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Judges have until the timer runs out to turn in their reviews:

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
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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.


SHADOWS:
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


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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

1-4 IN ORDER OF PREFERENCE

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.  

SHADOWS: NOT IN ORDER 

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. 

SpinTunes #9 Round 4 Reviews: John DiBello

Hullo folks hullo! My apologies for missing the previous round of judging. You haven't gotten rid of me yet! You can blame dental surgery for my M.I.A. status in round 3, but as I've now graduated away from Carnation Instant Breakfast and back to Space Food Sticks, let's put a cork in this bottle and polish up the strawberry patch* by listening to your fine quartet of songs (plus a handful of Shadows) in Round 4!

*My goofy metaphors may be caused by too much pain medication.

1. James Young "When the Morning Comes"

My symbolic hat is off to all the SpinTuners this time around, because I gaze at that public-domain photo of Lincolnville Beach and all I can think about is what a kinda sad beach that looks. Where are the MTV Spring Break revelers; where is Spuds MacKenzie surfing the waves, where's Roy Scheider closing it? That's why I dig James's tuneful, mournful track, one of those full, lush sound late summer songs that sum up disappeared love come September. There's very strong vocals and instrumentals on this one, and though the lyrics water-ski on the edge of lost-love clich&#233, hey, isn't that what lost love is all about? It's beautifully produced, aiming and hitting square center in the heart: a power ballad that won't wear out its welcome after the first few hearings. The sound is sharp and crisp, but I almost feel for authenticity this would be best heard from a cheap 1960s transistor radio with sand in it, fresh from a summer at the beach.

2. TurboShandy "Twenty-Two"

TurboShandy takes a similar thematic approach to the photo as James Young: the memory of a lost love from the seaside. With its strong alt-rock sound and driving beat, it's mired in more discouragement and anger than Young's, so this would appeal to everyone (like me) who only ever wound up with shorts full of sand at the end of the season. In fact, it punches all those pain-toned buttons of memory with the trigger sound of a cheap Super 8 film projector to open and close the track: these are faded, jittery memories that you thought were worth preserving at the time. (Also, I'm a sucker for an angry, abrupt ending.) It's a fine song, vivid and sharp — I think that even if T.S. hadn't including the Irish Sea in his lyrics, he's referencing the somewhat faded, slightly sad beaches I've seen in the UK and Ireland. Major points up for not only giving an Elvis Costello reference but actually sounding a bit like an early Costello song.

3. MC Ohm-I "Black People Don't Swim"

I've been fully enjoying MC Ohm-I's contributions to SpinTunes #9 — his songs are fresh, funny, and funky, mixing some really competent rapping and clever lyrics, plus inventive and innovative answers to each challenge; he's taken them in bizarrely beautiful directions that are unexpected and inspiring. "Black People Don't Swim" is no exception. It's a solid rap with a great beat and yes, and incredibly infectious hook of a refrain-slash-title. I'm been humming it all week and I have to remember, big goofy white guy that I am, not to sing it aloud in public. But I'm paradoxically pulled in two different directions on my final critique —  I felt this one both needed to have a bigger, lusher instrumental sound behind the rap, and that it could have been tightened and shortened, not for economy but for impact: it should hit hard and sharp like a rapid-fire, well-timed comedy routine. The extended intro disclaimer section especially, while humorous, isn't really needed and delays MC Ohm-I's best strength: his lyrics and rapping. That said, it's an incredible earworm of a tune, a simple, funny idea expanded by sheer talent into a strong, beefy track.

4. Brian Gray "All You Can Eat"

Well, of course, when you think of the beach, you're going to think of sharks, especially in and around Discovery Channel's Shark Week (which admittedly I only consider a rude interruption to my weekly viewing of MythBusters. When I first saw the photo, I had a vague guess in the shadowy cobwebs of my head that at least one SpinTuner might contribute a track about sharks, and y'all haven't disappointed me. I good make a dozen puns about how this song sunk its teeth into me and that the lyrics have bite, but I'm just going to sum it up instead as Brian's song is the loveliest and most heart-felt ode to sharks doing what they do best that has yet been set to MP3. The lyrics are full of clever humor and shark trivia, and I like the story-telling feel to it. Curiously or ironically (or maybe both), it's also a lost love song, so there must be something to an expanse of panaroma-lensed sand that brings out the melancholy, missin' that girl sound in everyone. It's accompanied by wonderfully slow-bounce guitar backing, and I found Brian's song bio especially illuminating on how he achieved that effect. The lightness of the theme made it feel less substantial than the others in this round; it's a tall-tale style extended joke, and the melody and lyrics didn't chomp as firmly as the others. Sorry, I did need to use one shark-biting pun. After all.

