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Friday, July 12, 2013

SpinTunes #7 Round 1 Review: Felix Frost

Hi! For those who don't know me I'm Felix Frost (MagicTurtle643 on YouTube). I competed in SpinTunes 4 and 5, and unfortunately had to take 6 off. You can hear my music at felixfrost.bandcamp.com, including some old SpinTunes submissions. Spin picked me to judge simply because I'm a veteran, not because I'm an expert on songwriting. So take everything I say with a grain of salt and understand that, in many cases, I couldn't necessarily do any better ;)
This was an incredible round! I can't think of a single one of these songs that doesn't deserve to be “in the running” as it were, to move on to the next round. Whichever ones get eliminated will probably surprise me—even the ones I ranked the lowest; because after I picked my top few choices, I had almost no idea who to put below who. So I think you all deserve to move on.
And for that reason, I'll be mostly positive this first round. I found very few negative things to say about these songs, and I think it's good to hear mostly positive feedback. Even if I ranked your song low, I feel like then going on to slam the song in my review would be insult to injury. Plus, all of these songs were excellent, so the ranking was neck and neck from top to bottom.
Some factors that helped me decide who'd be in the “elimination zone” was how well the song fulfilled the challenge. If your song was a song written “to” a toy, you had a better chance of staying in the game. If it wasn't, I still might have ranked you high if the song was good enough (in my opinion). But if you're annoyed that you were just one or two positions lower than you feel you deserve, it could be because your song didn't perfectly fit the requirement of the challenge.
Okay okay okay, I'll post my ranking. Then if you want to read what I thought about your particular song you can find it in the order in which you submitted it just below the rankings.
  1. Blimp Exhaust
  2. Trader Jack
  3. Emporer Gum
  4. Steve Durand
  5. Mariah Mercedes
  6. RC
  7. The Orion Sound
  8. Menage a Tune
  9. Boffo Yux Dudes
  10. TurboShandy
  11. Riker's Island
  12. Glen Raphael
  13. Edric Haleen
  14. Governing Dynamics
  15. Ominous Ride
  16. Sid Brown
  17. Army Defense
  18. MC Ohm I
  19. Jasper Lewis
  20. Niveous
  21. Jailhouse Payback
Baseball Cards - Trader Jack
This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Remembering some of your past entries, I think you have a gift for writing interesting song structures that sort of take the listener on a journey. Even if the concept are simple, musically the song kind of moves like an epic folk ballad or something. Baseball Cards, for example, has a lot of really great sections in it that the average songwriter may not have bothered to stick in between the choruses and verses.
There’s a solid intro that’s different from the rest of the song, and there’s a lot of neat little surprises throughout the rest of the song including little guitar blips, variations on the “never gonna retire part,” the “not worth the shipping” part, the “no no no,” part, etc. The song manages to stay fresh constantly without being disorienting. So in other words, I think it’s great!
Okay I’ll stop talking about that aspect of it. I like the concept too, it’s funny and interesting and the “25 cents, hey!” part made me laugh out loud. I also think you have a unique voice with lots of star quality and character.
My only complaint is that the production doesn’t fill my ears the way I like music to. I’m not going to rank this any lower because I only use a laptop to record music, so I don’t expect anyone to put money into something that’s probably just a hobby. But I would like a few instruments to fill the left and right channels, maybe. I don’t know what audio software you use, but Audacity is a free program that can very seamlessly spread tracks across the stereo speakers. But some people don’t care about that stuff at all, so I’ll shut up about this too
It makes me sad that a lot of judges seem to dismiss your songs, without noticing how intricately they're put together. You make it seem easy, especially since your song was submitted before anyone else’s, so maybe it’s obvious that songwriting comes naturally to you. And not standard songwriting, but compelling indie-style rock with structures that do whatever they please to fit the needs of the song. So, bravo.
