Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

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seemanski
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by seemanski »

I have done this a couple of weeks and stayed relatively quiet. I thought I would post something for a change. No constructive criticism as I don't feel confident (or good enough) to do that. These are a few of the tracks that stood out for me:

Moss Palace - I love how tender this is, a really clever interpretation of the challenge.
Lucky Spoon - As I have just finished binging the Mandalorion, you had me hook line and sinker. Now I am working my way through the documentaries and I can't believe how awesome the volume is.
Jon Eric - Great idea for the percussion element, I really liked your play on the chupacarbra coming after your kids. Love the Beck vibes.
Grumpy Mike - Wo Oh! That drags you in straight in, the harmonies really give this a punch and good move using piano and bass. Ben Folds would be proud of this.
Max Bombast - This is epic! I adore your guitar work. You are clearly exceptational at what you do and I am jealous.
Frankie Big Face - It was the blend of the effects on the guitar and those gorgeous drums that I loved about this. I was dubious at first but then the drums kicked in and it fitted so well.

I must admit I found myself trying to count instruments which really annoyed me, so I just switched that side of my brain off and enjoyed the music, which was a joy. It certainly added to my long walk avoiding people in the glorious sunshine.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by frankie big face »

seemanski wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:06 pm
Frankie Big Face - It was the blend of the effects on the guitar and those gorgeous drums that I loved about this. I was dubious at first but then the drums kicked in and it fitted so well.
Those gorgeous drums are courtesy of the Apple Drummer function of Logic, my new best friend. Love the ease and flexibility - a far cry from my old Boss DR-550. And just so my Rickenbacker 4001 doesn't take offense, it's a bass not a guitar. :D Thank you for the kind words!!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by seemanski »

frankie big face wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:11 pm
Those gorgeous drums are courtesy of the Apple Drummer function of Logic, my new best friend.
God damn my personal computer choices :(
frankie big face wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:11 pm
it's a bass not a guitar. :D
Now I listen back that is immediately obvious.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by frankie big face »

Yeah, I was just talking to Grumpy Mike about Drummer the other day. You select a drummer and a basic style but you have all kinds of variables to play with. Simple vs. complex, loud vs. soft, what percentage of ghost notes you'd like, push or pull of tempo, etc. It's quite amazing. And then if you set up your song with markers like verse, chorus, etc. it knows when to put in a fill, open things up , switch to ride cymbal - whoever designed it is a genius. (Like a real one, not just an Apple Store genius.)
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by GlennCase »

Lucky Spoon - Fantastic! This is incredibly fun! Lyrics are exceptional. The story had me glued to hear what happened next even before realizing the entire thing is referencing the Mandalorian! The whole thing feels a bit loose, but that works perfectly for what you're doing.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10


Moss Palace - Lyrics from the perspective of the chupacabra was a fresh take. This challenge is one that played to your strengths, as this doesn't seem far off from what you might usually do in an arrangement. Still, it's solid. Excellent vocals as usual.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10


Nick Soma - One of your best vocal performances I have heard. You're still off-pitch in spots, but not as much as usual so I am giving you a bonus for the noticeable improvement. The arrangement works well, especially the choice of acoustic guitar which works nicely as a percussive instrument. I like the chord structure, and the change in dynamics keeps things interesting. The lyrics got big laughs from me. The most solid Nick Soma song I have heard. That last harmony is especially good. Well met.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10


Frankie Big Face - I enlisted the assistance of a friend who speaks fluent Spanish. She said you did good with the pronunciations. Good harmonies, and lowering the bass an octave at 1:33 was a great move. You kept it interesting.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 10 out of 10


Grumpy Mike - You know how to write a catchy hook, I'll give you that. Lead vocal sounds like it might be a bit too loud in the mix. Lyrics are sufficient, 'though not particularly clever or memorable (outside of the repeated hook). I couldn't pick out what you were singing @ "Found him sleeping so they quietly approached" until I read the lyrics along with the recording. Arrangement starts to get boring after a bit which is admittedly one of the challenges with a 2 instrument limitation, but you saved it at 1:24 by dropping the drum part.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10


Cavedwellers - Good harmonies, chord structure, guitarmonies, and I especially like the call and response between guitars. Vocals are inconsistent - For example they're brilliant at 2:25, and off-pitch every time the word "jackalopes" is sung.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10


Berkeley Social Scene - I enlisted the assistance of a friend who speaks fluent Spanish. She said you did pretty well here. Good call to have the vocals define the chords, and the background "ooh" parts are fairly solid. The lead vocals are having pitch issues throughout the song, leaning towards being flat.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10


