Posts Tagged ‘Reviews’

SpinTunes 12 Round 1 Reviews

February 1, 2017

lagertha loves me.

Whoa. 37 songs in this SpinTunes group. Many superb songs. I’ll try and parse some thoughts on each.

Ryan M. Brewer – ReCount, Revenge

Driving rhythm, nice hook, and lots of wordplay in the imagery of the disputed Gore v Bush election counting in Florida. Well done, and it’s sticking in my head.

Kyleen Downes – Do What You Do

You hit this one out of the park. Dreamlike and etherial, yet grounded in a fait accompli. What do you do after you’ve lost something you never thought would be lost? And you’re not responsible for those anymore since you lost? Drew me into the story, and the chorus was a nice hooky break.

Lucky Witch & The Righteous Ghost – Spoiler

The chorus is catchy – I keep coming back to it. Maybe because it’s repeated 4 times. Use of the synth bells on the keyboard was a nice touch.

Governing Dynamics – Concessions

Haunting guitars and an overall mood of uneasiness works it way through this track very insidiously. Punctuated with a blistering soul searing solo. Bonding with those who lost has never been so wallowing with hope.

Dr. Lindyke – Doom’s Day

Love the concept. I’ve always had a soft spot for Victor von Doom. And using a Tango base for a dictator was inspired. Brough a Latin and Latvarian flair to the proceedings. Reed Richards would be suitably upset with this song. Bravo.

Edric Haleen – This Changes Everything

I’ve read Edric’s reasoning why he should be DQed for this song. It’s true. He should. But It was something he believed in, and making a stand is something he’s good at. The dissonance in the song fit the mood of the ‘event’. So you win. and lose. Simultaneously. Here’s hoping you win in the end in another venue.

Kevin Savino-Riker – The Damn Breaks

Simple arrangement with guitar focuses the attention to your lyrics, which is a good thing. A good warning to those who win that they might not actually get what they’r looking for.

Heather Zink – BeFührer

Nice plaintive piano work on the German history of the early setbacks of Adolf. You just can’t keep a good man down. Or a bad one. May the Fatherland last 1000 years… or 12 and end in a bunker.

Shyfox – Berdie

Kicking back with a ukulele, a deceptively upbeat song on keeping the faith and moving forward even with the current setbacks. Nicely done.

Domingo – Bulería de Persuació

Beautiful Guitar Work. Emotional response. I ran the lyrics through a translation, and your version was much more striking – ‘Don’t Throw me to the Wolves’ isn’t as persuasive as ‘Awaiting to be thrown to the depths of Hades’. Very enjoyable song.

Steve Stearns – Overthrown

Love that funky bass line. Also love the future dystopian society on a remote colony base. I’d like to hear the backstory on this one.

Zoe Gray – Long Live The Queen

Funky drums behind an etherial vibe. I missed the Carrie reference until I read the details on Bandcamp. Now it all makes sense. Winning the election for Prom Queen isn’t all it’s cut out to be for the voters. Nice execution. Literally.

Brian Gray – Abernathy Fitzgerald

You’ve got a great talent telling stories though creative characters. Another home run with this loser turned winner who is still a loser. The chorus of ‘Suck it’ was truly inspired.

James Young – Vote For Me!

Driving bass line and guitars keep my attention here, as well as the lyrics that just keep relentlessly coming. Nice guitar solo and alternating vocals between punctuated riffs.

Rob From Amersfoort – Why

I like your off kilter style. The effect laden voice and overall goofy take on the loss of the election kept me off balance – It’s kinda like XTC meets Emperor Gum and had a baby that came out of the womb as a teenager.

Bryan Schumann – Royal Blood

Nice mood you set with this one. You captured the loss of a parent, and the need to succeed when you succeed. Good guitar work.

Ross Durand – Homeroom

Nice take on the angst of losing a school election. The self loathing of having to hear the voice of his rival every day over the PA system fits all too well. Solid guitar work and plaintive vocals put the cherry on this.

Jerry Skids – The Ethical Ballad Of Mayor Goldie Wilson

I never thought the Mayor of Hill Valley would be the topic of such diversion. Or the cause of two many issues in the main city of ‘Back to the Future’. Nice extrapolation from the point of view of Marty McFly’s nudge into politics. Harmonies and simple guitar work come together for a song greater than the sum of it’s parts. Good one.

