audio "distances" that keep the listener engaged. With all that "looking upward" to the tenor voices and staccato claps, it seems to me to require a little more on the low-end for support and grounding. Some foot-stomps or bass chest-thumps might have been suitable substitutes for log drums.

Steve Durand
A Beautiful Voice
I knew the moment I saw the title that this was going to be very special. No song by Steve Durand entitled "A Beautiful Voice" could be anything less. And Wow! This one has everything! TUNED percussion! Rhythm! Lyrics! AND AN HONEST-TO-GOODNESS TUNE! Why is it that you're the only one of the four finalists to use whistling? This song is infectious. It's not meta, it's biographical, it's endearing, and it's great. IF I were ranking, it would be Steve Durand by a mile, and a close race for second.

For the entirety of my 50 years, I myself have been notoriously unable to whistle. The very Tuesday morning I'm writing this, I discovered what I was doing wrong. A suggestion from my son Michael, suddenly I produced a clear, clean, piercing tone. I still can't control it very well... I whistle somewhat worse than you sing, Steve.... but for about 5 glorious minutes on my way to work I could manage a controlled tune. And I whistled this song.

Jess Scherer
Threadbare
You absolutely belong in the finals, Jess. This is solid work. It's got a nice, honest feel about it that rings true. I like the parallel drawn, where being stripped of your instruments leaves you vulnerable, with this song being an allegory for that as well as having its own overt meaning. Musically, you provide the "bottom" in your rhythm that I wished of Edric's entry. It's also very close to an a capella response to the challenge. I think it's possible to have discovered more varied sounds to work with.


SHADOWS

Jacob Haller
What Do We Need?
I love the concept here... Sort of a stone soup of music. I like the variety of sounds you explored here, including the whistling. The execution could be tightened up... you seem to drift from the key a bit (which might be avoided by singing to an instrumental reference track, then removing it), but not bad at all for a shadow.

Drei Viertel Drei
Igor's Jigsaw
I really expected to hear a lot more processed audio in this challenge. We did leave a rather huge loophole for that. This is a really neat idea, making body parts the subject of a song recorded using body parts. I don't know if the semi-random percussion is on purpose... it sets my teeth on edge, which might be the intent.

Brian Gray
Before You Go
Brian, you've made my day! I'm the only judge who voted to put you through to the final round, and now I can point to this shadow entry and shout, "YEAH! Take THAT, BEEYATCHES! Uh-HUH..." Seriously, this is freakin' EXCELLENT. You've got the whole boy band thing going with the full drum kit, and I know it took a lot of work to get the sounds just right. The humor is spot on. If this had been an official entry we would have had a very close race for first place on my list. Oh, and Mrs. Dr. Lindyke is now an official member of the Brian Gray fan club, so lock your door... she'll love you to death.

Menage A Tune
Don't Miss the Rainbow
This has been a surprisingly good round... not a bad concept in the bunch. Glad you've continued the trend. This has a nice message... it would have been a very respectable official final round entry, though I don't think it would have unseated Steve. The whistled raindrops give this a level of musicality missing from several entries. It's got sort of a 1960s movie soundtrack feel. I'm also very happy to hear Ted's backing vocals, and hope to hear more of him in future work.

Spintunes #4 Round 4 Review: Donna Schubbe

My reviews again are ranked from my favorite to least favorite… though this round made it pretty hard to choose! Congrats to you top four! Be proud for making it so far and submitting such solid songs. It has been a blast to be a judge for ST4!

Steve Durand
YES! This is what this challenge is about! This song is so fun and you really embraced making as many sounds as you could with your body. The variety of instruments you were able create with your body & mouth is fantastic. Not only is this song super fun and catchy musically, the subject matter and lyrics are also well thought out and I loved the self-referentiality. I found myself smiling non-stop through this song. Great work in this competition Steve! I think you really hit your stride these last two challenges, they seem like they were made for you!

David LeDuc
Good work! At first I really thought that you were using a shaker, it is amazing how you were able to exactly mimic that sound. I could hear a lot of variety of “body part” instruments, mostly percussive. Your harmonies in the chorus are really great. I think your subject matter will hit home with many people. Writing about fear is a great choice for this challenge. You have been able to crank out such variety in your song styles throughout every challenge and that is really impressive. Congrats on making it to round 4!