Micah Sommersmith - Well, for starters I am not hearing any popping sounds from your vocals! Whatever you did this week - Good job! I enlisted the assistance of a friend who speaks fluent Spanish. She types: "The sound was very well put together (coming from someone who semi- frequently listens to mariachi music), will be downloading." So, that's a solid seal of approval from them! Your lead vocal is leaning towards being flat throughout the song, but the harmonies are pretty good. The arrangement is quite nice.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10


Jon Eric - Kudos for having the courage to change things up so much this week. That was clever to use the vocal for percussion like you did. Beatboxing might have been a risk, but you get around that by simply saying the word with a percussive quality. I like the bass-line part, and the slide guitar was a pleasant, unexpected twist although it definitely goes off-pitch in the chorus sections.

LYRICS: [GOOD] 2 points
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10


see-man-ski - Spot on White Stripes impression. Those verse chords are "Smells Like Teen Spirit" minus the iconic rhythm, but it works well for what you're doing. This is enjoyable, especially for what essentially amounts to a writing exercise to write in someone else's style. I like the chorus hook quite a bit. That long note at the end starts to go flat, but the vocals are otherwise quite good for the genre.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 9 out of 10


The Lowest Bitter -

The structure itself is nice, but the guitar sound and the keyboard don't sound like they're quite in tune with one another, and the vocal is a bit off pitch throughout the song (usually flat). It sounds like you are shoe-horning extra syllables into the song with "Chupacabra devours our minds" at 2:00 as a prime example of this. Vocal is also particularly flat in that spot. This has potential to be fairly good if you were to tighten things up a bit.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 2 points
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [GOOD] 2 points
SCORE: 8 out of 10


Third Cat - Ultimately, I like the concept better than the execution. Vocal tends to go sharp, but usually not by a large margin. Harmonies are okay. Mix is a little flat and lifeless. Lyrics are sufficient, 'though not particularly memorable.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [GOOD] 2 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10


Max Bombast - You won Nur Ein XII with mostly drums and bass, so this is a return to that sound. The performances themselves are great as usual. I do not like that chorus at all - It's repetitive, not particularly catchy, and started to grate on me with repeat listens. Gasps for breath are audible throughout the song to the point of being distracting. Not your best work, I'm afraid.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [GOOD] 2 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10


Mandibles - This is a style that suits you fairly well. I still absolutely hate the vocal timbre. The split from unison vocals at 2:36 was an excellent choice, and is the best part of the song. While it also technically happens earlier in the song, it especially stands out as something you built up to nicely at the end. This has a good chorus.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [GOOD] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 6 out of 10



Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For Duty!!! - Flat vocals throughout most of the song. Something is happening in the mix where everything sounds lifeless, and the vocals have harsh, hissing highs with artifacts that make this sound like it was submitted with the early Songfight stipulation of 64kbps mp3s in mind. The "woe woe woe" is me is pretty fun. Horn sounds and acoustic guitar was an interesting choice. This is a perfectly acceptable song, overall but perfectly acceptable isn't enough to get very far at this stage of the competition.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 5 out of 10

The Serviettes - The bass functions more like a guitar, and the song has almost no low end outside of the kick. This had potential, but it doesn't really go anywhere, and that's my main issue with this song - It is fairly boring outside of the chorus which is decent.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 5 out of 10


Inflatable Vegetables - The chorus is decent. The mix is lifeless, and dull. The drums are buried, and the lead vocal is too high in the mix, which makes the pitch issues stand out. The composition itself is adequate, but boring.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 5 out of 10


Balance Lost - I wanted to like this more than I do. Vocal gasps are audible throughout, and they are distracting. Pitch issues in the lead vocal, and even bigger pitch problems with the background vocals throughout. "Strawberry and cola" at 1:44 is an example of too many syllables shoehorned into a line. There is potential here, but it definitely needs work.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [BAD] 0 points
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [OKAY] 1 point
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 4 out of 10


Jules Iolyn - It sounds like you have two guitar parts here, which may technically fulfill the challenge, but this is easily the most boring take on the challenge out of all the entries. Your vocal was one of your strongest attributes in early rounds, and here I am hearing gasps for air, and off-pitch notes in spots (mostly sharp) "I've been thinking you amaze me" at :17 is an example. There are also rhythm issues in the playing where things aren't quite lining up. Unfortunately, this one is a bit of a mess.

