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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Champions Vs Shadows #2: Round 2 Challenge

Arcade Anthem - Write a song about a classic videogame & include an audio sample from the game.  The sample shouldn’t just be tacked on, it should be an integral part of the music.  As an added challenge, you need to collaborate with someone else on your team.  (2 minimum length) (your submission is due Sunday, July 31st 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 Champions Vs Shadows, you can still complete one of the challenges & 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, July 23, 2016

Champions Vs Shadows #2: Round 1 Totals

Here are the links to your reviews:

Official Judges:

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.  The names in bold are moving on to the finals.  But even if you're not a finalist...you might be able to still help your team.  Read the final challenge later tonight for more details...


Governing Dynamics - 2 - 1 - 1 - 2 (6)
Kevin Savino-Riker - 1 - 2 - 2 - 1 (6)

Heather Zink - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 (25)
Ben Taggart - 3 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 2 (17)
Rob From Amersfoort - 4 - 2 - 2 - 3 - 4 (15)
Boffo Yux Dudes - 2 - 3 - 1 - 1 - 3 (10)
Mick Bordet - 1 - 1 - 3 - 2 - 1 (8)

Champions Vs Shadows #2 Round 1 Reviews: Jailhouse Payback

Overall, I (James Rechs) thought these were hard challenges, especially the elevator one.  we tried to do a shadow ourselves, and we couldnt get them done on time because it was a hard round of challenges.   Maybe that explains why I thought the songs were not that great (sorry, just being honest!)  On top of that, we got to listen to and judge these songs during the national nightmare that was the republican national convention--- so we were already depressed as it was.   I scored them out of ten possible points. 

Heather Zink - Dementia.    Your voice is great.   The song topic and lyrics are accessible.   That being said, this song is really depressing.    I like how you put your voice out there a cappella.   I also like the abrupt ending.    I can't say I completely loved the song, but on the other hand, even just based on this song, I find Heather incredibly likable as a singer and songwriter and I want to hear more.  Overall, it was my favorite song for this round.   Heather, I feel like you probably sound good no matter what the song is.  Total Points: 6

Rob - I'm So Stable.     Finally, something a little upbeat.   I realize the challenge was for elevators, but come on people, the first priority should be to write a good song.  Rob is the only person who brought a little humor and quirk to the challenge.   I like the purposeful screwups.    So yeah, this song has life.   I want to have a beer with this song.  Total points: 5.5

Boffo Yux Dudes - Instability.    This is a cute song.   I liked the ending.   I'd have liked this to be a little catchier.  Total points 5.1

Governing Dynamics - Rise.    I really liked the first three minutes.   Then you started to lose me a little bit.  I like the production and the performances are good.   I thought this song ran a little longer than it needed to be.     Your voice has a quality that I like best when you're doing the more mellow singing.    The lyrics are really interesting, but it requires a lot of attention to figure out how it meets the challenge.    I at least want a particular hook relating to the song challenge.  I didn't get that here, although I imagined listening in an elevator and that aspect of it worked.  Total points: 5.0

Kevin Savino-Riker - Wait Right There. Pleasant enough, but nothing about it really stands out.   I like the production.   Once again, I thought it went on a little longer than it needed to.   I'd like to hear tighter arrangements that don't keep going unless there is a specific purpose.   It was not a slam dunk for me in terms of meeting the challenge.    Total Points: 4

Ben Taggart - Master Of Destiny.   It's fine, but not memorable.    Total points: 3.

Mick Bordet - You Remind Me.   This is A little too slow and lacking in energy for me.   Total points: 2

In summary, these songs were really depressing and mostly too serious.  I want something more upbeat, quirkier and more fun.   I appreciate the effort though, because these challenges were difficult and sort of encouraged you to write songs that were either slow or disorganized.  So it's not your fault.   All things considered, you did the best you could.  And the songs were less depressing than the RNC.


Comments from Jon Sailer.

1. Ben Taggert - Master Of My Destiny
They actually asked to listen to this one again on the ride home.  I think it is a clear winner, the only one I would really want to hear again.  When it started I was worried Ben was taking himself too seriously.  It ended so perfect, falling apart just like it should.  It's a really good classic folky melody, good lyrics, and good goofy ending.  Love it.

The boys agreed.

2. Boffo Yox Dudes - Instability
The race for second was close.  Everyone agreed this one was pretty good.  It's missing something,  but I'm not smart enough to know what.

3. Rob From Amersfoort - I'm So Stable
Again, it's pleasant enough.  Pretty cool when it gets unwound at the end.  I believe we settled on "It sounds like Grandpa singing with Radiohead".