Edric Haleen
This really sounds like it is direct from the Lion King musical. Your voice sounds amazing and I love the layering! I fell like you made this more of an a capella song with just enough claps to meet the challenge. I wish you had pushed yourself out of your comfort zone a bit more to try making more instrumentation with your body. I know it sounds silly that I say you should have challenged yourself when you most likely created a new freakin language! I understand the challenge in that! But I guess I am just going by the challenge request for any sound you can make using your body. Great work on making it to the final round, and overall this is a solid song and you should send it to the Lion King. It has been so fun to see what you come up with every challenge and your quality is never lacking.

Jess Scherer
Nice pretty vocal harmonies. I know this must have been a big challenge for you with out your best bud, the piano, this round. But I think you did great and your piano would be proud. I found myself hearing new background instruments with every listen. I could tell you were pushing your vocal range in this challenge, but I think you did a good job. I wish that your body part instruments were a bit higher in the levels, the song stands out more like and a capella song because of how quiet the background instruments are. Overall this is a nice song and you should be very proud for making it to round four! It has been super fun to see you grow and expand with each passing challenge. You have a way with the piano and you make very cute poppy music. Great Job!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

SpinTunes #4: Round 4 Songs

Sorry for the delay in this posting, but I've been resting my head on my porcelain pillow dealing with what I'm guessing is the flu.

The songs are now available for FREE download, and you can vote for your favorite entries as well. Many of you will be asking friends and family to support you in the popular vote. That's great, but when you do, please ask them to listen to all the songs. You can only vote for 1 person this time around.

Until the new champion is announced I will only allow people to download the round 4 album as a whole. BandCamp limits how many free downloads I can give away, and 1 album download counts the same as 1 song download.

Nobody was cut by the deadline, YOU (the competitors of SpinTunes 4) have to eliminate 3 people this round. Good luck everyone.

People Who Have Voted Thus Far: (20 of 34 voters)
Edric Haleen - Wait What (The Band) - Drei Viertel Drei - Jess Scherer - David LeDuc - Governing Dynamics - Luke Brekke, Esquire - Chris Cogott - Felix Frost - Emperor Gum - Steve Durand - Gold Lion - Menage A Tune - Common Lisp - Hazen Nester - Caleb Hines - The Orion Sound - Rebecca Angel - The Boffo Yux Dudes - Ross Durand

You can find the album on BandCamp by clicking the image below:

- You can vote for your favorite songs with the poll in the right sidebar. -->

- Popular vote stays open until 12PM on March 18th.

- Judges & guest judges have until 12PM on March 18th to hand in their reviews.

- Reviews & the new SpinTunes champion will be posted 8PM on March 18th.

Videos:
If anyone wants to make a video for their song, I'll include it here:

Fear by David LeDuc

Reviews & Links Of Interest For This Round:
(If anyone writes any reviews or song bios please send me the links & I'll link to them here.)

- Drei Viertel Drei posted a Review of the finalist this rouund.

- Edric Haleen posted a Song Bio for his entry.

- Mick Bordet posted a Song Bio for his shadow.

- Brian Gray posted a Song Bio for his shadow.

- Menage A Tune posted a Song Bio for her shadow.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Round 4 LP & Deadline News

Thankfully all 4 of our finalist managed to turn in a song before the deadline. At the time of this posting there are 3 shadows that have been turned in as well.

The listening party will be hosted by Tom, and it starts at 8PM TONIGHT! Like always, we're going by my time, not yours. (counter has been updated for you) Tom will play the songs in the order they were submitted. I hope you decide to stop by, and bring friends. The show officially starts at 8PM, but Tom said he'll have a preshow that starts around 7:30PM (maybe earilier). All songs will be available for FREE listen & download shortly after the LP.

Listening Party Location: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spintunes

Deadline Eliminations:
There were none. YAY!

- YOU...the competitors of SpinTunes 4...will now have to eliminate 3 people.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

SpinTunes #4: Round 4 Challenge

The Bare Necessities: We're taking it easy on you this last round. Write a new original song. Any song you like. But record and produce it using NO instrumentation other than the parts of your own body. This is NOT an a capella challenge...there must be significant use of instrumentation other than your voice. The sounds should be "manmade" and not using other things against the body. (1:30 minute minimum) (your submission is due March 11th 11:59PM)

- We of course run things by my time...not yours. The link at the top of the blog may be helpful to you when it comes to deadlines throughout this contest.

