Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

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Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

But some reviews would be pretty darn cool.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Lunkhead »

Songs posted!
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

Oh, right. Lyric thread: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11745
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Lunkhead »

ShoehornTC's entry that was submitted on time got lost due to a Fightmaster inbox snafu or something. It's been recovered and added to the fight.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by shoehornTC »

thanks for all you do!!!
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by sleepysilverdoor »

Amby Moho: Oh hey! I missed having you around, your entries from last fall were delightful. So about this one, you’ve got these wild shifting vocal harmonies that sound super warpy and weird in the best possible way. Have you ever heard of the band “Applesauce Tears”? They’re an Atlanta area group that mines similar sonic territory, and you may enjoy them. This song has springtime written all over it. The lyrics are kind of hard to make out, partially due the warpiness, but I don’t care because the texture is doing it for me. I’m curious what the half spoken robot-y sound is. Is that jangly thing in the back half a heavily pitch shifted guitar? Nice harmonies throughout. I like the change up around the 2:25 ish mark. I’m trying to find something to seriously criticize here and I’m coming up short. Maybe the ending seems a bit abrupt -- it doesn’t really have much conclusion? I don’t care though, VOTE.

Berkeley Social Scene: Bass is a bit loud in the mix, drums are a bit soft in the mix, I’d bring the guitar up slightly and turn the vocals down slightly. But that’s my “mixing criticism” that I seem to unleash on everyone, and then submit super muddy weirdly mixed entries. I like the synth sound that’s moving around in the vocals. Wish it was slightly louder though! Oh well. The false ending is a bit unnecessary. I kind of wish the song ended there but it keeps going? Anyway. I like the melody, and the chorus is pretty strong. I read through the lyrics and they’re decent, but not super memorable (I like memorable). I still get your “Four Corners” song stuck in my head, by the way. Damn good tune.

Brown Word and the Big Whine: For one, I really like the percussion in this track. And the horns are a nice addition, and definitely something new for you! I’ve been thinking about cults a lot lately, what with this whole “new comet by the end of the month thing”. Actually just yesterday I read through the transcript of “Last Chance To Evacuate Earth Before It Is Recycled” by Do/Marshall Applewhite. It was weird because it spent so much time being *almost* coherent. I could see how someone who may be a bit impaired in their critical thinking skills could listen to that and end up putting on their Nikes and drinking phenobarbitol so they could get on the spaceship. Or something. Oh yeah -- the song. It’s good! Probably not the catchiest thing in the world, I enjoyed your last two songs a little bit more, but this is a maybe vote.

CazaroTaro: CazaroTaro is back with more bouncy robot new wave jams! I can’t help but grin whenever I heard these songs. Though admittedly I wish the chorus did a little bit more than just sing the title over and over, and the transition into “everything” seems about a measure premature. But that’s subjective. I do find the insistence on sticking so strictly to the I-IV-V melody in the verses charming. And there’s a synth solo! Woohoo! I feel like this song is missing some special ingredient to really be awesome, but I can’t tell you what it is? Hmm. Maybe a stronger chorus. I think that’s it. Another “maybe vote”.

Evil Grin: This sounds a lot like one of your previous entries but I couldn’t tell you exactly which one. The lyrics are good at evoking the “sad breakup falling apart” vibe. I like the bit about the puddle. One thing that I would change in a song like this is make it sound a little bit...sadder. Cause the music sounds pretty happy, and the vocal delivery sounds fairly upbeat. You don’t sound sad at all singing about all this sad stuff! I feel like this kind of break up song would have benefitted from a part alternating male lines and female lines or something. Compositionally it’s decent and I like the little guitar solo runs.

Gaping Maw: Okay, the drums in this are all shuffly and bouncy and going nuts. Which is a thing that usually makes me happy. I kind of wish that the vocals were a little bit higher in the mix when they come in cause they’re kind of buried by the bass. Though maybe my ears are a bit too waxy. I kind of wish that there was a bit more deviation variation. Oh right when I start wanting a change, you deliver. Another laid back groove of the type that you seem to do the best! I dig the harmonies with “I can’t wait for the sun” bit. And the kind of free-flowing rhymes that follow sound terrific to my ears. Wait, another change up? This is like three songs thrown together. But it all seems to work together to me, and I dig the overall vibe so much! The funky guitar rhythm and vocal stylings of the second half is working well for me. I like this a lot. Vote!

The Gross Tones: Another kind of laid back song with the synth oscillator note duration being tweaked and beep beep beep boop boop boop.I find this song rather pleasant. The tambourine is nice. The general vocal delivery seems to be a little bit flat in the bit preceding “better than everything” the first time that it comes around around the 1:10 ish mark. Is your guitar a little bit out of tune? It sounds like it’s a little out of tune. I feel like this song lacks a certain amount of ...oomph? I think it’s the lack of melodic range in the vocals and generally noodliness. Like during the extended improv sections it’s like it’s the synth and the guitar kind of noodling away at the same time and it kind of clashes. I enjoy the slide work on the guitar. All in all this one felt a little unfocused.