My Nerf Gun And I - Blimp Exhaust
One of the most solidly written and produced songs on this album. Great grunge distortion and a pleasing full band sound. I don’t know how many people you have in your band or if it’s just one person (I suppose I could check the bio) but it doesn’t matter, because it’s working.
The melody of this track is really tight too. It reminds me of early Smash Mouth or Fountains of Wayne a bit, and I mean that as a compliment. I don’t know what your other music sounds like, but you have a really powerful alternative grunge vibe that I think clicks. The “my nerf gun and I” part in particular is really memorable, especially with the way it fits in with the rest of the song—it’s like the climax of every verse that you look forward to hearing each time.
Your choice of toy I think was perfect. It fits the challenge perfectly and allows for fun, lighthearted childhood references, while still relating to war and combat which fits the song’s jagged tone. So all the parts of the song are working together (lyrics, melody, instrumentation, genre) pretty much perfectly.
The only bad thing I can say is that the distorted guitar at times can clash. I realize that it’s probably intentional and is a part of the style, but it makes me wonder when a rough, dissonant chord hits if the songwriter would have chosen a different set of notes if he or she had found them. But I’ll write it off as part of the song’s intended package, because I love me some messy noise rock when it works!

The Mandatory Retirement Of Action Man – TurboShandy
A pretty solid pop rock song. I think the strongest part of this track is the story and the lyrics, which touch on one of the more interesting aspects of toys—breaking and replacing them. It’s funny how attached kids get to such faulty things. You also followed the challenge description perfectly. You found a funny and interesting way to address a toy directly that I think came out as something pretty darn original.
The outro of this song left me wanting more. I thought at first it was a really well-fitting and exciting bridge, but then the song ended. That’s fine, because a lot of good songs end with a bang. But I do think another change of pace and melody could have come earlier.
I don’t care for how the recording itself is mixed. It’s mostly vocals and a gentle popping drum track. There seem to be some pretty interesting instrument parts happening in the background, but they’re too quiet. I really want to hear that strumming guitar and those synth/keyboard runs. Especially the keyboard. It has that action-hero brightness to it that I think would bring the song to life if it was a little louder and mixed as one of the central hooks to the song. You might run the risk of seeming like synth pop if you do that—but it’s already there, so I don’t think it deserves to be buried.
Oh also I really like your singing voice. It has a punk-rock quality to it. It almost sounds taunting or sarcastic, which works for the song but it does make me sad to the think the narrator is singing spitefully to Action Man. Like, “I’ll replace you. I don’t even care!” Poor Action Man.
Pong Song – RC
I can tell you’re a seasoned songwriter. This song feels very polished. The structure is sound, the chord changes are timed perfectly, and there’s even some carefully placed empty space where the vocals hold off for a second to let the guitars do their work. The same goes for the moments when the drums and rhythm guitars slow down a bit. It’s pretty hard I think to know when to make certain instruments drop out. My instinct is always to have the sound moving constantly. Like if the song hesitates at all, it’ll die or something, which is stupid. But you, you’re a master of pacing. The mixing is excellent too. The instruments are layered well. I didn’t even notice the organ until the third listen, but I don’t know why. It’s exactly where it should be, I’d say. Not too soft, not too loud, right in the middle channel.
The country guitars are delicious on the ears as well. Very professional sounding. You seem to know you’re genre and exactly what you’re capable of producing. I also love the pong sound effects. An excellent touch.
The lyrics can be a little unimaginative at times, but that’s barely a criticism. The challenge sort of lends itself to straightforward story-telling, and this song basically functions as a country love song—with a human substituted with a video game. And the romance actually sounds pretty genuine. I get the sense the narrator really cares for this game. It almost seems as if this song already existed and was rewritten to replace a woman’s name with Pong. Which isn’t me being suspicious, just me saying it’s a very high-functioning rock song that was sort of diluted by a silly contest requirement :P You could totally redo the lyrics and salvage this as something serious and awesome—IF you care at all. There’s nothing wrong with lightheartedness and humor, after all.