Turtle Fence – Mr. Brexit (or, Nobody Loves EU)

Stripped down arrangement amplified by the multiple voice tracks. Felt a little sparse, but then again, Brexit doesn’t make you want to jump for joy either. I liked the multi voice tracking.

Mick Bordet – Democracy Inaction

Whoa. Slow things down and feel the burn. You set a mood for this whole piece that was depressing and thoughtful, which I think you were looking for. Achievement Unlocked.

Army Defense – Elected

Upbeat surf rock ditty on the rich corporate america lifestyle. Pretty dystopian, but with a nice counterpart including the happy guitars. The hook sticks in my brain, so you got something going on there.

Emperor Gum – Lucifer

I love the idea of evil incarnate having a go at UK Politics. Obviously he’s going to succeed. But with style and panache. Nice comic timing with the appropriate verses kicking in with music creshendo. Very well done.

Mariah Mercedes – Election Of Love

This rocks in so many ways. The chorus. The seduction of the voter with the sultry voice.  And the hook. One of the top songs this round which keeps going round and round in my brain. Don’t forget us when you’re in the big show!

Alex Forger – Change The World (I Hope)

Nice, Simple arrangement for a winning candidate and his ethical debate with himself. When you go down that slippery slope, what happens, one compromise at a time? Who knew ethics could be so intriguing? Good ideas in a complicated story.

Caravan Ray – Party Games

You have to smile when you hear a banjo. Which make the depressing lyrics hit a great counterpoint. Great banjo work as well. A solid entry and bonus points for rhyming disorder with  schadenfreude! Best dissonat couplet since Mark Humble rhymed Pizza with Neitzche.

Adam Sakellarides – A Better Place To Live

I like future songs about enslavement of the human race. You’ve done a good one here. Adding the self aware touches and catch chorus, you have a winner. However, none of us will be around to sing it.

Jailhouse Payback – How To Lose A School Board Election

Nice groove, completely at odds with the protagonist of the song, who isn’t comfortable in his own skin. Interesting tempo changes. I liked it.

DJ Ranger Den – My Fellow Mannabadoos

I think you wrote this song just because you like saying the word ‘Mannabadoos’. I can’t blame you. It is catchy. Catchy enough to say it 10 times… 11 if you could the backward masking (Yes, I counted!)

Boffo Yux Dudes – Bully For You

I do love Al’s photo punk rendition of the Roosevelt / Taft slugfest that left Wilson the victor.

The Crack Fox – Erection

An interesting mood piece. I’d almost call it an instrumental, although you did use 7 words so you did hit the challenge.

Sumner Wynn – The Great Weight

Brash fuzzy guitar and drums over a wistful and forlorn vocals discouraged over the loss of

an election. The analogy of weight and the presidency is interesting juxtaposition with the colorful lyrics.

Ominous Ride – 19 Never Comes

Perplexing lyrics. Driving beat and and baseline. Vivid imagery  You definitely set a mood here. What does it all mean? and why 19 votes?  The bears repeated listening.

27 Tikis – Kahuna Of The Corn Tropics

Happy Island vibe in the midwest. This one made me sway and smile. Silly and fun. Thumbs up

Megalodon – Democrat Pixie

Interesting tale of the ’66 senate race of Dick Tuck. I like how you took the phrase ‘The Bastards Have Spoken’ and turned it into your chorus. Is that a Dulcimer or a Uke in the background?

Good execution and good story.

Dr. Lindyke – A True Democracy (Shadow)

A fitting tribute SpinTown and the contest itself. Although the mental image of Cherry Pi riding herd is a little much. And illegal in most states.

Dr. Lindyke with Cherry Pi & Spintown – It Happens To Everyone (Shadow)

Yeah. Cherry Pi in a Shaggy dog story? Again, illegal in many states. But Emily Litella would be proud.

Andy Glover – Ratings Are Down (For Now) (Shadow)

I like the tone you set with just a simple guitar and your voice. The analogy of votes and love are strong. Ratings and luck are both down for this person, and it comes across. Nice execution.


Reviews: SpinTunes:Champions vs. Shadows

July 30, 2015



Since there were 3 members of BYD involved with this puppy (and Toni, who weighs in on Al’s vote), it was a complicated process to figure out the actual vote. Travis has our results, but the reviews are up for all to peruse, cajole and otherwise commiserate about. I was surprised at Scott’s thoughts, but hey, he has a point.


First up – Al Morgan takes the stage and mixes a few drinks.


