Time until sign-ups begin:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

SpinTunes #11: Round 2 Challenge

Sorry Not Sorry - Write a song about your favorite guilty pleasure. (2 minute minimum length) (your submission is due by Sunday, Feburary 7th 11:59PM)

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.

- 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 collabed 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!

- Other file sharing options if you need them: Sound Cloud (set to download a format BandCamp is ok with) & 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.

Side Notes:

- Remember that you are allowed to send in a little background about your song. Some people don't like to do that, and you don't have to, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. Some judges will look at the lyrics & this extra info, but they aren't required to.

- If you didn't sign-up in time to compete in SpinTunes #11, you can still complete the challenge & send in a song. It'll be uploaded with the other entries as a "Shadow Song". Check the FAQ if you don't know what that means. You can even complete past challenges from previous contests.

- The only other way to get your music played at the LP is to cover "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown.

- Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

SpinTunes #11 Round 1 Reviews: Crayondroids

When I look for guest judges I always try to get people I'm a fan of, but sometimes I make a point of getting people that might have a different musical take on things as well.  I think the Crayondroids fit that bill nicely.  I really enjoy their work, and you can hear why by listening to the track below as you take in their reviews.

- Spin


This was a great and fun round to judge.  You will see in our analysis that we gave each entry a score in three different categories: instrumental, vocals and production mastery.  There is also a 4th criteria that is not detailed - our overall enjoyment of the track.  We listened to each song at least twice, and those that got a third play or more were set aside as farovites.  As EDM guys, we are extra hard on production quality and the cleanliness of your mix, so we tried hard to provide feedback that can help in the next round.  First we have our ranks from favorite on down and then an analysis for each song. 

Thanks for having us, SpinTunes 11!

The Rankings:

1 jailhouse payback - first time caller
2 mark humble - the first time you broke my heart
3 james young - alone
4 buckethead bobby - free to be me
5 glen raphael - first time
6 ellie sparrow - footprints on the moon
7 adam sakellarides - have you heard
8 megalodon - my foolish mind
9 edric haleen - how it began
10 ominus ride - maiden trip
11 jon eric - perry's song
12 emperor gun - leaving
13 pigfarmer jr - kill a man
14 ross durand - premier 
15 the boffo yux dudes - first wurst
16 keen sid - never done that before
17 jeff brown - the frist time
18 sam rodewald - my first song will be 
19 steve durand - original sin
20 governing dynamics - fool me once
21 rob from amersfoort - the first time you die
22 turtle fence - first
23 ben taggart - like the first time

keen sid - never done that before
production on the instrumental is super rough - beyond that lofi sound you might shoot for intentionally and it sounds like this was a cover to blend together samples instead of an original recording.  pretty basic surfrock riff - voice reminds me of what Marty McFly would sound like if emo was a thing in the 50s.  maybe bowling for soup if J had a sinus infection
instrumental: 6
vocals: 7
production mastery: 5

jeff brown - the frist time
this is standard guitar under a tree on the quad aye gurl lemme emotions at you kinda stuff.  reminds beaker of Projekt Zero.  The songs strongest point is the emotional lyrical structure and dramatic delivery.  a tighter guitar melody that echoes this sense of despiration (i cant tell if she actually lied, was just a bitch or she actually left you)  its hard to keep track of the intended message because its hidden behind some unnecessarily melodramatic phrasing.  the end product though sounds excellent and is very well produced. 
instrumental: 5
vocals: 5
prodcution mastery: 8

Megalodon - my foolish mind
we are actually familiar with these guys and that mix of synth pop rock to some psychedlic coo-coo-cachoo was not unexpected.  This song is like a mix between Cake and the Stevie Miller band with just a hint of LSD.  the instrumental is super solid - great drum work specifically.  the vocals are a mess - well produced but the ad libs and hype shit in the back actually tramples over the intended chorus lines.  also, guitarist, calm down son.  we can tell this is an actual band as some parts, most noticably the bass line, loses the tempo a few times.  this is the first track we actually played 3 times to completion.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 7
procutions mastery: 7

edric haleen - how it began
straight out of Glee this is a solo from a highschool drama troup.  it's even about his highschool band teacher.  then BOOM HERE IS SOME SYNTHS lolololol it all comes together for us - it sounds like a drama rip because it is.  well played, edirc.  well played.  aside from the obvious digs on phantom, newsies and rent there are other tropes here so familiar its impossible to pin them to one single performance.  Production score is a compromise here, as we cant tell what you actually produced - I think thats a good thing but I am only half of the judging team here.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 8
production mastery: 6

sam rodewald - my first song will be 
this is another "im so sensitive" emo dude soft rock songs - this one is in the vein of Tommy Fullerton and Superpowerless.  this sound sounds good, production is solid, each channel has its own presence in the mix - the problem here is the super hard changes in tempo and delivery. not only does it make the song feel longer than it is but it makes that time distortion extra uncomfrotable.  You may not know how to being - but we do... back at the drawing board. 
instrumental: 6
vocals: 5
production mastery: 6 (you got an extra point for that steller outro)

steve durand - original sin
so we get it and all, but teh long ass 35 second intro (which represents literally 1/6 of your entire song) is a massive let down compared to the saucy jazz club sound of the track itself.  its really too bad because with a little more work on the vocal delviery this track could be fucking amazing.  really.  we have to assume this track was assembled from a stem pack or sample pack, because an actual band would not tolerate the amature level of this delivery.  how unfortunate - the lyrics are A+, beat, timing and transitions all A+... this one was truly killed by the vocalist
instrumental: 6 if samples, 9 if original
vocalist: 3
production mastery: 8 (we are sure he did what he could with the vocals)

ellie sparrow - footprints on the moon
the first thing that really gest you is teh wash tub bass trampling all over Ellie's unique and engaging vocal style.  this is one of the most college alternative sounding spin tunes ever.  we really liked this song and listened to it all the way through all 3 times and the only real complaints come from a production perspective - the instro is too loud when the vocals should be the focus here, without a doubt... this modest mouse souding instro track is really basic, that piano riff just lording over all the other channels.  ellie either fire your producer or hire one, at least to handle the final product mastery to avoid these issues in the future.  this one is an inch away from being a winner.  also that ending? why? 
instrumental: 7
vocals: 8
production mastery: 4

governing dynamics - fool me once
this is a great 90s esque TtWS kind of song and the verses are great - the chorus is so busy it sounds muddled and heavily distorted, to a point of causing discomfort.  more of that Cake style song structure and instro composition.  this song is right in the middle of the road - the kind of stuff you would hear but not listen to while drowning yourself in a bottle at your corner dive bar.  yall need to hook up with steve durand and make some magic.
instrumental: 6
vocals: 6
production mastery: 4

glen raphael - first time (phantom menace)
ok we dont even know how to what the ever even so far to do what look with this song.  Glen Raphael, the flaminco country emo FuMP kid rock meets weird al song about not being able to trust Star Wars since the Phantom Menace. 
It is going to be hard to give a serious critique here, but we are gonna try.  The vocals are a little low and at random points off key - we assume thats on purpose because it works.  the production is soft in all the right spots... like if you were 12 we would consider you a garage band prodigy and nominate you for a weebly.  go look up insane ian and the guys at the funny music project - I bet you 10 bucks this track can be on the dr. demento show in a week. 
instrumental: a confusing 7
vocals: a confusing 8
production mastery: a not at all confusing 7