Hot Pink Halo: A slow, simple drum beat. This is another one in this fight where I can’t figure out if my ears are gunky (they are) or if the guitar is slightly out tune. But I think it is -- which isn’t really the worst thing in this world, but it usually grabs my attention (I used to tune pianos for money). There are a few timing issues here and there that crop up. Most obviously in the strumming, which seems to rush ahead of the drum machine. I like the switch up in beat that goes on in the chorus. And I’d have mixed the vocals a bit higher in the mix. Now, I say all this realizing that your strong suit is lyrics -- I love them. One, because I love floral imagery. Two because I love springtime imagery, and I love the general hopeful tone that underlies the whole thing. I’m puzzled by the tiger bit though. Still, great lyrics!

James Owens: This one has this kind of sunny 60s vibe to it, like something by the Byrds or something. Which is probably what you were going for. The organ is a great touch. While perhaps not the most original song in the world -- and really there’s only so much you can do with the limited palette of chords -- I do enjoy it. Some of the backing vocals are a bit pitchy and perhaps a steadier falsetto would have benefitted things a bit. I like the stylistically appropriate guitar solo. As for the lyrics? Well, they’re certainly scathing. The Donald has not handled this well at all, has he? So inconsistent! So bombastic! So contradictory!

The Lowest Bitter: I feel like I said “this sounds like something that the college radio station I used to work at” is something I said last week but it’s definitely true this time around. Personally I’m not super huge on the repeated “oh no” bit. I don’t know if it’s the vocal timbre adopted for it or just the melody. Or maybe even the way that it’s mixed. The synth is pretty cool, but it feels kind of muddy. Lyrically I like the juxtaposition of the guided meditation bit with the musings on pandemic anxiety. Though while the lyrics suggest anxiety, nothing about the track suggests anxiety at all! So I’m not sure how this one is to make me feel. I want to like it more than I do. I feel like I’d like this more if it made me anxious, but it doesn’t make me feel anxious at all.

Mandibles: This is produced a little bit better than the previous entry, and everything is way clearer. I like the chord changes a lot during the “Better than everything I’ve known til now” By and large I really can’t fault this. The vocal harmonies are well executed and are better than most of the falsetto that I hear on SongFight. A sweet poignant, love song. I feel like the arpeggiated acoustic guitar could be just a little bit higher in the mix once it comes in -- it’s kind of buried under the vocals. I like the restraint in holding off on inserting the cymbal crash until the very end of track with the “as long as we’re here”. I can’t not vote for this, even though admittedly it’s not something I’d ever really listen to.

The Pannacotta Army: You know how sometimes you hear a song and you can’t unhear a different song that it sounds like? This sounds a LOT like Weezer’s Island in the Sun, mostly the chord progression and rhythm in the verses. Not that that’s a bad song. The chorus is strong and the lyrics are sweet, especially in the chorus -- but there’s a certain vagueness in which I can’t figure out really how the verses and the chorus fit together in terms of meaning. I guess I like lyrics either really to the point and on the nose or so abstract that all I get is impressions, and this is kind of in that middle ground that doesn’t work for me. The mix is good, the vibe is good, and it was performed well. Maybe it’s just not my thing.

Phlebia: When I wrote this, it was originally a lot slower and had a slightly different bassline. But then I realized I’d accidentally written a “Boys Don’t Cry” soundalike so I sped it up and tweaked the bassline a bit and distorted it. I thought about adding more layers, but the stripped down fuzz bass + drums + vocals seemed to work just fine...and kind of gave off Blink-182 vibes. Not intended, but hey! Seriously, my yard grows some awesome lettuce and spinach. It’s delicious!

Pigfarmer Jr: That soaring “you” in the chorus is well executed, and this is another good, potent breakup song. I particularly like the line about “thinking back I don’t know the straw” bit, it works very well and I’m glad that you repeat it twice. The bit about facebook doesn’t quite flow, but that may have been intentional. I like the slightly higher level of overdrive present on this one. You’re spending more time hitting those more dramatic notes in your upper register than usual and it sounds great to me. Something about the end doesn’t really work well for me, maybe it just feels like it drifts towards the resolution. All in all a solid effort and a maybe vote?

PJ&A: Wait a minute, three entries? But this one is a lot like my (primary) entry this week! Short and to the point! And honestly probably my favorite of the three, if only cause i like the more intense, edgy vibe to it. Where it’s more uptempo and such? And I like how we both talk about pulling weeds, though yours are metaphorical and mine are literal. Yeah I dig the pissed off defiance of this one, vote.

Seaweed Delete: Everything said in this song is something that my son loves. Except for washing dishes, NO IDEA what he’s talking about there. My music tastes have rubbed off on the kid. He really only likes one Deftones song, and that’s their cover of Wax and Wane by Cocteau Twins. It’s a shame that he can’t go to the gym with me anymore. Stupid pandemic. Anyway, he loves playing around on my Volca Sample. And the meowing is a slowed down sample of our cat.

