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Saturday, August 30, 2014

SpinTunes #9 Round 4 Reviews: Scott Mercer

For me, this was a very close shave between the top two finishers.  The bottom two were also quite good, and in other circumstances (including rounds earlier in this very contest) would have been the winner.  But there’s just one champion.  Here we go, in ascending order, with the winner revealed last.

Turbo Shandy - Twenty Two, Twenty Two

This is very respectable and sturdy.  It’s a great kiss-off song.  Cool metaphor about human memory and the timeless of the Earth and nature, compared with petty, passing human emotions and concerns.  On the Listening Party, we were pantingly waiting, and waiting, and waiting, for the big, big guitar solo that never came.  So, some points deducted there.  However,  you had me at Elvis Costello.  Like Brian Gray, your entry was very good and something to be proud of.  It just wasn’t as good as the top two songs.

Brian Gray - All You Can Eat

I don’t know how you wrote a romantic ballad about sharks eating and killing people, based on an old movie.  But that’s what you have done.  And oh, yes, does it ever work.  It is super clever and lovable.  And I’m pretty sure you have broken new ground here with a song written from the perspective of a great white.  Kudos for the Moves Like Jagger reference and the “message in a bottlenose” line.  That had me choking on my krill.  Your only problem was that you had very stiff competition this time around.

MC Ohm-I - Black People Don’t Swim

Maybe we could put this on a playlist with “White People Can’t Dance” by Was(Not Was).
I thought this was up there with “Merriam Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus,” but not quite as good.  Once again, the chorus was extremely catchy and the rapping was fine but not quite as inspired as the previous entry.  I did really enjoy “melanin” rhyming with “dwellin’ in,” but that was the only line that stood out that much for me.   Have to give it points for being the only entry that wasn’t an introspective ballad.  It was a close call, a game of inches, but in the end I had to elevate another song to be the winner.


James Young - When The Morning Comes

The lyrics are poetic.  Not too specific, applicable to most people that would be listening.  Really draws the listener in.  It has a really big, radio ready sound.  It sounds like some huge hit from the 1980’s or 1990’s.  It reminds me of -- I dunno, Love and Rockets, or Gene Loves Jezebel, or something like that.  Really well done.  Can’t believe you put this together in mere days.  People sometimes work for weeks or months trying get a sound like this.   I listened to it multiple, multiple times.  Fantastic quality that utterly defies the circumstances of its creation.

A well deserved win!


Steven Wesley Guiles

Yet another introspective ballad of lost love, but really good!  Better than any of Steven’s other entries in the other rounds.  Again, the arrangement was fantastic and there are some substantial hooks.   Could have stood a great chance in an earlier round.

Governing Dynamics

Can’t put my finger on what this is reminding me of, but it’s something good.  This also has a nice, polished sound.  I think on the listening party they said Tom Petty, and yeah, there’s that, but I think there’s something else more obscure that this is reminding me of.   Again, a longer guitar solo would have been welcome in this case.  I guess in the end, this is a portrait of onrushing doom and fiddling while Rome burns, but quite a joyous one.  Points for doing an uptempo song.  After listening to it a couple times, I have to say, again, yeah, this is REALLY catchy and sounds like something I’ve been listening to on the radio for 30 years.  This is a good thing.  A winner.

Zoe Gray

Yet another unexpected artistic employment of sharks, this time as a metaphor for menses.  Okay, once again breaking new ground.   You know, the internet is a wonderful thing.  If you had told me 20 years ago that one day I’d be judging an online songwriting contest featuring a person doing a ukulele ditty about Aunt Flo using the metaphor of sharks and the title of a programming gimmick from The Discovery Channel, I would have told you to take some medication.  But, here we are, and it’s awesome.  However, should I not ask the question: how is this related to the photograph?  Okay, whatever, it’s a shadow.  It IS always good to get the female perspective on things.  This contest is loaded with dudes, so yes, more women, please.  Why the hell not.   This is a worthy addition to the small but potent subgenre of female ukulele novelty songs.

Boffo Yux Dudes

These are my brochachos.  Though they are shadows and I had nothing to do personally with these particular tracks (full disclosure, I have written lyrics for a bunch of them in the past), I mean, what am I going to say?  Al does his Beach Boys thing and it’s awesome.  I have to admit to you that Allan is more of a Brian Wilson acolyte than a Mike Love fan, though here he is channeling the earlier, Mike Love festooned Beach Boy hits era.  Though I thought I couldn’t help but detect a bit of Pet Sounds in there somewhere.  Panorama is great techno-pop.  Am I detecting a bit of Fripp or Eno in there?  Whatever, it’s catchier than ebola.  Good work.

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