4.  Heather Zink - Dementia
This rose up our charts because my son loved this one.  He gave it a rating of 9 out of 10.  I think it is well done, but just not my thing.  The 13 year olds didn't like the harmony.  I thought it was fine.

5.  Kevin Savino-Riker - Wait Right There
My son's friend gave this a high rating.  He liked the vocals and musicianship.  I found it strangely creepy.  Maybe that's good?

6.  Governing Dynamics - Rise
There were a couple parts of this I really liked.  The lyrics are pretty awesome, especially the chorus.  Some of the guitar work is really interesting and inventive.  I think the vocals don't quite reach what was intended.  At the end of the day it gets a little boring.  The kids in the car did not like this one. kids, what can you do?

7.  Mick Bordet - You Remind Me
Other than Ben, this got the biggest reaction overall.  So maybe it is great art.  My son at one point commented "This song is really meeting the challenge, because I am starting to lose control".  I setteled on "Jarvis Cocker meets HP printer cartridge".  The boys thought I was talking about Iron Man's butler, and that actually works a lot better.

Champions Vs Shadows #2 Round 1 Reviews: Ted Kiper

Hello, hello! Welcome again to Spintunes! Once again, I am honored to participate as your judge. Unfortunately, I am battling something like allergies or bronchitis or something. Due to self-treatment, my writing may be a bit... wonky. Rest assured, my rankings were made well before these reviews, when my sense of judgement was quite intact. Anyway, before I sound a little too silly... Let's review the challenges.

Champions Challenge: 
Going Down?: Write a song meant to be played on an elevator. (2 minimum length) (they had 10 days) 

Shadows Challenge: 
Unstable: Write a song about losing control. It can mean losing your temper, losing control over something physical, etc...etc… This is not just a topical challenge, meaning the music itself should give the impression that someone is losing control. (2 minimum length) (they had 10 days)

Now let's see how I thought you guys handled it:


Heather Zink - Dementia
Rank: 1
Score: 45

Challenge: 11
Lyrics: 6
Composition: 6
Songcrafting: 6
Arrangement: 4
Performance: 3
Recording: 4
Judge's Whim: 5
Summary: This seems to match the challenge best, it is exhibiting the act of "losing control", not so much already lost or going to be lost. The notes dropping out of existance as the song progresses is a thoughtful touch. The vocal harmonies seem a little lost and deranged; perhaps on purpose?

Ben Taggart - Master Of My Destiny
Rank: 2
Score: 43

Challenge: 10
Lyrics: 6
Composition: 4
Songcrafting: 4
Arrangement: 4
Performance: 4
Recording: 4
Judge's Whim: 7
Summary: Goodness, what an incredible improvement from your last entry! This is my favorite song in the round, congratulations. It's unfortunate that I couldn't rate this higher; I'm guessing it was because I didn't feel that the execution was a tiny bit too sloppy. Chord progression is a bore, but this is one of the best songs that I know uses it. Excellent overall concept! 
3. Kevin Savino-Riker - Wait Right Here
Rank: 3
Score: 43

Challenge: 10
Lyrics: 6
Composition: 6
Songcrafting: 7
Arrangement: 4
Performance: 3
Recording: 3
Judge's Whim: 4
Summary: Well, it sounds like elevator music. I should know because I'm not a very good fan of the genre. Good job! Yet, I'm not sure if this song has tones of sexuality...

4. Rob From Amersfoot - I'm So Stable
Rank: 4
Score: 42

Challenge: 9
Lyrics: 5
Composition: 6
Songcrafting: 6
Arrangement: 3
Performance: 3
Recording: 4
Judge's Whim: 6
Summary: I like the song, but I feel like the end highlights what the whole song should be. Going crazy is definitely happening. Sensible at first, chaotic at the end. Not bad.

5. Mick Bordet - You Remind Me
Rank: 5
Score: 41

Challenge: 10
Lyrics: 6
Composition: 6
Songcrafting: 5
Arrangement: 4
Performance: 3
Recording: 3
Judge's Whim: 4
Summary: Goodness, it's dark! This kind of stuff would make Roger Waters proud. Quite a doomy, gloomy mood. Not a bad song by any measure, especially the interesting lyrics, but a pinch of energy might have really helped.

6. Boffo Yux Dudes - Instability
Rank: 6
Score: 38

Challenge: 9
Lyrics: 4
Composition: 4
Songcrafting: 6
Arrangement: 4
Performance: 3
Recording: 3
Judge's Whim: 5
Summary: Science for the win! But no mention about atomic bombs? What a missed opportunity! Unforunately, this is much too messy for my taste. The words are often lost upon themselves. At least the ending is pretty cool. Or is it thermodynamically hot? Enlighten me.

