Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

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leighdf
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Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby leighdf » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:33 pm

SpinTunes #15 Round 3 Challenge

It's been a while since we've had a purely technical challenge. The drought ends here:

    Rubber Band: To reach the final round, we're asking our competitors to stretch themselves. Write a pastiche (a song in the style) of a band or artist whose style is appreciably different from your own. (When ranking the songs, the judges will be paying particular attention to how great a departure competitors made from the kinds of songs we've already heard from them, as well as how faithfully they emulate the chosen artist's style.)

    And to be perfectly clear, we are requiring a pastiche that is an original song in the style of the artist, not a parody or derivative work. Think Weird Al writing "Dare To Be Stupid" in the style of Devo . . . not Weird Al writing "Party in the C.I.A." based on the song "Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus.
    When submitting the email with your entry, identify the band or artist that you are emulating.

Only four competitors will move on to the final round. Good luck!

Submitting Entries:
Your entry must be received by November 18, 2018 @ 11:59 PM EDT. Otherwise it'll be posted as a shadow. Received means that it has to appear in my e-mail inbox (spintunescontest@gmail.com) by the given deadline. I will be going by the time stamp on the e-mail. One minute late is too late.

You are allowed and encouraged to submit a draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens and you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song and send in a better version closer to the deadline. The last version received prior to the deadline is your official entry.

Lyrics are mandatory. No instrumentals. Having no lyrics will get you disqualified.

Name your file the song's title, but without spaces & punctuation.

Title of the e-mail should be the title of the Challenge & your band's name. (e.g. "Rubber Band - Dr Lindyke") (The title of the song is whatever you want it to be)

Include information on anyone that should be credited for collaboration. Remember, collaborations are OK, even among competitors. You must write your song, but if you want to use another vocalist or musicians, do so.

If you have a BandCamp account, you can just send me a link to your song on BandCamp if you include all the info I mentioned above. Make sure you have it set as a free download. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION!

Other file sharing options if you need them: Sound Cloud (set to download a format BandCamp is ok with) & Drop Box. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services.

If you're using something other than Bandcamp, It's best if you send your file in a format that Bandcamp accepts (.aiff, .wav or .flac, at least 16-bit/44.1kHz) You can find the specific requirements for Bandcamp files HERE.
If you send me an MP3, I will attempt to convert it for you. But be warned... I will be strapped for time, and I will post whatever Audacity spits out of the conversion. So if you picked the wrong sample rate, your dulcet tones may wind up sounding like termites or chipmunks or random static. And that is what will be judged. So please... save and submit your files in the right format.

Side Notes:
You are allowed to send in a little background about your song. We encourage and appreciate "song bios". You don't have to do it, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. I'll even link to longer blog posts if you want to explain your song on your blog. Some judges will read this extra info, but they aren't required to.

You can send in an entry to SpinTunes 15 without competing. Just tell me it's a "Shadow Song". It will be played at the listening party, but won't be ranked and you might not receive feedback from the judges. Check the FAQ if you don't know what that means. You can even complete past challenges from previous contests. It's a nice way of playing along if you can't commit to the schedule or you just want to get your feet wet.

The only other way to get your music played at the LP is to cover "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown.

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby thirdcat » Sat Nov 24, 2018 8:59 pm

Already chose my artist & song I want to use as my guide. I think it's far enough away from my usual style to satisfy the judges on that account. This should be an interesting round, and yes a challenging challenge :!:
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby thirdcat » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:35 am

We're deep enough into this thing that I figure I can reveal my "in the style of" target. early '80s New Wave. more particularly: YAZ (or YAZOO) - in particular their first album Upstairs at Eric's and even more particularly their single "Only You." I've mostly got my instrumental done and my melody (and most of my lyrics) written, using just monophonic synths (including a real analog synth) and what I think are era appropriate drum machine sounds. I think this is pretty far from my usual style. I guess we'll see if the judges think it's a big enough stretch! (but to the judges I want to point out every other one of my SongFight, NurEin, SpinTunes entries has included guitar, no guitar in this song, so that's somethin')

Really curious to see what styles everyone tries with this challenge.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby vowlvom » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:44 am

Sweet! Can't wait to hear that. I love 80s new wavey synthpop stuff!

I figured that the safest way to ensure I was going way out of my standard sonic zone was to go heavy, so I'm aiming for stoner rock, with a particular focus on Californian cult rock legends Fu Manchu. I've been listening to them on repeat all week and last night I LITERALLY dreamt in riffs.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby Pigfarmer Jr » Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:16 pm

I've written and recorded my entry. Tomorrow I'll listen again and tweak and submit.
I released my first album on January 26th, 2018.
Free download (for a limited time) or purchase a CD:
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby thirdcat » Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:34 pm

Did some last minute rewrites so I just got it in with about 30 minutes to spare.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby BoffoYux » Mon Dec 03, 2018 9:40 am

Tonight's Listening Party - 9pm show, somewhat earlier a preshow!
So far 9 official entries, and 3 shadows. One of those will be reinstated!



