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Saturday, March 16, 2013

SpinTunes #6 Champion: Ross Durand

SpinTunes #6 Champion: Ross Durand
Runner Up: Edric Haleen
3rd: MC Ohm-i
4th: RC

Congratulations, Ross! As last man standing and reigning SpinTunes champion, you are now the proud possessor of this MAGNIFICENT highly coveted No-Prize and an unopened case of factory-surplus attaboys (which are on their way to you RIGHT NOW via ethermail). Once his Internet connection is back up, SpinTown will be in touch with you later with details of any physical prize there may be. In the past he's sent free T-shirts, but in your case it'll probably be something he doesn't have room for in his new digs. A mystery prize! How exciting!

Also, as reigning champion, you have the option of JUDGING SpinTunes #7. Now, while you could indeed turn down this highly prestigious honor in favor of competing again or just disappearing into Molly Lewis' closet, you'd disappoint the entire Free World with such a decision, leaving the planet in a state of morbid depression. No pressure. (expect an e-mail in a few months about judging)

ALL the finalists did a great job. You all earned your way into the finals. Any of you would have been a fine SpinTunes #6 champion.

Totals & Reviews:
In the end 15 people sent in their votes/rankings, and the final points count was (somebody sequence a drum roll, please):

Ross Durand - 3-4-4-1-4-1-4-4-4-2-2-4-3-4-1 (45)
Edric Haleen - 4-1-1-4-2-4-2-1-1-3-3-2-4-3-3 (38)
MC Ohm-i - 1-3-3-3-1-3-1-2-2-4-4-3-1-2-2 (35)
RC - 2-2-2-2-3-2-3-3-3-1-1-1-2-1-4 (32)

Popular vote totals:
Ross Durand - 21
Edric Haleen - 14
RC - 4
MC Ohm-i - 3
(42 votes total)

Judges: Paul Potts - Debs & Errol - Niveous - Governing Dynamics - Graham Porter
No Guest Judge's Review this time. Sorry, Spin arranges that.
Alternate Judge's Review: Would have been Spin, but thankfully wasn't needed.

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 the poll, Dave (who is writing this page), the fans who listened & voted... and special shout-outs to Debs & Errol, who went WAY above the call of duty to provide all those four-panel comics for their final reviews, and Graham, who composed a song and shot a video for his. GREAT job, folks!

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 #7. Keep an eye on the Spintown blog and the SpinTunes group on Facebook, because those type of things are normally posted there.

SpinTunes #6 Round 4 Reviews: Debs & Errol

RC - Get Out Of My Way

Last round, we wanted you to bring in the consequences of not having an equal start for greater emotional impact. This round, you gave us that. The perspective shift works really well - it's still the same topic but it's really fresh. Your vocals are really engaging and we love the edge you are bringing there but they are too soft in the mix. There are some lines ("I'm trying to keep the flame burning") that we could barely hear. Because we had to work so hard to hear and make sure we caught the lyrics, listening to this wasn't as effortless as it should have been.

Musically it's really solid. Lyrically, it kind of loses focus. The verses were strong with good examples of 'show, don't tell' (e.g. the history books). The chorus lyrics were weak; they seemed really vague as though they could apply to a number of things and didn't really hammer home that it was a school issue. The climax of the song "except nobody's fast enough/for the one who's got a gun " caught us off guard. When you hear the word "Gun", you automatically start thinking about guns and problems with guns. The line itself distracts the listener from what the song is really about, and that's not something you want to do in the climax. We do like that you didn't actually use the word "school" until the last verse. That's really effective.

Edric Haleen - On The Matter Of Bullying (Part 2)

This is not really a protest song. Anyway, the production on this is really great as usual. You're conveying a lot through the piano again. As it dwells and circles around the same discordant cluster, the sense of ruminating over the same thoughts and not being able to move really comes through. A no-holds-barred vocal delivery.

Having said that, for some reason this one didn't capture us emotionally as the last few of your pieces has. Musically it's compelling but it didn't spur us on.

MC Ohm-I - If You Were Gay

Using second person is the most intimate approach you can take in terms of point of view because it brings it invites the audience to step right into the song and take on the circumstances and associated feelings. We loved how you started with "you" - instantly sat up and paid attention and it kept it really fresh. Disappointed, though, that it didn't carry through the whole song. You use it a few times but for the most part, the verses were just listing things to change. In terms of emotional engagement, it really lost us. It needed to pull more emotionally to be effective.

Once again, however, the production was great and you do a great job crafting your lyrics and singing them with precision!

Ross Durand - Someone's

Really punchy, nice production, energy, groove. Engaging riffs. The lyrics feel really natural and that chorus is money man. The specific example and images you use ("Will it be some poor kid/Just trying to pay for school") are within easy reach of the listener because you are drawing on common experiences and connections. That makes it really engaging and it packs more of an emotional punch because of it. We particularly liked "And some keep a gun by their bed/And every once in awhile think about " in the first verse as well. If anything, we would have loved a little more grit in the vocals, especially the verses. In terms of being a protest song, this one met the challenge best.

The SHADOWS... Were not reviewed

Thanks you guys! You were awesome and we had a lot of fun! Thanks so much for letting us be judges and also for putting up with us!

SpinTunes #6 Round 4 Reviews: Graham Porter

If you do not see the embedded video, visit this YouTube page.

SpinTunes #6 Round 4 Reviews: Governing Dynamics

This round, my opinion (gloriously!) does not matter. In recognition/celebration of this fact, I have placed my reviews in playlist order. Great job, everyone. See you in Seven.

1. RC - Get Out Of My Way

RC's approach to Get Out Of My Way is a bit less direct than "An Equal Start" but has a similar rock vibe.

Favorite lyrical element:
"I guess maybe history ended in 1995"

RC's guitar playing and production have been my favorite of ST6 and "Get Out Of My Way" is similarly excellent.
Despite obvious difference of instrumentation this reminds me of a few Dylan tunes ("Hurricane" the most), which needless to say fits the challenge well.

Favorite musical element:
Rather excellent guitar solo at 2:38, and pulls off the sometimes difficult trick of serving the song rather than just stretching it out.

A worthy final ST6 entry from RC.

2. Edric - On The Matter of Bullying (Part 2)

Edric went the "direct sequel" route, as the title makes obvious.  Musically, this sounds like soundtrack music. 

Favorite lyrical element:
The beginning... which is maybe a bad sign, since it is lyrics from On The Matter of Bullying (Part 1). Lyrically, there's nothing wrong here, exactly, but it would work just as well as spoken word (like the ending) as it does being sang.  There are few if any rhymes.  While thematically and emotionally appropriate, it's hard to give it high marks for meter, structure, rhyme or any of the other things I usually take into account when trying to judge a song on a relatively objectively basis.

Like it's sister song, On The Matter of Bullying (Part 2) is a piano/voice thing with a nice clean recording, and it doesn't need anything more.

Favorite musical element:
Piano is great throughout.

Maybe a touch overdramatic for my tastes, but On The Matter of Bullying Part 2 is a good companion for Edric's Round 3 song.

3. MC Ohm-I - If You Were Gay

MC Ohm-I has been a great new addition in ST6 and I hope he sticks around for the next one.  "If You Were Gay", aside from sampling Avenue Q of all things, is a pro gay marriage song that (similar to Ohm-I's round 3 entry) appeals to facts rather than emotions.
Lyrically, I don't think this one is quite as strong as If You Don't Like Gay Marriage, but it does demonstrate how easy it is to put a groove over Broadway.

Favorite lyrical element:
I think the third stanza ("Mariage has become nothing more than a legal binding") is the best of the song.

Good use of the sample, nice (added?) bass line, vocals are well recorded and easy to understand as usual.

Favorite musical element:
MC Ohm-I has a knack for bass lines, this is another good example.

