Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

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Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Lunkhead » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:58 pm

This is definitely NOT a safe space, for your songs.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Lunkhead » Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:04 pm

Songs are up!

FYI the Cornfield song has about 10 minutes of silence at the end. I've emailed them to ask them to send a fixed version without the extra silence. I figured I'd post their song for now anyway and update when they send a properly trimmed one.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Jerkatorium » Sat Dec 17, 2016 5:57 pm

Chumpy and I had done the 400x400 pixels cover art to include all bands that had posted lyrics and/or mentioned they'd be submitting to the HSSPP fight (it all looks like slop at the 150x150 front page resolution so we went 'clean' for that version). I don't want to leave anyone out though, so here is an updated version with Skadaddle and The Semolina Pilchards added:

hsspp400.jpg
hsspp400.jpg (128.79 KiB) Viewed 1357 times
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby PepperJane » Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:56 pm

Rofl!! :'D
Everything is about perspective. :shock:
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby glennny » Sat Dec 17, 2016 7:39 pm

That artwork is brilliant!
I like the pig farmer Jr logo, BSS with the KISS esses, and PJ with the guitar, but what cracks me up the most is the Paco anarchy!

Genius!
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Lunkhead » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:54 am

Art updated.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Lunkhead » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:58 am

Cornfield song updated with a trimmed version.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Chumpy » Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:43 pm

Pigfarmer Jr - I don't often find myself saying this, but the spoken word bits in this song really work. I can almost see the expression on your face when you say "they really care". The fuzz guitar sounds great, and the chorus is catchy. My only complaint is that some your timing is off beat like on the first 'November 8'. I don't even mind that it's political.

Skadaddle - Nice to hear your stuff again! I dig the nerdcore stylings here, the irritable beavers line cracked me up. Solid flow, all the rhymes and lines land on beats like they should, and it sounds natural. The verses are fun and well written, I'm less sold on the choruses though.

Pepper Jane - In theory I can get behind the Tom's Diner acapella nature of this song, but in practice I can't. I don't like the way the song title is slapped on, I don't like the way the chorus vocals pop into my left ear, I don't like how you crack yourself up, I don't like the pseudo stream of consciousness lyrics, and I don't like that it's nearly 5 minutes long. It's not the world ending.

The Semolina Pilchards - I like the music and the line "you'll learn to be yourself in time". From the lyrics I'm getting the feeling of safety, and the whole 'standing together' aspect of the current topical safety pin thing that a number of folks wanted to write about. This is a pretty decent take on that idea, but it's too kumbaya for me.

Berkeley Social Scene - I like Ken's voice, and I dig the 'linoleum / lonely one' rhyme, and how you captured some of the boredom and loneliness of High School. My problem with this song is that chorus doesn't lift, in fact it's a bit subdued in relation to the verse. Perhaps that fits with the lyrical context of dragging ones feet, but it makes me not want to listen to it again.

Paco del Stinko - I think it's risky to lead off with goose stepping, swastikas, and 'fag' in the first verse. If I didn't know better, I might have stopped listening right about there and cut my losses based on a musical adaptation of Godwin's Law. I'm glad I knew better because there is a lot of great stuff here. The hurt ya / burka rhyme is great, and the 'wearing a pin in unity is important' bridge is melodically compelling and lyrically interesting. The ending "don't put us down" harmonies are exceptional.

Micah Sommersmith - I love that you wrote and recorded something that sounds like an actual High School march, with brass and everything. Kudos for putting that all together so well. I also appreciate that it's about a group of 11th graders bragging about how badass and unified they are and not something political.

Cornfield - Congrats, you wrote, performed, and recorded a credible sounding folk song. This is a decent first Song Fight entry, with well thought out lyrics. I like the resigned, low-key way you sing it, it kind of projects a feeling of sadness -- that is until the penultimate line where you belt it out a bit.

The John Benjamin Band - In like Dylan indeed! The chorus vocal harmonies sound great, the guitars sound great, the minimal bass sounds great, the melodica sounds great, and at the end when they're all together it sounds really great. The line "so get on your feet and stick on your pins" is rousing and strikes an emotional chord with me, and what I like most about it is that I'm not entirely sure what it implies.

