Where Music & Dance Fall Face First Into The Internet

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I Love Melvin (1953) & Paint Your Wagon (1969)

Spintown News:
My back is still giving me problems & I'm not feeling so great. So I'm posting something I had already thrown together for such an occasion. It’s just some videos & thoughts about some movies or shows I’ve recently watched…

It looks like the last episode of "Spintown Interviews..." season 1 could be late. I don't expect it to be too late, but I'll upload it as soon as possible.

I Love Melvin (1953)
I watched this the other night & badly wanted to share multiple song & dance numbers with you. Unfortunately I couldn't find much of anything to share of this movie online. I will say that if you get the chance to watch this film you should definately do so. The best part for me was the number "Life Has Its Funny Little Ups And Downs". Starts of with a little girl singing to Donald O'Connor, and ends up being an incredible dance routine on skates. It's not the first time this has been done, but it's still very good.

Debbie Reynolds is incredibly HOT in this movie, and I think I drooled a number of times. She shows real athleticism in the football dance routine, and her & Donald were adorable in "Where Did You Learn To Dance". Besides Donald O'Connor & Debbie Reynolds there isn't much "star power" in this film. Jim Backus is entertaining as a cruel photographer & Robert Taylor makes a quick cameo. This film is extremely short, and honestly I wish they spent a little more time on character development, but it's a fun musical that you won't regret watching. Click HERE to see the trailer.

Jivin' In Be-Bop (1947)
Ralph Brown dances to Charlie Parker's "Ornithology".

Sensations Of 1945 (1944)
The "Queen Of Tap" Eleanor Powell dances with a horse after the Jumpin' Jive Girls do their thing. You can definately see the Nicholas Brothers impact on this routine.

You Can't Have Everything (1937)
A wonderful routine from Tip Tap & Toe.

Smash Your Baggage (1933)
I had never heard of Ace & Eddie before, but these 2 guys were amazing.

Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Clint Eastwood in a musical...yeah...doesn't make much sense to me either. This movie isn't a bad time though, and Lee Marvin was a worthy adversary/friend. My favorite number from this film is "The Gospel Of No Name City" sung by Alan Dexter. This is actually one of my favorite tunes to sing in the car, but I couldn't find a good version of it to share. This is the best video I could find, but I suggest you go download the track on i-Tunes.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mario Kart Love Song Cover

I was going to post a really long response to some comments made on my recent blog about the Song Fu voting problems. My back is hurting a bit tonight, so I decided to put that off, and post something shorter. Here's a few items I've been meaning to mention for a little while, and a couple new things to check out. Oh, and I found a great video of my favorite song.

- CLICK HERE to listen to the newest TMA Podcast featuring Sammy Kablam & Joe "Covenant" Lamb.

- CLICK HERE to listen to Walt Ribeiro's latest For Orchestra cover. This time he covers Kings Of Leon's "Use Somebody".

- The Hair Kid made a bootleg remix of Capsule's "Hello" that I enjoyed. I wish he would have made a video for it though. CLICK HERE to listen.

Mario Kart Love Song
Häakon recently uploaded a new cover of one of the greatest songs of all time. Sam Hart wrote the original song of course.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Song Fu 6 Round 2 Review

Ok, I know my reviews aren't as useful as what my guest bloggers have provided, but it's time to share my votes for Song Fu 6 round 2. I listened to every song at least twice, although most of them got listened to about 4-5 times. The challenge for this round was:

Write a song that does not rhyme.

CLARIFICATION: Your song can be in any style, but must not contain any rhymes of 2 dissimilar words within a traditional verse structure. Exact repetition of a phrase or word is permitted. Your song must run no shorter than 1 minute 30 seconds..
My Votes:
Right Click "Save As" on the names of the artist to download a MP3 of their entry.

Edric Haleen (This Song Doesn’t Rhyme) - What I'm going to do is enter "excellent" into Merriam-Webster's Online Thesaurus & copy & paste the results. Add in "Edric" & "Musicals", then arrange your own review of this song. "crackerjack, dandy, divine, fabulous, fine, first-class, first-rate, grand, great, groovy, heavenly, jim-dandy, keen, marvelous (or marvellous), mean, neat, nifty, noble, par excellence, prime, sensational, splendid, stellar, sterling, superb, superior, superlative, supernal, swell, terrific, tip-top, top, top-notch, unsurpassed, wonderful"

Caleb Hines (Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliaphobia) - This is the first time I've voted for Caleb...I think. I know I've liked a couple of his previous entries, but this is the second song in a row that I thought was catchy, fun & just made me smile. It's a bitch to sing, but fun to attempt.

Inverse T. Clown (An Angry Rant) - Agreed with most of his comments (except the Lombardo comment & the escalator comment) while laughed almost constantly. Not only is it funny, but the performance actually has some personality in it this round.

Mike Lombardo (I Found You) - If I could only snap my fingers. *snap fail* I LOLed at the cough, and have to say...this didn't suck. Got my vote for not sucking...that's how much it doesn't suck. :p

Jeff MacDougall (Ken Plume Is To Blame) - I enjoy singing this song the way Jeff starts to sing it. Of all the songs that went in this direction, this was my favorite.

Honorable Mentions:
To listen to the following songs you'll have to go to "A Site Called Fred". Please listen to all the songs, then vote for yourself.

Godz Poodlz (Blue Sky Thinking) - It was catchy & a good idea. Had I ever worked in an office environment....it could easily have got a vote from me.

Glen Raphael (Song That Doesn’t Rhyme) - This didn't get a vote, but it was very close. Both of Glen's Song Fu songs have been very enjoyable, and I'm thrilled I found him on one of my "YouTube Treasure Hunts". He's bound to get votes from me eventually if he keeps this up.

Ian "2 Shades" Johnson (Two Words) - During the LP, I wasn't impressed, but the lag was really hitting me at the time. When I listened later on I enjoyed the idea & the song. It was a little long for me, I didn't really see why the simple story needed to be close to 5 minutes. A trimmed down more compressed version might have got a vote.

Zero Guy (Guitar Tonite) - LYRICS!!!! HOLY *&#@! I can actually consider you for a vote this round....considering....considering.....CONSIDERING....nope. I did like the tune for the most part, and I can honestly say I look forward to hearing more songs with lyrics from you.

Shadow Entries:

Joe "Covenant" Lamb (The “Jay Is Awesome” Polka) - I like Joe, I like Bobby & I like accordion...somehow this missed with me. I don't have anything constructive to say, but Joe is one person I always look forward to getting new music from.

Side Notes:

- At one point in Song Fu 5 I was hoping to hear instruments & music in Kylie's entries. With recent entries I've been longing for just Kylie's voice again. You can sing, and you can keep my attention with just your voice. So if you add anything, don't let whatever you add cover up, distort or distract me from your voice.

- If your song wasn't mentioned, it obviously wasn't one of my favorites. But it doesn't mean I didn't like it, could just mean that I didn't have any feedback that I thought would be helpful. But I did take notes down for each entry as I listened...so if you want to see the notes for your song just leave a comment below. As I already mentioned...they probably won't be helpful.

- Taryn Miller...I REALLY didn't like your round 1 entry, but I was looking forward to seeing if you could produce something closer to what you have on MySpace. I know that sometimes "Life Happens", and there are good reasons for skipping a round that can come up. Hopefully all is well with you, and you're back for round 3.

Ken Plume Is To Blame
Jeff MacDougall sang his entry for his latest "YouTube Tuesday" video.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How To Fix Or Improve Song Fu Voting:

I know people have been complaining about the unfair voting system for a long time. Hopefully this blog will show that it is possible to at least improve on the current system by giving a couple possible solutions.

For about a month the suggestion of forcing people to vote for 5 people has been floating around. Before I talk about what could work, let me tell you why this is a bad idea. A lot of people come to the site & only vote for 1 person, which is the reasoning for this suggestion of forcing votes. A lot of those people are probably fans of an individual artist who are only coming to support that artist, and do not listen to everyone’s music. Granted that isn’t a good thing, but forcing someone to vote for 4 other people doesn’t mean they will actually listen to all the other tracks. It just means that they will continue to vote for that 1 person then randomly select 4 other people. That doesn’t help the problem at all, it actually makes it worse. Instead of getting 1 thoughtless vote from someone you’re getting 5. It could even out the vote count a little, but not much, and who wants votes if they're from people who don’t bother to listen to the songs? The point is to grow as an artist & expose people to your music…not just get votes.