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjWvm-bc4oo


FYI - If you're interested - that still shot of an accordion for the thumbnail? I took it at the Comedy Shrine outside of Aurora IL.
It's one of Judy Tenuta's actual Accordions she donated to the Shrine. She's playing New Year's Eve there if you're local.

https://comedyshrine.com/new-years-eve-judy-tenuta/

Image
Last edited by BoffoYux on Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby glennny » Mon Dec 03, 2018 1:17 pm

Faster Jackalope just sent in another shadow.
Phillipso, Older Brothers, Semolina Pilchards, Zipline , Thank Glennny for the Frisbee, The Odoriferous Valley, The Worldly Self Assurance, Berkeley Social Scene, Very Gentle Knives, Daddy Bop Swing Set, GUNS, The Kraken Lives, Cavedwellers
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby BoffoYux » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:27 pm

The album is up! Download or stream it here.
9 entries - 5 shadows.

Because one group didn't make it in, there will be one reinstatement - Congrats Governing Dynamics!

https://spintunes.bandcamp.com/album/sp ... 15-round-3
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby vowlvom » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:01 pm

I think this was the trickiest round yet in figuring out which songs did the best job of fulfilling the challenge while also being excellent songs in their own right. I mostly listened in my car again, in order to make sure that any subtleties and nuance were eradicated by the hum of sad engines.

Brian Gray - Boy and his Kumquat Tree - does this sound like Philip Glass? It does! Does it NOT sound like Brian Gray? Check there, too. Is it fun to listen to? Not... so much. This is a really solid bit of soundtracky minimalism but I have to admit, when revolving through these songs endlessly for the last couple of days, this wasn't really one that I particularly looked forward to. The song bio is really interesting but I don't actually get much of that interest through while listening to the track and its solitary line of lyrics stretched out over six minutes of Glassy arpeggios. This is still Very Good, but in a strong round, I can't say this is one of my favourites.

Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge - I don't really know much Hank Williams, but this sounds deliciously old-timey in a way that reminds me of some of the music from Over the Garden Wall (this is a very good thing). Music is good, melody catchy, lyrics very well-written. My only real criticism is that the fiddle sound sounds very synthetic, which is only really an issue because of how authentically rustic everything else sounds.

Vom Vorton - Silver Streak - I bought a cowbell for this! I had a lot of fun rocking out, I think the riffs are good although I'm not terribly happy with my ability to do a "rock vocal". I gave myself a sore throat though so that has to count for something.

Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two - this is another excellent song from the Jackelope collective, although I'm less impressed by it in terms of the challenge. There are some nice retro trimmings and the backing vocals are excellent, but the shift in genre from your last couple of songs doesn't feel like a huge one and the Phil Spectory pastiche elements kinda feel like something you might dabble with anyway even without the challenge. I think the layered lead vocals get a little busy towards the end too.

Pigfarmer Jr. - Who Are You? - like most people, I know precisely one Vanilla Ice song, but this has enough goofy white-boy rap charm that I can believe you've done your homework. I think the production could be a little punchier, but the lyrics and performance have put a smile on my face every time I've heard this so it definitely gets a thumbs up from me.

Temnere - The Grifter - I haven't heard much Bad Religion either but this is an extremely convincing take on punk rock and I can't find any fault with it at all really. I guess I'd have been even more impressed if you'd pushed further away from metal but this does sound substantially different from your other songs and I'd rank it very highly.

Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab - this has to be one of the best takes on the challenge. If somebody had played this to me and said that it was Moby, I'd have totally accepted it. I like the downbeat vocals and general vibe. There are songs in this round that I like more than this but there aren't many that impressed me more. Very good indeed.

Mandibles - Right Again - AAAAAHHHH this is amazing. Hands down my favourite, however I look at these songs. I've heard a bunch of different styles from Mandibles and this is substantially different from all of them, and it's also a PERFECT pastiche of ABBA (and the best kind of ABBA too, with that mysterious darkness infringing on the pop genius). The lyrics are absolutely superb, and there are two moments here that have just blown me away on every single listen - the beautiful instrumental interlude after the first chorus and "Congratulations! Your vexation put your partner in her station." This is way up there with Zoe's first song as my favourites from all three rounds so far.

Third Cat - Hideaway - gorgeous synthy production and a thoroughly enjoyable listen, but I feel like this is the one song that veers a little too close to being a pastiche of one particular song rather than a general artist's sound. I think I'd rank it slightly lower as a result but I still basically love this and every synth sound and metallic snare drum make me smile.

Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That - I'm not really a Dylan fan but I like this a lot, which maybe counts as a criticism for this challenge? Ha. I'm glad you didn't lean TOO hard on the harmonica, mankind's worst musical instrument. The dreamy organ feels like a nice touch that brings your atmospheric skillz into the folky sound, and I like it very much indeed. The lyrics are very good too, and I love your vocals yet again.

Shadows:
Jocko Homomorphism - the only Jimmy Buffett songs I know are "Margaritaville" and "Turning Around" (due to a baffling obsession with the film 'Summer Rental') and this isn't much like either of those, but I'm guessing there's some more stripped back Buffett songs out there? I think this is a good song but the arrangement is so spare that it feels kinda like a sketch rather than a finished track. I'd definitely like to hear a version with more going on though.

Menage a Tune - Surfin' the Web - this is incredibly charming and witty, and the Beach Boys harmonies are done really well. Another one I've enjoyed hearing every time, great fun.

Faster Jackelope - They Know - this might not be quite as good as your other entry (although it's close!) but I think it's a better take on the challenge. They're both really good and I have no idea how you find the time.

Matchy Matchy - Eagles - are the lyrics a hint that you're pastiching A Flock of Seagulls here? Or is it just a general 80s synth vibe? Either way I love it, you've nailed that epic-but-a-bit-sad-and-slightly-ridiculous synthpop majesty.

Hugely enjoyed this round! NO idea who will make it through to the final.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby glennny » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:46 am

VV said:
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two - ...., although I'm less impressed by it in terms of the challenge. There are some nice retro trimmings and the backing vocals are excellent, but the shift in genre from your last couple of songs doesn't feel like a huge one and the Phil Spectory pastiche elements kinda feel like something you might dabble with anyway even without the challenge.


I hope the judges don't see it that way. From my perspective as a producer, it was a radical departure from my process and typical goals. Usually, I try so very hard to have all of the instruments sound clear and individual as possible. I always aim for a Steely Dan kinda thing. This direction was all about combining many instruments to form a new sound. The backing tracks have: 2 acoustics, an electric guitar, Wurlitzer, vibraphone, bass, 2 saxophones, and drums to make "The Wall of Sound".

We went through many ideas and demos, the Wall of Sound ultimately won as our best strategy (we thought). The Blink-182 pastiche I thought was way too close to the power pop side of BSS, but I liked the song Frisbee wrote, hence the shadow (and song fight entry). I wrote a Reggae tune also, that genre lends itself to pastiche, but we liked the way the WOS was shaping up. We considered Hair Metal, Disco, but shot those down ultimately.

It's a great round, I liked all of the songs, I should do some reviews soon.

Good Job everyone!
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby Chumpy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:24 pm

vowlvom wrote:Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab - this has to be one of the best takes on the challenge. If somebody had played this to me and said that it was Moby, I'd have totally accepted it. I like the downbeat vocals and general vibe.

I may have missed something here. The only Moby album I'm really familiar with is 'Play', and to my ears this doesn't have a lot of those elements, like break beats, scratching, and sampled vocal hooks from Alan Lomax field recordings. Is there a particular Moby song that you thought it really sounded like?

vowlvom wrote:Matchy Matchy - Eagles - are the lyrics a hint that you're pastiching A Flock of Seagulls here?

Heh yeah. I feel like Ryan totally dialed up the Flock of Seagulls sound. I may have ruined it slightly by not singing more like an emotionless zombie, as Ryan had hoped.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby vowlvom » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:45 am

Chumpy wrote:
vowlvom wrote:Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab - this has to be one of the best takes on the challenge. If somebody had played this to me and said that it was Moby, I'd have totally accepted it. I like the downbeat vocals and general vibe.

I may have missed something here. The only Moby album I'm really familiar with is 'Play', and to my ears this doesn't have a lot of those elements, like break beats, scratching, and sampled vocal hooks from Alan Lomax field recordings. Is there a particular Moby song that you thought it really sounded like?


Good question. I know Moby has jumped genre a few times over the years, and all I can really say is that I heard this and immediately thought "oh yeah, that's convincing".
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby governingdynamics » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:03 am

vowlvom wrote:
Chumpy wrote:
vowlvom wrote:Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab - this has to be one of the best takes on the challenge. If somebody had played this to me and said that it was Moby, I'd have totally accepted it. I like the downbeat vocals and general vibe.

I may have missed something here. The only Moby album I'm really familiar with is 'Play', and to my ears this doesn't have a lot of those elements, like break beats, scratching, and sampled vocal hooks from Alan Lomax field recordings. Is there a particular Moby song that you thought it really sounded like?