Jerkatorium - Worked harder on the mix this time around. Made sure my panned L/R guitars were offset everywhere (thanks jb!) so they remained wide. I listened to it on headphones, phones, crappy laptop speakers, and my bass thumping car stereo, making adjustments along the way. It doesn't sound amazing on all of these systems, but hopefully not awful either.
Last edited by Chumpy on Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby glennny » Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:06 pm

Chumpy,

The Jerkatorium song sounds fantastic! Who's playing all of those tasty lead licks? Will you please play with a full band the next song fight live? I'd be happy to play anything (except drums) to help make that happen.

overall good fight! Liking everyone's stuff, no time for reviews now.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Chumpy » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:13 am

glennny wrote:Who's playing all of those tasty lead licks? Will you please play with a full band the next song fight live? I'd be happy to play anything (except drums) to help make that happen.

Glad you liked it! Those sweet lead riffs were all played by Mr. Jerkatorium himself, who also played bass, keyboards, arranged the drums, did all the backing vocals, and programmed the "robo-chump" harmony parts. I came up with the original demo, played rhythm guitar, sang, and twiddled some knobs in Logic.

It'd be amazing to play with a full band, thanks for offering! We'd definitely put you to work on lead guitar. I spent weeks practicing every day before the Portland SF! Live to get to the point where I could play guitar and sing at the same time. It was somewhat terrifying, but I'm glad I did it.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Cornfield » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:26 am

Jerkatorium wrote:Chumpy and I had done the 400x400 pixels cover art to include all bands that had posted lyrics and/or mentioned they'd be submitting to the HSSPP fight (it all looks like slop at the 150x150 front page resolution so we went 'clean' for that version). I don't want to leave anyone out though, so here is an updated version with Skadaddle and The Semolina Pilchards added:

hsspp400.jpg


We like the artwork but "Cornfield" is one word, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Cornfield » Tue Dec 20, 2016 9:31 am

Chumpy wrote:.....Cornfield - Congrats, you wrote, performed, and recorded a credible sounding folk song. This is a decent first Song Fight entry, with well thought out lyrics. I like the resigned, low-key way you sing it, it kind of projects a feeling of sadness -- that is until the penultimate line where you belt it out a bit.....



Thank you for your review. We started out trying to write a song about a high school nerd that gets involved in the parade. W just never found a way to integrate the two story lines and ended up with what we had. More parade than high school. If we ever do this live, we will drop the words "High School" and just call it "Safety Pin Parade"
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby jb » Wed Dec 21, 2016 12:25 am

Good fight! Excellent work everyone!

BSS - Ken, your vocals are on point, very nice. The slapback suits them! I was surprised when you went down to that lower note, it was pretty cool. When the chorus comes, the harmony is really pleasing, and I super dig the melody. The Rhodes on the bridge is really nicely placed, and I like the synth countermelody and the tasteful panned guitars. This is one of my fav BSS tunes. Simple and straightforward, tuneful, catchy, and toe-tappin'.

Skadaddle - not my thing

Cornfield - kinda my thing, but it's like 2 a.m. and I don't have any concentration left to pay attention to this song.

Micah Sommersmith - a big production! Brass is cool, and the big ol' harmonies and countermelodies are fun. I'd love to know about the production process for this tune.

Paco - Complex as usual, though the lyrics are too on-the-nose for me, even though mine were pretty damn on the nose last week. Actually, they were too on the nose and if I get to play "Hugs" again, they won't be the same. I like the feel of the song when it gets to like 1:19. The phased guitar or whatever that effect is is nice, and I like the sorta Dr. Who bass rhythm. The shredding is fun too.

Pigfarmer Jr - The fuzz! I like the spoken parts, not the sung parts so much. The singing isn't quite dead-on rhythmically and that makes the dead-on lyrics sound sloppy in addition to a bit more straightforward than I prefer. I dig the guitar tones.