LYRICS: [OKAY] 1 point
STRUCTURE: [OKAY] 1 point
PERFORMANCE: [OKAY] 1 point
CONCEPT/CHALLENGE: [BAD] 0 points
DYNAMICS/MIX: [OKAY] 1 point
SCORE: 4 out of 10
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by frankie big face »

GlennCase wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:04 pm
Frankie Big Face - I enlisted the assistance of a friend who speaks fluent Spanish. She said you did good with the pronunciations.
This is the thing that scared me the most. I don't know who speaks Spanish out there in Nur Ein world, but I most definitely do not. I asked a student to check my translation and to read it aloud for me, but she didn't get back to me in time, so I used internet resources and practiced. I'm glad to hear I was at least acceptable!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by vowlvom »

My reviews, as usual ranking may still be tweaked as I listen but this is where I'm at at the moment. I thought this round was really strong - we've reached the stage where I'm putting "pretty good" songs close to the bottom of my ranking, so good work everyone.

Nick Soma - I love this one, the lyric is so cute and weirdly, hilariously sincere in admiration for the chupacabra and it warms my heart. The arrangement is really pretty and the harmonies sound great. My only slight critique is that, despite changing up the arrangement smartly throughout this always feels... "loud" - I want a little more softness in the piano and space in the mix on the sparser sections I think. But still one of the best songs of the round for me and one I particularly enjoyed revisiting which I think is reason enough to give this the nod over my other three favourites.

Balance Lost - Love the take on the challenge, with the sweet twinkling synth and classic drum machine leaving plenty of air and room for the fun lyrics. The chupa-chups twist on the story helps this stand out from the pack, as do the hooky backing vocals. I maybe wouldn't have used the ADT effect (?) on the lead vocal personally but it just about works for me. Lots of fun, interested to hear your alternate version once I'm done with ranking but the minimal arrangement feels "right" to me for the song, which is a big plus in this round.

Moss Palace - Gorgeous chorus, and your subtle lyrics really stood out from the pack this round alongside a lot of super-wordy cryptid mythology. I love the ascending melody and doubled vocals on the bridge, and the acoustic / piano arrangement is the perfect choice for the song - I wouldn't add a thing. Really excellent.

Lucky Spoon - This is delightful, really funny but also a clever musical take on the challenge that really makes the most of your two instruments. Having recently watched the Mandalorian I found this take on it pretty inspired, I'm thinking this song wouldn't work quite as well without that backstory but it's great fun either way. I went back and forth on where I'd place this within my top tier, in the end I don't think it has quite as much replay value as a couple of my other favourites but it's an absolute blast and you should consider making a video for it because I'm sure it could be a hit on YouTube. Erm, until the Disney cease-and-desist order.

Grumpy Mike - Fun arrangement and style, catchy chorus and I like the lyrics. The extremely robotic piano rhythm and the looser timing of the vocals feels a little odds at times (e.g. on the "it's been happening for far too long" line and the one after it, and the verse after the quiet chorus) but those are minor complaints, this feels like a bold take on the challenge and a stretch in style from you, and it pays off well.

Mandibles - I was hoping we'd get a few more interesting instruments with this challenge, so points for the hammered dulcimer (which sounds gorgeous). I enjoyed this a lot, the chorus is catchy and memorable and there are some great images in the lyrics. One slight issue though, the lead vocal regularly pushes into slight distortion, which I'm assuming isn't intentional - it was a distraction for me, an easy fix I'm sure but it did impact slightly on my rating.

The Lowest Bitter - I love the bruised, melancholy feel of this song. It's a great story that you've found an unexpectedly moving way of telling - that "really happening" hook really sticks in my head, and the solo vocal works really well. In terms of the challenge, the edited guitar strums end up sounding more like an electric piano to me which stretches the challenge a little more than I'd really like, but other than that I think this is very good indeed.

see-man-ski - I know you were basically aiming for White Stripes here but it also reminded me of The Hives. The drums and guitar sound good and I like the rhythmic change in the vocals on the chorus. I really wish there was something to lift the chorus though, some backing vocals (maybe some big stacked AAAAAH! harmonies, like T-Rex or something) would have really lifted this I think. It's enjoyable as it is though, although I will complain (again!) about the very ending, the additional drum hit feels like it shouldn't be there and leaves this with a bit of a weak send-off.

Third Cat - I like the synth / drum arrangement and the take on the title is fun. Your vocal sounds really good, with a little vibrato that I haven't really heard from you much before. Something about this one feels a little less than the sum of its parts though, I don't feel myself enjoying returning to it quite as much as I'd expect. I guess a lot of these songs feel complete in their two instrument arrangement whereas I feel like this one would benefit from a bunch more stuff.