Couple of lyrics I'm not sure about in this one ("rights"/"plights", the "movie sequel" line) but this is another strong entry from MC Ohm-I, even if it doesn't quite live up to If You Don't Like Gay Marriage.

4.  Ross Durand - Someone's

I always enjoy Ross in rock mode.  This is an anti-draft (slash anti-naive kid enlisting) southern rocker that takes a more aggressive approach than 

Favorite lyrical element:
The chorus is great singalong hook.  Also of note, "Will it be a senator's son, A president's daughter? Or the faceless masses, useless fodder"

The production on this is just huge sounding, which is another thing that reminds me of '70s southern rock.  Guitars are raw and mean sounding, and the layered vocals are appropriately boisterous.

Favorite musical element:
Like RC's there's a notably good guitar solo but I think my favorite is the "main riff".  Spintunes needs more "main riffs" guys, lets make this happen.

This is my personal pick for the win, but unfortunately,  this round my opinion doesn't matter. ;)

SpinTunes #6 Round 4 Reviews: Niveous

First off, I want to thank everyone for having me as a Spintunes judge for a second time. I hope everyone has enjoyed my time here as much as I have. And I give an open invite to come take a shot at the Nur Ein over at Songfight in April. But before that, we have some business to attend to. Now, even though my vote doesn’t count in the final round, I’m here to give reviews of the Mulligan round.

Now, some may complain that it’s just a do-over. There is a really tough challenge laying in this concept. All the musicians put great effort into Round 3. Round 4’s question is what do they have left? Did they throw every bit of creative content in that first song and now when presented with the challenge of writing a second song on the same topic, will they have nothing left to say? In the end, some rose to the challenge, others faltered.

First up, the shadows aka a whole lot of Boffo Yux Dudes. Last round, they shadowed and did two songs- Ballad of the Last of the Hackers and Eat the Whales. Somehow that became three songs plus an appearance on a DJ Rang…Cherry Pi song. Whales went after our society almost as whole, especially the opinionated internet. While Last of the Hackers was a protest song about internet freedom. So, I expected more of the same. What we got was not what I expected. Wireless Head is quite a good song but it’s about overdependence on technology which isn’t one of the previously touched upon topics. Still I’m quite happy with listening to this. Operating System is a little bit Wireless Head and a little bit Last of the Hackers. I don’t know if this truly fulfills the challenge but I think that this could be the start of a hell of a concept album. Add some references to “Feed” by M.T. Anderson and give it a Rush 2112 cover with a computer monitor replacing the starman’s head and I’m set.

Totally off topic, on my jukebox Painkiller’s Execution Ground started playing right after Operating System . It fit right in. Try it out! It’s like a scary interlude to the concept album.

Back on topic. BYD brought their version of Nirvana with Tear it Down… which went along the lines of Eat the Whales. But the song isn’t very enjoyable with its yelling vocals and uninteresting music. Sorry. I really didn’t enjoy that one. Then there’s the Cherry Pi Octo Pi. Did that song relate to a Round 3 song? No. It was just Cherry Pi talking Octopus pie. Now, as much as I enjoy having to think about Cherry Pi’s pie :P , this song was just okay. More style than substance with lots of good ideas but nothing in the song is very thrilling.

Now to the final four. Usually I start off with the bottom song and work my way to the song I think is the winner. Not today. Last week, I said:
"Edric wins. Period. He gets top marks from me across the board. This song was great. Edric’s performance is top notch, rattling off the lyrics with machine gun aggression in some sections. The piano was extremely well played. The story is brilliant. In my eyes, this is the best song that I’ve heard in the 2 SpinTunes I’ve judged."
This week the lyrics aren’t machine gun in their delivery and this isn’t the best song I’ve heard in the 2 SpinTunes I’ve judged- it’s the second. Edric’s  song is so good that I feel like he ran away with the competition.  Edric put out 3 phenomenal songs during this competition and has made me a fan of his work. Well done. I hope he wins. (But the decision falls with the rest of the competitors.)

Speaking of the rest of the competitors, everyone was good in this round. Sure, Edric may have run away with it but that doesn’t mean the other songs lacked merit.

Ross Durand is my second place with Someone’s which showcases some very nice guitar work. It’s a very good story with nice attention to details. The flaw for me was the chorus which was very bland. List songs can get wear you down quick sometimes. That’s what happened here. My favorite part of the song is the bridge because it breaks away from the formula. Ross is a great musician and always top notch. Spintunes 6 is no different. I hope to see him again at Nur Ein. He almost won last year and he could definitely be a contender this year.

MC Ohm-I is my third place song. He struggled a bit with having to do the second twice. Some of the lines felt like a rehash of his round 3 song but If You Were Gay does have some charm to it. I have found myself humming the very catchy kiddie show sounding chorus. Sure, the talk of choking people takes away a bit of the sentiment in the song but it’s a fun tune. Great musical choice and pretty well done. MC Ohm-I has been a pleasant surprise throughout this competition.

Finally RC’s Get Out of My Way. RC has been a solid musician throughout the competition. This just wasn’t a winning song (Neither was MC Ohm-I’s for that matter). It’s a good song with some smartly composed guitar parts but this isn’t the song that gets you across the finish line. It’s a decent deep cut in the middle of an album. It’s not a stand out song but it’s no slapped together crap piece. It’s just outshined in the round.

Thanks again for having me as a judge. Later folks.

For the bean counters
Edric 4
Ross 3
Ohm-I 2
RC 1

SpinTunes #6 Round 4 Reviews: Paul Potts

Spoiler: Ross wins, in my book.

1. Ross Durand - Someone

So we have the same theme as last time – the after-effects of sending people off to war, but a little different take on it. This time, we’re talking about those that die or that come back emotionally disturbed, not the physically disabled narrator in the last song. This is a very effective song. A memorable guitar riff, used well; a terrific chorus; moving lyrics, touching but fresh and not clich├ęd. Ross uses the relatively simple instrumentation really well. It’s a nice loud mix. It builds up to a big chorus, and then we get an emotional surprise – a little girl singing, to help humanize it and bring home what it’s all about – that all those people we send to fight are “someone’s.” I have to say that I liked Ross’s story and the mood of the lyrics even more than his song last round. I listened to all the songs repeatedly, over the space of several days, to see how I felt about them after repeated listenings and letting them “stew” in the back of my mind. I find that I really wanted to hear Ross’s hook-ish chorus again. That’s exactly what a pop song is supposed to do. Great job!

2. RC - Get Out of My Way

I love the opening guitar work and the phasing/panning vocal. A really powerful opening line: “Dad’s gone, and Mom’s finally given up.” All the music and guitar work in here is quite well-done. The drums are serviceable. RC continues the theme of “savage inequality” in schools, and does so very well, without making it an essay. The lyrics don’t beat you over the head. You can read it as a slightly more generic “we gotta get out of this place” adolescent rebellion song if you choose, but it still conveys that sense about the schools, and the ominous threat of a school shooting, but only subtly. That’s a very effective lyric. It completely sounds like something I’d expect to come across on an indie rock sampler from a record label. It only gets marked down very slightly next to Ross’s tune because it does not quite achieve the level of a “big” mix, and it doesn’t quite have the hook. But it’s still very respectable work.

3. Edric Haleen - On the Matter of Bullying (Part 2)

I wrote and wrote and wrote on the subject of this song. I wound up writing a LONG essay that involves my own history of being bullied, the nature of art, musical theater, the use of pathos in art, the concept of melodrama, and many other things… man, I can ramble. But I’m… deleting all that… let’s just say that I’ve thought a LOT about this song and listened to it over and over.

So what it comes down to is this. The intro part is really effective and gripping. After that, it builds up to a very poignant and moving and dramatic place. Those creepy little minor second intervals that creep in on the piano are very effective. The narrator gets impassioned, and then… his emotional affect goes flat, as he coolly announces that tomorrow, he’ll be dead, and we go out on some little plucked piano-string sounds. That’s… chilling! Very effective.

Except for two things.