Now what people have to understand is that if you allow the voting to be open to the public, you CAN’T have a perfect system. Some people will always have more “fans” then others, and some people will vote for reasons other then merit & talent. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to use your voting criteria. Every system you look at which allows the public to vote will have the same problems. I can think of 3 people in my family that vote Republican no matter who is running in every single election. Is the student body president always the most deserving person in your high school? Of course not, popularity & ignorance will always play a part in these things.

So all that being said, how can the system be fixed then? Well I don’t think anyone wants to take away the publics vote, so I say we leave that as it is. Allowing the public to feel involved is key to getting people to return to the site after all. So the winner of the popular vote should move on to the final round.

What you need to do is settle on a way to pick a second person to go up against the master in the final round. Thankfully, Song Fu 6 has shown that Ken is willing to allow 2 people in the last round. So how do you pick the 2nd person? Well there’s a few options, and they don’t require much effort from Ken. (Hell I‘d volunteer if Ken is too lazy.)

Option #1: Have the actual challengers decide who is worthy. This can be done by having each challenger e-mail Ken their votes. Sure it’s a little tedious for Ken, but it wouldn’t take long to add up 20 votes. Well I guess it could be up to 100 if he stays with the maximum of 5 votes each, but it’s still something that can be done in 5-10 minutes easy. This is probably the fairest & easiest way to do it. I mean who better to decide who moves on then the challengers themselves?

Option #2: Have a jury of music bloggers vote at the end of the competition. The person who gets the most votes from the jury competes with the master & the popular vote winner. I’m sure some people will still complain about who moves on, but it’s not a bad way to drum up some publicity. The jury could be made up of people who are known for spreading the word about online musicians like Alan Lastufka, Rafe Malach or even online musicians that have a big following that are not in the competition (like Jack Conte, Walt Ribeiro, Hank Green or any Master that isn't competing). Think about how many viewers Hank & Molly brought to the competition. Whether you’re a fan of theirs or not, having thousands of extra people exposed to your music…isn't a bad thing. Now think about how many viewers a jury of people like that could possibly bring in. It’s not going to be as fair & easy as option 1, but it can be done.

Those are the 2 options I like best, and are the only ones I’ll go into detail about now. However there are still other things you can do to improve the voting. The most obvious to me is to hide the vote count until the voting is done. This helps stop the artist from obsessing over what place they are currently in, and helps limit the people that repeatedly vote just to give someone they like a boost in the standings. I don’t know how hard it is to randomize the order of the songs for each individual visit to the site, but that's a good idea as well.

To summarize…there are 3 things that have to be realized…

- When you allow the public to vote…it WON’T be perfect, and ignorance & popularity will play a part.

- The only way to fix this is to come up with a second system to work in tandem with the popular vote, or to eliminate the popular vote.

- It’s not about the votes.

Unfortunately the Song Fight community has a much stronger grasp of that last point, then the Song Fu community.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MiLo's SongFu 6 Round 2 Review

Great title, right?

Mike Lombardo - "I Found You"

I guess I have to start with myself because I'm working down the page. This is one of the few situations where I really wish I hadn't promised myself not to use pitch correction because I think this demo would have really benefitted. I learned pretty early on that when you are dealing with four or five vocal tracks and no instruments, being even a few cents off in pitch spoils the harmony. i think the song itself came out pretty decently though, and I'm pleased with it. I was going to do another 4 bars on the bridge but went with the cough instead. Maybe I should add them back in.

Edric Haleen - "This Song Doesn't Rhyme"

Edric knowingly raises a few points about the minutia of the challenge with this song. He elected to go for no perfect rhymes, and instead build his lyrics with a combination of family rhymes and near-rhymes. (There is a difference: one term has a hyphen and the other doesn't.) While some raised objections, it was also pointed out that in Edric's signature genre, Musical Theatre, these types of rhymes are not generally considered rhymes. This just boils down to being familiar with a specific genre of music. I think it was a well-executed, funny, clever song. He recorded it live (not multi-tracked) which allows for a greater flexibility with tempo and expression when you don't use a click. As always, a stunningly solid vocal performance, lyrical interpretation, and piano playing from our favorite math teacher.

Gods Poodlz - "Blue Sky Thinking"

The phrasing of the chorus of this Poodlz chorus brings to mind the songwriting style of Carly Simon for me. The Poodlz also seem to have taken a page from the Paul And Storm songwriting technique book - accomplishing humor by establishing a vocal rhythm then cramming in extremely long and technical-sounding phrases. Listen in to the second verse. Being familiar with Russ' solo work, it is interesting to hear Rhod's influence and the decidedly more electronic, synth-based sound the duo has been producing. Something about the mix is a little too "in-your-face" for this genre - either the drums are a little too harshly mixed, or the mix on a whole is too heavily compressed for my taste. However, this minor gripe does little to detract fro this solid tune. It's pleasant, dense, and doesn't overstay its welcome.

Spencer Sokol - "Minus"

Some very interesting gutiar work from young Mr. Sokol here. I really like the relatively lo-fi guitar tone here. A little Paul Simon flavor on the acoustic riffs. I would have liked to have seen this track done with a click to really help the guitar lines lock in with each other. However, overall the track has no major time issues. One of the problems with only having a week to produce music is that sometimes things haven't 'settled' into their polished states yet. (Listen to the original phrasing of Rock Song compared to how we do it now, for example.) Things really evolve after being performed a few dozen (or hundred) times. There are one or two melody motifs here that aren't quite sitting where they need to be, which leads me to say that I look forward to hearing this tune performed again by Spencer after he's been playing it for a few months. Notheless, this is a charming tune which I find bittersweet in lyrical content but satisfying and pleasing to the listener.

Kylie Petto - "All These Knives"

Some good prosody here between the title and the (hopefully) intentionally eerie and abrasive opening segment. The tone of sound-replaced drums and the overdriven vocal line remind me of early Evanescence, as does the first line's striking lyrical and melodic similarity to that same group's hit single "Bring Me To Life." The creepy laughter reminds me of this computer game I used to play called "Condemned" which used to scare the pants off of me, so maybe this song is more unsettling for me than most people because of that. But I challenge you to listen to the creepy synth/ chimes work under the laughing and not feel a little on edge. It reminds me of the opening music for the Stephen King miniseries "Rose Red" composed by Gary Chang. There are a few artists in particular in this competition where we've seen tremendous growth in songwriting ability, and Kylie is one of them. Great work, Ms Petto.

Caleb Hines - "Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliaphobia"

Another huge improvement here from Caleb. This song was very funny and clever. It was recorded well and is fun to listen to. The chorus that comes in a beat early at the end has a mocking element to it - because we're scared of long words, remember? He was also one of a large amount of contestants this round that used the 'bait-and-switch' rhyme fakeout technique to the effect of humor. If I were revealing who I voted for this round, I would tell you that I voted for Caleb, but I am not.

Boffo Yux Dudes - "Al's Blues"

One of the concepts I was brainstorming about before writing my song was a way to use the non-rhyming as a function of story telling in the song's narrative. It seems the Dudes have successfully accomplished this with a blues that immediately creates images of an old, haggard blues cat whose memory is failing but he keeps at it anyway. (The kind of people you seen in nursing homes and think they're really badass.) This blues starts off hulking and lurching, and there's a slight 'broken' tonality to the entire performance, making it sound slightly off kilter, but still oddly listenable. More fakeout rhymes here. I would have loved to hear our narrator fall asleep or something at the end of this one. Another solid entry.

Denise Hudson - "Something Very Horrible (Bluebeard's Lament)"

This song starts off with a Chopin/Debussy-tainted piano riff, which maybe should have been rolled back a little volume-wise as it can tend to crowd the vocals a bit. Guest vocalist Joe Covenant Lamb's vocal lines intertwine and weave with Hudson's, rolling over the top of tortured cello lines and some 'out' harmonies, creating a very Phantom Of The Opera-like mood. I found myself enjoying the overal sonic texture so much that I had to consciously force myself to pay attention to the lyrics. This track is a huge step up for Denise, both writing-wise and in production value. This is a very unique and artful entry and I look forward to hearing more from Denise in this style.

"Buckethat" Bobby Matheson - "I'm Fine (Could Be Worse)"

Another great entry using the fake-out rhyme. I thought it was that Proclaimers song for just a second at the start of this one. Instead, a jaunty little blue number. Another appropriate title would have been "The Lament of A College Graduate." Being familiar with Bobby's writing style, I kept waiting for the comedic 'payoff' at the end of this one, but it never came. I would love to hear the third verse replaced with one that either forwards the narritive (right now, the first verse basically tells you all you need to know and the second and third don't bring much additional narrative to the table) or one that is really funny (my house burned down and my car is on fire, but I'm fine, etc). At any rate this is a solid musical performance from Bobby. It is by no means a poor entry, and I enjoyed listening to it.

