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Friday, June 24, 2011

Noah McLaughlin Reviews SpinTunes 3 Round 1

As most of you know I follow another songwriting contest called Song Fight. It's a lot different than SpinTunes, and there are things I like & dislike about it. Overall it's a great site, and it's got a great community that centers around the Song Fight forums. One of the things I really like about the community is that they review each other. When a new fight is uploaded a review thread is started, and anyone is welcome to post reviews. I know you all like getting feedback, and I'd suggest that if you want more of it, you should give more of it.

Noah McLaughlin (Song Fighter) wrote up some reviews today, and decided to send them to me. Being new to SpinTunes, he was probably a little unsure of what to do with them, so he gave them to me. If anyone wants to review round 1 (or future rounds) you have 2 options.

1. You can post them in the comments of the Round 1 Songs post over on SpinTunes.

2. You can post them on your own website, and send me the link. I will then post a link to the reviews in the Round 1 Songs post.

I'll stop the rambling now...onto Noah's reviews of SpinTunes 3 Round 1. Remember, these are Noah's opinions, and do not reflect the views of Spintown.

Noah's Review:
Objectivity is a myth in criticism of any kind - music, movies, politics or which value meal you’re going to buy. I don’t pretend to hold songs to any golden standard or single ideal. The following are more lists of what strikes me as I listen, good (+++), bad (---) and otherwise (///). My personal reactions are the point of departure for these reviews and I’m happy to develop my ideas via email if you have questions: njm148 ‘round yahoo way.

I’ve treated normal and shadow songs alike. Reviews are arranged in alphabetical order for ease of finding your individual entry. (Bands by first name, individuals by last).

Just an open question: why are so many men killing off women (or wishing their women were dead)? Seriously:

Bryan Blocker & the Offbeats
Inverse T. Clown
Governing Dynamics
Eric Haldeen
Caleb Hines
Ethan Ivey
Bryce Jensen (this is a toss up, since the victim’s gender is unspecified)

6 1/2 songs out of 37 is a not-insignificant number.

Bryan Blocker & The Offbeats
+++ 100% channelling Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave is a fast way to win with me +++
+++ great way to make such a very dark take musically “happy” +++
/// the feminist in me does have some reservations about the lyric - what DID she do to make her hate her so? ///

The Boffo Yux Dudes
--- talking vox and fake snarkiness ---
+++ guitar tone +++
--- gets samey ---

Mike Bordet
+++ LOL chorus +++
--- ew chorus ending; i have to go wash out my brain now ---
/// verse vox are a little hot; pull back the gain ///

Luke Brekke, Esquire
--- bad mic = muddy vox prone to popped plosives ---
--- boring synth sounds ---
--- obvious glossing of lyric meaning isn’t witty ---

Alex Carpenter
+++ RAWK !!!! +++
+++ unsettling story +++
/// the only thing this doesn’t have going for it is that it isn’t happy ///
+++ nice step-up for the chorus +++
--- last verse loses the prosody ---

Chris Cogott
+++ rock +++
+++ nice change of aural pace / tone from the intro to the verse +++
+++ channels the Beach Boys for the chorus +++
+++ nice: mermaids without the usual pirate references +++

Common Lips
+++ nice military tone with the music +++
--- off-key, uncertain vox kill the complicated harmonies you’re looking for ---

Brian Daniell
/// live recording is an interesting aesthetic choice ///
/// this would be a really great duet ///
+++ fun and really nice instrumentation and arrangement +++

+++ intro +++
--- doppler vox FX is distracting ---
--- most tones sound like they’re coming from very different sonic places ---

Tally Deushane
+++ very cute idea and a fantastic punchline +++
/// i’m familiar with lots of your work from FAWM; i’d love to hear more of your stuff more fully fleshed out ///
+++ the enjambement is a nice touch … +++
--- but it’s tiring on the ear ---
/// the prechorus is rhythmically clunky ///