- The bold part is just the title of the challenge/album. Everything after that is the actual challenge. "The Bare Necessities" will be the title of the album & should be included on any submitted album covers.

Submitting Entries:
- Entries must be received by the given deadline. Otherwise it'll be posted as a shadow. Received means that it has to appear in my e-mail inbox by the given deadline. I will be going by the time stamp on the e-mail in my inbox. PLEASE do not wait until the last hour to send me something. If there is a blackout in your area, your computer crashes, or your dog actually eats your thumb drive...I will not care. You are allowed to send in a draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens & you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song & send in a better version closer to the deadline. 1 minute late is still late people.


- Send your file in a format that Bandcamp accepts. (.aiff, .wav or .flac) (at least 16-bit/44.1kHz) You can find the specific requirements for Bandcamp files HERE.

- Name your file the song's title, but without spaces & punctuation.

- Title of the e-mail should be the title of the Challenge & your band's name.

- Include the song lyrics in the body of the e-mail. (If your song doesn't have lyrics...consider yourself eliminated. Instrumentals can be pretty, but SpinTunes does require lyrics.)

- Include information on anyone that needs credited if you collabed with someone.

- If you have a BandCamp account, you can just send me a link to your song on BandCamp if you include all the info I mentioned above. Make sure you have it set as a free download, and have it set so that I don't have to put in an e-mail to download it if you pick this option. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION!

- Other file sharing options if you need them: YouSendIt, Sound Cloud, Drop Box, RapidShare, ZShare & MediaFire. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. Please follow directions so your file doesn't wind up in my spam or trash folder accidentally.

Side Notes:
- Good luck everyone. I don't care who wins, but I hope you all have fun & maybe even learn a little something along the way.

- Remember that Dave & Tom have access to my e-mail now. If I'm not available, it's possible that one of them will respond to you.

- Remember that you are allowed to send in a little background about your song. Some people don't like to do that, and you don't have to, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. Some judges will look at the lyrics & this extra info, but they aren't required to.

- If you didn't sign-up in time to compete in SpinTunes #4, you can still complete the challenge & send in a song. It'll be uploaded with the other entries as a "Shadow Song". Check the FAQ if you don't know what that means. You can even complete past challenges from previous contests.

- If you didn't sign-up you can also do a song for "Single Rainbow Across The Internet". You're song would be played during the LP as well.

- The only other way to get your music played at the LP is to cover "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown.

- Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

SpinTunes #4 Round 3 Totals

Unfortunately the judges discovered 2 songs that used more than 7 letters. In both cases it was without question a mistake, but we had to DQ both songs. They were great songs, but the entire challenge was limiting the use of letters. It's a crappy way to go out, but hopefully they can be happy just knowing they kicked major butt in this contest. Because Common Lisp & Gold Lion are DQed, they will be moved to the bottom of all the rankings. (That does not reflect how the judges felt about their work.)

Peter Coffin didn't finish his reviews by the deadline. If he sends in his reviews late I'll post them, but his rankings will not count this time. I would normally use my scores in his place since I'm the alternate judge, but we have a guest judge this round, so we'll just use his scores in place of Peter's.

Here are the links to your reviews:

Official Judges:
Dr. Lindyke - Matt Schubbe - Denise Hudson - Heather Miller

Guest Judge: Chris Cendana
Alternate Judge's Review: Spin
NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT: Howie Kapow

You can listen to all the wonderful songs from this round by checking out the free album HERE.

The judges had to eliminate 9 people this time around. If your name is in bold you have unfortunately been eliminated. I really hope you decide to continue in the contest as shadows, and I thank EVERYONE for their hard work this round.

