Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

There can be only one.
User avatar
adamadamant
Push Comes to Shove
Posts: 263
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 6:54 am
Instruments: None
Recording Method: Answer phone messages
Pronouns: he/him
Location: Glasgow, UK
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by adamadamant »

Some very brief notes. Good job everyone!


Adam Adamant - :o What is this trash???


The Alleviators - :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: Heartfelt and driven. Nice vibes in this town.


Berkeley Social Scene :!: :!: :!: :!: - Rage against the Halloween merchandising machine.


Boffo Yux Dudes - :!: :!: The cats are inside the organ!!


Brown Word and the Big Whine - :!: Punk whine, not happy punk.


Cavedwellers - :!: :!: :!: :!: Sunbeam cinematic universe.


Drain Poets - :!: :!: :!: Unlucky.


Elks of the Economy - :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: Haunted sexy future disco.


Glennny - :!: :!: :!: Echoey crooner blessings.


Jon Porobil - :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: Phil Collins' ghost is angry with me.


Lichen Throat - :!: :!: Too much lichen. Nice bits apart from that.


The Lowest Bitter - :!: :!: :!: :!: Uh huh! Love those tinkly synths.


Lunkhead - :!: :!: :!: :!: Strong guitar. Scary cheery vibes.


Mandibles - :!: :!: :!: More spooky Jason lovesong. Technical.


Moss Palace - :!: :!: :!: :!: Soul brigade is tearing down the walls.


Nick Soma - :!: :!: Wreaking some major havok with my ear bones.


Night Sky - :!: :!: :!: Old man funky jam!


Stacking Theory - :!: :!: :!: :!: Ballin mega vibes. Grower.


Virgo Power - :!: :!: That organ is piercing my soul.


Vom Vorton - :!: :!: :!: :!: Big time boppin!
User avatar
BoffoYux
Panama
Posts: 777
Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:22 pm
Instruments: Keys, Clunking, SFX and Strings
Recording Method: Audacity, Adobe, and other 'A' titled software
Submitting as: Boffo Yux Dudes
Location: New England
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by BoffoYux »

Trying to do a stream mirror seems to have borked the original listening party link for tonight - go to this link - https://youtu.be/JaxdeM6nSSw

User avatar
Caravan Ray
bono
bono
Posts: 8607
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 1:51 pm
Instruments: Penis
Recording Method: Garageband
Submitting as: Caravan Ray,G.O.R.T.E.C,Lyricburglar,The Thugs from the Scallop Industry
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by Caravan Ray »

If I was a judge - this is how I would rank them:

1. Stacking Theory
2. Vom Vorton
3. Moss Palace
4. Lunkhead
5. Nick Soma
6. The Alleviators
7. Jon Porobil
8. Night Sky
9. Elks of the Economy
10. Cavedwellers
11. BW and the BW
12. BSS
13. Glenny
14. The Lowest Biter
15. Adam Adamant
16. Boffo Yum Dudes
17. Lichen Throat
18. Mandibles
19. Virgo Power


Though quite frankly - it was Stacking Theory first by a long way - and we all need to do a bit better for next round.
Last edited by Caravan Ray on Wed May 25, 2022 1:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Caravan Ray
bono
bono
Posts: 8607
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 1:51 pm
Instruments: Penis
Recording Method: Garageband
Submitting as: Caravan Ray,G.O.R.T.E.C,Lyricburglar,The Thugs from the Scallop Industry
Location: Toowoomba, Queensland
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by Caravan Ray »

adamadamant wrote:
Mon May 23, 2022 9:24 am

Jon Porobil - :!: :!: :!: :!: :!: Phil Collins' ghost is angry with me.
I didn't want to mention it - but since you did.....

Jon - this is really a wonderfully recorded and produced song. Good job!! I don't like the song much but it sounds great - except for the Phil Collins reverby drum fills - that sends shivers down my spine to horrible memories from the 80s. Please don't ever do it again. It's not smart or clever. It only reminds people of Phil Collins. And I think we can all agree - no one wants that.
User avatar
vowlvom
Ice Cream Man
Posts: 1067
Joined: Wed May 17, 2017 3:29 am
Instruments: guitar, keys, "other"
Recording Method: PC, reaper, ableton
Submitting as: Vowl Sounds, Vom Vorton
Pronouns: he/him
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by vowlvom »

Quick reviews, first I've written in a while, I'll probably regret it, not promising to do this every round.

Adam Adamant - really like the guitar and organ sounds you're working with here, and the distorted vox fit well. The "la la la" bits really don't work for me though, it feels like you had space to fill and couldn't figure out what to do with it. I think there's a decent song here but this feels like an early demo of it.

The Alleviators - this has early-2000s kinda soft-grunge vibes, which is not my favourite genre but you do it well and it does feel uplifting in a different sort of way to the way most people approached the challenge. Very cool that you've got the duetting vocals going on too, although there are a lot of bum notes in the male vocal which is my only real critique of this.

Berkeley Social Scene - good energy, killer solo, but I'm not crazy about the production (particularly on the vocals which feel kinda... phasey?) and the lyrics really bugged me, partially because you're doing that "let's make it fit both titles!" thing and it ends up as a weak take on both.

Boffo Yux Dudes - perhaps the most baffling take on the title, even with your liner notes, but this is infuriatingly catchy bubblegum pop that I find hard to resist. The drums are pretty wild in places, feels like the drummer (real or virtual) needs reigning in a bit.

Brown Word and the Big Whine - the sludgy guitars work OK in the verse but it feels like they get a bit lost in the chorus. This does a good job of being perky and upbeat but doesn't really stick with me.

Cavedwellers - guitars sound really nice, "Loki oh Loki" section is really catchy. The lyrics generally feel a little too wordy and awkward for the upbeat pop vibe of the song, like you've successfully shifted genre musically but the lyrics got stuck in progland :) but this is one of the best of the round I think. Slidey guitar harmonies are nice and remind me of Clouds Taste Metallic-era Flaming Lips.

Drain Poets - I heard a Kevin Ayers song on the radio yesterday and his vocals had total Caravan Ray vibes, are you a fan? This has one of the best choruses of the round, it's very catchy and I love the rhythm of the vocals. I don't think the verse / bridge quite live up to it, but they're solid and everytime the chorus comes around I'm tapping my feet, good stuff.

Elks of the Economy - really wish this had a punchier vocal, it sounds muffled and holds the rest of the song back a bit I think. Everything else is really good, I particularly like the spacy keyboard solo section. The melody is catchy but I just want a bit more energy in the performance or something.

Glennny - muffled vox again but it seems more purposeful here because you've got that whole vintage jazz guitar thing going on. I like the guitar / bass / drums arrangement but the vocal melody doesn't really stick with me like some of the other songs.

Jon Porobil - pretty catchy with an energetic vocal performance, I don't have much to say about this one - the mix feels like it could be a bit cleaner maybe to really lean into the pop vibes, but overall it's well done.

Lichen Throat - love that drum beat! The instrumental as a whole is good, vocals have some familiar problems in timing and tuning though. Lyrics aren't your best, but I think a lot of people struggled to come up with an interesting lyrical take on this challenge (myself included).

The Lowest Bitter - bright and airy mix, good lyrics both in terms of theme and rhythmically, which makes for some of the best hooks of the round. Feel like some of the shifts up to the high notes aren't 100% perfect but really I'm just looking for something mean to say so people won't think I'm biased.

Lunkhead - really fun track, one of my favourites this round. I particularly like the telekinetic / come and get it line, the rhythm of the chorus and the energetic lead guitar.

Mandibles - whistled hook is fun, drift into sinister chaos at the end is a nice touch, but there some moments in the vocal that really don't work for me (clashing with the harmonies in particular) and the novelty-jazz vibe of the song generally just... is not my cup of tea, sorry.

Moss Palace - excellent vocal performance, good song that doesn't really put a foot wrong. Erm, fade-out at the end is a bit long? GOTTA CRITICISE SOMETHING. The breakdown / handclap bit is the best bit.

Nick Soma - I really like this for the most part, but those opening lines REALLY don't get things off on the right foot, that "That is a fact because so I say" line really needs an upgrade. Once that stumbling block has been cleared, this is fun, well performed and catchy.

Night Sky - love the handclaps, the funk vibes are really effective and stand out from the pack, and the mix sounds really good. The sax solos are really overdone for my tastes though, maybe this is veering into genre bias but if this was tighter with just a couple of bits of well placed lead work I think it'd be a much better song.

Stacking Theory - really like the verses but the repeated "happy" in the chorus kinda grates on me unfortunately! I like the use of distortion and the echoing ending but my aversion to that repetition means I'm not crazy about this one alas.

Virgo Power - I like this, although your minimalist style always takes me a while to come around to. I do think this could be better with a little more going on in the arrangement but I think what's there is good.

Vom Vorton - hey it's me. I'm learning to drum and this is, I guess, my first drum performance? Although I had to record 35bpm slower and then speed it up, and there's a fair amount of post-editing. Still, a good start! I think the song's okay!
User avatar
gizo
Push Comes to Shove
Posts: 456
Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2006 11:42 pm
Instruments: i am mostly playing stringed ones, but I'll have a tilt at most
Recording Method: my method is to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. My wall is made of Logic on an old iMac
Submitting as: gizo : rackwagon (with Toshiro) : Late Heavy Bombardment : Stacking Theory
Pronouns: he/him
Location: I wish I was at an ocean beach

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by gizo »

Hey Congrats to Lunkhead and Moss Palace for the Round 0 results!
.sig
Evermind
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Posts: 104
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 9:22 pm
Instruments: Guitar, Vocals, Bass
Recording Method: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, AT2020, Alesis VMini, Audacity, Reaper, Hydrogen
Submitting as: Evermind, Moody Vermin, Ever Kenievel
Pronouns: he/him
Location: Austin TX
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by Evermind »

Hello all you lovely folks. Here are my round one reviews. I will be ranking entries based on five points:

Songwriting: Melodies, harmonies, song structure, lyrics, etc.
Concept: What did the song seem to be trying to achieve?
Execution: How well made was the song? (performance, mixing, mastering, sound design, etc)
Challenge: How well did the song satisfy the challenge?
Subjective enjoyment: How much did the song suit my personal tastes?

I rate each of these items from 1-5, combine the points, and the resulting total determines ranking. Here are my notes on each song:

Adam Adamant
Weird vocal timing, vocals too loud, synths buried. Song about the movie Friday the 13th. Doesn't seem to say a whole lot on first listen. "Friday the 13th is the day I love the most, cuz all my friends are ghosts." I guess this song is kind of happy? It feels like a happier spin on The Jim Carroll Band - People Who Died, but the material is dark. I like the song, but it needs a lot more polish and it doesn't quite fit the challenge.

