(To listen to the songs mentioned in this review, just click the picture above.)
Ok...for those that are new to the contest & who have not read my blog in the past there are some things you should know about my reviews.
1. I know nothing of music. So why do I run a music & dance blog...and a songwriting contest? Fucking magnets, how do they work? Both are questions I still don't know the answers to.
2. Proper grammar & correct spelling are things that I haven't found too important since finishing college.
3. I focus on lyrics more so than the music, and I tend to like upbeat & humorous type songs.
4. Overall I'm ranking your songs by how often I think I'm going to listen to them in the future. So performance & production count with me.
5. "Needs banjo" could be placed in every review I've ever written, and I wouldn't have issue with that.
Edric Haleen - I Hope You Die
"I tend to like upbeat & humorous type songs", and did I mention I like musicals? This is full of so much win that I kinda want to hit Edric. I mean I'll never be able to sing along with this in the car without screwing up. The bridge was my favorite part, because I don't know how you sang that.
Jason Morris - Burning For You
I was stoked Jason signed up...and actually turned something in this time. :p In Song Fu nobody brought the rock like he did, and it's good to hear it in SpinTunes now. After the first listen, I was a little confused about what I had heard lyrically. I knew there was a guy longing for this girl, but I was wondering if 'burning' meant pining for...or if he was going to kill himself for her. After listening again not only was he killing himself, but Jason was being very literal about 'burning'. Which I thought was awesome. This is another in which I have nothing bad to say about the song. It's something I can crank up while playing ball...which is good...cause I get strange looks when I crank up Edric Haleen at the basketball court.
Inverse T. Clown - Caroline Is Dead
Probably my favorite vocal performance from the clown. Lyrically it's right up there with Edric for me this round. Enjoyed every line, and it made me feel a little guilty for doing so since Caroline is a member of our little group. Musically it reminds me of something I can't place (not "Caroline"). Specifically where the lines "There won't be a divorce, wasting cash on the courts / And, inevitably, giving half to that whore" are...but I guess I'll have to try figuring it out later.
Alex Carpenter - The Day I Died
I tried to find something bad to say about this, but like Edric (but in a different way obviously) you killed this challenge for me. I think people stayed away from Zombies cause it was too obvious, but if you do it THIS WELL...obvious is fine. As a noob you just made yourself a serious contender in my book.
Jutze - I Love The Dead
I'm a little miffed it took Jutze so long to sign-up for a SpinTunes. Cause the very first song he enters ends up being my favorite Jutze song I've ever heard. The lines "I love the dead - strictly vocationally / I love the dead - I bury them professionally" have been stuck in my head since the LP. WAY more so than any other lines from the contest. The music is cheery & fun, and the idea is solid.
Caleb Hines - Haven't You Ever
Another great take on the challenge, and it's hard for me to believe Caleb struggles with lyrics at times (based on what he's said). I enjoyed all the quirky images he put in my head with this song, and I liked how it came full circle in the last verse. Probably a contender for the cheeriest music of the round.
Ross Durand - No Taxes
Ross has completed as many official SpinTunes entries as anyone so far, and you can't do that without being consistently good. I thought this was well thought out, and everything just seemed to flow nicely together. I had to Google 1 line, "I'm gonna always look on the bright side, just like Brian said". Yeah, I never really got into Monty Python. Even with a bigger pool of competitors in this contest...I kinda expect Ross to be in the finals.
Chris Cogott - Drag Me Down
I really wasn't expecting a song about a mermaid. So props on the creativity. The story was very clear, and the production was tight. Nothing bad to say here...but much like with Ross...I kind of expect you in the final round. No pressure... ;p
Charlie McCarron - Grandma And Grandpa
Boarders on being too atmospheric for me, but this is very pretty. Charlie has been with SpinTunes from the start, and he just gets better & better with each new edition it seems. I was a bit confused at the very end. I was sold on it being a double suicide from the start, but the line "He says, Darling I've paddled too far, there's nothing but fog" suggested to me they didn't mean to go out that far, and they only decided on the suicide after they got out there too far. That's the only thing that bugged me about the entry. Well done.
