Wednesday, March 26, 2014

SpinTunes 8 Round 4 Reviews

Heres' the challenge:
Painful Progression - Write a song about PHYSICAL pain, and do so using a I-V-vi-IV chord progression in the chorus. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due Sunday, March 23rd 11:59PM)
Here's the album:

OK, here's the deal. I'm reviewing the round, but I didn't rank our votes. William did that. I'm also not telling you what order he put you in. That's because I'm evil. However, I am writing reviews, and I'm doing that without the benefit of looking at his rankings and without his input. So as far as how we affect your rankings... this says nothing. 

Told ya. 

In listening party album order:

Jenny Katz - Clear 04:20
I love the poetry of this, and the sentiment, and the fact that it completely and most unambiguously meets both the content and technical challenges. Rather than reflect on your own pain, you choose to offer sympathy for another. That's even better. It makes the song not only about his physical pain, but also your emotional pain. I loves me some layers of meaning, and the vocals are stellar. On the downside it sounds a little bit rambly in the verses, which might make it sort of "moody". The pre-chorus and chorus are much tighter.

Ryan M. Brewer - Christ Speaks 03:56
I'm torn a little bit on this one. I'm pretty sure Christ would approach the subject differently; so the editorial hand of the author is revealed a little too soon and a little too obviously. Knowing the true subject helps to understand why, but a broader audience wouldn't know that. The "golgotha" rhyme is clever but a bit clumsy. On the plus side, it does clearly communicate pain, and manages to be listenable, at that. Ryan has, I think, the most "professional" sounding production of the batch.

Jutze - The Bleeding Dragon 02:57
This sounds like the sort of thing that Hobbits would sing at the pub. Really demented, sick hobbits. Hobbits who need therapy. Who in his right mind writes a song about a menstruating dragon? Nobody, and that should tell us a thing about Jutze. However, this is the form of insanity that's just really, really entertaining. For some reason I hear this played behind conversation and clinking glasses. Is this brilliantly perfect or too over-the-top? I'm not doing the ranking. We'll see.

Edric Haleen featuring Heather Zink - I Wanna Go Dancing 04:10
Poor Edric. I will personally cheer the day that he avoids that "theatrical" label. In the listening party, Zoe dubbed this style "Theatrical Pop" (I think I'm not the only one imagining that crane shot in the music video!). He's batting a thousand. Per S.O.P., Edric has written a song bio (I wish everybody did... as a result I get to say more) explaining his creative process. In it he says, "I will take issue with anyone who suggests that the pain of a breakup is purely emotional and can’t also be physical..."  I certainly would agree to the extent that I wouldn't disqualify the song. I bet you some might, though. I'm not ranking, but given that the word "physical" was capitalized, and given that I grade with fuzzy logic and not with a binary "met it or didn't" criteria, I'd have to compare the emotional pain here and see how that part of the challenge stacks up against the others. On the other hand, it's tight and well produced and has a catchy melody, and Edric's clearly pushing his boundaries if not quite breaking through them. I'm as interested as anybody to see how well this, taken as a whole, does against the others.


Glen Raphael - Hangnail (Shadow) 03:00
The simple subject masks awesome rhymes and arguably the best wordplay on the album, delivered in the Itinerant Troubadour's signature style.

Dr. Lindyke - Relief (Shadow) 02:53
OK, I admit to this one. I even like it, deliberate lo-fi, vinyl pops and all. The song is about pain, yeah... but the deeper topic is the singer's faith. Here's a song bio.

Caravan Ray - Pain (Shadow) 03:01
A very shadowy shadow. Caravan Ray does a great job with the arrangement.

Zoe Gray - Apologize (Shadow) 02:52
This song is why Glen Raphael's song has only "arguably" the best wordplay on the album. The reveal in the last verse takes this from "professional courtesy" to "personal", and a whole different kind of hurt. Most excellent job.

Jailhouse Payback - Back Pain (Shadow) 04:09
I was thinking this is maybe about back pain. Then I realized it turned into something else ;)  I wish I could play guitar even a fraction as well as Jailhouse Payback. I love this sound.

Red Watcher - Change (Shadow) 03:04
Very impressive arrangement and production, and the tune is great. As a shadow it's "woo-hoo!", but if this were an official entry I might have a small beef about the ambiguity of the pain. There's a forest fire, but those are plants, and I'm not so sure that the singer's pain isn't entirely emotional or figurative.

