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Monday, February 27, 2012

SpinTunes #4 Round 3 Review

I'm posting my reviews really early this time, but not including the rankings until after the judges post their reviews. (they are now ranked) One advantage of running the contest is early access to the songs, but I still didn't have much time to sit & stew about these since I'm posting this so early. Anyways...without spell checking...here they are. Oh, and shadow reviews WILL be posted in a day or 2. (they are now posted below)

This review is brought to you by the letters S - P - I - N - T - O - W.

Steve Durand - A Song About Letters
Sounds like it came from Sesame Street & you sound like a muppet. Perfectly done. I thought a lot of people would go in this direction, but I didn't expect anyone to nail it this well. You're my top pick this round...just loved it.
5 Bonus Points

Jess Scherer - This Twisted Tongue
In the past 3 contests it was a noob who won each time. You're one of the noobs that I consider a major contender this time around. I don't really have anything negative to say. I've had the "tongue twister" idea for a challenge written down for awhile now, and this song just makes me want to use it more. This is a tough round, and I'm not posting my rankings yet, but you'll probably be near the top.
5 Bonus Points

Edric Haleen - The Terrible Things That Transpired Today
What? The challenge wasn't hard enough? I don't have a problem with you using just 1 letter, even without the opening line. Relatable, funny, it gave me a speech impediment & gets props for going the extra mile. Some people struggled to avoid the Yoda effect with 7 letters, you avoided it with just 1. Great job.
4 Bonus Points

Ross Durand - Advice (Easy As ABC)
Apparently Ross isn't too picky about his letters & just takes the first 7 he happens upon. I was wondering if anyone would take the 'listing' approach to their lyrics this round (Denise should like that). Not a bad way to work around the limitations for this round. "Easy as abc" was more memorable than I thought it would be. You & Steve should do a children's album together.
0 Bonus Points

Brian Gray - One Of Us
Lyrically the only thing I'm going to remember is the "One of us" bit. I expected a lot of Yoda-like lyrics this round, and lines that just wouldn't sound natural. You covered yours up with some really cool & catchy music. You sold your lyrics with the performance as well. Take away those 2 things though, and I just didn't think you hit the mark lyrically as well as some others this round. Overall it's still a very enjoyable tune, so well done.
4 Bonus Points

Kevin Savino​-​Riker - The Tin Knight
Dang, this is really good for a rough recording. Nice story telling, especially with the limitations this round. This might have got the biggest emotional response from for the round. "I'm a tin knight too"
4 Bonus Points

Governing Dynamics - Go To Sleep
And sad Travis is back, that didn't take long. My first question concerning this song is why do I understand your lyrics better when we severely limit the words you're allowed to use? I kinda thought this challenge would push people into doing different things musically than they're usued to, but you stuck to what you do & it worked just fine. Didn't care for the instrumental bit around the 1:30 mark, but otherwise it'll go on my MP3 player.
2 Bonus Points

Rebecca Angel - My Tights
One thing at always affects my rankings is whether or not I can sing the song. I feel a little strange singing about "my tights". Lucky for you there are 2 female judges this round who might be more inclined to enjoy singing about tights (and Dave). I enjoyed the performance & the music was fun & cheerful. Singability is low for me, but it's a good entry.
3 Bonus Points

David LeDuc - Seven Letters
OOOoooo...creative title. The music is so cool it actually makes you feel a bit cooler just by listening. Feels like it needs a chorus to make it a bit more catchy, cause it does get a little repetitive. It's not a big problem cause it's a short song, but the ending was cool so I would have used a little more of that. Very solid entry.
4 Bonus Points

The Orion Sound - It Never Said He Wasn't
There are places where your vocals need brought up a little & bleed together. I thought the idea was funny & so far I've enjoyed the type of songs you've entered. Funny & upbeat is usually the best way to get high on my rankings (not that THAT matters). The piano was great & it's nice to hear you adding something new to one of your tracks.
3 Bonus Points

Jacob Haller - Come To Me Now
I was talking to someone about your song, and told them you used (for the most part) just one line & repeated it over & over for your lyrics. That person then asked what the line was, and I couldn't think of it off the top of my head. Granted I'm posting these reviews only after a few listens this time, but that says something about how memorable it was. The vocals & music aren't bad at all...rather good actually. But this challenge beat you, or you just picked a bad direction to take lyrically. Even though your vocals weren't bad, Barry White is the only one who could have sold this one line over & over.
4 Bonus Points