Rob From Amersfoort - the first time you die
this song would be haunting and threatening if the vocal delivery wasnt potato. 
In fact that transition to the hook could have been spooky and powerful but the silliness of the delivery took all of that agency and make the song feel silly.  like original sin, this song feels like it could have been great if the vocalist took a more serious approach in their delivery.  if you come back at this song I would suggest you take a more hard rock approach - less acoustic strumming, more electric leading and little growler on the vox could instantly transform this to a solid rock song instead of a mediocre folk song.
instrumental: 6
vocals: 4
prodcuction mastery: 6

james young - alone
the first full minute will have you waiting for teh song to actually start, and instead of dropping in to an epic 80s power ballad (redo this as an epic 80s power ballad) we get a jonathan coulton b-side track that didnt make it on to his "whining about feelings" album.  we actually really, really like this song - but for almost 4 minutes we feel like youre literally missing half of a complete product and it comes back to wanting that swaying, rocking, lighters in the air stadium groove we would have gotten from GnR.  
instrumental: 8
vocals: 8
production mastery: 6

jailhouse payback - first time caller
reminds us of established country hybred acts like the hollar time and ray wylie hubbard - this song is excellent.  lets break down why we think this submission is so great:
the instrumental is excellently arranged, each instrument stands out independently in the mix but nothing is over powering... the ride from the drum kit sits behind the banjo perfectly and the bass line is not only mixed perfectly but it shares the mix with the drum kit instead of fighting for that low end presence. 
the guitar solo at 2:35 is excellent - on tempo, flawless and engaging.  you guys reached for that classic folk country assembly and nailed it. 
the vocals are mixed excellently, there is just a touch of reverb and doubling to create a dymanic effect but not make that obvious double-dubbd sound.  
the lyrics are solid - you dont have to get every reference when the point of the vocal delivery is to enjoy the ride.  this is a sing along song, easy and fun to follow. "first time caller, long time drinker" dosent have to make a lick of sense if its fun to sing along to. you sir, are this compeitions Marc with a C and we love you for it.
instrumental: 9
vocals: 10
production mastery: 9

ominous ride - maiden trip
this track starts off strong with a powerful bass line and leads in to some psychadelic throwback.  we had to take a few minutes bewteen the previous submission to clean our palets and it was worth it - this track is awesome IF youre feeling some tool meets the doors droning rock.  the producer on this track was obviously having some good fun and the dissonance work on the vocals is stellar.  we would be interested in hearing the album this song slots in to and the tracks that surround it.  the absence of a hard rock element to round it out is ok assuming its cushioned by some super sad aggo metal ala that tool feeling.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 6 
production mastery: 8

pigfarmer jr - kill a man
the song is straight forward - pigfarmer did not like having to shoot a man, and it changed his mind on war and combat.  the spoke word style of the verses makes sense when the chorus hits - pigfarmer is a soldier, not a singer - and thats ok.  this is a coffee house kinda jam and there is a market for this type of stuff.  college rock dive bar shows here you come
instrumental: 8
vocals: 6
production mastery: 6

buckethat bobby - free to be me
remember when before paul simon was super famous and did those folksy songs in that band tom and jerry?  somebody shouted that this song would be great as one of those 4 window videos of buckethat playing each instrument and doing vocals side-by-side.  this is a pretty standard folk song - the punch comes from the personal and relatable lyrical content.  free to be me.  we can cosign that.  good job.
instrumental: a simple 7
vocals: a simple 7
production mastery: a simple 7

empror gun - leaving
this is a very touching song and thank goodness the accent and standard set a pace for a 4 and a half minute song.  this is an adult contemporary kind hit - the song you would hear after a track from white ladder in your favorite pub.  there is a wavering in the vocal delivery that seems to highten the emotional atmosphere of the song.  something about that accent makes the off key bits almost charming.  its still a flaw, but its an acceptable flaw, like a friend singing a really personal song at kerokei night. 
instrumental: 7
vocals: 7
production mastery: 6

mark humble - the frist time you broke my heart
this is another long one - ethereal and wavy this song reminds us of what would happen if Beck got totally fucked over by some amazing piece of ass.  there is clearly an excellent producer/engineer working with this outfit.  the work on the vocals is excellent and its easy to identify the man hours it took to dress this track up.  we think this song is radio quality in its production and presentation.  while college rock isnt really out thing, game recognize game - this is fucking solid. 
instrumental: 8
vocals: 7
production mastery: 8

ross durand - premiere 
wow what a powerful song here - the first note to get out of the way immediately, we wish ross' voice was just a few octives lower.  this is a leonard cohen feeling piece of amazing.  the instrumental is great with the exception of teh highs being too sharp on the drum kit.  mellow out that snare and those hats and the instrumental approaches perfection.  the song content is obviously very personal and this is the first song we have reviewed that really tells a story.  the voice tho - if it was just a little lower... ross sounds a lot like Trey Parker and if you are familiar enough with his work in musicals it gets almost impossible to get past. great effort.
instrumental: 6
vocals: 6
production mastery: 6

the boffo yux dudes - first wurst
we have been using the "3 listens" standard for juding these tracks - that being: we force ourselves to listen to each song at least twice - if we go in for a third then its an instant bonus point to the song... except here with first wurst we listened several times in an attempt to understand the song, the content, the composition... anything.
we do not.
we like wurst tho.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 5
production mastery: 6

turtle fence - first
the noise to info ratio is too much lol see what we did there.  we get it - this is a joke track lol #first.  you are right, we do indeed think you are a troll but for what its worth this track could totally be the soundtrack to a sad sexual redesvous in a prison shower.  this is what johnny cash would sound like if he didnt give a fuck and new what the internet was.
nothing to say, but lust to be heard - evident. 
instrumental: 5
vocals: 5
production mastery: 6

ben taggart - like the first time
unfortunately the similarities between this song and five for fightings superman are too numerous to give this track a "heres how youre special" review.  the general points to hit from the angle of this being a cover would be all production focused - the vocals are muddy and could use some attention to clean up.  if the purpose here was to sound like a live recording from the corner coffee hut you open mic'd at, then you nailed it - but that shouldnt have been the goal.  come back to this, bring in a full instrumental accompanyment and try us again. 
instrumental: 5
vocals: 4 
production mastery: 5

jon eric - perry's song (everybody's waiting)
this song hits way to close to home as beaker's wife is pregnant with twins right now.  so he was really in to it but then he was really mad at himself because while the lyrical content and subject matter speak to him directly, its very much a narrow nieche and not really stand-out-ish beyond that.  funny enough we are already familiar with jon eric and that created a bias for us knowing already that this is not his strongest offering if youre familiar with right meow. 
instrumental: 7
vocals: 6
production mastery: 7

adam sakellarides - have you heard
omg this guy really like brussle sprouts and fears the unknown.  thats the take away from this track.  dont be afraid of food esp if you have olive oil.
so haha jokes and whatnot - the instrumental is solid but a little messy.  typical garage band stuff - not detrimental.  the guitarist needs to tighten up a bit, those acoustic hits are not even and a little distracting. vocals are solid, like holy shit brussle sprouts ok buddy calm your tits.  production is what you expect out of recording a band on a budget or in a home studio.  solid submission gg
instrumental: 6
vocals: 7
production mastery: 8

Jailhouse Payback thanks for literally sending in a whole album.  you picked the right track to represent your band in the comp, but seeing all this shit in the play list and going through them its clear you didnt make your track for this comp, it wasnt an original take on the challenge... it was a song that fit the outline from the current line up youre trying to push. 
while the hustle and struggle et al is real and whatnot, this kinda rubs us the wrong way.  make a new, original track that is totally awesome then refer people to your bandcamp page or something - but we dont rep the contest or the dude who runs it so our opinion on it isnt worth a shit. you do you. 

SpinTunes #11: Round 1 Totals

Here are the links to your reviews:

Official Judges:

Guest Judges: Crayondroids
Alternate Judge's Review: N/A

You can listen to all the wonderful songs from this round by checking out the free album HERE.

Feel free to check for mistakes in my math...as always...Heather could have made a mistake.

