Nur Ein XVII: Round Four "June Moon"

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sailingmagpie
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Four "June Moon"

Post by sailingmagpie »

Extr-ee! Extr-ee! Read all about it! Dan pulls his finger out and actually finishes writing some reviews

I think this was comfortably the hardest round to judge,as it feels like everyone is really raising their game now. This is borne out in every judge picking someone different for their top spot. Every single song had something enjoyable to it and it's disappointing that there are songs that I genuinely really like that I've had to rank low but I guess that's the way the Nur Ein crumbles.

Moss Palace
A clear winner for me. Everything is excellent from writing and arranging to performance and production. In fact, this might be my favourite song of the whole competition. It really feels like it should be on the Drive soundtrack. That little skip on "moon" in the prechorus is brilliant. That genre appropriate filter sweep towards the end is a great addition but I do think it could move a little quicker. This whole track makes me want to roll up the sleeves of my suit jacket (Miami Vice style) and dance like I'm in the background of a Yazoo performance on Top of the Pops.

Lowest Bitter
Yes, you've gone full chiptune! It's about time someone did! The production reminds me of Kero Kero Bonito, in that it could've been sampled from the soundtrack to a Zelda game. As is customary, your wordplay is absolutely on point. I think you're my favourite lyricist in the competition. Musically this is fantastic but the vocal recording does feel a little more rushed than in previous weeks. I love the meta concept to the lyrics especially the cliched moon section.

Elks of the Economy
Loving the synthy goodness on show here. This is a big step up from last week's track, in my opinion, mainly due to the more tasteful production. I like the subtle verse guitar work and that "oooh" totally steals the show. Delightful harmonies and all the little twinkly bits in the background really fill out the arrangement. I think this is possibly your best production yet. Once again, lovely Rhodes solo, though I feel this would work better over a drawn out fade out.

Stacking Theory
I love the laidback lazy feel of this but the melodies aren't nearly as memorable as some of your earlier songs. However, the whistling is a nice addition, the chorus gives a nice lift to the arrangement and the vibe you've created wins out against any minor niggles here and there. I feel like changing up the vocal effects on some of the sections would help keep it fresh and the ending is a bit too abrupt.

The Alleviators
As Pete mentioned in his review, this whole track feels really Pixies influenced (especially early on) - the Santiago guitar tone, the loud/quiet arrangement, Beka fulfilling the Kim Deal role. I imagine this would be a fun one to play live. Though this is a well made piece of indie-rock, there are a couple of niggles for me. I much prefer when you're trading lines in a duet to when one of you is relegated to backing vocals and the bridge feels like it takes some of the wind out of the sails momentum-wise.

Lunkhead
The drums sound really good on this one and the whole song is very well put together. The tried and tested loud/quiet dynamic works well. I enjoy the chorus but the "scolding" at the end sounds a bit unnatural. The lyrics feel a little more generic compared to some of your previous entries and the guitar at the end feels like you weren't sure where to go with the song. Still, a very enjoyable slice of alt-rock.

Nick Soma
I prefer your classic songwriter inspired stuff to this more pop-punk style but this is still a well crafted song. I would've like more of the ambient chords you use in the pre-chorus or have that section return later, though I can see why it's only there once, as it ties into the lyrics. The chorus is good but the middle eight doesn't excite me much. While I do like the lyrics, I feel like the no rhyming rule was actually detrimental to this track.

Cavedwellers
The guitar work at the start is great. In fact, this is brimming with excellent guitar work throughout (both tone and performance). I love that chorus melody line when you slide up into the top of your range. I've seen others mention how unnatural the "shit be cray" sounds within the context of the song, which I echo. I didn't really get drawn into the lyrics on this one but I can't really put my finger on what it is (sorry, I know that's not very helpful feedback!). I did enjoy the literary references though. I saw Owl mention Yeats but I think that was actually a Joan Didion nod. The question is, which of us is correct and therefore deserves imaginary literary bragging rights?

