Time until sign-ups begin:

Friday, December 26, 2014

SpinTunes #10: Sign Up Page

It's time for SpinTunes #10. The rules are in place. New judges are...well...I'm working on it.  But they will be working on the challenges soon. Now it's time to see who's going to be competing in our 10th contest.

I will need everyone who wants to participate to copy & paste the following text into their e-mail. Fill in the needed info, and then e-mail it to me at the address I provided below. Make sure you put "Spintown Contest" as the subject of the e-mail so I don't think it's spam. Also use an e-mail that I can reach you at if need be. Don't panic if you don't get a confirmation e-mail immediately after signing up. I'll message you back within 24 hours of getting your e-mail.

I _____________ give Travis Langworthy permission to upload any music I submit into his contest onto his blog (Spintown) & bandcamp. I realize it will become part of an album consisting of numerous other artists, and that it will be available for anyone to download for free. I also promise to give my very best effort in each round to complete the challenges. Providing NEW songs that have not been released before in any form. I also agree that anything that goes wrong during this competition is Heather's fault.
Name: (The name you or your group wants to be referred to during the competition.)
Bio: (Give a brief description of your group/music/history in 500 CHARACTERS or less. I know it's brief, but it's more than Twitter allows. :p Besides, links to your sites will be provided if people want to learn more about you. No URL’s or links will be allowed in the bio section.)
Twitter: (If you got one & want to share. *optional* If there's multiple accounts for multiple band members that's fine.)
YouTube: (If you got one & want to share. *optional*)
Band Website: (If it's different than either of the above. *optional*)
Pictures: (I need a band picture or logo. The image should be 100x100, and if it's not I'll do my best to make it so. Don't forget to actually attach the picture.)

Here's a list of the people that will be making the challenges, reviewing your work & of course voting on the songs:

3.  MC Ohm-I
4.  The Dreamstalks (Karen Bray & Zach Miko)
5.  Rusty Cage

Sign ups will last until January 8th 11:59PM (R).

The first challenge will be posted January 9th 1AM (F).

My best guess as to what the whole schedule will look like can be found HERE

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SpinTunes #10: Official Rules

If something is confusing, needs clarification, if you just think I made a mistake or forgot something feel free to mention your concern in the comments below. It will be addressed in good time.

The schedule will be similar to past contests. There will be 4 rounds. You will have 8-11 days to write, record & send in your song. There will be a short break between each round. During this time the song will be voted on, reviewed & prep for the next round will be made. For more info click: HERE.

Judges Voting:
There will be at least 5 judges who are not participating in the contest, but will be allowed to shadow. Each round they will individually rate all the songs from favorite to least favorite. Then the judges scores will be posted & added up. Here's an example of what the judges scoring would look like:

Cumulative Scoring:
In past contests, points never carried over to the next round.  This will be the first time we've attempted cumulative scoring.  In round 1 rankings & points will work exactly as the example above shows, with there being a 1 point difference between each successive rank.  Round 2 & 3 will be slightly different.  There are always a couple people who drop out of the contest or get DQ'ed.  Too keep the rounds weighted evenly, the most points you can get in rounds 2 & 3 will be the same as round 1.  So if 21 people turn in a song for round 1, but 3 people drop out for round 2 here's how we would score it.  We would rank the 18 remaining people as we did in round 1.  Then we would divide 21 by 18 to get 1.16 (not going to use numbers past the 100th).  The first place person will get 21 points, and then we'll subtract 1.16 from 21 to get the score for the 2nd place person.  And keep subtracting 1.16 for each person down the list.  If more people drop out in round 3, we will use the same process to find a new number to subtract by.

The top 4 scoring competitors after round 3 will move onto round 4, where their points would NOT carry over.  In the final round the 4 finalist all start on a level playing field & will as usual...be judged by their fellow competitors.