Bubba and the Amiable Kraken – Bluebird:
Very catchy and sweet; I like the wistful vibe. Simple, but that works in its favor. Kinda XTC-lite. The whistling part could be the background of a car commercial.

Zoe Gray – Satisfaction Guaranteed:
Very smart; my own feminist teenage daughter would approve, and in fact this sounds a lot like some of the music she listens to. I like the spacey feel, which conjures a retro-futuristic (or is just futuristic?) vibe for me, especially contrasted with the wry content and delivery of the lyrics. Great tune (hummable!), only the bridge took me by surprise a little. A strong contender, of course.

Hotel Rex – Bridge:
I’m a sucker for power pop, what with the “1,2,3,4” countoff and all, though I’d likea little more power here. A bit generic, but ultimately a perfectly pleasant tune, well-executed.

Jutze – Ballad of the Emperor:
Props to any fellow traveller who takes the offbeat route, and bonus points for using “septillion” in a song. You do realize Star TREK is the superior franchise, don’t you?

James Young – Sandcastles:
Really well done. Not much to say, except that I like it a lot and that the Posies called and want their song back.

Rob from Amersfoort – Dream House:
OK, now THIS is what I’m talking about. When it first started I was dubious, and within 15 seconds I was loving it. Just brimming with the post-psychedelic quirkiness that I yearn for; it’s like some garage-band cross between The Soundtrack of Our Lives and The Tages. You’re not gonna get everyone on your side, but the ones you do are gonna LOVE you.

Brian Gray – I’ll Do It Myself:
Wow, I’m glad this isn’t about me. The music is exquisitelysequenced/played and fits the mood of what you’re going for perfectly. The lyrics are razor-sharp though they wander into unfathomable acronym territory at times, which I suppose is part of the joke. I think I know what you were going for with the “Septembers” bit, and it’s a nice change-up, but ultimately I think it disrupts the flow of the song. The best caustic put-down songs (and this is a good one) are usually pretty relentless. I would have liked to have heard more vitriol in the vocal delivery, but you probably see the character differently than I do.

Boffo Yux Dudes – Tiny House:
I just thank God that my wife indulges us in our silliness and I finally found a Linux-based vocal compressor plugin that works for me.

Dr. Lindyke – Day after Day:
Ah, my old archnemesis, earnest self-reflection. Well-written, sung, and played, this has everything a good 70’s-type piano song needs, including true emotion and a big ‘ol hook. The bird sound effects are appropriate and NOT played for laughs; consequently, this seems like a waste to me, but whatever floats your boat.

Pigfarmer Jr. – River of Tears:
Straightforward and roots-y. I think it works in that I want to take the narrator out for a few beers and get plastered so we all forget our troubles.

Trader Jack – Building:
The instructions are going a bit fast, so I appreciate the repeated phrases. I, too, could not find a compass, so I had to hand-draw the circles best I could. You seem to be concerned with wanting more, but if we’re going to get this done you’ll have to stay focused on the task at hand. And we won’t be able to build the tesseract you mentioned until we’ve completed the two-dimensional stuff.

Ben Taggart – Building Me:
This kinda thing ain’t my cup of gin, so I’ll note that the simplicity of the arrangement works in your favor, but you have to guard against monotony (yeah, yeah, I know, pot, meet kettle). Nice melody, but there might have been a pitch crack here or there (dammit, there’s that pot/kettle combo again!)


Jenny Katz – Thoughts on Leaving You:
This is a whole new level of good. I have a low tolerance for confessionals-with-an-acoustic-guitar, but damned if you didn’t keep me listening and thinking. Emotional without being overly sentimental, direct without being aggressively blunt, I’ve been there and maybe you all have, too. So you made me want to ask the question, Jenny: what DOES “free” mean to you?

Governing Dynamics – Room Stop Spinning:
Sounds like a lost You Am I track, which is a definite plus in my book. Growing old’s a bitch, which is why I’ve given it up mentally even if my body trudges onward, so I’m right with ya, buddy. And any DJ who doesn’t know Nirvana isn’t worth my junked collection of Ric Astley twelve-inchers.

Matt & Donna – Reasons My Kid is Crying:
You think things are bad now…wait until the little bastards become teenagers.