Thing one. I imagine this song as a song coming right before the climax of a musical. Let’s call it “Bullying: The Musical!” I can completely see and hear that happening. It goes through these stages – but something would happen, it seems to me. That passionatevoice would return, singing something about how he wishes it could have been different… if only… or something. Because, dammit, it just doesn’t work for me for the song to just fade out. Even if he’s resolved that he will die, I can’t believe the narrator doesn’t have, somewhere, that spark of wanting to live. He’s just shown he does. So that passion has to make a reprise of some sort. Or there’s a knock on the door; he’s interrupted. Or there’s an instrumental coda… – or something. I’m just not satisfied with the fade out. But… wait… it’s not a fadeout… it’s… it’s…

It’s Edric!

Thing two. Now I’m not sure I can even call this a song. It’s a PSA – a Public Service Announcement. Wow, you know, I completely sympathize with the cause and all, but what a jarring way to take me out of the song. Can I even still call it a protest song? Is it still a song at all? A song doesn’t usually end in a PSA. If I bought this CD, at this point it would have been ripped out of my player and gone flying across the room. (And also, I used to produce PSAs for my college radio station – it doesn’t make a good PSA. It would have to be much, much shorter, and really be just the intro part, leading right into the “are you being bullied, or do you know someone who is being bullied?” bit).

So this seems like neither fish nor fowl. It’s frustrating. I think Edric has what my son calls “mad skills.” I love where this starts to go. I’d love to go see “Bullying – The Musical!” and see how it all fits into the storyline. But it is just not working well for me as a complete, standalone song.

4. MC Ohm - If You Were Gay

I recognized the sample right off, as I own the Avenue Q soundtrack album (but I’ve never seen the show done live). (The Internet is for porn!) This is funny and engaging, but somehow it is less engaging than the song for the previous round. Sorry guys. I think this relies too heavily on the sample and there’s not enough musical variety and “ear candy” going on. The lyrics are good. It doesn’t change or build enough between choruses. I’m not sure using a highly recognizable sample really helped that much. It makes me think about Avenue Q instead of your song. It feels too short. It’s not bad, it’s just not better than your previous round’s song. Or your other songs in the whole contest, honestly. But I still think the Ohm deserves a lot of credit for several great contributions to this SpinTunes.

I’m running short of time here, but I should say something about the shadows. The shadows this time were… unusually strange… even for SpinTunes shadows. The BYDs must have had a lot of fun. It sounds like they recorded an instrumental and sent it to Cherry Pi to improvise a lyric. Let me try to be charitable here. It sounds like all of the songs were recorded… very efficiently… with a quick turn-around time…. but I’m not sure they would have withstood an ISO 9000 audit. Where is the traceability? Where are the customer requirements?

Boffo Yux Dudes - Wireless Head

It sounds a bit like a Robyn Hitchcock song… the lyrics are Syd Barrett-esque psychedelic. The production on this one is impressive.

Boffo Yux Dudes - Tear it Down, Build it Up Again

Ramones? Dickies? This… is BYD? I’m… getting confused… did I drink too much Cask Strength Laphroaig before I started listening to these?

Cherry Pi (w/ Boffo Yux Dudes) - Octo Pi (Shadow)

No, it must have been mixing the whiskey with the painkillers. What? Where am I? I was having the weirdest dream. I dreamed that I was listening to a Bongwater song I’d never heard before, called “Sokushu Goukan…” and Ann Magnuson was dressed like some kind of squid…

Boffo Yux Dudes - Operating System (Shadow)

This is that… “other” kind of BYD song… OK… not beautifully sung exactly… but, you know, this one kind of does meet the challenge of revising the concept of the last song into something more fun… I’m glad you guys are having fun!

Monday, March 11, 2013

SpinTunes #6:Round 4 Songs

NOTE: The poll is not in the sidebar this time... Scroll down to vote and see the results
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 you will only be allowed 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 6) have to eliminate 3 people this round. Good luck everyone.

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

As of Saturday at NOON (close of voting), the following groups have voted:

Edric Haleen -- The Chocolate Chips -- Steve Durand -- Jenny Katz -- TurboShandy - Dr. Lindyke -- The Middle Relievers - Boffo Yux Dudes - Ross Durand - 
Kevin Savino-Riker - Q - Steve Guiles - RC - MC Ohm-i - Brian Gray
  • You can vote for your favorite songs with the poll BELOW. It's not in the sidebar this time! Remember, please, that this is for the POPULAR VOTE. This is NOT THE SAME as ranking the final songs! If you're eligible to rank those songs, you'll be receiving an email from the SpinTunes account shortly, so look for it in your Inbox! (If you don't see it and think you should, check your spam folder... It's from a Yahoo account ... in Ohio.) 
  • If you signed up for the contest, and have turned in at least 1 song, you may e-mail your vote to spintunes at yahoo dot com. Make sure you rank all 4 songs from favorite to least favorite. 
  • Popular vote stays open until noon on March 16th. 
  • Judges & guest judges have until noon on March 16th to hand in their reviews. 
  • Reviews & the new SpinTunes champion will be posted 8PM on March 16th.

Polling is CLOSED. Results:
  • Ross Durand       50% (21 votes)
  • Edric Haleen       33.33% (14 votes)
  • RC                           9.52% (4 votes)
  • MC Ohm-i            7.14% (3 votes)

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

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.)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Round 4 LP & Deadline News

For now you should know:
- There are 4 official entries on the album & a number of shadows.
- There are NO deadline eliminations.
- The listening party will be hosted by Tom on U-stream tonight. It's at 8PM.
Listening Party Location:http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spintunes
The Ustream site will have audio and chat but no video

If you prefer, you can watch and listen at https://www.youtube.com/user/BoffoYuxDudes
Some folks will also be using the enhanced chat at http://www.chatzy.com/19489612526608
You might want to try this if you're listening on YouTube.

This is it! The final round! The last one standing will be the winner!

REMEMBER! The winner is determined by the rankings of everyone who submitted an entry in ROUND ONE and was eliminated at any point in the competition. It doesn't matter if you were a deadline casualty, so long as you were an official contestant. Just so there's no question about it, here's the applicable rule:
In the last round, everyone who has been eliminated (who also submitted at least 1 song) will be allowed to rank the songs. This round the judges have no say in matters, but they will still be required to review each song. Rules for a tie are altered just a bit. Popular vote is the first deciding factor, then the judges, and then I am the last deciding factor.
Good luck to the Final Four! See ya at the LP!

Friday, March 8, 2013

I'm Stepping Down

I'm in the process of moving right now, and my internet access will probably be cut off completely on Monday.  A week after the internet goes, I should be done moving my stuff into the new place (hopefully)  But I'm not sure how long it'll take me to get things like a new internet provider.  I'll have other things to take care of first.

So...Tom & Dave will be taking over for the rest of the contest.  They have access to the blog, SpinTunes e-mail, the judges forum, the SpinTunes Twitter, and bandcamp account.  They'll be taking care of posting updates, uploading songs, and coordinating with the judges.

I won't be here when the winner is announced, but I look forward to checking out the results as soon as I'm able.  Thank you to the judges, guest judges, the competitors, Jules & anyone who has shadowed during this contest.

Good luck to all 4 of the finalist,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

SpinTunes #6: Round 4 Challenge

Mulligan - Write a protest song about the same topic you picked in round 3. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due March 10th 11:59PM)

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. 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 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 #6, 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 2, 2013

Spintunes #6 Round 3 Review: Graham Porter

As a general comment I am very impressed with how much sincerity you all brought to your songs this round. I felt privileged to be part of a contest where people were prepared to sing about difficult issues with honesty and resolve. Putting these songs into any kind of order was extremely hard, I feel like everyone brought their A game.