Glennny
This is a fun take on the challenge but, unfortunately, the joke does wear a little thin. I think maybe there needs to be less telegraphed rhyme switches and they should be dotted throughout the song, so that the listener doesn't know when they're coming. Production and performance are both good here, though I'm not sure about the very rocky solo in what is an otherwise quite folky tune.

Berkeley Social Scene
I love that twinkly intro; it's very Phil Spector (his music production, not his drug addled murdering). The vocals are very off-key for most of this and there are places where it feels like you haven't quite settled on what melody line you're going for. It's not a bad song and I think you'd have got through some of the earlier rounds with it but we're in the business end of the competition now.

Vom Vorton
I assume, what with having immunity, you'll just be chilling out this week, right? Oh no, you thought you'd just bust out this absolute gem! This would undoubtedly be duking it out with Moss Palace for top spot, were it being judged. Your drums are sounding better and better week on week. You'll be Jon bloody Bonham by the final! I'm genuinely struggling to find anything negative to pick holes in this track.

Rattlebox
Really great opening to this. It hits the floor running and doesn't give up. This feels like it should soundtrack the moment a "will they won't they" couple finally kiss. The organ (or at least what I think is an organ) needs to be a little louder. It's completely drowned out by the guitars.

Virgo Power
This feels like a very disjointed song, though the fixed version does improve this somewhat. The "saddest songs..." section is definitely the strongest. I feel like you could use that part as the starting point to expand for a rewrite.

Mandibles
This is a very dramatic song and the vocals are excellent thoughtout. It constantly feels like it's about to explode into some heavy guitar but never does. I love that harmony led section later on. It sounds like something you might find on a Laura Nyro album. Obligatory 4 Non-Blondes reference.

chewmeupspitmeout
What the actual f**k is this s**t!?! What year is it?? 1984 or sumfink!?! Why bother even doing a shadow if it's gonna sound like a motherf*****g piece of donkey w*****g full on s******w t**t p*****g all over the f*****g shop!?! Only joking. This is easily the best thing since Tchaikovsky.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Four "June Moon"

Post by owl »

@arby I really like that wallpaper!

Thanks for all the additional liner notes/links/thoughts. Super interesting to know more of the backstory and intentions as far as your lyrics.
Cybronica
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Four "June Moon"

Post by Cybronica »

Started writing reviews, took a break, got Covid… I don’t think I’ll finish them, (sorry) but I wanted to share what I did get out. so here are my reviews of everything that got judged two rounds ago. Good work, all!

Moss Palace: this may be because I was listening to Kate bush right before I started writing reviews, but I get Kate bush vibes from this. It’s got that 80s orchestration to the synth sounds, which I love. I like the story, and how you switch between third person. I will say at the end of each chorus, you have an “ooohh” which sound like “her” until the last second. I think it would have worked well to have that lyric land as “and I’ll never forget her.” Overall, great job!

Alleviators: I love the chord progression leading into the chorus, and the chorus itself is also great- the higher vocal being introduced at that point and then continuing throughout sounds fab. The turn she does on couldn’t breathe is beautiful, I want to hear more of that please! Looking for drawbacks, the tuning goes out on the vox when you reach for higher notes ( see wanes). Make sure you get enough air under you for those moments, and don’t reach with your throat but support with the breath.

Elks of the economy: love the melange of 80s synths. The echo effect on the vox is really cool, and when the harmonies unfold on the prechorus, it’s a magical moment. The whole song is a sonic treat. Just gonna say, I love everything you do with the vocals; the Oohs in the the second verse, how the backing vocals come in and out in the chorus, all of it. The lyrics are interesting - I never feel like I quite catch them, just snippets of words that I can’t quite string together, but I don’t mind. I’m here for the vocal performance. The key change with clav solo is a great moment, the perfect time for a change up, and fit in perfectly with the whole thing, a great ending.