ShoehornTC: Oh hey, 6/8, there’s a chance coming from you. Right away I kind of wish that the vocals were a little bit higher in the mix cause that guitar is kind of drowning them out. Which makes it hard for me to critique your lyrics cause you didn’t post them. I like the melody you use when you shift the song up to the V chord in the progression (blink of an eyeeee). I don’t know exactly what it is about this song, but it’s not really doing much for me. Part of it may be the mix, part of it may be that the guitar is entirely too loud and dominant. Like maybe if it did a little bit more other than drone on that one major chord, I’d like it a little bit better. But by the time it gets to the third chorus, I’m kind of getting bored with the track -- it’s just not an exciting enough musical backdrop to vamp on for that long.

Vom Vorton: The reverb in this is tastefully applied, and makes for a great juxtaposition with the bleary-eyed reflections of a wild night as viewed through a horrid hangover. By the time that it starts and I start to enjoy it, it’s over. In fact I may play through it again because I really enjoy it. You, me, PJ&A -- lots of super short songs in this fight! I hate being hungover, though I do enjoy a stiff beverage every now and again. Did you know alcohol sales are up over 50% as a result of this lockdown business? I worry about my recovering alcoholic friends who can’t go to in person AA meetings. Vote.

----
And now for ratings:
1. Amby Moho
2. Vom Vorton
3. Gaping Maw
Runners-up. Mandibles, PJ&A
"There's a lot to be said about a full-on frontal assault on the ear drums" - Pigfarmer Jr.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by crumpart »

sleepysilverdoor wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 10:49 am
Hot Pink Halo:Now, I say all this realizing that your strong suit is lyrics -- I love them. One, because I love floral imagery. Two because I love springtime imagery, and I love the general hopeful tone that underlies the whole thing. I’m puzzled by the tiger bit though. Still, great lyrics!
Tanks! Tiger = both metaphorically and literally. This is Tadhg.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by thehipcola »

Amby Moho:
Love these chord changes. Vocals are great. Can’t understand most of them on first listen, but I actually don’t care - this is really sweet stuff. Puts me in mind of Flaming Lips - and that’s a compliment. This is really inventive. Great mix, great song craft. Gonna be hard to top this. VOTE

Berkeley Social Scene:
Digging this. Nice road trip tune - nostalgia, mid-tempo driving beat. Wish the drums were a little brighter - otherwise I like the mix. Fun tune - foot tapping quality. Nice! Possible Vote.

Brown Word and the Big Whine: I like the music alot… I’m not into the cartoon-y refrain off the top. No offence if that's just how your voice sounds, but my impression is that it's deliberate. I like the texture the horns give - wish they were in tune in that one spot they aren’t that gets repeated throughout. I love the rolling tom work very cool. Yep - I like it all except the tonality of the vocals. Nothing personal - just not my thing. That said - I think you delivered what you intended to, vocally - it’s well done! Cool track.

CazaroTaro:
This is totally fun. The weird word repeats are quirky and can’t decide if they irk me or add to the song. I like the melody. Wish the chorus filled out a bit wider, deeper. Jury is in - I dig the repeated words. It grabs my attention. Clever. Neat mix of B52’s and Devo with a little Buggles for spice. Not sure I’d listen again - but I enjoyed this.

Evil Grin:
Nice little song. Wish the guitars were spread wide a bit - everything up the middle except the cymbals is …ok…but there’s so much real estate to use! I wish the drums were more front and centre. It’s a decent song - nice work. Doesn’t grab me much though.


Gaping Maw:
Me and Smalltown or Michael or whatever, doing the ol’ 3 part-er. Yep - that’s 5 minutes you’ll never get back. And you’re better for it. Thanks for the reviews in advance and also for the review already in. :)

The Gross Tones:
Love that slide guitar off the top… nice to hear that on SF! Vocals seem pretty messy to me - pitch, timing. I dig the song though. Mix is plainly presented - some more judicious use of panning , eq and dynamics could help things pop a bit more. The slide guitar really is awesome.

Hot Pink Halo:
Cool little groove off the top. Not sure how you are recording but I’d love to set that acoustic guitar back a little bit - it sounds very direct.. do you have a reverb plugin? Might be worth checking that out. Something dissonant in the guitar part - is it in tune perfectly? Ahhh the release when the voices come in around 1:45 is sweet. Not grabbed by this but nice work.

James Owens:
Nice song in the style of 60’s pop. Creative use of chord progressions that have no qualms representing an era to this listener. A little loose in terms of timing in places. Great melody and harmonies throughout. Doesn’t grab me for repeated listens but solid effort and a song with a more complex structure than we normally hear. Cool.

