No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Discuss upcoming, current, and previous song fights.
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Pigfarmer Jr
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:11 am

Chumpy wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:05 pm
I couldn't figure out what the narrator was trying to say. Is he looking for some kind of karmic pay back for his good deeds, or some kind of recognition? Is he trying to find out why sometimes he cares and sometimes he doesn't? What's that have to do with real life? A lot of the song seems to be about what a great and selfless guy the narrator is, and that part about the woman shedding a tear shows that other people see the narrator as a great and selfless guy too. I guess I'd like to see it balanced with some terrible things the narrator does -- or maybe times when the narrator doesn't help when he easily could. Just something to add some balance or conflict.
I see it now that you point it out.
For the record, the chorus was suppose to be a Schindler's List ending feeling. Yes, the narrator is a good guy but there are lots of opportunities where he could lend a hand and didn't. Why not? It's the whole idea that if we stop worrying about politics and other people and focus solely on being a good person to each other then amazing changes can take place. I think part of the problem is that I see this song as one in a series. It fits nicely into a theme I've kind of been toying with on and off. And now I wonder if changing it to the third person and either adding a verse of complete failure or rewriting the bridge wouldn't clarify it. Or if the whole idea is hopeless.

Two more minor notes since I want to:
1) It was purposely a re-write of the theme in Poetry in the Streets. I was trying to make a working version of that general idea. (Obviously, that didn't work.)
2) Whoever taught Ryan the word "humble-brag" should be shot.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by thirdcatmusic » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:25 am

Great podcast as usual, great to hear from Glennny. And yeah; I'm just one guy. But I don't mind being called "they."

(I also think I realized that I had confused Chumpy with Ryan in my review maybe?)
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:34 am

We don't speak of what happened to the first two cats.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by thirdcatmusic » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:41 am

vowlvom wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:34 am
We don't speak of what happened to the first two cats.
ha, I have two cats. I'm the third cat. From their perspective. I think I had read something about how cats think their human owners are big weird furless cats.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by owl » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:07 pm

Sooo many songs this fight, it took me ages to finish writing up my notes!

Berkeley Social Scene--Lovely Rhodes, it sounds so good. Really nice vocal performance, soft and warm, although they sound really autotuned or processed to me and I don't really like that effect. But I was kind of assuming this was an intentional choice to go with the theme of the lyrics. Great melody (I like that little upwards shift out of the bridge), great arrangement. I love the visuals of the "flashlight" line in the lyrics. Overall one of my favorites from this fight. (The early solo didn't bother me!)

Chumpy--Good stuff. I like the sort of choppy restlessness of the verse and the change into the acoustic "fantasy" dropout is lovely. Great rhythms and rhyme scheme in the lyrics. The ending felt abrupt, like the song didn't quite make it to where it was headed. I also didn't get the meme reference until hearing the podcast, and thinking about that distracted me a little. Overall I liked the verses better than the choruses, I think maybe the song just didn't feel like it lifted up enough in the choruses...? I mean, you can tell it's the chorus, it has a definite memorable hook, but the dynamics between verse and chorus felt really similar.

Geech Sorensen--The guitar sounds great. I like the "come on, come ons" in the chorus and the subtle keys in the background. I would have liked more of a dynamic or instrumentation change along the way in the song, it felt like it stayed at the same energy level throughout. I think it was well performed and produced, not much to complain about, but it just didn't stick with me after listening a couple of times.

glennny--The vocals kind of ruined my enjoyment of the song as a whole, sorry! I couldn't deal with the Kermit ones, and the others were a bit pitchy. On the other hand, lots of great stuff happening instrumentally (even if maybe it didn't need to all be in the same song at once! it was a lot!) I like the bass and the guitar harmonic things and the kind of ska guitar bits, and the slide guitar + creaking solo is cool.

Hampshire Cape--One of my favorites from this fight. I love the shimmery guitar and organ combo. I would have appreciated having the lyrics posted in the thread, but I liked what I heard. Very pleasant, smooth, easygoing vibes; very nicely done.

Mandibles--I expected you guys to crush it on the operatic vocals and was hoping to see an entry from you for this fight! (Well, secretly half hoping you wouldn't enter because I figured you'd destroy all competition on this one. Still my prediction.) This did not disappoint, great vox and melodies, jazzier chord progression/melody than I expected, nice heavy guitars, operatic without feeling outdated or irrelevant. Holy shit @ the Mozart interlude at 02:43, what a nice surprise! And the lyrics were so dense and great, just really wonderfully put together, I loved the meditation about real bands vs. tributes vs. karaoke tying into the title theme, and the callbacks to Queen (via the title) and Queen of the Night (for the operatic vocals). I didn't love the production, it felt a bit muffled, and the parts of the song seemed a bit disjointed, but the performance was lovely. It's not really up my alley genre-wise, in terms of what I'd listen to outside of Songfight, but it was my favorite song of the fight, BSS and Hampshire Cape coming in close behind.

mc3p0--This was a fun and well produced track, lots of nice meaty synthesizers, so many nice elements going on. It felt like a soundtrack but didn't quite develop enough for me to stand on its own, and like some others have mentioned, without vocals, it's hard to feel like it had something specifically to do with this title. It would have been fun to hear it with the vocal samples you were mentioning you tried to put in!