TurboShandy - Guns
Really good rock sound, lead guitar fills during the second verse work well. Love the transition into the second verse. Vocal performance carried the right amount of snark and sincerity when required. For the most part the lyrics are good, but the joking second half of chorus feel a little out of tone with the rest. Always nice to hear a guitar, surprised you really just played the melody. I generally don't like fading out, I guess you could argue it helps your point that the song keeps playing. Also Rambo only killed one person in 'First Blood', so there wasn't that much killing. Unless you're counting 'First Blood II' in with it in which case that line works better. Uh, I mean, music MUSIC!

Jenny Katz - Next Nice Town
The suburban angst running through your lyrics perfectly matches the gentle musical consistency. I always enjoy the VVBVV structure and its well used here. The lead guitar adds a great deal of sonic interest to this, in particular laying the USA national anthem for the solo seems to sum up the tone of the whole song succintly. That the violence of the last verse brings the journey to great end.

RC - An Equal Start
Excellent fingerpicked guitar playing and a powerful vocal delivery. The piano added a delicate sadness that, with that sustained synth to close, really brought out the solemn mood. Your lyrics sell your protest with simplicity and heart. Colouring the final chorus and the lift for the bridge contribute good progression to the song.

Edric Haleen - On The Matter Of Bullying
Fantastic vocal performance, subtly controlled piano playing. As so often you are able to keep a long song interesting with just two instruments. These are some stirring and ambitious lyrics that progress through a broad ageing and history whilst retaining a coherent story. The ambiguity of the end is very strong, being both ominous and hopeful.

Ross Durand - Don't Send Them Away
Solid performance, acoustic nature serves the lyrics well. Building up the additional instruments creates the presence of a growing protest. Song is compact and very good overall, lacks a little edge needed to take it to the next level.

Steve Durand - Just War
Some gorgeous brass augment a very enjoyable musical arrangement and performance. The smart and simple chorus is the highlight of a decent set of lyrics. The spoken line is a nice touch, sounds like it work great as an audio sample if one existed. The song is perhaps a little long but the sharp cut off at the end completes the song perfectly.

Jerry Skids - The Separation Of State And Nothing
There is an anger and confrontation in the lyrics which is delivered magnificently by a vocal performance which is equal parts sneering and pleading. I can really taste the disgust in the punkish vocals. "A world without God is like a world without wisdom teeth" is a hell of a line. Interesting structure, too.

The Middle Relievers - Love Builds Homes
Great synth brass? (accordion?) phrase during the opening and throughout. Vocals are a bit indistinct in a muddy mix, shame as the very melodic vocal line is the standout of this song. The lyrics are great with the verses telling interesting little stories that lead into an appealing chorus. The "shut your mouth" line feels too aggressive for the song.

Brian Gray - Walk (Live From Woodbury)
This was a very interesting approach to the lyrics. At first a protest song on behalf of zombies felt a bit weak compared to the other entrants, but the realisation that the walkers are a substitute for the poor gave it a lot more weight. Musically it sounds great, guitars especially; giving it a live ambience absolutely worked.

Dr. Lindyke - The Square
A novel approach, taking up the protest of the down but not out. Interesting to see the song be a call to arms for the Chinese people as opposed to a standard protest at the Communist regime. The bluesy piano matches the sadness reflection of their defeat well. The bass guitar line and the excellent drumming add a real depth to your arrangement.

MC Ohm-I - If You Don't Like Gay Marriage
Your lyrics deliver your protest with clarity and your rapping keeps the facts entertaining. You've produced some good hooks in this contest and this is no exception. The vocal improvisation during the outro is a lot of fun. The outro is a little long and ends awkwardly, ending at 2:25 would have worked better.

Kevin Savino-Riker - Dinosaur Sam
You seem to have to two very distinctive musical styles. Whilst I like magic acoustic guitar Savino-Riker, I adore Kevin Funk. This sounds fantastic, that bass guitar is going everywhere I like. Your chorus brings extra excitement at the right point and the chorus lyrics are smart (including the pun). A fun ending for a fun song that makes it's point well.


"Buckethat" Bobby Matheson
A real pity you just missed the deadline. As it stands, this rounds out an album of opinions perfectly. Some genuine truths in this song, protesting protest songs in general is a good take on the challenge. Enjoy the simple music, though the double tracked vocals sounded a little out of time at times.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - Eat The Whales
Some clever and hilarious lyrics, with a decent performance and arrangement to boot. Repeating the chorus at the end is unnecessary.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - The Ballad Of The Last Of The Hackers
Presenting the case for open source in a reworking of a traditional folk hero. Smart idea, carried out well. Good melody line, particularly in the chorus, well sung, simple accompaniment works.

Dr Lindyke - Memory Of A Future Past
I wish this had been your official entry, it's hauntingly beautiful. It's stripped down accompaniment and melancholic vocals are every bit as strong as it's fragile poetical lyrics. Production sounds good.

Dr. Lindyke - It's A Joke, Not A Dick
Whilst I think this song was best utilised as a shadow, I am so glad it exists. Keeping this drummer around, he's great! Some clever lyrics well delivered vocally, way to double down against criticism. Cherry Pi continues to be a revelation.

SpinTunes #6 Round 3 Totals

Here are the links to your reviews:

Official Judges:

Guest Judges:  Heather Stewart - Bill Martin
Alternate Judge's Review: Coming soon!!!!

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

Nobody was really considered for being DQ'ed this round...which was nice change. ;p

As usual, if your name is in bold, you have been DQ'ed or eliminated. I hope you all decide to shadow, because it's been a lot of fun having you participate thus far.  Please remember that if you signed up to compete, and turned in at least 1 song (shadows count), then you decide who wins the contest.  The judges will not have final say in the next round...it's the competitors of SpinTunes 6 themselves who will rank/vote for the new champion.

Feel free to check for mistakes in my math.

Totals: (Travis) (Paul) (Niveous) (Dr. Noise) (Debs & Errol) (Graham) (Heather)
Edric Haleen - 12 - 6 - 12 - 12 - 11 - 11 - 7 (71)
MC Ohm-I - 9 - 9 - 11 - 11 - 12 - 4 - 10 (66)
RC - 4 - 10 - 8 - 8 - 6 - 12 - 8 (56)
Ross Durand - 11 - 12 - 7 - 9 - 8 - 6 - 1 (54)
Jenny Katz - 10 - 7 - 1 - 7 - 7 - 8 - 9 (49)
Dr. Lindyke - 6 - 8 - 9 - 4 - 10 - 7 - 2 (46)
Jerry Skids - 3 - 3 - 5 - 10 - 3 - 10 - 11 (45)
The Middle Relievers - 7 - 11 - 6 - 5 - 5 - 2 - 5 (41)
TurboShandy - 1 - 4 - 4 - 6 - 9 - 5 - 6 (35)
Brian Gray - 2 - 2 - 10 - 2 - 4 - 1 - 12 (33)
Kevin Savino-Riker - 5 - 5 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 9 - 3 (27)
Steve Durand - 8 - 1 - 3 - 3 - 1 - 3 - 4 (23)

Travis Norris:
Edric Haleen - 12
Ross Durand - 11
Jenny Katz - 10
MC Ohm-I - 9
Steve Durand - 8
The Middle Relievers - 7
Dr. Lindyke - 6
Kevin Savino-Riker - 5
RC - 4
Jerry Skids - 3
Brian Gray - 2
TurboShandy - 1

Paul Potts:
Ross Durand - 12
The Middle Relievers - 11
RC - 10
MC Ohm-I - 9
Dr. Lindyke - 8
Jenny Katz - 7
Edric Haleen - 6
Kevin Savino-Riker - 5
TurboShandy - 4
Jerry Skids - 3
Brian Gray - 2
Steve Durand - 1

Niveous Devilchild:
Edric Haleen - 12
MC Ohm-I - 11
Brian Gray - 10
Dr. Lindyke - 9
RC - 8
Ross Durand - 7
The Middle Relievers - 6
Jerry Skids - 5
TurboShandy - 4
Steve Durand - 3
Kevin Savino-Riker - 2
Jenny Katz - 1