Wait What - Death: Everyone's Doing it!
The music was simple, but from the start is felt cheery. I liked the concept a lot. Trying to sell death & push it on people like peer pressure just cracked me up. As the guy who runs this contest I have a little more info on songs than most people. I know Glen wanted to touch this up more, and I agree it needs it. The vocals were alright in parts, and then the delivery would seem a little awkward in others. The transition into the rap needed to be smoother as well, but I did enjoy the rap.
"It’s why grandpa’s not here.That might have got the biggest laugh out of me this round.
Let us do the cheer:
D E A T H spells what?"
Byron Blocker & The Offbeats - She's Dead
Right off the bat I'm not sure what a couple lines even meant (Machine guns in her hair), but the voice & performance still had me early on. After the first verse I was totally into the song, and even though the stories pretty vague, I'm singing along like I've got some evil woman making my life hell. That is of course not the case...I'm on the internet...so I'm still waiting to meet a real life woman in 3D! Welcome To Spintown...er SpinTunes. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
"Buckethat" Bobby Matheson - No Worries
I mentioned to Mark that I didn't care for the character in his song. It didn't take me long to feel a connection with the man in this story. I think the last song (from this group) that pulled me into the story this much was Jeff MacDougall's "It All Makes Sense At The End". So it's been awhile...
Brian Daniell - Cubbies Will Win
This could have been up near the top of my rankings with a better recording. I really liked the music, and the lyrics did a great job of keeping a smile on my face while you told the story. I really liked the delivery of the lines, and if you up the production on future entries, I think you could be a BEAST in this competition. I liked the Cubs joke, but as a Reds fan I hope you're waiting a LOOOOOONG time. Extremely good entry for someone just getting their feet wet in SpinTunes.
Godz Poodlz - Wake At The Sunnyside
I was waiting to see if this ended up being a funeral home for pets. Turns out it wasn't, but the Poodlz did what they do best, and that's combine music & sells pitches. This has the potential to be the most entertaining local commercial in history. Rhett & Link eat your hearts out. Very entertaining guys, well done.
Happi - The Next Part Of Life
I'm sooooo glad something else came in other than that guitar. From the very start the anger in the delivery struck me as odd since it's supposed to be a happy song...and your freakin' name is Happi. I suggest watching an old Mentos commercial before recording next time. Focusing more on the lyrics & the overall message I get how it's supposed to be happy. The overall experience of, "did I feel happy"...will probably vary a lot from listener to listener with this one. You weren't afraid to take risks with this entry even going Death Metal for a minute. Honestly I didn't like that...but I liked almost everything else. Nice work.
Steve Durand - Die Happy
This made me feel like I was watching an old musical. I actually pictured Steve in a tux with tails, top hat and carrying a cane struttin' across the screen. The lyrics are easy to follow, and the take on the challenge was creative. The vocals aren't great, but since you had me singing over you after the first play...that's forgivable. Good entry.
Dr. Lindyke - Wake Me When It's Over
I was kinda hoping this would suck so I could use your title as my review, but my plans were foiled. I thought this was a beautiful song, and one of my favorite Dr. Lindyke songs. Just looking at it lyrically this isn't happy...not to me at least. The performance & music get it there, but only in the 2nd half. Dave mentioned this in chat, so it's nothing he doesn't know. I'm glad it was Dave singing, cause I don't think half the people in the contest could have made this 'happy'.
Governing Dynamics - Alive Again
I'm just shocked it was happy since Travis normally sounds as happy as a goth in July. The serial killer love song is probably my favorite take on the challenge this round. There were a couple lines in which I thought the vocals needed touching up, but not many. "That probably came out a little desperate / (I don't mean to smother)" were 2 lines I just thought needed better delivery. I think I would have liked it better without the second vocal track, but it's still a solid entry. With a few tweaks, it could be my new favorite GD track...for now "Broken Boy" remains #1.
Jon Eric - Birthday
During the LP this didn't grab my attention. The soft mix & me being distracted by running the LP caused this to fly under the radar. Listening with the lyrics out in front of me, it's a completely different story. Great story telling that kept me into the song. I think the music needs something else to fill it out, cause I might not stop & listen had I just heard this in passing. But I'm glad I kinda have to stop & listen. Nice work.