---

Alleviators
"It's bad luck to get your hopes up". Nice line. Concept is superstition. Female vocals are very well performed, on time and pitch. Male vocals are inconsistent in volume, a bit pitchy, suffering time issues. Mixing is a bit dark, not hearing any brightness from anything but vocals, esp female vox. Rhythm guitar doesn't have the impact it should, too quiet, too dark. Definitely upbeat happy music, good control of intensity from one section to the next, good ending. Drum pattern is nice, too. This is a well written song that suffers from performance and production issues.

---

Berkeley Social Scene
Lyrics are a little hard to make out, vocals are mixed too quiet maybe, maybe being masked? Has a very 80s feel in the chorus. Concept is superstition. Vocals are a bit late in the last chorus. I don't understand the connection between Easter and Friday the 13th.

---

Boffo Yux Dudes
Weird intro, in the best way. Reminds me of "Hooked on a Feeling" a bit. Drums feel a little artificial, but it sorta fits the vibe of the song. Definitely nails the challenge. Song kind of stops suddenly, would have liked something to cap the song off. I have no idea how this song is supposed to relate to the title.

---

Brown Word and the Big Whine
Concept is defying superstition. Harmony at 1:33 feels slightly sour. I like the guitar sustain outro. Guitar solo around the 1 minute mark feels a bit aimless. The song doesn't feel much like it has an overall direction.

---

Cavedwellers
Guitar sound is nice off the bat. Concept is the Norse myth behind the number 13 being an unlucky number. "He was a hella bloodlusting fella". The "the 13th" at the end of the chorus feels like it's added in as an afterthought, it doesn't seem to flow. Love a good drop chorus.

---

Drain Poets
Crashing your car, losing all your savings to cryptocurrency, and your wife cheating on you doesn't sound happy to me, but you've turned it around here and your protagonist has found joy despite the suffering. Works for me! Some notes being sung are a little flat. Some of the scansion is a bit odd, like "friday the 13th" and "eight thousand five hundred". Points for incorporating friggatriskadecaphobia into the lyrics. Vocals are a little rushed in the final chorus. Good outro.

---

Elks of the Economy
A little disco? Yes please. Some of the background vocals overpower the lead vocals a bit at times. The lead vocals seem unusually dark and quiet for the style. There's plenty of ear candy in this song. Did you and Drain Poets mutually agree to include friggatriskadecaphobia in your lyrics? Nice little bit of Rhodes in the middle of the song. Weird tom patterns.

---

Glennny
Vocals are a little pitchy and mumbly, maybe due to the way they were recorded or mixed. Snare sounds muffled. Vocals are suddenly and noticeably different as the chorus enters. There's some noticeable compressor or limiter artifacts happening here, like at 0:46, and at various points in the end of the song. You may consider using a compressor that has a high pass filter so you can avoid the whole mix flinching when the kick drum hits during busy moments. You might also consider adjusting the release time. Concept is "I did unlucky things". Vocals have some off-time moments.

---

Jon Porobil
Nice synth intro. Very 80s drum / synth feel. Would have liked the claps to be a little louder, but that's minor nitpicking. Little pitchiness in the vocals, and especially if you're going to have high-feedback delay repeating your vocal phrase it just repeats the mistakes, making the pitchiness much more obvious, like the "about" at :30. Concept is referencing the movie Friday the 13th, and also about ignoring superstition, but combines them in a way to make it more than the sum of its parts, since as long as one knows that the movie takes place at Camp Crystal Lake, there's a huge irony to the concept. Still happy lyrics and upbeat music though, in an 80s style to match the era of the film. Very cheeky lyrics, leaning into the irony of the concept. "Drowning in your arms", "in this moment I'm so happy I could die". Ending is well thought-out and leans into the concept. Vocals feel a bit inconsistent in volume, could maybe use some evening out with volume automation, compression, or level riding.

---

Lichen Throat
The sound of every individual instrument is nice, and I like some of the production choices you've made, like hard-panning the doubled vocals left and right for the chorus to provide contrast. Vocals are pitchy, off-time, and the rhythm of the lyrics is very odd, like you wrote the lyrics first, and then tried to fit them into a rhythm without changing them at all to accommodate the rhythm of the music, only rushed to fit words within the time limit imposed by the meter. Normally your lyrics are a lot better written, but these seem kind of rushed and cliche, like these lines:

I have an owl atop my house;
It keeps the place without a mouse.
I walked beneath a leaning ladder;
It just made me feel badder.

Concept is, I think, a guy for whom unlucky things are lucky. An interesting take, but unfortunately you didn't go much of anywhere with it. There's plenty of adventures such a person could get into, but instead you've just sort of listed unlucky things and then just inverted their expected superstitious effects.

---

Lowest Bitter
Gets me nodding my head pretty immediately. I happen to sympathize with crypto bro schadenfreude. Your assessment in the liner notes that these aren't exactly happy lyrics is true and I did mark you down a tiny bit for that, but the protagonist is certainly happy and the song is very upbeat so not marked down by much. Production is pretty clean, could use a bit more polish maybe to spice things up but nothing is really out of place here in terms of levels or performance.

---

Lunkhead
Jason from Friday the 13th singing about how much he loves murdering is a fun and unique take on the title, and the music is certainly upbeat. Challenge met. Small scansion problems "like a cop or a hoBO". The drums feel a little quiet, especially for the genre, but otherwise the production is very good. Great chorus, lots of fun. I like the subtle overdrive on the vocals, definitely works with the concept you've got. Two guitar solos? What a deal!

---

Mandibles
Some volume issues in this, piano is a little too loud, whistling is too loud, vocals are at times loud enough but mostly too soft and not bright enough. Might just be that the lead is too reverb-soaked. Sounds like maybe some overly aggressive compression on the master too? I like the small breaks in the music that get creepy for a moment.

---

Moss Palace
Getting some motown/funk/soul vibes from this, I'm digging it. Performances are pretty spot on. Claps are too quiet and dark. Fadeout ending is just right for the style. Far as I can tell, the song is about being happy with your partner and wishing you could have found them earlier. Don't really see how it connects to the title, and it's somewhat lacking in definition. I don't get much information other than that there is a relationship, and that the people met on Friday the 13th. There might be some information or reference I'm missing that fills this in, but I didn't pick up on it.

---

Nick Soma
"Because so I say" is an uncomfortable line that seems like the words were swapped around for the sake of the rhyme. There's some high pitched percussion that's overly bright and hurts my ears from around :30 to :55 that needs tamping down. Concept is some mischevious spirit that can observe people's misfortune, who eventually crosses into the world by inhabiting a dead cat. An interesting story, but nothing much happens in the story besides the cat bit. Scansion issues with "friDAY" in the line "Friday the 13th, the party's on"

---

Night Sky
Another funky tune! Got a James Brown feel. Concept, dance and ignore the superstition of Friday the 13th. The claps that enter at 1:38 feel a little late by 1:51 or so, kinda seems like maybe they were programmed and didn't quite line up with the performance of the live instruments. The sax is also a bit overly loud at times, but seems to get out of the way whenever the vocals come along, so it never clobbers the vocals. Still, these are only a few small issues that are entirely excusable in light of such a fun and upbeat song. I think this may be my favorite tune from you yet.

---

Stacking Theory
I find the "happy happy happy happy" chorus grating, and it leads right into a scansion issue: "friDAY". This song isn't really upbeat, and the lyrics are dark more than happy, though the protagonist is definitely happy. The song feels pretty lacking in low end, the bass and kick are very hard to hear. The song picks up around 1:45 and I start to get into it but sort of recedes back into being kind of quiet and reserved. The ending is messy. "But for me, it's harmony". It feels like this word was chosen for the rhyme, not because it particularly makes sense here, and the multiple voices have different timing and rhythm on the word "harmony", which is kind of ironic. I'm not sure if that was the point but it feels accidental.

---

Virgo Power
Vocals sound like they're clipping a little bit, and they're not in time with the instruments right off the bat. The vocals feel a bit pitchy at times. Kick and snare are overly punchy, toy piano is too loud. The line "How does Friday become Friyay" does not make any sense to me. Concept is meeting someone you like on Friday the 13th, I guess. Percussion never changes from start to finish and far outstays its welcome.

---

Vom Vorton
Concept is very original, a group of people who take a vacation on Friday the 13th because other people avoid traveling that day and they can get bargains on travel. Clever! Harmony vocals are nice. Vocals feel a tiny bit buried.
I am definitely too square for how experimental this is, but I can imagine that if I was in the right state of mind, the section starting at 2:20 might transport me to another dimension - jeffhenderson
User avatar
furrypedro
Ice Cream Man
Posts: 1260
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:06 pm
Instruments: Guitar, programming
Recording Method: Cubase, Reason
Submitting as: Balance Lost
Location: Kyoto
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by furrypedro »

What I'm about to say will make me sound like a complete bastard, I know. I hope you can take it as me speaking in my "encouraging voice".

There were some good entries here, but for the most part I've gotta say I'm surprised how many songs completely failed to sound remotely happy or exude any kind of joy. As someone who enjoys music that is upbeat (without being irritating) I was disappointed by this, and I would encourage you all to try and hone the art of an upbeat tune further during this Nur Ein if you want to score points with me. Furthermore, there was a preponderance of cliches related to bad luck themes. I totally understand why as the title may have prompted you in that direction, but surely we all know how trite cliches can be, so it was a shame that so many of you leaned into trite and hackneyed lyrical ideas. Added to which so many lyric sets were incredibly literal. For my personal taste, by all means take the title as a prompt, but you don't have to be so literal. I encourage some abstraction or lyrical nuance. There's no poetry or guile in simply singing "we saw a black cat and then walked under a ladder". You're trying to make art here, so don't be so artless. With that said, let's get on with more complaints from me! Wahey!

For the benefit of transparency, I have listed these reviews in the order I ranked them.


Jon Porobil: Arrangement-wise this feels like you stepping out of your comfort zone, and if that's the case then I think you would do well to go out of your comfort zone more often in my book. It definitely helps that I'm a sucker for 80s tinged synth pop. These lyrics are refreshing compared to the rest of the field because it avoids all the bad-luck cliches, and I really enjoyed the huge synth riffing and bombastic beats. This by far did the best job of sounding optimistic and joyful. Even warranted another listen once I'd finished reviewing just for fun!