Micah Sommersmith--Great lyrics, just really excellent writing, I mean, how can I not love lyrics that rhyme theremin/peregrine/Tegan and Sara Quinn?! Political but not hamfisted; short and sweet, too. Good performance, as well, but I wasn't into the instrumentation choices--the piano ends up giving this a Capitol Steps/musical comedy novelty song kind of vibe for me, and I think it would have been better served with maybe something like a more traditional hip-hop beat with a darker or more serious feel.

OG Lawn Darts--Sadly, I have some genre bias here, it's going to take a lot for me to get into a 4-minute reggae track. I liked the last track I heard from you better as it had a kind of unusual chord change to throw some extra interest in there, as I recall, and I liked the overall mix better. This one just kind of dragged for me--not enough changes, it felt like it wasn't really going anywhere. The vocal also seemed a bit quiet in the mix.

Paco del Stinko--unfortunately, this song isn't really connecting with me on the whole--the rhythm guitar is too fuzzy so it feels a bit loud but indistinct, the song structure itself doesn't feel super focused to me, I don't feel a big difference between verse and chorus. I do like the vocals but they are mostly kind of buried... by choice/by genre, I'm assuming, but it means they don't really shine enough to rescue it for me. The dropout/dynamic shift at 1:51 is a nice change.

Pigfarmer Jr--I don't understand the podcast hate for this one (granted, I don't think I listened to the other fight this was being compared to, so maybe it felt more fresh to me). Great guitar as always, strong melody and vocal performance and I found the lyrics intriguingly ambiguous... to me it wasn't so much about the narrator patting himself on the back as a sense of alienation despite outwardly charitable actions. (I guess the bridge doesn't really work with this interpretation, and from reading your comments it doesn't seem like it was what you were going for, but those were my notes on how I read it when I first listened to the song.)

Shane Lizard--I loved the sound of this, that detuned wash of sound with the sort of banjo-type picking on top melted my heart. The vocals felt like they didn't sit well in this mix though, too loud or dry or something. The song also felt a bit too repetitive, like it was a first draft but you hadn't really worked out an overall complete structure for the song yet but were just kind of jamming. But I liked the aesthetic a lot and would like to hear more in this vein.

Third Cat--that echoing descending guitar is great. Lots of interesting shifts in this song, although they sometimes feel a bit disjointed. I really like the increasing layers of vocals on the bridge. The chorus is catchy! Nice spacey psychedelic sound and melody overall, I really enjoyed this one, another of my favorites from the fight.

Tim Hinkle--ok now here's some OPERATIC VOCALS! Dang. Bonus points for that, great stuff. It reminded me of a song from a musical, Les Mis maybe, like I was hearing just a snippet of a larger story. Those tremolo picked mandolin parts are very cool. I'm not really into the musical theater vibe stylistically, but I think that's kind of a danger when "operatic vocals" are the challenge.

Vowl Sounds--when I first put the idea together, I fully intended to try and make the chorus vocals more operatic upon final recording, but I had some last-minute travel come up, and ended up with basically one lunch break available to record vox and then singing operatically ended up being kind of difficult, who knew?! :) Soooo I ended up singing high in my range but not sounding terribly operatic in the end. That's OK though, I'm still pleased with the way this came out and I'll happily take the Kirsty MacColl or Isobel Campbell comparisons instead. After the bridge, some of the layers of chorus vocals don't line up well timing-wise, which I would have liked to fix but we didn't have time. (I assumed someone else would mention it but so far nothing...)

Fun fact, Vom and I both came to Songfight via furrypedro because furrypedro recruited me to do some guest vocals for a challenge for a Nur Ein track a couple of years ago. Then I was lurking and had an idea for the next prompt that came up on the main site and roped in Vom to do a Vowl Sounds track for it. I think that was "Cassini".
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by codywalkerjr » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:27 am

Great Job on the podcast as usual! Indeed it was a single coil ( no loops) . It was a Mexican Strat with low output Alnico 5 pups , into a 1970 silverface fender twin , using the amps onboard tremelo.Very clean rig!. For the solo I used a Squire J Mascis Jazzmaster into a Carvin Belair . Those pickups are super dirty and so is that amp.. The anti climatic song structure was my fault! . I drafted the instrumental up as scratch tracks and sent it down to Trey in Florida, but we wound up using the scratch tracks for the final mix ( we were sending huge .wav files over the internet)... Bad snare mic placement is to blame for the loud side tap too! Thanks for your honest review.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by thehipcola » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:50 am

Great fight so far - here's half my reviews. More to come later.

I'm half of OG Lawn Darts this time - thanks for the comments. ROCK.

Paco Del Stinko- I dig this right away.. slippery and greasy. The semitone up the verses is cool. I like the lead break, especially the climb into it. Hard time to make out the vox but overall this is a cool tune. I think the music really captures what the lyrics are saying.. extra points. Nice!

Chumpy – What’s not to dig here? Everything fits and plays together sweetly. Great chorus! I like the guitar tone – but want more pluck, whatever that means. Ooh – acoustic break is sweeeet. This smacks of a bit of prog – and I’m so down widdat. Nice work!!

Pig Farmer Jr – Sweet sounding acoustics off the top – awesome. Definitely like the melodic guitar refrain doubled with electric – that’s a nice touch. I’d have preferred to have a fuller acoustic in one ear and a slightly more meaty electric in the other – but that’s just my taste. This song is just nice all the way through.. probably the weakest point are the vox but I’d listen again for sure, meaning – great work. I don’t’ get to fight often these days but it seems to me your game is stepped way up!

