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Saturday, March 2, 2013

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


  1. Thanks for the review, and for the kind word, Niveous!

    The "Spring" is figurative. It's intended to evoke the "Arab Spring" as well as the phrase "Hope springs eternal". It's not about the coming April. ;)

  2. In re: to your Jenny Katz review

    I disagree that a good protest song has to zero in on one issue and that it weakens it to meander. For one thing the challenge was "Write a protest song in which you try to convince your listeners about something you strongly believe." not write a protest song about one issue.

    And, arguably Bob Dylan's best protest song, The Times They Are a-Changin', is all over the place.

    "Dylan even described “The Times They Are A-Changin’” as a “song with a purpose.” But what’s beautiful about it is that it’s political without being political. It doesn’t address specific issues. No, what the song does is portray a slowly crumbling social order being discarded by a new generation coming to grips with the world’s chaos and inequality."


    -Heather Gray

  3. "It doesn't address specific issues"

    Right. That's what makes Dylan's song different from Jenny Katz's. He takes broad strokes. She took many little stabs. His song isn't all over the place.

    PS- Are we gonna compare that song to Bob Dylan???

  4. Actually I was making the point you don't have to zero in on one point to be a good protest song.

    I think Katz song is about the specific issue of the hypocrisy of suburban life and it reminded me more of Little Boxes by Malvina Reynolds and Jonathan Coulton's Shop Vac.

    -Heather Gray

  5. Heather, I agree with your statement that a good protest song does not necessarily need to focus on one aspect. But it still doesn't change my opinion that I wish Jenny Katz would've focused her song.

    It's all about the way it was written. All the examples you've given are songs that stay kind of vague (again, broad strokes). Jenny Katz takes various little stabs like the remark about coffee growers paychecks. The problem for me was that once you put them all together (the little stabs), they don't come together well. For instance, the part about school where the little dig is thrown in about the rich which then stumbles awkwardly into the line about how school sucks for 12 years. It just needed to focus.

    She could've been vaguer (like your examples) or more focused, either way it would've tightened up the lyric in my opinion. (And one less burger built on rainforest dreams couldn't hurt)

  6. Fair enough.