It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

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Lunkhead
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It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:53 pm

Wow, first time I've had to make the review thread myself in a long long time. Thanks Pigfarmer Jr for handling that so many times, much appreciated.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:55 pm

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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:58 pm

Songs posted!
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by owl » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:13 pm

Nice cover art, Jim of Seattle, very Miyazaki! What do all the signs say?
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:15 pm

Yeah! crumpart also submitted some great art which I encourage folks to check out:

http://www.songfight.org/artpage.php?key=1198
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by owl » Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:35 pm

Lunkhead wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:15 pm
Yeah! crumpart also submitted some great art which I encourage folks to check out:

http://www.songfight.org/artpage.php?key=1198
Love it, crumpart!
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by crumpart » Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:31 am

Mini art reviews!

I really liked all of the entries this week. I’m not sure what type of process everyone used.

Pigfarmer jr: I thought the layout was really clear and strong. That key is cool and does some weird things to my brain. I’m not sure if this is deliberate but like that it has a fun optical illusion effect with subtle inconsistent shading on the shank near the teeth, where the key turns into a kind of mobius. I like it.

Jim of Seattle: This is super fun! I think the perspective is great and love that it’s off centre. The sky writing is a cool idea for the title and I adore the song fight! sign. I’d prefer the line work on the figure to be a little less fuzzy and more distinct, but that’s just personal preference. The colours are lovely and the idea is really sweet.

Cover bot: you’re a cover bot. I hope the robot uprising won’t come for me when I say I can’t remember what your cover looks like. I’d check, except the art archive breaks on my iPad because too many redirects or something weird.

Crumpart/me: I wanted to do something that was a little more left field for this one. Previous weeks have been digital art entries (apart from I Used To Know You Better, which was part real life watercolour, part digital), and I started recreating my original little sketch for this in photoshop. About two seconds in I realised that the digital version had none of the charm of the pen drawing, so I scanned it in and did a little bit of cleanup where I’d scribbled bits out, and adjusted the levels and paper tone (originally warm white, which didn’t quite suit). Pretty happy with how it ended up.

I look forward to seeing even more of you in art fight! next round!
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by gizo » Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:54 am

rvwx - Skeleton Key

I haven’t done very well at making reviews happen recently, so this week I’m getting in early with my first impressions. I’m not going to try to give great advice about production or writing (seriously, have you listened to any of my stuff?!), so I’ll just see what I have to say as they go.

* all thoughts and votes are subject to change during the week as I re-listen *

Leppakron - I’m not often up for a shanty, but I was quite enjoying this. I admit I wasted altogether too much time thinking you were singing Skeleton Quay and wondering if I would 'allow' a sneaky move like that.

Lily Plus Martin - Yeah. Maybe stop it. This is Too Damn Creepy and I’m scared. I’m supposed to be the wise and brave dad and you’re turning me into a sobbing mess. It’s a beautiful and frightening vote. I want to go home now please.

Le Chat troisième - I’m in love in the first few seconds, that’s gorgeous opening. Also a bit creepy. It’s a simple and quick and lovely vote.

Evil Grin - So go with me here, I think I’ve found a thing. I’m gonna pretend I’m sitting at a pub on a Thursday night, and I’m going to buy another beer and stay a while longer and the barman will be happy with you because you are giving the pub rock laced with alt.country that I want to hear. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Matthew Sweet covers this one day.

I’m buying another beer, and putting it on the stage for you, with a vote chaser.

Misc Owl - Doot Doot so lovely. At first I heard “the last time that you heard somebody’s voice” as a reflection of loneliness, and then slowly I shifted gears and caught up with you.

This reverie for the ending of things, it’s such a delicate sigh. This too will pass. And get a vote.

Paco del Stinko - Whoa. Shifting gears, my son is beside me in the car and this lifts him out of his battlecat haze. He’s hooked and playing air guitar already. You might just get a vote for scrimshaw.

Moon Baby - Okay so I don’t get the link to Skeleton Key and I’m not sure I align with these vocal stylings, but you’re here, and you’ve got structure and you’re adding an interesting tilt to my day so I’m on board.

The Magnetic Letters - So this is going to be hard, because I read your lyrics days ago and I thought this was going to be the best thing ever. I reckon maybe The Fauves are to blame for setting my expectations about what all nostalgic rock should sound like. You’re a whimsy and a charm, and your storytelling is wonderful and peppered with references that just hit my marks.

I gave this one a second listen to wash the Fauvian Expectations away, and my new ears flew away in time and left me with a chirpy burpy vote.

Hot Pink Halo - I’m all over this. I was ready to vote after 20 seconds. I sincerely hope that’s you playing the bass - it’s rad. I’m all about those oooooh’s

Tom Hinkleston - your lyrics read like a hobbit’s riddle. There’s something I quite like about the Love-is guitars and melody here.

gizo vs. the cheeso - I was listening to Joseph Fink recently, I dunno whether he was talking to Jeff or John, but they were talking about writer’s block and I couldn’t write a song and they said to write about what’s in front of you and I was doing the dishes and looking at this pair of shoes we bought for Lollypops that don’t fit her. Also Eric Matthews called and told me to stop stealing his schtick.

Berkeley Social Scene - straight up rock that will do very well at the pub, but I’m over the other side of town listening to Evil Grin tonight.