Bill Martin:
Edric Haleen - 12
MC Ohm-I - 11
Jerry Skids - 10
Ross Durand - 9
RC - 8
Jenny Katz - 7
TurboShandy - 6
The Middle Relievers - 5
Dr. Lindyke - 4
Steve Durand - 3
Brian Gray - 2
Kevin Savino-Riker - 1

Debs And Errol:
MC Ohm-I - 12
Edric Haleen - 11
Dr. Lindyke - 10
TurboShandy - 9
Ross Durand - 8
Jenny Katz - 7
RC - 6
The Middle Relievers - 5
Brian Gray - 4
Jerry Skids - 3
Kevin Savino-Riker - 2
Steve Durand - 1

Graham Porter:
RC - 12
Edric Haleen - 11
Jerry Skids - 10
Kevin Savino-Riker - 9
Jenny Katz - 8
Dr. Lindyke - 7
Ross Durand - 6
TurboShandy - 5
MC Ohm-I - 4
Steve Durand - 3
The Middle Relievers - 2
Brian Gray - 1

Heather Stewart:
Brian Gray - 12
Jerry Skids - 11
MC Ohm-I - 10
Jenny Katz - 9
RC - 8
Edric Haleen - 7
TurboShandy - 6
The Middle Relievers - 5
Steve Durand - 4
Kevin Savino-Riker - 3
Dr. Lindyke - 2
Ross Durand - 1

Popular Vote Totals:
Jerry Skids - 67
Kevin Savino-Riker - 27
Ross Durand - 15
Jenny Katz - 11
Edric Haleen - 10
Brian Gray - 8
MC Ohm-I - 7
Steve Durand - 6
The Middle Relievers - 6
Dr. Lindyke - 4
RC - 1
TurboShandy - 1
(163 Total Votes)

Spintunes #6 Round 3 Review: Travis Norris

1. Edric Haleen – On The Matter Of Bullying
Clearly this is an anti-bullying song, but it’s more than that.  The song demonstrates one of the reasons we (as humanity) have so much trouble figuring out how to deal with bullying – it’s deeply ingrained in our history.  It ends up closer to a lamentation than a protest, which might have cost it a few positions if everything wasn’t so well put together. 
Favorite lyrical element:
There are no less than three reveals in this one, and my favorite is probably  the stanza starting with “if your skin is different”.  Fred Phelps and his ilk – or rather how society tries to deal with them without infringing on their rights to free speech etc. has always been kind of interesting to me.  Is it bullying the bullies?  Surely there’s a better way than that?  …is there, though?
Fairly minimalist voice and piano.  As usual Edric is a good judge of when less is more (and when more would probably negatively affect the overall impact of the lyrics).  Vocals are occasionally a little difficult to hear in the quiet bits, but that’s probably just my hearing damage.
Favorite musical element:
The arpgeggio figure in the last stanza.
This reminds me a lot of “Whispered in Your Ear” (from way on back in Song Fu 4) which has been one of my favorite Edric tunes since I first heard it.   I’m not sure how many times I’ll relisten to this one, as it is a somewhat uncomfortable song to listen to, but I’m glad I heard it the six times it took to get through my reviews.

2. Ross Durand – Don’t Send Them Away
Anti-war (or at least anti-deployment?) song.  It’s a more or less timeless sentiment although the first two verses keep it rooted firmly in the present.
Favorite lyrical element:
“What if they tried to throw a war and no one came?”
Minimalist, but effective voice and acoustic instruments and hand percussion.  Do I hear a mandolin in there?  No real production or performance issues to speak of.
Favorite musical element:
Musically this one is pretty simplistic, again to keep the lyrical content “front and center”. The supporting vocals during the chorus lend a chant/picket line feel.
Short, sad, and hopeful.

3. Jenny Katz – Next Nice Town
Jenny’s entry this round is a bit more subtle than some of the other entries and it works to her advantage.  Disillusionment with the typical suburban lifestyle is of course not exactly new, but just as valid as it ever was.  Also, Jeff Tweedy from Wilco seems to be making a guest appearance on lead guitar, so that’s pretty cool.
Favorite lyrical element:
“We’ll buy a Hummer cause we really really need one. It’s about freedom!”.  Not only does this line encapsulate the mindless consumerism the song is about, it also made me laugh.
The acoustic guitar reminds me of Joni Mitchell and (weirdly enough) Eric Clapton and as mentioned, the lead guitar is garagetastic.  EQ wise sometime seems very slightly off about the whole recording, but that’s mostly in comparison to other Jenny Katz mixes I’ve heard, it’s nothing of any huge concern.
Favorite musical element:
Hendrix-homage solo and really the intentionally sloppy lead guitar throughout.
This is already on my MP3 player/handheld computer/cellular telephone and oh god this song is about me isn’t it?

4. MC Ohm-I – If You Don’t Like Gay Marriage
Usually when discussing the gay marriage issue people argue with emotions or logic.  This is the second type, which is refreshing even if some might feel it lacks an emotional component. 
Favorite lyrical element:
The last verse, and yes, name checking Antoine Dodson probably helped with that.
Very clean, vocals easy to hear.  The synth bass could maybe use a –little- more variation during the verses, but as the song is less than 3 minutes overall it never really starts feeling too repetitive. 
Favorite musical element:
The horn riffs on the chorus.
Another smart and entertaining one from MC Ohm-I.

5. Steve Durand – Just War
What’s going on here?  Is it 1976?  Is that a freaking clavinet?  Nice work.  I did not see this genre coming as a protest song, but it works perfectly.  The topic is gutsy, too.  Although as time moves on more people are catching on to the whole “Obama kills Americans and civilians with flying robots on suspicion” thing, but for a long time it was curiously ignored by the media since neither the “left” or the “right” really wanted to hear about it.
Favorite lyrical element:
Barack Obama, more drone kills than any Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Things sound slightly lo-fi which is fitting enough with the ‘70s feel.  Bass and midrange frequencies seem a little heavy on the bass guitar and vocals.  Not really a big concern but could be a little clearer.  The horns are predictably awesome.
Favorite musical element:
The way everything ties together in the chorus (horns, background vocals, driving bass line).
Gutsy. Funky.  And of course, nice horns.

6. The Middle Relievers – Love Builds Homes
Garage-rock (with a bit of Santana influence, surprisingly enough?) pro gay marriage tune.   In contrast to MC Ohm-I’s entry on the same topic this one has a bit more of an emotional appeal.  There’s also a Sesame Street reference.  Nice. 
Favorite lyrical element:
“Enough with all this natural law nonsense in God’s defense”
Production isn’t too great on this one, although I detect there might be at least some degree of intentional “lo-fi” going on.  Vocals and guitars but have a touch of distortion of the not completely desirable variety.  Bass is a little hard to make out.  Drums might help everything feel a little more nailed together.  Actual performance seems okay, though, and the production didn’t really factor in to the ranking on this one (see my explanation of production importance in the round 1 intro).
Favorite musical element:
That harmonized guitar solo is nice (and unexpected).  The recurring melody (not sure what instrument is playing it, to my shame) is a nice motif as well.
Despite some production issues the writing here is solid enough to get “Love Builds Homes” into the top half of the pack.

7. Dr. Lindyke – The Square
Bluesy anti-apathy protest.  Obviously it seems to be about Tianenmen, but if you look a little closer at the lyrics, it’s really about protesting the mindset of trading freedom for relative peace.
Favorite lyrical element:
The chorus, in particular “every battle needs survivors”.
Piano and vocals are good as per usual.  The drums seem a little off at times and maybe mixed a bit too much “on top” but these are minor nitpicks. 
Favorite musical element:
The intro/recurring piano riff.
I don’t think that a song about Tiananmen Square was a bad idea just because it happened more than twenty years ago, but as the chorus is less about that specific incident and more about bigger themes, maybe connecting those themes to incidents other than Tiananmen would be another direction to go with this.

