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Spintunes Round 3 Judging Reviews

Hello Spintunes! Huzzah for Round 3 – “Occupy Spintunes”!

Debs was really late getting to the reviews this time around, so Errol actually did work in writing some stuff out.

D: Why must you keep doing that?
E: What? This is the first time!
D: In writing yes, but you do it all the time!
D: One more round after this. Just one more round.


1. Turboshandy – Guns

E: How come Turboshandy is always first?
D: Maybe he gets done first.
E: Is he first in the alphabet?
D: Maybe it’s because he submits first.
E: There’s probably some arcane algorithm Spintunes utilizes.
D: Maybe it’s because… oh forget it.

There are cool changes in this song in terms of keys, feel and timing. While some variety is always good, too many shifts can over complicate a song, and we feel that’s what happened here. They don’t do much in and of themselves to propel the message forward and often sounded jarring and unnatural, particularly between the verse and the pre-chorus. The instruments do blend well but we do advise simplifying something, perhaps the pre-chorus, which stuck out to us as being too much. We found the complication distracting this made it way harder to pay attention to the actual message.

Lyrically, it’s solid and bringing in the videogames is really effective. The “dick” line at the beginning hurts though because insulting someone from the outset is a sure fire way to get them to not listen to what you have to say. The identity of the “you” this song is addressing is unclear and because of that, it packs less of a punch in terms of how persuasive it is.

2. Jenny Katz – Next Nice Town

E: I really like Jenny’s voice. Can you learn how to sing like her?
D: Can you stuff your face in a toilet?
E: Flushed or unflushed?
D: You’re disgusting.
E: It’s a gift.

As always, the production value on this is really high. It’s upbeat, singable and fun to listen to, a song for going on a road trips! We do like the subtle sarcasm but the message itself is a little unclear and requires some untwisting on the part of the listener to grasp. It doesn’t quite bite and it feels like more of a commentary than a protest song to us.

E: I think it’s trying to be Gangnam Style.
D: What?
E: Gangnam Style was a commentary on the affluent, vacuous lifestyle of Gangnam that was modeled after North American Culture. And I think that’s what Jenny is trying to do here. I say think because it sounds more like an internal battle of self loathing. The singer is criticizing the lifestyle which she has adopted and in the end wants to burn it all down. But she doesn’t. She states that she will in ‘The Next Town’. So in reality, she just continues to do the things she does and continues to feel bad about herself, but makes no movement to do anything about it. And in a sense, it just keeps us in our apathy towards such matters. We continue to post on facebook one or two pithy quotes about social justice photoshopped on pretty pictures in curly script and we feel that’s about as much we can do. So I do see where Jenny is going with it, but in the end, it misses the mark of the challenge. It qualifies, but I don’t think it achieved it.
E: Impressed by my insight?
D: I’m more impressed you can talk that long without mentioning Totoro.
E: I made a Totoro shaker-
D: No one cares.

3. RC – An Equal Start

E: Great mood in this song. It makes me feel it belongs in a late 1970’s animated film. I would say the layered vocals during the chorus sound a bit mumbled in a few lines. I didn’t really catch what was being said. And I also like the lone piano playing during the instrumental part. That may be because I’m partial to the piano.

D: Ditto on the piano. It’s mournful and conveys a sense of urgency. This has a brooding energy which I really like. You’re stating the problem and asking for change but I think that in terms of persuasiveness, expanding the consequences of not getting that equal start (perhaps into later life) would have increased the impact.

E: Anything else?
D: I saw a documentary on this.
E: Oh.
D: It was about a really good school –
E: Let me interrupt. Are you reiterating what is in the song?
D: No! There are –
E: Next song!

4. Edric Haleen – On The Matter Of Bullying

E: I’m always a sucker for showtunes.
D: I’m a sucker for –
E: – boys.

The emotion is there, you sound great, and you deliver every line clearly. One thing we could say which might be nitpicky is that when you get to the parts with a quicker delivery, it’s the same each time as far as emotional intensity goes in terms of your vocals.

E: There’s no build and because of that, it tends to sound a bit like a lecture. I kind of tune out and lose focus.
D: Well, the piano does build and become more in those sections as the song goes on, but vocally it does need more build which would mean starting smaller. It’s tough because it is a long song. And you pretty much lose focus all the time, Errol.
E: It’s like a few of my friends on facebook that share every social justice thing they can think of on their wall. After a while, it all gets lost. If you’re passionate about everything, it starts to feel you’re passionate about nothing. What is striking and honed at the beginning starts to lose effectiveness.
D: I think it’s a matter of becoming desensitized because the song is long. And the timing shift is very abrupt. This is effective but it does feel like we’re being assaulted and overwhelmed.