Vowl Sounds – getting a Phil Spectre wall of sound vibe off the top… initially I was like ugh.. but it’s charming and I’m over that now. Nice to have 2 singers – sweet. Chorus is solid. Backing vox are a bit too loud – they jump out and distract. There is a distorted guitar or something in the bridge that just sounds like mud – but I bet it’s a sweet part. Cool song!

Mandibles – Oh nice – a song song! This is rather show-tune-ish – and it’s pretty damn good at that. Queen reference on point. I wish the production was a bit more glitzy but the songwriting quality and the performances are all checkmarks. Nice work! It’s like Dream Theater meets Queen and went to Broadway. Or something. 😊

Hampshire Cape - Nice soulful intro! Nit picky – but I’m not sure the trem speed matches the tempo enough. 😊 But I’m a nit picker so don’t sweat it. I dig this – the organ twiddling throughout is a nice touch. I feel like I wanna ask you to sing more in a higher register… cuz while you’ve got the low tone down, it feels a bit indistinct, and I bet you’ve got some bite a little higher up. Great tune!

Berkely Social Scene: Wurli/Rhodes tone is a always a nice way to open up.. and chorus guitar too. NICE. I dig this! I find the drum pattern distracting until the first lead break – that settles down sweetly. Felt rushed before that. Nice harmonies. Nice song, nicely recorded – it’s all very nice. Fade out for extra points… don’t hear that much anymore! Sweet.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:15 pm

Berkeley Social Scene
Ken wrote some lyrics I really enjoyed that inspired me to sit at the Rhodes and write the two main chord progressions. Geech guided us to keep things simple and use those progressions for the whole song, but we wrote a different bridge part anyway because we couldn't keep from making it more complicated. Doh! I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, particularly my vocals. I also enjoyed this as a stylistic departure for us, especially after last week's metal song.
vowlvom wrote:But there's also a couple of things that bug me: I feel like the guitar solo comes in too early and kinda stops the song from building momentum, and I really want this to go bigger at the end - get all of the BSS voices in there!
Haha. Geech actually suggested reordering the solo in post to be later too, and I had been planning to have group vocals in the outro, but I didn't have time to do either of those things.
Cybronica wrote:The vocal bridge sounds cool. How did you get that effect on your vocals?
I don't think I used much on those, just trying to belt them out (as much as I'm able to, which sadly isn't much), doubling them, the usual EQ, compressor, reverb. I may have cut more low frequencies or something to thin them out, maybe upped the reverb vs the rest of the vocals.

Chumpy
Hot damn, this sounds amazing, production and performance and everything. Huge genre bias FOR this for me. I love the brushed drums, is that just the Logic drummer or some other trickery? Really great switch up there, awesome detail with the brushes, acoustic sounds great, love the reverb on the vocals, they sound great. All the layered vocals are so smooth. This totally reminds me of Sloan and other great modern but classic/retro poppy rock bands. Nice touches on the bass too, it's subtle but tasty. Vote!

Geech Sorensen
I engineered and mixed this song but Geech played everything and did all the vocals. We got this whole thing tracked in one night! I'm pretty happy with the mix, although now I'm feeling like the main vocal is a bit dry. I guess I had that issue on the BSS song too. I'll have to keep that in mind in the future. Anyway, I really enjoy this song a lot and have had its chorus stuck in my head often since recording it. I love the outro and I like that it's less complicated than I would have made it. Vote!

Glennny
Nice start, very Police sounding. The guitar comes in feeling a little off time maybe? The live acoustic guitars maybe don't sound like they blend in super well with the ultra clean perfect bass and drums. I like the groove though. The second acoustic hurts the groove a bit for me because of all the open strings ringing out the whole time, it's not quite as rhythmic as the other parts. I'm really not loving the verse vocals, they seem goofy in a way that doesn't fit the music for me, and all the vocals have WAY too much reverb on them. They don't seem like they're in the same space as the instruments at all. I like the chorus music and the vocals there are good except for the excess reverb/ambience on them. I like the change of tone in the bridge but I do not like the goofy vocals and the too loud percussion noises. Lyrics aren't doing a ton for me but it could be the vocal style choices getting in the way there.

Hampshire Cape
Really nice groove. Instruments sound great, nice instrumentation and mix. I kinda wish the vocals were a little less wet, or maybe the reverb was darker, I feel like it's emphasizing the sibilances a lot. Very tasty guitar solo. Definite vote for me, but I can't help but want to hear a horn section and a couple women backup singers and maybe a part where there are some really wailing backup vocals. :)

Mandibles
Ooh, I like the ominous intro. Theatrical as usual but working really well for me this time for some reason. Maybe it's just the style and topic, resonating with me more. Great vocal arrangement and I like the heavy guitar. There are maybe some tuning issues in the rhythm guitar tracks but they are less noticeable when that track is just one among many. I love the way that manages to sound so epic. Sweet, there's the operatic vocal, I'm so glad somebody who actually could pull it off did it! So great!!!! This might be a first for Song Fight. Well done. Nitpick the double bass drum stuff sounds muffled and low in the mix and very fake, slightly distracting. Great to hear Lee's vocals (I think?) in duet with Cybronica in the end. Vote!

mc3p0
Loud and noisy. Took me a bit but I started to really get into it. Reminds me slightly of NIN. I don't have a lot of great reference points for this style, though. This is way heaver and more industrial. Wait, >5 minutes? And I think read it's an instrumental? Doh. I get having it be this length as a standalone thing, and you do keep it interesting, but, it's a tough fit in the context of song fight. Would definitely work better "live".