(Zoe - Dave - Kally - Ted - Rachel - Crayondroids)
Ominous Ride - 23 - 23 - 21 - 22 - 23 - 14 (126)
Jailhouse Payback - 14 - 13 - 22 - 15 - 20 - 23 (107)
Mark Humble - 11 - 22 - 23 - 6 - 22 - 22 (106)
James Young - 13 - 15 - 20 - 9 - 17 - 21 (95)
Governing Dynamics - 22 - 16 - 17 - 10 - 18 - 4 (87)
Glen Raphael - 6 - 18 - 13 - 21 - 9 - 19 (86)
Edric Haleen - 4 - 14 - 16 - 20 - 16 - 15 (85)
Emperor Gum - 17 - 21 - 4 - 17 - 11 - 12 (82)
Jon Eric - 21 - 11 - 19 - 8 - 7 - 13 (79)
Ross Durand - 8 - 19 - 7 - 23 - 12 - 10 (79)
Pigfarmer Jr - 16 - 8 - 15 - 16 - 13 - 11 (79)
Megalodon - 15 - 7 - 10 - 12 - 19 - 16 (79)
Ellie Sparrow - 20 - 4 - 12 - 7 - 14 - 18 (75)
Steve Durand - 7 - 20 - 18 - 14 - 8 - 5 (72)
Adam Sakellarides - 5 - 9 - 8 - 18 - 15 - 17 (72)
Sam Rodewald - 12 - 12 - 11 - 19 - 6 - 6 (66)
Jeff Brown - 19 - 5 - 3 - 5 - 21 - 7 (60)
"BucketHat" Bobby - 2 - 17 - 2 - 4 - 10 - 20 (55)
Rob From Amersfoort - 18 - 10 - 6 - 11 - 3 - 3 (51)
Keen Sid - 10 - 6 - 14 - 2 - 5 - 8 (45)
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 9 - 1 - 5 - 13 - 2 - 9 (39)
Ben Taggart - 3 - 3 - 9 - 1 - 4 - 1 (21)
Turtle Fence - 1 - 2 - 1 - 3 - 1 - 2 (10)

Zoe Gray:
Ominous Ride - 23
Governing Dynamics - 22
Jon Eric - 21
Ellie Sparrow - 20
Jeff Brown - 19
Rob From Amersfoort - 18
Emperor Gum - 17
Pigfarmer Jr - 16
Megalodon - 15
Jailhouse Payback - 14
James Young - 13
Sam Rodewald - 12
Mark Humble - 11
Keen Sid - 10
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 9
Ross Durand - 8
Steve Durand - 7
Glen Raphael - 6
Adam Sakellarides - 5
Edric Haleen - 4
Ben Taggart - 3
"BucketHat" Bobby - 2
Turtle Fence - 1

Dave Leigh:
Ominous Ride - 23
Mark Humble - 22
Emperor Gum - 21
Steve Durand - 20
Ross Durand - 19
Glen Raphael - 18
"BucketHat" Bobby - 17
Governing Dynamics - 16
James Young - 15
Edric Haleen - 14
Jailhouse Payback - 13
Sam Rodewald - 12
Jon Eric - 11
Rob From Amersfoort - 10
Adam Sakellarides - 9
Pigfarmer Jr - 8
Megalodon - 7
Keen Sid - 6
Jeff Brown - 5
Ellie Sparrow - 4
Ben Taggart - 3
Turtle Fence - 2
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 1

Kally O'Mally:
Mark Humble - 23
Jailhouse Payback - 22
Ominous Ride - 21
James Young - 20
Jon Eric - 19
Steve Durand - 18
Governing Dynamics - 17
Edric Haleen - 16
Pigfarmer Jr - 15
Keen Sid - 14
Glen Raphael - 13
Ellie Sparrow - 12
Sam Rodewald - 11
Megalodon - 10
Ben Taggart - 9
Adam Sakellarides - 8
Ross Durand - 7
Rob From Amersfoort - 6
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 5
Emperor Gum - 4
Jeff Brown - 3
"BucketHat" Bobby - 2
Turtle Fence - 1

Ted Kiper:
Ross Durand - 23
Ominous Ride - 22
Glen Raphael - 21
Edric Haleen - 20
Sam Rodewald - 19
Adam Sakellarides - 18
Emperor Gum - 17
Pigfarmer Jr - 16
Jailhouse Payback - 15
Steve Durand - 14
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 13
Megalodon - 12
Rob From Amersfoort - 11
Governing Dynamics - 10
James Young - 9
Jon Eric - 8
Ellie Sparrow - 7
Mark Humble - 6
Jeff Brown - 5
"BucketHat" Bobby - 4
Turtle Fence - 3
Keen Sid - 2
Ben Taggart - 1

Rachel Clark:
Ominous Ride - 23
Mark Humble - 22
Jeff Brown - 21
Jailhouse Payback - 20
Megalodon - 19
Governing Dynamics - 18
James Young - 17
Edric Haleen - 16
Adam Sakellarides - 15
Ellie Sparrow - 14
Pigfarmer Jr - 13
Ross Durand - 12
Emperor Gum - 11
"BucketHat" Bobby - 10
Glen Raphael - 9
Steve Durand - 8
Jon Eric - 7
Sam Rodewald - 6
Keen Sid - 5
Ben Taggart - 4
Rob From Amersfoort - 3
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 2
Turtle Fence - 1

Jailhouse Payback - 23
Mark Humble - 22
James Young - 21
"BucketHat" Bobby - 20
Glen Raphael - 19
Ellie Sparrow - 18
Adam Sakellarides - 17
Megalodon - 16
Edric Haleen - 15
Ominous Ride - 14
Jon Eric - 13
Emperor Gum - 12
Pigfarmer Jr - 11
Ross Durand - 10
The Boffo Yux Dudes - 9
Keen Sid - 8
Jeff Brown - 7
Sam Rodewald - 6
Steve Durand - 5
Governing Dynamics - 4
Rob From Amersfoort - 3
Turtle Fence - 2
Ben Taggart - 1

SpinTunes #11 Round 1 Reviews: Dr. Lindyke

Well, it's that time again. SpinTunes 11, Round 1, and I'm judging. As always, I'm going in to the round with certain expectations for the challenge we selected for you. This time I'm expecting...

...something different. Something narrative, if possible. A moment in time or a frozen emotion if not. We’re not asking for a lot… there’s nothing technical about the challenge. But we are asking for a song about something, so the more meaning that gets packed into it, the better.

If you’re new to SpinTunes, know that I do my best to judge this as a songwriting contest, not a “battle of the bands”. Performance counts, definitely, but it’s possible to overcome limited instrumentals or vocals with really good songwriting craft or instinct or emotion. And I’m pretty sure that where some of my choices surprise you, it’s explained by one or more of these factors. In the end, it’s subjective, and there you go.

If you’re returning to SpinTunes, you’ll have an edge if you brought something a little different than you have before, mainly because this is such a light challenge.

Don’t read too much into the rankings. Many of these were too close for there to be a difference… and I mean there are groups of as many as five people that I want to put in the same slot. But somebody had to come before somebody else. The fact that I can’t tie rankings disappoints me, too. Keep in mind that the rules this time don’t include eliminations, so try to jockey to maintain or get a better position next round!

Here they are, ranked from top to bottom:


Ominous Ride - Maiden Trip
I’m always up for an ominous ride. Love the sound, love the sound, love the sound. This is delightfully mysterious… which fits perfectly with the early prog rock sound, just this side of psychedelic. If I were to remake The Prisoner, I’d want this song in the soundtrack. There’s nothing really to explain. Just enjoy.

Mark Humble - The First Time You Broke My Heart 
I’d buy this.

Emperor Gun - Leaving
I have to admit. When this started to play, I winced a little. I was prepared pain and felt I’d have to interpolate a lot. When the chorus kicked in, I was delighted. The voice… well… you know the voice and guitar both need work, right? The ohs and ahhs should be stood against the wall and shot. But this is one of those cases where I’m going to say screw all that, and judge the song. It’s got story. It’s got heart. It’s got ambition. It’s got Lancashire. It actually inspires me. I love it.

Steve Durand - Original Sin
I’m gonna give Steve bunch of points for chutzpah. And then more points for the speakeasy sound. And then some more for the lyrics. And some more for pulling off a humorous number that doesn’t feel like a novelty song. Oh, hell just have a bunch of points. I want to see this performed. By a big band in white suits. With dancing. And costumes.

Ross Durand - Premiere
Ross Durand doing Edric Haleen’s schtick… you don’t hear that every day. Except this is definitely Ross through and through. It lifts you up... it sets you down. This is just a very nicely crafted song.

Glen Raphael - First Time (Phantom Menace)
Glen, if I haven’t said this before, you’ve got one of the most pleasant voices of anyone I personally know. (If I have said it before, fuggedaboutit. No sense getting a swelled head.) This is how to do novelty. You set it up, you hit the punchline… you satisfy the time requirement and get the hell out of there. I Iike that you don’t overplay the joke. I like the understated humor. You patiently set the hook and had me in the boat by “what I need is decent acting.” This has a really nice and relaxed delivery that I really like.