Lunkhead: this was my fav of the round. This lady sounds awful! How do you keep going back? ;P but seriously, the lyrics work both the way you intended and the way you insisted you didn’t. That moment every time the chorus comes in always feels special. I work for June moon! Great chorus chords. They really drive it. I like how you sing ‘a scolding!’ It’s a great balance of silly and serious. And man, that guitar solo! Great tone, awesome skills. You have a good dynamic range throughout the song, too. I love the shift from verse, to chorus, to solo, and back. Very effective.

Lowest bitter: the opening is one of my favorite pieces of this song. I love how you stacked all those synths together, and the panning spread and movement is great. The weak point of this song is the vox, which is unusual because they are normally a huge strength. You sound tired, and some of the high notes are just not quite there. You’re reaching for them but falling short. It might be just the day you recorded was an off day, but do be sure to take care of yourself! Get sleep, drink lots of water (I find hydrating the day before I sing to be the most effective), and warm up at least a little, like on a hum, throughout the range you’ll be singing before you get started. I love your voice and want it to keep being healthy. :)

Stacking theory: dreamy, lovely, an easy groove. I like what you do with the panning in the backing vocals. The whistling is a little out of tune of each other, but otherwise I like the effect, just want them lined up a bit better. You do a good job of matching timbres between the different instruments, so it is pleasing to listen to. The biggest drawback to this song is that it is forgettable- I kept being surprised (pleasantly) by this song because I never remembered it from a previous listen. I think this is because the general pace/range/dynamic of the song never really changes. Add a little variety, and this song will upgrade from good background music to great song.

Cavedwellers: I’m genuinely surprised you scored so low… I really loved this song. The orchestration is really pleasing, it’s very tight without being overwhelming. It’s very well balanced. The singing is great as always… I mean, the only drawback I have is I don’t really get what it’s about, lyrically, but that’s kind of the way of things with this kind of challenge.

Glennny: sorry to see you go! This was my favorite take on the challenge. The form of the song reminds me of old folk songs and camp songs that have no chorus but a series of verses that are just silly and fun. (Actually, it reminds me strongly of a song that my grandmother taught me - one of the lines was ”When a gentleman dapper stepped out of the- …phonebooth.”) I think the main issue is how you executed the trick- on some of the verses, we can hear the first phoneme of the original last word before the cover lines come in, and that feels sloppy in terms of mixing. I get you want to sing them while recording so we the line doesn’t feel like it’s about to end, but then when mixing, be sure to cut of any bit of words that landed before the beat.

Nick Soma: I like this song a lot! I kept finding myself singing the line “I saw the nature of all evil as it is,” this week. The song in general is really well composed, and I like the orchestration, but it’s like there’s a matte finish on the song- everything is a bit muted. Unfortunately my mixes suffer from the same issues at times, and I have yet to figure out how to fix it. If you find the answer, please share it!

BSS: I like this song in theory, but the vocal doesn’t match the rest of the orchestration. It’s a little too pure, a little too… ska? For the rock? I’m grasping at straws. Do you have reverb? I think some tastefully panned reverb could make it sound more like the vocals are a part of the mix as opposed to right on top. That and stepping a little back from the mic. It sounds a little karaoke right now. But the song itself is pretty solid.

Bonus:
Virgo power: this is a bonus review because I didn’t sit down and listen to it WHILE writing this review, but I had a lot of thoughts about it while listening to the songs that I remember now. The singing is good, and the Omni is not over bearing as it has been in the past. The biggest drawback is that the different sections have no transitional material between them, so it’s just smash cut after smash cut between two different songs. This, multiplied by the sparse arrangement, makes it hard to listen to. I suspect you are hearing music in your head that is not in the final mix (this happens to me a lot, and then the rest of the band is like, where’s the transition? I don’t even realize it’s happening until someone points it out to me). So, bring in another instrument to fill out the middle partials. You’ve got the high shimmery notes of the Omni with your full low alto- bring in a sustained sound (even midi instrumentals would work for that!) to fill out the mix. Also, I think the drum machine is a detriment to this mix- it is reinforcing the disjointedness of moving from one section to another.
“It's like opera for toddlers or something.” -furrypedro
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