Lichen Throat - Your instrumentation is relentless but I can imagine you’d do quite well at that third pub that is holding a ‘mostly spoken’ night. I’m perplexed and really enjoy trying to follow these lyrics.

Glenn Case - I didn’t even need to check, just two chords and I could tell it was you. Always with the clever changes and snappy lyrics. You’re like SongFight’s Jon Brion. The backing vox are spot on, and the guitar overlap leading into the solo is a delight. Totes polished. There’s a fair chance this will end up with another vote

Waikikis - Hot Dagwood Dogs! On a stick! I don’t get to this pub on my own too often, but my wife virtually lives here so I visit pretty frequently. I reckon if we upped the tempo and gave the vocals a bit more oomph then this would open some doors. Welcome aboard!

The Kai Steines Band - Oh you trickster! I was all getting into the acoustic and then crunchy riffs and scrunchy vocals and you’ve done this kind of thing before haven’t you? I’m not sure what to make of this all sorry I thought I was going to a pool hall?

Phlebia - Is it the soundtrack for an 80’s documentary about computers? No, it has beats- maybe it’s 2019’s answer to Guru Josh, maybe it’s late and I’m losing my filters. The pubs all closed but we weren’t ready to go home so after a late-night kebab we slipped into this club where the beautiful people were heading and someone (I think it was Mike Skinner) was slipping a vote into his shoe around the corner just out of sight of the bouncer and we slid in the door and lost each other on the dancefloor until 5am.

This is a pretty sweet way to end the set - well played.
Last edited by gizo on Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by AJOwens » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:49 am

gizo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:54 am

Leppakron - I’m not often up for a shanty, but I was quite enjoying this until you tried to make disintegrate fit. Otherwise a nice bit of fun. I admit I wasted altogether too much time thinking you were singing Skeleton Quay and wondering if I would 'allow' a sneaky move like that.
'Disintegrate' doesn't fit? I thought it scanned, but maybe not. But this discussion sounds familiar.

We did fudge the way "farewell" and "young men" scanned, tacked all kinds of introductory beats onto lines that otherwise scanned perfectly, and to top it off we rhymed "sea" with "see." And we knew this. We just can't kick the "meta" thing.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:26 am

crumpart wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:31 am
Mini art reviews!

I really liked all of the entries this week. I’m not sure what type of process everyone used.

Pigfarmer jr: I thought the layout was really clear and strong. That key is cool and does some weird things to my brain. I’m not sure if this is deliberate but like that it has a fun optical illusion effect with subtle inconsistent shading on the shank near the teeth, where the key turns into a kind of mobius. I like it.
Firstly, I'm not sure how much I like the idea of art fight. But it tickles my fancy that there are art reviews.

Secondly, re: pigfarmer jr art. I noticed that semi-optical illusion but it was purely accidental. I admit that I kept/submitted the version with it but I didn't set out to do something like that. It does kind of fit the optional challenge a little bit, I guess.

Thirdly, re: process - I almost always take a photograph (either mine or one I find at the royalty free sites I frequent) and manipulate it until I have something I think will work. Sometimes it takes me almost a full five minutes and sometimes I spend a very long time on it (especially compared to the end product.) I'm a novice graphic designer at best, but I'm starting to learn what I like. If I have the time I tend to get at least one entry that I like.

Fourthly - I have no real idea on how the art is picked (although I've started to pick up on a few tendencies.) All I know is that when I submit multiple entries the one I like best is rarely chosen. But then, my taste is mostly to blame for that, I'm sure.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Æpplês&vØdkã » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:39 am

So far my 1 year old has liked Moon Baby and Paco del Stinko the best. I will edit this as more listening is done.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by crumpart » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:00 am

Pigfarmer Jr wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:26 am
crumpart wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:31 am
Mini art reviews!

I really liked all of the entries this week. I’m not sure what type of process everyone used.

Pigfarmer jr: I thought the layout was really clear and strong. That key is cool and does some weird things to my brain. I’m not sure if this is deliberate but like that it has a fun optical illusion effect with subtle inconsistent shading on the shank near the teeth, where the key turns into a kind of mobius. I like it.
Firstly, I'm not sure how much I like the idea of art fight. But it tickles my fancy that there are art reviews.

Secondly, re: pigfarmer jr art. I noticed that semi-optical illusion but it was purely accidental. I admit that I kept/submitted the version with it but I didn't set out to do something like that. It does kind of fit the optional challenge a little bit, I guess.

Thirdly, re: process - I almost always take a photograph (either mine or one I find at the royalty free sites I frequent) and manipulate it until I have something I think will work. Sometimes it takes me almost a full five minutes and sometimes I spend a very long time on it (especially compared to the end product.) I'm a novice graphic designer at best, but I'm starting to learn what I like. If I have the time I tend to get at least one entry that I like.

Fourthly - I have no real idea on how the art is picked (although I've started to pick up on a few tendencies.) All I know is that when I submit multiple entries the one I like best is rarely chosen. But then, my taste is mostly to blame for that, I'm sure.
I totally think the optical illusion works for the theme. I'm glad you kept it in! And I'm hoping if I talk about the art more, more people will join in. I'm not sure how many people go and look at all the art submitted, and I think they should. :)
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Jim of Seattle » Mon Dec 02, 2019 11:40 am

crumpart wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:31 am
Mini art reviews!