Good question. I know Moby has jumped genre a few times over the years, and all I can really say is that I heard this and immediately thought "oh yeah, that's convincing".


Sounds like they were going for the "18" era. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNykVW_BuvM
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby Cybronica » Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:07 pm

Here’s my shot at reviewing this time around:
This round was so fun! It’s interesting to hear a side of the performers here that they don’t usually show. Many of us emulated other sounds, yet still showed through with your own true sound, the things that make you sound like you. There are so many that I would categorize as “favorites,” I’m glad I’m not a judge!

Boy and his kumquat tree - Brian Gray
Like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass, the more I listen to this, the more I love it. You have perfectly captured the cyclical minimalists movements, and it is so utterly different not only from what came before (admittedly I only know your songs from the gleebleverse), but also from everything else I’ve herd in this competition. Even then, this feels like a Brian Gray song, and that’s partially what I love about it. You went for all these minimalist Glass-y sounds foreign to your usual MO, yet retained your sound as a musician. In addition to Glass etc, I was getting a vibe from Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, specifically songs like Warszawa, Art Decade, Subterraneans, etc. Now, I haven’t done a true analysis, but I do believe it is not a truly phased song a la Reich (I think you said you were imitating glass anyway, so it wouldn’t be), but I love how the effect of phase was achieved by having the theme played simultaneously with the harpsichord synth and the flute synth. The flute had a tendency to delay the full weight of its sound, so the rang as out of phase from the harpsichord. I thought that was a really cool effect. Lyrics, taken with the song bio, are brilliant. I love how much thought you put into this work. I sincerely hope none of the judges dock you for them because I think this is a pristine example of 70’s/80’s Avant Garde music. I have nothing bad to say. Amazing work.

Old Lovers’ Bridge - Zoe Gray
Great Stretch! This very well executed, and very different from your usual sound. I like the lyrics and the story. The classical elements of the story come through well, especially if you know to look for them. They’re like Easter eggs- find them all! The music is stylistically well put together. I can’t fault the midi fiddle, though every time i hear it it takes me to Lon Lon Ranch in a way that the rest of the song doesn’t. I like the vocal style and the accent. It has a good twang, and your voice performs it well. I like how you used the accent to make Bank and Think rhyme. A couple of notes you flip out of it into your normal beautiful singing voice (away away too long by FAR, and when that line comes back later), and while I love the sound of your singing voice, it broke the spell each time it happened. “I’d always sing for her knowing she’d play for me.” - this is my favorite line. It’s such a beautiful picture that it paints. Some lines didn’t scan very well, or felt out of sync - “I never thought I would find” might have worked better without the ‘i’ at the start. As good as this song is, I prefer your other work, and compared to the rest of the round I unfortunately can’t say it’s in my favorites.

Silver Streak - Vom Vorton
LOVE this song- it’s one of my favorites from you (right up there with your Superman song from nur ein). This is a great sound for you, and it fits your voice well. If this is a style you like, I encourage you to keep exploring it! I don’t know the genre you are emulating, but judging from your list of of elements, I think you did a bang up job (actually I just went back and listened to the song in your description. Spot on! I like yours better though). I like the images the song brings up (make me feel like I’m in speed racer), and the slight jabs made at your poor car (slows down going uphill... ha! been there buddy). I want you to know that I like this despite your use of cowbell. Nothing against the instrument, but it the only one that I actively loathe. Well used here though! Fold right into the fabric of the song.
Unrelated to the song: is that Rafa or Agnes in your photo? :3

Ghia’s got room for two - Faster Jackelope
I enjoy this song each time it comes up, and have found it getting stuck in my head throughout the week. I love the lead into the female vocals, oh and also your female vocalist is AMAZING. I love her voice. There are a lot of structurally really cool things about this - “theres no enough time” line and then moving on without the second half of the phrase in the chorus; the back and forth section between the two vocalists at the end is truly brilliant, and delightfully done. I did have to google Karmann ghia (I thought you guys were saying Carmen Diaz), and thenfact that it’s a car makes the some make a lot more sense. “now I am sad” is a silly line and I am disappointed because I know you guys can do better.

Who Are You? - Pig farmer jr
I can’t speak for everybody, but I’m pretty sure you speak for all of us in this song. Stick it to the man! I have the disadvantage of genre bias here whereas I don’t really know anything about rap, but it sounds good! Really for me this song is all about the lyrics and they are super great. Otherwise, not something I would listen to much. Sawy!
.... NOT. ;)

The Grifter - Tenmere
I had to go back and listen to your past entries to se if I could tell a difference, and while I think it sounds like a progression of thrasher metal to metal to speed metal, my husband informs me that your last one is really more punk than metal. And then I read your song bio and it checks out. It’s a good song! Short and to the point, and def gets my heart pumping.