Having said all that, as always, you are masterful at using musical elements to get your message across.

5. Ross Durand – Don’t Send Them Away

E: It sounds like a 1970’s protest song!
D: I have no idea what that sounds like.
E: Just imagine Woodstock.
D: I don’t know what that sounds like.
E: Hippies.
D: …. 
E: You know, forget it.

The soldier’s point of view you’ve taken really grabs our attention and makes this tune stand out. It feels really easy and natural and it’s definitely a song you could march to. The chorus is catchy, meaty and perfect for joining in on. We do think that the having only the legs amputated might have been more effective than having the arms amputated too, as that made it seem a little over the top. Great job in acing this challenge.

6. Steve Durand – Just War

The funky groove is fun and attention grabbing and we like the saxophone solo you have in there. Starting off with the short, punchy lines in the verses and then changing it up is really effective. The lyrics are to the point and the wordplay is great.

D: As a funk song though, it’s falling a little short of what it could be. The horns are very smooth and need to be edgier and more aggressive. More play with timing across the instruments (especially in the break) would make the song a lot more dynamic. I can totally appreciate that funk is really hard to do though.
E: Things don’t feel as polished as they could be. So the organ doing its syncopated beat in the left channel doesn’t seem to gel that well with the little electro eighth notes in the right. I do like all the instrumentation and I feel they do a great job, but 85% as opposed to 100%.  Furthermore, it’s a difficult song vocally, jumping to those high notes and the delivery is a little weak there.
D: It is a really challenging song vocally. The vocals should be carrying this song but they don’t. There’s aggression and grit missing there.

7. Jerry Skids – The Separation Of State And Nothing

Now that we’re getting to the latter judging areas, we are going to pick more on technical issues, and we would say that you desperately need a pop filter. That may be why the vocals seem to be a lot quieter than the instruments.

D: There’s great energy and aggression in your singing (and that last sustained note kicks butt). It feels as though the vocals and the guitar are competing for the same space in the mix though and because both are aggressive, it makes the song a uncomfortable to listen to. Overall, it feels unpolished and rough.

Lyrically, we really like it. We’re floored by how good your harmonies sound given that the vocals have so much edge to them, especially in the sing along chorus.

E: Wait, didn’t I have dialogue in here too?
D: Nothing useful.
E: So? Nothing I say is useful.
D: As long as you’re self aware.

8. The Middle Relievers – Love Builds Homes

The intro riff really grabbed us. The instruments and vocal distortion sounds great albeit the vocals seem a little soft.

The verses are really, really strong. The punctuated rhythm you’re giving the lyrics here is provocative and keeps us hanging on every word. Vocally, things get really weak in the pre-chorus and in the bridge. It’s harder to understand the lyrics, the confidence and conviction seem to be gone and there are some pitch problems.

The nod to Ernie and Bert is really cute, and the chorus is full of pointed lines that really get the message across. It’s really catchy too!

E: There was a nod to Ernie and Bert?
D: YES! I thought you heard the song!
E: I don’t listen to lyrics, you know that!
D: But these are protest songs!
E: I protest how you are trying to make me listen to lyrics.

9. Brian Gray – Walk (Live From Woodbury)

E: I’m at a rock concert!
D: We’re at a rock concert!
E: You go to rock concerts?
D: Ya!
E: I thought you just hang out in hipster bars.
D: Where do you get this warped view of me?
E: Usually by your actions and the things you say.

The live feel of this is really epic and we could totally see this being performed in front of a crazy huge stadium crowd. The sustained lines “Here we are/Who gets pulled” are really strong and a create a great call to action. This song has a lot of space for the instruments to play and we dig that. We would have loved more harmonies to really drive the message home. “Walkers gonna walk” is a really memorable hook. And we like the zombies.

10. Dr. Lindyke – The Square

You’re digging deep with some meaty jazziness here and we really like it. This is another song where the point of view you’ve taken really stands out. Making that explicit in the first line is a really good move. It grabs our attention and makes us think, “Yes, we know them and we do want to know what they have to say about how things are now.”

Your vocals carry a lot of soul and conviction and we love the playful melisma things you’re doing in spots. We would suggest bringing the vocals up in the mix though.

E: Melis-what?
D: ‘Melisma’
E: What is that?
D: It’s where you sing the syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession.
E: Oh. Neat.

11. MC Ohm-I – If You Don’t Like Gay Marriage

E: Ha, great delivery. The chorus is great fun. Awesome song. 😀
D: That’s it?
E: Yup.
D: You  don’t have a review?
E: I have no idea what to say because I like it and I’m not great at critiquing this genre. I understand the words which is impressive at the speed he’s going and I like the chorus. It’s danceable and fun.
D: But we can’t not leave him a review.
E: We’re rating it really high! Good grief.
D: Well, I want to leave him with something!
E: Fine. Go. Review.
D: ….
E: Doing great, Debs.
D: …. It’s awesome.
E: Yes it is. 