Pat And Gweebol - Baby Go To Sleep
When I copy & pasted the lyrics onto BandCamp I noticed this was a Romeo & Juliet song, and I was a little disappointed without even having listened to it. It's not a bad idea, but I hate Romeo & Juliet, so the idea of it put to song didn't go over well. When I sat down to review this I was amazed by the music & performance. I've liked Gweebol's vocals since I first heard her in the last contest, but she just cemented her place as my favorite female vocalist in SpinTunes. Pat held his own, and the 2 sounded really sweet together. Lyrically...not really for me, but the music & performance was enough to get this on my iPod.
Emperor Gum - Frequency
I didn't like the delivery of the word "again" in "She dares to dream again". The song also feels like it ends after the next line. On first listen I thought it did. It's a very peaceful sounding song, but I wouldn't really call it happy sounding. I get why the character is happy though, and I enjoyed your storytelling. The vocals were the best I've heard from you, and I've mentioned it before, you keep improving.
Bryce Jensen - Thank You
I was on the fence about this at the very beginning, but when I got to the first chorus I was sold. It got a laugh, and the whole idea of someone's plans of murder being spoiled over the victim unrepentantly dieing is great. The music feels like it needs something (what I wouldn't know), and it needs another verse. It's a great idea, so I wouldn't think it would be that hard to extend the story a little.
Menage' A Tune - Isn't It Nice
I really didn't care for the line, "They would punch me, they would trip me, stab their pens in my ass". This song is both dark & childlike, and having a curse word inserted simply to make the rhyme took me out of the childlike place for a minute. Overall this is the best thing I've heard from you so far. Until recently my favorite song was the first one you did. I'm glad you FINALLY decided to go out on your own, cause I think it's the only way you'll continue to get better. There may be bumps along the way, but leave the crutches alone from now on...you don't need them. I'm not bashing any of your previous collaborators with that comment. They've done some fine work, but fly away little birdie. PS: This is the first time the vocal performance gets a thumbs up from me.
Young Stroke aka Young Muscle - My Name Is Death
Since you submitted before Happi, you're SpinTunes first rapper, which I think is pretty cool. Your entry had things I liked, but often it didn't seem to flow well. In rap I hear that's not good. Lines like, "I got a job - one hell of a job / my job - is one that makes people sob" just weren't creative enough, and whenever I started getting into the song...another line would pop up that just didn't flow. There were positives. I liked the corny intro. The hook & idea were both fine as well. Solid first time entry, so I look forward to hearing more.
Tally Deushane - My Dead Goldfish
Very cute. It needed some sort of change of pace though, cause as you're listening you keep expecting something different & keep getting more of the same...which in turn makes it feel longer than it really is. I like your voice, and the idea is definitely creative. Makes me look forward to hearing what you come up with in the future rounds. Bonus points for the flush at the end.
The Offhand Band - All Over
It had a fairly clear story, and I don't have a problem with the music. Overall I struggled to get into this, and I'm not sure why. I think it's because I didn't get a feel for the character, or that I didn't care about him. There's a lot of story in a relatively short amount of time, and I think you blew through it before I could jump on board with it. At the end I would have just sang the chorus just once, cause it starts feeling too repetitive.
Matt And Donna - Lady On The Gray
I feel sorry for any judge who didn't read the extra info on the BandCamp page for this song. Cause if I hadn't, I would have been completely lost. Since I did read about the inspiration behind this song I'm not totally in the dark, but I still haven't read the book, so I'm sure a lot of the lyrics don't have the impact on me they could have on others. Musically & vocally it's very impressive, and I'm sure you would be much higher on my list had I read the book.
Glen Raphael - When You're Dead
Lyrically I enjoyed this, but musically this accapella track just never came together for me. This is one I'd like to hear again, but with instruments! As much as I liked the lyrics, I got a little bored listening toward the end.
