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Saturday, August 30, 2014

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. 

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