Micah Sommersmith
Dang, some major genre bias _against_ for me this time, mostly the rapping. I actually think you did a good job of having lyrics that are topical and political but avoid being too on the noise about what you're saying and have interesting rhymes. Music is fine, it's all well put together, just, style wise a tough sell for me personally.

OG Lawn Darts
Mmmm, dubby. I smoke two joints before I review your song, then I smoke two more. Just kidding. Sounds great overall and while this style isn't my favorite for some reason I appreciate it being present in the mix of entries. Love the laid back groove, and the bass (I particularly love the grit on the bass) and drums sound great. Actually it all sounds great. I'm a little uncertain about how drenched some of the tracks sound. I kinda wish that had been used in some parts of the song and not others rather than all the time, to help create some more contrast between the parts and to bring things like the vocals right into focus sometimes. I dig the solo and the outro. Vote!

Paco del Stinko
Just teasing about the flabby bass, I didn't mean to inspire you to lean into it. :P I like the psych/garage rock vibe. Your vocals are good and the performance fits the style great but I think you could have even played it up some more and slid around vocally and added some more sneer and attitude. I like the bridge breakdown, nice and eerie. I wish it had more distinctly transitioned out of the bridge, feels like it just kinda slides out to the next part. Overall though I enjoy this one. Vote!

Pigfarmer Jr
Nice sound, acoustics sound great, everything sounds good and is played well. The singing is pretty good, still some pitch issues here and there. It'd be great to hear some Hammond organ fleshing things out in the background at times. I'm half/half on the lyrics, sometimes I think they're treating the subject matter well, sometimes maybe it's a little too on the nose. I guess by the end I like them on the whole. Nice ending.

Shane Lizard
I like the live feel, the instruments create a nice atmosphere. I wish the vocals were a little quieter or maybe that the drums were louder. This hums along smoothly although there are points where it kinda sounds like one or two instruments are playing a wrong note or missing a chord change or something. There's also a weird moment where the song starts to fade but quickly gets really loud again and then goes back to fading out. Anyway, production and performance stuff aside, fine song.

Third Cat
More good atmosphere, with the drums and and the delayed guitar. Good ambience on the vocals. I really like the drum fills and the drums in general. Really enjoying the melodies and lyric. Interesting bridge breakdown. I had been feeling like maybe this was a bit too sparse right before that but then that change came in at just the right time. Overall really liked this one. Vote!

Tim Hinkle
I like the approach in the lyrics. Overall this is pretty decent. I think there are some instrument tuning issues that detract a bit for me, as well as the fake strings sound, and some minor mixing issues. The vocal I think is too loud and dry and forward. Good singing though. I'm a little torn about the theatricality of it, on the one hand that kind of turns me off but on the other hand the lyrics actually draw me in and make me care about the narrator in a way that other theatrical one-off songs often don't. I'd be interested to learn more about what musical this could be a part of.

Vowl Sounds
There is some kind of weird pop/click noise on the attack of your kick drum. I like the ambience on Owl's voice, wish there were more of that on Vom's. Great vocals in the chorus. Some of the panned left/right backing vocals are a bit overwhelmingly loud. Vom's singing sounds a bit blasé to me at times though in a way that for me doesn't match well with Owl's. Not sure if that's intentional or not, it doesn't quite seem like that makes sense for his character but I could be misreading the lyric. With most of the singing so good the pitch issues in some of the solo vocal verse moments jump out a bit more. The vocals are so rich and enjoyable anyway though that when the go away in the bridge the song feels a little lifeless for a moment. That part could stand to have a rousing instrumental melody played on several instruments or something. The ending feels a bit abrupt too. But whatever, it's really enjoyable, the whole overall instrumentation and vibe and melodies and vocal arrangement and lyrics, all good stuff. Very ambitious for a song fight entry too. Vote!
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Fri Mar 29, 2019 3:03 am

thehipcola wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:50 am
Vowl Sounds – Backing vox are a bit too loud – they jump out and distract.
Lunkhead wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:15 pm
Some of the panned left/right backing vocals are a bit overwhelmingly loud.
I checked this mix on three different sets of speakers and my recording headphones before submitting it and it sounded fine on all of them, but as soon as I listened back on my normal earbud-type headphones later I noticed that the backing vocals are ridiculously loud. Sorry about that, I guess I need to do even more checks! Thanks for the feedback all, this one definitely needs a bit of a remix.
Lunkhead wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:15 pm
I like the ambience on Owl's voice, wish there were more of that on Vom's. Vom's singing sounds a bit blasé to me at times though in a way that for me doesn't match well with Owl's. Not sure if that's intentional or not, it doesn't quite seem like that makes sense for his character but I could be misreading the lyric.
Trickier to address these ones, both of our vocals are going to the same reverb so possibly just the result of being recorded on different mics in different rooms?
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by MicahSommer » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:46 am

My friends, this fight is loaded with goodness - I’ve had so much fun listening, so many great songs.

Here are my reviews!