Ian "2 Shades" Johnson - "Two Words"

When this track came up on the listening party playlist, I received a private message from Jeff MacDougall saying "Is it just me or has Ian really improved?". Ian has consistently brought a higher level of songwriting to the table with each of his entries. I really like the reflective acoustic guitar solo in the middle part of this song. I think a really funny animated music video could be made with this song. As soon as our narrator reveals his name is "Purple" I knew exactly where Ian was going with this song, and I was right. I'm really glad Orange is a 'male' character (as our narrator also seems to be) because it makes the relationship in the song much more special to me. I think a boy-girl relationship would have made it feel a little cheesy and tired. Also notable: Purple and orange are 'complimentary colors' on the color wheel. I would have really loved some Beatles-style harmonies on the chorus here - listen to "Your Love Is" by Paul and Storm for an idea of what I mean.

Gorbzilla - "A Song About This Song"

I really liked this one. The first line is honest and funny, and it's brought back to mind with the last line of the chorus, which is clever, simple, and catchy. I had a teacher who said the test of a a great pop song is if, after listening to it once, you can sing the chorus back, and I could definitely do that with this song. Also the entire second verse is all about poop.

Governing Dynamics - "Restrictions"

I missed this one at the listening party due to my wireless router taking a dump (see above). It's very spaced-out vocally, and I like the non-dominating drum tones. It's very ambient in the Radiohead/Incubus way and it had a very neat prechorus. This song has the potential to be a hit were it being played in a bar-type environment. It made me feel the same way I do after a late-night gig - tired but satisfied. While it goes on longer than it needs to to get its point across, it's an easy listen with some very solid guitar playing.

Zer0guy - "Guitar Tonite"

I really enjoyed this entry. It has a nice pacing to it, solid playing, and the background harmony really adds a lot of fullness to the melody. The "Let's Go, power chords!" section made me laugh. If my high school punk band had played this song, we would have been way more popular than we were.

Jutze Schult - "Communication Removal"

Nice driving rock tune here. Some solid guitar tracks, in tune and in time. Had trouble making out some of the lyrics. But apparently I'm a fan of Nickelback? Another creepy prosodic outro that scares me. I'm not sure I 'get' what Jutze is going for but there's some interesting imagery here. It reminds me both sonically and content-wise of the type of underground metal that was big in Germany in the 90's. So I guess that makes sense. This song doesn't really develop as I'd like it to. Every time it ends, I'm like, oh it's over? Nonetheless I think it's a cool idea and has a nice driving groove to it.

Leigh And Hoover - "We Do What We Do"

This is another one that I only caught portions of the the first time around due to internet issues...Not sure if it's intentional but Leigh brings in some strong shades of Elton John in his vocals here. The percussion for this song is stuck somewhere in between 80's power ballad and tango. It seems like a tango is what was desired, especially with the organ solo being as it is. I would have loved to hear some more authentic latin rhythms and instrumentation to really drive that groove home. It is a solidly structured tune, however, and the background vocals put a nice finished touch on it.

Common Lisp - "War Criminal"

If you haven't listened to this song, go do so. This one slides in with the underground punk mentality that the POINT and subject matter (usually sociopolitical) of the song preclude any musical stylings. There is nothing I can say about the musical analysis of this song that will do justice to the song's very very clear message. If I made one musical comment it would be that sometimes the 'rest of the track' slides around a little bit on top of the drum loop. Not a lot, but enough to be distracting to me. The guitar tones are very authentically punk, as well. This song is a world of difference from his round 1 entry, which was also very enjoyable.

Glen Raphael - "Song That Doesn't Rhyme"

Another faux-rhyme song. The mouth-trombones are very funny and made me laugh. Repeatedly. I'm not sure I could sing this one back to you after I heard it once but it's fun. I would have loved to hear one more harmony part but so much mouth percussion made up for it so I didn't miss it too much.

Inverse T Clown - "An Angry Rant"

ITC is back. In a piece that appears to be very tightly based on the Shatner/Rollins rant produced by Ben Folds, ITC hits on a few of my personal pet peeves, so maybe this song has endeared itself to me even more because of that. The background music sounds like something from a Wii game and that makes it much funnier for some reason. I liked the inside Family Guy references. It's hard-hitting, funny, and- oh wait, what was that? I think I was just insulted. Oh. This song sucks.

Jeff MacDougall - "Ken Plume Is To Blame"

This entry, I think, is the mother of all the faux-rhyme entries. I was wondering what Jeff was going to come up for this round, now that his writing process is hidden behind a shroud of secrecy and deception. Although it's sonically typical MacDougall, it's a little more straightfoward comedy approach than most of his previous work, and it was funny and worked well.

So there you have it. Now I'm tired. Agree with me, or not. I mean, it's all very much just my opinion. You know what they say. Even clocks are wrong twice a day, no wait, that's not right...


Editor's Note:
This review doesn't reflect my opinions, but I'm thankful to have this guest review from Mike. Hopefully we'll also get a round 2 review from Travis Norris as well. If anyone else wants to write a guest review for Song Fu or Song Fight all they have to do is let me know. I don't want to post one every single day, but having a guest reviewer each round would be great.

If you enjoyed this review or found it helpful let Mike know by commenting below, contacting him on Twitter (@mikelombardo).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Infuriatingly Balanced Review

INITIAL DISCLAIMER: I'm not sure exactly what possessed me to volunteer for this review, seeing how I'm in Song Fu 6 myself. Turnabout is fair play, so any Song Fu contestants who feel that I'm completely missing the point of your song, making asinine comments, saying I didn't like your guitar tone when there wasn't even an effing guitar on the track, etc...

Please, feel free to take me to task in the comments. Review my track and parody the review I did for yours! Seriously. I can take it.

And don't forget to bookmark Spintown and check it every day! (tm)

Anyway… Here, in no particular order, are my thoughts, complaints, suggestions and musings on round 1 of Song Fu 6.

Mike Lombardo - "Sit And Watch The Rain"

The "narrator" looks back at several periods of time with his father. The lyrics are effective in conveying both emotion and a narrative without ever being hokey or too simplistic. Anybody lucky enough to have a reasonably decent relationship with a parent can relate to the lyrics.

Favorite lyrical element:
It's about a parental figure and it's actually positive.

If there's one thing I've come to expect from Mike Lombardo (other than piano) it's an understanding of how important groove is to hooking the listener and there are no disappointments here. Drums and bass are locked in from the first beat, which allows Mike to do his thing on the keys. The arrangement is rock solid--everything finds the correct sonic space including Mike's voice, which highlights the impressive vocal.

Favorite musical element:

Rain obviously is pretty important to the central narrative. I don't think "sit and watch the traffic" or "sit and watch Friends" would get the same impact. As far as the instrumental/vocal element representing rain, I believe that the guitar harmonics that emerge at several points during the song fulfill the requirement.

In a world that has way too many songs about how parents screw up and do their children wrong, "Sit and Watch the Rain" is a breath of fresh (and groovy) air. (Voted)

Edric Haleen - "In The Rain"

The lyrics convey a simple but fun logic puzzle--you're at a bus stop in your car. There's a rain storm going on, and the girl of your dreams, a good buddy, and a plot twist are there. Oh, and there’s only one seat available. Who do you take with you?

Favorite lyrical element:

"...somebody help! I think he's dying..."
Everybody loves a good plot twist...

Everything Edric writes sounds like it would be right at home in a musical, and usually a big budget one at that. The problem is I don't like many musicals. That said, Edric's songs have a tendency to grow on me, although usually after voting.

The piano playing is, as per usual, practically flawless--metronomic ally stable and full of subtle nuance without getting so technical as to lose the listener. The vocals are also strong, if occasionally more dramatic than some listeners will like. Something about the way Edric delivers the line "No, Dude!" makes me chuckle every time. And of course there is “The Note” which is already a minor legend among other Song Fu contestants. No Autotune here, folks.

Favorite musical element:
Definitely "The Note".

The whole plot of the song takes place during a rainstorm and the piano figure that represents rain is audible through most of the song. The piano figure is easily identifiable as the element representing rain without any prompting to the listener.

Another solid entry in the hopefully forthcoming "Song Fu: The Musical" from Mr. Haleen.