Jim of Seattle: This is super fun! I think the perspective is great and love that it’s off centre. The sky writing is a cool idea for the title and I adore the song fight! sign. I’d prefer the line work on the figure to be a little less fuzzy and more distinct, but that’s just personal preference. The colours are lovely and the idea is really sweet.
Hey thanks! I wasn't expecting cover art reviews, but I was super happy to see this. It occurred to me at some point last week that a big benefit of SF for people is the chance to practice and try and improve and work on their stuff, while having a low pressure supportive audience. I'm no longer really looking for that with my music anymore, but I AM exactly in that place with regard to visual art, so... why not try cover art? So I'm excited to start doing these to get practice in and confidence-building feedback.

The fuzzy lines were some sort of artifact of resizing to 400x400. I agree it's too fuzzy. I'm very glad and relieved the idea reads. I was definitely going for a Miyazaki flavor, thus the power lines, and of course the Japanese. I'm using Autodesk Sketchbook on my Samsung tablet, which my daughter and art teacher Madi let me have for free (after we bought her an Ipad Pro, of course...)

TRANSLATIONS:

Sign: Song Fight!
First door: Love
Second door: That's supposed to be gold coins. The Japanese is "money"
Third door: Ice cream
Fourth door: Sunshine
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by lilysloane » Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:26 pm

gizo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:54 am
rvwx - Skeleton Key

Lily Plus Martin - Yeah. Maybe stop it. This is Too Damn Creepy and I’m scared. I’m supposed to be the wise and brave dad and you’re turning me into a sobbing mess. It’s a beautiful and frightening vote. I want to go home now please.

THis is the best review of my life. "Creepy" "Sobbing mess". Yes yes yes.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by gizo » Mon Dec 02, 2019 1:13 pm

AJOwens wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:49 am
gizo wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:54 am

Leppakron - I’m not often up for a shanty, but I was quite enjoying this until you tried to make disintegrate fit. Otherwise a nice bit of fun. I admit I wasted altogether too much time thinking you were singing Skeleton Quay and wondering if I would 'allow' a sneaky move like that.
'Disintegrate' doesn't fit? I thought it scanned, but maybe not. But this discussion sounds familiar.

We did fudge the way "farewell" and "young men" scanned, tacked all kinds of introductory beats onto lines that otherwise scanned perfectly, and to top it off we rhymed "sea" with "see." And we knew this. We just can't kick the "meta" thing.
You know what? I’m pretty disappointed that I completely missed what I was doing there in the context of recent conversations. I’m sorry, I should have had more perspective. I’ve removed that bit now because I don’t want to open that up again. Sorry.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Æpplês&vØdkã » Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:03 pm

I listened to the whole fight about 3 times through headphones while raking my yard. It’s a big yard, and it’s covered with oaks and sweetgum trees galore. So plenty of time to zone out and listen to the tunes! I'll edit these into sections later but here's my thoughts for today.

Berkeley Social Scene:
The first thing that sticks out to me...and this is probably a minor nitpick; I think that the bass tone needs a little bit more low end. Or compression or something. I dig the chorus, the melody is just pleasant as can be to listen to. This is one of the better songs I’ve heard from you in a while. None of the lines in this song are really sticking out to be particularly -- there’s a lot of “in one ear and out the other” to me, but that may also just be a matter of taste. The harmonies are pretty nice too. Not quite a vote, but mostly just for taste reasons.

Evil Grin:

Having listened to this one quite a few times now, I feel like it goes on a bit too long without a really significant change in intensity or dynamics. I mean the chord progression changes up plenty of times. And there’s a guitar solo. But I don’t know, the structure of this is isn’t gelling with me in a way that I find hard to qualify. There’s a few notes I wish you’d sing out a bit longer...mostly the last notes on the chorus phrases. Like the “I wanted you to hold me” part, I’d like it better as “meeeeeeeeee” like held out. Is that a nitpick? That’s probably a nitpick. The chorus lyrics are clever for sure. I feel like this should be 45 seconds shorter for maximum effect.

gizo vs. the 17,455:
Your ending. Every time this one has come up I find myself giggling at the random blast of cinematic intensity you stuck in there right at the end. As for the song, I sort of like the first part but wish there was...something else going on to full the musical space? Too sparse for my personal taste. Maybe even a vst reverb would make stuff sound more fleshed out. And maybe more compression? I dunno. But once the horns come it that aspect...still doesn’t quite go away, but it gives it this sunny Sgt. Pepper’s vibe which I really dig. And again...the ending. I love that.

Glenn Case:

You have a particular approach to chord progressions that I’ve begun to notice after reviewing several of your songs. And I’m not entirely sure how to describe it, but I might suspect you’ve listened to a lot of jazz fusion in your life? And if not...well I’ve been wrong before. Like so many of your songs this doesn’t quite get me stoked, but there’s always so many parts of it that I have to respect how much you’ve honed your distinct style. Like that transition starting at 2:20? It’s wonderfully executed. I have to vote for it.