Berkeley Social Scene - I guess I’m the only one here for whom the Rhodes doesn’t really do anything. Once the other instruments come in, the sound is quite pleasant and there’s some very nice playing and singing throughout as usual. The last minute of the song feels unnecessary - I was ready for the song to be over after that last chorus, only to have to sit through a long outro jam. Lyrically, it seems odd to lean so hard into the “virtual and online life is destroying our souls” in Song Fight of all places - none of us would be hearing this song now without the technological advances you lament. And on a technical note, rhyming “HAVE left” with “beREFT” annoys me every time. If it was a one-time thing I’d let it slide, but it’s the main vocal hook and it keeps coming back.

Chumpy - I love this. Great riffs, great vocal hooks, great lyrics. I like your semi-affected vocal delivery too, which works well for this particular song. I’d suggest opening with just the guitar riff and bringing the drums in with the vocals.

Geech Sorensen - Very nice! I’m impressed that you managed to save the chorus for almost two minutes into the song, but it’s so worth it when it comes. The syncopated “come on, come on”s got stuck in my head instantly. The lyrics throughout are great, and I love the first line “What kind of question is that?” dropping the listener right into the middle of things without any context. This is a great song and I looked forward to listening each time it came around.

Glennny - Instrumentally there’s a lot to like here. The backing track is well put together as usual and I love the fills between verses. The vocals really drag things down, though. The frog-opera voice doesn’t work for me at all, and the chorus, while catchy enough, suffers from some noticeable pitch issues, especially on the word “impossible” and in the backing vocals.

Hampshire Cape - Smooooooth guitar and organ interplay, beautiful laid-back track. The vocals are pretty buried in the mix and what I was able to make out reminded me a bit too much of Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” but if I gave up trying to hear the lyrics I enjoyed this one very much. The walk-up to the IV chord in the middle of the chorus is so so satisfying every time.

Mandibles - I’m truly impressed by the musicianship on display (both the vocals and the guitar) as well as the sheer ambition of this track. The highlight is the vocal-guitar interplay during the Mozart quotation - truly excellent stuff. The drums need need need need to be so much louder - it sounds like you’re embarrassed by them and want to bury them in the mix. They need to be heard! The vocal technique is of course excellent, but when your vocals are double-tracked they often don’t line up rhythmically, which makes it very hard to decipher the lyrics, especially in dense lines like “Locked in a room that will serve as your tomb…” Finally, when the male vocal comes out in front for the “This isn’t real life” coda, it is a very jarring change from the rest of the song, when he’s either way back in the mix or else doing the growly talk-singing in the chorus. In general, the mix feels haphazard.

mc3p0 - I enjoyed listening to this one. To me, you have enough variety that it feels like there’s an arc to it, and even without lyrics it feels like a thought-out complete composition. At the same time, there’s enough repetition that it feels cohesive and unified. I’m not always in the mood to listen to the whole thing, but when I am, I like it.

Micah Sommersmith - It’s me! Yeah, the more I listen back, the less the piano-and-drums backing track works. Maybe I’ll revisit this with a different backing track at some point. I had fun constructing the lyrics. A behind-the-scenes note: I originally had the line “here comes trouble swooping like a terrapin,” and when fact-checking my lyrics I was highly disappointed to learn that a terrapin is not a bird of prey but is instead a (much less intimidating) turtle. My wife supplied me with the word “peregrine” which thankfully fit in the rhyme scheme and was probably what I was subconsciously thinking of all along. I narrowly missed my own Lil Yachty “blow me like a cello” moment. Phew.

OG Lawn Darts - Nice jam, great for sitting back and relaxing, with or without chemical assistance. :) I enjoy your confident yet relaxed vocal delivery, although the melody itself doesn’t do a lot for me. I do enjoy the “Can’t shut ‘em out, can’t let ‘em in” hook though. On the whole, this song is a nice way to let four minutes go by.

Paco del Stinko - Honestly, it was difficult for me to get through this one. The relentless sludginess really wore me down. The song never kicks into high gear but it barely pauses for breath either, except briefly in the bridge. So throughout the song I’m completely on edge. That’s probably the effect you were going for, but it did not result in an enjoyable listen for me at all.

Pigfarmer Jr - Great acoustic guitar as always. I like the opening riff quite a lot. Your vocal performance is confident and compelling too. Lyrically, it doesn’t feel fully formed. What I think you’re going for is less “Look how great I am for doing nice things” and more “Why is it that sometimes I’m motivated to do nice things and sometimes I’m not,” which might be me reading into the text with the meaning I wanted to find.
Shane Lizard - This song didn’t make a huge impression on me - I enjoyed it well enough each time I listened but it sort of slipped out of my head pretty quickly after it was done. I was bothered by the vocal phrasing of the title hook - “Is THIS real LIFE,” where the word “real” gets crammed into a tiny unstressed eighth note with no room to breathe.

Third Cat - This chorus is a stone cold Cat-sterpiece. I’ve had it stuck in my head a lot this past week. I wish the rest of the song lived up to the chorus. The lackluster verse melody and the stop-and-start accompaniment make it hard to get into the song and really enjoy it.

Tim Hinkle - Yessssssss. I love the cello-and-mandolin (or whatever) accompaniment, which lends this song an ancient solemn air. The vocal melody is so satisfying, especially at places like “Will kind hands lower me down? / Will I hear laughter as I drown?” Someone else mentioned musical theater, and indeed I get that feeling more than I do opera, but that’s just fine. This whole song is just so artfully constructed. Oh, and the rhyme schemes too! I love this song so much.

