Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by Niveous »

Hey everyone. Posting is going to be a little late. I'm on the road and won't be home for another half hour.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by arby »

I thought this challenge was really cool but I ended up not being able to get anything done, after I threw out my entire concept that I had the demo for. my second concept didn't progress past the chorus only stage lyrically and my samples were underwhelming at best. maybe I'll try again for Summer Robot (another cool challenge).
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by vowlvom »

The Alleviators - firstly and most importantly, this is gorgeous and definitely my favourite of the round. There is one thing that bugs me though, and that's the keys-on-desk sample - there's just too much of it, and it starts to grate and detract from all the other things I love about this song. Would strongly suggest either using it more sparingly or adding some variations on the sample / messing with the pitch / automating a filter just so it isn't the same clacky sound over and over again through so much of the song. Everything else is A+++ though - such a pretty arrangement, excellent vocals, and the big ending is lovely, great idea.

Cavedwellers - cool soundscape, and the chorus melody is strong. The lyrics are more of a mixed bag, the opening line is pretty off-putting, you're immediately making me angry about tech-bros before you've even really gotten started, and the rest feels like it's just restating "less is more" over and over again, which may or may not be intentional irony. I do like the lines in the bridge, but musically that section doesn't feel like it flows very smoothly out of the second chorus, and the lead guitar feels a little arbitrary and out of place.

Elks of the Economy - extra points for musical owl. Oddly this is the longest song of the round but I wish it was longer, I really like the way it builds and I think you could keep it going and get even bigger. The beat you constructed is really great, such a nicely crunchy selection of sounds and the typewriter ping! is such a nice touch. Good lyric (I'm not crazy about "we passed through all the phases" which feels a bit clumsy, but no other complaints), excellent vocal, very good song.

The Lowest Bitter - I love all new music, so I cannot relate to this at all (pause for laughter). This is an interesting subject for a lyric, well written as usual. Lots of good vocal and instrumental hooks as usual, sampling is fairly subtle but sounds really good. Vocals seem back to your usual high standard after being a bit rushed last round, no complaints here really.

Lunkhead - wait, the Egyptians liked cats? First I'm hearing about this. A pretty pleasant G&G song and obviously I find cat content to be a general plus, but this doesn't feel like it engages with the challenge as creatively as a lot of the songs and the song itself isn't terribly memorable.

Moss Palace - sampled beat sounds really good, another nice crunchy one to join Elks in the Sampled Beat Hall of Fame. Vocals superb as always and the arrangement is really nice. After a few listens I find the you know me / you don't know me not to be the most interesting hook, but I love the "I could have torn that novel up" pre-chorus bit and there's plenty of ear candy throughout.

Stacking Theory - excellently noisy, and the switch-up from the verse into the chorus works brilliantly - such a sharp contrast but they fit together really well. Really inventive sampling here, looking at the list of tools you used I'd expect this to be a total assault on the senses but you've found their melodic heart. DIY or die!

Vom Vorton - definitely sounds like I'm on the more subtle side of the sampling divide, but I love how the vocal-sample-based synth / bass sounds worked out, such interesting texture. Maybe I'll use it again this rou... oh. Sorry that I'm writing songs about being miserable again but at least they're fast?

Rattlebox - the sample that opens this is a total 100% delight and I love that you reference back to it in the chorus. The guitars sound AMAZING, you're so good at fuzz. The song itself isn't my favourite of your submissions this NE, I'm more into the powerpop melodies than this kind of stompy hard rock I think, but it's solidly well done.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by mo »

Thoughts during lunchtime:

The Alleviators -
Full of mood, great pace, plenty of space in the mix. All of Beka's vocal performances have been really good, and this one is no exception. When it goes big, it goes real big, great decision. I wonder if it would've been nice to have it get big earlier so that it could go down and then get even bigger a second time at the end?

Cavedwellers -
The samples thing seems to have encouraged mid tempo, moody songs haha. I might need more listens, because being right after The Alleviators' big ending, I was hoping for another tension buildup and big release, but this song is a different type of beast, and stays more steady, so I'll come back to this one when I don't have the other song in my head. It's got some catchy bits in there, which I love. I do think the last line of each stanza of the chorus could be workshopped melodically a little--the descending line leading up to the last line is super singalongy, but for some reason I think the melody of the last line falls a little flat, and doesn't hook me into singing along with it, carrying me into the next bit of chorus or next verse or what have you.

