Thursday, August 16, 2012

SpinTunes 5 Round 4 Reviews

Here's the album!  I'd like to call your attention to the marvelous cover art by Matt Schubbe. As with all the cover art, this is inspired by the challenge. With all eyes turned heavenward to the Curiosity mission to Mars, this couldn't be more timely. Matt imagines the discovery of the first sign of extraterrestrial life by a future astronaut; a footprint in the sand of an alien world. But wait! Is that one footprint...?

The Official Entries (ranked in order of  my preference)

Governing Dynamics - Houses. 
I nice little rock waltz. There's a really nice moral here... I like it when a song does more than make you tap your toes. Of all the entries this one sticks in my head, and it has a very high "replay value". "Stop leaving footprints... start building houses" is memetic. The only quibble I have is with the the last word of "Waiting for the sand in the glass to run out."  Pick a note for that one that's actually on the scale. Despite that, this is my top pick.

Edric Haleen - My Friend. 
It's Waltz Night here at Spintunes. Oh, wait, no waltzing here... the rubato's in the way. Edric's big voice is put to good use here. As usual, the tune is spot-on, and the lyrics are very extremely well crafted, with little winks and digs in all the right places. Also as usual, Edric's effort is technically peerless. It makes me very happy that I rejected a similar idea, as it's no fun staring that far upstage. The song's novelty nature keeps it from being my top pick, though... I just find GD's entry holds up better for me on repeat listens.

Ross Durand - When the Tide Comes In.
Very solid work here; exactly what you'd expect from Ross Durand. And that's really the problem I have with it... it's exactly what you'd expect from Ross Durand. In Round 4, I was looking for "Ross Plus", and I got Ross. That's nice, I like Ross, but it's not what he could have delivered for a final round knockout. The inspiration is certainly clear, but there's nothing really surprising here. It's well-trodden ground, if you'll pardon the expression.

Mariah Mercedes - Footprints. 
Mariah wuz robbed at the listening party due to the horrible quality of the feed. I hope that those whose votes count give a listen to the song on Bandcamp first. That said, the mix on Bandcamp needs a little work. Everything's very low except the drum. It's much better in a headset than on speakers, but could stand some compression. So much for the production. The song itself is quite good. There are some lines that I would never get without the lyric sheet because they're masked by their delivery. I'm also having a little cognitive difficulty with it, which is probably my fault. You're leaving, but why? Left what behind you? What is a test? What is the "something more" you believe in? The music certainly sets a mood, but the lyrics don't do much to give that mood any direction other than "away", when it seems to me the tone of this song begs for the movement to be "toward"; which is why it's not scoring higher for me.
UPDATE: I wish I'd read your song bio first. It's clear there that you're moving toward a new life. Unfortuanately it didn't come across to me in the song itself.

SHADOWS (in album order... well, mostly)

RC - Orange Beach
What a shame you didn't make it to this round, RC. I love this song. Just a really nice easy listening piece, even if it is a breakup song. You have the same "wash it all away" theme used by Ross, but here you apply it as a metaphor for something very specific: this relationship. Nice melody, nice beat. Well done.

Dr Lindyke - Carbon Footprint. 
No, I'm not going to review my own entry. That would be cheap and tawdry... and I prefer to save my yearly allotment of cheap and tawdry for the buying of Christmas gifts and the reviewing of BYD songs.

JoAnn Abbot - The Mermaid's Waltz
A nice telling of "The Little Mermaid", and I give it props for sticking to the original story and not "Disneyfying" it. It seems a little rushed, though, and the lyrics a little awkward in places. Slowing it down a little bit would do wonders. Nice guitar work by RC.

Brian Gray - Onward to the West.
Samwise Gamgee, the last ringbearer, leaves Middle Earth for the Undying Lands. VERY nicely done duet between Brian and his daughter Zoe. This entry is chock-full of literary references to delight even the most hardcore Lord of the Rings fan, and I'm speaking from experience here. Identifying all of the allusions requires the skills of a championship-level Jeopardy player. I love it. The obviousness of the MIDI is the only distraction here, and I think that could be fixed immediately by re-rendering it with a good SoundFont. Brian and Zoe, it's a good thing for the official entries that you weren't competing this time 'round.