Vowl Sounds - This was the song I didn’t know I needed this week. I didn’t think much of it at first listen; the lyrics felt overly simplistic in comparison to what I’m used to hearing from Owl/Vowl Sounds. But it grew on me steadily and now it makes me so happy every time I hear it. Part of it, no doubt, is outside the song itself: we’re just getting out of a truly miserable winter and the flowers blooming everywhere are exactly what I need right now. And it’s so much fun to sing along to! I don’t love the mix, and Owl’s vocal is so high and light that it’s quite hard to make out most of her words.

Hard to pick a favorite this round - It’d be a shame to see Vowl Sounds’ perfect record come to an end, but at the same time, Tim Hinkle has been waiting a long time for a win and delivers a fantastic song this round. Chumpy, Geech Sorensen, and Hampshire Cape round out my top tier, though honestly the rest of the pack isn’t that far behind!
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by owl » Fri Mar 29, 2019 3:58 pm

MicahSommer wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:46 am
I originally had the line “here comes trouble swooping like a terrapin”
omg this made my day

(well this and reading about the also-bungled response to the cello mixup)
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by codywalkerjr » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:15 pm

BSS-Excellent Production. Catchy Melody , Awesome Vocals and Harmonies! Beautiful Electric Piano Work. Very Climatic Ending.

Chumpy- Another great mix! You have such a great voice. I really enjoyed your lyrics and Choice of vocal melody. Very high end production. Not sure if you doubled your voice or used some delay but I love the smoothness and how it effortlessly sits in the mix .guitar and bass are so incredibly well done, I'm super impressed . my favorite this week.



Geech- So far I'm blown away with the quality of mixes this week this is no exeption. I'm loving your approach on this song. Takes me to the 90s/ early 2000s.cool electric piano
Very nice drumming too. It's not overpowering, Just subtle pocket grooving. Chorus melody is very catchy. Usually I dont like too much noodling over vocals but theres space in this song for the 2 melodys. This is a song you have to listen to a few times to appreciate. My close 2nd favorite this week. Great Job.


Pig- Love the nostalgic guitar riff. Another tune that transports me to the 90s and 2000s. Your voice is really good this week. This is a super catchy song

Glenny- First thing I think is "The Police''. Really digging your 80s reggae vibe. Great choice of chords and harmonics. The Acoustic guitar is a big player in this song and I like that. I love the different voices at play. The skat section was cool.. Lots of good percussion textures like the Agogo in there.. Nice job!

Mandibles- Definitely the most complex tune of the week. I can feel the tremendous effort put into this piece. Definitely captured the Queen vibe here.. Vocally and especially the excellent guitar work. Your operatic voice was very accurate and pleasing tone. (Mezzo Soprano?) Not sure the proper terminology. I'm guessing you and your group are classically trained? I enjoyed it very much.

MC3P0-intense energy immediately! Lots of really neat textures. I don't mind a synth instrumental now and again. What machines were you using? Id love to pick your brain. I'm new to the synth world

Micah-I feel like this is a clear mix but lacking in the low end. It's good piano work but kinda sounds Whitey Tightey with the combo of the drum beat and vox. I guess I'm the only person thats tired of hearing people complain about the President..

OGLawnDarts- Really love everything about this song. Textures are great. Made it unique for a reggae tune. Love the samples of Queen peppered in. Nice work!

Paco Del Stinko- sludgy feel. Liking the atmosphere of the tune. As usual your song stands out as a unique and complex arrangement. I dig the sizzle of the the overheads. The drum mix is excellent. Great guitar tone. Overall great song

TC Elliot- You kinda have a southern draw to your sound Being from Florida I dig that Americana /Outlaw Country vibe. I like the simplicity of the drums. They sit nice in the mix.overall a great song with a nice guutar sound

Shane Lizard.. Ok, This may sound strange but Im getting a Mac Demarco Vibe. The first 2 line of the lyrics sounded a touch clice but got much better into the tune. How did you record this? It sounds like tape? It has a lofi
Feel that I like a lot. Great tune

Third Cat- my daughters favorite tune this week. Nice light groove. Again, another great mix. Liked this song a lot. Especially the delay guitar in the backround.

Tim Hinkle- nice deep voice! Very good choice of instruments. I picture myself on a large wooden ship drinking a warm beer in the 1600s.. I think this is the most creative submission this week. Your voice belongs on Disney movies! I mean that as a compliment! Cool tune

Vowl- oh Fun, a Duet! for me, the vocals are the highlight of this tune! Great harmonies! Really! I can hear that there was a lot of effort in this song as well. I reallybdig the synth work here. Great textures


My Votes this week will go to the songs that I simply enjoyed listening to. ease of listening and Catchy Melodies is what I needed this week.

BSS
Chumpy
Geech
OG Lawn Darts
TC
Tim
Shane
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:10 pm

MicahSommer wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:46 am
Pigfarmer Jr - What I think you’re going for is less “Look how great I am for doing nice things” and more “Why is it that sometimes I’m motivated to do nice things and sometimes I’m not,”
Exactly that. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by neutronflow » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:33 pm

I listened through all the songs a third time today and finally wrote up some comments. I voted after my second listen through, though (wasn't sure I was going to manage to get the time to write things up).

Berkeley Social Scene: I love the solo and the chorus melody. This is one of several songs that I wasn't keen on my first times through but I enjoyed much more today. I think maybe I was not in the right mind space for mellower offerings. The subject of this is still doing nothing for me, though. I think I'm pretty burnt out on people talking about how we're all glued to our phones nowadays.