With cumulative scoring their will not be as many eliminations each round.  HOWEVER, if you fail to meet a deadline or challenge (determined by judges) you can & will be eliminated from the contest.  You HAVE to complete every challenge of the contest on time to have a chance of winning SpinTunes 10.  Just like past contests.

Popular Vote:
There will continue to be a popular vote in the sidebar, but only in rounds 3 & 4.  It will only be used as a tiebreaker if needed.  If somehow that is a tie as well, the final deciding factor is me.

Final Round:
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.

If you go through the old challenges you'll see that they could be anything. You could be given a theme, restrictions, a technical challenge and hopefully you're forced to do things you've never done before. The challenges will be created by myself & the other judges before the contest even starts.

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. You do not need to send in MP3's.
- 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 collaborated 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!
- Alternate file sharing options if you need them: 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.

Each round I'll be uploading the songs onto BandCamp as an album. The songs will be set for free download only. BandCamp makes it easy to download songs, you can share 1 song individually or the album as a whole.

If you want to be entered into the contest, your song must be on the album & made available to everyone for free. Otherwise you are DQed from the contest.

I didn't plan on there being a prize. No trophy. No cash. I’ll be happy to mail you a t-shirt that says you’re the new champion, but the real prize is knowing you won & the music itself. If you need gifts & thousands of fans to motivate you to write songs in this competiton...it ain't for you.

The winner will be allowed to be a judge in the next competition, unless they wish to compete.

Listening Party:
Tom Giarrosso will be hosting the listening party for each round (he will also help with uploading). Hopefully we can all get together in one virtual place while the songs are played for the very first time for people.

Meet The Judges:
Here's a list of the people that will be making the challenges, reviewing your work & of course voting on the songs:

3.  MC Ohm-I
4.  The Dreamstalks (Karen Bray & Zach Miko)

* I am the alternate judge. If a judge is unable to do his/her job, I'll step in and take over. If the judge has to withdraw from the contest totally, I'll fill in until I can find a replacement. If I happen to have a guest judge lined up already, there will be no need for me to step in as alternate.

* There could be "Guest Judges" who drop by from time to time. A guest judge has to be approved by me ahead of time. I'm not promising anything, but if I can swing something cool for you all I want to leave that open as a possibility. When a guest judge ranks & reviews a round, it does count toward the scores for the round. If a song is disqualified by the regular judges, the guest judge's rankings will be edited to stay in line with the judges decision. There will be 1 or 2 guest judges each round if I can swing it. No promises though.

Judge Responsibilities:
- Reviewing/ranking entries each round. Shadow entries don't have to be reviewed, but it would be nice if you found the time. You can type up your review or you can vlog it on YouTube. If you decide to vlog your review on YouTube, it needs to be kept private until after I post the reviews on the blog.
- Making the challenges via a super secret website I set up.
- After the songs get posted each round the judges will be allowed to post their thoughts on who failed to met the challenge. (in the super secret location) 48 hours after the songs get posted we need to have a decision on what songs did or didn't meet the challenge. If you don't speak up in that window of time you'll have to live with a decision I make on my own.  I typically go with the majority decision of those who speak up.
- Checking your e-mail.  Especially on deadline nights.

For those of you that don't want to check this blog every day, but also use Twitter, I'll be posting updates on Twitter as well. @SpinTunes was created just for this contest. You can unfollow it right after the contest if you want, my ego can take it. There is a Twitter list that includes all the judges & competitors (SpinTunes List). Well, at least all the ones I know that are on Twitter.

Song Sharing:
You are allowed to share your songs before the LP. In my opinion the songs will be better if you can go to another musician in this contest, share what you've got & get feedback. So if you want to share with a few friends or fellow competitors before the listening party feel free to do so.


I would prefer it if you kept it low key, and not pimp it all over the net (via Twitter, YouTube, etc...) until after the LP, but that's up to you as well. It does take a little excitement away from the LP if people have already heard the songs. Common sense. Just don't try to get feedback from a judge, or from me since I'm an alternate.