Elks of the Economy -
9ths in vocal harmonies 4eva

The Lowest Bitter -
Possibly because your sonic palette is what it is, the samples sound very in place an unobtrusive to me in your song; by which I mean, seamless fit. I think the song is great; I'm a sucker for Pink Floyd references after all, and the Sting too, why not. I sort of wish there was a little more exploration of what this all means to you--the fear of irrelevance, the irony of getting pop culturally old happening to you, etc. I mean not necessarily these, I don't know how you actually feel about it, but just brainstorming potential directions. Like there's maybe another level of meaning to get to here. Anyway, I love the way you phrase lyrics, bottoms up.

Lunkhead -
I'm a dog person. Woof.

Moss Palace -
Wow, this sounds great, lots of ear candy, lots of mood. I always really appreciate the precise way you (Erin) use space in your singing, the length of syllables, all that good stuff. The "You think you know me" bit is great but like Vom I did kind of want another vocal hook by the end of the song to really kick it into another gear.

Stacking Theory -
Speaking of mood, you've also found a way to fit the samples into the thing that you do that feels pretty seamless to me. Like it probably doesn't seem that way to you because the instrumentation overall is a little different, but to me, it sounds perfectly Stacking Theory, a natural fit. Nudging into cumulative challenge territory hahahahaha, even though you don't have the guest harmony. It's interesting, I was trying to think of what emotion this really imparted to me and it's quite difficult to say--it almost feels like regret but it's not that. Nicely complex.

Vom Vorton -
happy songs with themes of misery, right back in the wheelhouse, another chorus that explodes. Good use of yelling "hey!" in a song, wish there was more of that, not necessarily in this song, but just generally in life. The double vocal is sometimes distracting to me because of little timing differences that throw me a little, the unison chanting is quite good though. Another favorite Vom banger, though perhaps not quite as tight sounding as the one before this.

Rattlebox - I really like this song when it starts out, but I feel like the fuzz guitar is just a little oppressive all the time, and might usefully drop out during verses or something, or maybe it's a mix thing, but hearing that super compressed bass heavy tone for so long without a break is tough for me, YMMV. Strong energy, that makes up somewhat for roughness of intonation in the harmony vocal, good work!
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by BoffoYux »

It's Nur Ein Time! Listen to 9 original songs titled 'Novel' and chat with the artists.
It all starts 6/27 at 9pm EST.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0Zj5jcOr8s
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by gizo »

mo wrote:
Mon Jun 27, 2022 12:49 pm
Stacking Theory -
I was trying to think of what emotion this really imparted to me and it's quite difficult to say--it almost feels like regret but it's not that.
What a great way to think about songs!

For me, I think it might be 'acceptance', through an 'all things must pass' lens.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by glennny »

Congrats Elks! Well deserved win! What an amazing track!
I'm bummed Cavedwellers didn't move forward, I lined up some excellent musicians to help us out for that round, I don't think we'll shadow.
Good luck to those who survived!
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by gizo »

Yes - huge props to Elks for a stellar track, and commiserations to Lunkhead, Cavedwellers, and The Lowest Bitter.

It’s shitty to see good bands with good songs get eliminated, and jeez it must be hard to be a judge.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by BenKrieger »

glennny wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2022 3:07 pm
I don't think we'll shadow.
Dude: SUMMER ROBOT, though!
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by grumpymike »

glennny wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2022 3:07 pm
I'm bummed Cavedwellers didn't move forward
Sad to see ya go! You guys were nailing it. Your beat reminded me of this song.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by glennny »

I have a plot Ben.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by mo »

Thanks all; and congrats to everyone else who came through; looking the scores it looked like it was all pretty tightly contested. A lot of appreciation to Cavedwellers, Lunkhead, and The Lowest Bitter, all of whom had good songs; I especially liked TLB’s sample use but also I drink a lot of G&Ts. Good luck to all the other Summer Robots in our Hot Robot Summer!
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by furrypedro »

gizo wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2022 3:12 pm
It’s shitty to see good bands with good songs get eliminated, and jeez it must be hard to be a judge.
It is! So hard. Glad you get our deep and intense burden (this year in particular; judging all the other years is probably a piece of piss).