Chumpy: This is my favorite from this fight and has been since my first listen. This has a wonderful, catchy melody and great, clever lyrics. The ending seems a bit abrupt. Downloaded and voted for.

Geech Sorensen: This has a very pretty melody. I'm finding it soothing rather than exciting and that's worked against it as far as making me want to vote for it. Which makes me second guess my vote allocation, but I'd still rather not wind up picking too many songs.

Glennny: This has grown on me a lot since my first play through all the songs. I think I'd vote for it today, but I hadn't yet come around on it at the time. I really like the lyrics, particularly "You gotta look in the mirror/If you ever want to be handsome/You gotta keep growing old/If you ever want to meet your grandson." The vocals seem silly and there are a couple of words/phrases in the lyrics that seem like words that would be connected to silly ideas (Pigfarmer called out "jonesing" earlier), but it's not actually a silly song so I think it winds up coming across a bit like a serious drama program with a laugh track. Now I'm thinking the characters can hear the laugh track too... My co-worker who has been listening to the fights I submit something to said this was her favorite this time. Downloaded today.

Hampshire Cape: Very nice sound from the guitar and organ here. The song doesn't do much for me, though. It's very pleasant as a background.

Mandibles: I love this. It's just tremendous fun. Coincidentally, I saw a production of The Magic Flute a few days before these songs posted. Downloaded and voted for.

mc3p0: This isn't really my kind of thing. It goes on longer that I personally find it interesting. There's an ominous sound I quite like at about 2:30. The section from about 2:45 - 3:30 seems the most interesting bit.

Micah Sommersmith: I love your rapping on this. I think you've got a perfectly arch tone that makes the delivery of such darkness quite palatable. There are a couple of phrases that I had trouble making out without reading the lyrics, though (I heard "Comin' in the White House" rather than "Conmen in the White House," etc.) The chorus melody is wonderfully catchy. Downloaded and voted for.

OG Lawn Darts: I found this very pleasant to listen to. It's a background kind of vibe, though, rather than something that really keeps my attention. When I noticed the Queen sample, I sat up and took notice. It seemed quite neat the first time, but a became a bit more grating each time it recurred.

Paco del Stinko: I like most of this a lot. The guitar break is excellent. I really enjoyed your delivery of several phrases as well: "Sometimes I know things aren't what they seem/Every day is more of the same" stands out as does "cigarette butts in the shower drain." The four repeated "Is This the Real Life?"s did not engage me, though, and I think my reception of the song suffered because it started that way. The ending seems a bit abrupt, the song felt like it sort of petered out.

Pigfarmer Jr: Musically, this is pleasant enough. Not my favorite of yours but solid. The lyrics aren't working. I like the very first line, though; taking "change" as a double meaning with coins and change that betters the world is really appealing.

Shane Lizard: This has a very haphazard sound to it, which I kind of like (I think I've put together a number of things that sound a bit like this over the years). The fade-out put me in mind of the fade-in on The Smiths' "Some Girls are Bigger Than Others," but it doesn't quite sound on purpose enough. Be kinda fun if you go to rework this track to lean into that rather than do it the expected way, maybe? (Also maybe not of course...)

Third Cat: I feel like this really sounds like what it's about. Everything that's going on fits together in a coherent context. It's lovely. Downloaded and voted for.

Tim Hinkle: Me. I feel like I hit pretty squarely what I was aiming for (a vaguely Les Mis/Andrew Lloyd Webber sort of thing that let me have a go at some faux opera singing). I'm not sure how well this song would work outside this context, though (I don't think I'd be likely to put it in a setlist if I had a gig). I am playing a mandolin and the cello is, indeed, fake (it's a VST Mellotron I'm playing via MIDI keyboard).

Vowl Sounds: I love this. You two tend to be very much aligned with a kind of thing I like to listen to. Downloaded and voted for.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Geech » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:17 am

First, I am pretty new to all this SF stuff, but let me just say that the Jerks’ podcast might be the best individual thing about SF. It’s so well-produced - it significantly elevates the perceived level of the contributed songs. What may have been unlistenable on their own are now easily digested in snippets, colored with insightful commentary.

I am going to skip the BSS song, where I played lead guitar, and my song.

Chumpy - This sounds like 90s guitar-based psych-pop that never made it big. Like Jellyfish. There’s an obvious anglophile tip. It sounds really bright and clear. Great guitar playing and overall interplay with the other instruments. I don’t quite understand the mellow bit in the middle - it seems out of place to me at this length. Cool that you hit that high note as you go into the breakdown - that part totally works. I wanted Sam to hit that in the BSS track but it didn’t happen. I guess my one problem, which is minor, is generally how shiny and perfect it sounds. And that is the typical problem with power pop. A lack of edge and dirt.

Glennny - This song is insane. The drum track is amazing and really threw me from the start. I was into it until your kermit voice came in. Why did you do that? I like your falsetto background vocals. There are colors in your palette that have never occurred to me even exist. It’s kind of incredible how much you got into this short piece without it just being nonsensical. That said, you are on the edge and need an editor. Overall, there is something absurd about this track - definitely a Ween influence to me here.

Hampshire Cape - There is a California 70s singer/songwriter vibe all over this. Jackson Browne, James Taylor, etc. I guess my problem with this is that I don’t think it progresses very far. This song could just as easily end after 2 minutes.

