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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spintunes #6 Round 1 Review: Niveous Devilchild

Hey Spintunes. It’s your old pal, Niveous. I’m glad to be back. Last time I was here, it was fun. It also got a bit insane. By the end of it, there were folks with pitchforks and torches at my door. This time around, I’m sure it’ll be different.
 
Who am I kidding?
 
Shields up. Set Phasers on Kill. It’s time for another set of Spintunes reviews.
 
This time around, I tried out a new method for my listening. I gave a first general listen and then I ranked everyone. Then I gave a second listen focusing on lyrics and how well the bands met the challenge, then I ranked everyone again. Then I gave a third listen focusing on music and performance. Ranked everyone again. Then I gave a final listen which was more general but I could get a better sense of how songs grew on me or got on my nerves as the week progressed. Most importantly in that final rank, I figured out which songs that I would keep in my music collection and which ones would eventually find their way to the recycle bin. Then I made a final rank and here we are. What did I learn? There was a definite higher echelon of songs. A third of the songs were top notch and keepers. Here are the songs from worst to first. But before we jump in, a mention of this round’s shadow (which I didn’t given such a rigorous set of listens to because I had 30 other official tracks to listen to).
 
Dex01’s “I Hate A Meme”
It’s a pretty painless bit of pop-punk. It decides to take aim at meme culture. It doesn’t exactly lash out with any real venom in the lyrics. Saying that keyboard cat is old and that Tron Guy wasn’t that great isn’t exactly scathing. So, this song was mostly harmless. Musically, it was decent. It may have lacked a little something in the vocals. All and all, it was just okay. Doesn’t set the world on fire. Doesn’t make me wanna set it on fire.
Onto the top 30.
 
#30. Atom & E.V., “Welcome Wagon”
There’s a little charm to the way this song sounds. It comes off like an odd fashioned ditty that your classmates would sing on the bus on their way to the field trip to the aquarium. But that also makes it grating to listen to over and over again. Then there’s the issue of the censoring. This song is based on the meme Winnebago Man. Winnebago Man is only a meme because of his filthy language. Take out the filthy language by censoring and you’ve got nothing. So, why censor the song? It doesn’t make a true representation of a meme it’s about. This song failed on quite a few levels, so that’s why it’s an the bottom of the list.
 
#29 Q, “Chuck Norris”
Did Q actually write these lyrics or did he just pilfer the Chuck Norris facts website? Either which of way, a song like that already exists (See: ERB- Norris v. Lincoln). But I’m not going to fault him for that. I’m going for fault him for not being funny with the Chuck Norris facts. I’ll admit that I liked the Cee-Lo one and the Aerosmith one elicited a chuckle the first time but most of them flopped, like the Jimi Hendrix one. And the Chuck Norris can chorus was really weak. This song just didn’t come together as planned. BTW, Chuck Norris did not make George Harrison’s guitar weep. His guitar gently weeps and there’s nothing gentle about Chuck.
 
#28 Andy Glover, “Hey Winnebago Man”
I like Andy Glover’s voice but this song is just so sleepy. I know part of it is the mix and I hate to fault anyone for that but the vocals and guitar feel like they were recorded in a pillow while the tambourine is much further forward in the mix. Beyond that, the lyrics do nothing for me. There isn’t really much creatively in them.
 
#27 Foobar, “Leeroy Jenkins”
It’s a gimmick that missed the mark. Including audio from the meme was an interesting idea but not every experiment hits the mark. This one missed by a mile because it was just way too distracting. Couple it with some weak vocal performances and lyrics that compare Leeroy Jenkins to premature ejaculation and what you have is a recipe for disaster. This is the song that probably dropped the most for me from first listen to last.
 
#26 Vincent Black Shadow, “Baby Panda Sneeze”
First things first. There’s already a band called the Vincent Black Shadow.
 
Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk panda song. I like the musical choices but not the execution. There’s no feeling in the vocals. The keys have a great sound but the melody isn’t interesting. The only part that was interesting to me was the last verse and the crazy extro. But even with the last verse, you had odd lyrical choices like “show mercy as you sneeze”. I would like to hear more from this band but just not this song.
 
#25 Glen Raphael, “Ask A Ninja”
The song is just bare bones g^2 (that’s guy & guitar). As someone who does a lot of that, I can appreciate the sparseness. But when it’s so sparse, suddenly the focus gets sharpened. That may not have been the best thing here. The vocals are only okay and there isn’t much in the way of a performance. He could’ve just talked his way through the song. But the guitars were fine. The lyrics were too cutesy for my taste. Altogether, this song was just kinda plain. It ranked this low just because it didn’t spark enough interest.
 
#24 Godz Poodlz “Miss Carolina”
Sigh. One of the things about being a judge is that you can’t just get away with saying “I don’t like it”, you have to back it up. Hell, the bands deserve it. So, instead of saying “I don’t like it”, I’m going to say that the lyrics missed the mark with me especially the Miss Information pun on which the chorus is hinged. I didn’t like some of the musical choices (for example 1:06 to 1:21). And the song definitely ran out of steam after 2:30. Now, I can get away with saying that it’s just not my bag.
 