The Boffo Yux Dudes - Marked For Death
Spoken word pieces don't usually hit my sweet spot. In Nur Ein 6 I think I knocked a lot of songs for having those. This could work with a little more verity, but as is it feels too repetitive. The music could pass as being happy, but the performance & lyrics didn't leave me happy. I actually liked the performance...just didn't seem happy.
Alexa Polasky - You Will Never Die
Ok...you do know there were 40+ songs to review this round right? *grumbles about the length* #Kidding Musically I enjoyed this a lot, and the breaths were pretty cool. The problem I personally had was with the lyrics. I generally like really detailed stories, and this lyrical style doesn't really lend itself to that. I'm not saying it was a bad idea, but it's just not something I'm usually into. Another noob with a solid first time entry.
Gold Lion - In The Afterlife
Lyrically I don't have a problem with what's there, unfortunately there just isn't much there. It has a good start & then I end up in the backyard having a cook out. I really didn't care for that decision. The music is cool, but I'm not so sure of the mix (I know NOTHING about recording). I say this because there are times when I think I hear a fine voice, and other times when it just doesn't come through clearly enough. I think this has a lot of promise, but I don't look at it as being finished...not by a long shot. Nice job for a first timer though.
Ethan Ivey - The Four-Year Itch
This seems odd to me. Lyrically I need more about this girl is so terrible to be married to, cause he seems to really love her. Musically it's ok, just repetitive & needs shakin' up someplace. The performance wasn't bad, but it did feel like you were going through the motions a bit, which is probably because the music is so repetitive. Not a bad entry, but it needs a little work. I would do more to this after the competition for sure.
Spencer Sokol - Keeping Calm
I never had a feel for what was going on lyrically. Not once. The guitar was nice & I enjoyed the 2nd half more than the 1st cause you let loose a little with the vocals. Again with the lyrics...you Denise Hudson'ed me.
Matt Walton - We're All Going To Die
The different sections of the song don't always flow together well, like right before the line "Maybe you'll be hit by a car tomorrow in Islington" it just stops for a half second. Lyrically it didn't really stand out for me. I like humor a lot...none there. If there's no humor, the story needs to pull me in...didn't do it. It really got off to a bad start for me lyrically. The first line "Life is such a difficult thing for me to do" sets up what I figured would be some examples of difficult challenges people face in life. What I got was "Do we go out or do I invite you in? / Would you like wine, or should I offer gin?"
Luke Brekke, Esquire - Cannibal
I needed this performance to be BIG. Musically it wasn't very interesting, and so it needed someone to sell it. Lyrically it didn't stand out for me, but there were a couple things I liked. I liked the idea cannibal idea, and I liked how you started listing what you would do with the different body parts. Didn't make me feel happy in the least though. You should also cut the last chorus, I didn't see the point of repeating it at the end.
Doom SKITTLE - A Better Place
This didn't sound happy at all. The vocals didn't sound inspired, and I didn't find anything clever about the lyrics. You didn't have to be funny to write a good song this round (look at Dr. Lindyke), but for a newbie I think you picked a direction that was way too tough for you at this point. At least borrow a uke...banjo...glockenspiel...something...anything that sounds a little bit happy if you attempt this challenge again.
Hudson And Day - Silly Baby
Ok...this is the 2nd time I've heard you 2 work together & the tech issues don't seem to have improved...at all. I believe Alyssa has a decent voice, but I've not heard much evidence of it. It sounds like she hooked up a tin can & string to an old tape recorder to get her audio. Nothing ever comes together in the song either. At first there seemed to be too much going on, and then at the end it seemed to just drift with no direction. I wish I could give you tech tips, but hell I need them myself.
For those of you who don't know what a "Shadow Song" is, it's basically when someone turns in a song to SpinTunes...who isn't currently in the competition. Even though their song can't win, the song still gets put on the new album & played at the listening party.
For this first round we only had 2 people shadow intentionally...the others got eliminated by the round 1 deadline, and they turned their songs in late as shadow songs. I'm always happy to get shadows turned in, but I will start with the 2 people who planned to shadow.
Now to play Mr. Knowitall some more, when I've never even written a song for myself.