The Lowest Bitter:
Modulated filter play off the top is ear catching…. Oh no - diction again. Must be your style. I have a hard time figuring out what you’re singing which let’s my mind wander. Cool production though. I wonder what the connection is between the breathing exercise sample and your lyrics? Guess I’ll never know.

Mandibles:
Cute! Seems like a song from a musical. Nice job all over this. I like the sparse arrangement until the first chorus - tasty. Lovely voices. This is really nicely executed. Possible Vote.

The Pannacotta Army:
Sweet little easy feeling track! I dig this alot. I’m not sure the breakbeat interlude adds anything - I’d rather have heard something not from outside this sweet sounding folk-y vibe you have going on.
Great job. Possible Vote.


Phlebia:
The juxtaposition between the bland vocal delivery and the dirg-y backing music is awesome. Great chorus, and you didn’t overstay your welcome. Dig this. Possible Vote.

Pigfarmer Jr:
I can appreciate this as a basic garden variety song - but up until the chorus it sounds like so much mid-tempo light rock . That’s fine - just not my bag executed in this way. The chorus with the doubled voice perks things up for me.. I like the chorus chords. Nothing offensive about this song - ably recorded, decently mixed, satisfactorily sang. It jsut doesn’t move me though.

PJ&A:
Cool - bit of spice here. I like the guitar tones. Great melody - but I want more variety between sections, melodically - and more grit and edge vocally. It’s delivered the same through the whole song which works against keeping my interest. Nice short song - and I like it all. Improve the vocals to have punch and bite and variety and it’s an awesome song. Fwiw - I dig your voice!

Seaweed Delete:
I dig that crunch on the drum loop or whatever it is. Cool textures in here. Is this a child? Ha ha awesome! That’s an awesome list, though admittedly I only could make out about half of it. Nice bright spot of music in otherwise tough times. Sweet. :)

ShoehornTC:
Charming! I like the slow beat of the lyric delivery - it’s clever and works well. There’s pitch issues and a general looseness that somehow adds to the charm. Lovely ode to the "awesome" of making music. Nice!


Vom Vorton:
I like the mix of analog sounding noise/hiss with chimey, hopeful guitars. Short and sweet. Also lovely and compelling. Not always sold on the vocal - but in the end you won me over, as it fit the song nicely. Great job. Possible Vote.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Smalltown Mike »

I’m going to … try … to be a little more honest in these, not just say “nice song”. That’s what we want, right? Constructive criticism? To get better? We’ve got thick skin? Also, I sprained my foot yesterday getting the case of beer that was delivered to my front porch, so I’m stupid.

Mandibles
I was expecting some rap on this from that little guitar groove. This is really interesting — it’s great when the second voice comes in. Here’s my thought — the male voice is too earnest. The vocals are so 80s ballad when it comes in, but I think the song is more than that. The emotion is too heartfelt. So maybe try a different approach on that? But you may have one of my votes.

CazaroTaro
This is about as 80s as it gets — but for me it falls a bit flat. I think it needs some variety in the way the vocals are delivered and the chorus needs to go somewhere. I bet it was fun to do though, and that’s something

Seaweed Delete
Oh yea, this is the chaos we need right now. My favourite line is “Going to the beach, playing with the keyboard.” Some variety in the music would be good, but the vocals are spot-on and I dug it. Thanks for this — you may have a vote.

Berkeley Social Scene

Another great start — though I got just a hint of the Friends’ theme in the first couple seconds of this, which I now can’t get out of my head. This is REALLY good. Everything fits together really well. I can hear a bit of … synths or something … which I want a little more of. I think the verse is better than the chorus, though I like the last line of the chorus. Let’s see where it goes in the bridge: I do like a guitar solo (I’m that age) but I guess I expected something in there. Honestly, it seems like the easy way out (though the solo is good). But you may have one of my votes. I think this is the best one I’ve heard from y’all. WAIT! What is this at the end? 3:22 on? It feels like it doesn’t fit.

The Pannacotta Army
Nice clean start. I would bring the vocals up slightly, and dial the percussion back just slightly. Ohhhh you get me with that simple handclap and the ooooohs. I like this groove. Lovely. Actually the percussion is fine, though you might vary the dynamics. That little half-time groove at the end is good. You may have one of my votes.

James Owens
Your harmonies are working well on this again, but … this is a strange song. (Great solo.) I go back and forth while listening to it — digging it, not digging it. Generally I think maybe the mix is a little light; not enough guitars, the drums don’t hit, where’s the bass? I think your vocals need a little more presence, be a little more upfront — but then I’m really digging those ever-present harmonies. Sounds like i just told you to turn everything up, so what do I know?

Evil Grin
This is going to be a bit harsh, but … you can take it. For a love song this feels like there’s a lot of cliches. It doesn’t feel like it’s written about a real relationship — it feels like a collection of lines from other songs. I need to hear some details that makes it truer. The two vocals work really well together. The melody is nice enough. Even the guitar lead, which is lovely, feels too familiar.