Rerecording & Remixes:
In previous contests some people sent their song in ON TIME, but then after the deadline wanted me to post an updated version onto the album (they added bells & whistles). My response to that is ok, BUT you will be judged by what you turned in before the deadline. So anyone who decides they want to make a better mix of their song, and have it replace the one they sent before...that's fine. Send me the info, and I'll switch the files out. I might not do it instantly, but it will be done. Now I'm not going to have someone send me a new mix every month because they like remixing their own stuff all the time, but I'll allow 1 update of each song down the road. These songs are something you should be proud of, and some people are bugged by not being able to add everything they want in that small window I give them...so hopefully this helps...while still being fair.

In the end, album order is determined by how you scored in the round. But until the judges have scored the round, album order is originally determined by submission order. Your order on the album will change if you send in an updated file.

Multiple Songs:
You can enter 1 song each round until you are eliminated. There is no limit on how many shadow songs you can enter each round though. If you are still in the contest & have multiple songs you wish to enter, you just have to pick 1 song to be your official entry, while the other is listed as a shadow song.

You are not allowed to enter the contest as a part of more than 1 group. So if you enter as yourself, you will not be allowed to enter again as a part of another band

Wrap Up:
I will once again be busy with work & other responsibilities. I will enlist the help of judges & a few other trusted members of our community to help out from time to time. Don't be shocked if someone other than myself responds to you via one of the SpinTunes social media outlets. 

Banned Individuals:
If someone is banned from SpinTunes it means they are banned from competing, shadowing, judging, & all the social parts of SpinTunes I administrate. They are also not allowed to collaborate on songs.  Anyone collaborating with a banned individual will be DQ'ed from the round & their song will not be played at the LP or put on the album.  Helping someone evade a ban can also lead to me banning another person.  I don't like banning people, so when I do, it's for a good reason.  The people listed below are currently the only people banned from SpinTunes.

Ban List:
JoAnn Abbott
Mike Derma
Stephen Hancock

Sunday, December 7, 2014

SpinTunes #10: Schedule

Remember that this isn't set in stone. We usually stick VERY close to the schedule, but sometimes things happen & we need to keep the schedule a little flexible.

December 26th (F) - Sign ups start.

January 8th 11:59PM (R) - Sign ups end.

January 9th (F) - First challenge is announced.

January 18th 11:59PM (Sun) - First song deadline.

January 19th 8PM (M) - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.

January 20th (T) - Songs are made available for free download on BandCamp.

*During this gap:
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

January 24th before noon (Sat) - Judges reviews are due.

January 24th before 11PM (Sat) - Reviews & scores are posted.

January 25th 1AM (Sun) - Second challenge is announced.

February 1st 11:59PM (Sun) - Second song deadline.

February 2nd 8PM (M) - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.

February 3rd (T) - Songs are made available for free download on BandCamp.

*During this gap:
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

February 7th before noon (Sat) - Judges reviews are due.

February 7th before 11PM (Sat) - Reviews & scores are posted.

February 8th 1AM (Sun) - Third challenge is announced.

February 15th 11:59PM (Sun) - Third song deadline.

February 16th 8PM (M) - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.

February 17th (T) - Songs are made available for free download on BandCamp.

*During this gap:
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

February 20th before 11PM (F) - Judges reviews are due.

February 21st before 11PM (Sat) - Reviews & scores are posted.

February 22nd 1AM (Sun) - Final challenge is announced.

March 1st 11:59PM (Sun) - Final song deadline.

March 2nd 8PM (M) - Listening party will be held HERE, and hosted by Tom.

March 3rd (T) - Songs are made available for free download on BandCamp.

*During this gap:
- previously eliminated competitors will rank the songs
- judges will rank the songs
- judges will review the songs*

March 6th 6PM (F) - Judges reviews are due.
- Eliminated competitors rankings are due.