Semolina Pilchards - Your band name always makes me feel like it should've been some 90's CD that I got from somewhere and forgot about until I found it in an old sleeve somewhere, next to Meat Puppets and Bettie Serveert. I think maybe the guitars are a little too overdriven for the song... I kind of dig the chorus melody, with its pleasant second melody, and the guitar solo is nice and tasteful.

Jerkatorium - The arrangement and construction of the song are really nice. This one also makes me feel nostalgic for college for some reason. Nice harmonies, nice "oooohs", and the lyrics are well-crafted to fit within your arrangement. Punk rock uniform indeed. Not sure that all of the lyrics really punch their weight compared to the execution of the song. When I first heard this I wondered if you used a synth to do the guitar licks, because they are so very very evenly played. I would maybe suggest that they don't have to be so full of notes, and maybe crafted into a more thoughtful melody. I do not like the sound of that snare drum.

Pepper Jane - I like the extemporaneous feel. At first I thought it was just a capella and then the other bits came in. This makes me feel nostalgic like a couple others-- it feels like a lost Metalmags track (look in the archives, she's great). I like the intimate feel of the vocals, and I think the lyrics are pretty interesting and a lot to listen to. I would have preferred the extra vocal parts to be recorded in the same way/place as the main because the different reverb is a little distracting and i don't think it was purposefully done as a part of the song-- like, if it had a "way far away" reverb that would be a way to say something via production. But whatever, it's interesting.

JBB - Yeah I was trying to make a pseudo-protest song. The verses offer a perspective on the mindset of each year of high school, and the overall idea that everyone brings their own context to the High School Safety Pin Parade. Only the seniors are really in it for the cause, apparently, according to this song. Whatever the cause might be today, who knows, next week it'll be something else.

JB
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby MicahSommer » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:47 am

Chumpy wrote:Micah Sommersmith - I love that you wrote and recorded something that sounds like an actual High School march, with brass and everything. Kudos for putting that all together so well. I also appreciate that it's about a group of 11th graders bragging about how badass and unified they are and not something political.

jb wrote:Micah Sommersmith - a big production! Brass is cool, and the big ol' harmonies and countermelodies are fun. I'd love to know about the production process for this tune.

Thanks for the kind words! I wasn't originally planning to do an entry for this fight, but I was borrowing a euphonium that I knew I had to return, so I wanted to squeeze a little more playing/recording time out of it. That plus the title meant "marching band" was the obvious way to go.

I tried to simulate a marching band drumline as best I could with the drum samples I use. My three euphoniums strategy (bassline + two in close harmony) served me well in this year's Nur Ein, and I added a few accordion parts for extra geekiness.

I think I recorded like 15 vocal takes though not all of them made the final cut. I struggled mixing the voices, trying to get the various harmony parts audible - mixing and mastering is still my Achilles heel (or one of them...) but I'm glad it seems to have turned out well.

As for the lyrics, I imagine these kids conceive of themselves as some sort of anti-bullying initiative, but mostly just complain about the popular kids and brag about how they're more interesting and unique. Which is an understandable survival tactic in high school. These kids were my friends.

I've been enjoying a lot of these songs, hopefully my own reviews are coming soon.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Chumpy » Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:20 am

MicahSommer wrote:My three euphoniums strategy (bassline + two in close harmony) served me well in this year's Nur Ein....

Yeah it did! Maybe you should make an offer to buy that one from the person you're borrowing it from.

Image
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Jerkatorium » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:25 pm

glennny and Chumpy and jb wrote:various comments about the guitar fills and solo

Flattered, but I can't take legit credit for it. Chumpy recently taught me how to use flex editing in Logic Pro X, and I have gotten progressively lazier and lazier with my guitar work and my backing vocals - instead of doing take after take until I get it right, I do a couple of takes and then push the notes to wherever they're supposed to be (both timing and pitch). I would love to perform at the next SF Live, but I'll probably have to come up with an easier version of any guitar solo or riff that involves any speed or skill at all. JB's comment about the synth-sounding "very very evenly played" licks tell me that I should dial the flex editing back a bit and work on composing stuff that I can actually reliably perform.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Jerkatorium » Sat Dec 24, 2016 1:17 am