We've reached the stage in the competition where everybody is writing good, well-produced songs now, which makes it much more difficult to rank. Therefore, in my idiosyncratic way I have decided to be a bit strict with how you've all addressed this week's challenge, mainly because I was excited to hear what wild and wacky sounds you'd come up with. To this end, I have judged the songs on how well they would hold together if the samples were removed. I.e. if it still holds together well without the samples then you get marked down for not making the samples integral enough.


Alleviators: You guys set the bar real high with this song. The arrangement is wildly different from all of your entries so far, which is exactly what I was hoping people would do, and the quality of your writing has been maintained at the same time. After listening to the Stacking Theory track a few times I was tempted to push him above you, but the quiet confidence in these lyrics and melody are what make this a great song that is able to shine atop the musical bed of wonky noises.

Stacking Theory: This is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for from this challenge. You've got many layers of pitch-shifted random noises which provide interesting textures while maintaining a melody at the same time. What's more impressive is that you're able to incorporate some dynamic shifts into the song without the use of any conventional instruments. I can actually feel a sense of movement as it progresses. Probably my one meta-criticism is that your output has been fairly ploddy for the last month, so I'd like to hear you raise the tempo a bit next round.

Cavedwellers: I'm a fan of the production. The conventional instruments are way down in the mix (with the exception of the guitar solo) and you give prominence to the samples, which is excellent. In fact, I almost feel like you could've got away with even more conventional arrangement elements later on to help the build of the song, because towards the end the dynamic starts to feel a tiny bit flat. Throughout this NE I've had this gut reaction against many of your lyrics but without really being able to say why. It's not a strong feeling, more of a nagging one that something doesn't sit right with me. That persists here, but since I can't qualify it sufficiently I feel like I should ignore it this time and instead give you credit for a solid performance. I'm very sad to see you guys get eliminated with what was one of your strongest efforts this year, but such is the Nur Ein way.

Vom Vorton: I really like this, maybe even more than last week's song. But addressing the challenge criteria: If your samples were removed, you'd still be left with guitars and drums which are essentially what are carrying the song. I think the samples sound great, and definitely add some lovely colour to the recording, but they are window dressing, not integral. So as much as I like the song, I had to mark you down for that. This pains me a little because usually I think the song is #1 and everything should serve that, but I really wanted to hear everyone taking some risks this week, and as cool as this song sounds it's well within your wheelhouse. For this reason I felt compelled to penalise you somewhat.

Moss Palace: This is a very cool and atmospheric song. The samples are prominent and I think you've done an excellent job of sequencing them into a rhythmic pattern. In terms of how integral the samples are; I feel like this would still be a good song if they were all removed. You have plenty of synths and layers to accompany the vocals. I checked the liner notes and I don't think any of the melodic instruments except for the bass are samples (right?). So I'm in the middle about this one. Definitely it would lose something without the percussion and other details, so I would say you've done enough to satisfy the challenge.

Elks of the Economy: Things I like - you've tackled the challenge wholeheartedly, there's whole sections of this song which are entirely created from samples and the sonic manipulation going on here is great. The lyrics are good and you've been able to make the song hooky without being earwormy. Things I don't like so much - slightly broken record here (sorry) but your beats just sound cheap and I'm not really a fan of the aesthetic in the drum sounds. Also, the slurping sound isn't pleasurable to listen to. I love that you've used sounds from so many varied sources, but that one grates with me. On one hand I'd like a mix of this without that one sample, but it also makes me wonder if you could make a whole song just using slurps, nails on a chalkboard, throat-clearing noises, etc. but I digress.

The Lowest Bitter: I'm afraid I've gotta be strict with this. I think the song is very nice, but aside from some glitchy minimal percussion somewhere underneath the layers of synths and beats, it feels like you've almost completely sacked off the challenge. This was a challenge where I was very much looking forward to hearing how people would attempt it, and as someone with a pretty keen grasp on sampling and sequencing I had my money on you to smash it, so, while I do like the song as I said, I feel a bit let down. Are the samples integral? Absolutely not. They're barely audible except for the intro. I do like your take on the title, and you are correct in that the kids are absolutely wrong about what constitutes good music, and they have been since about 2001.