Hot Pink Halo:
You have a tendency to use these super trebly jangly guitars in your mix that you completely drench in chorus, but something about the body of them just sounds...flat. Muddy? Probably a couple knob tweaks and EQing could fix it in the mix. A lot of the vocals in this are really hard-panned. (The ooo-ooo-ooo’s in particular) and I think it would benefit them a bit if you brought them both a little bit closer to center and maybe slapped a little bit of reverb on them so they sound more lush. There’s one “ooh-laa-laa-laa” (one of the lower ones) that’s kind of off pitch. Compositionally I have never heard a song like this and I admire its structure. Like the bright horns are almost too bright for the kind of cavernous drums, but it sort of works? Does it? I can’t decide. I love how it just keeps on endlessly changing and building. I can’t decide if I’m voting for it.

The Kai Steines Band:

Excellent switch up at the beginning. Something about the riff reminds me of Hot Blooded. Is that deliberate? This is technically well executed and like gizo said would go over really well in a bar. I dig the hand claps, they are literally hand percussion and it adds great energy to the song. If I had one major gripe with this song it’s that the singing spends way too long on that one note. And at times sort of starts to go flat? I’m not sure if that’s deliberate but I wish this melody moved around a bit more.

Leppakron:

Going in alphabetical order this is the first one that made me really go “wow”! A fantastically executed sea shanty about a supernatural island called Skeleton Key. The woodwinds were a delightful touch. This is going to be a short review because I don’t have much to say other than glowing praise and a “hell yeah!” vote.

Lichen Throat:

I’ll have you know that the other day I went on SongFight jukebox and listened to like the last 10 songs you did. Turns out my favorite Lichen Throat song is “Tumbleweed”. But that has nothing to do with this song, which avoids the issues you had with last week’s fight and isn’t too excessively loud. And the composition of the backing MIDI track is better executed than usual, with quite a bit of progression near the end! There’s still something about your music that reminds me of 90s era The Residents -- if you aren’t familiar you’d probably enjoy them.

Lily Plus Martin:

Okay, well Martin’s part didn’t strike me as super creepy. But that’s probably a good thing because it makes Lily’s divergence into this kind of terrifying imagery later on that much more impactful. Have either of you been involved in any other projects? I know you just started writing songs for SongFight recently from what you’ve said, but seriously, you have some great synergy as a songwriting team. There’s a few chord voicings in the part that goes on after the snare beat comes in that really don’t sit right. Majors where minors would work better, stuff like that. If you had unlimited time I’d say work on that one part a lot. All in all I enjoyed this enough for a vote.

The Magnetic Letters:

Aughhh I want to like this so much more than I do. Like there's this sort of almost Toto-esque vibe that's going on throughout the song and I keep on waiting for this massive anthemic chorus that never comes. Instead it sort of meanders from one part to another. I think it's how constant the drums are throughout the track. Like if the drums changed more I think it would give this song some forward momentum that it's really lacking. The lyrics are super distinct and enjoyable in your kind of free-rambling style you take with your verse.

miscellaneous owl:

As the guy who keeps getting criticized for my oversaturated mixes I'm probably the last person who need to offer you mixing advice. But basically...where's the treble in this song? It sounds kind of muffled. The vocals have this kind of lo-fi sheen on them that would work better if they sat more "brightly" in the high end. As usually I love your voice. A lot of the energy that I can tell would totally be there would work better if the drums were brought a bit more to the foreground, they're kind of in the back and kind of washed out in the mix.

Moon Baby:

Oh hey I'm not the only electronic entry this week. Back in 2009-2012 I went to a lot of raves, and this was around the time that dubstep was completely blowing up. So I've heard my share of wobbles. And your wobbles need more sub-bass, and tone down or widen that higher "oeeooeeoo" filter resonant aspect to the wobble. Your drums are too dry and really need some kind of compression, maybe a short-decay reverb or something.. Especially the hand-claps. That panning pad thing that goes from left-to-right in the mix is cool but sticks out weirdly since nothing else pans like that. The vocals sound cool, but are completely indecipherable. Washed out in reverb. My 1 year old started dancing to this song and my wife really dug it. I hope I'm not being too harsh; i spent several years as a strictly electronic producer making stuff for our local scene and I always loved getting feedback so "do-unto-others" I guess.

Paco del Stinko:

You took a few weeks off to recharge your batteries and it's nice to have you back...especially with this groovy number. There's that part with the shuffled drums and the I-III-I-III bassline where it kind of starts to remind me of Morphine a little bit. I loved that band. But the rest of the song sounds nothing like that. I'd like to see inside your brain and figure how your creative process works. This is -- like Glenny's track -- a great tune that I find hard to criticize in any meaningful way. But I do like it, will be voting for it, and also you get bonus points for getting my toddler to start dancing at one point.

Phlebia:

Image

I think I quit wearing kandi bracelets around 2011 but for awhile this sort of music was basically "saturday night in Phlebia-land". Trance has never been my preferred genre but at times it just really hits the spot. Also my first date with my wife was Tiesto. Our second date was Sunn 0))), but thats beside the point. Initially I wanted to go way more aggro, but once I added the arpeggiator I sunshine-and-rainbow-ified the lyrics and decided that sugary sweet vocal trance would be the way to go. You could probably mix this into an old skool hardcore set too. Personally, I love how this turned out, particularly the la-las and that bassline that mirrors it. There's a couple times where I could have mixed the djembe better.