Total Scores: (Dr. L) (Denise) (Matt) (Heather) (Chris)
David LeDuc - 6 - 10 - 8 - 11 - 10 (45)
Jess Scherer - 10 - 8 - 10 - 7 - 9 (44)
Steve Durand - 11 - 6 - 9 - 9 - 8 (43)
Edric Haleen - 8 - 2 - 11 - 10 - 11 (42)
Ross Durand - 7 - 11 - 5 - 8 - 7 (38)
Brian Gray - 9 - 5 - 7 - 6 - 5 (32)
Rebecca Angel - 4 - 7 - 6 - 2 - 6 (25)
Governing Dynamics - 5 - 9 - 3 - 5 - 1 (23)
Kevin Savino-Riker - 3 - 4 - 2 - 4 - 3 (16)
Jacob Haller - 1 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 4 (12)
The Orion Sound - 2 - 1 - 4 - 1 - 2 (10)
Common Lisp - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 (0)
Gold Lion - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 (0)


Dr. Lindyke:
Steve Durand - 11
Jess Scherer - 10
Brian Gray - 9
Edric Haleen - 8
Ross Durand - 7
David LeDuc - 6
Governing Dynamics - 5
Rebecca Angel - 4
Kevin Savino-Riker - 3
The Orion Sound - 2
Jacob Haller - 1
Common Lisp - 0
Gold Lion - 0

Denise Hudson:
Ross Durand - 11
David LeDuc - 10
Governing Dynamics - 9
Jess Scherer - 8
Rebecca Black - 7
Steve Durand - 6
Brian Gray - 5
Kevin Savino-Riker - 4
Jacob Haller - 3
Edric Haleen - 2
The Orion Sound - 1
Common Lisp - 0
Gold Lion - 0

Matt Schubbe:
Edric Haleen - 11
Jess Scherer - 10
Steve Durand - 9
David DeLuc - 8
Brian Gray - 7
Rebecca Angel - 6
Ross Durand - 5
The Orion Sound - 4
Governing Dynamics - 3
Kevin Savino-Riker - 2
Jacob Haller - 1
Common Lisp - 0
Gold Lion - 0

Heather Miller:
David LeDuc - 11
Edric Haleen - 10
Steve Durand - 9
Ross Durand - 8
Jess Scherer - 7
Brian Gray - 6
Governing Dynamics - 5
Kevin Savino-Riker - 4
Jacob Haller - 3
Rebecca Angel - 2
The Orion Sound - 1
Common Lisp - 0
Gold Lion - 0

Chris Cendana:
Edric Haleen - 11
David LeDuc - 10
Jess Scherer - 9
Steve Durand - 8
Ross Durand - 7
Rebecca Angel - 6
Brian Gray - 5
Jacob Haller - 4
Kevin Savino-Riker - 3
The Orion Sound - 2
Governing Dynamics - 1
Common Lisp - 0
Gold Lion - 0

Popular Vote Totals:
The Orion Sound - 40
David DeLuc - 24
Edric Haleen - 24
Kevin Savino-Riker - 22
Common Lisp - 15
Gold Lion - 15
Jess Scherer - 13
Ross Durand - 10
Brian Gray - 9
Jacob Haller - 9
Steve Durand - 9
Governing Dynamics - 7
Rebecca Angel - 5
(202 votes in R3)

Popular Vote Scores:
The Orion Sound - 11
David DeLuc - 10
Edric Haleen - 9
Kevin Savino-Riker - 8
Jess Scherer - 7
Ross Durand - 6
Brian Gray - 5
Jacob Haller - 4
Steve Durand - 3
Governing Dynamics - 2
Rebecca Angel - 1
Common Lisp - 0
Gold Lion - 0

SpinTunes #4 Round 3 Review: Chris Cendana

I've been a fan of Chris on YouTube for a long time now. So I'm very happy he was willing to take the time to be a guest judge this round. You can find out more about Chris by visiting his website & YouTube channel. Just so you can put a face with the name, here's a video of him singing one of his original songs.


*You might want to thank him for doing reviews, especially since we had a regular judge drop the ball this round...again.*

- Spin

--------------------------------------------------

Edric Haleen - The Terrible Things That Transpired Today
I think you just pwned Dr. Seuss with one letter. Even though this is an email, tonight 'tis the time this terribly technical tester took... A standing O! Amazing job!

Gold Lion - Crossfire
This girl's voice is amazing and amazingly hypnotic. The only thing I was a bit disappointed with is when the percussion comes in, there is a lack bottom end. But great emotion and movement.

David LeBuc - Seven Letters
Sounds great. Good mix. Solid vocals, good lyrics. I could hear this song in a retail store. Great job!

Jess Scherer - This Twisted Tongue
Great singing, and a great piano solo! Fitting to use a bebop/pentatonic mode to give it a ragtime feel.

Steve Durand - A Song About Letters
Great instrumentals and production! Not a bad idea to make it a kids song! The banjo got my attention, coming from Applachia. Great stuff.