Gold Lion - Crossfire
Song bio...write one. This is my favorite song from you yet. I liked the way it built & flowed. I saw the time on this & I was pretty sure I would be harping about the length of the song. That's not the case though, because it didn't FEEL long, and I never once lost interest. There are still times when I don't really get a few lyrics, but it's a minor complaint this time. GREAT WORK.
4 Bonus Points

Common Lisp - I​.​O​.​U.
Nice title. You mention in your song bio the reasons for the repeating & overlapping. I completely understand the reasoning, but the fact that a few people did manage to write lyrics in which you may not have noticed the constraints means that you probably didn't need to do that (cause you are good with lyrics). It's another purdy song musically, and I didn't hate your vocals either. The lyrics are so repetitive (and hard to make out when overlapping) that it's hard for me to get into, but it's so darn purdy I wouldn't ever skip it if the song came on.
3 Bonus Points


Noah McLaughlin - va falloir
I don't understand a word of this because I got a D- in highschool French. The music was purdy, but I don't know how to review this...so I won't.

Menage A Tune - Please Come Back
I enjoyed the simple piano, and the lyrics weren't bad considering the restrictions. The multiple vocal tracks didn't really work well together for me. Doesn't really have much replay value for me since it lacks a good hook & it's not really my type of music.

Drei Viertel Drei - Carnival
The funny voices from the get go made it difficult to understand, and since it wasn't causing any side splitting laughter on my part, what's the point? Having no hook & non-funny funny vocals just made this hard to focus on throughout.

Caleb Hines - The Quetzalcoatlus
Had the previous round not kicked your ass, you could have made the finals with this gem. Even though you said "Quetzalcoatlus" 10+ times, I still can't freakin' say it correctly. This annoys me. Extremely well done, you just won the round 3 shadow trophy. It'll ship within 57-64 years.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


An Unfair And One-Sided Review by Howie Kapow

SpinTunes #4 Round 2

You can leave comments for Howie below, on Ocean Of Bees, YouTube or on Twitter.

(Normally people seem to put the disclaimers at the bottom, but this should probably go up top...and in bold. Howie's reviews do not reflect that of Spintown's, and have no influence over the contest whatsoever. The over the top reviews in Sammy's "NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT" series aren't meant to be 'constructive', and you should read the sub title. If you think he's picking on you...just listen the reviews he wrote for the others...he can be an equal opportunity ass. - Spin)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


An Unfair And One-Sided Review by Howie Kapow????

SpinTunes #4 Round 1

You can leave comments for Howie below, on Ocean Of Bees, YouTube or on Twitter.

(Normally people seem to put the disclaimers at the bottom, but this should probably go up top...and in bold. Howie's reviews do not reflect that of Spintown's, and have no influence over the contest whatsoever. The over the top reviews in Sammy's "NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT" series aren't meant to be 'constructive', and you should read the sub title. If you think he's picking on you...just listen the reviews he wrote for the others...he can be an equal opportunity ass. - Spin)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Song A Week

This blog post is WAY overdue. I’ve been neglecting a lot of the things I used to do online because of a bad internet connection & getting used to a new house & job. I still should have managed to post about this sooner, because Song A Week is a cool project.


Song A Week is a project run by Charlie McCarron. August through December, 2011 Charlie produced a new song every week. These songs were by friends or local Minnesota musicians. After producing 18 tracks he combined them into an album you can now download for FREE. Charlie has competed in SpinTunes on more than one occasion, and had other SpinTuners participate in Song A Week. Pat Boerner, Brittany Miller, Matt & Donna Schubbe all made an appearance during the project.

The music itself is great, but the way Charlie chronicled the process of this project on the main website was awesome. He used text, pictures & videos to give you all sorts of details that make you appreciate this project even more.

I’ve listened to every track, and everything is produced wonderfully. There were 6 songs that really stuck out to me as personal favorites. I’ll link to the blog entry for each of those songs below.

Plum Street by Paul Spring

This was my favorite song on the album. I enjoyed the lyrics & performance a lot. There’s a cool video that comes along with Charlie’s post for it & you should definitely check it out. One thing that I noticed was this bit of trivia from Charlie, “This week I recorded a guy who has won all nine battle of the bands he’s entered...” Ok Mr. Spring...I challenge you to enter the internets best songwriting competition (that’s SpinTunes). Let’s see if you’re as good as you seem to be.

Canard Digérateur by Matt And Donna
How can you not like a song about a man who is famous for making a pooping duck robot? The current SpinTunes champions have once again impressed me.

In Transit by Daniel Jenstad
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really care for the lyrics here. Everything else...is awesome. Not just good...but AWESOME.

Something To Say by Pat Boerner And Brittany Miller
This song shows why these to made it to the finals in SpinTunes 3. Cute as hell & catchy.