Elks of the Economy: This is a great song, which is slightly ruined by trying to squeeze the word "triskadekaphobia" in where it doesn't fit. It's well paced and the chorus is catchy. Loads of cool stuff going on in the mix, it just needs those vocals to sit better. Your voice is all low end and I feel it would be so much clearer if you cut the low frequencies. As with most of the songs here, you didn't nail the challenge, but the riffs, drum programming and that shift into the chorus all made it an enjoyable listen. That is actually a top class chorus, really nice job.

Lichen Throat: I'm ranking you up hear based on the music alone. Your vocals are what they are. Normally I would mark down because of them, but rankings have no consequence here.

Lunkhead: This is a decent slice of technically proficient power pop. It does a far better job of meeting the upbeat music part of the challenge than most entries purely on the strength that I can imagine a room of drunk people going bonkers to it. Happy lyrics, not so much, but there is a fair amount of humour and that's worth something.

Moss Palace: In the context of this fight, I very much appreciate how you've avoided the pitfalls that so many competitors have fallen into regarding lyrical content. +5 (arbitrary) points for that. The music is undeniably sunny in a 70s soft rock way, and has a charactieristically smooth sound. I feel like the fade-out comes too early, but when there are 19 other songs to listen to I feel like you're doing this for our benefit, so thank you. Nice song with growing power. I almost ranked it above Lunkhead but I just felt the extra exuberance in that song earned it one more point.

The Alleviators: I definitely have time for a bit of emo as long as it stays the right side of the line (i.e. not My Chemical Romance style emo). This is pretty much in the right ball park thanks to some nice twinkly guitars and plaintive vocals. One issue with the genre is I don't feel it squares with the challenge much at all. This is energetic for sure, which gives plus points, but I'm not sure if I'd call it upbeat. Either way, it's well executed and fairly memorable.

Cavedwellers: Nice shiny guitars. There are so many minor chords and half time bits in this. I think you've let your musicianship get in the way of just writing a bouncy G, C, D song which would've been the ticket. Still, since everyone seems to be fudging this challenge yours comes across relatively well.

Drain Poets: More minor chords! Cliche overload! I actually like this song more than the majority of the pack here, but aside from a peppy bpm this seems to be drenched in melancholia. I like when the trumpets come in near the end.

Stacking Theory: I enjoyed the song. The staccato guitars in particular make it stand out, and when it kicks off at the end is a highlight. The lyrical content doesn't seem to rise above the majority of the dross that has come out in this round, which is a shame, and I don't get a happy feel from this no matter how many times you repeat the word "happy". In fact it feels decidedly downbeat and melancholic, so an utter challenge fail in my book, saved by being a good track.

BSS: I presume you'll be submitting this to the Bunny Hop fight too then. When I was thinking of this challenge I kept thinking about Shiny Happy People. This is not that, but fair play for including some suitably Peter-Buckian jangles. You get some points at least for that. As far as the challenge goes the best I can say is that this isn't downbeat, and if the challenge inspired you to increase the tempo by a few bpms then I would say take this as a soft challenge from me every time if you want to score Petey points.

Adam Adamant: Probably if you're gonna add so much distortion to your vocals then it increases the importance of posting your lyrics so I know what you're actually singing about (although judging on most of the other lyrics this fight, not knowing yours might be a bonus unless they happen to be spectacularly good). Musically this is fine, it has a bit of bounce to it, though I wouldn't exactly call these lyrics happy. Even the "day I love the most" line is only happy in a bittersweet way. Anyway, this was a decent effort.

Brown Word and the Big Whine: You always sound like you're trying to affect a "rock star" voice and it doesn't do much for me. I'd be interested to hear you singing without this artificial twang. Again, like BSS, at least this isn't downbeat but it's hardly brimming with joy.

Night Sky: I kind of dig the funky vibe, and while not a big fan of cheesy sax I appreciate it as a slightly unusual instrument amongst this field. I'm not sure if I'd describe this as "upbeat", more like relaxed or laid-back.

Nick Soma: "A fact because so I say" is not only a weak rhyme but among the worst bits of reasoning ever. However this is pop music so I'll try not to get too hung up on it. I also always hate when people use the world/unfurled rhyme, just a personal taste thing. On a more technical note, what the hell happened with that drum roll when the drums first kick in?! It takes a special kind of malcoordinate to use sequencers and mess up the timing. This falls into the common trap of letting the title prompt overwhelm the song with negative sentiment, and you've tried to spin it in a positive way, but I'm not really feeling the joy. Speaking of which, I wanted to say more positive things about your song, but I've run out of energy complaining. Sorry! I was actually going to rank this higher but after writing this review I felt I had to knock it down a couple of notches.

Glennny: Another song about walking under a ladder. You get a pass by virtue of there not being enough competitors.

Virgo Power: Another cliche-fest yay. After hearing the millionth person sing about cats and ladders I'm seriously regretting this choice of title. This is crazy loud and while I quite like the twinkles they quickly start to hurt my ears. Using your EQ to ring out that instrument and remove the aggressive frequency would've helped. There are some off-key and slightly out of time vocals.

Boffo Yux Dudes: This is kinda ridiculous and sounds like it was recorded under a duvet. Not sure what the massive pointless drumfill was all about.

Mandibles: I feel if somebody had described this to me before I'd heard it I'd expect to like it. A Beatles-esque piano jaunt that segues into a Hit-the-road-Jack style middle section. But the truth is this is painful to listen to. It's like opera for toddlers or something. Everything about the melodies and the swing exudes cheese. From a technical perspective it's not too bad, which shows just how much my taste biases are coming into play here. So, sorry about that.

Vom Vorton: I have pointed out your obsession with rhyming couplets to you in the past on numerous occasions, but here, compared to the detritus found in so many of these lyric sets, yours are a breath of fresh air. Just the phrasing and choice of words is much higher quality than all the usual unlucky cliche bollocks. The track is decent, nought special but still good. Vom by numbers, which is acceptable for now.

The Lowest Bitter: This is great as usual, but with one fatal flaw. Those "aahaaahaa" bits just rub me up the wrong way. Without those I would love this, but there are so many of them and as a result I won't want to listen to it again after this round. The rest of this, the lead melodies and popping synths and arps are all just the ticket. It's like you've made the statue of David and then smeared poop all over his nipples. Clean off the poop and you've got "great art". Don't take the ranking to heart. I'm just in a mischievous mood. Worst judge ever.
Cybronica
Push Comes to Shove
Posts: 301
Joined: Mon May 14, 2018 2:38 pm
Instruments: Vocals, Bass
Recording Method: sm7b, Scarlett 8i6, Logic Pro
Submitting as: Mandibles, Cybronica
Pronouns: she/they

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by Cybronica »

Thank you to everyone writing reviews! I hope to crank some out later this week!
furrypedro wrote:
Wed May 25, 2022 6:03 pm

Mandibles: I feel if somebody had described this to me before I'd heard it I'd expect to like it. A Beatles-esque piano jaunt that segues into a Hit-the-road-Jack style middle section. But the truth is this is painful to listen to. It's like opera for toddlers or something. Everything about the melodies and the swing exudes cheese. From a technical perspective it's not too bad, which shows just how much my taste biases are coming into play here. So, sorry about that.
This is, hands down, one of the best reviews I’ve ever read. I’m not even mad about where you ranked is, because man, you got us. A direct quote from our song writing session was, “we have to make this as stupid as possible. That’s the only way I could take this seriously.” I really hope you enjoyed something about this excessively upbeat song, as requested haha.

(“It’s like opera for toddlers or something” is my favorite testimonial ever)
“It's like opera for toddlers or something.” -furrypedro
User avatar
furrypedro
Ice Cream Man
Posts: 1260
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:06 pm
Instruments: Guitar, programming
Recording Method: Cubase, Reason
Submitting as: Balance Lost
Location: Kyoto
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by furrypedro »

Cybronica wrote:
Wed May 25, 2022 6:47 pm
This is, hands down, one of the best reviews I’ve ever read.
Thank you for taking it in a positive way, and also for helping me on my quest to be the songfighter most quoted in the signatures of others.
User avatar
grumpymike
Push Comes to Shove
Posts: 411
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:12 pm
Instruments: Rage and curmudgeonry
Recording Method: Zero-turn lawnmower
Submitting as: Grumpy Mike

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by grumpymike »

At the risk of pissing everyone off, I figure I owe you all some thoughts. I listened to the songs multiple times and had different front-runners at different times.

The things I looked for were:
* execution - technically how well you composed, performed, engineered, produced
* concept - how well the challenge fits & how well you sold it
* hooks - staying power, catchiness, and bias

Lunkhead - This is fun, some great guitar stuff. Pretty dumb take, but it's hilarious. Musically, it's a little templatey and definitely unsophisticated (but clearly by choice). Execution: A, concept: C+, hooks: C

Moss Palace - Perfect singing. Love the bass. Took me a couple listens to accept that the lyrics make sense... a little tenuous, but I'll allow it. Execution A+, concept: B+, hooks: A-

Elks of the Economy - This one reached up to my #1 spot for a while. The concept is tastefully try-hard and the music almost makes up for it. Execution A, idea B-, hooks: A-

Jon Porobil - This is really fun. It's a little too 80s for my taste but there's some great hooks and lyrical crafting in there. I could really do without the - what is that, wood blocks? lol, you leaned in too far. Execution: B+, idea: B+, hooks: A+

The Lowest Bitter - This is an aggressively simple lyrical take but it feels genuinely happy and I love that about it. Lean in, as they say. Execution: A, concept: B-, hooks: A+


Vom Vorton - I love the music. It's difficult to get behind or imagine you getting behind the lyrics. Seems like this could be a song about anything- so while it's creative and upbeat, it's not exactly a Happy Meal (tm). Execution: A, concept: C+, hooks: A


The Alleviators - This was my favorite at first. It's cute. The female vocalist is amazing. The emotional delivery from both of you get this a lot of points. In the end, however, the music felt a little templatey. Execution: A, concept: A-, hooks: B


Cavedwellers - This is pretty good Cavedwellers. I like the guitar noodling before the verse. While it's a creative idea, I just can't get behind it- the song feels too sterile. Execution: A-, concept: C+, hooks: B-


Night Sky - I almost ranked this #1 for a while, just to reward your bravery. This is good stuff with you leaning into the silliness. Now, the fake claps are really bad, like white pants after labor day. It sounds like you have a mic and can multi-track so maybe you could just, maybe, you know, record yourself clapping a few times and copy-paste it? Execution: B+, concept: A, hooks: B+