"BucketHat" Bobby - Free To Be Me
Bob Dylan with a squeezebox. I know… Bobby doesn’t really sound like Bob Dylan, and there’s nothing politically minded about this piece, but I’m still reminded of that style. Maybe it’s the carefree disregard for putting the notes on an actual scale. As for the lyrics, I don’t know why the singer’s attitude has undergone such a transformation, but this isn’t really a narrative song… it’s just celebrating an emotion. I’m good with that… real good. This gets ranked above some frankly nicer sounding entries because of the simple sincerity of the song. I'm older than the average bear (I’m working on my second semi-centennial), and it rings true. There's a moment of release when a person decides to let go of self-imposed stress and just decides to be satisfied. Happiness is a state of mind that you can achieve at any time in any station. Spend too much time desiring the things you haven't achieved, and you can't appreciate the gifts you already have. Ask Buddha.

Governing Dynamics - Fool Me Once
A NEW SOUND from Governing Dynamics! I really needed to read the lyrics for this, as the delivery was often indistinct. It’s appropriate for this style, but highlighted the fact that even reading the words, I didn’t quite connect with them. It's hero worship soured by first betrayal. I'm not sure what kind of betrayal, but there it is. I could see this or something like it in the soundtrack of some indie film.

James Young - Alone
Maybe I’d score it higher if I felt more connected to it. There are lots of generalities (so general they’re almost cliche). Often that’s a plus because it broadens the potential audience, but here the verses seem disconnected from one another and it doesn't feel cohesive. If you’re going to go with an autobiographical sound, I’d like to learn something, or at least be fooled into thinking I have. Musically, it’s very nice. It’s the sort of thing I’d listen to if I wanted some background ambience that wouldn’t distract me.

Edric Haleen - How It All Began
Talk about specificity in autobiography! All that’s missing is your locker combination! The narrative is excellent, and as usual the rhyming and meter are precise. Very well crafted, as usual. It doesn’t rank higher because, although it explains “Edric” to me, it doesn’t “put the Edric in me”, if you know what I mean (and having heard the song, I know you do). The bare vocal melody works… but honestly, the ending doesn’t grab me. Perhaps it’s intended to leave me hanging, or wanting more. Mostly it left me wanting an ending.

Jailhouse Payback - First Time Caller
BANJO. You get banjo points. OK, here’s a thing. I don’t write these in the order you see them here. I write them as I’m listening, then I shuffle them around, so if you read all the reviews you’ll see that this song answers some criticism of other songs… namely, that if you’re going to go autobiographical, do it with some specificity. Even if it’s made up, make me believe I’ve learned something about “you” (the character). This song does that very well. Now that I’ve said something nice, I’m going to balance it with this: pick a target. You’re calling the radio station, talking to the D.J., and you should be doing that the whole way through. But the first verse is directed at your love. And so are the choruses. Try “her coat”, not “your coat”. and fix the last two lines of the chorus. The last verse is fine, directly addressed to the listeners.

Sam Rodewald - My First Song Will Be
Well, we did title this “My First! song”, which could be literally interpreted as “my first song”. This sounds like it should accompany hand-drawn animation, maybe in pastels. I don’t know why, but I like it. Sam, I just wish it had an ending. Maybe it will, someday, when you write your first song. ;)

Jon Eric - Perry's Song (Everybody's Waiting)
I’m not fond of the bridge (lame, frame, shame, became). Otherwise, well-crafted.

Rob From Amersfoort - The First Time You Die
Did Adam Sandler sign up under a pseudonym? Actually, I quite like the concept. And this is just quirky enough to make me smile.

Adam Sakellarides - Have You Heard?
I’ve got to be in the right mood for novelty songs (even the ones I write). This could move up or down the list depending on my state of mind. BTW, I love brussel sprouts, too. Broiled, in butter, with a little garlic.

Pigfarmer Jr - Kill A Man
Sort of a song, sort of a rap… I think I’d call it a Colin Mochrie delivery.

Megalodon - My Foolish Mind
The hook is so much better than the verses that it’s almost distracting. Maybe going autobiographical wasn’t the best choice here. Lots of specificity; the verses read like a diary than a song. But the vocals and the instrumentals are nicely arranged and easy to listen to.

Keen Sid - Never Done That Before
It's your first time making out. The vodka's talking. And it's all very casual, which leaves me not very emotionally invested. Lots of mentions of "feels", but it's hard to believe them. Musically it’s tight, but to me it sounds like every garage band in every garage in Middle America. That's not necessarily a bad thing... it's a popular sound.

Jeff Brown - The First Time
For a moment I thought this was Governing Dynamics gone acoustic. That’s not terrible… he’s won this thing before. You start out fairly strong, but after the first chorus you didn’t sound confident with the chord changes. Probably a bit more rehearsal before recording might help, performance-wise. I’m a little confused by it, and here’s why… the delivery sounds very sincere, but when I pay attention to the hook… “the first time I believed you”, it makes me wonder why this is so melancholy. If your partner is that untrustworthy, it seems to me that other emotions might take the fore. If I "can’t see lies from truth" is taken at face value, then I must have believed something before now. I know… logic doesn’t always rule in a song, but it does help to sell the emotion if it’s got a good footing.

Ellie Sparrow - Footprints On The Moon
I’m not quite sure what to say about this one. I want to like it more... I do. The quiet voice is nice, but it seems to me that the drums are just out place with soft voice and detract from the minimalist ambiance. Maybe a hi-hat alone would have done the trick better. Or maybe brushes. And I think that this one was simply cut short rather than having no ending… a technical glitch that really should have been caught because you submitted in plenty of time. But there are other rounds....

Ben Taggart - Like The First Time
This has a very sincere feel… the sort of thing a girlfriend might hear and go “awwww…”. Unfortunately, for me it wasn’t enough to overcome the execution.

Turtle Fence - First
You got a real turtle to sing this, didn’t you? I've now just given myself the image of a turtle rushing to post first. Sorry.  I’m not sure this moves much beyond the concept. It's a novelty concept that sounds novelty. It could probably lose the last verse.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - First Wurst
It feels like it’s trying very hard to rhyme. I’m not sure it’s trying very hard to do anything else. I almost wish you had gone with a sausage theme, as per your bewildering title. Even though I have no idea how that would work, I'm pretty sure you'd find a way. I hate putting you guys in the basement, but that's the way it worked out. Kill it in the next round, please.


Brian Gray - First One Here
A completely different sound; clever, funny lyrics; social commentary; historical shout-outs; a danceable family-friendly Latin show tune; AND it meets the challenge… You’d’ve gotten a seriously competitive ranking if this weren’t a shadow. As in top spot. You’d have been the first one here.

Marlon - Take Your Money
DAMMIT, Marlon! How can you be so good and so bad at the same time? I’m going to be completely honest with you… the performance on this makes me want to roll up in a ball and die. But then I suck it up and listen, and the song itself isn’t bad at all. You’ve not given us ONE first time experience, but a dozen, rapid fire. I get this kind of almost Copacabana vibe from it, and once again I imagine a song of yours being played with different instruments (lots of bongos) and different voices and liking it. Stick around and shadow the next round.

Jailhouse Payback - Get Involved, Rechs
Jailhouse Payback - Special Glasses To Read
Jailhouse Payback - The Chewbacca Thing
Jailhouse Payback - Hot Breakfast On A Weekday
Jailhouse Payback - The Very First Time
Jailhouse Payback - The War To End All Wars
Jailhouse Payback - Pulled Over
Jailhouse Payback - To Sing When He Was Sick
Jailhouse Payback - My First Rap
Nice try, Rechs… I’m not going to review nine freakin’ shadows. But I will say this: the previous holder of the most shadows in a single round went to the Boffo Yux Dudes. And then you’ve come along with not just nine songs, but nine songs that all meet the challenge squarely, communicate a theme, and don’t suck (and I’m fudging on the last one, because it’s supposed to sound like that).  Forget the gauntlet being thrown… The bitch has been slapped.