Godz Poodlz - "Rain Is Pouring Down"

Godz Poodlz have been one of my favorites since Song Fu 4, but their songs have generally leaned in the direction of light hearted or, dare I say it, novelty (not an insult! I love Flight of the Conchords... um... anyway). So, can they do an intense, brooding break up song, complete with apocalyptic biblical references? Hell yes, they can. And here it is.

Favorite lyrical element:
"The Biblical disaster only lasted 40 days...”
The entire lyric has a subtle undertone of impending doom, or destruction, or some kind of reckoning. It grants the entire song a "high concept" feeling.

The production on this tune feels quite simply huge, and the tasteful use of horns/strings (are they fake horns/strings? I can't tell) and good use of reverb are the main things that make this possible. Although I'm starting to hate this word to describe music, I'm going to go ahead and say it sounds "epic". Or maybe "anthemic". Yeah, anthemic. Much better... The only real problem I have is that the lead vocal occasionally gets bit quiet or otherwise lost in the mix. The harmonies are Poodlz-standard.

Favorite musical element:
The staccato string figure.

The song uses pouring rain as a metaphor for the steady and persistent emotional distress of separation anxiety. (Although I did refer to the song as a "breakup song" that certainly isn't the only interpretation; it could also be about a sudden/unexpected death or being separated by distance.) There is a brief smattering of thunder and rainfall towards the end of the track.

To write this review I've now heard every SF6 song at least 4 times and if I was voting now, it would get a vote. One more reason to join the Poodlz Nation of Fanz.

Spencer Sokol - "Reservations"

The lyrics are simple and evocative, if somewhat abstract (luckily I like abstract, since it affords the listener their own interpretation...), and seem to be about one long, awkward silence during a drive through a persistent rainstorm. Suitably enough, "Reservations" would make an excellent soundtrack in such a situation.

Favorite lyrics element:
"a backwater, beat down, podunk town in Mississippi"
It flows surprisingly well and is completely unpredictable.

The production is intimate but very sparse--mostly just voice and guitar. The ragged, rock n roll delivery of the "too damn old" sections followed by the subtle but effective vocal harmonies in "I'm ready to go" give the intensity of the tune a nice ebb and flow.

Favorite musical element:
The overdubbed guitar "solo" gives the song a sudden extra dimension. Spencer's voice also is quite expressive throughout without ever quite reaching the point of the dreaded "emo".

I'm partial to personal, emotive, acoustic-driven indie/college songs to start with, and the somewhat abstract lyrics and solid vocals drove this one over the top for a vote.

Zer0guy - "Thundercade"

Well, it's an electronic instrumental. NEEDS WORDS. Seriously, guys. Let's do it--words. This probably would have been one of my favorite entries this round if so. (Let's ignore the fact I entered an instrumental in SF 5 Round 1...)

Favorite lyrical element:

Okay, more to talk about here. I'm a big fan of various electronica tunes (U2 in their Zooroopa/Achtung Baby period, The Postal Service, etc. etc.) and Thundercade is a fine example of the genre. The production is clean and razor sharp. The musical ideas on display are interesting to me. But I always get the impression that there is an A section, a B section, and a C section, and then the song is over, as if it wasn't really arranged yet and this is just a demo of musical ideas.

Favorite musical element:
Most of it, really. The drums occasionally get a little cheesy, but again, who the hell am I to complain about that?

Well, the tune doesn't have a "narrative" so...misses there. As far as the instrumental element representing rain, I can hear plenty of things that would probably meet the criteria, but I'm not sure which of them (if any) is the intended one. I'm going to say it's the delayed guitar towards the end, because it's what I would have used.

Zer0guy, I'm sure you guys are sick of hearing it by now. But seriously. Words. Vocals. You would be a shoe-in for my votes in a songwriting contest if you were submitting -songs-.

Taryn Miller - "Crowded & Clouded"

Taryn's is one of the few songs that is actually -about- rain, rather than the rain as a backdrop to something else, or rain as an extended metaphor, or whatever. Which means the perspective of the song is somewhat abstract and mysterious. Is Taryn singing from the perspective of.. an ecosystem? Hard to say. Anyway, this is exactly the kind of weirdness I personally love.

Favorite lyrical element:
"why don't you make a visit, quit cheating with the wetlands, their gauges are overflowing"
Okay, so, yes; obvious thing out of the way first. The vocals are.. not good, by any standard measurement. The very first note of the song sounds like a really bad Autotune pitch bend. That said... once my ear adjusted to the dissonance I found the song overall to be very comforting. But, however the vocals were recorded (whatever effects, etc.), I feel confident saying it was the wrong way. It's a shame because Taryn's voice on her MySpace recordings is quite pleasing, and the lyrics to "C & C" are clever and quirky, and the phrasing of the melody/lyrics has an intriguing way of starting a thought in one line and finishing it in the next. In short, Taryn's got a pretty voice, some good-to-excellent lyrical chops and some nice musical ideas and as far as I can tell, she doesn't want anyone to know at first listen.

All that out of the way... I do like this song and I think it has a lot of potential in a re-record. I've already said how much I like the voice-and-acoustic-guitar thing so I'll not reiterate, other than to say the guitar tends to waver when vocals are going on. There is a lot more confidence in the playing during the first chorus and the little interlude immediately following it. If that could extend to the rest of the song I think it would strengthen the overall track a lot.

Favorite musical element:
The shaker during the chorus was an obvious but nonetheless excellent choice, gives the song a nice sense of forward motion.

As discussed, this song is definitely about rain. The rain element sounds like it might have been recorded in a shower.

So, despite all the negativity I just spewed out, I really like this song; I voted for it, it's in general population on my iPod. I wouldn't go so far as paying money for it without a re-record.

Boffo Yux Dudes - "Reign of the King"

A film noir gangster story about a man named Johnny who follows his heart. And gets shot in the face. Oops, spoilers..

Favorite lyrical element:
The first two lines grab the attention pretty well and do an excellent job of setting up the rest of the story.

I can't decide whether the Elvis parody/pastiche was the route I would have taken or not, but it works well enough for the tune. As a result, though, the song becomes one of the few of the round that I would classify as "funny" or "novel", which I think ended up working against BYD in the voting. It was like a Weird Al track showing up in the Song of the Year category in the AMAs (hmm, that would be awesome). The general style of the track reminds me of something from a Quentin Tarantino flick. I think a big finish (crescendo, more instruments and/or percussion) at the end would have been cool.

Favorite musical element:
Subtle vocal vibrato on the chorus and the harmonies/ "Ahhhhs" in the background.

This is probably the song with the loosest connection to rain, aside from "tears falling down like rain" and the play on words in the title, there's not much precipitation going on here. As far as the vocal/instrumental element the somewhat plinky piano solo is a serviceable enough imitation of rain.

In the end it just seems like the song needs something more. There's nothing wrong with it (so long as your onboard with an Elvis pastiche), really, and it's fairly amusing. It just doesn't leave much of a lasting impression.

Ian "Two Shades" Johnson - "Downpour"

Like his sometimes-collaborator Taryn Miller, Ian's song is more literally about rain than a lot of the other entries. Where in many other cases the rain is a metaphor or a backdrop for what the song is -really- about, Ian's tune is about rain as a force of cleansing and renewal. Yep, it is the somewhat rare optimistic and uplifting indie/college/lofi rock tune.

Favorite lyrical element:
"My socks are cold and damp, but the grass is green and bright/
The sun is breaking through the clouds and it’s a beautiful sight"
...is a good example of the imagery that winds throughout the song.

The recording is definitely what you would classify as "lofi" but still pretty clean, not any of the crackles or buzzes that you might normally associate with the word. Aside from the doubled vocals and the rain element you could almost be fooled into thinking this was done live (a positive in this case). The acoustic guitar in particular sounds great--warm and clearly audible but never too big (the fact that it is mostly doubling the vocal melody during the verses helps).

If Ian were to ever add anything to the recording the only thing I'd suggest is getting another vocalist to do the doubling/harmony part. There's really nothing wrong with it as is, but I've never been a fan of the whole "harmonizing with myself" thing. Even Tori Amos can't get away with it indefinitely. File under "extremely minor nitpick".

Favorite musical element:
The bridge is a perfect example of what a bridge is supposed to do--the storytelling is altered slightly and the dynamic of the song shifts. The vocal/guitar/"thunder" crescendo is fantastic.

As stated, the song could be taken to be quite literally about rain (works as a metaphor too). Ian also had my favorite method of meeting the rain challenge, with creative use of blowing into the mic, tapping the guitar, shifting objects around, etc. etc. It's present pretty much throughout the song but never gets in the way.