You'll Shoot Your Eye Out - Governing Dynamics
I actually fully support the concept of this song. Guns may not be toys but the way you wrote the lyrics wins me over. It’s like that’s the point. They’re being used as toys, so in a sense you very much wrote a song “to” a childhood toy—as disturbing as it is. So extra points for shaking things up!
The song is great on its own too, musically. It’s got that famous Governing Dynamics rough-guitar groove that we all love. The vocals are some of the best I’ve heard from you too. You have the perfect voice for the type of music you make.
I don’t feel right criticizing a past champion, but I’ll throw in a few afterthoughts. There seem to be two electric guitars playing different parts in separate channels, but the timbre of both is a little too similar. Maybe if one were an octave higher it would sound a little better, but right now they both kind of mesh into a swamp of mid-range guitar distortion. It actually helps to set the mood of the track and fills the space with that grinding rock sound people strive for—but I’d like to be able to pick out the melodies or chords they’re playing instead of just expecting them to serve as background noise for the vocals.
Also, the drum track could be louder, more powerful. The song is full of mean guitars and fierce subject matter, so I think it might sound good to have some pounding percussion.
This One’s For Blankie - Mariah Mercedes
First off, love the chord progression. It’s the kind that gets stuck in your head. That’s not even the best thing this song has going for it either. It’s very well executed, lyrically and musically, and your voice (as usual) is top notch.
I especially thought the bridge was great. It’s amazing how a song can totally change tempo and instrumentation, to bring the listener in a totally new direction for a few seconds and somehow still fit so completely with the rest of the track. I think that’s what you did in the bridge, and the melody is pretty chilling—in a good way. The tonality (to me) reflects the emotions of that moment, the sadness of forgetting the blanket under the mattress.
The song manages to sound really full and fleshed out without having a lot of different musical parts happening, which I guess is always the goal of singer/songwriters with nothing but a good voice, an acoustic guitar and interesting ideas—so well done!
My only complaint is that the song is pretty tame. Nothing outstanding or attention-grabbing, which may result in it being ignored a little bit among the other tracks on the album. That says nothing to the quality of the song though, and playing it safe is usually a better idea in SpinTunes (so I’ve learned), rather than doing something bold, like experimental music, or taking a brave angle on the challenge description like Governing Dynamics did this round. Either way, you’ve got talent and it shows.
Slinky – Jasper Lewis
The guitar-skill in this song is definitely its best attribute. You play with a lot feeling and amazing dynamics. The vocals are also delivered excellently with strength and confidence. Your voice, like a lot of the singers on this album, has a unique sound to it that you should never let go. The guitar part on this song is one of those classic riffs that almost make you amazed nobody’s thought of it before.
The lyrics maybe leave a little to be desired. I like the idea of the song being written from the POV of a slinky, but I’m not sure the words to the song fit that idea very well. I can see some poetic similarities between a slinky and a subway or a greyhound or maybe even a black hole, but I have to reach pretty deep into my imagination to find them… like that they’re all perpetually moving machines—ones that push forward on their own? I don’t know. I feel like there could have been some more interesting personification going on, and those three comparisons really make up the whole song.
Also the fact that each section ends with “I don’t really care” sort of weakens the whole impact of the story. Shouldn’t the slinky care as much as possible? If it wants to be something else, then that’s what we want to feel. But the obscure comparisons do add mystery and remind me of some They Might Be Giants lyrics like “I am a human head, just the scalp not the hair,” where it’s really up to the listener to unravel the metaphor.
Overall, a great song!
Teddy - Ominous Ride
I LOVE the piano in this song. That wandering melody is beautiful. It doesn’t mix well with those crunchy guitars that come in occasionally. Piano parts like this are better suited with clear, pristine notes, like from an acoustic guitar where distortion can’t get in the way. Maybe if the electric guitars were much louder and played with stronger accents, then it could resemble that scary Evanescence style and that might make for an amazing song. But I wouldn’t dare tell anyone to be more like Evanescence, I’m just trying to think of post production ways to really make this track shine.