A Penny Around My Neck by Pete Eisenberg And Tom Holmes
Loved the vocals, and the story behind this song was pretty interesting.

Mountain Man by Alpenglow
More catchy & cute...and this one has a music video..

Sunday, February 5, 2012

SpinTunes #4 Round 1 Review

Most of you know about my reviews already, but for the noobs, I'll explain what I like. First off, I'm not a musician, and I can't even read music. I'm probably the most unqualified person to be running a songwriting/producing contest. The type of music I enjoy is usually upbeat, fun/funny & easy to sing. (not exactly what this challenge was meant to inspire) Whatever the style, I enjoy a good easy to follow story. I don't want to try to interpret messages & metaphors, I like it simple.

I'm the alternate judge, so I write reviews in case we have a real judge who doesn't do their job. If someone doesn't get their stuff done, we can just use my reviews & rankings. My rankings were almost needed this round, but in the end weren't used. I'll still provide those below the reviews in case anyone is curious.

Fear Nothing by Governing Dynamics
I often have problems with the lyrics that Travis writes, but not in this case. The music & lyrics really do set a mental picture of a blurred dream state. My biggest complaint is that it went on too long. The dreamy music was great, but coming in close to 6 minutes is more than pushing it. 6 minutes of dreamy music (good or not) is enough to put many people to sleep.

Lyric I loved: "This monster's not earned your fear"

Sleep by FauX
Not a bad story or take on the challenge. The story actually allowed you to have some upbeat music that fit the song. My only real issue with this entry is the vocal performance. Your voice isn't bad, but you didn't seem to put much into the performance at all. Especially if this is a kid that's trying to make someone believe his story & is afraid to sleep.

Let Me Out by Dex01
Feels like 2 songs being pushed together. In song #2 the lyrical pattern just feels too repetitive & I think your vocal performance was better in song #1. In the end I think you got your message across, but it needs to flow more naturally throughout.

An Indelible Mark by Hazen Nester
If you're not going to have a chorus you better be able to hold my attention with the story alone. You did. Don't know how much replay value it'll have with me, but I did enjoy this dark lullaby.

Lyric I loved: "And a living baby's in its jaws / And awkwardly, it starts to chew"

Monster's Lullaby by Rebecca Angel
This was just a great idea. It's not easy to find different take on a challenge than everyone else when there are 30+ people writing to the same topic. You not only did it, but you executed it perfectly. In my opinion at least, you may have had the best concept & best vocal performance of the round. That's good because you should fly into round 2, but it could be bad because you just set the bar pretty darn high for yourself. Better bring it in round 2.

Lyric I loved: "A disembodied arm that drags you down the stair." (honestly I could pick any line from this song)

Nightmare by David LeDuc
I enjoyed this entry a lot up until the ending. The end just felt tacked on, and lacked the creativity I was hoping for. The song should have ended with "but thanks to God I woke up when they bit through." I know that would have left you short on time, but there had to be some way to extend the song other than that ending. Well done, but it could have been much better.

Always Someone's Monster by Noah McLaughlin
I managed to get that your father left, things were bad as a kid, and that there was some turmoil later on. Other than that I have a hard time following the lyrics, and I don't know if you would have gotten your message across everyone. Musically it held my interest & the performance was ok.

Lyric I loved: "there are no monsters under your bed / in the closet they abide / keep them there"

Rust People by Felix Frost
The opening was creepy & set a mood. Then you're jerked out of that mood & the bizarre story starts. Nothing wrong with bizarre, but I actually got lost trying to make sense of what I was hearing halfway through the first verse. Reading through your song bio helped me understand what was going on a lot, and I think you met a lot of the smaller goals you had with the song. As a whole I don't think you managed to make an understandable song that flows together naturally. I think it's just a bitch of a dream to translate into a song, and maybe you should have fictionalized it a bit more so it was easier to translate.

The Maze by Jacob Haller
I liked the first 2 lines because all nightmares are like that. You're just there, no matter what the situation, you're just kinda thrown into it. Nice vocal performance, and musically it wasn't bad, but it failed to grab me. I like accordion, but I could have done without this one.

Lyric I loved: "There's a maze in my mind / And I just keep on trying / To find my way home."

Falling: A Nightmare In Three Acts by Common Lisp
As I mentioned in my opening, this challenge was going to lend itself to people making the type of music I'm usually not into. This song was very slow, very long & you even threw in Shakespeare a couple times. Not my cup of tea. At some points (Part 3 mostly) I actually had trouble picking up some of the lyrics. In the end I think you just tried to do too much.