March 7th (Sat) - Reviews are posted & the winner is announced.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

SpinTunes #9 Champion: MC Ohm-i

SpinTunes #9 Champion: MC Ohm-i
Runner Up: Brian Gray
3rd: James Young
4th: TurboShandy

Congrats to MC Ohm-i, who is now our new #SpinTunes champion! MC Ohm-I, you gave the people what they wanted, and your reward is a heartfelt "well done!", the respect of the community (complete with kow-tows and cries of "we're not worthy!") and possibly some manky old shirt that 's sitting in the bottom of Travis' closet.

As the current champion of SpinTunes, you have the option of judging SpinTunes #10.  When Travis starts preparing for the next contest, he will e-mail you to find out if you plan on wielding the gavel or not. (do it! do it! do it!)

The other finalists should hold their heads high.  They faced 4 challenges, conquered them all, and created 4 new songs for the world to enjoy.  Well done.

Totals & Reviews:
In the end 12 competitors of SpinTunes 9 sent in their votes/rankings.

MC Ohm-I Brian Gray James Young TurboShandy
points: 2 3 4 1

4 2 1 3

3 4 1 2

3 4 2 1

4 2 1 3

2 3 4 1

3 4 1 2

4 3 1 2

1 2 4 3

4 3 1 2

3 2 4 1

2 1 3 4
Total 35 33 27 25
Rank 1 2 3 4

Popular Vote:
James Young (15)
Brian Gray (6)
MC Ohm-i (2)
TurboShandy (2)
(25 total votes cast)

Judges: Dr Lindyke, James Rechs, John DiBello, Ted Kiper, Scott Mercer 
Guest Judge:  Greg Benson; Spintunes 8 Winner Jenny Katz
Alternate Judge: N/A

Thank You from Travis Langworthy
Competitors, judges, guest judges, shadowers, fans, Tom for hosting the LP, Matt for the album art, and anyone that had anything to do with this contest.  I just happen to be the guy that makes this shit up as I go, but none of it is possible without the participation of all you wonderful people.

The next contest will start when it starts, probably around the beginning of the year. Make sure you follow @SpinTuneson Twitter for contest updates. Between Song FightNur Ein & various other projects, there should be plenty to keep you busy until the milestone SpinTunes #10. If you've completed at least 1 song for SpinTunes, you are also welcome to join the SpinTunes Facebook group.  It's a good way to keep in touch, and we post about related news in there as well

SpinTunes #9 Round 4 Reviews: Dr. Lindyke

Alrighty then.  This being round four and a photo finish, we can pretty much throw my previous judging criteria out the window. All you have to do is write a song "inspired by" a panoramic photo of a beach scene. And what's in that scene...? Well, anything that could possibly happen in a beach scene, basically. Given that, and that "inspired by" is 100% subjective, I'm going to unabashedly rank these by personal preference.

So, with most-preferred at the top...

My Pick for the Pic:

Brian Gray - All You Can Eat
OK, I was... er.. "pre-occupied" this week, so I didn't write a new shadow for this round, but if I had, This'd be it (just ask Tom). Only this is much better than the analogue in my head. For me, it's a comedy rule that more outlandish the topic, the more deadpan it should be delivered. And this follows that rule very well. I'm loving the easy-listening acoustic sound and the Jaws / Jaws II references. I pretty much like the whole thing, so there's no point in going on. I needed some humor this week, and for giving me exactly what I wanted and needed to hear, you get my top spot.

James Young - When The Morning Comes
I  must be in the mood for easy-listening guitar. This one comes across as a 1980s power ballad. Me being the old fart that I am, that's dead smack center of my sweet spot. And the production...! Lord love a duck, that's good! It's just a pleasure to listen to.

MC Ohm-I - Black People Don't Swim
I always hate ranking the last round, because it comes down to the infinitesimal, and the differences in style mean that we're comparing apples to lug nuts. Each is better than the other in its proper place. I think that this one would have gotten my #2 spot if it didn't have the disclaimer at the beginning. OWN the humor and screw 'em if they can't take a joke! This would pop with some SoundFonts replacing the tinny MIDI horns.