The songwriting itself is great though, and that’s the main thing I should be judging, I suppose. There’s some really funny ideas hidden in here, masked by the gloomy mood of the music. It’s a nice contrast. The vocals are really mournful—almost too much. It makes listening to the song a pretty dreary experience. But I can’t speak because my own singing voice is unreasonably lackluster.
I wasn’t wowed by this song by any means but I can’t think of anything too critical to say about it. That piano part keeps this as a solid entry.
Twenty Years On - Edric Haleen
I totally missed the Calvin and Hobbes reference until Doc Lindyke pointed it out to me, but that was before reading the lyrics. I missed the word “Hobbes” in the first line on my first few listens. I’m sure I would have caught it before reviewing it though, so don’t worry. I read the comics as a kid so I get most of the references—at least now that I know the POV.
A very original take on the challenge, and startlingly emotional—an interesting juxtaposition to the often irreverent comics. Although I have been seeing a lot of heart wrenching fan art for Calvin and Hobbes floating around the internet lately, so I guess I should be used to it by now. Fan art that’s pretty similar to the core of this song—Calvin grows up and Hobbes has to be passed on to some other child. Tear-inducing but beautiful. I didn’t even need a “but” there. Things that are tear-inducing are very frequently beautiful, aren’t they? Hahaha.
As usual you have that gift for melody. When I hear your songs I’m amazed they weren’t stolen from high-budget theatrical piece or some classical ballad. But that doesn’t mean any given melody of yours reminds me of any other one. They’re definitely original.
Also as usual, I’d love to hear a more fleshed out track from you, but I understand most SpinTuners are sole musicians who don’t have access to a full band. So really I should be complimenting your ability to write great songs with rarely more than a piano.
Your song “Exultation!” from a previous SpinTunes was especially refreshing and powerful. In that sense, this track does feel a little bit too much like typical Edric Haleen. But why should you change a formula that works? Or mutate your writing style just because we all know you now? You shouldn’t. So well done!
This song really does make me a little emotional, but I can be a bit of a sap so I’m easy to manipulate.
Perfect Place - Menage a Tune
The stand out track of the bunch, in terms of style and creativity. A beautiful haunting tune. The twinkling instruments in the background are fantastic and compliment the vocals excellently. I love the sound effects, like the rip cord and the wooshing noise that happens at the middle and end of the song. My kind of music—the kind that sets an atmosphere.
It crossed my mind on the second listen that the girl in the song may have either died or nearly died in the fridge, because I’ve heard of that happening. But I wasn’t going to bring it up here unless I knew that was the implication. I didn’t want you guys to think I’d come up with some morbid interpretation of an innocent song. But then I read your song bio and my mind was put at ease. The dangers of hiding in the fridge are indeed mirrored by the creepy music—and I don’t have to feel ashamed for assuming the worst of the lyrics :)
Some of the back and forth between the character and the Cathy doll comes across as cloying and feels like pandering—but I guess that’s the risk with a challenge like this. Moments like that and the word “mommy” right at the beginning had a very unfortunate negative effect on me on my first listen. I don’t know if any other judges felt the same way but it gave me an unpleasant feeling like “Oh great, kids' music.” Hahaha. I realize the song is far from it, but it takes a few listens to get on board with what the track is trying to accomplish. You haven’t even done anything wrong per se, it’s just the connotation of childlike noises and terminology that could maybe turn some adults off to the music entirely. But again, that kind of comes with the challenge.
Eat Your Hair- Niveous
Fantastic rhythm guitars on this song. I love the pulsing motion they put throughout the whole track. The drum track, for that matter, has just as much force. And I love the counter melody that comes in on the second verse.