Cavedwellers - Two acoustic guitars isn't really what I envisaged from this challenge, but the clever interplay between them makes this a pretty interesting take. I really love the instrumental sections where the two guitars trade off melodies. Vocal is solid but didn't strike me as interesting as the music, I'm missing a memorably melody again and some of the harmonies feel pretty shaky.

Max Bombast - I enjoyed this quite a bit more than last round's song, and I appreciated the vast improvement in the vocal (no distracting pops), although I did still have a slight issue there, some of the S sounds have a strange distortion on them that might be the result of an over-exuberant deesser? It sounds a little odd. Anyway, solid song, excellent bass sound, although I thought your chorus was a little too repetitive which bugged me on repeat listens.

Micah Sommersmith - Of the Spanish songs, yours sounded the most natural to me (as somebody who doesn't speak Spanish but has been to a surprising number of Spanish weddings). Your translated lyrics are interesting also, although reading about your clever wordplay obviously has less impact than being able to experience it first-hand. Solid take on the challenge, but another song that fell into my "didn't particularly stand out from the pack" mid-section.

Jon Eric - The use of the repeated "Chupacabra" as rhythm is really clever, and I like the slidy guitar is an interesting choice as your main instrument. The timing sometimes feels like it needs tightening up but only really bothered me a couple of times. Unfortunately there are a couple of things that bothered me enough to mean this one didn't hugely work for me on repeated listens - it's a very grim, serious subject given a pretty lightweight / novelty feeling arrangement, which sat wrong with me. And the ending feels like it drags on way longer than it should.

Inflatable Vegetables - Intriguing lyric, and I liked that you made the use of Spanish an important part of the story rather than just a stylistic choice. Nice use of guitar to fill out the mix. The pause before the second chorus struck me as awkwardly done, but my main complaint is another "this song just didn't really stand out for me", I'm afraid.

Berkeley Social Scene - I really like the way this begins, with those shuffly drums and the wall of soft backing vocals. Unfortunately it never seems to hugely develop from there, the lead vocal isn't as interesting as the backing (and it doesn't help that it feels like it's lower in the mix). Nothing big to complain about on this one but it didn't particularly stand out for me and we're at the stage of the competition now where that puts it close to the danger zone.

The Serviettes - In some of the instrumental sections I can really audibly hear (what I assume is) your computer fan which is really distracting to me. The song is solid, although the high energy music doesn't entirely click with your trademark croony vocal - I would have liked to hear you change up your vocal approach a bit. The bass / drum machine take on the challenge works well and has a good groove, though.

Jules Iolyn - This is a really pretty song, on enjoyment alone it's my favourite of your Nur Ein submissions so far. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the title at all, and there's no clear attempt to meet the challenge. It's possible you're going with two guitars here but unlike (e.g.) Cavedwellers there's no interesting separation or interplay to indicate that that's the case.

Frankie Big Face - I really dislike that bass sound / effect which is a tough issue to overcome in a song this stripped-back. The echo and distortion on the vocal is interesting, and I like the lyrics as translated although some of the timing in the Spanish feels awkward to me (as in rhythmically rather than pronunciation - I do not speak Spanish). I don't care for the a capella ending.

Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For DUTY!! - There are good elements in this one, I particularly like the layered vocals in the final section, and acoustic guitar / brass is an interesting combo. I had major issues with the song as a whole though, the guitar sounds weedy and dull which is a problem when it's carrying the bulk of the song, and the lead / backing vocal balance felt off to the point that they fought rather than complementing each other.

Shadows:

Brown Word and the Big Whine - This is pretty fun and the sparse arrangement helps your voice stand out a little, although I'd still like to hear it louder! Good lyrics, good chorus.

Goodbye Bandita - I really like this arrangement a lot, the soft lead vocal, clever backing vocals and shimmering omnichord strums make this feel like a 50s ballad from another dimension. Or like Spiritualized might sound if... erm... they had an omnichord. I'd like to hear some more reverb on some of the backing vocals maybe (they come in with such force that it's almost jarring) but generally I thought this was strong and it would have ranked well for me.

Hot Pink Halo - Kudos for having the most unusual combination of instruments and making a cohesive track out of them! Interesting lyric and clever way of using the title, also. Unfortunately I feel like your vocals are a big step back from your last couple of songs on this one, the melody feels uncertain and is hard for me to follow.

Lichen Throat - I like the main reverby instrument you're using but the vocal switches between rambling / disconnected on the first sections and following the instrumental melody and rhythm directly on the other section, neither of which are particularly compelling to me. Some interesting ideas in your lyric as usual but I didn't think this was your strongest work.