Ahab - Good Guy Sojabe
I like your songs more and more each round. That isn’t to say each one is better than the last (I really enjoyed them all and think each is great), but that each week I develop a better appreciation for your music. I went back to listen to Godspeed and found a deeper beauty in it than I did before. This might be my favorite from this round. I love how you layered your vocals, I love the contrast between to two kinds of vocals, and I love the gentility of the guitar. This song had a very calming effect on me, and I found myself going back to listen to it again and again. I don’t know the band Money, but I certainly did appreciate that you titled your song Ahab. Trying to catch the white whale of another bands style...

Right again - Mandibles
Truth gets all the credit for this masterpiece. All I did was contribute to the lyrics and show up to the recording session Sunday night. He really outdid himself, and I’m just glad to have been along for the ride! I will say, while he was doing structural and harmonic analyses of ABBAs greatest hits, I had a really fun time dissecting their accents and vocal technique, trying to imitate their sound as closely as possible. This challenge actually came at the exact perfect time. Not a day before it was announced, Truth was telling me he wanted to do a song in the style of ABBA. As both of us are big fans, I was concerned that it wouldn’t be enough of a stretch, though listen back to our stuff from Spintunes and nur ein, we haven’t really don’t anything like this before. It was so fun!

Hideaway - Third Cat
Finally listening to this with headphones, and really digging the panning. This song is so sweet. It makes me so happy each time it comes up. The song sounds like rain (probably a combo of the falling heavily panned lines and the lyric about rain giving me that impression), and the lyrics make me feel like I’ve taken shelter under a big tree in the midst of a spring shower. The music is lovely. The harmonies are sublimely subtle. The vocal technique is impeccable. Sounds a bit like Raffi on the fern gully sound track. My one issue: “wrong turns can send down rain” sounded like “wrong churns” and I thought it was a reference to an obscure kind of cloud, and google informed it was not. Other than that one pronunciation, perfect! I’m especially impressed by your work on the korg!

Leave it at that - Governing Dynamics
In spite of, or perhaps because of, my 3 song sample size, I imagine (like Mandibles) your songs are an eclectic bunch. I say this because the three I’ve heard from you are so vastly different. This one is Very Dylan, but also it keeps me coming back to billy Joel- aside from the harmonica, I think because the melody of one of the verse lines sounds extremely close to the line from piano man (... and the microphone smells like a beer/and they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar/and say man what are you doing here). I love the lyrics; the images they conjure are soulful and melancholic. I think I like them better alone than in the song, but that might be genre bias.

We were so grand - Jocko homorphism
This is a sweet song with a very nostalgic sound. It’s definitely a different direction than your previous 2 songs (sorry that’s the only sample size I have). Like the previous songs, though, the scansion Of the text is sometimes a little awkward. The song is a sweet sentiment, and I enjoy it each time it comes around.

Surfin the web - Menace a tune
Great beach boys style tune and I am utterly delighted by the way you subvert the genre by having it be a surfing the song... of sorts. ;) the lyrics are extremely clever, and each time I listen I notice another gem to appreciate in the text. Like in the previous songs, tuning is sometimes an issue, but the song is so delightful, i am not bothered by it.

Faster Jackelope - They Know
Good angsty teen rock. It still has that faster Jackelope (coughcavedwellerscough) sound, but I admit I’m not enough of a connoisseur of you guys’ songs to identify a dramatic shift in genre. You guys are pretty eclectic (like Mandibles? Gee, wonder what we have in common...), so not an issue. The lyrics are a little too vague for me. The song is ok. You submitted the right one.

Eagles - Matchy Matchy
I look forward to this each time is comes around. I love your voice and it’s distinctive half-vibrato tremor. It’s a beautiful sound. Speaking of good sounds, this song reminds me at once of St. Elmo’s fire and The song from the breakfast club. This song is beautiful.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby vowlvom » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:51 am

Cybronica wrote:Unrelated to the song: is that Rafa or Agnes in your photo? :3


Thanks for saying nice things! That's Rafa in the BandCamp photo, here is Agnes:

Image

Cybronica wrote:Ghia’s got room for two - Faster Jackelope
oh and also your female vocalist is AMAZING. I love her voice.


Seconded, I loved it every time her voice took over.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby Cybronica » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:29 pm

VV-
Such cuties! Thank you for sharing. :)

Also, after reading your comments, while I liked your song, I would hate for you to sustain vocal damage- if it made your throat sore, stick with your normal lovely sound!
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby Chumpy » Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:05 pm

We just posted our review podcast for SpinTunes 15 Round3! There are a few ways you can listen to it:

Download or point your browser directly at the mp3
Point your podcast software at the feed
View the podcast on iTunes[/list]

Send us feedback at: feedback@twojerksonevote.com.