Not only that, but with MC Ohm-i out of the competition, you managed to slip in a rap to Represent. OK, so it’s this rap, but still…

SpinTunes #11 Round 1 Reviews: Kally O'Mally

Never Done That Before - Keen Si
Good punk song, nice arrangement, great guitars and sound, but no hook and the vocals
need some beefing up within the arrangement. 10

The First Time - Jeff Brown
Nice acoustic guitar sound and simple melody, the arrangement needs to go somewhere,
right now it's multiple A sections. 21

Megalodon - My Foolish Mind
Super interesting! Great production values on the arrangment and I like the chorus,
there's a lot of good happening in this song, but it feels like it needs more time in the
shop. Close though. 14

Eric Haleen- How It All Began
Nice! Broadway Bound… Great piano chops and vox. 8

Sam Rodewald - My First Song
Nice, I like this one. All the elements are heading into the right place and I hear a lot of
potential in what you're doing. Keep tightening up your production values. Good
arrangment and melody. 13

Steve Durand - Original Sin
Like it! Very jazzy, great production. I would ditch the intro and let the song start where
it starts. The intro is distracting. 6

Ellie Sparrow - Footprints On The
Nice song that has potential. Your voice needs to be louder in the production and the
kick drum is too loud and distracting. Keep a super simple beat for this and let your voice
sit on top. 12

Governing Dynamics- Fool Me On
Nice production and good vocal sound. The melody is a bit wandery at the beginning but
it settles in once you get going. The first few notes you sing and the confidence in which
you deliver those first few lines often make or break it. 7

Glen Raphael - First Time
Nice song, nice arrangement and voice. The click track is distractingly loud. Very nice
guitar work. You deliver the topic well. I could see this doing well on youtube, your
harmony vocal comes in louder than your main vocal. Get that main vox out front
please! 11

Rob From Amersfoot - The First Time You Die
This feels like three or four separate songs, but I like what you're doing production wise. 18

James Young - Alone
Nice song! Kill the first verse, it should start with the chorus or the second verse.
(probably the 2nd verse) Check your cymbals to see if they're panned to the left. This
has great potential. Nice melody and voice. 4

Jailhouse Payback  - First Time Caller
Love it! Great harmonies, love the instrumentation. Jangle in my pocket… 2

Ominous Ride  - Maiden Trip
The bass line is stepping on your vocals. Otherwise I like it! Sorta Pink Floydish. 3

Pigfarmer - Kill A Man
I like this too, but it's sitting between a rap and a metal song. I would try an effect like
radio voice on the lead vocal during the verses and perhaps speed up that tempo a bit as
well. Good melody and production. 9

"Buckethat" Bobby - Free To Be Me
Nice arrangement, a bit depressing though. 22

Emporer Gun - Leaving
well developed chorus and nice lyrics. It's worth continuing to develop.. The pitchiness
of the vocals distracts from the melody delivery. 20

Mark Humble - First Time You Broke My Heart
I love this… great production and song. Sounds like it's from the '70's, definitely a fav.
The harmony vocal in the bridge is a bit too loud. 1

Ross Durand - Premiere
Sounds like a song that would be used at the Tony Awards to celebrate the actors. It's a
good arrangement. 17

The Buffo Yox Dudes - First Wurst
Some interesting chords in the chorus. 19

Turtle Fence - First
Interesting baritone/bass voice. It sounds like the voice is placed too far back in the
throat when it needs to be more forward and on the teeth for easy moveability on the
melody. Big voices placed in the throat can sound flat and as though they're difficult to
move. Work on the voice and the rest will start to fall into place. The song lacks
differentiating sections and doesn't really grow. Good attempt. 23

Ben Taggert - Like The First Time
Nice church worship song. Nice clear sections and a nice voice. Good job on the key
change. Keep working on your skills and you'll get better. 15

John Eric - Perry's Song
Very nice song. Nice delivery and arrangement. Vox gets a bit pitchy at times. 5

Adam Sakellarides - Have You Heard
Funny brussel sprout song. Good arrangement and nice voice. 16

SpinTunes #11 Round 1 Reviews: Ted Kiper

Once again, I am honored to be judging in the Spintunes. Competing for myself would probably have been more fun, but limited time and resources constantly remind me that judging was the best participation I can provide.
I’d like to personally give thanks to Spin for allowing my thoughts to be heard; but I also want to give a pre-emptive thanks to my fellow Spintuners for considering my reviews. So many cool ideas are brought up by the competitors, all of which inspire me for my future projects. You guys give so much life to the community, and I hope I speak for everyone by saying this competition appreciates your attention and hard work.
Some trivia about me: I don’t mind any genre, but I have a soft spot for alternative rock, 80’s synthpop, and anything with layers and layers of keyboards. I also appreciate good technique from traditional musicians, the stuff that listeners know couldn’t be replicated by computers and MIDI. My current addictions would include The Bravery, Justice, Lorde, M83, and others. (Any recommendations are gladly welcomed!)
Of course, this is a SONGWRITING competition. So although production and effects are cool, make no mistake -- I am very mindful to consider your take on the challenge, with whatever you got.

Round 1

So the challenge is to write a song about experiencing something for the first time.
For your amusement: if I was a competitor such as yourself, my idea would have been my first time composing for Spintunes. I was planning a loose collage of my past musical submissions, but with twists of direction and arrangements based from my current skills and tools. Alas, the idea may have been too ambitious with such limited time.
For those unfamiliar, I am using a scoring system promoted by Mark Meritt in ST5R1:
Overall, I was rather impressed with the risks presented by some people. Also, some ideas for first-time experiences were pretty crazy but were well-supported. Although it made it harder for me to rank, you all did a fantastic job.

Ross Durand  – Premiere

Rank = 1

Score = 49
  • Challenge = 11
    • Although someone else wrote a song with a similar first time experience, I found it most interesting to hear it from you. Of course Edric would write about theatre, it’s his thing. But don’t you expect your idea would invade his turf? But your take was fantastic! While Edric masters the art of fine arts music, you’ve crafted a sound in the direction of pop, and it works.
  • Lyrics = 7
    • It has “so many” words that seems to invite “every” item into imagination. The abundance of nouns doesn’t allow room for the listener to do much, and it’s that feel of helplessness that makes the listener relate to the narrator.
  • Composition = 7
    • The 6/8 timing is exactly the right fit to the elegance of the idea.
  • Songcrafting = 7
    • Without the feel of clutter or force, the words flow rapidly and gradiously, giving me a sense of wonder and awe.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • It’s the right blend of instruments, layered in beauty without it being too overwhelming.
  • Performance = 3
    • Some of the singing seems lightly strained and not exactly on point, but that’s quite honestly not a bother. The magic is still there.
  • Recording = 3
    • Pretty normal. Perhaps the multiple layers of production betrays the quality of the vocal track.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Honestly, you make the song seem so natural.

Ominous Ride – Maiden Trip

Rank = 2

Score = 48

  • Challenge = 11
    • I expect the first voyage through the ocean would be epic and looming, and your song delivered your idea quite splendidly.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • Some of the lyrics have a Greek odyssey feel, with an unfolding story. Yet, it also feels lost and open-ending. Good overall.
  • Composition = 6
    • The progression doesn’t seem very exciting and different, but the idea needed the monotonous and brooding feel.
  • Songcrafting = 8
    • The words and the music bounces quite nicely, as smooth as a boat traversing through the waters. The double-singing on the chorus highlights the rippling effect of the song.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • The layers of sounds present a perfect backdrop for the mysterious waters.
  • Performance = 4
    • There’s a good amount of melodic variety that keep the song fresh.
  • Recording = 3
    • I figure the majority of your songs has the same quality, but your voice always seem limited.
  • Judge’s Whim = 8
    • I think my favorite parts are when you harmonize your vocals during the chorus. The end of the chorus seems a little off, but for some reason, I completely like the fault.

Glen Raphael – First Time (Phantom Menace)

Rank: 3

Score = 47

  • Challenge = 12
    • I might be scoring your take of the challenge higher than expected, but I honestly didn’t expect someone’s first impression of the Phantom Menace. I completely relate; everything went weird after that movie. More importantly, you made it perfectly clear what your first experience was, and it was original enough to make this song take the highest points.
  • Lyrics = 8
    • Clever puns got me from the start, I’m ashamed to say. Better still, you were consistent on your point, supporting your disappointment with plenty of details.
  • Composition = 5
    • The music isn’t quite so unique, aside from the guitar instrumental before the second verse. But the blandness and sluggish tempo successfully reflects a disillusioned viewer.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • Again, the sloppy singing gives the lyrics a good, hesitant drag along with the simple music. But the last chorus/verse combination was feeling more distant than I was comfortable with.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • No need for more or less instruments, but perhaps a different instrument would have added a more exciting element for intrigue.
  • Performance = 3
    • The guitar after the second verse is the highlight of the song. The rest is rather safe.
  • Recording = 3
    • The mix was a bit confusing, but that’s just me being nit-picky.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • It’s awful hard not to like this song. I usually prefer songs with layers of techno sounds and blown-out epicness, but I find this oddly catchy enough to be addicting.