After the multiple listens required writing this review, Ian's is probably now my favorite track.

Bobby "BucketHat" Matheson - "Forget About The Rain”

A transcript of a "conversation" between a guy who doesn't want to fix some tiling and his wife/girlfriend/roommate. I imagine it's quite relatable to almost anyone whose shared a house with a significant other (alas, I haven't). Bobby has an enviable ability to write songs that are fun (and funny) but don't go so far as being goofy or completely novel because of a firm root in reality ("Working Man's Noose" from Song Fu 4 Round 1 would be another) and "Forget About the Rain" is a fine example.

Favorite lyrical element:
"I said I'd fix the goddamn tiling.."
Rarely have I heard a more memorable and scene-setting first line.

Acoustic guitar and voice. The acoustic part is favorably comparable to "Tom Cruise Crazy" by Jonathan Coulton. Bobby's vocal might be the most clearly audible and understandable of this round, and is fittingly conversational. The "drip-track" serves as sort of ad hoc percussion but isn't perfectly in time so it never sounds like it's just a metronome.

Favorite musical element:
Bobby's vocal delivery communicates the frustration of the situation but still keeps things light. They stylistic choices he makes are all the correct ones.

Bobby has maybe one of the more roundabout methods of connecting the song to rain--really it's about something broken that can't be fixed. Oh, but it can't because of the rain. Ah, I see what you did there, Mr. Matheson. Never mind.... The drip track is really just water dripping though.... oh, water that was probably rain a few minutes prior. You know what, full marks for challenge.

A song about getting nagged by your girlfriend maybe doesn't encourage the strongest emotional attachment, but, what the hell, I like it anyway. Bobby is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite Fu'ers, and this was one of the nearest misses for a vote from me this round.

Kylie Petto - "Robby"

"Robby" is one of the most personal songs I can recall coming from Song Fu. Instead of trying to explain it, here's what Kylie
said on her YouTube video:
"After countless days of thinking out my lyrics (there were so many directions to go) I decided to write my song about my older brother, Robby. Robby had an aneurysm when he was very young and is now severely special needs."
I didn't originally have the background information on this song and I admit I thought it was somewhere in the vein of an overdramatic Evanescence-style breakup song. Occasionally, I'm really happy to be so completely and utterly wrong about something.

Minus one layer of the bitter, cynical shell I've been growing since my junior year of high school I was able to relate rather strongly to these lyrics or at least form my own interpretation that may or may not be what Kylie was intending.

I have a nephew who is special needs and when I'm with him I often feel a sense of complete frustration (if not sadness) that there is a completely different person under his exterior who basically just isn't able to make himself known. It comes out in small ways... well, anyway, that's a different blog post. Point is, it is almost exactly like the feelings Kylie describes in this song. Hats off, Ms. Petto.

Favorite lyrical element:
"This won't be the first time I've seen the edge / So close to taking a step / And falling into you"
See above.

I could be (and probably am) wrong but this sounds a bit like some of it was recorded on an analog 4-track. There is a hiss/"air" noise at the beginning of the recording that reminds me of the good 'old days of magnetic tape. This isn't actually a gripe as I think it gives the whole recording a sort of space, not dissimilar to reverbing the whole track.

There is some really quite impressive/technical guitar playing on this track--I like the musical ideas being presented but I'm not completely sold on the tone at times--occasionally it gets a little too "solid state and/or 80s metal" for me. But I'm an all-tube-all-the-time snob which is probably obstructively elitist in this day and age (the Age of Line 6).

Last but not least are the vocals and they are quite impressive. Kylie's got some pipes, no two ways about that. Unfortunately they are a little low in the mix at times making it necessary to strain a bit to make out all lyrics. Not much else to say really, although I could definitely hear some harmonies in this one. The recording sounds nice and full as is but a few well-placed harmonies or countermelodies could make it huge.

Favorite musical element:
Not to steal any thunder from Kylie's singing, the guitars really are rather expertly layered, and the lead guitar interludes throughout the tune really making things rock (always impressive when there isn't bass or drums). It just needs a tube amp next time. (Kidding. Mostly.)

Like Boffo Yux Dudes' tune this one does have a pretty tenuous link to rain. Rain is mentioned plenty of times but always as a metaphor, although the song's "setting" (in as much as a song can have one) does seem to be in an oncoming storm. And it's not like Song Fu challenges aren't open ended in this regard. Does "about rain" mean "can't be a metaphor"? Well, before I get into a very meta discussion about Song Fu "rules" I think I'll move on to the rain element. There is definitely thunder, represented by distorted/delayed/reverbed electric guitar, which is very nice. What is representing actual rain is debatable, but I like the steady 8th note figure played on (I think?) clean electric that runs throughout most of the song.

The subject matter struck a chord (see what I did there) with me and I think Kylie's voice could carry the tune even without the impressive guitar work. I’d still like to hear it with a full band sometime.

Caleb Hines - "The Water Cycle"

Caleb's entry this time around is one big extended metaphor relating the ups and downs of life to the water cycle.

Favorite lyrical element:
I found the lyrics to be clever and serviceable to the narrative of the song throughout, although the extended extended metaphor is starting to stretch a bit by the end. In the 2nd verse the following appears:
"You are euphoric, and you’re floating in the clouds and in the sun,
You’re proud of all the things that you have done.
But then it seems you’re up against a wall,
And soon you feel yourself begin to fall,"
For whatever reason this amused me in relation to the old "pride comes before a fall" adage.

Caleb's vocals are suffering from some production woes on this track (new microphone) which makes his lisp more noticeable, which in turn distracts from the well-written lyrics (there is a re-recording of the vocals on Caleb's bandcamp (HERE) where these issues have been at least partially addressed). The instruments and the arrangement are well done, and Caleb probably has the most eclectic mix of instruments in this round, including bass, recorder, piano, ukulele, and probably a couple of things I'm missing, and at no point does anything step on the vocal. For any gripes I might have about the lead vocal, the background vocals during the chorus are very well done and support the melody well.

Favorite musical element:
Never thought I'd be saying "I really like the recorder!" (I didn't even like it when Led Zeppelin did it) but it effectively glues all the other elements of the song together.

Disregarding the "metaphor" thing that I've already harped on enough, the song quite definitely doesn't work if you remove rain from the equation. To represent rain Caleb uses an upper register piano figure.

Ultimately this tune was a little too sweet to find its way on to my iPod, but Mr. Hines has a talent for bringing something unique to the Fu table and I look forward to future entries.

Denise Hudson - "Rain"

Composed at the last minute (okay, well, last three hours) from a number of disparate elements, Denise brings us another vaguely menacing piano ballad with a healthy injection of Southern soul. I'm not really sure what it's about; (and honestly if you're the type of listener who demands your songs be delivered in the form of a linear story Denise Hudson is probably not for you. Another reviewer described her as "weird" [okay], they also presented this as negative [I disagreed]) but I'll say it's about a person who continuously tries to "reach out" in an extroverted fashion only to retreat within themselves again.

Favorite lyrical element:
It's pretty abstract from go, which, as mentioned, I like, but my favorite line is probably:
"There's water everywhere / are we gonna drink it? / Gulp it down like we mean it / I don't believe you can't see it clearly"
Vocals and piano for this one, and both are as expressive as you like. Some of Denise's recordings have taken some flack for being basically "excessively dynamic"; There is definitely a lot of quietLOUDquiet in this track but it never gets so dramatic as to be jarring (which was a common complaint I heard for "Queen Christina" from SF 4). This is another tune I could easily hear in a movie soundtrack (probably something film noir, if anybody's still making those). My esteemed editor referenced Denise's voice on this track as "hot" and I'm inclined to agree. I might even go so far as "smoky". Enjoyable, in any event.

Favorite musical element:
The piano playing, particularly around the "there's water everywhere" sections.

Denise is probably the Song Fu contestant who I would say is the closest to truly "experimental" both in terms of music and lyrics. I think this experiment was a success and definitely a front runner for my "sixth vote" this round.

Gorbzilla - "Freezing Rain"

This guy is having a bad day, again and again (and again, yeah...), and the lady he was trying to woo left him for a weather man. Also, he seems to be stuck in the "Groundhog Day Scenario" and there is some freezing rain happening in the vicinity.

Favorite lyrical element:
"...man, I hate that weatherman..."
Gorbzilla uses a classic "power trio" type setup for "Freezing Rain". The vocals are fine as far as pitch and audibility, and the background vocals during the "Everyday" part offer some much needed dynamic variation. As far as the bass, guitar, and drum, they sound like they might be looped (chorus section, verse section), or at least there is very little variation across the tune.