8. Kevin Savino-Riker – Dinosaur Sam
Kind of a funk rock tune… lot of ‘70s influence on this round, seems like… about how everything sucks.  Okay, joking.  Compared to some or the other entries “Dinosaur Sam” goes a little more broad on the topic of protest.  I’m not sure it works entirely to the song’s benefit in terms of standing out from other entries. 
Favorite lyrical element:
“You've got these rules to govern over, curry favor
What makes you so special?”
The instrumentation could be rhythmically tighter but is generally well played.  The one problem I can identify is the phrasing on the chorus.  Although I personally have quite a bit of experience with this phenomenon, the words seem rushed in to fit the music and as such they lose some of the impact they should have. 
Favorite musical element:
Is it weird if I say all the harmonics?  I hope not, because it’s all the harmonics.
We’re getting into the “hate that I’m ranking this so low” part of the pack.  This is a fun (in spite of it’s content, perhaps) tune and might have moved up a few more positions with a more cohesive chorus and/or tighter recording.

9. RC – An Equal Start
Nicely atmospheric acoustic  song about inequality between schools.   This could probably benefit from a little more subtlety in the lyrics, but at least there’s no danger of the intended meaning being missed as they are. 
Favorite lyrical element:
The title line is well-supported by the arrangement every time it comes up.  Aside from that, I think the bridge is my favorite.
I think this is the best production of the round, everything seems to have been given careful attention, from the acoustic guitar mix to the support vocals.  As is usual I really enjoy RC’s guitars.  Overall the atmosphere of this song really reminds me of “How To Fight Loneliness” by Wilco (second Wilco mention of the review, boom), complete with a reverby piano solo.
Favorite musical element:
Musically, this is enjoyable, but lyrically it’s a little too on the nose for my preferences.

10. Jerry Skids – The Separation Of Church And Nothing
This has a barroom feel, sounds a bit like the singer had a shot or two before doing his take (not an insult).  Probably wouldn’t go over too well in an actual barroom unless it was a very particular type of bar.  I agree with a lot of the basic intent of the song but it goes perhaps a little farther than I would in a few cases.  Overall, it’s got a little less nuance than I would like, but the complaints are valid… just a bit overstated.
Favorite lyrical element:
They got no freedom of religion, got no freedom of speech
They’re just blindly followin’ cos you’re authority
Who program our young to be autonomous sheep
And slowly limit their vocabulary
Production isn’t too great on this but works with the “live from the bar” feel.  The vocal delivery similarly feels like a stylistic choice.  I think the recording could have benefited from a little bit more instrumentation or variation between sections.
Favorite musical element:
The bridge and the final chorus when the crowd joins in.
Reminds me a little of NOFX’s “Leaving Jesusland” in that I agree with a lot of it but I don’t think it’s going to be very effective in changing anyone’s mind.

11. Brian Gray - Walk
Won’t someone think of the zombies? ?  A “live recording” from the benefit concert…
Favorite lyrical element:
“Hearts and brains… we’ve got lots to share.”  I dunno, this band seems more like a doomsday cult than a well intentioned social awareness campaign…
Right up with RC for my favorite production of the round, the “live recording” idea is a really great one (would have worked well for South Bend Aid as well..) Supporting vocals and the solos are great too.
Favorite musical element:
The 9/4 time signature.
So… seems like I really liked this song, right?  Yes, I did, and I’m in almost physical pain ranking it this low.  After considering it for awhile I just felt like this one stretches the challenge a little too far.  While I wouldn’t DQ it (as it does nicely work as a metaphor, as you stated in your song bio), it’s based off a fundamentally fictional concept and on that basis it kept losing spots to other songs.  If it helps at all, it is already on media player.

12. TurboShandy
An overly heavy-handed anti-gun rocker.  As somebody who identifies as “pro-regulation” on that issue there were parts of this song I liked but too much of it seemed like a gross oversimplification of the issue.  Somewhat like Jerry Skids’ song, I just don’t think this is really going to change any minds.  The chorus seems to be more about the relative disconnection between media and gun violence which is of course related, but a different topic than the all out gun ban advocation in the verses.
Favorite lyrical element:
“You changed your constitution just so you could have a drink
If you could change it just to save one life it's worth it, don't you think?”
And both of the chorus variants are pretty good too (although I have cried when pixels died.  Every played The Walking Dead game?  I mean, damn..)
For all my misgivings about the topic/lyrics, musically this is well constructed and performed well.  I like the various key changes, keeps things sounding fresh and unpredictable. 
Favorite musical element:
Key change from the verse into the prechorus. 
The lyrics ould benefit from a little more subtlety or acknowledgement of the complexity of the topic.  Musically though, this is a good one.

Spintunes #6 Round 3 Review: Niveous Devilchild

It’s time for another Round of SpinTunes. I was very excited for this round. I even was going to come to the listening party, but WWE RAW started with a Brock Lesnar bloodbath and that put the kibosh of my visit. Sorry for kind of being a mystery judge. Drop me a line and we can be less of strangers.
Let’s start off with the shadows.
Dr. Lindyke’s “Memory of a Future Past” sounds like it could’ve been done by America on the soundtrack of “The Last Unicorn”. It was an okay but sleepy song. BYD’s “…Hackers” song had their guitars pushed super forward in the mix and that was a bit harsh but I enjoy John Henry references. Buckethat Bobby’s “Knock Off” had some charm with its walking bassline but it wasn’t much of a standout. Read that as “forgettable”. BYD’s “Eat the Whales” had some smart lyrics. For instance, I liked the Nero reference. It also had some bad lyrics. For instance, I disliked the blogger reference. I’m 50/50 on that one. Dr. Lindyke’s “It’s A Joke, Not a Dick” was spectacular. I liked it more than last round’s “Cock Fight” and this round’s “The Square”. It’s snide, well written and a lot of fun.
Now to the countdown
#12. Jenny Katz- “Next Nice Town”
This song is musically strong. I enjoyed the guitar a lot and Jenny Katz has a great voice but the lyrics and the message is a bit muddled. Instead of zeroing in on one aspect of suburban life, Katz tried to cover all the bases. One minute it’s talking about deforestation and the next it’s about schools. This just didn’t come together.
#11 Kevin Savino-Riker “Dinosaur Sam”
The strength of this song is the lyrics. I really enjoyed the glass ceiling/glass floor lyric. But this is just one of the situations where a song gets outclassed by the competition. The song isn’t catchy which hurts it a bit. The big “You’re a Dinosaur Sam” bridge falls flat and this song could’ve used a nice guitar solo after that, instead it just rambles into the next verse. I hate to say this in two reviews but it’s true, this just didn’t come together.
#10 Steve Durand “Just War”
I really like this song lyrically. The chorus is smart with the play on the word Just. This could be a really great song BUT there is some kind of synthesized bit in this that I can’t stand. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy using strange noises in songs. Just give a listen to my band x-tokyo-river-god and you’ll find all sorts of sonic madness (and a lot of it’s my doing). It just happens to be that in this instance, the sound was grating. Listening on my headphones, I had a Wrath of Khan reaction until the chorus came and it dropped out.
#9 TurboShandy “Guns”
This song is a decent bit of alternative rock. Musically enjoyable but the lyrics need a lot of tightening up. It’s a protest song but it’s got no teeth. Lyrics referring computer mice, Rambo and Reservoir Dogs all are too cute but lack the contrast bite that the song needs. And there was a line that rhymed guns with guns. Groan. The song is just too silly to get the point across well.
#8 Jerry Skids “Separation of Church and Nothing”
Lyrically, this one knocks it out of the park. Musically, this is awfully bland. I gave this song my #2 rank on the lyrics and challenge while I gave this a #11 rank on the music and performance challenge. I enjoy rockabilly punk (I’m a fan of Against Me!) but the music just needed to be spiced up some.
#7 Middle Relievers “Love Builds Homes”
Here’s my middle mark for this round. It’s got a very good chorus where TMR wisely use the upper register of his voice (their voices?). The verses are not as strong but they are not bad by any stretch of the imagination. The song has a very good groove to it. Enjoyable but not my favorite.
#6 Ross Durand “Don’t Send Them Away”
Solid. Nice guitars and a good vocal performance. A very strong lyric with the story of the legless armless vet (Been watching “Johnny Got His Gun” lately?). Sadly, the biggest fault is that it’s just a song that I wouldn’t listen to over and over again. I wouldn’t eliminate Ross for this song. It’s just not my cup of tea.
#5 RC “An Equal Start”
I may have said that the Middle Relievers song was my middle mark in this round but looking at my scorecard, this song could have that distinction as well. It brings me no excitement. It earns no hatred. The lyrics are fine and get the point across. The music is good but not noteworthy except for the sparse piano solo. I think I have to describe this with a four letter word. It’s not a curse word but in a competition, it sometimes feels that way. Safe.
#4 Dr. Lindyke “The Square”
So in the spring, there’s going to be another Tiananmen Square protest with a million people? That’s what it states in the song. Not my favorite lyric. But beyond that, I enjoy the Fiona Apple piano work a lot and the song continues to grow on me. Very good performance. I like how the song builds. Well done.
#3 Brian Gray “Walk (Live From Woodbury)”
I greatly enjoyed the fake live sound of this. It gave the feel that this song was made to be part of a Live-Aid or something similar. Sure, it’s a protest song all about zombie rights which is kind of ridiculous (though it does make me wanna watch Bite Me again. I highly recommend Bite Me on Machinima. A great take on Zombies and Gamers). The ridiculousness aside, this song ranks so high with me because it’s got replay value. Walkers gonna walk is a good li’l chorus and the song is very well played. I don’t tire of listening to this song.
#2 MC Ohm-I “If You Don’t Like Marriage”
Musically, this song was weak. I feel that MC Ohm-I could’ve chosen something much better to rap over (perhaps some live instruments?) but it’s got a catchy chorus and does something smart as a protest song by delivering statistics. And MC Ohm-I showed his rapping smarts by delivering those stats in a way that wasn’t boring.
#1 Edric Haleen “On The Matter of Bullying”
Edric wins. Period. He gets top marks from me across the board. This song was great. Edric’s performance is top notch, rattling off the lyrics with machine gun aggression in some sections. The piano was extremely well played. The story is brilliant. In my eyes, this is the best song that I’ve heard in the 2 SpinTunes I’ve judged.
For the bean counters:
12 Edric Haleen
11 MC Ohm-I
10 Brian Gray
9 Dr. Lindyke
8 RC
7 Ross Durand
6 Middle Relievers
5 Jerry Skids
4 TurboShandy
3 Steve Durand
2 Kevin Savino-Riker
1 Jenny Katz