Lunkhead: You have been fairly outspoken about how draining you have found the Nur Ein experience this year, so it comes at little surprise that this song feels like the sound of a man who plans to go out on his own terms. I think you know exactly what you are doing, you wanted to write this song regardless of how it would play in the competition, or perhaps because of that. It's a sweet song, one that feels like it exists purely for you and your little friend. I suppose it's hardly worth mentioning that the samples are far from integral to the song, but I feel it is encumbent upon me to be clear about why I ranked it last. It's a shame that you've not embraced the challenge more enthusiastically because you are an exceptionally talented musician and producer and I've no doubt that you could have made a mindblowing song that nailed the challenge had you chosen to do so.
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by gizo »

furrypedro wrote:
Tue Jun 28, 2022 5:54 pm
Probably my one meta-criticism is that your output has been fairly ploddy for the last month, so I'd like to hear you raise the tempo a bit next round.
Thanks overall, I appreciate the feedback and I’m glad you enjoyed the song.

Regarding the comment about tempo - I’m an old man, and I’m not sure my body still works over 100bpm, but I’ll see what I can do ;)
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by Evermind »

I was very excited to hear what y'all would do with this challenge and I was not disappointed. These are all fantastic songs and it was very difficult to rank them. I hope that y'all have found a new tool for your musical toolbox, or at least sharpened one already there.

The Alleviators
I like how closely you've approximated a sort of bell or metallophone from the sound of a bottle being struck with a fork. I'm not wild about the sound of the bass synth, it sounds very rumbly/boomy and occupies a lot of the track with mud. Can't help but feel this song is about struggling to make the song itself. The bees-based synth has a very cool sound to it. I like the payoff of traditional instruments coming in to join the samples (the twist ending), but it takes so long to get there and the rhythm is so anemic until then that the first two minutes of the song feels like an overly long intro.


Cavedwellers
I love the industrial sounds you've sampled, especially the air compressor. Bass synth needs cleaning up. Kick needs cleaning up too. Concept is people being overly wordy. Timing gets a little sloppy around the 2 minute mark.


Elks of the Economy
The vocals in the intro feel off-time, and some of the phrases feel stuffed into the empty space. It may just be that there's nothing holding the rhythm down, so the complex cadence of the vocals and intro synth doesn't seem to have a pattern. Once the percussion enters, though, everything feels much more tight. I like that there's a little whoosh before the book hitting the table sound, which may be wind noise hitting the mic generated by the book. I don't know if it's intentional but it acts like a little riser to the impact and makes it super satisfying. I like that the samples themselves are oriented around the concept of writing a novel, books and coffee and typewriter noises, all of which are nicely cleaned up and give a sense of all the work and time that goes into writing a novel. I especially like that the vocals are sampled from the song itself and used as a synth. That's a really cool effect.


The Lowest Bitter
Bagpipes are pretty explicitly a musical instrument, though maybe not to everyone's taste. Still, you've got enough samples of gin and tonic to meet the challenge. I find the sample of the tonic bottle opening to be particularly satisfying. The scansion on "uncomfortably numb" is a bit odd.


Lunkhead
This is a sweet little song about your aging cat. I really like the vocal performance and the acoustic guitar sounds really great. I don't think this song meets the challenge, though. The samples of your cat and the litter box are related to the song's concept, but if you took them out of the song I don't feel like the song would change very much at all sonically. They don't give any different meaning to the song, either, so I don't think this can be called "integral".


Moss Palace
I like the garage door ambience. The scotch tape dispenser and match striking both sound great. Kind of a trip hoppy vibe to this. I dig the bitcrushed synth that comes in around 1:15 or so. The contrast between the piano and the scratchy samples is nice. The whispered bridge is creepy in a good way. The buildup throughout the song is cool. Vocal performance is immaculate as always. This song needs to be in a 90s vampire movie.