MC Ohm-I – Favorite Things:
The main drawback for me is that the vocals seem really low, so I have to consult the lyrics, which I mostly understood but my son thought were the best things he’s heard this week. I like the idea of hijacking something from “The Sound of Music” for a hip-hop song, if not least because it amuses me to think of Edric Haleen guesting with you on this. That’d be kinda awesome, actually.

Next up – Scott Mercer serves up his results with a dish served cold for the Champions…

All of the Champions should be disqualified.

None of them met the requirements of the challenge.  The challenge was: “write a list song about any topic you like.  The song should be in the form of a list, not about a list.”  To me, that means that the song should consist of a list and nothing more.

None of them were in the form of a list.  All the lyrics contained extraneous phrases, descriptions, questions, sentences and lyrics that were not part of the list.    (If the second sentence was not in the challenge, all of them would pass.  That second sentence prohibits any meta-commentary).

Having said that, the song that most resembled a list was the song by Jenny Katz.  Still, one of the lyrics is “I guess I should put the rest of the good down here in the column,” which is her commenting on the list, and not part of the list.  Clearly, there she is talking ABOUT a list, which is not to be done, according to the challenge.

Musically, the best song was the song by MC Ohm-I.  The My Favorite Things loop was fantastic and appropriate.

Moving on to the Shadows.
The challenge was a lot more vague and open to interpretation.  Probably appropriate that the Champions should get a more strict challenge and the Shadows get a much looser challenge.  So no disqualifications for the Shadows.

Overall a strong group of entries.  Nothing outright terrible.

1. Bubba and The Amiable Kraken – Love it…don’t mind the whistling at all, it’s a song about a bird.  Really pleasant and catchy.  Great hook in the chorus.

2. Zoe Grey. – Fantastic girl pop.  Lots of heart and brains.  Good social commentary here.  This manages, somehow, to feel both contemporary and timeless simultaneously.  Just a winner all the way around.

3. Hotel Rex – The first of several bridges that get built.  Really like the music, it’s got that classic Beatles/Badfinger feel.  Really strong entry.  The clumsy ending means I can’t rank it number one.

4. Jutze – This is a novelty, and I think I know where I speak regarding novelty songs.  So it has to be judged on different criteria from the other entries.  Is it a good novelty song?  I think it’s just okay.  No new twists on the Star Wars mythos really.  Hasn’t this vein been mined out by this time?  Overall, it’s a bit perfunctory.

5. James Young – It’s got an 80’s rock feel, like, I dunno, Big Country?  Midnight Oil?  It’s not bad but it doesn’t get me riled up.

6.  Rob From Amersfoort – Okay, more building castles.  This is also has an 80’s feel in my opinion, but more like Talking Heads or The Cars?  A bit “New Wave”.  It’s a bit more catchy than the James Young, but not much.  Really not a fan of that coda.

7. Brian Gray – This type of musical arrangement would have been good for a list song, but…that’s irrelevant.  Anyway, love the wordplay, and the “End of The World As We Know It” lyric torrent.  The completely non-matching bridge makes a nice intermezzo, a refreshing palate cleanser before we go back into the final verse.  Delightful!

8. BYD – Not rating our own song.

9. Dr. Lindyke – Well, hey.  More building castles in the sand!  This is a nice ballad, kind of a power pop ballad.  Reminds me of The Vandalias.  Nobody knows who that is, I’m sure.  We stay with the sand/beach metaphor throughout the song and really explore it, though.  And I appreciate that.  It’s not just a passing, obvious gambit.  Definitely a 70’s feel.  And a cameo from Jonathan Livingston Seagull!  Points for that.

10. Pigfarmer Jr. – Okay, now back to building a bridge across the river.  The songwriting is perfectly good, but I’m not blown away by the arrangement or the recording.  It’s pretty spare and I think the song could have justified a denser arrangement.  I know, it’s kind of country or folk or whatever, but that’s just how I feel.

11. Trader Jack – I appreciate the attempt at doing something different, but I did not want to listen to this a second time.

12. Ben Taggart – (late entry) – It’s a nice heartfelt song, I like the tack on the lyrics, something nobody else tried.  I don’t think it would have won, but I liked it.

and lastly, up with desert is Tommy G, who hits the nail on the head with his insightful commentary (or is that the mixed drinks talking?)

The Champions…

Jenny Katz – Thoughts On Leaving You
I like the simple guitar melody line that pushed the thoughts forward. It’s as though the pro and con list is a frantic thought process. What’s good? What’s bad? and what’s not in my control? She’s made her mind up. What about him?
Nice, plaintive ballad that hits many good notes and answers one question but leaves us wondering on the final one.

Governing Dynamics – Room Stop Spinning
Fun, Fuzzy Guitars accent the fuzziness inside the singer’s head. Is he growing up and out of partying? or just annoyed at the fact he can’t relate to the next generation coming up in the wash of bourbon and regret? If you’re too cool for the room, should you stay in it?
I like the driving bass as a counterpoint to the languishing guitars. The song can’t keep going in one direction, which accents the spinning room. Interesting use of tempo there.

Matt & Donna – Reasons My Kid Is Crying
I liked the melancholy kid cries turned into the chorus refrain. Nice touch on using a stylophone. It fits like an electronic xylophone glove. The forlorn feeling by the doting Dad come through as exasperation from the parents, where they can’t do the right thing for their kid (Although they look like they’re doing the right stuff, the kid obviously doesn’t agree)
It looks like they both need a kid breather after this, but the song tells the story well.

MC Ohm-I – Favorite Games
Good use of tying the music riff into the list theme for ‘My Favorite Things’. It fit well. The lyrics had wit without being snarky. I’d love to hear the vocals more present in the mix – they should be front and center on the next version.

The Challengers

Bubba & The Amiable Kraken – Bluebird
Fun, easygoing song about making a birdhouse. I liked the harmonies on the final chorus line, and the accent from the electric guitar complements the acoustic strumming.
The lyrics brought me to a meadow in my mind. Good job.

Zoe Gray – Satisfaction Guaranteed
Building your personal robot? That will take care of your every wish? What could go wrong with that? Well, what happens if that robot finds out there is more than serving people out there? Interesting tale, and good use of minor chord progressions to heighten the off note that all is not as it appears in the song.

Hotel Rex – Bridge
Good bar band rocking song, but the lyrics cryptically show the building involved is one of self deception. Nice twist there – the main character is actually pretty clueless about his situation. So it’s treating the subject as a positive, while the listener can pick out all the negatives involved in this relationship. Good touch.

Jutze – Ballad Of The Emperor
Who doesn’t love a good Star Wars romp? I like this upbeat ditty about building the most powerful station in the universe. Nice foreshadowing with ‘This weapon is too big to fail’.  The whole song made me smile.

James Young – Sandcastles
Funky analogy of Building Sand Castles and the impermanence of reality. Good guitar solo.  Do the castles hold your dreams, which wash away with the waves? Is it all futile in the end? a bit depressing, actually, but the forlorn voice does bring it together in the chorus.

Rob From Amersfoort – Dream House
Very dreamy stuttersteping song. Odd choice of chord progression, which builds on itself, brick by brick. Feels like you took inverse chords to make it have an unsettling emotional response. Then you toss in the refrain at the end that mixes things up more. The dream is askew, and the notes reinforce that thought.

Brian Gray – I’ll Do It Myself
Driving upbeat, manic tempo keeps the pace with a caffeine fueled tantrum.
The break was a good counterpoint for where the singer wants to be – but never quite gets back there. Also liked the organ solo – kept things moving fast like the mental state of the programmer.

The Boffo Yux Dudes – My Tiny House Is Too Tiny
I’m biased on this one. Al and Toni took a fun take on Scott’s lyrics. I’m still laughing every time Peter Dinklage is mentioned. So I’m a little prejudiced.

Dr. Lindyke – Day After Day
I like the laid back vibe this puts out. It’s not rushed. It has its own pace, and keeps to it. The ebb and flow of the tide fit the couple and their on again, off again relationship. But like the tide, they keep at it and build it back up again. SImple melody, but it all fits together like  glove. Well done.

Pigfarmer Jr – River Of Tears
Aching lyrics of lost love and lost time hits the heart. Nice guitar solo. Building Bridges over the river of tears is a good analogy for the heartache of the singer.

Trader Jack – Building
You build confusion very well with this tune. Watching the video helps at least make some sense of the lyrics, but it’s a long way to go for a cube.

Ben Taggart – Building Me (Shadow)
I’m seriously bummed this one came in too late to be a true shadow, and is more a stalker song. NIce analogy for building character instead of things. It also has a nice theme of passing on knowledge through the generations.

I’ll add the actual ranking of all the songs after Travis has posted his versions, since we had one clear victor, but the others were all within one point. Nice job everyone, and on to the final round!


Tommy G., Al and Scott.