#23 Buckethat Bobby “Problems”
Little flaws. Just a bunch of little things that grated on me. “Or shaken” for one. Another thing was the accordion solo was just seemed to burrow into the brain while at the same time being uninteresting at the same time (not a good combo). But one thing I did enjoy was that the song did bring everything around to real problems vs. first world problems. I probably would’ve liked the song more if it was all about the contrast (and had a bit less accordion).
 
#22 Wait What? “We R Not Gay”
So, this song is supposed to be about Rage Guy, right? But, it’s all about denial not rage. There’s no rage here. If “No Homo” was on the list, then Wait What would’ve nailed it. This was a serious miss of the mark. Why is it so high on the list then? Well, it’s still in the lower echelon but it ranks higher because there’s a little charm to the song and I liked the bridge. And “Mens choir sing!” reminds me of Hamlet 2.
 
#21 Jailhouse Payback “Gem Sweater Lady”
The best of the lower echelon songs. While JP has a good voice and composed a pretty nice tune, it fails to capture the meme. It was a hard one to choose. It’s based around Leslie Hall’s exuberant comedy but it’s packed into a song that basically defined middle of the road for me in this fight. It’s the song that I feel like I’m most likely to forget in a day. Just very bland. But I do appreciate a good guitar solo. If JP survives, he should bring more of those.
 
#20 T.C. Elliott “One Red Paperclip”
Part of TC Elliott’s low score wasn’t his fault. He just got outshined by Steve Durand. Both songs have very similar lyrics but Steve’ song was just better. So, that diminished Elliott’s tune. But it didn’t help either song that the lyrical content was mostly just a straightforward retelling of the story by listing the traded items. TC tried to get a little more into the motivations behind the story but only scratched the surface. Vocals are kinda talky on the verses and the music isn’t very interesting except for the occasional guitar lick.
 
#19 Jenny Katz, “Boom Goes The Dynamite”
The vocals are well done with the smoky torch song feel. There’s a very cool instrumentalization going on in the song with the drums accenting the song while the staccato guitar creates a great groove. And the story is sexy and everything is pulled together so well. This song would be in my top echelon if not for the fact that this song has zip, zero, cero to do with the meme Boom Goes the Dynamite other than using the phrase. Total challenge fail. Great song otherwise.
 
#18 Brian Gray “Descartes & I”
The ballad of Philosoraptor has a nice chorus. It’s not exactly the most catchy chorus but the double tracked vocals are nice. I think that’s a general complaint of the song. I can get into the music and just disregard the lyrics happily. But I did have a lyrically focused listen. The lyrics are very smartly written but is it to the song’s detriment. When you focus on the lyrics, do they take you out of the flow of the song?
 
#17 Steve Durand “One Red Paperclip”
Did you read #20? If not, go ahead, I’ll wait. Okay, it has a Randy Newman charm to it. The horns are top notch and all in all, the song is fun. It’s nothing spectacular but it’s undeniably delightful.
 
#16 Kevin Savino-Riker “The Ballad Of Andrew Meyer”
The funny thing about this song is that KSR-1 (I’m still trying to get that nickname over) does a better job with getting his point across than Andrew Meyer did that day. It’s a very good lyrical retelling…maybe the best word is dramatization.. of Andrew Meyer’s rant and zapping. The music is sparse and lacks a certain spark but overall, the song has got potential and is growing on me.
Halfway point. Enjoy a nice cold beverage. Maybe take a bathroom break. Then settle in for the top 15.
 
#15 The Orion Sound “Hashtag (Damien’s Story)”
Musically, I love this. It’s got a great feel to it. Such a good rhythm (even if they are off time on occasion, it works) to the verse and chorus. But there is one huge blight in my eyes and that’s the lyrics. The stuff about tweeting and instagram just rub me the wrong way. I know this round is all about writing songs that have to do with these crazy little bits of pop culture but I think this sound would shine if the lyrics got a good clean and polish.
 
#14 Army Defense “Miss Teen South Carolina”
I’m really split about this song. I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of Gulf and Western and this has that Parrothead feel but there so many really good touches in the song. I almost feel like the meme is pulling down a much better song about a wonderful island home. Kudos to Army Defense for some killer guitar work. And that organ at 1:35 is sublime. This song is growing on me but I feel like the verses about the meme are almost throwaway in comparison to the great chorus.
 
#13 Ross Durand “First World Blues”
This is a case of the lyrics really carrying a song. This song is straight up no frills blues stuff and I can really do without the cheesy kazoo. But the lyrics have such great snark that they express the meme so well. Some people would rank this song higher and y’know what, I wouldn’t question them. It’s a goiod song, I just think there were better songs in the round.
 
And about here is where we start splittling hairs. It was much easier to cull the wheat from the chaff up to this point…
 
#12 Brandon Lorrekovich “Hankey Plankey”
I like the funky wah-wah guitars and the planking love story. The chorus is the weakness in the song. The verses are so much stronger. I also question if Brandon has the necessary swagger in his delivery for this song. Despite the weak chorus, the song is a just plain fun listen. Not as well put together as the rest of the top songs, but still satisfying to hear.
 