Stacking Theory
Love the power drill chords. Very cool idea. I do wish the samples were cleaned up a little bit, they start to wear on my ears after a while. Concept is about "standing on the shoulders of giants". I like the connection (intentional or not) between sampling and getting a hand from those who came before us. Not sure if you recorded your own samples or used existing recordings, but it's a cool tidbit anyway.


Vom Vorton
I like that you've tied the sample sources into the concept of the song, with both the physical book itself and the words from it being used as elements of your song, though they're a bit stuffed into the background and the song is driven mostly by guitar, drums, and vocals. I would have liked to see the sampled instruments be more front and center. The snare feels a tiny bit muted.
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
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Re: Nur Ein XVII: Round Five "Novel"

Post by sailingmagpie »

Well, this was a ridiculously difficult round to judge! I feel like every song would've sailed through the earlier rounds and the gap between them all is absolutely wafer thin.

Elks of the Economy
I've not really got a great deal of criticism to level at this song other than I feel like the intro might be a little long. What with people's lack of attention span these days, they'll have moved on before the good stuff gets going! Maybe it would work better with a louder instrumental intro before we drop down to the vocal coming in? Either way, I think this is your best vocal and the melodies & harmonies remind me of Kishi Bashi, which can only be a good thing in my book.

The Alleviators
I absolutely love the understated, Phoebe Bridgers vibe to this. It's a nice contrast to your earlier entries. That range should serve you well this week! The samples work really well and I love all the little variations in the backing. It really rewards multiple listens. As usual, a beautiful vocal performance and I like the idea of the real instruments kicking in at the end but think there's room for them to stack up a bit more to really hit hard.

Moss Palace
This track has a nice trip hoppy feel to it. I do think it would benefit from a bit more variety, as a lot of the sections are repeated numerous times. As always, the vocals are superb and I especially enjoyed the swirly, psychedelic feel the samples give in the break before the last chorus. I really liked this song but it does feel slightly like you were playing it a little safe (probably the best course of action on such an outside of the box challenge).

Vom Vorton
This is a good example of how to do political stuff without sounding like Rick from The Young Ones - by making it personal. The sample synth sounds excellent but, as other judges have said, taking it out wouldn't completely torpedo the song, so I think you're scraping a pass on the challenge at best. Ignoring that though, this is a enjoyable slice of indie rock that doesn't get old, even after numerous relistens.

Stacking Theory
The manipulation of the samples is very clever and I think this is one of your strongest vocal performances thus far. Its just the song didn't grab me as much as some of those I ranked higher up. It's got an enjoyable chorus though and I like how the verses sound like a happy version of NIN's Closer. I really enjoyed the wordplay in "...strings have a theory."

The Lowest Bitter
I feel like the samples, while great, aren't truly integral to the song. I love that shimmery synth patch for the chords in the verse and the Seymour Skinner reference is excellent. For me, this is a good song but not as good as your earlier entries. It's a little like you're on autopilot writing this one. I think it would be a B side (if they were still a thing). But I do always love how every LB song is underpinned by a general air of melancholy or ennui though.

Lunkhead
I feel like I'm going to get the cold shoulder from my cats after ranking this so low! This is such a sweet, lovely slice of catcore and if I heard it during FAWM etc, I'd be totally on board. Unfortunately, if doesn't really hit the challenge brief, though the samples obviously do tie into the lyrics. Speaking of which, I absolutely love the lyrics. They do a really good job of conveying the unconditional love you feel for your furry faced companion and it's great how personal this comes across.

Cavedwellers
As far as the challenge goes, you've absolutely smashed it. The samples are very much integral but when it comes to the actual song, I'm not as big of a fan. It feels a little underdeveloped to me; as if you didn't have time to construct what you heard in your head. The bit that should be a build up before the guitar solo is a case in point. The lyrics are mostly okay but there are a couple of bits where it feels like you're trying to cram them into a melody that they don't quite fit eg "...couldn't remember what came first." I also feel like the arrangement doesn't really go anywhere particularly exciting.

Rattlebox
Love the opening sample and how you quote it later on. Not sure that makes it integral but you're not being judged, so who cares. The guitars feel like they're about to rip my face off (in a good way!) and this reminds me of a heavier version of Big Star.
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