I'm not crazy about the guitar tone, maybe it's just a little too low in the mix but I can't really make out clear notes very well.

I REALLY shouldn't be one to complain about song length, but, meh, here I go: the track goes on around a minute longer than seems necessary, even allowing for a couple of extra choruses to highlight the persistent nature of the narrator's predicament.

The song is about a guy standing in a freezing rain storm (apparently waiting for a phone call for at least part of the song). I believe the somewhat heavy cymbals are intended to represent the rain.

Gorbzilla is usually one of my favorite Fu competitors ("March of the Geeks" might be my favorite non-serious, non-Master Song Fu track, actually) but, as you might have guessed from my sparse review, there just wasn't much in this entry that got my attention, good or bad.

Jutze Schult - "Kingdom of Rain"

Jutze spins a fable/fairy tale about the line of succession for the titular Kingdom. With a surprise ending! There might also be a moral in there somewhere...

Favorite lyrical element:
Well, maybe I'm reading Jutze's intent completely wrong here, but if there IS a moral it seems to be this: often times the best person for a particular job doesn't want to touch said job with a standard issue ten foot pole.

While the three sons are doing their best to impress Dad, the princess decides that the only sensible thing to do is to get out of the country, thus proving she's probably got the most sense and determination of all of them. Then again maybe it's just a story and there wasn't necessarily a point. Whatever, I guess the point is the lyrics made me think, which I enjoy.

This is another voice-and-guitar number. The acoustic guitar sounds quite nice and is played with confidence which gives the track a more driving feeling than you might expect from something that fits under the rough stylistic heading of "folk".
There is also some occasional synth "ear candy" which I'm not sure if I like or not. It's like somebody go sci-fi in my fantasy, or something. Well, anyway.

Favorite musical element:
The modulation to a major chord for the last note. I thought it was a clever ending.

Other than a brief mention of rain in the first verse and in relation to one of the sons, there's really not much connecting rain to the central narrative. Sure, it's the name of the Kingdom, but it could have as easily been the Kingdome of Maine, or Spain or On the Plain. I'm also not sure what is supposed to represent rain in the vocal/instrumental maybe the shaker? All of that said it doesn't really effect my enjoyment of the song, in fact if I didn't have a section marked "THE CHALLENGE" in these reviews I wouldn't have noticed.

Another solid one from the man who I believe has been in more rounds of Song Fu than anyone (and is also crazy enough to write reviews almost every round). It didn't grab me quite enough for a vote initially, but it has grown on me with repeated listens.

Leigh & Hoover - "Summer Rain"

I'm borrowing the description from Leigh & Hoover's web site for this one:
"We had hoped for some form of Valentine's Day challenge. So when we heard that our challenge was to write a song about rain, we decided to make it a romantic encounter... two lovers meet for the first time as they take shelter from a storm at the beach."
Favorite lyrical element:
"Perhaps a bit of kismet / Blessed are the powers that be /In that ever magic moment / That captured you and me"
-- Kismet! Not a word that just everybody manages to work into their songs. I appreciate a good vocabulary.

The arrangement and recording is done in the style of a smash hit piano ballad from the 1970s (think Elton John.. I would also say to think of certain piano-driven Eagles tunes, but I have been assured my multiple people that I'm wrong about this, so I won’t). Anyway, if "smash hit piano ballad from the '70s" sounds good to you, you are most likely going to love this song. Personally it's not really the kind of style I get into. Both the piano and the vocals are delivered with musicality and feeling. The only other instrument I can identify is hi-hat, which provides a sense of forward motion and time. To complete the association with 70s pop, the song ends via fading out during the chorus.

Favorite musical element:
Dave's vocals (lead and background) sell the song well, and his piano playing is also impressive.

"Summer Rain" is one of the best examples of rain being "central to the narrative". The rain element is well integrated into the song and managed to sound "cozy" in as much as sampled rain and thunder can.

It's probably just my knuckleheaded rock guitarist self talking but I've never been the biggest fan of piano pop. The whole presentation, somewhat like Caleb's tune, is well done but ultimately just a little too pretty for me. That said, this is an impressive first Fu entry from Leigh & Hoover and suggests a lot of great things to come.

COMMON LISP - "Polly Loves The Rain"

Paul R. Potts (with a little help from SF5 master Joe "Covenant" Lamb) spins us a yarn about a proton who has been a lot of places and seen a lot of things. (Amusingly enough, Caleb Hines' song could be about Polly! Neat coincidences...)

Favorite lyrical element:
Pretty much all the lyrics to this one are highly creative, but the "Yeah... the one we live on." part makes me smile every time. "Suck on that, Al Gore" is a close second.

Common Lisp brings some of the most elaborate, interesting, and clean production to the table this round, which lends even more to the "sci-fi" feel of the track. The percussion and bass keep the spoken-word verses moving and grooving. The synth melody in the chorus is nice. Honestly I could do without the second vocal part in the chorus until the "rain/plain/Spain" part, the harmonies there are very nice. I like the big, ringing guitar chords and harmonics.

Favorite musical element:
Recruiting Mr. Lamb was a good (if unfair--just kidding) move. Two voices will pretty much always be better than one voice harmonizing with itself and this track serves as proof.

The song really isn't about rain; but it is about an anthropomorphic proton who very much enjoys rain and the water cycle. The instrumental element representing rain is big guitar harmonics (which also happen during the "rain" part of the chorus, which was a nice touch).

I'm usually not too big on spoken word songs, which is probably the final reason I didn't quite have a vote left for "Polly", but I have a feeling this one is going to be on my iPod longer than a lot of the other songs from this round, for one simple reason: it's -fun-.

Glen Raphael - "Can't See the Sky"

Glen's lyrics remind me a bit of Godz Poodlz's entry; rain as a sort of companion to misery in the absence of a loved one. The B section of the song, likewise, reminds me of Ian Johnson's entry with rain as a positive, renewing force. Multiple perspectives: a good thing!

Favorite lyrical element:
The bridge (or B section, I guess, you'd have to ask Glen which he'd prefer). The line about drops joining together like "you were joined to me" is clever and adds some optimism to what could be a somewhat bleak lyric.

Probably the quirkiest production this round... the recording is based around acoustic guitar and lead vocal with some darn excellent backing harmonies, but a number of other instruments show up for a measure (or even a few beats) at several different times during the song never to appear again (distorted electric, mandolin, something during the second bridge I can't identify.. might be vocals.. anyway). The dual guitars and mandolin are often out of sync with each other which makes me think that some kind of percussion (a shaker would have been fine) or a bass part would have helped to build the foundation of the song. Luckily the instruments are really just there to support the vocals and the vocals are quite good throughout. The vocal intro, while being one of the more clever ways of fulfilling the rain requirement, might strike a listener as a kind of bizarre way to start the track out. It's not in any particular key or time until the second "pitter patter" when the harmonies swoop in and it's a somewhat disorienting way to start the song. Anyway, a minor nitpick, after the first listen it didn't bother me at all because I was expecting it. Glen also does a good job of saying everything he needs to say and ending the song, it clocks in at exactly two minutes but doesn't feel too short or incomplete.

Favorite musical element:
Definitely the harmonies. There isn't a single bad or weak one that I could hear.

The rain element is represented in the vocal at the beginning (I believe Glen was the only contestant to go the vocal route) and some sound effect type rain at different points in the song.

It was a good round for first time contestants and Glen was no exception. I'd like to hear the instrumentation a little structured next time, but otherwise no complaints.

Inverse T. Clown - "Sexy in the Rain"

Inverse brings us a remarkably tame love song that involves the inherent aesthetic appeal of a lady in the rain. I'll admit, being familiar with some of Inverse's repertoire, I was surprised there wasn't a plot twist in which he revealed one or all of the following: a) that her sister is way hotter, b) he actually thinks she's a whore, c) he's about to kill her for insurance money etc. etc. but this didn't actually detract from my enjoyment of the track.

Favorite lyrical element:
The chorus. The lyrical hook is simple and memorable.

Well, I’ve already went into fairly length conversations with Inverse himself on how I feel about fully MIDI recordings so I’ll just say anything completely synthetic that isn’t consciously “electronic” music (such as Zer0guy’s entry) is probably going to have an uphill battle getting a vote out of me. Occasionally it does work pretty well. The bridge reminds me, in a positive way, of some pop songs from the early ‘80s.