7. Governing Dynamics - Rise
Rank: 7
Score: 35

Challenge: 6
Lyrics: 6
Composition: 6
Songcrafting: 5
Arrangement: 2
Performance: 2
Recording: 4
Judge's Whim: 4
Summary: Well, well. With all due (massive amounts of) respect, this song doesn't much cut it for me. "Killing floor" and "blood and gore" just seem a bit violent for waiting in an elevator with your slow-jamming music. It's an OK song, but I'm spoiled in hearing more spectacular works from you. In my goofy attempt to lighten the revealing of this rank, I'll let you decide which label I should bump on this song: (1) "sloppy-pop", or (2) "Goo Goo Dolls overdosing on heroin". Please, pick the one that made you smile more.


Thanks for making the time to submit! I appreciate some of the minimalistic approaches, and you guys never cease to amaze me. Until next time!

Champions Vs Shadows #2 Round 1 Reviews: Emperor Gum

Hey guys this is Gray, normally I lose SpinTunes under the nom de plume of 'Emperor Gum'. Let's start with the Champions. FYI in the UK we call elevators lifts, deal with it. I love the '(they had 10 days)' line, it sounds so judgemental. 'Ten days, huh? That's all they could do. Okay...'

Champions Challenge:
Going Down?: Write a song meant to be played on an elevator. (2 minimum length) (they had 10 days)

'Rise' by Governing Dynamics
Your song description includes an Arcade Fire video, that's a dangerous level of pandering to me. ;) The tune evokes being stuck in a lift, a vehicle who's linear progression reflects the inevitably of the world's troubles, yet finding the will to rise in search of something better. The confinement of being in a lift certainly gives me pause me to think. Alas, I don't think this song would ever be played in a lift.

The inspiration is sound but I feel like you didn't quite commit. The dead on the beat kick heralds protest marches fitting for the theme, it could be a relentless backbone to the piece but you dilute it with more traditional rock drumming. You could have mixed in some more industrial sounds to evoke a lift but instead the machine opens the song then is abandoned immediately for some pretty guitar.

The song has excellent progression, powerful rock rising out of a gentler ballad. The effects and high guitar picking at the end made me feel like I'd reached the top floor. You can play beautiful chilled out guitar all day and this is absolutely a good song, I just feel you could have committed to the challenge a little more.

'Wait Right There' by Kevin Savino-Riker
This mellow jazzy piece tips its hat to musak without losing its soul, I can absolutely see myself tapping my foot in a lift to this. The harmonics are a highlight of an exquisite arrangement. The lyrics see the singer promising to answer any call for aid, building a dreamy soundscape. I can see this commitment being made in a light bloom filled room whilst lying in a bed. The punchy “wait right there” lines in the chorus add pleasing dynamics without breaking the flow the piece.

I realise I've written much less for this piece than for GD. This was really good stuff, spot on tackling of the challenge. I'm not sure what else to say... two thumbs up!


Shadows Challenge:
Unstable: Write a song about losing control. It can mean losing your temper, losing control over something physical, etc...etc… This is not just a topical challenge, meaning the music itself should give the impression that someone is losing control. (2 minimum length) (they had 10 days)

'Dementia' by Heather Zink
I've wanted to write a song about dementia for years so it was great to hear someone pull it off so well. The stark piano complements the gorgeous vocal harmonies perfectly to create a haunting ominous tone that puts a weight in my stomach. The lyrics are excellent too, accurately depicting the exact mental atrophy that makes the illness so horrifying. Wonderful stuff!

'Master Of My Destiny' by You Ben Taggart
Maintaining one's cool in a world riddled with frustrations and stupidly is truly a hopeless task. Continuously bringing the lyrics back to “the master of my destiny” anchors the song as it serves as the singer's mantra. You went for comedy and I laughed out loud. The vocals had good variety and lent the words strength, but I felt the endless guitar loop (though pretty) could have used some variety. At around the forty five second mark it sounded like you were about to add some bass drumming to the beat, a few touches like that would have lifted the arrangement greatly.

'You Remind Me' by Mick Bordet
Interesting, another song about dementia? The lyrics are subtle, suggesting the theme before confirming it as the piece disintegrates into illness at the end. Whilst there's a good variety of instruments nothing really stands out, the arrangement feels dreary and drags out... which is how the illness works. Its exactly the songwriting trap I worried about when I've tried to write about this theme. Its tricky to criticise and this is certainly a good effort, ultimately I think that Zink did better with the same idea.

'I'm So Stable' by Rob From Amersfoort
The singer desperately chants “I'm so stable” as the lyrics grow more paranoid and peculiar in their metaphors. The arrangement is solid, with the rampant bass and mix of vocal effects standouts. The tempo collapse part way through is masterful but I feel as though it strikes in too early. Its feels like the song should end with this trick, perhaps switching places with the eerie sci-fi synth towards the end.