Phlebia
I’m really struggling with this. The vocals really don’t entice me whatsoever. The music could be interesting, but it’s buried behind vocals that don’t seem to be committed.

Vom Vorton
I don’t know what it means to feel worse than nothing. Your vocals seem slightly distorted. That was over before I could really understand the groove of the song.

Pigfarmer Jr
A little more bass. This is interesting enough, and sounds good enough; I think your lyrics need more. There seem to be some cliches throughout, and I’m not really buying that this is a real situation. There aren’t details that make be believe this. Entirely listenable.


ShoehornTC
Great start, neat voice with well-done double-tracking. Great Cake-like guitar. This is really good. I guess my only thought is that I want more from the percussion — a little more presence. I really like this. Great progression in the chorus. But … you may have one of my votes.


Hot Pink Halo
I like the percussion, but it doesn’t really fit with the song. There seem to be some persistent timing issues here; everything needs to be tightened up a bit. It gets more interesting with the backing vocals, but I think it really needs to be tightened.

Amby Moho
Good groove off the start, the vocals are working for me — oh, but not the weird robotic vocal thing. No, thank you. All right, I’ll backtrack on that — the robot vocal thing is more interesting the second time it comes in. My complaint is that this doesn’t really go somewhere; it’s very samey throughout and needs a stronger ending.

Brown Word and the Big Whine
Love that horn line. Digging the vocals a lot, though they they could be a bit more upfront. I’m loving the sloppiness of this, the looseness and the groove. Digging the structure — the bars of drum groove. Listening again on a sunny day on my porch — is that backwards guitar at the beginning? My only complaint is that this could be longer. Excellent. You may have one of my votes.

PJ&A
Love the guitar tone, great beginning, great mix overall. Sometimes you sound slightly out of breath with the lines, and some variety in the deliver would be good — but the vocals are great. That solo left me wanting more, in fact the whole song did. Great ending, great tune. Your vocals are always at the same intensity so some variety in dynamics would be good. You may have a vote.

The Gross Tones
Immediately thought of Free Bird when this started. There seem to be some timing issues that’s really muddying this up — almost feels like a couple diferent songs playing at the same time. That pulsating whatever-it-is kind of bugged me in the last song, but it’s downright pissing me off in this one.

The Lowest Bitter
I really like the beginning — though i don’t entirely get the connection between the found audio and the rest of the song. There’s a bit of a nasally quality to your vocals that doesn’t work for me in the first verse but you seem to fix it in the second verse; vocals are better. Fade out — nooooooo, it’s too soon. Another part would have been good (though I like the way it fades out with the found/ sampled audio continuing. Over all, pretty good. You may get a vote, not sure yet.

Gaping Maw
Oh fuck, really, another new band name from me and Rob? Yes. We do like our new band names and new directions.
Punk rock is for children. Grab a six-pack at Half-a-Dozen Records.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Lunkhead »

Smalltown Mike wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:34 am
Berkeley Social Scene
WAIT! What is this at the end? 3:22 on? It feels like it doesn’t fit.
Oh wow, yeah, wtf is that? The song was supposed to end at 3:22. I must have screwed up the start/stop points when I did the export from Cubase. Thanks for mentioning it, will fix.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Smalltown Mike »

Lunkhead wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:48 am
Smalltown Mike wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:34 am
Berkeley Social Scene
WAIT! What is this at the end? 3:22 on? It feels like it doesn’t fit.
Oh wow, yeah, wtf is that? The song was supposed to end at 3:22. I must have screwed up the start/stop points when I did the export from Cubase. Thanks for mentioning it, will fix.
It was close enough that it almost could have been intentional, so I actually wasn't sure.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Lunkhead »

Fixed now. Thanks again!
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by sleepysilverdoor »

Smalltown Mike wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:34 am
Phlebia
I’m really struggling with this. The vocals really don’t entice me whatsoever. The music could be interesting, but it’s buried behind vocals that don’t seem to be committed.
The vocals were totally committed to sounding non-committal. But that's okay! My kid will be tickled that he got a maybe vote and I didn't, ha!
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Smalltown Mike »

sleepysilverdoor wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:39 am
My kid will be tickled that he got a maybe vote and I didn't, ha!
Definitely got a vote — I meant: "May I have a vote?" "Yes, you may have a vote."

It's the polite Canadian way to allot votes.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by sleepysilverdoor »

Smalltown Mike wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:12 am
sleepysilverdoor wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:39 am
My kid will be tickled that he got a maybe vote and I didn't, ha!
Definitely got a vote — I meant: "May I have a vote?" "Yes, you may have a vote."

It's the polite Canadian way to allot votes.
It may just be the polite way in general -- substitute "candy" for "a vote" and that exact exchange occurs in my house regularly.

I'm trying to teach the kid how to operate FL Studio, so it's entirely possible that more entries from him could materialize in the future. Though admittedly kindergarteners are a bit flaky, so who knows when that would be.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr »

Amby Moho: The intro didn't grab me on first listen, but this song sounds good once I was into the meat of it. Second listen and it works. I like the creative feel this one has throughought. Not "normal" much of anything. This is a song I probably won't be playing much but wouldn't mind it at all if someone else put it on.