Just A Dream by Brian Gray
Wow. It's cute, fun & yet still about a nightmare. It's also fun to sing while telling a very clear story. I have nothing bad to say here...if I give Rebecca the edge over you this round, it was because her vocal performance. You're both right up at the top of this round for me.

Lyric I loved: "I'm still gonna be a rock star, / A race car driver, candy bar taste tester, and the Batman."

Sweet Dreams by Edric Haleen
This would probably scare my nephew more than any other song this round, but it's not going to rank all that high with me. The performance is good, the production is good, but half the lyrics aren't you're own. A lot of creativity was shown, but I always judge heavy on the lyrics...and well...

Where's The Buzzing? by Rosalind
Levels keep changing...is the mic swinging back in forth in front of you on a string or something? I think you have some singing chops, but you need to find a better way to record.

Lady In Blue by Gold Lion
I really enjoyed the opening, well done there. Lyrically I was a little confused in places. The lady in blue is actually in the nightmare, so why do you want her to "make her move"? I didn't really care for the line "I am only a child, I am scared". Given the topic you were given I think most people would have guessed that already unless you said otherwise. Just seems like a pointless lyric. Overall, I enjoyed this...just thought the lyrics could have been more creative at times.

Taken by Jess Scherer
I got multiple messages about this song before I even heard it myself. So I have to admit I was looking forward to this one more so than the others. Expectations were high. I won't say I was disappointed, but I wasn't blown away. The piano sounded nice & the vocals were pretty ok. I have a feeling they could have been better though, and just out of Curiosity I kinda want to hear you really let loose in the future.

Old Dan Next Door by Jim Holmquist
The Vietcong seems to be a strange thing for a 4 year old to have nightmares about...but I guess it's happened. I'm having trouble deciding if the little vocal tricks you're pulling are annoying or cool. With each competition I give my rankings, and like 6 months later there's a few songs that would either jump way up or way down if I was to make my rankings again. I have a feeling your song is going to be one of those songs, but I don't know which way it'll jump. Some of the lyrics I just don't understand. "Whispered weapons in his ear", "like dice in a pinball machine"... Overall I'm marking this down as interesting...

Lyric I loved: "What are the things that make you sweat. / Rock you to the core?"

Lollipop Lady by Drei Viertel Drei
Musically this disappoints. Lyrically it's great, and your performance is WONDERFUL! This just needs something to drive it forward musically, because it's just dull..hum drum. That's a shame because this had the potential to be amazing.

Lyric I loved: "She lived in his nightmares, some hideous troll / Lying in wait with her lollipop pole"

Posted by Emperor Gum
Lyrically this was one of my favorite entries. Vocally, it was good enough to evoke an emotional response from me. I didn't care for the instrumental section towards the end, but overall this is a solid entry. Nice work.

Lyric I loved: "So come nightmare, come to me / Keep your horrors from reality"

Nazi Nightmare by The Orion Sound
Going meta at the end...COME ON! I don't know how well this will do with the judges. I don't see it going to the top of lists, but I think it's solid enough to stay in the middle of the pack this round. The idea is kinda funny, but it didn't get a huge laugh from me at any point. Sure I chuckled a few times...but when you go for the laughs you need make sure you get them. I look forward to hearing more from you, and seeing you try new things as we go along.

Big Brown Bear by Trader Jack
I'm actually shocked you held my attention with only the guitar. I enjoyed the fact that you let loose with the vocals & weren't afraid to perform. Some people seem to hold back too often. Lyrically it was ok, but the story wasn't all that interesting. I'm hoping this lands you in the middle of the pack & into round 2. I'm curious to see if you can do more than what you showed.

Thunder by Kevin Savino​-​Riker
I enjoyed this a lot lyrically, but felt the dialog between the monster & yourself just didn't work. Kinda took away from the stress that was building, and I just don't think it's needed. Coming in around 5 minutes...this could be cut down anyways. Musically & vocally it was fine. Only real complaint was the dialog & time issues. Oh, and I don't like the title. :p

Lyric I loved: "Conducting an orchestra / of concussive blasts"

Funny Guy by Robert Borden
If you don't like Furby, you should listen to Joe "Covenant" Lamb & his song “Mr. Tom Furby: ​The Furby Catcher”. As for your song...you impressed. I've followed you on YouTube off & on for awhile now, so I knew you could sing. I didn't expect you to come up with a topic so different yet fitting for the challenge. Not only that, but you executed it pretty darn well. Keep it up.

Lyric I loved: "the exhaust fumes hit me, but so does your starchy potato shot"

Haunting House by Menage A Tune
Do not let Ted get away. Best performance I've heard from you. The story doesn't grab me, but it's not bad lyrically. You have a few hiccups in the mix that need cleaned up, but nice work.