Third Cat:

This one really really hits the spot in roughly the same way that your last one did only without the in-your-face trippy modulations everywhere. But you have this electro-acoustic vibe pretty consistently that I really like hearing. This one reminds me a bit of the Flaming Lips in some places but I can't quite place which particular tracks. That tremeloed out note that's floating around the stereo field is amazing and I dig the choir pad that you start to have going on towards the end. You're always one of the people with the most noticable vocal tuning but it works well with your sound so it's more of an asset than anything.

Tim Hinkle:

The knocking sounds in this remind me a lot of The Focus Group. Are you familiar with the stuff that's on Ghost Box records? If you aren't I'm kind of surprised cause they're filled with these BBC Radiophonic Workshop/Delia Derbyshire devotees. I can't fault anything in this song, but I like your song, I usually do, and this is getting a vote. Like maybe I'd complain that this could build a bit more, and the mix is missing a lot of lower frequencies. Vote for aesthetic.

Waikikis:

This kind of down-home laid-back bluesy rock reminds me of being a kid. My mom was a singer in a local blues band for a few years so she'd bring me along to all sorts of blues bars to watch her perform (and lets be honest, it's much more interesting than another night with the N64). This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing is that i got totally burnt out on this particular sound as a kid. But: this is a lot more mellow than a lot of the tracks I'd hear back in those days. It smells like draft beer and cigarettes and a tasty burger on a river cruise. Vote.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by gizo » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:14 pm

Æpplês&vØdkã wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 9:03 pm
gizo vs. the 17,455:
Your ending. Every time this one has come up I find myself giggling at the random blast of cinematic intensity you stuck in there right at the end. As for the song, I sort of like the first part but wish there was...something else going on to full the musical space? Too sparse for my personal taste. Maybe even a vst reverb would make stuff sound more fleshed out. And maybe more compression? I dunno. But once the horns come it that aspect...still doesn’t quite go away, but it gives it this sunny Sgt. Pepper’s vibe which I really dig. And again...the ending. I love that.
Thanks - I'm glad I'm not the only one who giggles at the end. You're spot on about the flatness - I spent too much time this week trying to figure out how to make Skeleton Key a thing, that I ran out of time to do any decent instrumentation. I had some decent guitar to play but just didn't get onto it in time.

I'd love to know if my vocals are getting any better - I've been trying to use a better mic technique, but I'm not sure if I have captured it well. I also don't really understand compression yet because time to watch youtubes isn't happening right now....
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Jim of Seattle » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:50 pm

EASY VOTES

Lily Plus Martin
This is just sort of fine until Lily comes in with that 600 thread count voice, then the song comes to life. About the third time through I changed my mind and decided I don't mind the discordant choral part and sort of dig it. My only suggestions for improvement would be instead of having Lily's double tracked vocals at the same level, bring one track up and the other back a little. That makes the parts when they aren't exactly in sync a little less distracting. Since (I'm assuming) you're going for an intentionally dissonant section with the choral voices, I would make sure every track is in really perfect sync so that is absolutely sounds on purpose. This is cool. (Also, just my preference, but.... More Lily, Less Martin.)

Moon Baby
Pretty neat. Decent EDM track. I like that pad thing that comes in at 0:47 and that you use it to lead in to the vocals. My preference would have been to increase syncopation in the kick through the second half. I also don't like how it just stops rather than ends, but those are both nitpicks.

Paco del Stinko
Oh this is awesome. I think the slow middle part could be fixed a bit. I like that it gets all quiet, but I don't like that all sense of the beat is lost there for a little while. Also, I don't like how you are so obviously straining on the really high notes. If this were "for real" I'd have you retake those high parts separately until you really sold it. Still, this is just great.

Waikikis
Holy crap! Nice work, all of you. Is this the second fight in a row won by rookies? This is simply terrific. My suggestions are mere improvement suggestions and don't take anything away from the fact that this is easily my favorite song of the fight. Make sure your bass, guitar and organ are in tune, they sound a bit out. Also I'd like the song to go a notch or two faster. I can hear the lead singer anticipating the beat on a few occasions, so it sounds like she'd like it faster too. The drummer doesn't have the heaviness to pull off that slow a tempo anyway. The lead also needs to stand a few inches further from the mic and have the track compressed, as she's close to maxing out in a couple places and the tag line she speaks "There ain't no skeleton key for this house" is tough to hear. But really, you guys are the real deal, I just adore this.

BEGRUDGING VOTES

BSS
Typical BSS competence.

Evil Grin
Nice songwriting, I like this. Turned out it's pretty catchy, and I was humming along after 2-3 times. What keeps the vote begrudging is that the vocal is too thin to compete against the fuzz guitar. I would try with less fuzz, and work a little more at getting a more confident vocal performance and bringing it out more.

Glenn Case
Nice as usual. The tune seems a little snakey and unfocused. It feels a little like a bunch of catchy little melodic hooks got pulled out of a big box and lined up next to each other.

The Kai Steines Band
Truth be told, I don't like this at all. But that's genre bias at work, as everything about it seems correct. Well produced, well performed, nice arrangement, it's all good. Deserves a vote, because if this were my thing I'd love it.