12. Kevin Savino-Riker – Dinosaur Sam

We dig the funk and the syncopation in the the guitar has us bopping our heads. Unfortunately, we found the melody to be really repetitive and uninteresting we had to fight to pay attention to the message because it wasn’t grabbing us. It feels as though you created the track first and then struggled a little bit to find a melody that fit. The verse/chorus division feels vague because there’s not enough contrast between sections so the direction feels a little diffuse.

E: I feel sorry for people who write a funk song.
D: Funk is awesome!
E: All you do is date funk bands. You can be very critical on every nuance of a funk song.
E: Ya, you date a lot of other boys too. Not geeks though.

“Buckethat” Bobby – Knock Off (Shadow)

By this round, things become more critical in regards to technical proficiency, and so when things like wrong notes are played, those stick out. It’s a fun little tune though and would of course be much better if it was tighter and practiced more. The doubled vocals are sitting a little oddly with us because we don’t think they’re really needed and their looseness is distracting. We would drop them in favour of harmonies to add more interest in the chorus, especially towards the end of the song. The lyrics are really accessible and we like that.

E: Blogger highlights ‘favour’.
D: What?
E: I like the ‘u’ in there.
D: Yes. Quit getting distracted.
E: Like that’s going to happen.
D: True.

The Boffo Yux Dudes – Eat The Whales (Shadow)

E: I don’t think I would like blubber. And I’m all about unhealthy things. I don’t think I would want to eat seals or jelly fish either.
D: Errol…
E: I guess I would eat an owl if it was cooked and tasted like chicken. I mean, all birds taste the same, right? I ate quail once.
D: Errol…
E: I ate camel. That was good. I would eat camel again – OW
D: Shut up and do the reviews.

The Boffo Yux Dudes – The Ballad of the Last of the Hackers (Shadow)

E: Steve Jackson had a card game called “Hackers”. It was fun. And it was old. I think it was the precursor to his card game “Illumanti”. I still haven’t played a full game of that.
D: This has nothing to do with the review.
E: It totally does! We’re talking about hackers! That’s all about the review! OOOh, that reminds me of a game on the C64 called Hacker. It was… not as hacky as it was just controlling a little robot to do something. It wasn’t as awesome as hacking sounds like it should be.
D: You’re getting off track.
E: Now the “Hacker” card game was pretty fun. You had to hack into –
D: I don’t care…
E: *sigh* You never care. This is why you wound me.
D: And it’s my pleasure.
E: Thanks.

Dr. Lindyke – Memory Of A Future Past (Shadow)

E: I don’t understand why Dr. Lindyke has a shadow if he has a song already. Can’t you have more than one?
D: I don’t think you can have more than one.
E: Oh, that’s good. I guess it would be hard to judge if more than one person put in a couple of songs each.
D: Don’t you read the rules?
E: I just hope you read them and then tell me later when I break them.
D: We should be writing a review write now.
E: Is this one of those rules I broke again?

Dr. Lindyke – It’s A Joke, Not A Dick (Don’t Take It So Hard) (Shadow)

E: Wait, it’s another song from Lindyke!
D: We haven’t finished a review of the last one!
E: Yes we did. We had all sorts of things to say.
D: We didn’t say anything about the song!
E: I think it was a song about hacking.
D: That was the Boffo song!
E: I remember some cool hacking sites where they encouraged you to hack into them.
D: WRONG SONG! This song is about Dicks!
E: Oh, no wonder you want to desperately do this review.
D: I loathe you so much.

3 Responses to Spintunes Round 3 Judging Reviews

  1. Ugh I did not like this round. Not the songs.. the songs were great, but the subject. Protest is always controversial and subjected to opinion. I did not envy the judges b/c I don’t think I could have been objective judging this. In a way I wasn’t when I cast my votes. I had 3 criteria; 1- did I like the song, 2- did I consider it a protest song, 3- did I cringe while listening to it? XD Edric had my favorite out of all of them and I did actually like Jerry Skids’ song. And.. I can’t remember who else I voted for, though I know I did vote for 5 of them. XD

    One more round to go! 🙂

    • You know weirdly, it was really easy to be objective in terms of the actual subject matter…I think because most of them were pretty general? Or maybe because there wasn’t much that we strongly disagreed with?

      • That could help. There weren’t many I actually did disagree with myself. I guess it was more the delivery. There were also some where I can see both sides of the issue which makes for awkward feelings. XD