Boffo Yux Dudes w/Osmium - Wash Away
The more I hear of the BYD, the more I think there must be a particular BYD musical mode, of the same level as the Aeolian, Ionian, and others. That's the only way I can explain their peculiar harmonies. It's an intriguing subject for analysis, and I spent so much time analyzing it that I completely forgot what this song was about.

Boffo Yux Dudes w/Denise Hudson and Mick Bordet - Sand In My Toes
Grover the Muppet has to explain his sandy monster feet to his wife by reading an apology penned by Dr. Seuss.  I didn't even know Grover was married. From the vaguely creepy backing music I'm betting he's married to the two-headed monster, and it's very, very hungry. I think that, in his shoes, I'd've forgotten to sing, too.

Boffo Yux Dudes - Footprints
Here's another one in the trademarked BYD mode. Perhaps inspired by the Garanimals line of clothing, The Dudes have hit on an intriguing formula by which they can mix an match lyrics, rhythm, and melody lines at will. In this number, Cockroach archaeologists try to decipher a fossilized human footprint. Now, you might hear their guesses and conclude that they're pretty stupid; but I think it pretty cool that they managed to organize a society. What the roaches don't know is that while their intelligentsia ponder this clearly fake footprint, their homes are being systematically looted by the colony of soldier ants from just over the hill.
Well, that's what I heard.

Boffo Yux Dudes - Foot in the Sand
Exquisite! Having been given the least possible amount of photograph for this challenge, the BYD respond with the least possible amount of song. Eschewing their usual mode, the Dudes have bravely executed this number in the Punk Rock genre. Stripped to it's bare lyrical essentials, "Foot ... in the SAND!" concisely calls our attention to what is NOT in the photograph... the Foot, representing Man, leaving his mark upon this Earth; the coarse grain of the sand reflected in the coarse power chords within which the lyrics are embedded; the staccato violence of the verse admirably depicting the violence of the Foot stamping its print. Cutting off sharply at 2:01, the brevity of the entry reminds us of the transience of our own existence. Like the print in the sand, we are to be washed away, the void of our absence soon to replaced with other music, from other artists. Of all the songs ever entered in any competition, anywhere on this globe, THIS is the most true reflection of the challenge given. Clearly a work of genius! Bravo!

That's it for the reviews.  One last thing... a reminder that it is the COMPETITORS, both current and past, who are doing the rankings this round. But the popular vote is still important! It breaks any ties.  So be sure go to the Spintunes blog and vote for your favorite song.  Remember, even the people who are ranking entries can also participate in the popular vote!

Now, as Tracey Ullman says: "Go home! Go home!"


BoffoYuxDudes said...

I do like me some punk music. That one came together well.

Thanks for taking the time to review the songs!

Al of BYD said...

FYI, Dave, the BYD musical mode is "random". You better watch out, though, because "peculiar" and "intriguing" are almost compliments, but I'll let you slide this time.

And if I could do every song in punk-rock mode, I would, but the other guys keep taking away my guitar. With good reason, I'm told. That last song is a work of genius, it's true...I can't remember who came up with the idea, so I guess we'll just have to take full credit for it...

RC said...

Sadly, the first thing I said when I heard JoAnn's vocal with my guitar was, "Dang, I wish I'd played it slower." But I didn't do the guitar until Sunday morning, and there just wasn't time. If we'd had a chance to bounce it back and forth a few times, it would have been much cooler. And thanks for your kind words about my song. Last week as a whole was kind of a bad week for me time-wise, so I had to keep it simple. Fortunately, simple worked pretty well for for the song. Any more time, and I'd have found a good way to mess it up...

Dave Leigh said...

RC: I had a similar week. Fortunately, sometimes less is more. It worked for you.

Tom and Al: how 'bout that analysis, huh? It doesn't get much deeper than that, does it?

JoAnn Abbott said...

I have been considering trying to run the completed song through Audacity and seeing if I can change the tempo- I have done similar effects in the past. Maybe that would get rid of the rushed feel to it, without dropping the key too much. Maybe I should run just RC's guitar through and slow IT down, then re-record to it, to keep my voice its natural sound. Before I do though- where in the lyrics do you think I should tweak things?

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