Leppakron
Awww, it's not finished! I was really enjoying this, but it just stops, perhaps a result of the deadline? Disappointing, this is going along great. I guess the person listening didn't buy him another. To geek out a little, I wish you'd gone to a iii or vi chord at the part that goes "in the rain we said farewell" or "things came to pass", and added some other accompanying element like bg vocals or something. Anyway, I started this review in the Easy Votes section, but sadly demoted it to this group because of the unfinishedness of it.

miscellaneous owl
I like the bouncey flavor and general energy of this, it goes nice with the lead vocal. The drums feel too heavy for the airy quality of the rest of the song, and the crash is unnecessary in the bridge. I notice that foremost when I ask myself why I don't totally love the song. Also, take a bunch of low-midrange out of the lead vocal. Did you try this song with the acoustic guitar only the whole way through? I think this has a lot of potential with a gentler touch on the arrangement.

Phlebia
I appreciate the epicosity of this. Sounds like it took for-frickin-ever to put together. But I think the forest-for-the-trees misstep here is that there is a preponderance of high-end information. The hi hat and the lead synth, and the way the vocals are mixed way high, the falsetto, the pad is pretty high etc, just a lot going on at the high end, so the song sounds a little top heavy and rickety. The whole intro is super cool though. Perhaps being all complicated in the upper range was the whole point, in which case.... doesn't work for me. Lots of great stuff going on though. Something about your music makes me want to remix it. Weird. I think that's a good thing though, means you're engaging me. Again, I hear unmet potential

Third Cat
Pretty nice. I know it's the optional challenge, but two tambourines plus a shaker thing (too hot btw) AND handclaps... I'm a sucker for handclaps normally, but they feel tacked on here. Your instinct was correct - maybe you went overboard with the percussion. The guitar has a really cool groove and the changes are really interesting so there's a lot going on that I like.

ALMOST VOTES

gizo vs. the 17,455
I like the spare arrangement, and the brass (mostly) works great. The doo doo doo part works too. But this song is kind of boring. The I-IV-I-IV progression just gets much too repetitive. If the lyrics were more specific and less poetic I don't think I'd notice as much. I think these kinds of oblique lyrics work better when there's more to pay attention to musically.

Tim Hinkle
I don't like that guitar at all; sorry man, I find it exceptionally annoying. Only about a minute in and I decided to pretend it wasn't there and to listen to everything else. The songwriting is quite odd. The melody and chord changes seem to ramble around and I never feel like I have my bearings. I'm not sure what to make of it, frankly. I know it's keeping me at a distance, and I'm finding it challenging to really engage with the song. You have a really lovely voice though. You should collaborate with Leppakron, you both have strengths the other could put to great use.

NO VOTE

Hot Pink Halo
I like the idea here, the spoken distorted lead and the bg oohs, and spare arrangement. It doesn't end up working for me though. The guitar is too distorted to even make out what notes are being played, so it comes across mostly as noise, and the lead vocalist is way off key once she starts singing. If you were going to rework this, I would bring the percussion up a little and give it more bite, and soften the edges of the brass as well.

Lichen Throat
All this attention to detail paid to the arrangement. There were a lot of decisions with the percussion, the bass, the keyboardy thing, a lot of thought was put in to this. But the vocals are so off-putting. I'm guessing your response would be "That is on purpose", but how it comes across to me is you are insecure about your vocials so you try to hide it by singing "bad on purpose". I just really don't like it though.

The Magnetic Letters
I guess I don't really get this. It sounds like a story song, which is fine, but the words are too hard to understand. I could go to the lyric archive, but that sort of defeats the purpose. I Like the tight vocal performances, but the snare is pretty overpowering and without being able to follow the story it's kind of rambling. I think I kind of get what you're going for, because I've written songs like this before, so I want to like it.
Last edited by Jim of Seattle on Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by owl » Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:51 pm

Jim of Seattle wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:50 pm
magnetic owl
Did you try this song with the acoustic guitar only the whole way through?
I thought about it at the outset, but ultimately I wasn't in the mood for something quiet, which was maybe a mistake, haha. But here's a version where I soloed the acoustic guitars and vocals, in case you're curious about how that would have sounded. (unfortunately the tracks I had easy access to were already rendered with whatever weird fx decisions I had made earlier in the process so they have some funny artifacts; also, I turned off the noise gate, so there's a lot of hiss.)

(Also have not fixed the EQ in this)
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:44 am

Great fight! I like nearly all of these.

Berkeley Social Scene: this is a really great, punchy-sounding song which is very welcome after the scrappier production on the last couple of BSS songs, and that bass intro really works as an immediate hook into the song. It also leans heavily towards the new wavey / power-poppy end of your sound which is my favourite kind of BSS, so this left me very happy indeed. There's just one thing I didn't particularly enjoy and you can probably guess what it is...
Spoiler
Show
...yes, I'm very predictable, but I didn't think the guitar solo added anything to this song. And there are songs in this fight where I DID like the guitar solo so it's not the very existence of the solo that I'm not into, this one just doesn't feel like a good fit, the style feels like it needs something super melodic. And it's twice as long as it needs to be.
Definite vote, though.

Evil Grin: this is my favourite Evil Grin song for a while, I really like the mix of acoustic and electric guitar, and the vocals and lyrics are strong. I do have a few issues, mostly related to the way the vocal fit in the mix - it just feels like they need some more clarity. Whether that's an EQ / compression / reverb thing or whether they just need to be a bit louder, I'm not sure.

gizo vs. the 17,455: love this one, the vocals and keys get me on board from the start and the swell into full orchestration and harmonies is suuuuper satisfying. The ending is great, too. Keep up the good work, gizo! My joint favourite from this fight. I can see what the Phlebster means about the opening being very sparse, I'd be tempted to maybe put some low-key delay on the organ so that it decays a bit rather than just having those gaps between chords, maybe? And in response to your vocal query above, I think your voice sounds great here!