Spintunes #6 Round 3 Review: Debs And Errol

Hello Spintunes! Huzzah for Round 3 - "Occupy Spintunes"!

Debs was really late getting to the reviews this time around, so Errol actually did work in writing some stuff out.

D: Why must you keep doing that?
E: What? This is the first time!
D: In writing yes, but you do it all the time!
D: One more round after this. Just one more round.

1. Turboshandy - Guns

E: How come Turboshandy is always first?
D: Maybe he gets done first.E: Is he first in the alphabet?
D: Maybe it’s because he submits first.E: There’s probably some arcane algorithm Spintunes utilizes.
D: Maybe it’s because... oh forget it.
There are cool changes in this song in terms of keys, feel and timing. While some variety is always good, too many shifts can over complicate a song, and we feel that’s what happened here. They don’t do much in and of themselves to propel the message forward and often sounded jarring and unnatural, particularly between the verse and the pre-chorus. The instruments do blend well but we do advise simplifying something, perhaps the pre-chorus, which stuck out to us as being too much. We found the complication distracting this made it way harder to pay attention to the actual message.

Lyrically, it’s solid and bringing in the videogames is really effective. The “dick” line at the beginning hurts though because insulting someone from the outset is a sure fire way to get them to not listen to what you have to say. The identity of the “you” this song is addressing is unclear and because of that, it packs less of a punch in terms of how persuasive it is.

2. Jenny Katz - Next Nice Town

E: I really like Jenny’s voice. Can you learn how to sing like her?
D: Can you stuff your face in a toilet?
E: Flushed or unflushed?
D: You’re disgusting.
E: It’s a gift.
As always, the production value on this is really high. It’s upbeat, singable and fun to listen to, a song for going on a road trips! We do like the subtle sarcasm but the message itself is a little unclear and requires some untwisting on the part of the listener to grasp. It doesn’t quite bite and it feels like more of a commentary than a protest song to us.
E: I think it’s trying to be Gangnam Style.
D: What?
E: Gangnam Style was a commentary on the affluent, vacuous lifestyle of Gangnam that was modeled after North American Culture. And I think that’s what Jenny is trying to do here. I say think because it sounds more like an internal battle of self loathing. The singer is criticizing the lifestyle which she has adopted and in the end wants to burn it all down. But she doesn’t. She states that she will in ‘The Next Town’. So in reality, she just continues to do the things she does and continues to feel bad about herself, but makes no movement to do anything about it. And in a sense, it just keeps us in our apathy towards such matters. We continue to post on facebook one or two pithy quotes about social justice photoshopped on pretty pictures in curly script and we feel that’s about as much we can do. So I do see where Jenny is going with it, but in the end, it misses the mark of the challenge. It qualifies, but I don’t think it achieved it.
D: …
E: Impressed by my insight?
D: I'm more impressed you can talk that long without mentioning Totoro.
E: I made a Totoro shaker-
D: No one cares.

3. RC - An Equal Start

E: Great mood in this song. It makes me feel it belongs in a late 1970’s animated film. I would say the layered vocals during the chorus sound a bit mumbled in a few lines. I didn’t really catch what was being said. And I also like the lone piano playing during the instrumental part. That may be because I’m partial to the piano.

D: Ditto on the piano. It’s mournful and conveys a sense of urgency. This has a brooding energy which I really like. You’re stating the problem and asking for change but I think that in terms of persuasiveness, expanding the consequences of not getting that equal start (perhaps into later life) would have increased the impact.

E: Anything else?
D: I saw a documentary on this.
E: Oh.
D: It was about a really good school -
E: Let me interrupt. Are you reiterating what is in the song?
D: No! There are-
E: Next song!

4. Edric Haleen - On The Matter Of Bullying

E: I’m always a sucker for showtunes.
D: I’m a sucker for-
E: - boys.
D: ...
The emotion is there, you sound great, and you deliver every line clearly. One thing we could say which might be nitpicky is that when you get to the parts with a quicker delivery, it’s the same each time as far as emotional intensity goes in terms of your vocals.
E: There’s no build and because of that, it tends to sound a bit like a lecture. I kind of tune out and lose focus.
D: Well, the piano does build and become more in those sections as the song goes on, but vocally it does need more build which would mean starting smaller. It’s tough because it is a long song. And you pretty much lose focus all the time, Errol.
E: It’s like a few of my friends on facebook that share every social justice thing they can think of on their wall. After a while, it all gets lost. If you’re passionate about everything, it starts to feel you’re passionate about nothing. What is striking and honed at the beginning starts to lose effectiveness.
D: I think it’s a matter of becoming desensitized because the song is long. And the timing shift is very abrupt. This is effective but it does feel like we're being assaulted and overwhelmed.
Having said all that, as always, you are masterful at using musical elements to get your message across.

5. Ross Durand - Don't Send Them Away

E: It sounds like a 1970’s protest song!
D: I have no idea what that sounds like.