Edric Haleen – How It All Began

Rank: 4

Score = 47

  • Challenge = 11
    • A song that expresses the first experience of fine-arts theatre and the consequences, just the kind I’d expect from the master Edric Haleen. What I didn’t expect was Ross Durand producing a similar idea, and it unfortunately invites comparison. Obviously, there are differences between the two songs’ premises and productions, but it is your bridge that uplifts your song into appreciative pondering. Regardless, your take of the challenge is quite original and successfully done.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • The lyrics are very selective in experiences, some of which may be lost in listeners who don’t know Webber or Sondheim. You’ve done them justice, no doubt. But that is why the bridge really shines: it gives the listener the chance to relate.
  • Composition = 6
    • It’s unfair to compare this entry to your past songs; and I would be embarrassed to say that you’ve had more interesting passages of music. What really made this song fresh was the addition of samples, including the instrumental recording at the end. (Is that Audra MacDonald? Could this my first experience?)
  • Songcrafting = 8
    • I’m sure you’ll be tired to hear that your songcrafting is nothing less than perfect, which is what I’m sure you aim for. If I had any problems, it may be the timing of the samples. Not how they were introduced, but just the exact millisecond they are played. Honestly not a big deal--in my opinion, anyway.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • I’m not sure how to put this, but the samples and piano still feel a little naked.
  • Performance = 4
    • The plinks of piano at the end of the discography purchases was, I think, the most memorable pieces. Amazing how simple audio exclamations somehow go a long way.
  • Recording = 3
    • Some parts may have been too quiet, while Webber was a little too loud for my comfort. You wanted the effect, I get it--but right after soft piano-playing?
  • Judge’s Whim = 6
    • The song has good material, like an art masterpiece. I can peel it piece by piece for study purposes. As a whole, it’s not exactly so catchy. Thankfully, I love studying the details, and you’ve always been pretty good at that.

Sam Rodewald – My First Song Will Be

Rank: 5

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 10
    • I’d expect more entries to have their first experiences as making a song, but since you are the only one, you seemed to score higher in my ranks. More importantly, I felt the song was very successful in captivating the experience.
  • Lyrics = 4
    • “Chair”, “coffee pot”, “TV”, “snack”—They are very one-dimensional in my mind. (As opposed to the guitar being new.) But the naivety of the narrator, who wants a perfect first song, excuses the simplicity of the lyrics.
  • Composition = 7
    • In this sector, there are two pieces I find really compelling. One is the insistent, eighth-noted keyboard taps, from beginning to end of the song; it reminds me of the anxious tapping of fingers when trying to write a song, very brilliant. The second is the dreamy tag, complete with delicate oohs and swooning horns; the chord progression is prefect in elevation and descent, heartbreakingly good.
  • Songcrafting = 7
    • The song never settles to be boring, as if it tries to escape into being perfect. And the tag is the reward.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • The choice of instruments are questionable, but it makes more sense after a couple of listens later.
  • Performance = 3
    • Oddly, I find the singing in the tag simultaneously faulty and fantastic. I might prefer that sloppiness than the strange staccato in the verses.
  • Recording = 3
    • Overall, rather good quality.
  • Judge’s Whim = 8
    • Despite the entry not being as perfect as it wants to be, I believe this is my top favorite song of the round. I think it encapsulates the stress so well. It really resonated with me, and it’s catchy enough that I find it addicting. Seriously, I can put the tag in loop. Good job!

Adam Sakellarides – Have You Heard?

Rank: 6

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 10
    • Brussel sprouts? Really? Okay.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • Although I find it intellectually stagnant, it’s always refreshing to hear some comedy. Unless you seriously like Brussel sprouts. Then I’m concerned.
  • Composition = 6
    • I like the flip of dread to excitement; it gives dimension.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • The direction of the vocals is quite fun, especially the little quips around the choruses. My big issue is how you progress through the bridge; apparently, cauliflower is such a bore that singing the line was equally uninteresting.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • The type of strums on the guitar were quite fitting.
  • Performance = 4
    • I love the energy you put into this!
  • Recording = 3
    • The quality doesn’t detract from the fun of the song.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Gosh darn, now I want Brussel sprouts. I don’t care what Father says.

Emperor Gum – Leaving

Rank: 7

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 10
    • It was interesting enough to express the first time leaving a homeland, but describing all the follow-up first times brings new levels of this idea. I never thought an immigrant’s song could be as charming as you’ve presented.
  • Lyrics = 7
    • Such a proud and bittersweet story.  At first, I thought the song was too wordy, but eventually I grew to love how it appeals so personally. I wouldn’t want the lyrics any less.
  • Composition = 7
    • Effectively touching. Although it has a touch of cheesy, I find myself swinging along the music, and me swinging to any beat is always a good sign.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • It has a sailor feel, you know. I wish the melody was a bit more refined, especially at the beginning, where I could’ve sworn you were singing way off-key and off-beat. But you could’ve fooled me if you did that on purpose too; it sounded more authentic that way. Generally, it has plenty of diverse instrumentals and good folksy structure.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • Softs strings, rhythmic guitar strumming, punctuating woodwinds—it’s really quite a beautiful arrangement. Made the song effectively heart-stirring.
  • Performance = 2
    • I would’ve rated this lower, but the vocals were too gutsy to go unappreciated.
  • Recording = 2
    • Also, it sounds like a grandfather explaining to youngsters of his life’s journeys.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • This is easily one of my favorites of the round and from your productions. Thank you for sharing!

Pigfarmer Jr – Kill A Man

Rank: 8

Score = 45

  • Challenge = 9
    • Yes, killing somebody is quite a first-time experience. But then it shifts focus from the first experience to politics. I was kind of hoping for more trauma. Still, it’s unique enough to earn high points, especially for the soldier’s POV.
  • Lyrics = 5
    • I found the “Kill A Man” line a little too repetitive, especially when I wanted to know more details about his first time of killing a man. Otherwise, I like the thoughtfulness to the big-picture of war.
  • Composition = 6
    • The guitar/bass riff at the ends of the song gives the music a much-needed personality.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • The rapping at the verses was awful clever; it made the narrator very fresh.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • The chugging of the guitars puts the necessary pump, the right amount of punch for the tension.
  • Performance = 4
    • I don’t know how, but the rapping sounded overtly optimistic, which I think was strangely perfect.
  • Recording = 4
    • I could be wrong, but the bandwidth for the vocals is exactly where I expected they should be.
  • Judge’s Whim = 6
    • This is my favorite out of all your productions. I also like how different it sounds from the rest of the entries. Please more of this.

Jailhouse Payback – First Time Caller

Rank: 9

Score = 44
  • Challenge = 9
    • I’m not sure how I feel about your idea of first time experience. Instead of somebody using the phone for the first time, like a Martian stuck using payphone, you obviously wanted this song to talk about the content of the call. I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt that the person divulging so many details is part of this interesting experience. (Or maybe I’m just thankful you submitted this as the official entry, out from the rest of the collection.)
  • Lyrics = 7
    • The story has all the makings of a good country song, all twisted and tragic.
  • Composition = 6
    • It doesn’t have too many interesting changes in chords or structure, but it was saved by a throw-in guitar solo and a subtle pause at the last verse.
  • Songcrafting = 7
    • There are slight missteps in singing the verses, where it doesn’t exactly mesh with the music. But the narrator does seem desperate to get the drama over with.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • That banjo plucking is pretty much what I mainly hear. As it should be.
  • Performance = 3
    • It seemed a tad bit sloppy. Barely noticed it.
  • Recording = 3
    • It’s pretty standard. Nothing wrong here.
  • Judge’s Whim = 5
    • Well, I can imagine this fitting nicely in the radio. I hope the listeners like country.

Steve Durand – Original Sin

Rank: 10

Score = 43
  • Challenge = 11
    • Ah, experiencing the first sin! Now I don’t think many people would’ve come up with that. But does the music have to sound so sexy? Oh well, I guess it wouldn’t be sin if it wasn’t fun…
  • Lyrics = 5
    • The words “chagrin” and “the devil made me do it” gives me the cheese.
  • Composition = 5
    • After the beginning, the song gets rather repetitive in direction and structure.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • But the Genesis bit made everything better. Best intro in the round. With a hook like that, I couldn’t resist hearing the rest of the song.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • I love the layers of trumpets. Makes the song as cushy as a church pew.
  • Performance = 3
    • That honky-tonky sounded a little wonky. Something’s rhythm didn’t seem to flow so successfully.
  • Recording = 3
    • I wish the vocals were a little louder. Not a bother, though.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • This isn’t exactly a piece of Christian music I’d like to share with the old ladies at church. Things can get too steamy. Amusing take, though.