The harmonies aren’t great. Some of the song does sort of knock into itself, but like I said about My Nerf Gun And I, I can’t be sure the dissonance isn’t intentional.
The solo/bridge/whatever you want to call it is brilliant. It wasn’t rushed, it was well planned and well played—I’d believe you if you said it was written down on sheet music before it was recorded, and I’d also believe you if you said you improvised it. It’s both polished and spontaneous.
Maybe I’m dumb, but I have no idea what toy this is referencing. Somewhere deep in my mind I seem to remember some toy that was supposed to eat hair, but I’m probably making that up. My first thought was that it was a mechanical toy that got caught in children’s hair on accident, which is a scary and interesting thing to write a song about.
Fireball XL5 – Steve Durand
Okay, I knew this already but you are really an expert at song craft. Something about the way the parts of this song move into the other parts is just so organic. That’s something I struggle with is making shifts that aren’t jarring. The slide from the verse into the chorus is seamless, catchy, and delightful on the ears. And the chord changes in the chorus are flawless. I don’t know how you know exactly what chords need to come next, but you do. The harmonies in the chorus are also amazing, and whoever plays brass on this track is spot on. I was really impressed to hear live winds in a SpinTunes. It’s not something you hear often.

The recording itself is a little puny and muffled, but I won’t fault you for that. Overall a fantastic submission!
Furby Life - MC Ohm I
The production value on this track is superb. It makes me think you have an actual producer in the studio with you. I don’t know if you constructed the beat from scratch or used a pre-programmed one, but either way it sounds great.
Your voice is perfect for rapping. It’s sharp and deep and you attack each syllable like you love to play with language. That said, some of the rhymes in the lyrics were a little too easy, but I get that it’s a silly song so who really expects fancy rhyme schemes? I loved the line about imaginary eggs
I don’t really get what about owning a Furby is nerdy in any way, but maybe you chose that word for the way it sounded next to the word “Furby.” But if the point of the song was to suggest that nerds are the type of people to own Furbies then I don’t really know if that’s fair. I mean sure a nerd could love Furbies, but I don’t think the two are in any way automatically connected.
Great toy pick though. A rap song about Furbies is hilarious and amazing. And you had guts to take it on. And I do think you, for the most part, nailed it.
Guardian - Emperor Gum
The backing track for this song is astoundingly good. It’s like this synth orchestral masterpiece. 
I try not to be cynical and skeptical, but I’m a little suspicious that it was created using a computer program where you just drag notes into slots. That’s technically fine, I mean you’re still creating the music. But it’s also a little unfair :P But I don’t accuse you of that. I’ll trust that all of the parts were played on a keyboard or some other instrument, and you should take my suspicion as a huge compliment. You know you’re doing something right when people think you might be cheating Again, though, using a computer program isn’t really cheating, it’s just a league of its own.
Whatever the case, the melody is epic. Like some sixties rock opera by Yes or the Who or Zappa or something. Of course it’s got its own Emperor Gum flavor, but the way it moves up and down the register so quickly while still staying in the key signature and sounding catchy and addictive is quite a feat. That serves the theme of the song too. A guardian of any kind (teddy bear or superhero) deserves an epic tune with a grand orchestra. Oh that reminds me, those keyboard chorus vocals—I don’t know what to call them, the high pitched mechanical singing, was maybe my favorite part. It really added some spice to the song and gave it its own memorable sound.
Okay, after all that praise, I will say the vocals didn’t always hit the mark. Which I feel terrible saying because singing is very personal and hard to do. But with the vocal melody running right alongside the backing track, it became very obvious when the vocals hit the wrong note—because you could hear the note it meant to hit layered right on top of it. So the melody was beautiful in theory, it just sometimes clashed because the singing wasn’t perfectly in tune. I think most listeners are accustomed to imagining what it was supposed to sound like though, and a perfect song is a soulless song, right? So it’s still a great performance overall.