Drain Poets - I appreciate the funny lyrics. I felt like they were a little too tongue-in-cheek to meet my challenge, but you did lean into it pretty hard. Execution: B+, concept: A/C, hooks: B+


Berkeley Social Scene - This has some clever phrases, but feels like the lyrics are just filling a void. Awesome guitar solo at the end. Execution: B-, concept: C-, hooks: C


Stacking Theory - The "happy happy happy" is funny but also feels like it's rebuking the challenge. The vocal performance is what saves the concept here - but it feels like a Friday the 13th song and not a happy song no matter how much you say "happy". I love the climax - really good build-up to that. Execution: A, concept: B+, hooks: C+


Nick Soma - This is creatively absurd. You were really selling this until the exceptionally bored delivery of the exceptionally awkward line "I think I'll wreck some major havoc now". You kinda got stuck between sincere and hilarious. Execution: B+, concept: C+, hooks: A-


Adam Adamant - The idea feels very forced, but that's a hell of a hook. Execution: C+, concept: C, hooks: A


Mandibles - Beetles inspiration, Butthole Surfers verse lyrics, a killer chorus, and an unnecessary bridge. I understand you're trying to sell an idea here... On the one hand, you put a lot of effort into selling it. On the other hand, is it worth selling? Execution: B+, concept: C, hooks: B


Brown Word and the Big Whine - Love the guitar noodling and disharmonious Liz Phair harmony. It's interesting, but not really feeling particularly happy or hooked. Execution: B-, concept: B-, hooks: B-


Lichen Throat - I just don't find the overly descriptive unlucky narrative a compelling story, but the chorus works at selling it decently. execution: D+, concept: C, hooks: B


Boffo Yux Dudes - I think you had fun doing this, and that's what counts. The piano work is cool. You're selling a really bad joke really well, but not well enough for it to not be bad. Execution: C-, concept: D, hooks: C+


Virgo Power - I love the "friyay". Some of the vocals are pretty rough takes. The chorus shows good sensibilities. Execution: D, concept: C+, hooks: C+


Glennny - Feels like it could have any lyrics and you aren't selling it. Suffers from really bad mastering. Execution: C, concept: C, hooks: C
User avatar
JonPorobil
Beat It
Posts: 5658
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 11:45 am
Instruments: Piano, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, Accordion, Bass, lots of VSTs
Recording Method: Cubase 10.5
Submitting as: Jon Eric, Jon Porobil, others
Pronouns: He/Him
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by JonPorobil »

Congratulations to Sam for pulling off what I'm pretty sure is the first trifecta in Nur Ein history! I really liked all your songs, especially the two winners, and I was happy to be right behind ya. 8-)

I also really appreciate the thoughtful reviews from judges and other competitors. Y'all really did notice all the little things I was hoping people would notice. This may surprise you, but Phil Collins didn't cross my mind once while I was working on this song. However, I did notice (after the deadline, of course) that I might have accidentally lifted a little too heavily from another 80s staple act:



Anyway, the production and vocal comments were spot-on, as I mixed this in an awful hurry. The chorus and bridge vocals were done about 90 minutes before deadline, and the verse vocals about 45 minutes before. That left basically zero time to ensure proper levels or consider the effects with any sort of care at all - I just used a compressor, two layers of delay, and a reverb, all with settings directly from my template. Oh, and pitch-corrected the bejesus out of the performance, which I think is most obvious on the acoustic bridge. The good news is, with more time to fix this stuff, I think it'll polish up really well!

I'll have a batch of reviews of my own up soon, hopefully tonight. NUR EIN
"Warren Zevon would be proud." -Reve Mosquito

Stages, an album of about dealing with loss, anxiety, and grieving a difficult year, now available on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms! https://jonporobil.bandcamp.com/album/stages
User avatar
arby
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Posts: 167
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:21 pm
Instruments: Omnichord, vocals
Recording Method: TASCAM, GarageBand
Submitting as: Lucky Witch & the Righteous Ghost, Virgo Power
Pronouns: she/her
Location: Staten Island, NY
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by arby »

Thank you everyone for the reviews. I will totally cop to doing a rush job on this round in hopes of slipping by bc fewer than 25 people entered. And while I got away with it, clearly I still suffered in the ranking. I think my procrastination hurt me most in my "mixing" and editing, since I only had about 30 minutes to do it and I suck at it anyway. Responses to my reviews below.
adamadamant wrote:
Mon May 23, 2022 9:24 am
Virgo Power - :!: :!: That organ is piercing my soul.
Not an organ, but ok. It's Omnichord, which does have piercing high notes. I try to EQ it to make it less piercing, but since I do not really know how to EQ, I am sure I often fail. Also I clearly have a much higher tolerance for high frequencies than most, as Omni usually doesn't sound too loud or too piercing to me! :lol:
vowlvom wrote:
Wed May 25, 2022 7:17 am
Virgo Power - I like this, although your minimalist style always takes me a while to come around to. I do think this could be better with a little more going on in the arrangement but I think what's there is good.
Thank you! Yeah, I'm always minimalist simply because I do not know how to play 49 different instruments like the rest of you guys :P and I refuse to fake it in GarageBand. (I have a different "band" for that.) re: arrangement, that's entirely fair. I ad-libbed the "ba ba ba" parts in the bridge and then tried to re-use them (by digitally copying and pasting them) in the last chorus, which was HIGHLY suspect vis-a-vis both pitch (since they weren't being sung over the same accompaniment notes) and timing. Literally did that in the last 2 minutes before submitting, and I regret it now as I think it made the song worse instead of better, but the concept was cute and I could have re-recorded those in a better pitch had I more time. Wish I had given myself at least 1 extra day for tweaks because I am sure I could have made the arrangement better or at least reconsidered my editing/mixing choices.
Evermind wrote:
Wed May 25, 2022 5:59 pm
Virgo Power
Vocals sound like they're clipping a little bit, and they're not in time with the instruments right off the bat. The vocals feel a bit pitchy at times. Kick and snare are overly punchy, toy piano is too loud. The line "How does Friday become Friyay" does not make any sense to me. Concept is meeting someone you like on Friday the 13th, I guess. Percussion never changes from start to finish and far outstays its welcome.
Again, fair. I definitely was off on the vocals rhythmically in the beginning, because I was using Omnichord's built-in cheesy drum sound, mostly as a metronome to keep myself on time. However when I recorded that drum track it didn't start immediately, so when I tried to sing over it I was frightened and confused as to when to come in, and it definitely showed on the 1st line. Also I am not surprised if the vocals sound clipped because for some reason I cannot figure out, the Shure SM-58 I'm using to record vocals always makes incredibly quiet recordings, so I usually end up doing a quick and dirty "normalize" in Sound Studio because I get sick of trying to turn up the gain in GarageBand. I have tried turning up the input on TASCAM, and it still comes out too quiet. I think this round I will use my Neumann mic and it should be much better. I do not know where or why I got the Friday->Friyay line, I guess I just thought it was mildly amusing, like Friday the 13th is supposed to be scary, but this one was a FriYAY because the narrator met the love of her life. I thought it was totally cringe actually but I wrote the song in like an hour on Sunday afternoon so I ran with it. "Toy piano" = still Omnichord. :lol: (Never had it called toy piano before! ha!)
furrypedro wrote:
Wed May 25, 2022 6:03 pm
Virgo Power: Another cliche-fest yay. After hearing the millionth person sing about cats and ladders I'm seriously regretting this choice of title. This is crazy loud and while I quite like the twinkles they quickly start to hurt my ears. Using your EQ to ring out that instrument and remove the aggressive frequency would've helped. There are some off-key and slightly out of time vocals.
Agreed my lyrics were cliched. I knew it at the time but it was all I had. Also, I would LOVE to know HOW to "ring out" Omni and remove aggressive frequencies. Could I use the spectrum analyzer in GarageBand to do that? i.e. see where it's peaking and turn it down on those frequencies?
grumpymike wrote:
Wed May 25, 2022 9:16 pm
At the risk of pissing everyone off, I figure I owe you all some thoughts.
Virgo Power - I love the "friyay". Some of the vocals are pretty rough takes. The chorus shows good sensibilities. Execution: D, concept: C+, hooks: C+
I was terrified when I saw that you were among the NE judges this year and sure you were going to hate all my stuff. So I was OVERJOYED to see you didn't hate my song! And even loved the Friyay! Ahh you made my day yesterday, Grumpy Mike. Thank you!!!
"Not fair, LW+RG get ambience for free every round" - Chumpy

"lo-fi doom rock" - furrypedro

User avatar
furrypedro
Ice Cream Man
Posts: 1260
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:06 pm
Instruments: Guitar, programming
Recording Method: Cubase, Reason
Submitting as: Balance Lost
Location: Kyoto
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by furrypedro »

arby wrote:
Thu May 26, 2022 11:56 pm
I would LOVE to know HOW to "ring out" Omni and remove aggressive frequencies. Could I use the spectrum analyzer in GarageBand to do that? i.e. see where it's peaking and turn it down on those frequencies?
I don't know what kind of EQ GarageBand has but you should follow these steps.

1) Apply an EQ to your instrument track
2) Activate a bandpass filter (that's one of the ones in the middle, not the top or bottom one) and make the Q super high so it's really narrow, and turn the gain to max, so it creates a big spike in your EQ screen.
3) move the frequency all the way to the top (20khz)
4) gradually sweep down through the frequencies
5) When you hit a frequency that gets super harsh or distorted then reduce the gain to around -3/4db (or whatever makes it sound better. trust your ears)
6) repeat until you've found all the nasty frequencies (depending on how many filters you have).
7) If there is a wide range that is too loud rather than just a specific frequency (E.g. 2500hz-3000hz) then you can make the Q wider to cut a wider band of frequencies.

Hope that's useful!
User avatar
arby
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Posts: 167
Joined: Sat Jul 16, 2016 8:21 pm
Instruments: Omnichord, vocals
Recording Method: TASCAM, GarageBand
Submitting as: Lucky Witch & the Righteous Ghost, Virgo Power
Pronouns: she/her
Location: Staten Island, NY
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by arby »

furrypedro wrote:
Sun May 29, 2022 12:33 am
arby wrote:
Thu May 26, 2022 11:56 pm
I would LOVE to know HOW to "ring out" Omni and remove aggressive frequencies. Could I use the spectrum analyzer in GarageBand to do that? i.e. see where it's peaking and turn it down on those frequencies?
I don't know what kind of EQ GarageBand has but you should follow these steps.