Boffo Yux Dudes - Is There A Doctor In The House? (Shadow) 04:03
I can neither confirm nor deny that a "Doctor" had anything to do with this. I do know for certain that when one of the composers saw the lyrics, he knew that the iconic bassline simply had to appear in the song. Then the only trick was transitioning that to the required progression in the chorus. And the BYD know how to interpret "war sounds!" It runs long, but you can blame the BBC for keeping the show on the air for so long.

Boffo Yux Dudes - I'm In Love With The Pain That You Give (Shadow) 03:11
This sounds exactly as if the BYD ran out of time to produce the song and simply submitted the super rough demo intended as a guide for production. Huh. Tom Lehrer's "Masochism Tango" concept cleverly re-imagined as a waltz. Somebody better go back and practice.

Boffo Yux Dudes - Pain (Shadow) 02:33
I think this one may be the victim of a mixing malfunction. Sounds like the rhythm track got mis-aligned. But it exists, and is somewhat song-like.

The Boffo Yux Dudes with TC Elliot - Put The Hammer Down (Shadow) 04:28
See, now, that's better!

Boffo Yux Dudes - Window Pain (Shadow) 05:09
This sounds exactly as if the music were slapped together by some jerk with a guitar after the listening party pre-show had already started. The lyrics are good, though. Runs long.

Dr. Lindyke - Gotta Pee (Parody) (Shadow) 02:58
Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous. But it has a song bio.


Edric Haleen said...

Thanks for the review, Dave!

You do bring up a good point. I know I worked really hard to try to make the physical pain clear throughout the entirety of the lyric -- particularly right at the beginning and during the bridge -- but that won't mean much if people focus instead on the emotional pain and question whether I really met the challenge.

The pain in this song was drawn directly from my two experiences with the loss of a relationship. The tightness in my chest. The knots in my stomach. And -- as I wrote to Heather while we were putting this song together -- "To the extent that I believe I have a soul -- that would be the thing to which I'd ascribe the horrible, sucking, empty, gnawing void inside my stomach and guts." I had the palpable sense that part of me was missing -- ripped out -- that I was no longer complete and needed to retrieve that part of myself that had been taken from me.

Ironically, Jenny just wrote in the LAST round that I'm programmed to stimulate the listener's vagal nerves -- the same ones at play in the link between emotional and physical pain! I'll admit that I actually questioned a tiny bit during the course of the last week if there really is much difference between emotional pain and physical pain (or, say, the "phantom" pain felt by an amputee) -- as it's all feelings that result from processes in the brain. But -- recognizing and honoring the distinction in our culture and our vernacular -- I did try to keep the song's lyric firmly anchored in the physical manifestations of her pain.

As for what the other SpinTuners think? We'll see what happens . . .



Jenny Katz said...

Couldn't agree with you more about my song, Dave. I was really happy with the pre-chorus, pretty happy with the chorus, and very unsatisfied with the moody ramblings of the verses. I liked a few of the lines, and I liked the challenge of singing the long held note, but it's a weaker song for the conversationality of it… one of my Achilles' heels. Thanks for writing. I really loved 'Relief'… and 'Gotta Pee.'

Jenny Katz said...

(On the other hand, I was very happy to get to write my husband a song about his struggle… or, more accurately, about my support of him through this struggle. I know he knows. But it was nice to be able to say it.)

Ryan M. Brewer said...

Appreciate you taking the time to review, Dave. I don't know if it clears anything up about the editorial hand's intent...but the song was originally titled "Christ Responds to Modern Christians' Claims of Persecution". However, I changed some lyrics to come off less vitriolic and in the process, pulled back the bite of the title as well. In the inescapably colored opinion of the author...I'm not sure if you DIDN'T know the subject, the early reveal of the editorial hand wouldn't affect you so adversely.

Dave Leigh said...

Hi, Ryan. I don't think the subject affected me negatively. THAT was asked for. It doesn't even bother me that you're writing for Jesus in the first person. We've done that as well. Nor is it a matter of Christ showing anger or speaking bluntly. That totally has precedent.

What the little voice in the back of my mind is shouting in response to "WWJD" is that the lines, "let's just bury this hatchet, by that knife in your back. / like the spear in my side, I hope that coat burns you bad" are simply out-of-character. It's a matter of "breaking kayfabe", if you're familiar with the expression. It would detract from the song even if I just walked in off the street.

On the other hand, the song's got REALLY good production and performance value. So what my rankings might be shouldn't be assumed to be obvious from my comments.

Dave Leigh said...

BTW... I probably should mention that William... who did do our rankings... really is in the position of having just walked in. He doesn't do social media, so is insulated and drama-free.

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