Mick Bordet - The Highland Coo Song
Starts off kinda sensual, and it's more than a little creepy. A song about a man pining to slaughter a cow & reap the rewards is more than a little funny. I didn't really care for the flute, I'd rather have gotten another verse there. The ending Moooooooo was funny.
Noah McLaughlin - Thank You, Joss Whedon
Like the song about a book I reviewed yesterday, this is a song that I'm just not going to get. I couldn't pick Joss Whedon out of a line-up, and I had to Wiki him to find out what he's done. I've never watched Buffy, Angel, or Dollhouse. I've only seen bits of Firefly, but I do own Dr. Horrible. Overall...if there's references to his work...I'm not going to get them. I did like the music, it was interesting & upbeat. Lyrically I know he died, came back, and you killed him again, but I can't say how well written it is since I'm ignorant of the topic. Toward the middle of the song it dragged a bit when you repeated "you came back" for awhile. Good shadow from what I can tell, it's a shame you didn't sign-up for the contest on time.
David Ritter - Requiem For Bob
Writing a sad song about a guy losing his wife, being afraid to die himself, then meeting death...is not happy. BUT, the idea of reminding the listener it's supposed to be happy cause of the banjo in the song...IS funny...and kinda meets the challenge. I liked this, but think it needs a lot more work lyrically. For example:
"In the night I went to her graveSome of that needs cut down. The last 2 lines tell you the same thing the first 2 did, and at this point I was hand gesturing to my computer as to tell it to move along already. There were also a few Yoda moments. "footsteps I could hear" It always takes me out of a song when that happens cause nobody talks that way. Overall the music was fine, the concept was GREAT, but the lyrics still need hammered out.
I decided to be brave
I headed to the grave
The moon was shining bright
To visit my old lady
in the night"
Heather Miller - Throw My Anchor Down
2nd song in a row that I just consider not finished. I really think you found your vocal range with this song. I think the style suits you. BUT, going accapella just made this drag & repeating the chorus to start & finish the song didn't help. Take this and add more too it, cause even though it didn't seem happy, it seemed like it's a good start to a song.
Anna P - Jesus's Best Friend
I felt for the people who missed the deadline, but especially Anna. She was freaking out, and trying her best to beat that mean old deadline back a little, but just came up short. Even Song Fu & SpinTunes vets miss a deadline once in awhile, so I'm glad you entered this as a shadow to get your feet wet. The first verse made me smile, cause a lot of people have that moment of, "Will I make it to heaven?" Your delivery of that was well done. I didn't like the Disney line. If it's in reference to the anti-semitism stuff, why wouldn't you hate being accused of that? If it was entered on time, it would have been DQed because it's 10 seconds short, but it's a solid tune. Well done.
Donutworthy - Signal
One Joe is good enough, get rid of the clone. I think putting Joe & Grahams vocals together was a mistake as well. I like the take on the challenge, and the story is easy enough to follow aside from 1 thing (What signal?). The music was pretty cool, maybe the best of the shadows. In relation to the challenge it felt more hopeful or encouraging than happy. Good song, too bad it missed the deadline by 1 MINUTE!
Green Mama Bathsalts - See You In Hell
Overall, this was my favorite shadow of the round. It's a song about two buddies about to be executed for murder. Their friendship is so strong that a trip to hell isn't all that bad cause they'll still have each other. I can't really fault anything with this. It's only got a simple guitar & vocals, but it works. Might even make it better not having bells & whistles. Real shame this didn't make the deadline, cause I think it would have made it to round 2 easily.
The Vespus - Old Red
I had trouble getting into the story & following along, but everything else was enjoyable. Another entry with only guitar & vocals, but it's light & fun tune that might not have the same appeal with much more. The performance was really good, and the hook was memorable. It's a shame Erik requested this be taken off the album. Not only cause it's a good shadow, but it tells me he might have missed the point of SpinTunes.
Common Lisp - Today Is Not That Day
How is a death march happy? You're telling me death is ok...but I'm not believing it for 1 second. Lyrically it's not really a 'story' song, and that's usually what I like. The biggest issue though is the music & pace. It's not bad, but it in no way makes me feel happy.