1) Apply an EQ to your instrument track
2) Activate a bandpass filter (that's one of the ones in the middle, not the top or bottom one) and make the Q super high so it's really narrow, and turn the gain to max, so it creates a big spike in your EQ screen.
3) move the frequency all the way to the top (20khz)
4) gradually sweep down through the frequencies
5) When you hit a frequency that gets super harsh or distorted then reduce the gain to around -3/4db (or whatever makes it sound better. trust your ears)
6) repeat until you've found all the nasty frequencies (depending on how many filters you have).
7) If there is a wide range that is too loud rather than just a specific frequency (E.g. 2500hz-3000hz) then you can make the Q wider to cut a wider band of frequencies.

Hope that's useful!
Thanks dude, I'll try it next time! (I don't think anything is too obnoxious in my current track. THINK.)
"Not fair, LW+RG get ambience for free every round" - Chumpy

"lo-fi doom rock" - furrypedro

User avatar
sailingmagpie
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed May 06, 2020 12:48 pm
Instruments: Guitar, Bass, Keys
Recording Method: Reaper
Submitting as: The Serviettes
Pronouns: He/him
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by sailingmagpie »

I feel like this challenge ended up being a bit hit or miss in terms of actually hitting the brief but there were definitely some standouts.

To echo furrypedro's thoughts in his reviews, there were quite a lot of very literal lyrics that lacked that bit of finesse that's needed for truly poetic lyrics. It also appears that a lot of entrants really struggled to write a song that's even slightly upbeat. But then, I didn't do a shadow, as I couldn't come up with anything upbeat that I actually liked, so what do I know!?!

Anyway, my thoughts:

Adam Adamant
A couple of good lines in there but some others that do feel a little forced. I think it would work better if you saved the la la la's for the end (like Hey Jude). The chorus is nicely catchy though. The vocals sound like they were recorded down a phone but still kinda work within the context of the song.

The Alleviators
I'm really quite surprised no-one else went for an anthemic vibe with this challenge! The female vocals on this are absolutely superb and, while the male vocals are weaker, it's nothing that a few more takes and some comping couldn't solve. There's a real 90s alternative feel to this one, particularly the Incubus-style drumbeat in the verse. This track feels like you're just starting to warm up, so I'm looking forward to what you'll come up with over the coming rounds.

Berkeley Social Scene
This kinda reminds me of forgotten 90s indie-punk band Symposium. The chorus is pleasingly catchy but, other than a couple of fleeting mentions, this doesn't seem to have a great deal to do with the title. It has got a killer guitar solo though. Some pretty obvious rhymes in this one but nothing too egregious and it's got an enjoyably upbeat feel throughout.

Boffo Yux Dudes
Er...what? A very puzzling entry which appears to bear no relation to the title whatsoever. However, it is definitely upbeat, a real earworm and you've played the numbers game successfully to live to fight another (hopefully more relevant to the title) day.

Brown Word and the Big Whine
I'm now well into double figures for the number of listens to all of the songs but, unlike some of the others, I couldn't really hum a note of this unless it was playing. The mix is a bit flat, so I don't really feel like I'm actually in a room with a band. The drums seem far too up front compared to the other instruments and the vocals have a little too much theatricality in them for my tastes. It is very upbeat though!

Cavedwellers
Upbeat energy right from the start and some clever, tongue twisting lyrics in this track with the "Odin is exploding..." verse the standout. Your storytelling is a real strength and your vocal melodies are super catchy. I feel like you might enjoy Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

Drain Poets
Better than some of the other mirror/black cat/ladder etc entries and I love the inclusion of the Friday song references in the bridge. The horns are definitely a welcome addition, as the arrangement gets a bit samey, so it would be nice to hear a few more layers to flesh it out a bit. This feels more of an album track than a single. Weird that it's not the only song to reference bitcoin.

Elks of the Economy
There's a nice bounce to the groove that really gets me nodding along to this. The vocals are a bit buried though, so the words are quite hard to make out at some points but this is a straight forward love song which works very well with the challenge. The rhodes solo gives a nice 70s feel and the production & arrangement are top drawer. Easily the best use of friggatriskaidekaphobia.

Glennny
Some vocal timing issues here. It's got quite a jaunty chorus and is very upbeat but suffers in comparison to some of the other "bad luck example" entries. The slide guitar is a nice addition but I wish you'd leaned into the singalong feel at the end a bit more.

Jon Porobil
This sounds like it'd slot nicely onto either of the first two Chvrches albums and I don't care what anyone says, those drum fills are on point! Vocal, production and arrangement are all superb. All the twinkly little synth bits in the background are fantastic. Lyrically, this is the most subtle take on the Friday the 13th movies.

Lichen Throat
Significant pitch and timing issues on the vocals for this track. Another one that sounds like a list of unlucky things and some of the rhymes feel very forced. I do like the skipping groove on the drums though and feel like this song could be improved with a bit more work.

The Lowest Bitter
Is schadenfreude upbeat? It's certainly a grey area but compared to a few of the other lyrics, this is like a Polyphonic Spree song, so I can't mark you down too harshly! Especially as these are easily my favourite lyrics of the round. The doge/fleeced joke is genuinely brilliant, as is the tulip/incel one. While I was listening and relistening through the entries, this was one of the tracks that never got old.

Lunkhead
My favourite of the Jason songs and one of the strongest lyrically of all of the entries. The face melting solos fit the pop-punk feel perfectly and those snare rolls are so tight. The middle 8 mixes it up nicely and stops the track becoming too samey. So basically what a middle 8 is meant to do!

Mandibles
Some pitch issues with the vocals and some of the notes are really quite piercing. The lyrics feel like a first draft and there are a few clunky rhymes that stick out. I think I'd prefer it if the rockier section at the end was the whole song, as I find the main bits too "musical theatre" for my tastes. But then it wouldn't be very upbeat, so whaddaya gonna do?

Moss Palace
A very enjoyable retro vibe that's reminiscent of Delaney and Bonnie. However, I feel the bpm should be a couple of notches higher, as that would give it more of a Motown/Northern Soul feel. The ending feels like a missed opportunity. It's crying out for a repeated belted chorus during the fade out. As it is, the ending is just a bit flat. Some of the lines do feel like placeholders as well, especially in the pre-chorus.

Nick Soma
I think you might have got away with the clunky opening couplet a bit more if it was buried later in the song but hitting us with it right at the start really makes it stand out. The entrance of the drums is very clumsy but once we get going the storytelling is good and I love the subtlety of the miaow joke in the backing vocals near the end.

Night Sky
Cool sax but it kinda overshadows the rest of the arrangement. Halving the number of bars in the solos would help tighten up the arrangement imo. I also think the vocal needs more blue notes. This would help loosen it up a bit and help it fit with the funky style you've gone for. Nice period appropriate use of the term groove thang though. I won't be awarding any bonus points for using a date that's within a week of my actual birth, I'm afraid. Some of the other judges might though.

Stacking Theory
Upbeat? Positive? Hmm...I'm not sure. I did enjoy this song though, especially the discordant guitar work. The repeated note in the chorus is cool (very Song 2) and I love that you make a virtue out of singing in your own accent. It really takes it up a notch when everything kicks in but I think it becomes a little too loud, compared to the early part of the song. I had to turn my headphones down every time I got to that bit!

Virgo Power
The omnichord/drum machine arrangement reminds me of Lael Neale. This does seem like another list of unlucky things and overall the writing and recording feel a bit rushed. The vocals at the beginning sound like they are fighting to catch up with the backing but improve once you settle into the performance. It does feel a little like it doesn't really go anywhere arrangement-wise though.

Vom Vorton
A clear winner for me. It's a simple concept but that's really what this challenge called for. The drums sound great (sped up or otherwise) and I absolutely love those synth chords that come in for the pre-chorus. This is one of the few songs I would listen to outside of the challenge.
User avatar
JonPorobil
Beat It
Posts: 5658
Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 11:45 am
Instruments: Piano, Guitar, Harmonica, Mandolin, Accordion, Bass, lots of VSTs
Recording Method: Cubase 10.5
Submitting as: Jon Eric, Jon Porobil, others
Pronouns: He/Him
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by JonPorobil »

I promised some reviews - here ya go!

Adam Adamant - Silly lyrics. The combination of silly and macabre reminds me of The Smiths - that guitar tone doesn't hurt either! I think the EQ/filter treatment on the lead vocal is a bit too heavy-handed. In the ending section, around the two-minute mark, I'm hearing some incongruent vocals - do you have a vocal singing different lyrics? Or just out of sync? Given the lyrics' subject matter, I could see that being an intentional stylistic thing, but if so, this is regrettably in the "uncanny valley" - prominent enough to be distracting, but too subtle for the point to be made clearly.

The Alleviators - Great singing here. Vibe-wise, this is well-placed in that familiar indie-alterna-folk genre. You're very confident in the genre, but I don't think I'd describe this as "upbeat," per the challenge. Take that with a grain of salt, since I'm not a judge, and even if I were I'd probably just shrug and give you a pass on it anyway. I have no notes on your production - it's perfectly-executed for the genre and mood of the song. I love the "I got you" repetition as a hook.

Berkeley Social Scene - The dual-purpose song is a difficult feat - you've incorporated elements that fit both the title "Friday the 13th" and the title "Bunny Hop," but I'm kind of scratching my head trying to figure out what the one has to do with the other.

Boffo Yux - The "hubba bubba" vocal hook is weirdly compelling. Almost hypnotic. I like that part better than any of the actual lyrical sections. You seem to be evoking 60s bubblegum music but without coming across as a pastiche. Musically, that's really impressive! But where this loses points with me is the connection to the title. Even after reading your explanation, I still don't see it, to be honest. I would never have figured out that you were singing about Freddy Krueger from just listening to the song and reading the lyrics in it. As a thought experiment, I'm pretending I just heard this song outside of a Nur Ein context, like it's some deep album cut on a forgotten 60s record. In that context, I guess the title is trying to lead to the conclusion (if we also overlook that you got your horror film franchises mixed up - honest mistake), so maybe I'd think the title was some kind of key to another level of meaning in the lyrics, but honestly I'd have probably given up after that. So maybe if you want to work on this, you change the title to, say, "Elm Street" and then squeeze in some other allusions to the movies? Maybe something about running but not hiding? Something about knives? Not sure, but for me the dots didn't connect.

Brown Word and the Big Whine - Gotta love that twang-n-mud. Your vocals are mostly on point, but it feels like you're hitting a sour note when you get to the last syllable of "Thirteenth" at the end of each verse, like maybe you never settled on what note that phrase resolves to? That said, I really appreciate the character you put into your vocal performance for the entire rest of the song (and in general, come to think of it!). This song is short, and there's definitely something to be said for a song that doesn't wear out its welcome, but I feel like it could have developed more.