Ross Durand
+++ guitar tone +++
+++ toe tappin’ melody +++
+++ dynamics +++

Steve Durand
+++ great performance and arrangement: this really makes me want to dance +++
/// like Menage a Tune (see below), your melody is predictable ///
+++ break down: “shuffle off this mortal coil” +++

Emperor Gum
+++ at last, a good revenge song and from a female perspective +++
--- “again” ---
--- not really happy ---
/// bridge is ambitious but not very well realized ///

Jon Eric
+++ background vox harmonies +++
+++ only four chords +++
/// uplifting message, but not really “happy” ///
+++ Jon Eric Fake Ending [tm] +++

Gold Lion
+++ great groove +++
+++ lovely rich vox +++
--- slightly plastic tone and sloppy rhythm to the guit ---
/// neat idea but lyrically underdeveloped ///
/// this is one of those kinds of songs that you play int he background at a party: not much depth or meaning, but a good melody and nice sounds ///

Governing Dynamics
+++ guitar tones +++
+++ fantastic production values +++
+++ fun poppy tune +++
/// i would emphasize the difference of the “responding” vox more ///

Godz Poodlz
+++ jingle for a funeral home - awesome concept +++
/// alas, it’s rather long for a one-trick pony ///
--- key-change: predictable and poorly executed ---

Green Mama Bathsalts
/// reverb + EQ makes it all sound plastic ///
+++ catchy little tune +++
--- a few prosody / rhythm issues to resolve in the second verse ---

Edric Haleen
/// full up-front disclaimer: I really don’t like show tunes; they have to be awesome to wow me ///
+++ this is pretty awesome : the verse about gong out is classic +++
--- I wish this instruments weren’t so synthesized ---

--- guitar tone ---
--- bad genre mash up … ---
+++ gets much better at second verse +++
--- blatant self-reference = fail ---
+++ heavy metal is a better genre segue +++

Caleb Hines
--- another “yay my wife is dead” song ---
+++ backing choir in the chorus +++
--- nasally vox ---

Hudson And Day
+++ piano tone +++
--- this comes across as two disparate performances of the same tune ---
--- shouting on the piano vox ---

Inverse T. Clown
+++ vox harmonies +++
+++ very funny +++
/// i don’t like “i hate women” songs ///

Ethan Ivey
--- thin voice ---
--- thin instrumentation ---
/// mediocre production ///
--- another: “my wife/women is dead, let’s celebrate!” song ---

Bryce Jensen
--- another “my wife is dead song.” sort of ---
+++ wood chipper line +++

+++ HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! funniest, happiest tune in the round +++
+++ love the nicely panned and EQ’d guits +++
+++ your voice isn’t very strong, but you work it very well in this tune +++

Dr. Lindyke
/// piano-bar music ///
--- not musically happy (read: up-beat) until the very end ---
/// Johnny Cash’s “Meet me in Heaven” has you beat ///
+++ nice production +++

“Buckethat” Bobby Matheson
+++ nice melody +++
+++ good dynamics +++
+++ love the accordion +++
--- the lyric is really dumb ---

Matt And Donna
+++ back vox “aahs” & oohs” +++
+++ melody +++
--- pretty, but not really happy ---
/// very, very pretty, but i have nto idea what this is about ///

Charlie McCarron
+++ love the reverb-lush vibe +++
+++ after a close look at the lyrics, this is a tremendously moving vignette; kinda of courageous, really, in its own way +++

Noah McLaughlin
/// c’est moi ///
--- various percussion issues --- (most of which have since been fixed: http://noahmclaughlin.bandcamp.com/track/sunnydale-wake)
+++ Buffy is always awesome +++
+++ dynamics +++
/// don’t know how well the hand claps work ///

Menage a Tune
+++ the instrumentation and sinister narrative are a nice pairing +++
--- ¾ is a refreshing, but your melody is very predictable ---
/// why the harsh EQ of the vox ? ///

Heather Miller
+++ good vocal performance +++
--- bad hand clapping performance ---
/// this needs a lush, full gospel choir to back it ///