Berkeley Social Scene: I like the vocals quite a bit. Excellent use of the synth. I like the rhythm. Actually, I can find nothing about this song that I dislike.

Brown Word and the Big Whine: I like that rhythm in the intro. The vocal kind of took me off guard. I like the horns. I'm not completely sure what to think of this, tbh. But I don't dislike it.

CazaroTaro: The 80's vocal phrasing is... the emotionless staccato phrasing is fun and I appreciate it, but it's maybe a little hard to like.

Evil Grin: One of the increasingly more rare times that both the music and the lyric were cowritten by the both of us. Amanda deserves the credit for the best bits of this.

Gaping Maw: The first section was okay, but I like the second section quite a bit more. I like the bass and the rhythm a lot. The third section guitar remind me of the Doobie Brothers. ("I like a little Doobie in my funk!") The panning and rhythm is kind of playing tricks on my ears on this section. So the second bit is my favorite, I like the third bit and the first was just okay. But a fun listen/ride overall.

The Gross Tones: I like the intro and the music is working for me. The vocal delivery and doubling isn't working for me as well. Especially when the doubled bits are both out of tune JUST enough to not be cool. Twin leads are usually a fun thing for me, but here the two lead bits fight each other in a way I don't appreciate.

Hot Pink Halo: My biggest complaint is the clean guitar sounds pretty harsh in a place or two. The rhythm feels like it doesn't quite match up in a place or two. That being said, I like the song itself. It's just a few bits aren't working for me.

James Owens: The reverb you're using really accentuates the fricatives in an unpleasant way. I got a slight Bowie vibe in some of your vocals. I like your lead bits, they are tasty. I appreciate the lyric more than I like it, but it works. I like this more than this review probably reveals.

The Lowest Bitter: You like your songs loud, eh? I like the synths especially with that distortion on it (although the bit on the right side sounds cool but is maybe a bit loud for my taste.) I think this is one of the better uses of a wiki reading (yeah, it's not entirely accurate) that I've heard. At least, I like it here better than I usually do. That outro is cool... Also, I need to meditate more.

Mandibles: Oh, cool. Those oohs are maybe not as confident/perfect as I would like (especially the first ones), but this is damn good. I love your voices together. Yeah, this is good.

The Pannacotta Army: This is probably the second loudest song in the mix. I have to admit that I played this song first when I saw you had submitted. And I wasn't disappointed as I like this very much. Cool rhythm, vocals excellent as always. That guitar part is cool. This is one of my favorites of the fight.

Phlebia: I like the dredge of guitars. The vocal delivery, that kind of off hand feel in the lower ranger isn't working as well for me, although it's certainly serviceable. You've done a good job of mixing it so that I can hear the lyric but while the vocal sounds like it's a good level it still feels like it's buried a hair. I think it's that delivery, maybe? At any rate, fairly short, not a bad song and I probably made the vocals out worse than they are.

Pigfarmer Jr: The first song I wrote for the fight and I think the last one I finished recording. The vocals are a tad too high in the mix, too.

PJ&A: Music: Me; Lyric/Melody/Vocal: Amanda. I sent this to her as a non-songfight project, but I mentioned the chorus music fit the "better than everything" phrasing and A ran with it.

Seaweed Delete: This is also pretty loud. Yeah, the vocal needs to come up a hair. But this is cool. I don't know how much having a mini human submit is playing into it, but I want to vote for this.

ShoehornTC: I like this right from the start. Your phrasing is good, the doubled vox works great. The plodding of the rhythm fits the lyric and phrasing. If you ended this right at 2:50 or so it would have left me wanting more. But I definitely didn't mind listening to the chorus again and I like the ending with that almost stray guitar note there.

Vom Vorton: That hi-hat (sound) in the intro and in between bits is a little harsh to my ears. That might be my ears. They tend to get sensitive up there fighting with the tinnitus when they get weary. That being said, I like the arrangement. The first time through I wondered about your vocal delivery maybe being a bit a little too off hand, but it works pretty darn well after a couple of listens. Short and to the point, but a good one.

Thinking that Mandibles, Pannacotta Army, BSS and Shoehorn are my favorites.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by AJOwens »

I haven't read any reviews of the other songs yet (of course I've read the reviews of mine). Not only that, I haven't proofread the following. I'll get around to that. These reviews were written over several days, in various states of consciousness.

--

Amby Moho - It starts deceptively as synth-pop, but in composition, arrangement, and performances, this is very post-Beatles, the B side of Abbey Road taken to another level. The chord changes follow their own unmetered rhythm, like the sequences of a dream. Sometimes, overzealous pitch-correction disrupts the natural, beautiful sway of the voices, especially at the chorus with its smooth nightclub sound (accentuated by the suddenly punchy, dance-able bass). The change here, from dreamy floating to sensuous dancing, blurs the purpose of the song. I think you could produce either musical part either way. The barely intelligible talking section suggests unrevealed meaning, a crisp, static instrument laid over a contrasting background. The ending feels unsatisfying; for me at least, a resolving chord or outro would help.