Here are all the time points, so you don't have to listen to the whole thing:

  • 00:00:00 Intro song
  • 00:01:06 Beginning-of-podcast yammering
  • 00:06:19 Brian Gray - Boy And His Kumquat Tree
  • 00:13:33 Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge
  • 00:19:20 Vom Vorton - Silver Streak
  • 00:24:45 Faster Jackalope - Ghia's Got Room For Two
  • 00:29:28 PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You
  • 00:37:06 Temnere - The Grifter
  • 00:41:30 Good Guy Sôjàbé - Ahab
  • 00:46:01 Mandibles - Right Again
  • 00:50:13 Third Cat - Hideaway
  • 00:53:09 Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That
  • 00:58:19 Jocko Homomorphism - SHADOW - We Were So Grand
  • 01:00:58 Menage a Tune - SHADOW - Surfin' The Web
  • 01:04:05 Faster Jackalope - SHADOW - They Know
  • 01:06:02 Matchy Matchy - SHADOW - Eagles
  • 01:09:20 End-of-podcast yammering
Enjoy!
"Nice and quirky. Like the lyrics, but Is this arty enough for Songfight?" --Spud
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby MicahSommer » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:10 pm

Here are my reviews and rankings, cross-posted from the official site, so that you may more easily yell at me about how wrong I am.

PREAMBLE

This was a very difficult round to evaluate. It seems to me the judges were tasked with ranking each song along three independent axes: 1. Similarity to the target artist; 2. Difference from your usual output; and 3. Quality of the song in its own right.

Some of you produced great songs that sounded different from what you usually do, but couldn’t quite pass for the target artist’s work. Some of you produced great songs that hit the target, but the target was a little too close to what we’ve already heard from you. And some of you chose a brand new sound and hit the target, but ended up with a song that I didn’t enjoy in its own right. So you see how reconciling these three criteria could be difficult.

I ended up producing no fewer than six rankings:
First, I ranked the songs based on my gut feeling about a combination of all three criteria. There was no way to ensure that the balance of criteria was the same for each song; I just went for my overall impression.

Then I ranked each song according to the first axis: fidelity to the target artist's style.

Then according to the second axis: difference from your usual fare.

Then the third axis: simply how much I enjoyed the song on its own.

Then I added together your ranking 1-10 from the previous 3 to produce an aggregate ranking.

Finally, I compared the aggregate to my first, gut ranking. They ended up being very similar, with half the songs in identical positions and the rest only a few spots apart. I didn’t just average the two, but I did make some compromises, resulting in a single final ranking.

For all I know, my fellow judges threw darts at a board to determine their rankings. It would probably be just as fair. Without further ado, here are my reviews of your songs, presented again in ascending order of excellence:

OFFICIAL ENTRIES

10. PigFarmer, Jr. as Vanilla Ice - Who Are You?
Hip-hop was not a bad choice for getting far away from your usual style while remaining in at least somewhat comfortable territory. Your lyrics are very end-rhyme heavy, which is ok because Vanilla Ice’s are too for the most part. You get in some good lines (the diss on Edric and “Sorry… not!” standing out as highlights), but more specific references and similes would always be welcome.
The biggest problem is the lack of energy throughout, due in part to the monotonous instrumental and the lackluster chorus, but mostly to the tempo - I clocked a live performance of “Ice, Ice, Baby” at 116 bpm (which is not particularly fast by some rappers’ standards) and your track at a sluggish 88 bpm. Getting your flow up to speed takes work, but it pays off.

9. Brian Gray as Philip Glass - Boy and His Kumquat Tree
Kudos for going further afield than anyone else in this round. I was very very torn about how to feel about this song.
On the one hand, you’ve clearly taken a hard look at Glass’s compositional style and applied it here: The multiple rhythmic layers of repeating phrases, adding up to a slowly shifting soundscape, are on the money. There’s some cool phasing effects between the various parts, especially in the section beginning at 2:07, though I think you could have let it play out further and become more obvious. Glass generally writes for orchestral instruments, and your synth sounds suffer a bit in comparison, but I do think it was smart to go full synth rather than fake orchestra, avoiding a repeat of last round’s trumpet problem.
On the other hand, this is a SONG writing competition, and the “song” portion of your competition is the same phrase repeated on one note, with the same rhythm every time. While Glass is primarily an instrumental composer, he does offer some models for vocal writing, e.g. “Songs from Liquid Days”, and your vocal feels like a cop-out, both as a Glass imitation and in its own right.
On yet another hand, your song bio does a lot of heavy lifting here toward making your intentions for the song explicit. I don’t think one needs to read the bio to enjoy the song as a piece of Glass-inspired (mostly) instrumental music, but it seems like a different kind of cop-out to give us soooo much context outside the song. I think the judges should be expected to evaluate this song on its own merits, not as a portion of an epic song cycle/musical/concept album that’s only 3/?ths completed. With that in mind, it’s interesting but I don’t think it stands well on its own.