I've been reviewing less lately because I doubt my observations are any help. Any comment I make with the sentiment, "If it were me I would have done it this way instead," is easily responded to with, "Well I'll consider that the next time I want my song to sound like either Jerkatorium or a fall-down-drunk version of The Dead Milkmen." Simple mentions of whether or not I like a song, with no elaboration, is no good either. On the other hand I appreciate feedback on the Jerkatorium songs and I feel bad for not returning the 'favor' so:

Berkeley Social Scene: Good groove, good driving music. The singing draws you in during the verses, it flows really well. Great writing, great performance, I found myself humming along to the chorus by the end.

CORN
FIELD
: Your band name looks better stacked like that. It's practically square that way. Anyhow: Good, empowering lyrics, but the delivery is dirge-like. I know that approach is not particularly uncommon for the genre, but I'd prefer something a little more rousing.

The John Benjamin Band: When I said in the Cornfield review that I'd prefer something a little more rousing, this is what I was looking for. Simple instrumentation, great lyrics with an arc. Phil Ochs reborn (or maybe Indigo Girls?).

Pepper Jane: A good vocal melody wasted on an experiment that reads self-indulgent instead of charming. I had to go back and re-read the prefight thread to try to figure out why you would even submit this, and now it makes a lot more sense (and that's a damn shame, I'm sure it would have been much more entertaining as a video). But the song doesn't stand well on its own.

Skadaddle: Nerdcore that sounds like you had One Night In Bangkok on the brain. Good vocal delivery until the chorus which is meh - if you're going to have a chorus then you really gotta sell it, and you didn't. Good beat choices.

Micah Sommersmith: Fun, funny and clever, and performed extremely well. The style sounds reminiscent of some of TMBG's instrumental-ish stuff on State Songs, the Hall of Mayors and etc. Goddammit why didn't you put some of those great backing vocals on our Baked Out Of My Gourd?

The Semolina Pilchards: I think I'd like this song better if it weren't so laid back, like maybe a little more tempo, a little more strumming... but there I go trying to turn it into a Jerk song. Okay then some specifics: Either your vocal mic (or mic setting) sounds bad or maybe the lead vocals should be a little louder (I'm not sure which). There is way too much reverb. I think more backing vocals would be an improvement. It's a nice song though, I like it, and in particular I like how the chorus resolves (which is arguably the most important part of the song).

Paco Del Stinko: Sounds great, expertly arranged, composed and performed. Not particularly catchy, but it's song with a message so it doesn't really have to be catchy.

Pigfarmer Jr: The good groove of the intro got my hopes up, but the spoken-word verses and the mess of a chorus were a letdown. And of course the lyrics are utterly telling: if you're feeling defensive because you believe an innocuous symbol of support for minorities is an attack on the president-elect, then that is your implicit acknowledgement of the president-elect's racism, misogyny and etc. Sing about whatever you want, mock a symbol of support if you like, but that's not punk, that's just trolling.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Paco Del Stinko » Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:52 am

Thanks for the comments, peoples. I'll get some late remarks in, for anyone who gives half a hoot. Stay tuned.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby lichenthroat » Tue Dec 27, 2016 4:53 pm

This was a really strong fight with lots of good songs. Nice work, everyone!

Berkeley Social Scene—Great guitar sound. The vocal performance is good, but the vocal melody itself is a bit on the dull side. Overall, though, this is a well-crafted, well-performed song, probably my favorite of yours from the last couple of months.

Cornfield—You’ve probably already figured this out, but the volume of the song should be louder. You have a good voice; I’d like to hear a less restrained performance. Very respectable song; I’ve liked it more and more after repeated listens.

The John Benjamin Band—Well done! You really have a talent for protest songs. (I loved “There Are More of Us Than You” and your cover of “Deportee.”) Nice mix, too. I’m not quite sure how you mixed the guitar—is that two different, but similar tracks, one on each side? Anyway, it sounds great.

Jerkatorium—Good lyrics. I like the punk take on the title, rather than taking the more obvious route. Is that a SLC Punk reference snuck in there? As usual, the drum parts are well arranged, and there’s nothing to complain about anywhere in the song. Very solid.