Ross Durand - Advice (Easy As ABC)
You have a comforting voice. Great finger picking, good micing for an acoustic track.

Rebecca Angel - My Tights
Beautiful voice. This song kind of has a campfire feel. Not bad, and people love tights!

Menage A Tune - Please Come Back
Beautiful piano playing. It sounds like there should be a choir in the background... almost like it has traditional church music influence. Lots of emotion and thought on this one.

Brian Gray - One Of Us
Reminiscent of the B-52s. The bass should follow the kick more and follow the other guitars less outside the solos. It will emphasize the beat more.

Caleb Hines - The Quetzalcoatlus (Shadow)
That is a one fun word. I really like the chorus.

Common Lisp - I.O.U.
Clever. Sounds like the child of a Beach Boy and a flower girl. I feel like a sitar belongs in this song. Not bad stereo placement. It's funny you said that coming up with lyrics is your weak point cause you did better than some others.

Jacob Heller - Come To Me Now
Well, at least you won't forget the lyrics. Vocals are a bit weak, but I don't think that was the focus of the song. The song is definitely catchy though.

Noah McLaughlin - Va Falloir
I wish I understood French well. At first, I thought you were just singing syllables. The vocals didn't seem much in key.

Kevin Savino-Riker - The Tin Knight
I see that you were definitely following protocol... kind of a Beatles influence I feel... the lyrics lost my attention though.

The Orion Sound - It Never Said He Wasn't
You need a drummer or metronome, but the theatrical feel was fitting. After listening to this song I kept saying "Raptor Jesus"

Governing Dynamics - Go To Sleep
This song definitely makes me want to go to sleep. The vocals are weak. The chord progression doesn't quite resolve at 1:13, which kind of leaves the build to the chorus, for lack of better words, hanging there.

Drei Viertel Drei - Carnival (Shadow)
Even though there were some interesting instrumentation, the vocals weren't very pleasing and the lyrics felt like they were random mode for 3 minutes. I can't say I liked that song.

Spintunes #4 Round 3 Review: Heather Miller

Governing Dynamics - Go To Sleep
Very moody & atmospheric. Love the guitar solo! It’s a little abstract plot-wise but the music definitely fits the lyric, sort of an angst-y grown-up lullaby. I’m wondering if reading the description in the Bandcamp track actually made me a little confused compared to if I hadn’t read it - are you talking to the girl, or to yourself?

Brian Gray - One Of Us
Catchy and a little creepy, which I think is the point! I’m not sure how much I would have really understood the song without the song bio. Musically this is pretty screaming, lyrically it’s a little hard to follow. I’d be interested to see how this song might evolve without the 7 letter restriction. Or alternately, I’d be interested to see this with a video that fills in some of the information gaps visually.

David LeDuc - Seven Letters
This is killer, a great driving song. Love the bass and the tambourine especially. Also a bit abstract lyrically, but it’s not really trying to tell too much of a plot based story, which I think works well for this challenge. I almost want it to be a bit longer, there may not be much more to say, but I wouldn’t mind rocking out to the groove for a bit longer before pressing repeat on this one.

Jacob Haller - Come To Me Now
Great job of creating dynamic interest and different sections musically. I think there could potentially be just a little bit more lyrical variety or layering to help keep the interest - like at the end where you alternate “Come to me now. (Come on, now)”.

Common Lisp - I.O.U.
Wow. This is beautiful, rich, honest, straightforward and real. I love all the layered percussion, paper crumbling, guiro, harmonies, bass, all of it. Something like this has the potential to be a mess, but you nailed it. Not much to say other than just great, great job. I’m totally crushed though, in your lyric you write “my lullaby” and in your recording you sing “this lullaby” which adds a “t” to your set of letters. If not for that, you would have been in my top 3 this round.

Steve Durand - A Song About Letters
I’m going to pretend that Sister Mary Agnes introduced the song because I really wanted her to be in all your songs this round. :-) I can see this being on a children’s show as is - great job with the banjo, glockenspiel, horns, sound effects, kids chorus.