Cavedwellers - I was gonna be that idiot asking "What does all this Norse mythology stuff have to do with Friday the 13th?" before I looked it up. I had no idea that was where the superstition came from. I really love the guitars here, and the dreamy texture in the intro and verses. I applaud your clever concept, but your lyrics don't really flow very well, and there's a bit of tryhard wordplay here. I wasn't fond of "Like his sister Hele / He was a hella-bloodlusting fella" or "Odin is explodin' / He'd void of oxytocin." It seems to me you could have told the same story more effectively without the conspicuous word choices.

DRAIN
POETS
- I really appreciate the tonal clarity of that opening melody - it's a very clean guitar tone but it rings out clear as can be. I like your lyrical conceit as well, but some of the individual lines sit awkwardly in the melody. I guess you could say it doesn't need to be polished because it's a joke song, but I wonder if the joke would have hit harder if the lyrics had fit more cleanly. I also struggled to understand some of the words - On a closer listen, I think they were supposed to be dog names? The subtle horns bring your ending to another level - very much appreciated. I was sorry to hear you dropped out for Round 1 - I would have loved seeing you top yourself again.

Elks of the Economy - This is very pleasant, and its third-place showing is probably well-deserved, but I have to admit that overall it doesn't stick with me, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the aggressive EQ on the verse vocals making them sound a little muffled and hard to make out? Actually, now that I'm writing it out, I realize that's a big part of it; the chorus slaps hard, and to me it feels like the verses are just there to make me wait for the choruses. I dig that electric piano solo - Damian's Rhodes piano, right? I also dig the swell of background vocals in the last chorus. Subtle details in the mix to make the coda hit even harder. Great work!

Glennny - It's hard to make out your vocals, and I couldn't figure out if you were mixing them like that to achieve some kind of effect, or if you just had acoustic issues in your recording space or something. You've got a good hook there, but I also feel like singing the chorus is the only time your voice sounds confident, like you could have used some more time to rehearse your melody? When the full arrangement kicks in for the last chorus, I'm hearing some pretty severe compression "pumping," I think on the master bus? Can't judge too hard (I mastered my song in... oh, about 45 seconds flat this week thanks to some presets and poor time management!) but it'd probably be a good idea to revisit the compressor settings if you want to work on this more.

Lichen Throat - All the characteristic traits of Lichen Throat songs are on display in this one - the active short notes on MIDI instruments with no variation in expression. I wonder whether you'd have some good results from varying up the note cadences and trying to utilize some of the MIDI expression lanes to make the instrument performances sound more varied and naturalistic. I wonder if your music might lose some of the uniqueness that makes it yours, but it's something to think about. Regarding your lyrics, I appreciate you avoiding a lot of the superstition cliches. Several other artists sang about black cats and broken mirrors, but you were the only entry that referred to Chinese tetraphobia or the Afghan superstition against the number 39 (which I had never heard of before your song). There's a lot of creativity in your ideas - I just wish they were a little less buried.

The Lowest Bitter - "Hate to say I told you so, so I'll sing it instead..." Wow. Beautiful. There's a lot of great wordplay throughout here, but my favorite was "when you lie down with doge, you're gonna get fleeced." You were wondering about whether this mean-spirited take on the title was "happy" enough for the prompt, and I would say that absolutely you nailed the challenge. Musically, your gloating really does come across as joyous and happy. The "Uh huh"s throughout help convey that feeling, plus the blippy synths. My quibble here is that I think the repeating sections cause it to drag a bit. Choruses are, of course, a totally normal part of songwriting, but maybe yours just runs a little long? Not sure, but by the third time you got to that "Laughing all the way to the bank / making bank didn't go as you planned" part, I was thinking "Oh, this part again?" Anyway, it's a minor gripe. I empathize with your antipathy towards crypto and hey, no one else had this approach, so good work!

Lunkhead - So, no joke, I seriously considered writing a song with this same lyrical approach. It wouldn't have been pop-punk like yours (it probably would have been similar in style to the one I ultimately turned in) but I thought about what a happy song about the movie Friday the 13th would look like, and "I'm Jason and killing makes me happy!" was one of the ideas that buried itself in my brain. I got as far as writing two lines of the lyrics before deciding that it wouldn't work, but I'm so glad you proved me wrong. The jokes on this one are terrific, including the bit about a career in space, the line about being "a righteous incel" (hey, there's a reason I went out of my way to put a borderline-inappropriate sex scene in my song), and of course the line "Just like my momma taught me to" in the chorus. A previous reviewer pointed out that the drum fills are a little weak, which I have to agree with, but it's got that ramshackle DIY pop-punk feel, and the guitar solos more than make up for it. I liked your Moss Palace entry better, but this was a clear second-place choice for me. Great job!

Mandibles - Lots to like here. By now you're certainly familiar with complaints about the formal tone of your singing voice, so I won't belabor the point. I giggled at most of the jokes, particularly the bit about Michael Meyers wearing a mask. The whistling is a memorable and fun touch, and I really like the transition to the spooky part of the song. Your "It's Friiiidaaaay" was one of the hooks I caught myself singing around the house through the week. And that huge laugh at the end is perfect.

Moss Palace - My favorite of the round by far. Just absolutely nailing the small-ensemble soul band vibe. That bass-and-handclaps breakdown is a perfect arrangement/production moment. I guess the only two nitpicks I have are that it fades out a little too soon (though that is in keeping with the genre) and I think the rhyme of "relentless"/"eventless" is a little forced. Even so, what an awesome highlight.

Nick Soma - That rhythmic stumble at the end of the first verse really threw me for a loop. I like the angle your lyrics took, but a lot of your individual lines are a little clunky.

Night Sky - Great groove - I was wiggling in my seat here. I saw your comment about your song not really coming together and being "a bunch of parts stitched together." I don't know if I would have noticed without reading that comment of yours, but since I did, now I admit I can hear it. But, you know, that's kind of par for the course, for a funk song, right? Some of the saxes are a little aggressive, maybe a little EQ might have helped. I also think there's something a little weird about the handclaps. I can hear some distortion on them, which is a trick I like for making handclaps "pop," but you might have laid it on a little thick. Still, I'm picking up what you're putting down. Keep it up!

Stacking Theory - In a Nur Ein round or Song Fight fight, there's often one song that, though there's nothing wrong with it, totally fails to leave an impression on me. Unfortunately, you're the unlucky one this fight. I've listened to this whole round probably seven or eight times now, and each time I can barely remember your song. I'm sorry about that - I don't think it's indicative of a problem with your song, just with me and my memory. Listening closely for the review... Your guitar tones are great. The delicate plucking in the verses compliments the broad reverb-y tone of the solo. The "Happy, happy, happy" parts get a little stale. Repetition can be a great way to make a hook stand out, but it backfires when it's overplayed. Overall, this is solid. I think I've said all the negatives I can think of, which wasn't much. Sorry this didn't hit me harder.

Virgo Power - Several other reviewers mentioned the "piercing" quality of the upper-mid-range frequencies on the Omnichord, and I agree about that. However, I think another problem might just be the lack of other pieces to build out the arrangement. So consider - if you tamp down the upper frequencies of that Omnichord, what else can be emphasized in its place? You've got your voice and the harmony part, but those don't sit in the same frequency range that the Omnichord is overemphasizing. There's the drum loop... Maybe you could try turning up the hi-hats? I don't think that's doing the work either. Since nothing else is occupying that space in the mix, turning down the Omnichord will only get you so far, as the listener will simply turn the overall volume up to compensate, and then those offending frequencies are back again. I'm oversimplifying, of course, but the concept is real. Outside of the mix/arrangement issues, I find the lyrics hit-or-miss. "How does Fri - i - day / Become Fri - i - yay" is a pretty big swing, and some listeners liked it, but unfortunately I wasn't one of them. But I did like the shift to minor at the end of the chorus as you transition into "I met you." Keep at it and see if you can't come up with some other creative ways to flesh out your songs.

Vom Vorton - I never would have guessed that the drum part was played slower and then sped up to fit. It feel perfectly natural. The guitars jangle, the synths flesh out the arrangement nicely... Gotta love that Vom Vorton Vibe. Also, good to hear a unique lyrical approach too. The idea of traveling on Friday the 13th is a good one. I'm not too wild about how you chose to develop that idea, by discussing the different months that your holiday can fall on (shades of Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl"), but I can't fault your delivery or execution. Solid entry.
"Warren Zevon would be proud." -Reve Mosquito

Stages, an album of about dealing with loss, anxiety, and grieving a difficult year, now available on Bandcamp and all streaming platforms! https://jonporobil.bandcamp.com/album/stages
owl
Panama
Posts: 959
Joined: Mon May 15, 2017 1:29 pm
Instruments: vox keys uke guitar
Recording Method: REAPER
Submitting as: Vowl Sounds, miscellaneous owl
Pronouns: she/her
Location: Madison, WI
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by owl »

Reviewssssss

Sorry I've been so slow getting these done, it's been busy!