Stretch Armstrong - Army Defense
My first thought upon hearing this song is that the speakers seem flooded. I’m all for loud songs, but the recording seems to make the audio quality fuzz-out and distort. The way the song is produced it feels like it should be really high fidelity, but somehow I ended up with a compressed mp3 version of it.
All that aside, great full band sound. Love the drum track. I could see this being an indie rock gem that gained a cult following on the internet. Similarly, the guitars and the vocals sound really similar to the Olivia Tremor Control—which is a great cult-following band that not many people know about, or care about any more. You having a similar sound is, of course, a good thing
I really like that you just picked a very specific toy with a very specific brand name and wrote about it. I expected more songs like this—because I feel like a lot of kids grew up loving one very particular toy, like a Teddy Ruxpin, or a Polly Pocket. So I was surprised by how many generalities there were in the lyrics of the other songs. Great job!
WillieTalk - Jailhouse Payback
This song has an amazing garage band sound. There’s a lot going on in this recording, and every time I listen I find something new to listen to. Some great distortion and sound manipulation effects going on. The vocal reverb in the beginning and middle is especially great. I like that you buried the vocals every now and then too. That takes courage. So many musicians make their vocals SO loud, like it’s the only thing they want you to hear. A song should be FULL of life and atmosphere. Generally you can pick out the vocals even when they’re really quiet, so I like when artists like you let the other instruments sing out loud.
The drums on this track are really great too. They thump around in both channels, darting around my ears and head and keeping the track feeling lively and powerful. That’s what I wish some of the other rockier songs would have done on this album.
The vocal melody is decent, but sometimes feels a little aimless—like maybe the note you hit wasn’t quite right next to the notes of the other instruments. But when the vocals are belted with life and energy the way they were delivered in this case, I think you get some leeway. Rock music isn’t sing-songy, and sometimes you gotta sacrifice the pretty melodic sound for gritty emotion.
In the end, this song isn’t very memorable, though. I kept forgetting about this track every time I listened to the whole album. Maybe that’s because it lacks a good chorus or a catchy hook. It also lacks outstanding lyrics. There’s nothing about the words that stands out as interesting or surprise. BUT they do read well as a poem. I like that they aren’t just repeated structures with a/b/a/b rhyme schemes. I really admire musicians who write that way, without feeling the need to fall into this silly little mold that always relies on rhyming “you” with “do” and “true” and stuff like that. Excellent work.
8-Bit Skies - Sid Brown
Okay, I’m going to be a little hypocritical here. A few SpinTunes ago I was criticized for writing a story song set in the wild west that didn’t sound like country music. To me it made perfect sense—why does the style of the song have to fit the theme? Why can’t we branch out? Well, that was my first thought upon hearing this song, that it didn’t make me thing of Mario or video games in any way. That frustrated me at first, and I guess it still does. But it was clearly your intention to write a ballad about Mario in a different style than chiptunes or electronic music. It’s like a blues song, and it works—even if my ears crave for more Nintendo-friendly sounds.
The acoustic guitar is played expertly, and the vocals are always in tune. So the performance is solid all around. The song itself kind of lacks energy and life, but if we’re calling blues we could just define it as “sad sounding.” It’s not a blast to listen to, though. Sort of quiet and flat despite colorful and fun-filled subject matter.
Still obvious you’re a skilled songwriter though, so don’t think I wasn’t impressed. :D
Turn You On - Orion Sound
The first time I heard this I thought it was supposed to be only about the Pokemon games, but after reading the lyrics again I realized it’s just about the Gameboy. That’s pretty brilliant, and I had a similar love affair to my own Nintendo handhelds.
I realize I shouldn’t take anything about this song too seriously since you always write comedy songs. But I will say it’s pretty technically impressive. Your piano skills are undeniable. You could probably amp up the volume though, on both the piano and the vocals. I’ve seen your studio set-up in a YouTube video and it’s pretty impressive-looking (at the very least) so these piano parts should really be pounding brightly in my ears.