#11 The Chocolate Chips “Forever Alone”
What made this song work is the atmosphere created. The Choco-voice may not be for everyone but it is great in a song about the forever alone meme. The song doesn’t overstay its welcome. Sure, the lyrics get a little ridiculous by mentioning Wendy’s food one moment and then the heavens in the next, but there is such a great mood to the song created by the keys and the delivery that you can get passed that faux-pas.
 
And now the top 10.
 
#10 The Middle Relievers “2 Eyes, 1 Regret”
The song that grew on me the most over the past week is this one. It’s a joke that works and makes me chuckle consistently. I greatly enjoy the falsetto voice of the friend. The song is such a great portrayal of the meme. The viewer’s parts seem so harried because of the falsetto, the language choices, and the great contrast between the two voices. How knew I would enjoy a song about scat porn so much?
 
#9 MC Ohm-I “Down in Plankistan”
Remember when I mentioned splitting hairs, here is one example. This song has a great story with a creative interpretation of the meme. The rap is flawless in its performance. The one chink in the armor is the music, more specifically the handclaps which sound like they are clipped and just get annoying after a while. Take out the handclaps and this song would be in my top 3 (maybe even top 2).
 
#8 Josh Holober-Ward “Internet Cats”
The internet is made of cats, so this song is perfect. Okay, it’s not perfect because it’s got some silly meow-meows and there are just plain better musical compositions in the round but there are some great things in this song like the Longcat line about length and depth. The whole keyboard cat verse is pretty darn good as it deconstructs the meme amazingly. Another great song. Splitting hairs, folks.
 
#7 Dr. Lindyke “Famous Last Words”
I thought I was going to hate this song, then that big note comes at around 0:44 and the song begins to grow and just becomes a force of nature. The Last Lecture is such an emotional story and the song stays true to it, conveying the emotion through not just the music but the vocal performance using big money notes wisely. I could nitpick that the sparse intro and extro are not as good as the rest of the song and that I’m not a fan of the instrument choices (maybe a little less synthesized) but that would be nitpicking.
 
#6 RC “The Philosoraptor”
Mixing DJ scratches with some gritty alternative rock a la Fuel makes for a great song. I also love a song with a good guitar solo and this song delivers in spades. I could imagine hearing this song on 90’s episodes of 120 Minutes. That’s a very good thing. This is polished and so very well done. Why did I rank this #6???? Oh, because of the top 5.
 
#5 Blimp Exhaust “S.A.P.”
So you look at your shoes and walk on… I love that line. This song may be about being socially awkward but the song has swagger. Crunchy rock riffs and a great groove. I rank this song so high because it’s just got great replay value. I haven’t tired of it. When you are listening to the same 30 songs over and over again, it’s so nice to come across one with staying power.
 
#4 Edric Haleen “For Zoe”
Such a smart take on the challenge. Bringing in the great vocalist was a smart choice (and getting one named Zoe was a stroke of luck/evil genius). The music is so well done. What if Disaster Girl wants to stop being Disaster Girl is such a thought provoking question. In fact, I think that the song should end right there. Everything after 4:10 can go, leaving just the stark coldness and emotion of the question.
 
#3 TurboShandy “Piss Lightning (My Canine Friend)”
Hard rock and Punk is a perfect complement to Courage Wolf. I like the Helmet-like thump of the intro. Then the punk section comes and it’s ridiculously catchy. So catchy. The drums are very well done. Then add in the cheers which are always a great addition (I’m a big AFI fan so its ingrained in me). Sure, it sounds weird when I walk around singing about taking life “by the balls” but the song is so damn catchy!
 
#2 Steven Wesley Guiles “Boom Goes The Dynamite”
Energy and fun. Sure, I am a little unsure about the “whole dreams will let you down” bit but the song is catchy, well played and should be included behind a supercut of NBA dunks. This song will fit in nicely on my jukebox and that’s what I hope for at the end of the day. I don’t just do these contests because I like writing reviews. It’s all about searching for great new music and this song is a great fun pop-rock song…
 
…but there’s one better.
 
#1 Jerry Skids “Not A Good Guy”
The choice of multitracking the voices is what putting this on top. It’s the cherry on the top of a very well written song. The Bert is Evil references are on-point but it’s not just a list, it’s an unraveling story told from Ernie’s point of view. The multitracking turns the song into a rollicking sing along. It makes you wanna get out some guitars, sit around with some friends and just jam out. Great song, Jerry Skids.
 
Good round. Keep it up.
~Niv

5 comments:

  1. You flatter us, sir. Welcome back!

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  2. ..... okay.... time to be contentious.... If a judge flat out states they think a song has nothing to do with the meme, other than *naming* it... how can that song then be placed at all?? (Remember the *Invisible Girl* debacle??)

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  3. @Joe The judges need a consensus to disqualify someone. There was discussion but no one was ultimately disqualified.

    (Good review Niveous, btw)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Graham. You hit the nail on the head. I don't have the power to DQ all on my lonesome. So, I just nerfed their scores.

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