Pigfarmer Jr. - Piano sounds very robotic, otherwise I like this a lot. Good lead vocal that conveys the emotion of the song well, and the backing ooohs are subtle, pretty and fill out the mix nicely. Drums are unusual - it feels like all fills, no real beat - but work for the song.

Rob from Amersfoort - I enjoyed this more than last round's song, and it's impressive that you can still conjure up your classic RfA sound with just piano and drums. Is this in a funny time signature or are you just dropping a beat occasionally? It works well, either way.

Miscellaneous Owl - Your songwriting excellence shines through the rough recording and your voice sounds great as always. Melodic bassline works well. Well worth revisiting when you have more time, I think!

Vom Vorton - I had so much fun with this one. I decided it'd be fun to try to write a song that adequately met the title but without having anything to do with a Chupacabra or containing the word (at least in the lyrics as written). Sadly Glenn got his vocals to me after I'd already submitted and gone to bed but I'll be doing an updated mix with the full judge posse once I get a little time.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by crumpart »

vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:45 am
Hot Pink Halo - Kudos for having the most unusual combination of instruments and making a cohesive track out of them! Interesting lyric and clever way of using the title, also. Unfortunately I feel like your vocals are a big step back from your last couple of songs on this one, the melody feels uncertain and is hard for me to follow.
Thanks for the review. This was definitely the most difficult melody I’ve ever tried to come up with some far. I’ve pretty much stuck to major keys, experimenting with a key change here and there. This time I chose to go with a jazz progression from this improvisation/practice app that I recently downloaded, and coming up with a melody over all those modulations was definitely a challenge for me. I’d like to keep hacking away at this sort of thing and improve over time, because I have (begrudgingly) come to enjoy listening to jazz progressions quite a lot.

I did really love doing the instrumentation for this. I’ve added about 15 different recorders to my Thomann wishlist as a result.

Edited to add: turns out I also misread a bunch of the chords from the chart I was working from, so added in even more accidental modulations. Lol.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Caravan Ray »

OK. If i were a judge - this is how I'd rank them:


Moss Palace
Grumpy Mike
See Man Ski
Jules Iolyn
Nick Soma
Frankie Big Face
Lucky Spoon
Max Bombast
mandibles
Cavedwellers
BSS
Micah Sommersmith
Balance Lost
Third Cat
John Eric
Lowest Bitter
Serviettes
Inflatable Vegetables


And thanks Glen:
GlennCase wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:04 pm
Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For Duty!!! - Something is happening in the mix where everything sounds lifeless, and the vocals have harsh, hissing highs with artifacts that make this sound like it was submitted with the early Songfight stipulation of 64kbps mp3s in mind.
Yep - Rushed job on Sunday - i heard my song in the car today and it is pretty shit - my Ozone auto-master thingy seemed to do some weird shit to it (obviously it is all Ozones fault. My song {as it sounded in my head} was actually awesome). Oh well - it is what it is
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

Just out of curiosity, will either of the podcasts be happening this year? I realize it’s a lot, so no worries if not. I just really like to listen! New Ugly and 2Jerks1Vote are both quality entertainment!

Also, this is one of my favorite rounds of nur ein ive heard in a while.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

Thank you, Vom and Glenn, for your quick review turnaround! It’s really appreciated.
vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:45 am
Mandibles - I was hoping we'd get a few more interesting instruments with this challenge, so points for the hammered dulcimer (which sounds gorgeous). I enjoyed this a lot, the chorus is catchy and memorable and there are some great images in the lyrics. One slight issue though, the lead vocal regularly pushes into slight distortion, which I'm assuming isn't intentional - it was a distraction for me, an easy fix I'm sure but it did impact slightly on my rating.
An easy fix indeed- I really need a new mic! I’ve been recording on a Blue Yeti USB mic, and it always clips any time I sing high or out. It’s actually pretty frustrating, so if anyone has any advice for a mic set up that can take a lot of volume, please, let me know!!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by irwin »

Pigfarmer Jr wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:36 am
Adam! wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 12:30 am
Liner notes. Come watch me make questionable decisions:
I'm addicted to watching your videos now. I hope you're happy.
I have mentioned it on irc, but these videos are probably my favorite part of this nur ein. It is a beautiful window into the creative mind.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by crumpart »