Glenn Case: yeah! This is top-tier Glenn Case, it has one of those catchy melodies that sounds classic and yet I don't think it's actually reminding me of any one particular song, and there's some excellent harmonies in there. And I did really like the guitar solo in this one!

Hot Pink Halo: there are elements of this one I really like, the bits that have semi-rapped energy / attitude are great and there's a lot of interesting stuff going on musically. When it shifts into the other section with the brassy stuff it seems to lose direction a little, and the brassy stuff itself is really high in the mix which I found a little distracting.

The Kai Steines Band: excellent use of hand(clap) percussion and the guitars sound really nice and crisp. I'm not particularly a fan of gritty rock vocals though and the way the vocal melody here pretty much stays monotone (especially on the second verse) is pretty much a deal breaker for me, even if the doubled vocal parts add some welcome variation.

Leppakron: this is probably be my favourite Leppakron song that I've heard so far! The shanty vibes are a lot of fun and the lyrics are well-written and entertaining, a really good take on the title. The instrumental break in the middle is cool too. I didn't think this felt unfinished, although I'd definitely be up for a longer outro with more gang vocals.

Lichen Throat: I like the reverb you have on your voice here. In places these are some of your best vocals, although there are still areas where the timing feels clunky (e.g. the first line of each chorus, which feels like you don't quite click into the right rhythm each time). Musically it doesn't fully hook me like some of your best stuff, but there are some interesting moments.

Lily Plus Martin: I keep listening to your songs and admiring them but not fully loving them and I'm never entirely sure why it is. Everything is so well played and mixed, both of you have superb voices and there's enough off-kilter strangeness in there that I feel like I should be hooked, but for some reason I always feel somewhat distanced. Maybe it's the lyrics, which I enjoy puzzling over but never fully understand?

The Magnetic Letters: this is another admire-but-don't-love one I think, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on but it kinda rambles without too much direction, and for a song where the lyrics should be a focal point it's not terribly easy to make them out while listening, even if the layers / harmonies are generally well done.

miscellaneous owl: my other favourite, and up there with your best songwriting I think! There's a superb depth of emotion in the lyrics and as ever your voice sounds great. Love the keyboard melody that pops up halfway through.

Moon Baby: this is a nice change of pace from most of the other tracks and I always enjoy hearing some more electronic stuff in Song Fight! I particularly like the swell that pops up occasionally as a transition between sections, it reminds me of some stuff by Apparat. BUT as others have said it's hard to figure out what makes this song 'Skeleton Key' and not any other title. It's good stuff though, and I'd like to hear more!

Paco del Stinko: this is at the more hard-rockin' end of the Paco del Spectrum which I can't always get into, but I found this one to be a bit of a grower. Excellent guitar work as ever, I like the see-saw rhythm and the theatrical vocals are a good fit for the theme ("baby you can't say no to me / cos I've got a skeleton key" is definitely the creepiest lyric of the fight, maybe only taken out of context though).Not one of my favourites this time around but it's a hell of a strong fight.

Phlebia: this is wild, I can hear the trance influence but it definitely feels filtered through your own sensibilities and I'm into it! The synth vocals are really effective.

Third Cat: one of my favourite 3C songs for a while too, this fight brought the best out of a lot of people. Really strong vocal melody and I love the sampled hand-percussion drums.

Tim Hinkle: mostly enjoyed this one, I'm always a fan of the way you integrate synth parts into your dark, folky sound and your vocals sound good. Unfortunately I find the scratchy guitar tone hard to listen to though which kinda sinks the whole song.

Waikikis: strong vocal, the vibrato reminds me of Corin Tucker. You clearly know what you're doing with this kinda atmospheric blues-rock sound and I have no real criticism to offer other than... this style of music just does nothing for me, unfortunately.

Also, as a side note, I've been alternating between these songs and the new Origami Angel album, which is a pretty great punk / emo record. And it has a song called Skeleton Key on it! I thought that was a nice coincidence.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Jim of Seattle » Fri Dec 06, 2019 9:51 am

owl wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 10:51 pm
Jim of Seattle wrote:
Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:50 pm
miscellaneous owl
Did you try this song with the acoustic guitar only the whole way through?
I thought about it at the outset, but ultimately I wasn't in the mood for something quiet, which was maybe a mistake, haha. But here's a version where I soloed the acoustic guitars and vocals, in case you're curious about how that would have sounded. (unfortunately the tracks I had easy access to were already rendered with whatever weird fx decisions I had made earlier in the process so they have some funny artifacts; also, I turned off the noise gate, so there's a lot of hiss.)

(Also have not fixed the EQ in this)
I like this a lot better. When I suggested you EQ out the low-midrange on the vocal, now that it's clearer I can hear that what you really need is to sing further from the mic. I see why you added the other stuff, it still needs a bit more, but I think your entry version has too much.