Teeth by Marlon Barnes
The production & performance made this hard to listen to, and most people would have just stopped the music. However I have to listen to this, and I'm glad I did. Sure, the production & performance were both just awful, but the idea & the lyrics were pretty darn good. When SpinTunes is over I hope you continue learning more about recording & production, because you can write. I would suggest using some of the people from SpinTunes as resources. Talk to them, ask questions, and even go over to Song Fight & try getting involved over there. Oh, and the bridge was horrid...although I laughed at the gargling.

Lyric I loved: "I'm spitting teeth, / my white and pearlies / flow like fountains"

Footprints by Caleb Hines
The piano sounded nice & dreamy, but I never could get into the nightmare. The story just didn't grab me at all. I think you'll get through to round 2, but this just wasn't my cup of tea.

Alone by Chris Cogott
Most professional sounding song of the round. Nothing bad to say, it all worked. You'll be around the top of the album once again. I wasn't expecting the ROCKness after the 2 minute mark. That was badass.

Fear The Reaper by Chris Tallman
Lyrically there isn't much there & you need to find a better way to record. You say you don't like your voice, but I think that was the best part of this entry.

It Isn't Cool by Steve Durand
BANJO BONUS POINTS! I liked the fact you used the organ as the primary instrument since it's about a kid in a catholic school. Your horns are always nice to hear. Funny story told very well. There was a little hiccup right before the last chorus started, other than that...nothing negative to say.

Lyric I loved: "All eyes are upon me / The whole class is transfixed / Even that guy hanging up there / On the crucifix"

Alone by Luke Brekke, Esquire
The piano & you sound like you're off in the distance. Didn't like the chorus at all, just didn't think it was very creative lyrically at all. I think you're improving, based on what I've heard in past rounds, but you've still got a little ways to go if you want through round 1.

Toilet Demons by Wait What (The Band)
Very funny idea, and at times it's executed very well. Hated the part right after the toilet demons were released. That part wasn't catchy at ALL, and it didn't really do anything for the story so I felt it was pointless.

Lyric I loved: "Who'da thunk that my number one nightmare's number two?"

Dancin' To The Nightlight by The Boffo Yux Dudes
The different parts didn't exactly flow together too well. I like the idea & title a lot. I think I'd have enjoyed the overall experience more if the verses were REALLY darker. Would have made me laugh harder at the "Party Party Party..." lines when they first start.

Images Without Light by Jon Eric
I'm glad you couldn't use your piano.

Lyric I loved: "And I swear that I’m awakened by the impact of my body on the bed"

Beaster Bunny by David Ritter
I kinda wanted more details on the Beaster Bunny after listening to this. I think a lot more detail would have helped, but it wasn't bad as is. I didn't care for the opening, but the vocals were the best I've heard from you so far. Round 2 is a maybe...

Why Can't I? by Ross Durand
Overall this felt more badass than menacing or nightmarish (musically), but I can't complain cause it was great. Not one of my favorite stories of the round, but it's well told & has a hook. I think Ross is tired of getting to the last round & not winning. Look out people.

1 Rebecca Angel - Monster's Lullaby
2 Brian Gray - Just A Dream
3 Chris Cogott - Alone
4 Steve Durand - It Isn't Cool
5 Ross Durand - Why Can't I?
6 Jon Eric - Images Without Light
7 Jess Scherer - Taken
8 Drei Viertel Drei - Lollipop Lady
9 Emperor Gum - Posted
10 Hazen Nester - An Indelible Mark
11 Kevin Savino-Riker - Thunder
12 Robert Borden - Funny Guy
13 David LeDuc - Nightmare
14 The Orion Sound - Nazi Nightmare
15 Trader Jack - Big Brown Bear
16 Marlon Barnes - Teeth
17 Edric Haleen - Sweet Dreams
18 Menage A Tune - Haunting House
19 The Boffo Yux Dudes - Dancin' To The Nightlight
20 Noah McLaughlin - Always Someone's Monster
21 Gold Lion - Lady In Blue
22 Governing Dynamics - Fear Nothing
23 David Ritter - Beaster Bunny
24 Jim Holmquist - Old Dan Next Door
25 FauX - Sleep
26 Jacob Haller - The Maze
27 Caleb Hines - Footprints
28 Wait What (The Band) - Toilet Demons
29 Dex01 - Let Me Out
30 Felix Frost - Rust People
31 Luke Brekke, Esquire - Alone
32 Chris Tallman - Fear The Reaper
33 Rosalind - Where's The Buzzing?
34 Common Lisp - Falling: A Nightmare In Three Acts