Jason Morris
+++ rock! +++
+++ chorus +++
+++ everything is awesome about this song: production, arrangement, performance, melody, prosody, appropriate approach to title and challenge. this is the definition of “Full of Win” +++

The Offhand Band
--- nasally, thin vox ---
--- nearly out-of-control music that is sloppy rather than vibrant ---
--- wordy ---
--- blatant Beatle’s rip-off rather than insightful homage ---

Pat And Gweebol
+++ lead vox are a little thick; pull back that gain and shave off the reverb +++
+++ duet! +++
+++ really great Romeo and Juliette adaptation +++

Anna P
+++ neat idea +++
--- lyrics lack prosody and a solid rhythm ---
/// why is the guitar hard-panned left? ///

Alexa Polasky
+++ breathy percussion +++
+++ i appreciate the haiku like minimalism of the verse +++
/// i would like the chorus to rock out more ///
--- outstays its welcome a little: 5:00 is long for this limited a sonic palette ---

Glen Raphael
+++ beat box & spoons +++
/// would still like a full band to kick in for the chorus ///
+++ vox harmonies +++
--- ending bits just kind of drags on ---

David Ritter
--- self-reference with the banjo; not an entire fail, but it’s pretty facile ---
+++ this is a great little tune +++
/// i know this melody from somewhere; most of it, anyway : which hymn did you use? ///

--- muddy guitar tone ---
--- out of kilter playing ---
--- melody that wanders all over the place ---

Spencer Sokol
--- it all sounds of out of tune ---
--- nasally vox ---
//// they get better when you put more “oomph” behind them ///

Matt Walton
+++ ukes are an automatically happy instrument +++
/// their simplicity demands a lot of everything else in the arrangement ///
+++ lyrics: happy melody with dark (but philosophically uplifting) ideas +++
--- the evil laught [tm] at the end is unnecessary, did you think you had to make this nice little song a joke? ---

Wait What
+++ funny title +++
--- self-reference = metafail ---
+++ chorus +++

Young Stroke aka Young Muscle
--- you need to read some Terry Pratchet and take some notes ---
--- rhythm ---

Other Updates I Posted Today:


  1. Thanks for taking the time to listen to all the songs and write this review, Noah.

    I'm glad you enjoyed my song.

    Regarding the "killing off women" thing... Well, I never actually identified the gender of the victim. :D

    ...but yes, it is supposed to be a man singing to a woman (that he's pretty much just met -- unintentional possible intersection with Edric's song?). I really wanted to make sure there was no question about the HAPPY aspect of this challenge. A wolf-in-sheep's-clothing power pop song was the first idea I had.

    And regarding the vocals, I agree and that is indeed what I'll be working on first if/when I tweak the mix. The response voice has a darker EQ and quite a bit more reverb/delay, but I ultimately toned it down a bit for vocal clarity.

    Anyway, thanks again. See you at the next LP?

  2. Actually, mine is deliberately vague about who died -- I never state either the gender or the relation of the deceased -- only that they're incredibly wealthy.

    It was actually *not* intended to be a spouse/girlfriend/woman, (although that is one possible interpretation). In fact, I had it in my head that it was more likely either a business associate, or a father, or a wealthy uncle or something along those lines. But again, it's deliberately left unstated, so it's interesting that you thought that. ;-)

    But yes, my vocals often tend to be nasal.

    Thanks for the review!

  3. You know, I'm actually really pleased with that little review.

    I'll try not to do self-referencing next time if there is a next time. Gotta have some variety after all...

    Actually I'm hoping the next challenge will lend itself well to a far folkier sort of song. I've got a hankering for a ballad.

  4. We didn't realize we were competing with Johnny Cash; but now that we know it, we'll accept the defeat with grace... Johnny Cash was awesome.

  5. Gawww.
    I hoped I had made the music distracting enough that no-one would notice how half-assed my lyrics were. Hahaha!