8. Vom Vorton as Fu Manchu - Silver Streak
Here’s a band I had never heard of, but from what I listened to, you managed to emulate the style quite closely. Your song doesn’t feel quite as high energy as their music - I think part of it is your voice and part of it is a dearth of crashhhhh ccccymbals. The tone on your guitar in the very beginning is grating and pretty unpleasant to my ears, but when the whole band kicks in the guitar tone is fuller and a lot more fun to listen to.
It’s a smart move to write lyrics within their subject matter, though your own lyrical style still comes through, with multi-syllable rhymes like “steering” / “engineering” and especially “cost to me” / “velocity.” The melody, or lack thereof, seems in keeping with theirs, but that doesn’t make it interesting to listen to. I think, again, that your voice is a little too restrained for what the style demands. In general, you’ve crafted a song that is both fairly true to the target style and fairly different from your usual work, but it doesn’t excite or interest me the way some other songs this round do.

7. Zoe Gray as Hank Williams - Old Lovers' Bridge
Not many artists in this round deliberately set out to imitate the vocal inflections of their targets to the extent you did, which merits recognition. At first listen it felt like a parody, but when I actually listened to some Hank Williams and came back to yours, it felt more natural. You clearly took seriously the task of adopting his vocal style.
Lyrically, adopting the story of Odysseus into the language of country music was a clever idea which I think paid off. Of course the ground was set for you by “O Brother Where Art Thou” but you make the concept your own. One could argue about whether Hank Williams would have written these lyrics, but that’s a pretty subjective argument to get into. For me, the lyrics work and feel natural.
The music, on the other hand, displays some elements that I simply can’t find in Hank’s catalog after listening to and reading chords for kind of a lot of his songs, among them:
- Minor chords in a major-key song (vi in the bridge)
- For that matter, a bridge, i.e. a contrasting section that only appears once - all of Hank’s songs I listened to were either ABABAB or AAAA…
- The back-and-forth IV-V-IV-V harmonic motion of “and i walk through the valleys / and i walk over the ridge” - in fact, I couldn’t find motion from V to IV in a single Hank Williams song.
All this is to say that Hank had a very consistent musical vocabulary that you deviate from in some notable ways. That’s not to say it’s a bad song - I think it’s a pretty good song. But if an unattributed lead sheet showed up in some archive, I don’t think any musicologist would mistake it for a long-lost Hank Williams song.
As for the instrumentation, it’s clear you studied and attempted to emulate what you heard on his recordings, but the MIDI sounds don’t do justice to what I’m sure you’re hearing in your head. I don’t want to penalize you for that, but at this stage in the tournament I kinda feel like I have to.

6. Faster Jackelope as the Ronettes - Ghia's Got Room For Two
The talent, ingenuity, and technical know-how contained in this band is on display as clearly as ever here. Lots to love here. Similar to Zoe’s Hank Williams pastiche, the Ronettes’ influence is clear here, but it sounds more like a modern song consciously borrowing some elements of their style, and less like a song completely within their style.
Frisbee’s vocal melody is great but sounds very, well, Frisbee-like (compare “Is it your French perfume?” to Round 1’s “their purpose seems so ambiguous”). Bella’s (excellent!) vocal feels more in the style, although the final line “But there’s not enough time to do everything” feels like the phrase is going to continue, but instead everything drops out before returning to the A section. It’s a neat effect, but it doesn’t feel like something the Ronettes would have done.
The percussion is consistently excellent and does feel right for the style, but the other instruments don’t always add up to produce the true wall-of-sound effect, and the guitar solo, while subdued and tasteful, feels especially out of place - I’d expect a string melody instead or something similar.
It’s a very very cool moment, probably the highlight of an already very good song, when the male and female lead vocals come together in countermelody, especially when they lock together on lines like “me and you.” But it doesn’t sound like the Ronettes, which, from all that I’ve listened to, very much featured Ronnie as the lead, with the other singers secondary.
Speaking of the vocal layering, when Bella has multiple lines overlapping at the end, they start to crowd each other out and things feel a little confused. It might be solvable with some different mixing or EQ choices, or you might want to simplify things and cut out one of the parts.
Finally, the song is longer than it reeeeally needs to be, especially given where you’re taking your cues from. “Be My Baby” is 2:41; “Baby, I Love You” is 2:50, etc. Cut out one or two of the choruses at the end, and the 60s radio DJs will like it a lot more.