TurboShandy - Twenty-Two
I'm not sure what's up with the anemic opening. I like the song as a whole, but find myself wishing it wasn't NSFW in the first verse. That just seemed unnecessary, as is demonstrated by the entirety of the rest of the song. But mostly what lands it in this spot is that, given the style of the verses, I keep waiting for a big payoff in the chorus, and it never happens. Maybe that's by design... maybe it auditorily illustrates the frustration of the singer, but I wasn't in the mood for it. Sorry.

in order of appearance

Steven Wesley Guiles: If It's All The Same To You
I think the puppies are back to sing! I adore the rapid-fire rhymes here. I adore the guitar (did I mention I'm in the mood for easy-listening guitar? Well, I am)

Zoe Gray: Shark Week
There. Are. No. Words. 

Governing Dynamics: Surf Whatever
I actually think this is a big improvement over your usual style. It doesn't sound like you're trying to record at 2am without waking your parents in the next room. No razors, no wrists; instead just turning your back on a world coming apart and surfing. Great job.

Boffo Yux Dudes: Beach Chairs
An ode to beach chairs...  I looked for a metaphor in the lyrics, but then I remembered that Scott's judging. So this is just about plain old beach chairs. And that's about as deep as you can really expect a Beach Boys pastiche to be, isn't it?

Boffo Yux Dudes: Panorama
I see what you did there! A panoramic song for a panoramic view, in the (quite literally) inimitable, patented "BYD mode". Hit the two-minute mark aaaaaaand.... it's a wrap!

(OK, for reading this far, bonus shadow. Dr. Lindyke didn't write a new one this week, but we did write one for this very photo a couple of years ago. It's called "On The Waterfront", and it's sitting out there on Bandcamp with the intention of re-mixing it. Here ya go.)