It’s a pretty funny song honestly. I think you managed to fit in a lot of great jokes and Gameboy puns. I also admire that you refuse to do anything but comedy in this contest. That’s your thing and you want a repertoire of funny music, so why not put a funny twist on every challenge? It’s brave and I hope none of the other judges fault you for that.
Super-Elastic etc. - Buffo Yux Dudes
My new favorite Yux Dudes track! I love how firmly grounded this song is in piano chords. Piano-centric songs are a personal taste of mine, especially big full chords like these. I also really like the fact that you based this song on a fictional toy. I’m assuming it’s made up anyway. I’ve never heard of the super elastic bubble plastic man, and that name is awesomely over the top. I suppose it could be a don't-sue-us version of Stretch Armstrong? Hahaha. Either way, well done.
The guitars sound great on that instrumental break. It could have gone on for a little longer. A full on solo or dueling guitars would have been awesome. The vocals mix well in this recording as well, especially at the end when they sort of call and answer each other—and then you add a third vocal part on top of them. Great finish.
The drum track is very mechanical, which I actually kind of like, but it does make the song seem a little stiff. Well done overall.
I Like Pong - Glen Raphael
Both the guitar part and the vocal style sound amazingly like the Mountain Goats. Almost as if this song is a pastiche to their style. I doubt it was intentional, but it sounds amazing either way.
This is another one of those songs that’s sort of restricted to the center channel. It leaves me wishing there were more instruments and more production overall, and not just in mono. But the one guy and one guitar thing is something that’s been happening for years, so you can take my advice or leave it—because a lot of people love this set up.
I like the lyrics a lot, but I feel like they could have been a little more humorous maybe? It’s funny that both you and RC wrote about pong in a very serious and sincere manner. Something about that ancient game must just stir up dusty, nostalgic feelings in some people. And I think it works simply because the game is so old and so simple. A song about a video game, or even a toy, seems like it should be upbeat and fun—and even funny. But Pong does have a somber quality to it, doesn’t it? So I think the style choice works in your favor, even if it can make the song seem a little watered down at times.
Great voice, by the way. You’re an excellent singer.
Play Doh - Riker’s Island
Another polished, catchy tune. The main melody of this song gets stick in your head. I feel like it might really resemble a song I’ve already heard at some point in my life, but I can’t think of it. So it probably doesn’t exist.
I love that you have two vocalists! The female voice jumping in the middle is really refreshing and exciting. The drums and guitar mesh well too. Nice to have a rhythm track on what could have otherwise just been another acoustic-guitar-only song.
The lyrics to this song are some of the cleverest and well thought-out of any on the album. My favorite line being “I’ll make the engine sounds,” which just perfectly encapsulates the world of kids playing with toys. Toys don’t always make their own sound effects, so you have to make them with your mouth! Especially, play doh, which leaves 100% of playtime up to your own imagination.
My second favorite part of the lyrics was how the narrator changed with the vocalist. Lonely boy, bratty girl. Love it. I love a song that takes on a clear perspective, and I love a song even more than has more than one perspective. Great submission, guys. I can’t find many negative things to say about it.


  1. Graham (Emperor Gum)July 14, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    Thanks for the review, that was really lovely to read! The "high pitched mechanical singing" is actually a soprano clarinet with a lot of chorus and reverb on it. I'm a bad singer, so normally I have to simplify the vocal part just so I can do it. This time I liked the melody too much to do it. I agree that I didn't pull it off.

    Sorry to disappoint you but the string quartet, keyboard and drums were all programmed, not performed. As far as I know, this isn't against the SpinTunes rules. I personally don't feel its unfair, as everyone else can do it too. I did perform the clarinet, bass guitar and vocal parts, though!

  2. I've actually never listened to the Mountain Goats. I'll put that on my list. Thanks for the review!