Berkeley Social Scene -- Another great sixties sound in this fight. The verse has a straight-ahead rock-beat drive, carried along by a confident, angular guitar lick with that signature flattened seventh, and structural echoes in the melody. Adding harmonies in the second verse builds energy and interest. The chorus breaks the intensely on-beat groove with some rhythmic syncopations, most conspicuously in the melody; for me, this weakens the intensity. Also the chorus melody doesn't stretch or expand the song, and so feels a little disappointing. I'm not sure why you extended the song after a perfectly good finish, but the energy continues, so it works.

Brown Word and the Big Whine -- Very unusual, innovative instrumentation and timbres take this outside of the usual genres, which is very refreshing. I like the brass and percussion, and they're well-recorded and produced. The strident vocals and backing voices remind me strongly of Canadian indigenous rock, which I sometimes hear on CBC, although I couldn't identify any bands (A Tribe Called Red comes up on Duck Duck Go.) The lyrics relay an existential critique applicable to politics or religion, or perhaps their intersection.

Cazaro Taro -- Devo meets the B-52s. The simple images, vocabulary, and silly word-play, followed by a crazy upward swoop to a frantic chorus, evoke childlike fun. The eccentric rhythms, minimal note palette, and wide intervals of the main melody add to the playful energy. If this is not a send-up, it feels at least ironic. Anyway it's really enjoyable.

Evil Grin -- This has a distinct Pigfarmer Jr sound, which confuses me because there is also a separate Pigfarmer Jr entry in this fight, and that one sounds slightly _less_ like Pigfarmer Jr. Anyway, this is a very regular treatment, a traditional song with fairly simple chords and changes, a good country-rock band, and some short guitar solos in a country-rock style, but with that trademark fuzz tone. Good vocal harmonies take it up a notch. The lyrical scan limps a bit in the chorus. The breakdown around 2:50 adds variety. Lyrically it's way more depressed and despondent than most hurting songs.

Gaping Maw -- Funky throughout, with solid syncopated drums, a purposeful bass, what sounds like Arthur Brown's Hammond, subtle accents from the keys, guitars, and backing vocals, with everybody in the groove. This is a good band. But it does sound like two or three songs, and I don't even mean blended; they just change, as if the record player went to a new track. The first song doesn't do much. The second one incorporates it as a backing refrain, which sort of justifies it, I guess. The third one is a happening tune, somewhat disco, with a lot more direction, excitement, and conviction than the first two, but ultimately it's left stranded. The whole thing is well performed, recorded, mixed, and produced, but it suffers from lack of unity and direction. Paul McCartney had the same problem for a while, when he was pasting together fragments and calling them hits.

The Gross Tones -- The lyrics are simple, rhythmically effective, and to the point, with a good message. The synth solo has a certain deliberate randomness, which takes no larger shapes as far as I can tell. Slide guitar is tuneful and tasty, but here and there I want to say it's noodling. If the rhythm guitar were more forward in both volume and pan, the song would sound more filled out (I think). The bass needs more presence. If I were on bass, I would hang out with those drums more.

Hot Pink Halo -- Unusual chords, a melody that plays against them in interesting ways, a bass line with idiosyncratic choices, and an oddly quiet, clicking, mechanical percussion together create an ungrounded, drifting quality. In the verse, the vocals are mixed low, making it hard to hear the lyrics, but also blurring the focus, as though the guitar were the most important part. The chorus is much better balanced. The use of high guitar notes or a capo adds a gentle sweetness to the sound. I have to tell you the vocals in the verses are pitchy and somewhat lackadaisical, without conviction or presence. In the chorus they're much better; I can feel their urgency, especially with the bass echoing their rhythm. The ending is abrupt and ragged, as if everyone suddenly lost interest.

James Owens -- I'm not very happy with his one; the music is strangely lifeless. I just needed a vehicle for the lyrics. I'm such a lousy drummer that I ended up tracking each drum separately. The backing vocals are excruciatingly pitchy, but I wasn't trying for anything else.

The Lowest Bitter -- The vocals are often languid to the point of being listless, but other than that, the song has a rich, percolating sound, with simple but pleasing melodic designs and some good breakdowns. The interplay betwen the meditation instructor and the sung parts isn't telling me an obvious story, but then I can't always make out the words (I'm hearing "I can't be alone with my phone"). I'd guess the sung part is an inner narrative of clinically worried distraction during a meditation exercise meant to help. I hope this is not a really personal song. The music combines a pop energy with a smooth tranquility.