SpinTunes #9 Round 4 Reviews: Ted Kiper

We've come to the last round, and not a moment too soon! I am currently returning back to college, so my priorities are pleasantly shifting. I would never have thought critiquing would be so exhausting, especially when there has been such great entries from the competitors.
It's a pity I didn't go through with my podcast idea. My wife Erica and I have worked hard all summer. She said that we could do audio recording of our reactions to the songs. Unfortunately, I express my thoughts better in writing than I do in speech. And if you have ever seen my lyrics, you'll know I even do that poorly.
So, the challenge is write a song about the panoramic image posted from Spin. The lengthy photo includes people on beach chairs, boats at a distance in the sea, some structures, electrical lines, lots of sand, and various other typical things. And I think "lengthy" is quite the word: apparently every song seems rather long. (Except for BYD's "Panorama", which
To be utterly fair, it didn't take much to meet the challenge in my eyes (or ears). I've always loved the idea of these Photo Finish rounds because they let the finalists have incredible amount of freedom.
However, I will be judging as to what you have done with your freedom. I've listened to all the previous rounds, so now I can compare the current entries with their predecessors. With that comparison, it's hard not to conclude what feels comfortable for the artist.
I will therefore be judging in favor for risks and creativity. What makes these songs sound more like the posted image than past submissions?
I was hoping to write longer reviews, but I neither had the time nor the computer reliability to go through what I promised. I apologize. With the way my computer has been crashing, I’ll be lucky to send these reviews in one piece…
My Reviews
Brian Gray – All You Can Eat
Score: 46
Ranked: 1
Challenge: 10
            The idea is rather interesting. When you mention “Buffet”, I had thought it would be a pun to Jimmy Buffett. Silly me. If there were inside references to Jaws, I’m sad to say I’ve never watched the movie. For no reason, I promise, it’s just no friend has referred.
Lyrics: 6
            If there was a story, I got lost. But I did enjoy the various one-liners.
Composition: 7
            Rather listenable. Bridge got serious, and then back to casual fun. Good transitions.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            I’m not sure if this was your best, but the creativity took me everywhere. My favorite part is the last part of the bridge. Slightly unsettling and mysterious.
Arrangement: 3
            Although everything fits together, it sounds too pleasant for a potentially upsetting situation about shark-feeding.
Performance: 4
            “Peed right through my skin”? Sounded like you especially enjoyed that.
Recording: 3
            It sounded a little raw, but whatever. I guess the beach can get a little raw, so interesting reflection.
Judge’s Whim: 6
            You have impressed me all throughout the rounds. This isn’t the best I’ve heard from you, but I hope you reign champion based on your cumulative effort.
My Favorite:
            I’ve enjoyed all your entries, but the one that still warms me is “St. Agnes”. It had very wise directions.
MC Ohm-I – Black People Don’t Swim
Score: 45
Ranked: 2
Challenge: 9
            Is that the only one black person in the photo?
Lyrics: 8
            Your story-telling is quite embarrassingly amusing.
Composition: 5
            The design is not all too new, as it serves as a rather safe background for the rest of your song.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            Your delivery is as smooth as ever, which is nothing different from your previous submissions.
Arrangement: 4
            You have an amazing ability to pick the right sounds and instruments for the story. From watery trumpets to wavy synths. Always thoughtful.
Performance: 3
            Those low notes are low, aren’t they?
Recording: 3
            I like reverb in your speaking is a little distracting. Overall, nothing wrong here.
Judge’s Whim: 6
            The song is unfortunately enlightening and nostalgic. As a Hispanic, swimming comes quite naturally. We kind of need to be, so that we can cross the rivers and gulfs to get our eventual green cards.
My Favorite:
            Oh goodness, you’ve done all sorts of good stuff. Although this entry was very well likable, I believe “Love Her Again In Hell” was better executed, and the performance couldn’t be more perfect.
James Young – When The Morning Comes
Score: 43
Ranked: 3
Challenge: 8
            I wouldn’t have any problem with your idea, but it sounds more like the sequel to your last entry than a caption of the photo.
Lyrics: 6
            “You forget the things you’ve done \ And what she said”—this matches very well to my idea of a casual, carefree beach.
Composition: 6
            Overall refreshing, with the instrumental bridge balancing for insistent heavy guitar riff.
Songwriting Craft: 8
            In almost every round, you’ve delivered some excellent forms of songs. Quite smooth.
Arrangement: 3
            The heavier guitar work is a bit out of place for a soft, casual beach.
Performance: 3
            I’m very impressed how you handle those low-notes for singing.
Recording: 4
            The soundscape is expansive as the photo or even the ocean.
Judge’s Whim: 5
            Although there are some subtle differences with this song and your past submissions, I didn’t feel there was enough creative risk. You played it very safe.
My Favorite:
            “Moth”—although “Elbonia!” was rather creative and daring, this entry reminded me of The Cure and much more replayable.
TurboShandy – Twenty-Two
Score: 38
Ranked: 4
Challenge: 7
            This feels quite drawn out, but I suppose the panorama calls for it.
Lyrics: 5
            I hardly know why your choice needed to be so extreme. It’s just a beach, from what I see.
Composition: 5
            It reminds me of Coldplay, mix “Politik” and “Yellow”, and I happen to love all of such mentioned, nostalgia compounded. The shift of the flat 5th note to natural is particularly satisfying.
Songwriting Craft: 7
            The tempo allows for a more dramatic performance from you. Compared to your other songs, it’s a pleasant turn.
Arrangement: 4
            The Celtic overtones are appreciated.
Performance: 3
            Nothing wrong here. It’s as expected.
Recording: 3
            The opening and ending camera-reel sound is again a nice and thoughtful add-on.
Judge’s Whim: 4
            This song feels rather long, but I do like and respect your rarely softer, smoother sound.
My Favorite:
            You’ve done very well throughout the competition, but my pick would’ve been “Ready Player One”. Maybe it’s the chorus, maybe it’s the electronic outro. Isn’t it interesting that it was #1 for the round, even if the judges didn’t specifically pick it first? It was meant to be.