Rebecca Angel - My Tights
Fun. (My very first SpinTunes song was about tights - superhero tights.) That pan flute thing you have going on is great. If you’ve been following along with reviews from previous rounds, you know that one of my “things” is having the emphasis on the syllables the same as when you speak them, so that’s one possibility to consider with the end words on your verses. The other thing is I get a little thrown by how you start out saying how happy your tights make you, and then use words like “garish” and “itchy, thick monstrosity”, because those don’t quite seem like happy words. Over all though, a sweet, fun song.

The Orion Sound - It Never Said He Wasn’t
Pretty rockin’. Nice guitars. So, the Bible never explicitly said that Jesus wasn’t a dinosaur? That’s a new one! Not my style of humor but I bet there are folks out there who are eating this up because it’s well done for what it is.

Ross Durand - Advice (Easy As ABC)
This is super sweet. The makings of a classic really. Pretty cool that you even followed the order of the letters more or less!! Didn’t pick that part up till I started reading the words. There were a couple lyric spots that pulled my ear, “Always be comedy” “And be cute”, “And be cozy”. I actually almost thought the first one was “Always be accommodating” which makes more sense to me in terms of offering advice and was thinking of suggesting that as a change, but that would mess up your ABCD of “comedy, dear”, so hrm. And with the other two, again, in terms of offering advice, telling someone to be cute seems a little dis-empowering, and I think of cozy as more for blankets than people. You’ve also got “Fun”, “funny” and “goofy” real close to each other. All that is just me getting super picky because really, I love it! I just bet you could tweak it a teeny bit and make it that much stronger.

Edric Haleen - The Terrible Things That Transpired Today
Verrrrrry clever! Well done with choosing “T” and being able to use both the T and the TH sounds. Great vocals and inflection helping distinguish the characters. The song really does make me appreciate the “he” & “she” pronouns in general, because it was a bit tricky to keep track of who was doing what to who exactly, but the “holy cow, he’s actually doing this!” factor comes in to make me mostly not even care that I was a little confused sometimes.

Kevin Savino-Riker - The Tin Knight
Beautiful guitar! This is one of those cases where I feel like it’s really important to follow the natural shape and flow of the language while you sing because it’s a very concrete, chronological storyline as opposed to a more abstract or free-form deal. I listened to this song many times (along with all the others) and it wasn’t until I sat down with the lyrics in front of me that I completely got it. I think if you kept the emphasis on the proper syllables and also made sure to pause between sentences rather than in the middle of them, I would have been able to follow along without lyrics in front of me.

Gold Lion - Crossfire
I love this. Very dynamic - the alternating intensity and quietness capture the struggling emotion of the singer so well. I love the percussion and how it weaves in and out. I think this was pretty brilliantly done in that it’s just abstract enough that the fragmented sentences sound natural and I don’t notice at all that you’re restricted by letters, it just sounds like a cool song. The one line that seems a little awkward to me is the very first “To withstand the truth is my weakest trait.” I’m just not quite sure what that means. Similar to Paul’s, this is another really upsetting instance though - you have one word starting with “F”, which is not in your initial 7 letters, in the line “I fought for my cause”. You too would have been in my top 3!

Jess Scherer - This Twisted Tongue
The music is absolutely great! I love that rag-time piano and the drums are fantastic. I love the story concept as well. There are a few awkward lyric spots, like “It seems we won’t have similar ideas”, but I know that’s mostly because of the letter restriction. It also seems to me though, that there could stand to be a little bit more of a transition or explanation or something between the part where the singer goes from telling Sally to stop using alliteration, and then suddenly decides that it’s ok? It’s pretty abrupt for me.

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!

THE GAME PLAYERS
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.

OVER-ACHIEVERS
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;

SERIOUS SONGWRITERS
...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?)

THE ARTISTS
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.

ROSS DURAND
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.

DAVID LEDUC
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.

GOVERNING DYNAMICS
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.

JESS SCHERER
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.

GOLD LION
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.

REBECCA ANGEL
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.

STEVE DURAND
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.

BRIAN GRAY
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}

KEVIN SAVINO-RIKER
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.

JACOB HALLER
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.

EDRIC HALEEN (B Y T H E O K)
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?
; )
xx

THE ORION SOUND
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.

THE SHADOWS
(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.)

CALEB HINES
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.

NOAH MCLAUGHLIN
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?

PLEASE COME BACK
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.