Adam Adamant - I like the general sound of the instrumentation here, particularly your guitar, and including that kind of messy falling-apart ending, and your vocal delivery kind of reminds me of David Bowie. Catchy chorus, but didn't quite hold up to repeated listens for me, those lyrics felt a bit too throwaway. Performance-wise, it felt like you never got the rhythm or pitch totally nailed down and were always running to catch up just a bit; the la's and oh's felt kind of flat. I wish the vocal wasn't quite so heavily effected, it was just slightly too much for my ear and I found it a bit distracting. Enjoyable and meets the challenge but something about this felt not quite fully developed to me.
The Alleviators - I was intrigued by trying to figure out where this fit genre-wise, seems like a kind of mix of AOR, country, early-2000s indie, emo...? I like the duet structure but the male vocal performance doesn't hold up well to the female vox--feels off key and off time in various places, not as fluid, and the delivery seems too gravelly in parts to fit in well--it was a bit jarring when the male vox first came in. My husband heard this while I was listening through the first few songs and said he could imagine this being a huge commercial hit with a bit of tweaking to the performances. Aside from a few off harmonies, I love the closing chorus where you're singing together, very epic and joyful feel. The lyrics feel a bit generic overall, but all work in service of the song, but the venom and sugar lines are great and interesting turns of phrase. This is one of the songs that stood out to me and stuck with me after listening to everything, nice work.
Berkeley Social Scene - The guitar intro here makes a nice transition from the Alleviators track, I like it! My biggest issue with this song is the "bunny hop" sections that feel totally out of place and obviously just shoehorned in there in order to do a dual entry with the main songfight--I don't mind abrupt changes necessarily but this felt very forced to me. I do really like the verse and pre-chorus melody and chord progression, particularly that high note in the 3rd line of the verse, but they don't feel particularly upbeat/happy to me. I didn't care for the phaser effect on the "bunny hop" vocals--made them seem extra out of place--and there are some painfully audible tuning artifacts on the lead vocal as well that I found hard to listen to. Lyrically, some of the obviously nonsensical/first-draft lyrics were fine with me but the phrase "13th of Friday" annoyed me every time it came up, what does this mean?? I saw this meme recently about the sentence "More people have been to Paris than I have" that seems like it makes sense at first glance but really doesn't and this phrase made me think of that.
Boffo Yux Dudes - My husband heard this one too and said it reminded him of some tracks on the Nuggets compilation of underground 60's garage band music. I found this kind of baffling to listen to but also endearing. A couple of degrees of separation from the "ooga chakas" in Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling" (which I love) but doesn't ever quite get to a big, hooky payoff part. The vocals were nicely performed and mixed, but the instrumental felt too much like a canned band-in-a-box demo track to me, especially those big fake drum fills, which felt very distracting. I have no idea what the song has to do with the title, so if we were doing eliminations this round I probably would have scored you a lot lower, but this time around I let it slide as I enjoyed the song's personality and vibe.
Brown Word and the Big Whine - I like that little spoken part at the beginning but I'm not a huge fan of the sung vocal delivery through the rest of the song--works best for me where you have the harmonies going and/or the parts where you play with your delivery and attitude, like your vox flipping up at the end of a line. The drum fills have a similarly distracting quality to BYD's. I like the crunchiness of the guitars and at parts this reminds me of Bikini Kill. My biggest issue with this is that the lyrics feel like they were thrown in there at random; they flow like prose that someone asked you to deliver over music, not like song lyrics. Positive message, so I think you meet the challenge well from that standpoint, but the music again doesn't sound especially happy to me.
Cavedwellers - Love the arrangement, that intro is ear candy. The lyrics are what killed this a bit for me. If I listen without really paying attention I really enjoy the melody, music, and production of this song, but the lyrics just feel so cringey and filky to me and like a bit of a Norse mythology Wikipedia song--"how can we cram ALL these gods in here and make self-consciously clever puns about them?" Like, I get that you're trying to retell the origin story of Friday the 13th, but it mostly comes across as a list of a bunch of characters and facts about them. You do get credit for taking a more original approach than "what if Jason??" like so many of these other tunes (I'm not marking anyone down for other people having the same idea, but it did get old to listen to the umpteenth reference). And they're certainly not generic. But the lyrics just don't work for me overall. "Like his sister Hela / He was a hella blood-lusting fella" couplet just rubbed me the wrong way in more ways than I can even express, and I'm even a person who grew up using "hella" unironically. They don't really meet the challenge of being happy, either, although the music is cheery enough.
Drain Poets - Great opening, love the intro and those first couple of lines really grab you. You lost me a little when you got to the Bitcoin, too aggressively topical without being central to the song itself. I love the chorus aside from the "friggatriskadekaphobia" line which felt forced and jumped out at me on each listen. The rest of the lyrics go together well and I really enjoyed all the weird dog racing references--they flowed well despite their apparent awkwardness. The vocals fall flat in the bridge, but mostly work well for me in the rest. Excellent chorus melody. Honestly, upon writing up my notes, I think I probably under-ranked you (sorry, had to do all the listening and ranking in a hurry this week, but there aren't any eliminations this round at least), I think it was the Bitcoin. Meets the challenge nicely.
Elks of the Economy - I love that chorus melody and I'm a sucker for some vibraslap. Somehow this just felt a bit too washed out for me overall though, not enough dynamic shifts or punch to it, it seemed neither here nor there and ultimately felt kind of boring to me, and longer than its actual runtime even though I find it hard to point to anything wrong in particular (aside from another awkward usage of "friggatriskadekaphobia," but I think you barely get away with it here because of the skillful vocal delivery). Some nice details scattered through there, the little guitar accents, backing vocal swells, and keyboard solo are really tasty. (What is it with the weird sounding tom fills this round, though?) The vocals sounded a bit muffled, some elements of the mix seemed off, which I think hurts this song more because of the genre than if it were a lo-fi G&G number, just feels a bit jarring if it's not quite slick and clean enough production-wise. Meets the challenge, I think!
Glennny - Really nice jazzy guitar here, enjoyed the slidey leads and the bounce of the rest. I like the verse and chorus in isolation but they don't flow together very naturally to me. The ending feels unpleasantly abrupt, like you just fell off the stage or your shift ended and you walked out. I'm on the fence about the lyrics. They sound pretty interesting and flow well enough, but also feel a bit like a Wikipedia song, "how many bad omens can I fit into one tune?" I wish this didn't sound so muffled, I often don't mind that kind of thing but it did kind of affect my enjoyment of the tune or desire for repeat listens this time around. It was another one that ended up feeling longer than it actually was, despite it actually being quite short, I guess it didn't quite feel like you'd fully developed the song yet. Meets the challenge!
Jon Porobil - I'm a big sucker for that type of portamento-laden synth riff. I enjoyed the cheesy production (including the gated reverb on the drums, sorry Caravan Ray), those little touches of bells are lovely, but found the vocals kind of unappealing, there's some kind of slightly uncanny valley feel to them along with some musical theater vibes and it's a weird combo. Too processed-sounding, maybe? I would say they seem overly tuned, but there are also various pitchy moments that make me think they weren't tuned, or not tuned correctly? I think I kind of wished you were either singing higher or lower in your range; it's smooth enough, but something just seems off. The acoustic breakdown is a nice change in dynamics. The vocals in that part I guess were a bit more natural but also sounded a bit distorted to me, especially on the esses. (edit upon preview: probably your aggressive tuning there that you mentioned.) I like your prosody and rhythmic delivery--you do a good job matching lyrics to melody--and the imagery in the lyrics. Meets the challenge!
Lichen Throat - I like the instrumentation here overall, the drums in particular do a lot to carry this along nicely and I like how it gets a bit fuzzy later on, although there are a few programmed-sounding MIDI riffs that kind of take me out of the flow of the song. They just don't feel very natural, I'd love to hear more live performances of the parts, or at the very least "humanize" plugins applied to the MIDI tracks or manually going in and adjusting timing and velocity a bit. The vocals have the same timing and pitch issues I've often mentioned before. I think lyrics are usually your strong suit, but I didn't care for them this time. The couplets, like "alley" and "Sally," often feel like a children's nursery rhyme, and it's the same kind of Wikipedia approach to lyrics that I complained about in a few of the other reviews. The music sounds fairly dark to me, although the lyrics are essentially positive.
The Lowest Bitter - The phrase "tulip wilting in the incel's hand" is maybe my favorite lyric this round. Just *chef's kiss* along with the exuberant schadenfreude showcased in the lyrics that feels like it's actually personal and sincere, compared to many of the songs this round that felt like writing assignments (which they are, but they don't need to sound that way). Lots of good synth twinkles and ebbs and flows, but I guess my main issue was that I could never get the melody aside from the "uh-huh" to stay in my head between listens, even though it was all enjoyable along the way and the arrangement is lovely overall.
Lunkhead - This was just a fun listen, kinda poppy horror-punk in the vein of the Misfits, I really enjoyed the crunchy guitars and the bouncy vocal melody--the pauses on the "good at it" and "get used to it" parts work really well with the overall flow. The lyrics are goofy and light, again not as original as some takes (although who would have known that before submitting?) but it works, and the "fornicating"/"waiting" rhyme made me laugh. Your voice sounds good where it dips down into that deeper register. Meets the challenge nicely.
Mandibles - I couldn't get into this at all--the cheesiness of it kind of reminds me of Randy Newman (not a fan), and the vocals felt excessively shrill and overblown compared to what i think the rather easygoing style of the music would have called for (regardless of my feelings about the cheese). More suited for Ride of the Valkyries than this tune. The idea of all the different horror movie characters in a town together is a more inventive take than one of the completely straight Jason interpretations, but the "mystical, magical, miracle Friday" line just felt too cheesy for me and I wasn't entirely clear why the Friday was significant in the setting of the song. The distorted bridge felt baffling and didn't seem to fit. Didn't care for the laughing at the end, either, it just kind of oozed Theater Kid. This is probably exactly what you're going for, but musical theater type songs will run into severe genre bias on my part.
Moss Palace - Great production, arrangement, and performance, this is probably the strongest entry of the round as far as overall polish. The "december"/"remember" rhyme and overall vibe kind of make me think of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Really enjoyed the groove and swagger of the music, especially those rhythm guitars and backing vocal accents. The breakdown and buildup work really well. This stands out from the pack in terms of genre and general sound. The lyrics felt a bit too vague for me, but they flow well with the music.
Nick Soma - Some realllly awkward lyrics in here ("a fact because so I say," "chaos to be unfurled," "servant indentured" not to mention the way "servant" is delivered as "ser-VANT") but ultimately I still found this quite fun and endearing in the end. The cat of doom probably helped, and I also really liked the melody/chord progression/flow of the "major havoc" line.
Night Sky - I like the sax in theory, but it's too high in the mix in general, especially those bari stabs that end up sounding kind of farty, and goes on too long for my tastes--would have preferred those sax solos to be quite a bit shorter. This stands out in terms of general sound and happy vibes, but I just feel like the execution of the song overall was off, didn't quite seem like everything was grooving together, and it seemingly just kinda ran out of ideas and ended--you didn't really sell it enough. The lyrics are happy enough but seem kind of tossed off and I'm never really a fan of those braggadocious kinds of lyrics where the narrator talks about how great they are.
Stacking Theory - This does not really sound happy to me, more ominous and discordantly post-punk. I found the "happy happy happy" part both annoying and sort of hard to understand as I was listening. I think maybe because it reminds me of that "I know I know I know" part in Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" so I kept parsing this as "I pee I pee I pee" when I was listening without paying attention? I like the general sound and how it eventually gets noisy and then quiet, but it felt like it failed the prompt in terms of mood and the lyrics and chorus melody ultimately just felt kind of lazy, or like they were trying to be subversive but not quite succeeding.
Virgo Power - I found this more compelling than I think I probably should have. Did NOT like the lyrics in the "Fri-yay" line as it feels like something I'd see printed on a plaque in Home Goods or Marshalls, but I enjoyed the other lyrics despite the kind of "list of bad things" nature of them that I've complained about in other reviews--you curated a good, interesting-sounding set of unlucky things, so those parts actually do work for me. The main issue I had is that the arrangement is just too minimalist for me. I like the omnichord, but really I wanted more stuff going on in the mix--this just sounds like it took about 5 minutes to make as a demo and you weren't done with it yet. I think you could do better--if you can play omnichord you can fake up a few more instruments on keyboard, or multitrack some different parts with the omnichord, or just pull everything back so it feels intentional that it's so empty. But I found the melody and chord progression in the chorus a lot more memorable and appealing than in many of the other songs that felt more finished and fully realized, that major to minor movement is cool.
Vom Vorton - My firm favorite of the round--the guitar work is really charming and the synths add some really nice texture and movement. It's catchy and cheerful, and the oddly specific concept works really well with the title and challenge. I'm struggling a bit for criticisms but the emphasis on "July" seemed a bit odd to me, came across more as "JU-ly" than "Ju-LY". I forgot until I was about to post this and was glancing at the other reviews that you mentioned you had played real drums on this, they sound so good! I wouldn't have realized they were played slower and sped up. Very nice!
Cybronica
Push Comes to Shove
Posts: 301
Joined: Mon May 14, 2018 2:38 pm
Instruments: Vocals, Bass
Recording Method: sm7b, Scarlett 8i6, Logic Pro
Submitting as: Mandibles, Cybronica
Pronouns: she/they

