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Saturday, August 24, 2013

SpinTune #7 Round 4 Review: Dr. Lindyke

OK, in this round we're down to the four top contenders. They've proved themselves early on, and now the blinkers are off. The challenge couldn't be any simpler: Write a song inspired by the Ronan Murray picture provided.

As you can imagine, "inspired by" covers a lot of ground. For instance, when I first saw the photo, I thought of a toll booth in the desert from Blazing Saddles and imagined the title "The Road to Rock Ridge". Then I thought of a UFO because of that crazy sky. I thought of the ornithopters from Dune because of those winglike overhangs (the crappy David Lynch kind). Literally anything goes here so long as you got there by looking at that picture.

That's why I asked people for song bios in Facebook, though I didn't see many from the competitors. Though these actual entries are pretty plain, It's always nice to see how somebody's mind got him to the final product from this prompt.

My placements count for pretty much nothing this round. The former competitors get to vote. However, I am reviewing... and this time, given no guidelines or restrictions other than a picture to inspire you, I have nothing to judge you by except my own personal preference. So I'm going to rank you purely by which songs I like to listen to the most. That's easier than it sounds, as this is the toughest choice of the competition. I'm glad my opinion is non-binding.

The Songs:

Ominous Ride - Waiting for Julietta
I will admit to being biased. I just love Ominous Ride's style in general, and this song has EVERYTHING I love about it. Great vocals and harmonies, great arrangement with interesting variations, and that that late 60s reverb that I grew up with. It reminds me of one of The Monkees, and that's a HUGE compliment.

RC - Home
I could listen to this song all day long. You've got the rhythm, the arrangement, the voice, the message... it's just bloody awesome. It's easy on the ears while still commanding attention. I don't get bored listening to it. Really, RC, this is great.

Edric Haleen - Reality
SEVEN AND A HALF MINUTES! It certainly doesn't feel nearly that long, because the parables are so very compelling and the various movements are distinct enough to periodically re-engage the listener. I read your song bio**, and I can certainly see the Phantom Tollbooth  influence, though unprompted I'd have guessed it was a large smattering of Jonathan Swift, and it even reminds me of Pink Floyd's The Wall. I have heard comments that the politics are somewhat heavy-handed, but I think they're incisive, as good satire should be. Truth be told, I spent the entire week waffling between putting the song here and at the very top of my list. It is certainly a tour de force.It is cutting social commentary. It is thoroughly entertaining. It's also terribly long and demands attention; so in the end, if I'm just going to casually listen to a song, it's going to be "Waiting for Julietta" or "Home". I'll save "Reality" for special occasions. And, I know you don't "compete". But Bravo, sir!

** (You confused me in the song bio... you describe the influence of The Phantom Tollbooth at length, then after that you toss in Daniel Quinn (whose work I haven't read) out of nowhere.  Care to go back and explain that?) 

Blimp Exhaust - Miss Leon
I absolutely love the orchestration and the melody on this. First class, really! It's a brave step to go rhymeless here, and I'm not sure it works entirely here for me. Rhymeless lyrics work best when you don't notice the lack of rhyme, but this meter highlights those spots where the rhyme would normally go. That's balanced out, though, by the fact that this is a REALLY great story. Miss Leon would be heartless not to accept the apology.

The Shadows:
(in album order)

Dr. Lindyke - HDR 
Listening to the competitors, I wish I'd had the time to really do some orchestration. But meh... it's a shadow. Rather than write about the subject of the photo, I chose to write about the photo itself. The colors and textures of the HDR technique jump out at you and sock you in the eye, but there's always something unnatural about it, to my mind. So I used the opportunity to have a little fun. I was suprised when I finished it to find that it's under 3 minutes long... it feels longer to me.

Brian Gray - Grind 
Brian's one of my favorite artists. I'd rather listen to something he churned out on a Tuesday evening in his spare time to most things I could buy from a record label. This is a character portrait using the circus as a metaphor. The rhymes are intricate and entertaining, the emotions are clearly painted. The arrangement is jealousy-inducing. The metaphor of the organ grinder relating to the daily grind is inspired. Two big thumbs up.

Trader Jack - Miscreant Love 
I listened to this a lot, and it's definitely listenable enough to do that.
Every word of it is English (yes, even lapis lazuli).
I see all the elements of the picture in it.
I still have no idea what it means.

Menage a Tune - Johnny's All Weather Drive-In 
This is another non-rhyming song, but in this case you don't really notice the missing rhymes. The "stream of consciousness" structure and backing vocals keep you occupied. Really nice arrangement! Great use of the Long Island accent. I suggest that the vocal sounds a little sedate in places where it would be nice to have a little more energy (not volume), particularly in the repetitive chorus (btw, "repetitive" is descriptive, not a complaint). This is the sort of thing that might work well in a musical... it has that theatrical feel, and I can certainly see it as a video... poodle skirts, bobby socks and pony tails; button-down shirts, jeans and duck tails. Great job!

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