Cybronica wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:21 pm
Thank you, Vom and Glenn, for your quick review turnaround! It’s really appreciated.
vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:45 am
Mandibles - I was hoping we'd get a few more interesting instruments with this challenge, so points for the hammered dulcimer (which sounds gorgeous). I enjoyed this a lot, the chorus is catchy and memorable and there are some great images in the lyrics. One slight issue though, the lead vocal regularly pushes into slight distortion, which I'm assuming isn't intentional - it was a distraction for me, an easy fix I'm sure but it did impact slightly on my rating.
An easy fix indeed- I really need a new mic! I’ve been recording on a Blue Yeti USB mic, and it always clips any time I sing high or out. It’s actually pretty frustrating, so if anyone has any advice for a mic set up that can take a lot of volume, please, let me know!!
We have three microphones: a new Shure SM57, an old Røde NT2 and an old AKG C1000S. I was using a crappy lapel mic before we bought the Shure last year, when we also bought a proper mic stand and set up our equipment so we could use the others as well. I experimented with them all a bit now, and I personally prefer the AKG for my voice and teeth quirks, and Toshiro prefers the Røde for his voice. We could plug either of them straight into our audio interface, but luckily Toshiro likes to spend money so we’ve also had a nice preamp for a long time. Your voice deserves better than a USB mic plugged into a computer!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by owl »

Cybronica wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:21 pm
Thank you, Vom and Glenn, for your quick review turnaround! It’s really appreciated.
vowlvom wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 2:45 am
Mandibles - I was hoping we'd get a few more interesting instruments with this challenge, so points for the hammered dulcimer (which sounds gorgeous). I enjoyed this a lot, the chorus is catchy and memorable and there are some great images in the lyrics. One slight issue though, the lead vocal regularly pushes into slight distortion, which I'm assuming isn't intentional - it was a distraction for me, an easy fix I'm sure but it did impact slightly on my rating.
An easy fix indeed- I really need a new mic! I’ve been recording on a Blue Yeti USB mic, and it always clips any time I sing high or out. It’s actually pretty frustrating, so if anyone has any advice for a mic set up that can take a lot of volume, please, let me know!!
Hopefully you’ll get some better recommendations from someone who knows about gear, but I had this issue with persistent clipping recently with my condenser mic and ended up solving it by using a dynamic mic (SM57). Do you have any other mics for instrument recording or have you been just using the Blue Yeti? Do you already have an interface?
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

This is one of those what's your budget? problems, because by all indications what you're saying is that you need a better mic that's actually built for higher performance in vocal recording. I would expect that any of the regular Shure vocal mic options should be fine, my rec is an SM58, to me the SM57 is a great guitar cab mic for exactly the reasons it's not super great for vocals. The 58 flatters the midrange a little more and has a good tight bass to it. You can certainly use a 57 for vocals but just be aware that it has a little less frequency range, a little more output, and more treble. One thing to consider is that the 57, like most instrument mics, is designed to be able to take everything coming at it from a cranked guitar amp, so it does deal with high SPL better--I would imagine that the 58 should be able to deal with anything a human voice can put out, but if you find that you're blowing out mics, you can always experiment with a guitar mic.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

Ok sorry I didn't get in reviews for "The Handbook", as I mentioned last week there was a series of unpredictable family and professional events that combined to give me next to no time to sit down for the two hours or so it would take. I might still get around to writing them up if people want, someday.

Without further ado:

Balance Lost -
I literally wrote in the judges’ chat that I wanted someone to do a Chupa Chups song, so you win the booby prize. That makes you the booby, so congrats on being a seabird. The start of every verse makes me think you’re about to go into Manic Monday. I might’ve preferred last week’s RATM vs EMF concept, as I like your lyrics this week much more than the actual song.

Berkeley Social Scene -
Hey these harmonies are fun. You guys stripping down did actually kind of good things, this song sounds very focused. A companion song to Frankie’s perhaps. I did actually hope for the big a capella breakdown in the middle, but you chose to keep the beat going—I felt it would’ve been beneficial to do something to change up the middle eight a bit more.

Cavedwellers -
The guitar interplay is so good, paced well, good use of guitar lines to accent vocal lines. The harmonies are out, and that is extremely distracting. As Cavedwellers, I assume that you have chased chupacabras before, so I’m curious: are jackalopes faster? Or do chupacabras have an advantage in a race from all the goat blood.

Frankie Big Face -
I like this big-ass bass riff. Vocal reverb is a little big for my taste, but whatever. I like that the take is in the same vein as the Moss Palace one (from Chupacabra POV); this one maybe wouldn’t stand up as well in English, but the Spanish somehow makes it feel emotional weight. Good vocal work, you probably get tired of hearing shit like this, but I would’ve enjoyed you going a bit more full Bowie, as this could’ve been a stripped down demo of an unusued Blackstar song.