Moving past that, Inverse’s vocals are solid, but restrained (it’s likely he was recording this very late at night and volume was a concern). It works well enough for the song but a little more variation (or maybe some harmonies/countermelodies) would have been welcome.

Favorite musical element:
In a couple of verses there is a piano (at least, I think it’s piano) part that sneaks its way into the mix and plays a simple little melody.

“Sexy on the train” might have worked, but it wouldn’t have been as pretty. There is a brief rain sample at the end and the piano part I mentioned above (or several other instrumental parts) could easily satisfy the vocal/instrumental rain element.

Like my esteemed editor, in the end it just seems like the song is missing something. Maybe an extended bridge would have done it, or some more variation in the vocal department. Inverse is a gifted songwriter, and I would like to challenge the internet at large to find him a band. (Probably would be a good idea for them to be able to read music.)

Jeff MacDougall – “Beautiful Day”

“Beautiful Day” is a simple but fun song written to Jeff’s wife, Jackie (everybody say “Awww…”), that suggests going out to play in the rain is a better idea than traditionally thought.

Favorite lyrical element:
“When it’s falling down / From the sky / Makes me high..”
Some of the best production this round came from this short-but-sweet, happy little tune. The drums are probably tied for the best of the round with Mike Lombardo. The bass is rock solid, and the guitar is suitably jangly. The synth (?) solo breaks up the tune nicely. The whole thing emanates fun and cheerfulness really (“ooh la la” background vocals? Check), so, unless you’re one those weird people who doesn't like fun…

Favorite musical element:
The strong drum beat during the “Happy… Jackie..” sections is exactly the kind of thing I would have in my own songs if I had a real drummer.

At least one whole verse would make no sense whatsoever without rain, and it’s a short song so one verse is a lot. Using the synth for the rain element was fun, but if the “and the rain goes:” lyric was omitted I probably wouldn’t realize it was supposed to be the rain.

We haven’t seen Jeff in Song Fu since SF3, close to a year ago, and it’s good to have him back.

Whew. Okay, still here? Good. First, I wanted to apologize that this review took so long to get out to you. I’m going to try to avoid writing any more reviews that are completely irrelevant by the time they come out, like reading a review for Avatar in 2012.

Second, please let me know what you liked and didn’t like about this review in the comments section, or on twitter (@travisnorris), or email (travis DOT norris AT gmail DOT com), or the TMA chat room (I go by Governing Dynamics) or anywhere else on the Series of Tubes that you may find me. If anyone finds it helpful, entertaining, or otherwise a force for good in the universe I’d like to know. If –nobody- finds it helpful, entertaining, or otherwise a force for good in the universe, I’m probably not going to bother writing another. ;)

-Travis Norris

Editors Note:
As with Sammy's reviews, this review does not represent the opinions of myself. I am grateful to have people like Sammy & Travis do these reviews. So do me a favor, and leave feedback below. It only takes a second to post a comment, and Travis put a lot of work into this. Thank you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cupidz Bow - A Halo Love Song

The Travis Norris review is done...but it's like 15 pages long. I don't have time to edit it tonight, so expect it Tuesday around 1AM.

This song by Godz Poodlz inspires love & mass killings. Godz Poodlz is made up of Russ Rogers & Rhod Durre. The video was made by Joe "Covenant" Lamb & the Halo Poodlz at the end were created by Amy Fox Mcleod, based on designs by Len Peralta.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

We Are The World (YouTube Edition)

Honestly I like the YouTube version best...I mean they didn't let trash like T-Pain get involved. There's a ton of YouTube star power in this video. Frank Bell makes an appearance, and you can see my interview with him HERE. Meghan Tonjes is also in this video, and you'll be seeing her in season 2 of "Spintown Interviews...".

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Song Fight Review: Please Stop

The last challenge over at Song Fight was titled "Let's Get Bloody", and I predicted that Ross Durand would win. Or at least that was my favorite entry. Well I was wrong, and Torrentz got the win. Both produced good tracks, and I think I had Torrentz ranked at 4th. There's a whole new batch of songs over at Song Fight, so I suggest you go pick your favorite songs for the current round. My picks are listed below:

Voted For:
(Right Click "Save As" on the artist's name for a MP3 of their entry.)

Ross Durand - I'm going to start sounding like a Ross Rurand fanboy. But he's been on a hot streak lately, in my opinion at least. A simple, well wrote, well performed song that is just fun to listen to.

Christopher Cogott - Catchy, well produced, and I'll probably end up playing this more then any other song from this round. I find myself lip syncing to it half the time it's playing.

Tobin's Spirit Guide - Fun song that most people will relate to at multiple points. The pissed off rant & the instrumental section (1:47-2:27) didn't really fit the rest of the song, and really changed the overall feel that I was enjoying. Overall great, but the mood changer I mentioned really bugged me since I was diggin' light & fun version of the rant.

Mister Mann - Interesting duet of sort, but I had to really concentrate to follow along. Just felt like a cross between a song & a tennis match. Enjoyable, but my neck is starting to hurt from my attention being jerked from side to side.

Architects Of Desire - Very relaxing & sweet tune. Enjoyed the vocals.

(Head over to Song Fight to listen to these songs.)

Jeff Robertson and the Neo-Candylanders - Funny story, and the music was corky & fun.

State Shirt - I understood the vocals this time, even though a few times it was difficult. Very relaxing.

State Shirt
He always makes cool videos for his entries...

Jonathan Mann
His entry is also his "Song A Day" #405.

Side Notes:
Overall this was the best Song Fight round I've listened to so far. I still hate the instrumentals, and some of the entries were utter crap, but over half the songs were enjoyable this time around. Well done Song Fighters.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's The Day

Spintown News:
Yesterday was a good day for Spintown. Mainly because I got a video from Meghan Tonjes for an upcoming episode of "Spintown Interviews...". Besides being an awesome singer, Meghan is the most "YouTube famous" individual I've managed to interview yet. So thank you Meghan for helping out one of the little guys.

On Twitter today @nalts (yes that Nalts) dared Zach Scott to subject himself to a Sammy Kablam review. I don't know if Sammy will be doing anything like that, but he should be getting a new camera soon, and I'm looking forward to an upcoming project he has planned.

I updated ALL the pages of Spintown today, so click the buttons at the top of the page for whatever you're interested in.

Today's The Day
Jeff MacDougall (TMA co-founder) is the latest person to cover Inverse T. Clown's song. Who do you think will be next? I'm thinking Godz Poodlz???? Oh, and you can watch my interview with Jeff HERE.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


An Unfair And One-Sided Review
by Sammy Kablam

Fight: Let's Get Bloody

All right! We've moved on from the inexplicable "Road To Hana" challenge that had no clear-cut meaning, and onto a normal, universally understood phrase. And with the return of a widely recognizable concept comes, too, the return of an average number of contestants! Equal portions "hooray" and "fuck". So, let's roll up our sleeves and see who amongst us is truly the Bloodiest of All.

Scrap Heap

First, I suggest managing your levels; your music was kinda drowning out your vocals. I could make out most of them, but I had to focus to do so, instead of just listening. Secondly, let's talk about your music. As far as I'm concerned, the only guy who can get away with making a song limited to three chords is Tom Petty. Your little number here just doesn't cut it. And as if the redundancy of the chords wasn't enough, you have no hook: your chorus is the exact same thing as your chorus. You do a higher second chord and your drum beat simplifies, but it's the same thing. This sharp, nearly incesant repetativeness makes it very difficult to keep up the strength to stay focused on your lyrics. And when I do finally make it thru to the end? Well, this IS no end. It just stops. But, to be honest, I'm neither surprised nor complaining. There really wasn't enough creativity put into this to exect an ending, and I have no qualms with it being over as suddenly as possible.

The Weakest Suit

Your music's not bad this time. And I really do appreciate what you did with the challenge phrase. But I swear, I really have no idea what you're doing with your vocals. I can understand them, don't get me wrong. But they're fairly redundant -- not as bad as Scrap Heap's music, of course, but redundant nonetheless -- and the distortion kills me. It kinda sounds like you're singing thru a telephone. I will say, this is a pretty big advancement from your Road to Hana, and in relative terms, I'm impressed. But it still comes with a heavy sigh.

Jonathan Mann

There are so many things going on here, I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to get from this song. Frogs and fiends and ancient Rome...and let's get bloody. I have no idea. And I don't just mean the lyrics, the music is very odd. Not bad, really, just...odd. I don't know what the tone is supposed to be, and the lyrics are so damn strange, I have no idea what message you're trying to get across. I keep hearing all these great things about you and your work; I hope to echo them eventually.