DREI VIERTEL DREI
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.
(...Valhalllllaaalalalaaaaa)

Spintunes #4 Round 3 Review: Matt Schubbe

Just a quick caveat on this: The middle rankings were SO difficult to order, so if you have a bone to pick with me about your ranking, just know that I ordered and reordered this several times before I was even halfway okay with it. Now, on to the reviews!

Edric Haleen – The Terrible Things That Transpired Today
This one was already pretty high on my list for sheer ambition, but it took the top spot because of how successful it turned out to be as a challenge to you, the songwriter and also a means of storytelling for the listener. I know some people may give you flack for being a bit of a bounder and exploiting some loopholes in the challenge wording, but this time around it resulted in something pretty incredible.

Not only was the use of a single letter executed in such a way that the story was easy to discern and follow, the music really served to build up the story’s escalating narrative beats. It SOUNDS as if tension is building and building while these 3 children pick and fight until the teacher has just had enough. Well played. And, of course, your voice sounds wonderful. Great job!

Jess Scherer – The Twisted Tongue
This is almost TOO cute. I’m almost positive I got a cavity from listening to it, but not to worry. Lest I sound too negative, eating enough candy to get a cavity is a positive thing as far as I’m concerned, and means that I totally dig your song. A lot.

There was a really great sense of propulsive-ness to the instrumentation that served the lyrics so well. The tongue twister aspect of the song was well done (and difficult to sing. I tried.) and the 7 letter limit never made the lyrics sound forced or labored. Great rhyme scheme, great piano solo, and a lovely dramatic pause at the end. The verses and chorus were well structured, and the song is JUST long enough without overstaying its’ welcome. It left me wanting more, just like a good piece of candy. See what I did there? Full circle.

Steve Durand – A Song About Letters
Oh, boy Steve, you really hit a home run this time. Having been raised, like all children born in the past several decades, on Sesame Street I immediately was transported to my parents living room on a weekday morning before I was pre-school age. The delivery, the voice, the chord structure, even the sound effects all were so well done in terms of giving it that classic Henson feel (especially that banjo). Your use of multiple instruments to play the songs melody over the various spoken word portions was a lovely touch as well. Is it too much to say I feel like I learned something from this song? This was a fun one, and like the other entries that have earned high marks from me, the lyrics never felt forced. But was it too much to ask for a reference to Nuns? You chose N, after all. Nah, I’m kidding. This was great.

David LeDuc – Seven Letters
This one almost got placed lower, but after a couple of listens it quickly became one of my favorites. There are so few honest-to-god rock n’ roll songs in this competition (sorry guys!) and this was a nice shot in the arm for my ears, if I can mix that metaphor. The bass part was crushing it hard, and then your guitar riff kicked in and things REALLY got cooking. Your voice sounds the best it has the whole competition. It’s really suited to howlin’ and yelpin’, which not everyone can do, and the vocal effects really enhanced some of the more interesting aspects of your voice. I also really enjoyed the lyrics. They painted an appropriately bad-ass picture without being too specific, and the song feels really accessible to multiple listeners. Nice work.

Gold Lion – Crossfire
This was another very nice effort by you, Miss Lion. Your voice was great, but that’s basically a given in a song by you, and the verses flowed very naturally into the catchy simple chorus. Here’s where I had a little trouble, though, in that the song’s structure got a little repetitive for a good chunk of it’s run. I LOVED the last minute or so, with the breakdown and the outro being very strong, but I feel like the song could have been a good half-minute shorter and retained it’s effectiveness. The percussion was a little overpowering at times, as well, but I’m nitpicking. This was a well executed song despite my quibbles.

Brian Gray – One Of Us
This one took a little bit to grow on me, as well, but I ended up liking it more the more times I let it play. The intro is FULL of energy, and really gets me excited for the song to come. The first couple of verses feature a dip in energy, though, that it takes the song a bit to recover from. Your singing, while very good, feels tentative at the beginning of the song. I’m not sure if that was a deliberate choice of yours but it really takes the wind out of the songs sails initially. Once things do pick back up, however, you’re really firing on all cylinders. Getting back to your voice, in this song it’s pretty incredible, and mixed with the chords and the style of instrumentation sounds like some sort of long-lost collaboration between Bowie and The Talking Heads. The chorus melody was tops, and the harmonies were beautiful. I’m also a sucker for alliteration, so the fact that some of that was sprinkled about didn’t hurt either.