Grumpy Mike -
The execution is good, I just wasn’t into this story. The vocals are way too hot in the mix too, which really doesn’t help because I do not want to listen to it. I also don’t particularly like this pushed interpretation of the pocket, it’s just a little too much on the side of rushed to me.

Inflatable Vegetables -
There’s a bit of Leonard Cohen in here but not enough to lift this higher. I think the song would’ve benefited from a bit more time spent in making the dramatic jump from the verses to the choruses, maybe having a couple of rests or something, but it feels very hurtling to me in those transitions which kills some of the feel.

Jon Eric -
Bold choice, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for you. I like that you made “Chupacabra” the beat. I like some of the lines. You generally have good ideas and good lyrics, interesting musical choices, but it doesn’t always gel. This one works better for me than your song last week, but I would’ve made different choices in the vocal delivery to make it less aggressive and more, I guess Beck-ish, since I’m sure that’s been brought up already. Disaffected, cool rather than hot.

Jules Iolyn -
I just didn’t like this song, pretty much at all. You belt much better than you sing quietly, both technically and in emotional content. This melody is not particularly interesting, probably because it relies so much on so much the I (I mean the I chord and in this case the tonic note of the scale), there’s not much of the good kind of tension that would really match the emotional journey you’re trying to outline in the lyrics.

The Lowest Bitter -
I think this song as written is better than this particular recording. I enjoyed reading the lyric afterwards, and the production issues you noted didn’t bother me particularly, but I did once again feel this song was very same-samey throughout, which in this case might have an artistic point to it, but it did bore me. I needed a riff or a melody that was a little hookier.

Lucky Spoon -
Clever. Good performance that carries the song all the way through even though it could’ve ended up feeling too samey, especially with this challenge. This is sort of a gimmick song, but it works and you pull it off with authentic feeling. I enjoyed the clean sounding production as well.

Mandibles -
This is easily my favorite Mandibles song of this Nur Ein to date. Love a dulcimer. The harmonies work well. I think when you’re doing these shorter songs, telling these kind of epic tales works best when you can focus on a key dramatic moment rather than telling the whole scope of the story in 3 minutes—it focuses the emotional content and makes it easier to follow, for me anyway, because I’m not going to find out what etherium means, etc. I just don’t feel the personal emotional drama that I feel like I need to really get into this, a point of view, something.

Max Bombast -
Royal Blood Max, I love the verses, the melody is super memorable. The prechorus and chorus on the other hand, didn’t do it for me. I think the problem is the same as I had for a bunch of the other songs, which is that they tended to get to a place and then stay there, by the time you get to the bridge section I already got a little bored.

Micah Sommersmith -
I see this is the companion piece to Frankie’s song. I like the chorus on this one, the verses feel like they’re missing something in the feel to me, but the choruses pour it on. I think that singing quietly is a different skill than singing full out, and maybe think about working on that. The style and genre choice is good.

Moss Palace -
This sounds gorgeous, good tones all around. The chorus is a really good hook, the prechorus leading into it feels a little forced, but that doesn’t detract too much. I really appreciated that this song took the title seriously in an emotional way, even though it’s also a song about how chupacabras have feelings too.

Nick Soma -
Anytime you quote Smashing Pumpkins melodies I’m into it. I really liked your vocals this song, intonation, feel, phrasing, nailed it dude. I thought this was a really sweet tune. For some reason this reminded me of my ex.

Nuke Skyblaster Reporting For Duty!!! -
This is another song where I like the concept more than the actual song. I enjoyed the breakdown. The actual song just sounds so unfocused to me.

see-man-ski -
I do like a raw indie track now and then. The vocal is pretty fitting, but does kind of peter out on some of the chorus lines, possibly also because that third chord and the melody line don’t seem to quite mesh right to my ear. Great energy.

The Serviettes -
I liked when this started out but the vocal needs a lot more emotional push to really match the energy of the music. I mean, you could also choose to go super cool and aloof, I think of that the same way in this case—just make more of a distinct emotional choice. I also feel like the vocal isn’t quite in the pocket with the drums, which I find distracting. The song needed another part, something to make it go somewhere.

Third Cat -
The beat’s nice and you can dance to it. This song does not remind me of my ex. Too nice. This song is pretty much a “get me over” song to me, it’s fine, but there’s nothing memorable about it, good or bad, to me. It’s competent enough.


rain -
Get well soon!

Glow Worm -
Too bad you didn’t get one in, I did really want to see what you guys would come up with given this limitation.