Micah Sommersmith—Making the song sound like an actual high school parade was ingenious. I’m impressed with your ability to play the horns. And the accordion parts are just offbeat enough to create an interesting sound. I think keeping it short was a good idea; the cleverness carries strong throughout the duration of the song.

Paco del Stinko—I know I’m not the first to point it out, but “hurt ya/burqa” is the rhyme of the week, for sure. Lyrically, this is my favorite of all the more straightforward takes on the title. I don’t like the cymbal taps (they seem somehow off-rhythm even though I don’t think they really are), but I complained about the same thing a couple of weeks ago, so maybe it’s just a matter of personal taste.

Pepper Jane—This is really cool, and really clever. As you noted, it would probably play better in the context for which it was originally intended. I’m glad I heard this, even though it’s not something I’d want to listen to often.

Pigfarmer Jr.—I actually like the cynicism here; it’s funny without stepping completely off the edge into mean-spiritedness. The spoken-word parts sound good, and the chorus has grown on me over time.

The Semolina Pilchards
—Not particularly memorable, but I enjoy this every time I listen to it. A little cleaner guitar and vocal might have been better, but I like it as is, too.

Skadaddle—The Murray Head-esque vocal bits are my favorite parts. The wordplay is respectable, but I’d like more variety throughout and a stronger chorus.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Lunkhead » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:19 pm

Congrats Jerkatorium.
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby Chumpy » Wed Dec 28, 2016 8:31 pm

lichenthroat wrote:Good lyrics. I like the punk take on the title, rather than taking the more obvious route. Is that a SLC Punk reference snuck in there?

Thanks for the feedback! I'm pleased the lyrics worked for you, I spent a few hours trying to get them right. I didn't try to work in an SLC Punk reference, although 'Anarchy Rules' does sound like a rant Stevo might have gone off on. A reference that I did sneak in was to Lipstick Traces, which would likely not impress any High School punk rockers.

Lunkhead wrote:Congrats Jerkatorium.

Thanks Lunk, good fight everyone!
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Re: Stick it in your ear! (High School Safety Pin Parade reviews)

Postby MicahSommer » Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:55 am

In case anyone's still reading, here are some very quick comments:

BSS - Great guitar riffs and nice organ in the chorus. Lyrics very effectively convey the "lonely awkward high schooler" experience.

Cornfield - Doesn't turn over any new ground musically, but fits into the folk/protest song mold quite well. Welcome to Song Fight.

Jerkatorium - Still the gold standard for maintaining dense rhyme schemes throughout an entire song. My favorite? "degree in" / "be in" from one chorus to the next. Sneaky!

JB - Well-done, credible protest anthem with solid lyrics, although the "-ing" rhymes, and the rhythmic treatment of the title, come off awkwardly. Otherwise it's a great tune.

Paco del Stinko - Some really interesting chord progressions, and the backing vocals are excellent as ever, e.g. "I stand with you." Yes, "hurt ya" / "burqa" is a great rhyme, but "important" / "dormant" is really really not. Both musically and lyrically, the bridge is a bit of a wet noodle that saps the song's energy. I do appreciate the sentiment behind the song.

Pepper Jane - I don't hate this nearly as much as some other folks. I would be interested in hearing what this might become after some more revision and focusing in on the important parts. Reminds me of some of Tegan and Sara's weirder stuff, like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJ72nEK0VcI.

Pigfarmer Jr - As has been said: the rhythm in the chorus is a bit of a trainwreck. Your performance really sells the spoken bits, and I don't particularly disagree with your message, which I interpret as "Trump did not invent being an asshole, and people wearing safety pins might be doing so out of a misplaced sense that it counts as real activist work" - although I suspect that I might be coming to that conclusion from a different place than you. The backing track is solid and sounds great.

The Semolina Pilchards - Great music and lyrics, great guitar performance, okay production, don't love the vocal performance.

Skadaddle - Everyone's hating on your chorus, but it got stuck in my head so I approve.
"you did a skillful job pulling off the sexy" - RangerDenni

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