'Instability' by Boffo Yux Dudes
Musically this is quite possibly number one. The cool synths evaporate into a spritely rhythm. The excellent melody, adorned with nice harmonies, duals with a snarling electric guitar. The chorus is particularly good, the most memorable thing from both sides of the whole round. I was worried you'd cop out and fade out the ending but some Bellamy-esque guitar madness capped it beautifully as the music itself loses control. BUT... I don't think the lyrics really meet the challenge as strongly as the competition. The singer wants to lose control to make connections but I never felt this ever happens in the words. Still a really good song, though. :)

Good work everybody, real nice work. :D

Champions Vs Shadows #2 Round 1 Reviews: T.C. Elliott

1 Governing Dynamics - Rise - I like the melody, the lyric, the guitars and the tone of the vocal. I found the lack of cohesive rhyme scheme from verse to verse to be slightly off setting. Or, rather, noticeable in an unflattering way. I think if the rhyme schemes had been reversed I wouldn't have minded it so much. And there were a couple of spots where the vox was either pitchy or not assertive enough. Just a little distracting in a place or two. Overall, though, this is a song I would listen to again. In fact, on second listen, I like it even more.

2 Kevin Savino-Riker - Wait Right There  I like the guitar playing and parts. The rhythm is cool, too. I think the lyric, the idea of the song suits the challenge better than GD's song did, but it doesn't grab me as much when I listen. Your vocals and guitar remind me of a 70's song or band, but I can't quite place it. Not that it matters.

1 Heather Zink - Demntia - I like the vocals and the melody. The lyric works very well for me, although you've only written 10 lines and repeated 9 of them (although with a slight change to one.)  Normally I'd call that lazy songwriting, but here it seems to work. I also like the drop to voices at the end which I guess fulfills the music part of the challenge. Although, maybe just barely? I enjoyed listening to this one a lot. In spite of my being picky, it is one of my favorites.

3 Ben Taggart - Master Of My Destiny - A very classic sounding folk tune. I'm thinking 60's.  At least before the turn. Which I like. This one definitely meets the spirit of the challenge, especially musically. It went from plain to interesting for me. You saved it.

5 Mick Bordet - You Remind Me - I have to give you credit with the lyric/idea. I enjoyed that part quite a bit.   I'm not a fan of the vocal delivery, the tone, pitch, phrasing or delivery, though. I do like the single note guitar lines. They sound good and add just enough interest to the song to keep me interested musically. Another kind of drop out to (barely) hit the musical challenge. But it works here, as well.

2 Rob From Amersfoort - I'm So Stable - I enjoyed musical challenge here, the rhythm caught my attention, but man it works well for me. The melody is good and the panned vox, too. Hitting the challenge pretty well and the music belies the lyric/title.  

4 Boffo Yux Dudes - Instability - I'm digging the left panned distorted lines. The rhythm is decent enough, nice use of a shaker. The overdubbed spoken word and the 8bit sounds both worked for me. The lyric was kind of interesting with a nice tie in. The ending satisfied the musical challenge, although I kind of expected it. It's not bad, really.  I guess that's the whole song for me. Not bad, really.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Champions Vs Shadows #2 Round 1 Songs

First off if you didn't make the LP...you missed out.  Thanks again Tom for doing great work.

The songs are now available for FREE download on the album below. Until the round 2 songs are posted I will only allow people to download the round 1 album as a whole. But even after that, PLEASE download the entire album vs downloading just a handful of songs while the contest is on going. BandCamp limits how many free downloads I can give away, and 1 album download counts the same as 1 song download. 5 Shadows beat the deadline, 2 Champions, and we had another "Today's The Day" cover released.

Now the most important thing for you to remember this time is that YOU get to help decide the winner.  Anyone who signed up for the contest & completed a song gets to send in your rankings.  So if you're a Champion, you get to rank ALL the Shadows from favorite to least favorite.  And if you're a Shadow, you get to rank ALL the Champions from favorite to least favorite.  It's not required, but if you want to send in reviews with your rankings, that's an added bonus everyone would appreciate.  Just send your rankings to the same e-mail you used to submit your song.

(Album cover by Matt Schubbe)

- Judges, guest judges AND competitors need to turn in their reviews & rankings by July 22nd 11PM (F).

- Reviews & scores will be posted July 23rd before 11PM (Sat).

- July 24th 1AM (Sun) the Second Challenge will be announced.

Videos: If anyone wants to make a VIDEO for their song, I will include it here:

Today's The Day by Crimson Apple (Inverse T. Clown cover)

Links Of Interest: