This was a strong contest with many interesting entries. Some decent songs were let down by poor production and/or crappy vocals. But I made it through the vast majority without having to try to hard.
BERKELEY SOCIAL SCENE
Verse is good. I do not hate the vocal. Chorus is awkward and sloppy. Overall it has that indie underachieving thing going, like it's scared to be good. Female backing vocal is good exept where it's going out of time (deliberately). Solo doesn't do anything for me at all. There's a decent song in here disguised by sloppy performance and just not quite getting there. Made it all the way through, but not a vote. BGM
Impeccable production and close-miked vocal as always. Love the lyrics and the little major-minor turnaround. The precisely double tracked harmony is great. Your intonation is so good. Love the disco breakdown with the reprise at the end. Always a sucker for a song that tells a story. I have nothing bad to say about this, like a cross between the Postal Service and the Magnetic Fields. Reading the other review, I guess a bridge would have lifted it a bit higher but the disco part did it for me. VOTE.
BILLY & THE PSYCHOTICS
Look, if you're going to come in hard on the bass line, it better be a great bass sound. This is not a great bass sound and the playing is kind of sloppy. Programmed drum roll is also a turn off right at the get-go. Then a bunch of bloviating guitar. Oh no, now they're singing about 'reality'. Veering dangerously close to Spinal Tap territory. Appreciate the energy, but now it's over and I have a headache.C LAYNE
A nursery rhyme tune over a hiphop beat, that got my attention. Lots of nice production things going on and the vocal tone is sweet. Then it goes into a sort of Wings section with some fairly uninspired guitar work. What? The rest of the production is so nice, the boring guitars are super disappointing. But the chorus vocal line is good, got a 70s 10cc vibe. Then some cut-up stuff with tizzy distortion which doesn't cut it for me. But I will still give this a VOTE.
T C ELLIOTT
When I saw this was 7' long I thought 'uh oh'. And then the autotuned vocal began. Dear God, no. I had to stop at 14 seconds, just to get the courage to go on. I made it all the way to 0.43 before IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY MAKE IT STOP! THE GOGGLES, THEY DO NOTHING!
The verse lyrics to this are actually pretty good. But the electro-cum-ramones kind of thing isn't working for me at all and the 'take away the pain' chorus sounds like an outtake from a 14 year old's emo garage band recording. Sorry. I didn't want to be down on this because the lyric has got something going on.
The letter concept is clever and the lyrics could work with a bit more, work, I guess. The two chord musical concept works for this kind of thing. But the execution is sloppy and ill thought-out. It really is not that hard to play in time, folks, and write parts that are not simply meandering doodles over a scale. I started out wanting to like this but I didn't.DJ RANGER DEN
Nice guitar. Nice voice, well recorded. Lyrics good. Relaxed timing is great. Chord sequence keeps going into interesting places, with those sevenths. Would like to hear a stand up bass and trap drum with brushes on this, maybe a soft piano. Great performance overall. VOTE.EMPEROR GUM
By God, yes. The sounds are fantastic! But then the vocal almost ruins it. Terrible tin-can production. It's not a bad voice but try close-miking it and putting it in the same space as the other instruments, which are beautifully recorded, and make the sloppy playing sound deliberate and rather wonderful. There's no reason not to do the same thing with the voice. I'm going to VOTE on this though, just because it's so unusual and interesting and the instrumentation is beautiful.
Nice Rhodes, like bgm says. Vocal needs a little something. A harmony, a backing part? OH HERE'S THE CHORUS AND HOW. WOW. The voice is so much nicer when it has a backing. On its own the pitch is too exposed. Not quite a vote but close.
Yeah, I'm not really digging this. Wordplay is clever enough and I didn't see the twist coming. but the whole thing leaves a bit of a bad taste. Which I'm sure is the intention, but I'll pass anyway.
I sort of like the dime store guitar and cardboard box drums but the histrionic vocals are not doing anything for me. This has a sort of Beefheart vibe but the singing is heading into territory I've little interest in visiting. Bailed, sorry.
LIFE IN DECIBELS
Arrangement/production is fine if soporific and dated but the again voice kills it. Also, you better bring your AAA+++ WOULD BUY AGAIN game if you're gonna rip off Kraftwerk quite so obviously.
Interesting opening, like the bass line against the organ. Oooh, quite like the vocal. Lyric is drivel but the production keeps things interesting for a while. I would have voted for this with a better lyric. 'No-one cares'. True nuf, I'm afraid.
PACO DEL STINKO
Yeah, that krushed whatever-the-fuck-it-is is great. I'm not listening to the words though. The sweeping sine wave is kind of fun as a structural element to bring in the chorus. I'm sort of zoning out on the whole thing though, feels a bit rote to be honest. I feel like some driving Big Black style percussion would have made all the difference on this. Felt a bit underpowered without it.
So it's the Pet Shop Boys, right? Horrible, crappy-sounding production at the start. Gets more interesting one the chunkachunk guitar comes in, but then meanders along pointlessly doing the same thing. Then stops. O-kay.SON OF SUPERCAR
I have fantasies of walking into a bar and seeing this band with three other people. I would totally become a fan. I've bought many singles that are considerably worse than this. I have made several myself. First guitar solo is THE FUCKING DOGS BOLLOCKS <-- excellent thing. I would vote for the solo on its own. Yeah, that's a VOTE my friends.
I enjoyed learning to do this in 7/8. Like I say I tried to put it in 6/8 but it sounded The Streets of Laredo or some mock Celtic folk drivel. The basic rhythmic idea is stolen from the turnaround of the Strangler's Golden Brown
. The story is a true one - it's the suicide of Sylvia Plath told from the point of view of the elderly painter who lived underneath her. Most of the details are accurate.
Anyway, votes to: BGM, C LAYNE, DJ, SUPERCAR, EMPEROR GUM. If I had to pick a winner, probably DJ because I have no quibbles.* I once took a course to become a snowboard instructor. We were encouraged to give feedback like this: compliment them on something, then say 'to do it even better' and give them the negative feedback. For example: "Nice stance! You could carve even better if you pressure the front foot more". Someone asked what you do if the riding is so bad that there's nothing you can actually compliment. The guy who was running the course smiled and said "You say, 'Nice hat!'". So, nice hat!