Baby Jaguar

Ladies and gentlemen, our first Disappointment of the evening. The musical intro had me listening with genuine interest. "This could be nice," I thought to myself. Then the intro just kept going. Then the lyrics started, and lo and behold, it's T-Pain on valium. Can't understand a word, and it's such a "god dammit" moment, that I'm not going to bother trying.

The Hell Yeahs

Well...your music was alright. And your vaocals weren't as big a let down as Baby Jaguar's, because I could hear most of what you said. However -- and this is just a suggestion -- but if you're going to do a song about wanting to get into a fist fight, you might want to sound less like Spongebob Squarepants. Doesn't strike me as threatening.

Flvxxvm Florvm

...Would you like a lozenge? Half your music is fine, then--you know what? I can't listen to this. Damn, man. I'm sorry, but that's just a horrible noise.

As I was saying, before turning off your crap, half your music is fine, but then you start following the "melody" (I think) with what sounds to be a synth of some kind, and it really takes away from the whole. I mean, your shitty voice is the deal breaker. But minus that, that weird synth element takes away from the music, itself. I dunno what to tell you, really, except that sometimes less is more, and this was one of those times. Or maybe just use a different sound, or something. Or just...stop writing music.

The Big Let-Down

Turn up your vocals.

Internet Famous

When your song started, I thought a very defeated "What the hell?" But when the mix started to fill out, I started feeling a little better. I can only hear half of what you say, but I get the general idea. It's pleasantly dark, but... I dunno. Not for me, I guess. It's very easy to tune out the vocals, and then it's just a weird ass beat mix. To be clear, there's nothing inherently bad about being weird. I just don't see a lot of repeat business on this one.

Mister Mann

Music is fantastic. It feels like it's somewhere between Duran Duran and Broadway. Take that how you will, I guess. I do think your vocals could be louder, or at least clearer, at the chorus; the piano hits tend to overwhelm them just a little bit. But I really can't say anything bad about this one. I'd like it to be a little longer, but at this point, I'll take whatever goodness I can get.


I was skeptical as soon as I saw your name -- I didn't even want to type it into my review. Admittedly, the song isn't nearly as bad as I expected -- it's not even the style I expected. I was kind of blindsided by the late 80s half-rap techno pop. I hope you recorded this in legwarmers, with all your hair ponytailed to the left side of your head. In a scrunchie. Anyway, the song itself, for being what it is, isn't bad. It's not exactly a genre I'd long to break into, but then again, I wasn't a huge Chumbawumba fan. But, other than teasing you about your style, there's not a whole lot I can complain about here. So, I guess...well done.

Jon Eric

This is written fairly well. But the presentation seems really sloppy. I dunno what it is, but it just doesn't feel very...tight, I guess. I like it, I think it could be a pretty cool tune, but it just doesn't feel very cohesive. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, that's fine, because I can't really explain what I'm trying to say. In fact, you should probably just ignore this entire thing, because I really doubt it'll do you any good in the long run, and I'm going to forget about it by the time I get to Anni Albers Quilts.

Anni Albers Quilts

How very 60s pop. But I don't like 60s pop, and that's the only thing about this song that stands out. Which means I don't have anything to else to say.

Berkeley Social Scene

This isn't bad, per se, but it's definitely forgettable. And amongst a collection of songs, as it currently is, it's very easily passed by. Not sure exactly what tone or feeling you were going for, but it's really kinda dull.


I get a very Insane Clown Posse feeling from this. And to me, that's good; I don't like much rap, but this particular style is A-O.k. by me. Also on the plus side, your verses are great -- not just written well, but, unlike other artists, I can hear everything you're saying. But the rhythm of your hook is really throwing me off. It just doesn't feel right. It totally throws me off--and this is at least the second time I've had a problem with your hook. I don't know if the beat actually changes, or if it's just the way the vocals are working, but I can't manage to keep the beat. Other than that, this might be the first rap song I've heard here that qualifies as "Not Bad".

Ross Durand

Another excellent offering. Clearly the absolute best of the bunch, both the music and the story fit the challenge -- and you did it without feeling the need to be depressing or "scary". I really wonder if the contestants here actually listen to each others' songs, because there are some who would really benefit from listening to and trying to emulate Ross Durand.

Cthkinny Kitten

So, we get sucked thru a wormhole into a universe of angry slam metal. Interesting. Oooh, and a static voice is narrating a morbid tragedy. I'm guessing the message here is "Don't trust anyone because everyone in the world hates you and wants to see you dead". At least that's not tired or cliche, or anything like that. Of course, to be fair, neither is sarcasm. Speaking of fairness, your melody was actually alright and the music, for what it is, is fine. Might consider easing up on the unnecessary static effects on the vocals, though.

Jayne Dreams of Thornfield

Hahahaha. So, I'm sitting here, writing this damn review, and your song has started. And it's fine. And then you started singing. And you sounded like Mumbles from "Dick Tracy" on a Helium binge. Let me stop laughing and start it over.

"I'm thirty apples / moose hot stop man flight"
"We hate the ground beavers / Hiss moon being my dolls"
Seriously laughing so hard my stomach hurts. There is no way I'm going to understand this. O.k., I understood about half of your chorus. Then we go back to singing with a mouthful of glue. Good lord, I'm crying. This is too much. My advice: find a vocalist. Because judging by the tone of your music, I shouldn't be laughing like this.

State Shirt

For a moment, I thought maybe my stereo was on drugs. Then I realized it was probably me. But no! I, too, was sober! Which makes me wonder why I'm hearing your song as if it was produced by a pod of humpback whales. Curious, indeed. There might be a niche for this kind of weirdness, but seeing as how I couldn't understand what your little-girl-in-the-television voices were saying, I don't even know if you met the challenge. Just don't go touring in Japan; you may not make it back.


Man...I really hate ending my reviews like this. This is about as bland as bland can be. It's not poorly done, mind you; I'm not saying it's BAD. It's just...really generic. And uninteresting. I guess the best I can say, really, is "This didn't totally suck".

Well, we ended on another anti-climactic kneecapper, but that's generally the expectation. I think, for the most part, the bloodiest things here are my ear drums. And I think I got an ulcer. But, it's finally over. "Good job" to those who did a good job, and to everyone else, please: take considerable heed of the next prompt.

Until then,
S. Kablam

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too Far Away

Here's a great original song from Anna Pesut. Go subscribe to this girl, she's made of awesome.

Nowhere Slow
Dylan Galvin posted a new original a few days ago.

Every Breath You Take
Nick Goldston decided to do a cover of a Police song.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spintown Interviews...Sarah LaMantia

Sarah LaMantia is a talented singer songwriter who is slowly building a large fan base on YouTube by regularly posting great piano covers of popular music.

Music By: Sammy Kablam
Opening Animation By: "Buckethat" Bobby Matheson
Len Peralta Will Flip Your Face At: Flip Face
I'm going to keep an up to date playlist of all the interviews I do HERE.

Sarah's Profile:
YouTube Channel: SarEliz0131
Joined YouTube: February 01, 2007
Channel Views: 233,743
Total Upload Views: 1,724,005
Subscribers: 15,776
Sarah's Main Site: http://www.sarahlamantia.com/
Sarah's Twitter: @SarahLaMantia
Sarah's MySpace: SarahLaMantia
Sarah's Facebook: SarahLaMantia

Before He Cheats
As mentioned in the interview, this is Sarah's appearance on "Maury" singing a Carrie Underwood song.

Sarah teams up with another big YouTube star (Alyssa Bernal) for this John Mayer cover.

Stupid Boy
Opening for Kellie Pickler, Sarah sings a Keith Urban song.

Hanson 2 x 2
1. One More
2. Carry You There
3. Penny & Me
4. Weird

Underneath was Sarah's first YouTube video...and of course it's a Hanson cover.

2 x 2 Covers
1. Outta Here (Esmee Denters cover)
2. Love Story (Taylor Swift cover)
3. The Climb (Miley Cyrus cover)
4. I'm Yours (Jason Mraz cover)

7 More Awesome Covers
1. Fireflies (Owl City cover)
2. Use Somebody (Kings Of Leon cover)
3. Apologize (One Republic cover)
4. Torn (Natalie Imbruglia cover)
5. Heal The World (Michael Jackson cover)
6. Heaven (Bryan Adams cover)
7. White Horse (Talor Swift cover)
(White Horse is currently Sarah's most watched video.)