Brian Gray – First One Here (Shadow)

Potential Rank: 11

Score = 43
  • Challenge = 11
    • A song about discovering America first is certainly a nice surprise to hear. Very unique, fulfilling to sound more exotic than the rest of the pack.
  • Lyrics = 6
    • My favorite line is the “natives and Leif guy”, completing the self-mockery I was so greatly entertained.
  • Composition = 5
    • It certainly has the Spanish twist on the sound and melody.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • It all compiled rather nicely.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • The selection of instrument tracks are what I expected would appear.
  • Performance = 3
    • Rather dramatic to find land, I guess.
  • Recording = 3
    • Quality good enough to get the point through.
  • Judge’s Whim = 5
    • Hm. Forgive me, but perhaps my Latin heritage finds the song on the edge of cheesiness. I will say that your submission was quite enjoyable. Shame that it wasn’t official. Who do I point the Finger of Blame?

The Boffo Yux Dudes – First Wurst

Rank: 11

Score = 41
  • Challenge = 9
    • Of course, you love to skirt the boundaries of the challenge, don’t you? So instead of a specific experience, you offer a caution about taking anything first too quickly. Well… I’m intrigued. But I should finish this review before I change my mind.
  • Lyrics = 5
    • I’m confused if this is a story or if this simply offers multiple reasons to not rush.
  • Composition = 6
    • Nice rushing rhythm, in a chord progression I somehow enjoy. But the guitar strums at every 2 bars… it cuts out and adds chords unpredictably, especially the chorus.
  • Songcrafting = 6
    • I enjoyed the diversity of sounds. The song seems to be stitched together like… you were rushing to finish it? I guess that’s clever.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • The song has the right instruments and sounds, but it didn’t sound like they knew what they were doing.
  • Performance = 3
    • I think the struggle. Was real.
  • Recording = 2
    • The vocals wasn’t loud enough, and their fade at the end of the chorus was deflating.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • I like the idea of the song a lot, but much refining needs to be done. Again, I really like the song.

Megalodon – My Foolish Mind

Rank: 12

Score = 40
  • Challenge = 8
    • Interesting. First time swimming also included first time drowning. How traumatic.
  • Lyrics = 4
    • The bridge was too lengthy for my taste, but I guess the necessity of repeating “can’t breathe in water” explains how the mind was so foolish.
  • Composition = 5
    • I love the flowy effects, like exploring under water. Sounds fun.
  • Songcrafting = 5
    • Unfortunately, I have an issue how drowning and dying sounds so light-hearted and pleasant.
  • Arrangement = 4
    • Lots of delicious layers. They go quite swimmingly.
  • Performance = 3
    • Very smooth sounding, but I feel some singing notes weren’t quite hitting the sweet spots.
  • Recording = 4
    • Nothing wrong here.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Despite being my conflicts, I love the music more than I care about the lyrics.

Rob from Amersfoort – The First Time You Die

Rank: 13

Score = 40
  • Challenge = 7
    • So you convinced me about the reincarnation idea, if there is a first death.
  • Lyrics = 5
    • But you nearly lost me when the sealed fate leads to death from the reincarnation cycles.
  • Composition = 7
    • Honestly, I love the variety of musical nuggets pieced together in the song. Nothing gets old.
  • Songcrafting = 5
    • “This is not a game”… and then it plays some fun techno beat. Not sure if death is as trippy as you present it, but I guess it’s all subjective.
  • Arrangement = 3
    • It might have sounded a little happier than I imagined.
  • Performance = 3
    • The singing is weirdly wonderful. Or wonderfully weird. Whichever you want.
  • Recording = 3
    • It seems a little on the low end of quality, but I think it’s not out of place.
  • Judge’s Whim = 7
    • Lucky for you, I have a soft spot for psychedelic trips. Musical trips, I mean.

Governing Dynamics – Fool Me Once

Rank: 14

Score = 40

  • Challenge - 7
    • So I’m guessing that this is the first time the narrator lost trust. Sounds good.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • I couldn’t decide what or who you couldn’t trust anymore. The scope shifts rapidly.
  • Composition - 7
    • The intro and electro-backdrop was a nice, surprising addition. It reminds me of a blend of Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief and The Pixies’ Bossanova.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • It sounds a bit sassy. I like it.
  • Arrangement - 4
    • The types of sounds complete a level of mistrust.
  • Performance – 2
    • Those low notes were pretty low, huh?
  • Recording - 3
    • I wish the guitar solo was a bit louder.
  • Judge’s Whim - 6
    • I was shocked to hear this sound from you, and I’m very glad you took this approach.

James Young – Alone

Rank: 15

Score = 40

  • Challenge - 7
    • There are other contenders who would use relationships are part of their first time experiences, but this one is more specific and insistent on feeling distant. It’s not that hard to remember that this is the experience felt.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • There are pretty good lyrics, explaining how far apart the relationship has drifted. However, you tread a strange space between sudden discovery and gradual diminishment.
  • Composition - 6
    • The composition is on-point. I can’t really note anything that’s weird about it. Unfortunately, I also can’t really say I have a particular favorite part.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • It’s a pretty standard setup for a classic song. Rather safe.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • The sound feels like saying “I’m alone. Oh well. Send me a postcard.”
  • Performance - 4
    • Excellent playing, as I would expect.
  • Recording - 4
    • Excellent quality, as I would expect.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • As acceptable as the song sounds, I think you may have played it too safe. I’m sure other judges will find your take on the challenge well-noting, but I would’ve enjoyed a bit more flavor.

Jon Eric – Perry’s Song (Everybody’s Waiting)

Rank: 16

Score = 40

  • Challenge - 7
    • I like the idea: the first time having a child. I think. I’m not sure if it’s the first child when other children are present, but the “children” stanza may be in the future. Or maybe it is the family’s first move out of town...
  • Lyrics - 5
    • Oh, “pterodactyl” is a heavy word. I’m hoping that’s a term of endearment. Otherwise, I literally imagine an ugly pterodactyl baby.
  • Composition - 6
    • There are enough fluctuations in progressions and transitions that keeps the music flowing and interesting. I’m a little wary of the “shame” stanza, something feels a little forced.
  • Songcrafting - 7
    • The eagerness is there, bookended with slow and patient passages of sound.
  • Arrangement - 4
    • A bright piano, light percussion, and a duet. What could be better for this?
  • Performance - 3
    • Some of the singing falls a little flat, on the words “ours” and “say”. Not a big deal.
  • Recording - 3
    • That was a pretty female vocal. Lift that higher. Then put the coughing lower.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • I can’t put my finger on it. The music sounds so happy, but the lyrics seem to hide fear, Perhaps that’s the right blend of emotions for expecting a child. But that “pterodactyl” image… now all I can think of is a baby eating my brains.

Ellie Sparrow – Footprints On The Moon

Rank: 17

Score = 39

  • Challenge - 9
    • I’ve always been fond of space, so your submission is definitely welcoming. Man’s first walk on the Moon is not something anyone can relate to, but you bring a personal touch to his perspective.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • The story gets a little floaty at times, but it reaches far.
  • Composition - 5
    • I can’t help but notice: it feels like Dido trying to do a cover of “Space Oddity”. And I mean this with positive amazement.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • Spacy words and spacy sounds—grounded on structured music form. Sounds like a good formula in my books.
  • Arrangement - 4
    • The sparse instrumental hits are perfect for the feel of the song, down to the bass drum beat.
  • Performance – 3
    • It’s hard to tell how well it performed when the mix isn’t quite right. One beat has a loud piano plunk, another beat softens the plunk and strengthens the drum. Curious effect.
  • Recording – 2
    • Vocals need to be louder, please. Unless you wanted the voice to sound as distant as outer space. Then proceed.
  • Judge’s Whim – 5
    • I’m curious to know how this was recorded. It’s artfully done.