Rebecca Angel – My Tights
This is the (ugh I hate using this word) peppiest entry from you this competition. There’s a lot of good stuff to recommend in here, but one thing I couldn’t get past was the choice to use vocal doubling for nearly the entire song. You have such a powerful voice, but when it’s doubled up it loses a lot of its clarity and gets kind of muddled. My favorite part of the song was the ending when I could hear your voice by itself again. I did enjoy the use of multiple instruments in this song, and also thought your harmonies were aces. Really, if you had sprinkled in more harmonies and let your voice stand on its own more this song would really shine.

Common Lisp – I.O.U.
I read the song bio for this, and man! Did you have to be hospitalized after completing this song? It sounds like it nearly killed you! That said, I’m glad you lived to complete it. This was a solid entry. I really appreciated the unconventional percussion you used on this since it stands out well most of the time, but not in a “what IS that!?” kind of way. The lyrics (which I know you labored over) are well done and suit the unconventional structure of the song to boot. The “round” element was also a nice touch, highlighting the circular nature of the song. All that said, I feel like the song is trying to carry too much at times. Once all the instruments and percussion kick in together, things get a little too busy and I feel that the simple love story you wrote gets a bit lost. I feel that if you scaled back a little instrumentally the lovely lyrics you wrote would have a chance to really hit, but this is still, as I said before, a solid entry from you.

Ross Durand – Advice (Easy As ABC)
You’re not usually this cute in terms of your songwriting, Ross! I do like that you’re pushing the boundaries of what’s expected from you, though. The lyrics are super on this entry (and teach good life lessons), and the melody is nice as well. What I really wish is that the song had a few more surprises in it later on. It works well enough, and is pleasant to listen to, but I feel as if the songs journey is kind of a straight line. I know you probably kept things simple for a reason, but some harmonies or some more instrumentation, even some dynamic shifts would have taken this song up a notch. Still, it’s very sweet, and we could all use a little advice now and again.

The Orion Sound – It Never Said He Wasn’t
Oh boy. I see you took Howie’s “Don’t put the joke in the title of your song” comment to heart. This was, as is par for the course from The Orion Sound, a very silly entry. Definitely had some LOLs about this one at my desk. I think the lyrics are clever and funny, and the chorus is particularly ear-wormy. Really strong work on that. I feel that your vocals at the beginning aren’t nearly as strong as they become later in the song, however. And the guitar solo, while pretty shred-tastic, seems to be jumping around the rhythm of the other instruments in a distracting way. This was a funny idea, and a pretty catchy tune, but it suffered a bit from execution that could have been tighter.

Governing Dynamics – Go To Sleep
This was a pretty nice little number with a beginning that made me sit up and listen with lovely chords and some nice, tinkly instrumentation on top. Very pretty. But then, it starts in with the verse and I realize that while well performed, this sounds very similar to other entries you’ve submitted. Not that it’s bad to have a distinctive personal style, but while listening to this I felt as if you haven’t really stretched outside of your comfort zone during these challenges. I know everyone has different goals and outcomes they set for themselves when they enter something like this, and I won’t presume to know yours, but it’s nice to be surprised by a musician you think you have a handle on. Make of that what you will, I guess. I did like your lyrics, though, as they flowed well, and the harmonies were well done. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Kevin Savino-Riker – The Tin Knight
The story in this song was really great, one of the most unique in the competition. The story gets bogged down a bit by the monotonous verses, though, which are like vast seas in comparison to the short harmonious choruses. I found myself waiting for you to get back to the chorus, since it was the strongest part of the song. This is one entry that sometimes showed the letter limitations in the lyrics, too, making the verses seem a bit padded out for length. But that chorus was so pretty. If the rest of the song had harmonies and momentum like that you’d really be in business. That said, this is a cool story that got a bit lost in the delivery.

Jacob Haller – Come To Me Now
This is an entry where the song bio isn’t just recommended reading but almost necessary to get anything out of the song. I know you mentioned that lyrics weren’t that important to you when writing this, but they really feel like an afterthought. The instrumentals are nice, but they don’t really make up for the fact that this song lacks energy. The story has several beats, as per your song bio, but none of them really come across in your delivery. Again, as per your song bio, I know you weren’t concerned with interpretation either, but to the listener it sounds like you took the easy way out on this one. I get what you were going for, but it doesn’t really make me appreciate the song more than before I read your bio.