E: Just imagine Woodstock.
D: I don't know what that sounds like.
E: Hippies.
D: .... 
E: You know, forget it.
The soldier’s point of view you’ve taken really grabs our attention and makes this tune stand out. It feels really easy and natural and it’s definitely a song you could march to. The chorus is catchy, meaty and perfect for joining in on. We do think that the having only the legs amputated might have been more effective than having the arms amputated too, as that made it seem a little over the top. Great job in acing this challenge.

6. Steve Durand - Just War

The funky groove is fun and attention grabbing and we like the saxophone solo you have in there. Starting off with the short, punchy lines in the verses and then changing it up is really effective. The lyrics are to the point and the wordplay is great.
D: As a funk song though, it’s falling a little short of what it could be. The horns are very smooth and need to be edgier and more aggressive. More play with timing across the instruments (especially in the break) would make the song a lot more dynamic. I can totally appreciate that funk is really hard to do though.
E: Things don’t feel as polished as they could be. So the organ doing its syncopated beat in the left channel doesn’t seem to gel that well with the little electro eighth notes in the right. I do like all the instrumentation and I feel they do a great job, but 85% as opposed to 100%.  Furthermore, it’s a difficult song vocally, jumping to those high notes and the delivery is a little weak there.
D: It is a really challenging song vocally. The vocals should be carrying this song but they don’t. There’s aggression and grit missing there.

7. Jerry Skids - The Separation Of State And Nothing

Now that we’re getting to the latter judging areas, we are going to pick more on technical issues, and we would say that you desperately need a pop filter. That may be why the vocals seem to be a lot quieter than the instruments.
D: There’s great energy and aggression in your singing (and that last sustained note kicks butt). It feels as though the vocals and the guitar are competing for the same space in the mix though and because both are aggressive, it makes the song a uncomfortable to listen to. Overall, it feels unpolished and rough.

Lyrically, we really like it. We’re floored by how good your harmonies sound given that the vocals have so much edge to them, especially in the sing along chorus.
E: Wait, didn't I have dialogue in here too?
D: Nothing useful.
E: So? Nothing I say is useful.
D: As long as you're self aware.

8. The Middle Relievers - Love Builds Homes

The intro riff really grabbed us. The instruments and vocal distortion sounds great albeit the vocals seem a little soft.

The verses are really, really strong. The punctuated rhythm you’re giving the lyrics here is provocative and keeps us hanging on every word. Vocally, things get really weak in the pre-chorus and in the bridge. It’s harder to understand the lyrics, the confidence and conviction seem to be gone and there are some pitch problems.

The nod to Ernie and Bert is really cute, and the chorus is full of pointed lines that really get the message across. It’s really catchy too!
E: There was a nod to Ernie and Bert?
D: YES! I thought you heard the song!
E: I don't listen to lyrics, you know that!
D: But these are protest songs!
E: I protest how you are trying to make me listen to lyrics.

9. Brian Gray - Walk (Live From Woodbury)

E: I'm at a rock concert!
D: We're at a rock concert!
E: You go to rock concerts?
D: Ya!
E: I thought you just hang out in hipster bars.
D: Where do you get this warped view of me?
E: Usually by your actions and the things you say.
The live feel of this is really epic and we could totally see this being performed in front of a crazy huge stadium crowd. The sustained lines “Here we are/Who gets pulled” are really strong and a create a great call to action. This song has a lot of space for the instruments to play and we dig that. We would have loved more harmonies to really drive the message home. “Walkers gonna walk” is a really memorable hook. And we like the zombies.

10. Dr. Lindyke - The Square

You’re digging deep with some meaty jazziness here and we really like it. This is another song where the point of view you’ve taken really stands out. Making that explicit in the first line is a really good move. It grabs our attention and makes us think, “Yes, we know them and we do want to know what they have to say about how things are now.”

Your vocals carry a lot of soul and conviction and we love the playful melisma things you’re doing in spots. We would suggest bringing the vocals up in the mix though.
E: Melis-what?
D: 'Melisma'
E: What is that?
D: It's where you sing the syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession.
E: Oh. Neat.

11. MC Ohm-I - If You Don't Like Gay Marriage

E: Ha, great delivery. The chorus is great fun. Awesome song. :D
D: That’s it?
E: Yup.

D: You  don't have a review?
E: I have no idea what to say because I like it and I'm not great at critiquing this genre. I understand the words which is impressive at the speed he's going and I like the chorus. It's danceable and fun.
D: But we can't not leave him a review.
E: We're rating it really high! Good grief.
D: Well, I want to leave him with something!
E: Fine. Go. Review.
D: ....
E: Doing great, Debs.
D: .... It's awesome.
E: Yes it is. 

Kevin Savino-Riker - Dinosaur Sam

We dig the funk and the syncopation in the the guitar has us bopping our heads. Unfortunately, we found the melody to be really repetitive and uninteresting we had to fight to pay attention to the message because it wasn’t grabbing us. It feels as though you created the track first and then struggled a little bit to find a melody that fit. The verse/chorus division feels vague because there’s not enough contrast between sections so the direction feels a little diffuse.
E: I feel sorry for people who write a funk song.
D: Funk is awesome!
E: All you do is date funk bands. You can be very critical on every nuance of a funk song.
E: Ya, you date a lot of other boys too. Not geeks though.

"Buckethat" Bobby - Knock Off (Shadow)

By this round, things become more critical in regards to technical proficiency, and so when things like wrong notes are played, those stick out. It’s a fun little tune though and would of course be much better if it was tighter and practiced more. The doubled vocals are sitting a little oddly with us because we don’t think they’re really needed and their looseness is distracting. We would drop them in favour of harmonies to add more interest in the chorus, especially towards the end of the song. The lyrics are really accessible and we like that.
E: Blogger highlights 'favour'.
D: What?
E: I like the 'u' in there.
D: Yes. Quit getting distracted.
E: Like that's going to happen.
D: True.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - Eat The Whales (Shadow)

E: I don’t think I would like blubber. And I’m all about unhealthy things. I don’t think I would want to eat seals or jelly fish either.
D: Errol...
E: I guess I would eat an owl if it was cooked and tasted like chicken. I mean, all birds taste the same, right? I ate quail once.
D: Errol...
E: I ate camel. That was good. I would eat camel again - OW
D: Shut up and do the reviews.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - The Ballad of the Last of the Hackers (Shadow)

E: Steve Jackson had a card game called “Hackers”. It was fun. And it was old. I think it was the precursor to his card game “Illumanti”. I still haven’t played a full game of that.
D: This has nothing to do with the review.
E: It totally does! We’re talking about hackers! That’s all about the review! OOOh, that reminds me of a game on the C64 called Hacker. It was... not as hacky as it was just controlling a little robot to do something. It wasn’t as awesome as hacking sounds like it should be.
D: You’re getting off track.
E: Now the “Hacker” card game was pretty fun. You had to hack into -
D: I don’t care...
E: *sigh* You never care. This is why you wound me.
D: And it’s my pleasure.
E: Thanks.

Dr. Lindyke - Memory Of A Future Past (Shadow)

E: I don’t understand why Dr. Lindyke has a shadow if he has a song already. Can’t you have more than one?
D: I don’t think you can have more than one.
E: Oh, that’s good. I guess it would be hard to judge if more than one person put in a couple of songs each.
D: Don’t you read the rules?
E: I just hope you read them and then tell me later when I break them.
D: We should be writing a review write now.
E: Is this one of those rules I broke again?

Dr. Lindyke - It's A Joke, Not A Dick (Don't Take It So Hard) (Shadow)

E: Wait, it’s another song from Lindyke!
D: We haven’t finished a review of the last one!
E: Yes we did. We had all sorts of things to say.
D: We didn’t say anything about the song!
E: I think it was a song about hacking.
D: That was the Boffo song!
E: I remember some cool hacking sites where they encouraged you to hack into them.
D: WRONG SONG! This song is about Dicks!
E: Oh, no wonder you want to desperately do this review.
D: I loathe you so much.