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by Cybronica »

Nur ein x7 0

I finally wrote out my reviews! Sorry it took so long. The order is the score of the judge who liked mandibles the most:

Vom vorton: Great concept, and really feeds into the challenge well! I love that vocoder sound you got going there. This is a really lovely song. The high note you do in the last chorus is well sung, and I love the joy your pour into it! In an effort to find something to criticize…. Uh, sometimes the backing vocals don’t seem to click into harmony?

Lowest bitter: the chorus flows so so well. I love the ‘ah haaha’ call and response. I don’t mind that its a bit flat at times, it fits the implication of sardonic laughter. The cheery midis are great, and I love how they contrast against your laid back vocal delivery. The lyrics, as mentioned above, flow really well, and I love how you set them with the music. The forward momentum is never lost.

Lunkhead: punk rock! Yeah! This song is basically exactly what the judges asked for, a happy song about a specific horror movie. The singing is great, but I think the vox are not mixed as well as they could be. They are a little to hot (like just a couple ticks too loud), and a bit too dry. As a result, they sit above the rest of the music a bit too much. I think if you brought them down a smidge and added just a little reverb (not as much as in the bridge), they vox would nestle well into the music.

Night sky: omgggggggg the sax get me every time. I love it. But I think it (and the vox) are too dry- needs a touch more reverb, to make it sound more like they are being recorded in the same room as the rest of the band. The doubled vox at the end of the song help in that respect.

Jon porobil: this song gives me major owl city vibes. Your sweet tenor really is a stand out in this song. I think it would have tied into the orchestration a little better if you had another high timbre sound in the texture. Like, the high harmony could be a little higher and maybe doubled with the sound you have as the opening riff. I love the echo effect on the vox, but it does emphasize Your slight pitchiness at times. When you have the notes repeated three times, I’d rec going through and doing some spot takes to fix the glaring ones (like “about was” in the second line of the song). ‘Canoodle in the canoe house’ is great.

Elks of the economy: these instrumentals belong on a best of the 80s playlist, but you have KNEECAPPED your lead vocal, and that makes this rather unlistenable for me. There’s very clearly some kind of filter on them that has a hi cut filter and/or a phaser (or overactive autotune), and it’s like you dragged your hand across the charcoal sketch of your lead. Your backing vox don’t have this problem, so i think it was just a poor mixing choice doing this to you.

Cavedwellers: great take on the title. The song sometimes gets a liiiittle tally, but I don’t think *i* have a leg to stand on and criticize in that respect. As mentioned in other reviews, the “Loki o Loki” line is always a breath of fresh air, but it feels like it comes out of nowhere. If an instrument had a line lead up to it, or you stuck a bar in right before the line to let the music build a little more, then the payoff would really explode. And speaking of exploding, ‘Odin/explodin/oxytocin/foreboding’ is one of my fav rhyme series I’ve ever heard, and best in the round. The whole song had great word play (hela/hella) but that line was my favorite!

Moss Palace: really great music, and the singing is excellent as always! I especially love the lead and backing vox on “twists and turns.” In fact, the backing vocals are a real highlight. My favorite part is when the instruments drop out and it’s just bass and vox - the vocals shine, and HOO that BASS! What a great performance! I will say, the real weak point of this song is the lyrics. They feel very… canned. Generic words vaguely related to the idea of a love song. The title isn’t even shoehorned well; It’s an afterthought in the first verse. I guess it doesn’t matter too much, cause with the great music, the lyrics fade into the background, but it feels like a missed opportunity.

Mandibles: us! This song is stupid. Stupid by design, but still stupid. I wanted to nail the challenge, which I think we did. Not sure if this came across, but this isn’t just a Jason song- the idea is that the narrator is killing the big bads from the three biggest slasher movies, in the way they killed their own victims.

Berkeley social scene: yeah yeah double dipping whatever. I kinda like this song. It’s cheery and dreamy and ridiculous in a nostalgic sort of way. There’s a lot of sound going on here, but you mix it well so nothing is too buried- teach me your ways!! The effect you put on the chorus vocals is cool. What is it? Phaser pedal?

Buffo : omg this might be my favorite song of the round. You make SUCH GOOD USE of vocal sound- I love how you use vowel sounds, not just in the Hubbas, but in the lyrics too. Is this nur ein XIII r6? Because that is some great use of assonance! It’s goofy and fun and nails the challenge, no relation to the title that I can find, but I don’t care. I love HOW you sing these vocals, too. There is so much looseness in the hubbabbaabba, and so much mask in the Mau Maus. I also love how you structure the song. It’s a simple orchestration, but it is executed very well. I like the drop out before everything comes back in. Love the drums, too. Have you reached out to hubba bubba bubble gum? Are they still around? Bet you could make some money here haha.

Drain poets: I like your voice- so settled into your range and pleasantly baritoney. You do have a tendency to just barely lose the center of the pitch when you sing. It doesn’t always happen, usually at the ends of phrases, and on lower energy lines. Make sure you keep the energy and breath going all the way through the entire phrase. Imagine them going on after you finish singing- that will help your support. Lovely music. Sorry to see you leave the competition!

The alleviators: this sounds like a duet from an AU version of the waitress musical. really love both your voices, but there is such a difference between the timbres that it is jarring every time the male voice comes in. I’m not sure what the resolution is (not to double up on the reviews, but in deified she has a breathier tone, and I don’t think that’s a good fix). Maybe if you had come in at a lower part of your range, the timbral shift would not have been so abrupt? A thought. I love when you sing together. It doesn’t bother me there.

BWBW: love the bass line. A fun jangly song. You have great vocal harmonies. Sometimes they clash, but I think that’s on purpose? Given the subject matter.

Nick soma: peppy and fun, though sometimes the music seems to stutter(unless that’s my WiFi connection?). The vocal doesn’t always align with the beat. Love the meow at the end, just the right amount of goofy.

Lichen throat: this is less literary than I have come to expect from you, but I like the insight into various unlucky numbers from around the world. As always, love your signature sound. I think I hear some kind of distorted new instrument in the background? Would love for that to be brought up in the mix. You use Finale, right?have you explore the dynamic markings available to work with? They affect playback much like automation on a daw, and could help give you that range ive seen others talk about in your other reviews. The accents etc also would help make the music sound more human. But, take this all with a grain of salt- I really like the tone of your instrumentals, so don’t fix it if it ain’t broke!

Stacking theory: the happy lines are too long, about twice too long. Maybe have that line fade in from nothing over the instrumentals if it needs to stay that long? I would not classify this song as peppy or upbeat. It’s predatory, sneaky. Is that why you say happy so much? To trick the ear? Also harmony is not in harmony at the end, zero point for text painting. ;)
Don’t get me wrong- I like the overall vibe of this song, and think it could be really great if you rework it outside of the context of nur ein and the title/challenge.

Adam ant: That sounds like only a quarter of a verse before you get into the pre. This song in general feels a little rushed. Whether you need twice as much verse, or more chorus lyrics. Don’t slow down the song- it just needs more content in it. I like the backing vocals at the end- more of those please!

Glennny: it’s peppy and upbeat- you have a uke for gollys sake- but unfortunately a lot of people wrote this song, so it got lost in the crowd. I really like your vocal harmonies, and how the music swells towards the ends. A very tasteful modulation

Virgo power: your stacked thirds harmonies are great, and your Melodie’s are lovely. That falling line on Friday/yay is great, you just have a tendency to lean on your voice a bit, and it flattens your tone a bit, making it sound pressed. I rec doing some vocalizes when you warm up before recording that tap into your head voice more, to practice accessing the resonance in the back of your vocal tract. Your voice isn’t nasal per se, but it is extremely masky, and not in the best way. Also, I know people tag on the Omni, but it’s grown in me. I think you just need some kind of sustained pad instrument to fill out the mid so the three elements- Omni, voice, drums- aren’t so exposed.
“It's like opera for toddlers or something.” -furrypedro
User avatar
Pop Machine
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:17 pm
Instruments: Vox, keys, cash register
Recording Method: PreSonus Studio, Audacity, TASCAM 24-channel A/D
Submitting as: Boffo Yux Dudes, Pop Machine
Pronouns: handgrenade/toast
Location: Ocean & lake adjacent
Contact:

Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Zero "Friday the 13th"

Post by Pop Machine »

Cybronica wrote:
Wed Jun 01, 2022 9:09 am
Nur ein x7 0
Buffo : omg this might be my favorite song of the round. You make SUCH GOOD USE of vocal sound- I love how you use vowel sounds, not just in the Hubbas, but in the lyrics too. Is this nur ein XIII r6? Because that is some great use of assonance! It’s goofy and fun and nails the challenge, no relation to the title that I can find, but I don’t care. I love HOW you sing these vocals, too. There is so much looseness in the hubbabbaabba, and so much mask in the Mau Maus. I also love how you structure the song. It’s a simple orchestration, but it is executed very well. I like the drop out before everything comes back in. Love the drums, too. Have you reached out to hubba bubba bubble gum? Are they still around? Bet you could make some money here haha.
Are you interested in judging the rest of the contest? :lol: Thank you VERY much for the kind words, it tickles me to know you picked on where we were going (or trying to, at least) with the vocals. I promise to split and and all bubble gum royalties with you!
Post Reply