SpinTunes #9 Round 4 Reviews: Jenny Katz

Our mighty champion is back to guest judge & help pass the torch to our next champion.  Jenny has been a part of SpinTunes since the very first contest, and it's always a joy to hear from her any way we can get her involved. - Spin


James Young, When the Morning Comes
Quite a lovely intro. I really liked this, James, especially the chorus sections—epic. Nice chord changes and momentum. I’m envious of your clean guitar skills. I could hear Boston playing this song for a packed crowd of thousands. I thought you nailed the reverb for the chorus sections, but in the verses I would like to hear a slightly more intimate sound, a little less room space. Obviously you want to have the whole thing sound of a piece, but with the extra spareness of the verses I found myself a little distracted by the reverb. Having said that, I *did* like the kinda funky, extra-distant reverb in the semi-chorus at the end. Overall, I found this to be very listenable, and even get better on repeated listenings. Nice job.

TurboShandy, Twenty-two, Twenty-two
Love the hipster beginning and ending, and the dissonant chords before the verse. I’m also a melody junkie, and the verse really satisfies me. The harmonies also sound great, especially after the break: really nice! I’d like to hear one measure fewer as you transition into the chorus… every time, my ear wanted it to happen one measure earlier. I also found myself wishing you didn’t resolve to the tonic in the middle of the chorus (on “twenty-two”); I wanted you to hold me off until the very end of the chorus. I also wanted some drum changes here and there, just to break it up. My favorite part is the bridge and the end of the bridge (“Guess I really kinda miss that beach”)—brilliant stuff there, very satisfying. One minor issue with the lyrics: I didn’t love the swearing in verse one; it seemed a little… lazy, I guess, considering some of the other gems you have in the song. 

MC-Ohm-I, Black People Don’t Swim
I listen to rap all day long, because my two sons listen to rap all day long. This is better than a lot of what they play me. I think you’re brilliant. Honestly, the only suggestion I have is to lose the explanatory intro—it’s not as funny as the rest of the song, and it’s not necessary. Oh, and in the chorus you might consider saying “prob'ly” rather than “probably”—the chorus sounds just a tiny bit clunkier or stiffer than the rest of the song, which is so, so smooth. And your lyrics are really hilarious (Changing my stance…/Changing my pants/into swim trunks) (Or go for a nice walk) (Pelican/Melanin/Dwellin in)! Did I mention that I loved this?

Brian Gray, All You Can Eat
Brian, you are such a gifted songwriter. So intelligent, harmonically, rhythmically, and lyrically. (I wonder where Zoe gets it?) SUCH delicious chords in the intro, and I love the transition into the chorus. I find myself longing for a different chord progression in the verse, though—something NOT major. You’ve just tempted and promised me with the unusualness of the intro—don’t let me down in the chorus. You could even just continue the first two chords from the intro

Stephen Wesley Guiles, If It’s All the Same to You
This could go on this radio today. There’s an earworm quality about it that would keep people singing it. And your voice and delivery are really pleasing to listen to listen to, rough and smooth at the same time, sort of the way Mark Wahlberg looks. Kinda Grateful-Dead-ish, especially the “woo-hoo” parts, which is a style I don’t generally like

Zoe Gray
Hahahahahahahaahahahahahahahaahaha. Zoe Gray for president! “Stroke you/with a knife” made me laugh out loud. I suggest losing the most obvious explanatory details (“uterii”/“could insert the thing that holds in all the blood”)… they’re not necessary. Zoe, you crack me up. I want you to take up bass or drums and work on groove. You will be completely unstoppable. 

Governing Dynamics, Surf Whatever
This was my favorite song of the round. It’s just hooky. Well written, well sung. And the surf guitar is, of course, the perfect accompaniment. 