Mandibles - The first riff I was confused by, I don’t know where the hook is or how it links to the verse. The rock opera start with the “Sing like your life depends on it” is the beginning of the end for me. Just not my cup of tea. I saw Rent on Broadway back in the day and I wanted to vomit during it. The opera singing and metal guitar starting at 2:50, I had to take a break. The drums needed to be stronger. The double kick drum had to be pulverizing, but they were weak. I had to stop there. Obviously, you crushed the optional challenge, but this whole thing is an attempt at maximalism I just can’t abide.

mc3po - There is a lot of cool stuff in here. Great flow. I am really impressed - I just don’t know how this is a singular song. Especially one with this title. The hooks need to be more obvious and repeat. Otherwise it’s soundtrack material. Cool hand claps - you could have just as easily submitted this for Whichever, Whenever with that optional challenge.

Micah - Is this song at a low volume? I had to turn up after mc3p0 from the jukebox. It’s bold to rap about politics over a percussive piano and minimalist trap kit. You seem a contemporary version of Mark Russell - for those unaware, he was a political humorist who often sang vaudeville-style over a grand piano a generation ago.

OG Lawn Darts - I am not a reggae fan, but I am trying here. I like your chorus, especially how distinct it is from the verse. The psychedelic part is confusing. Not sure what the point of that is. I like how you stretch “at all” past the beat.

Paco - You seem like a psycho living in hovel in this tune. Starting with the chorus, though, is a move of weakness. It says to me that the other parts are not going to be memorable. The crazy double guitar solo I dig; I don’t think that sort of thing is done enough. The psychedelic breakdown fits the bad trip vibe really well.

Pigfarmer Jr - I like the acoustic guitar work. The intro/chorus guitar has a nice memorable line to it. “Is this real life” is a nice vocal hook. The lyrics overall are just too earnest for me. You need more of a style change in the bridge. It didn’t take the song very far from where it came. Lyrically, cliches abound - “Think to myself”, “be the change”, “I guess I don’t understand”, etc.

Shane Lizard - There is something charming about this song. It barely hangs together - and is about to fall apart at any moment. I would liken the whole thing to a dream more than a song actually. And, in a way, that is a perfect vibe for the title.

Third Cat - You remind me of Jens Lenkmann. The echo guitar is really nice, along with the swells. The change to the upbeat chorus is significant but definitely works. The breakdown I am not sure about, but you work your way out of it. I do like the layering of the “Stuck in A Cave” vocals before you return to the chorus.

Tim Hinkle - This reminded me a lot of Magnetic Fields. An impossibly deep voice, peculiar instrumentation with various kinds of classical stringed instruments used in diverse ways. None of the typical rockist fare. I think you really hit what you were looking for here, but as a singular song, I wish there were more hooks.

Vowl Sounds - Your singing styles are really different. Maybe too different when heard apart, but together you have a nice blend. The driving chorus is intense; it would have been cool to hear with a full drum kit.

The songs I was involved with notwithstanding, my faves are Chumpy and Third Cat. Songs I didn’t dig as much but I thought were successful in what they were trying to achieve are from Tim Hinkle, Vowl Sounds, Shane Lizard and Paco.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Chumpy » Sun Mar 31, 2019 8:14 am

Big shout outs to everyone who wrote reviews this time around! I really enjoyed reading everyone's perspective on all the songs.
thirdcatmusic wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:25 am
(I also think I realized that I had confused Chumpy with Ryan in my review maybe?)
Ryan hates the sounds of his own voice, which is why I almost always sing lead. It's debatable if I sing even even marginally better than Ryan -- I just have no shame.
Lunkhead wrote:
Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:15 pm
I love the brushed drums, is that just the Logic drummer or some other trickery?
Logic dummer. I convert the stuff the algorithmic dummer comes up with to MIDI and edit it slightly to make it fit beginnings and endings of sections better. But Logic mostly figures out what to do based on the names of the song's arrangement markers.
Geech wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:17 am
I don’t quite understand the mellow bit in the middle - it seems out of place to me at this length.
My inspiration for the song is that feeling you get when you wake up from a dream where you're a totally different person, and for just a brief moment while the dream is fading, and your reality comes back to you, you might legitimately wonder which was which.

Musically I wanted to achieve this feeling through playing with modal interchange. The song is mostly in A Major, with different sections leaning on borrowed chords from A Mixolydian and A Minor. The first verse (reality) has a mostly Major tonality, and the second verse (fantasy) has a more Minor/Mixolydian feel except on the word "dies" where the harmony shifts back abruptly back to Major to try to evoke the feeling of being jerked back to reality. There is only one instance of each verse type to keep the song from getting too long, as well as to make it feel uncertain which one was the "real" verse, if that makes any sense.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by glennny » Sun Mar 31, 2019 11:23 am

come on Paco!
come on Shane Lizard!

we are close to having 100% of participants writing (or podcasting) reviews for this fight!
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:27 am

Mandibles win!
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by owl » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:21 am

Congrats Mandibles! Well deserved.
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:25 am

Congrats Mandibles! You crushed us all with your operatic might!
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:38 am

Yeah!

Side note, I want to contest glennny's assertion that "Hey Ya" is in 11/4. I disagree!! I think it's 3 measures of 4/4, a measure of 2/4, then two measure of 4/4. Sure, that's 22 total beats, but no way would anybody transcribe or count that as 11/4. :P
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Re: No escape from the reality of (Is This Real Life Reviews)

Post by thirdcatmusic » Wed Apr 03, 2019 11:55 am

Congrats Mandibles !
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