CLOSING REMARKS

While listening to form my review thoughts, I mixed these four tracks up and played them on random shuffle. Still, for whatever bizarre coincidence, they ran into win, place, show, and shark (in my extended horse-race metaphor judging style) in exactly the sequence as the original downloadable album — 1, 2, 3, 4 — and I worried about that for a few minutes before I reminded myself to vote with my ear and my heart, as messy as that might be typing up the reviews. As to who won and who lost, well, that's one of those things we may never know (until the final results are posted) and I wish everybody coulda got a big blue ribbon and a basket full of peaches.

SHADOWS

Steven Wesley Guiles "If It's All The Same to You"
Lemme tell you what I wish I could have written upon seeing the photo: a song as lovely as "Sea of Love" by the Honeydrippers, one of my favorite love songs of all time — or at least the 1980s, when, as we all know, all the finest music came into being. I can't write music (I think we proved that several weeks ago with my Princess Leia song), so I'm glad Steven targeted and hit my Honeydrippers-lovin' heart with this slow-dance ballad with a lyrical doo-wop chorus.

Zoe Gray "Shark Week"
Hey, more sharks! (Cool!) And hey, why did the song I love best from Zoe Ball have to be a ShadowTune instead of one I could vote on? (Because you didn't give her a good grade in round 2, I tell myself with shame). I'm just delighted by the whole thing here. This is just sheer lunatic loveliness, and by golly, Zoe, if Discovery Channel doesn't hire you to sing this in bumpers for S.W. '15, there's no justice in the world. Wonderful.

Governing Dynamics "Surf Whatever"
I was wondering if anyone was going to turn up at this party with some good old surf rock, and Governing Dynamics delights me by subverting the trope (yes, I've spent too much time on TVTropes.org recently) with a 21st century version of 60s surf rock. It's got an indie-alt sound and a po-mo attitude to modern environmental concerns...but, like the Ventures, the guitars are still wailing strongly — love the too-short instrumental break — and at the heart of it all is the joy of surf, the allure of that Endless Summer.

Boffo Yux Dudes "Beach Chairs"
I was spared my continuing moral dilemma of judging someone I've known since high school when Boffo Yux Dudes didn't contribute a Round 2 track, but I've been missing the familiar sound, so I'm glad there's at last a couple ShadowTunes to enjoy. This track takes the summer song and Beach Boys song to its illogical conclusion: it's a '60s-style rock anthem to beach chairs, without which our asses would all get burnt on the sand. "They come in different colors kinda like a porn star" is surely the winner of the Most Valuable Lyric of Round 4 Award, and while it's all about as lightweight as a sandy towel in a strong breeze, it's a helluva lotta fun.

Boffo Yux Dudes "Panorama"
What an absolutely spot-on and appropriate song to close out the (arbitrary) sequence of SpinTunes #9 Round 4: an ode to, like that familiar public-domain photo, a panoramic wide-vision view of the world. It's short — barely a squeak over the two-minute minimum — and yet absolutely pitch-perfect, reminding me of Jonathan Coulton or Barenaked Ladies.

And of course, the theme of "Panorama" reminds me of the many, many views we've gotten throughout this ninth SpinTunes: a series of dozens of inventive variations on four simple themes. I'm in awe of the SpinTunes project. This round gave us fifty-nine songs in a handful of weeks, and I'm in awe of it, and all of the skill everyone's shown throughout. Whether I ranked you high or low, know this: these are all wonderful and show immense skill, dedication, imagination and most of all, sheer brave guts to put them out there to be critiqued. Bravo to every single one of you; thank you for sharing, and thank you for letting me be a part of it.

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.

AND THE WINNER IS…

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!

SHADOWS!

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.