PS. I am still working on shadows reviews, but I will copy them in here in a bit.
Last edited by mo on Tue May 26, 2020 5:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by frankie big face »

mo wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 4:27 pm

Frankie Big Face -
I like this big-ass bass riff. Vocal reverb is a little big for my taste, but whatever. In a take that in the same vein as the Moss Palace one (from Chupacabra POV), this one maybe wouldn’t stand up as well in English, but the Spanish somehow makes it feel emotional weight. Good vocal work, you probably get tired of hearing shit like this, but I would’ve enjoyed you going a bit more full Bowie, as this could’ve been a stripped down demo of an unusued Blackstar song.
Thanks Mo. I thought that bass riff had enough going for it to turn it into a loop. I'm not a riff guy but I enjoy the challenge of crafting one to my liking.

And now my liner notes:
The vocals are a combination of flamenco singing and Portuguese fado. At least in my mind anyway. (Oh ,and with a little Mike Patton enunciation mixed in!) I wrote the lyrics quickly and kept the text simple because a) chupacabras probably aren't that advanced linguistically; and b) I wanted Google translate to have a fighting chance of getting it right. Then I researched and practiced the Spanish a lot in the hopes that no-one would call me out for bad pronunciation. (so far, so good) Although I think Vom Vorton (if that is his real name) makes a fair point about the rhythmic awkwardness of some of the Spanish, I was fully aware of the way it was phrased and felt okay about the rhythmic complexity of the vocal line (I think there may be some rising chromatic quintuplets in there or something). Or at least I got used to it. I really like the a cappella ending despite what others have said. It was my best effort at Flamenco/Fado-style angst. If I were a judge, I would rank this the best song created in my house this week!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

Are you sure you didn't sing something better in the shower at any point?
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by owl »

mo wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 3:42 pm
This is one of those what's your budget? problems, because by all indications what you're saying is that you need a better mic that's actually built for higher performance in vocal recording. I would expect that any of the regular Shure vocal mic options should be fine, my rec is an SM58, to me the SM57 is a great guitar cab mic for exactly the reasons it's not super great for vocals. The 58 flatters the midrange a little more and has a good tight bass to it. You can certainly use a 57 for vocals but just be aware that it has a little less frequency range, a little more output, and more treble. One thing to consider is that the 57, like most instrument mics, is designed to be able to take everything coming at it from a cranked guitar amp, so it does deal with high SPL better--I would imagine that the 58 should be able to deal with anything a human voice can put out, but if you find that you're blowing out mics, you can always experiment with a guitar mic.
Oh yeah I wasn’t saying the 57 was better, just what we had lying around. It’s the same cartridge as the 58 so I don’t think they’re worlds different, right? I guess the form factor affects it.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

Yes, it's the same cartridge but the grille difference also changes the placement of the mic diaphragm in the head, which is supposed to be what gives it the characteristic high treble spike. I mean, I think if you listened to them side by side you'd hear the difference pretty clearly. And as Owl noted (when I originally wrote it I hadn't seen your reply, sorry for the confusion!), you can kind of use anything in any situation really, as long as you listen carefully. The 57 works better for some voices specifically because of the treble (I think their site has it at 5khz--I was researching mics recently so I reread all this stuff hahaha), but IME with vocalists I've worked with, the 58 works more generally on more different kinds of voices. I mean, YMMV, I have recently been using my Sennheiser e906 for vocals with the switch set for high cut and it works well enough that I can EQ what I need to. I'd rather have a nicer mic that sounds like what I want without extra EQ, but them's the breaks
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

crumpart wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 1:56 pm
mo wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 6:19 pm
owl wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 5:52 pm
Hmmm, this is all good stuff. I appreciate the lending of your expertise, because before song fight all my singing experience was unamplified, and if I get recorded, someone else was doing the recording! I want to make sure I understand this, as I've read it on mic blogs, too- when you say the 57 has more treble, does that mean it is less likely to clip/distort the higher treble frequencies, or more likely to pick up ambient/preamp treble? Also, would you say they hold up equally to increased volume? Back when I was still singing opera regularly, I had issues with my high notes clipping even with professional recordings, so something that's more specialized to take high and loud sound would do me better than something more generally applicable to voices at large. (please pardon if I got any of the lingo wrong!)
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by ujnhunter »

Are you sure it's a Mic issue and not a gain staging issue? If the Mic is distorting, maybe... but you should ideally setup your recording levels so that the loudest part of your vocal is still in the Yellow... (assuming your meters are Green/Yellow/Red).
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