Mandibles -- This song uses pretty safe changes; Phil Collins might say "bog-standard" (as he once did when explaining sections of a Bowie song and its surprise turns). The modulations help, and the unusual percussive arrangement does something to renew a song that could have been done a more usual way. Great performances, a good showcase for your recording skills, but compositionally this feels like "a problem that's already been solved," as our Philosophy of Aesthetics professor used to say.

The Pannacotta Army -- The bright, jazzy rhythms, nimble bass line, warm guitar strumming, and melodic decorations create a coherent, pleasing sound, although it feels fatiguingly thick in the low end of the spectrum. The reedy synth around 1:25 seems out of place. The vocals are sweet, expressive, and tuneful. Apart from a refreshing few bars after the first verse and elsewhere, there's a certain sameness to the chord and rhythm patterns that begins to wear out interest. The variations in arrangement help to alleviate it.

Phlebia -- A spring garden is full of sun and fresh air, and you can hear the birds singing and the breeze in the trees. But under the soil, where it's dark and wet -- that's where the roots are growing, the earth is coming to life. That's how I make sense of this song, and as such, it's good. But I do wonder what you'd do if you had a guitar.

Pigfarmer Jr -- Mostly I-IV-V, but the chorus starts on II and later drops IV to a minor (with the bass nicely heading up to the third), and the middle eight starts on VI, so the chord palette is conventional, but some of the moves are a little different. The melody has a good range, especially in the chorus where it stretches upwards, adding excitement. The intro lead opens the song with an attention-catching signature, which is brought back for a near-reprise. The instrumentation and band arrangement are straightforward stage-live, steady but with a slightly darker texture in the middle eight. By the lyrics, this is a sweet song about lost love; the music is mostly a neutral vehicle, although the chorus does convey a sense of yearning.

PJ&A -- Ramones meets Nirvana. Good grungy guitar sound. Bringing the bass and drums up a little might add more drive. The use of pattern modulation to create the contrasting section works very well for this genre. When the melody heads downward at the end of the second part, the song loses a little energy. This may be due to limitations on the vocal power at the low end of the range; maybe coupling the vocal an octave higher or something would help. Transposing the song up might also work. The solo doesn't really have time to get warmed up. You've wisely kept the song short, sensing that the musical excitement may be exhausted, but if you had more excitement in the production it could probably run longer. I have no idea how to create that excitement in the production, short of compression (aka loudness wars); it's often a problem for my own songs.

Seaweed Delete -- The beat is toe-tapping, the bass groove is funky, the singing is enthusiastic, and the words are about so many little things in life that are wonderful. This song brightened my day.

ShoehornTC -- cynical enough, yet with a humane turn. Groovy chorus. For a tighter song, the descending guitar lick could be cut back, even to one instance each time. The playing has a Beatles "Abbey Road" rooftop sound; the band is very relaxed and integrated.

Vom Vorton -- A very short song, melodic, with lyrics about a hangover from euphoria that is metaphorical rather than physical. The gentle guitars sparkle like water in sunlight, but they are set in a sort of slow stasis, emphasized by reverberation and a remote percussion track. It's almost as if the singer hasn't quite absorbed the shock of how he's feeling.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Lunkhead »

AJOwens wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 2:23 pm
Berkeley Social Scene -- ... I'm not sure why you extended the song after a perfectly good finish, but the energy continues, so it works.
That was some kind of glitch when I exported the mix out of Cubase. I thought I fixed that this morning but it appears it did not take. Aargh!
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Lunkhead »

Ah, it's cached, folks who've already listened to the BSS song will have to shift-reload to get the new file. Doh. :(
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by AJOwens »

Lunkhead wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:06 pm
Ah, it's cached, folks who've already listened to the BSS song will have to shift-reload to get the new file. Doh. :(
Actually, I reviewed it days ago, possibly before the glitch came to your attention.
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Cybronica »

Smalltown Mike wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 7:34 am

Mandibles
I was expecting some rap on this from that little guitar groove. This is really interesting — it’s great when the second voice comes in. Here’s my thought — the male voice is too earnest. The vocals are so 80s ballad when it comes in, but I think the song is more than that. The emotion is too heartfelt. So maybe try a different approach on that? But you may have one of my votes.

Thank you for the feedback! I’m curious about your comments-
1. What is the draw back to being earnest (truthful?) in the vocal delivery? What would you have preferred to hear? I’m afraid I’m not sure what element makes it too much earnestness.
2. When you say the emotion is too heartfelt, do you mean the emotion of the singing, the emotion of the lyrics, or the emotion of the song over all?
3. Also, when you say the emotion is too heartfelt, do you mean there is too much heartfeltness, or do you mean the emotion is too heartfelt for it to sound like an 80s ballad?
Thanks!
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Re: Worse than nothing is not (Better Than Everything reviews)

Post by Smalltown Mike »

Maybe earnest isn't the right word. The emotion felt overdone to me — like one of those overwrought 80s tunes. It didn't feel like you were actually emotional, just trying to sound emotional.
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