Boffo Yux Dudes, Beach Chairs
You guys never cease to amuse—and also to impress. Special bonus points for working in “Calvin Coolidge.” (Btw, you probably know this, but it’s “barista,” unless you’re ordering your coffee from your family lawyer or I’m not getting the joke.) I would have liked a bridge, maybe? I like how it ends. Fun to listen to this one.

Boffo Yux Dudes, Panorama
I was impressed with the thought given to the mix on this one; you worked the stereo field really well. The background vox sound great (really nice harmonies) and are set at the appropriate volume and depth; the panning of the keyboards is nice. I liked this one a lot. 

SpinTunes #9 Round 4 Reviews: James Rechs


MC Ohm-I.   Black people don't swim.   As I'm writing this, I'm getting ready to participate in a triathlon.  I'm going to swim 1.5 kilometers, before I bike 25 kilometers, and run 10 kilometers.  I also participate in a number of long distance swimming events throughout the summer.  And you know what I've noticed, while there are a few people of color, triathlons and competitive swimming could probably be found on the blog "stuff white people like".   Anyway, this song is hilarious.   Love it.   I fucking love everything about this.  And because I'm white, this song is now stuff white people like.  

Turbo Shandy -  A shitload of shells would have been a better title.  Actually, you should change your band name to shitload of shells, although people will assume it's the explosive kind.    I've criticized your lyrics in past rounds, and I find these to be your best so far!!   I really, really  like what you did with this challenge.    I feel like you took it in a different direction from your last couple songs, and you sound like you have pushed yourselves.  I feel like this tune is really genuine, but not overly so.  I would take this one to the beach with me.   Excellent job!   Only ranked number two because I so loved black people can't swim. 

Brian Gray - All you can eat.   This is a fun song, and captures the laid back beach feel.  Once again, you're full of terrific melodies and harmonies and clever lyrics.  Although it didn't blow me away, I certainly enjoyed it.  If there were 20 contestants here, you'd probably still be ranked third for me.    All the songs are good this round, but 1 and 2 really stood out for me.   This is definitely a solid effort and holds up to the other great stuff you have done.  But I'm afraid I'm ranking you number three due to the tough competition! 

James Young - When the Morning Comes.   Once again, James, a well put together song that is well performed.   Your chorus is nice and unpredictable.   Some sweet guitar riffs and cool solo.    The lyrics are ok.   I hate to say it, but nothing really stands out to me lyrically.     I hate to be critical at this point because I feel like I've gotten to know you all through your music, and I do enjoy the song.  However this one just didn't strike me quite as much as your song last round, or the other songs still in the contest.   Still, a very nice job and overall I continue to be impressed.  


SWG - All the same to you.   I love the feel of this one.    I love how your songs don't all sound the same.  this one is right up my alley.   definitely one of my favorites of this round.   I could put this one in my playlist and listen to it many times.  

Zoe Gray - Shark Week.   I like sharks.  I like this song.  I like how we're not all taking ourselves too seriously this round.    This song is absolutely hilarious.   "I want to stroke you... with a knife".   Heheheh.   This song is a bold statement about shark week that needed to be made.   Eat it, sharks.    By the way, I want to hear a Zoey Gray and Mc Ohm-I duet.  How freaking cool would that be?     

Governing Dynamics - Surf Whatever.    You stepped outside of your usual sound here, and I love it.   You should do more songs like this!   It sounds like the Replacements, I even hear a hint of John Mellencamp (some of his late stuff is surprisingly cool), or a little early Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty.    Once again, I love how you're not overly serious and just having fun with it.  This is one of my favorites from you this whole contest.  And you were probably thinking "what the hell" when you wrote it.   

BYD - Beach Chairs.    Hilarious.   Beach chairs have been waiting a long time for this song to be written.  when I need a song that is freakin' ridiculous, you guys rarely disappoint me.  

BYD - Panorama.   Two shadows for BYD.    This ones a little more serious and makes a great B-side for Beach Chairs.  Or maybe this is side A.   Either way, I'll spend the $3.99 for that record.