Also, I fixed your band name in my posts. oops.
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Re: It's a bit white and bony (Skeleton Key reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Fri Dec 06, 2019 4:40 pm

Berkeley Social Scene: This is a solid BSS track but it's one of your'n I like the most. I like the bass and it has good energy. But mostly I just like it. The lyric seems straight forward and not very involved and then I got a line that made me feel I was missing something. One of those "single details" that changes the whole movie..erm song. I like this. Easy vote from me.

gizo vs. the 17,455: While I like the sparse arrangement this feels a little draggy for me. I like the vocal delivery. I like the lyric but more the story. The angle is a good one and who doesn't like a good murder ballad style lyric? Well, THAT's an ending! I didn't dislike this song but I think it needs.. erm.. something!

Glenn Case: That melody is nice, it's enticing. And the doubled vox works very well for me. Tasty guitar solo with a cool lead in.This just gets better on multiple listens. I'm enjoying this one. An a different note, have you noticed that lyrics for fifteen of this weeks song were posted in the song thread? viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11632

Hot Pink Halo: All the oohs and ahhs are cool. I like the horns. The mix, though... well, arrangement maybe? It makes my ears tired listening to it. Not quite sure why. I've taken to looking at the lyric posts and the second two lines of the second verse change up the rhyme scheme which should be a no, no but seems to work here.

The Kai Steines Band: The arrangement recalls Jethro Tull a bit and the acoustic reminds me of maybe Emerson Lake and Palmer. This is cool... kind of a cleaned up Garage Rock feel. The ending was interesting with the rock concert ending followed by the acoustic album ending. This is cool. An a different note, have you noticed that lyrics for fifteen of this weeks song were posted in the song thread? viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11632

Leppakron: I very much liked the whistle. The squeeze box a nice touch. The road weary vocals worked well with the lyric although it's not my favorite. Speaking of the lyric, it's a little brief in details, but I enjoyed it. Overall, this song works but it's not one of my favorites of the fight.

Lichen Throat: Are you rendering a bit louder than before? I think your mix has a nice balance. You usually have interesting sounds/arrangements and this song is proof. Your vocals are improving, too. Your rhyme scheme is cool. AABBCDCD plus refrain/chorus. Not sure I get the "reform" line and I've noticed you had a couple if off rhymes that were stretching the sound a bit, but for me they work great. In context they all were good. This song did feel a bit long.

Lily Plus Martin: Damn I really like the vocal from Lily. And both of your voices work so well together. Not sure I like that delay.. or rather, I like it, but it seems to get old after a bit. I like the marching drum. The combined vocals could be a little tighter, I feel. And I do like the doubled high/low near the end. I really dig the lyric, too. There are a couple of lines I don't quite get and I'm sure I'm missing something, but I still like them and the overall feel I get. This song must be pretty good because it didn't feel as long as it is.

The Magnetic Letters: I love the Red Dwarf reference. The story is kind of an interesting one. Hinting at things in my mind (that I'm sure I'm drudging up out of my imagination) but mostly I like that you've given me that feeling of "oh, crap, we shouldn't have done that.. whelp, it's too late now" that I had so often as a child. Musically this is just a bit too busy for me. It might be that I'm not sure how much I dig that.. erm, distorted bass accordion sound that dominates so much. Still, you've got a cool angle on this one.

miscellaneous owl: Your melodies are gorgeous, my favorite melodies of the fight. I'm not sure that your mix is too busy as much as that the midrange is overfilled for me. Maybe a bit less in arrangement with some nice eq cuts here and there and this would work very, very well for me. I liked your lyric and taking it back to a personal connection was a nice touch, although I really liked the idea of a conversation with bones (although I would have made it much darker though I'm gald you didn't.) Yeah, this is a vote for sure.

Moon Baby: My wife is rubbing off on me. If she can't hear/understand the lyric it aggravates her to no end. And this song is frustrating in that I like the vocal effect but I really, really wanna hear the words. It might be a hair busy in the arrangement for me. But I like what you've done here.

Paco del Stinko: I love that line "rattle your dreams..." like.. a lot. And the structure of this song works very well for me. Yeah, it has the paco-isms that make it a paco song. Never a bad thing. But this one seems fresh. I definitely like it.

Phlebia: I really like the chorus lyric. It seems a bit buried in the song, though. That incessant electro-hihat might be a bit much, but I like the arrangement here. It's a cool sound. I like the high ranging melody. I think melodically this builds well. Which kind of makes this a vocal song for me. Which, with your instrumentation (that I like) being so involved, seems an odd thing to say.

Third Cat: This one builds nicely. It sounds good. I think this song reflects your ability to write and arrange a damn fine song. I like the angle in your lyric and that crimes line piqued my curiosity. It hints at more than you reveal. I could see someone saying that this isn't one of your most adventurous songs, but honestly, I like it quite a bit.

Tim Hinkle: I like your lyric a lot. Okay, on first it was a bit "another introspective angle, oh boy" but your melody (pre-chorus/chorus espcially) is great and drew me in. It got me listening and the more I do, the more I like the lyric and how well it works with your voice. Also, you sing it well, that doesn't hurt at all.

Waikikis: I like your melody and vocal performance. I like the empowering lyric, stand up for yourself, girl. The organ is tasty and the groove is nice and laid back and still powerful. My only nit is that something sounds just a hair out of tune in there. But two things, 1) with all my slightly out of tune parts over the past... long time, I shouldn't say anything and 2) it could very well be my poor ears. They're not just tired, they're TIRED!!! At any rate, I'm digging this. I like it.
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