Mark Humble – The First Time You Broke My Heart

Rank: 18

Score = 37

  • Challenge - 7
    • Heartbreak, irresistible heartbreak! But it had to happen at least once.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • I find the lyrics to be typical of a heartbreak song. Not a bad thing.
  • Composition - 5
    • Nothing too complicated, but it adds special twists of progressions to keep the song interesting.
  • Songcrafting - 5
    • The singing works well with the flow of the music.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Good collection of ahhs and guitar-ringing.
  • Performance - 4
    • Emotion is presented well.
  • Recording - 4
    • The quality was appropriate for the choice of music.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • I especially enjoyed the ahhs in the chorus. It lifts the song into an ethereal power.

Jeff Brown – The First Time

Rank: 19

Score = 36

  • Challenge - 7
    • This song is one of a few heartbreak entries, but it’s quite a bit more indirect in pointing out the first time experience. And it takes some creativity to avoid saying that.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • The lyrics are pretty heavy, especially in gloomy imagery.
  • Composition - 5
    • The descent in bass notes has a flattening effect.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • In fact, the whole song is pretty gloomy. Every once in a while, the music stalls, as if skipping a heartbeat.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Guitar picking is a generally good choice for a heartbreak song.
  • Performance - 2
    • Some mis-picks led out of the tempo.
  • Recording - 3
    • Nothing tragic here. Quality was acceptable.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • As much as I enjoy rainy days, I wish this song would’ve lightened up.

Marlon – Take Your Money (Shadow)

Potential Rank: 20

Score = 34

  • Challenge - 6
    • At first, I thought there was one first time experience; but after reading the lyrics more carefully, I realize it led to more first time experiences, all of which seem equally unpleasant. I wonder how I missed them.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • The words are pretty wordy. It’s an amazing story, though.
  • Composition - 6
    • Ed Sheeran? Are you there? Regardless, the music is fresh and aggressive, just the way I like it.
  • Songcrafting – 6
    • The pieces seem to come together so seamlessly. It’s a pity I can’t distinguish the seams from the features. It’s quite a blur of audio.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Actually, I can’t imagine adding anything more to this rage. You did good.
  • Performance - 2
    • I think your creativity outcompeted your vocals. In fact, your composition was so vicious that I thought you were suffocating. No joke, I can hear you, somehow between words, gasping for air!
  • Recording - 1
    • Well, I do believe we have here a nice case study of audio clipping.
  • Judge’s Whim - 6
    • Despite being so critical, I sincerely loved your song. The raw emotion itself was something admirable, and it’s obvious that you have some cool ideas.

“BucketHat” Bobby – Free To Be Me

Rank: 20

Score = 34

  • Challenge - 5
    • I hate to say this, but I wasn’t so impressed about first-time experiencing being oneself. What about being a child? And have you never once been yourself, by yourself, for a while? The idea wasn’t so awfully powerful to me. Perhaps the experience should have been more specific.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • You use a lot of “I”s to promote thinking of yourself. Subtle and smooth.
  • Composition - 5
    • Simple and care-free.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • Altogether, your entry stands in confidence.
  • Arrangement - 2
    • That accordion-thing. It’s not my favorite instrument, but I understand why you would include it, the care-free feel.
  • Performance - 3
    • Some hiccups in timing, nothing serious.
  • Recording - 3
    • The mix really brings out that accordion.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • Yes, I can tell you don’t care anymore… I’m joking, it’s actually pretty good.

Turtle Fence – First

Rank: 21

Score = 33

  • Challenge - 8
    • Posting first. That is a serious problem in today’s generation. I’m glad we are bringing awareness.
  • Lyrics - 5
    • The lyrics are really well done and explores the manifestations of how people jump to be first. It reminds me of my partner’s work when she wrote lyrics with me as a competitor.
  • Composition - 4
    • It stands to be a good walk-down playthrough, easy to work with.
  • Songcrafting - 5
    • Interestingly, I’m amazed how such diverse situations presented in the lyrics are all musically treated equally.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • I kind of wished more variety of sounds, or even slightly different plucking rhythms, to match the extravagant ideas in the lyrics.
  • Performance - 2
    • I’m really impressed how low you sing. Ian Curtis comes to mind.
  • Recording - 3
    • It’s actually pretty well adjusted.
  • Judge’s Whim - 3
    • I don’t know, I guess when I think about posting on the web, I think more electronic sounds. Or maybe I’m just addicted to synth-related audio.

Jailhouse Payback – “First Time” Collection

Potential Rank: 22

Score = 33

  • Challenge - 7
    • Good grief, a whole album worth of shadows. And they all had first time experiences? Gosh darn it. Well, I think it will be much easier for me to clump your shadows together as a collection.  I rated individual songs then placed averages into this review. For the most interesting experiences that met the challenge, I thought “My First Rap”, “The Chewbacca Thing”, and “Pulled Over” caught my attention. Rap, drugs, and domestic abuse? Sounds like legit experiences.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • “The Very First Time” had the most evolved lyrics.
  • Composition - 5
    • I particularly like “The War To End All Wars” for its slightly different composition.
  • Songcrafting - 5
    • But I also found “Hot Breakfast On A Weekday” exhibited good blend of everything, and rather catchy.
  • Arrangement - 2
    • “To Sing When He Was Sick” had a wide variety of effects that I appreciated.
  • Performance - 3
    • Although it wasn’t quite rappy, “My First Rap” really showcased your talent.
  • Recording - 2
    • I liked the 70s feel of the song “Special Glasses To Read”
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • And this Oscar goes to… “My First Rap”: for its irresistible humor in self-deprecation.

Keen Sid – Never Done That Before

Rank: 22

Score = 33

  • Challenge - 6
    • This is a relationship take of a first-time experience, with a touch of regret and heartbreak. Apparently, It’s a first-time experience that one wants to forget.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • I see and hear a lot of “feel”s from the lyrics,
  • Composition - 4
    • Really pumped and full of energy.
  • Songcrafting - 6
    • The formula works and the song sounds quite complete.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • This kind of fun song benefitted for being quick.
  • Performance - 3
    • The end had a nicely done twist.
  • Recording - 2
    • I feel like the compression was too limiting here.
  • Judge’s Whim - 5
    • I can hear this play in the radio, it’s got all the right ingredients.

Ben Taggart – Like The First Time

Rank: 23

Score = 29

  • Challenge - 6
    • I’m not sure what the first-time experience is, so instead of using the metaphors on your chorus, I’m going with the first-time they said “I love you”.
  • Lyrics - 4
    • You spent a lot of lyrics to get these characters to say “I love you” to each other. I suppose it reflects a delicate moment.
  • Composition - 5
    • I appreciate the key change at the end.
  • Songcrafting - 4
    • The phrasing of the chorus’s last line seems a tad awkward.
  • Arrangement - 3
    • Sometimes, one guitar is enough to fulfill a tender moment.
  • Performance - 1
    • Call me crazy, but I feel the note for the “sun” isn’t rising to its full potential. Otherwise, tender singing puts the song in a gentle atmosphere.
  • Recording - 2
    • I feel some things are little too quiet. Perhaps a louder mix is needed to show off the skill!
  • Judge’s Whim - 4
    • You know, I would be interested to see the verses switch with the chorus.


Oh, I need to wrap this up and let you guys see it. Thanks again to Travis for considering my vote, and special thanks to my wife Erica for letting me stay up all night for this completion. So after my well-deserved nap, you guys better be prepared for the next round!
  1. Ross Durand – Premiere
  2. Ominous Ride – Maiden Trip
  3. Glen Raphael – First Time (Phantom Menace)
  4. Edric Haleen – How It All Began
  5. Sam Rodewald – My First Song Will Be
  6. Adam Sakellarides – Have You Heard?
  7. Emporer Gum – Leaving
  8. Pigfarmer Jr – Kill A Man
  9. Jailhouse Payback – First Time Caller
  10. Steve Durand – Original Sin
  11. The Boffo Yux Dudes – First Wurst
  12. Megalodon – My Foolish Mind
  13. Rob From Amersfoort – The First Time You Die
  14. Governing Dynamics – Fool Me Once
  15. James Young – Alone
  16. Jon Eric – Perry’s Song (Everybody’s Waiting)
  17. Ellie Sparrow – Footprints On The Moon
  18. Mark Humble – The First Time You Broke
  19. Jeff Brown – The First Time
  20. “BucketHat” Bobby – Free To Be Me
  21. Turtle Fence – First
  22. Keen Sid – Never Done That Before
  23. Ben Taggart – Like The First Time