5. Governing Dynamics as Bob Dylan - Leave It At That
Lyrically and musically you hit the target here. Using the title as a brief refrain is a classic Dylan touch, a la “Tangled Up in Blue”, “A Simple Twist of Fate”, etc, etc, as are the elliptical, wistful lyrics. I like this stanza especially: “I'm the trickster of this village / I'm the truth's bell ringer / The harder you try to hold on / The slicker I slip through your fingers.” Oh, and the AABCCB rhyme scheme of the B section, ending with the refrain, is executed very well.
The guitar is played well and the harmonica does its job. I don’t love the mix: the harmonica and especially the organ are too loud, the vocal is often too soft, and the drums are waaaay too soft, though from what I can hear of them, they don’t really add anything of interest to the arrangement, so I would suggest cutting the drums out entirely.
I’ll give you credit for deviating from your regular style, at least as displayed so far this tournament. You play the acoustic guitar in a style distinct from your electric guitar playing, and your voice, while not going full Dylan (probably a good thing), is more suited to the folk style than what I’ve heard from you before (and - no offense - just nicer to listen to).

4. Temnere as Bad Religion - The Grifter
I was not familiar with Bad Religion at all, so I appreciated the AVClub link. Your song is both true to your target style and a good one in its own right - it packs quite a punch in its brief runtime, has a satisfyingly anthemic chorus, and its lyrics are notable for their political cynicism and their verbosity - “thesaurus punk,” indeed.
I do feel that you had a chance here to go a lot further from your home style than you did. No guitar harmony or keyboards, sure, but we’ve got pounding drums, killer riffs, and soaring vocals, as expected from Temnere. You admit you’ve wanted to do a song in their style for a while, which tells me you know it’s not too far out of your wheelhouse.

3. Good Guy Sojabe as Moby - Ahab
Prior to this round, I wasn’t aware that Moby actually sang on any of his tracks - I only knew the loop-heavy Lomax-sampling tunes from “Play” that have infiltrated everyone’s brains. Once I listened to his album “18” I started to recognize what you’re going for, and I hear the subdued, low-register vocals and short, repetitive phrases of songs like “We Are All Made of Stars” and “Sleep Alone” echoed in your song. The refrain “And I don’t want to feel sober / And I don’t want to feel love” is clearly a nod to those Lomax samples and a very nice touch. I think your vocal melody is actually stronger than any I’ve heard of his, and the “under my skin” section is especially memorable - I just wish it were further forward in the mix. The vocal gets buried just when it should be brought out.
Lyrically, this gloomy, oblique track is either a break-up song or a loose retelling of “Moby-Dick” or both, and I don’t mind the ambiguity of the lyrics because they combine perfectly with the music to create a distinctive atmosphere. Stylistically, I think it actually lands somewhere between Moby and Good Guy Sojabe, as you are generous with your guitar parts and use a more varied harmonic progression and fewer loops than Mr. Melville Hall tends to.
If I may pick a nit for a moment - the multi-tracked vocals sound great, but you need to coordinate the ends of syllables, not just the beginnings. In the line “Ignore the news” I hear no less than 3 distinct “s”’s in the word “news.” Maybe it doesn’t bother other folks, but it drives this church choir director crazy.

2. Third Cat as Yaz - Hideaway
I wasn’t familiar with Yaz (or Yazoo, or whatever) but I really enjoyed listening to “Upstairs at Eric’s”. Your song seems to come closest to “Only You” - which I think I have actually heard before? Or maybe it’s just so good that it seems instantly familiar. In any case, you take a number of cues directly from that song, including the opening synth arpeggio. Ideally an entry this round should identify the underlying musical assumptions behind the target artist’s body of work, and use them to create a new song, rather than lift surface elements from one specific song. I found the rest of the Yaz album, with a couple exceptions, to be more consistently upbeat and dance-y than both “Only You” and “Hideaway”, and I suppose I should be upset that you’ve given us a pastiche of one specific song, rather than the artist’s whole body of work… but… this song is really good? It’s sweet and sincere and also catchy and just very pleasant.
Small things to criticize: the synth countermelody under e.g. the opening lines is overly busy and feels like it clutters things up. It’s a good idea to have the more sustained synth to contrast with the staccato arpeggios but I don’t think this particular idea is the right one. (The corresponding synth line in “Only You” is simpler and cleaner.)
And one lyrical complaint: “in love let’s stay” and “love we play”. Object-subject-verb word order almost never sounds good in modern pop music. I understand that it allows for the rhyme across sections with “hideaway”, and that’s great and all, but… no. Leave it to the sonneteers.

1. Mandibles as ABBA - Right Again
It’s a tall order to imitate the style of one of the greatest songwriting teams in pop history, but you pull it off. Production-wise we could quibble, but compositionally, this slips perfectly into ABBA’s musical language. The chorus lodged itself into my head on first listen and has stayed there for most of the week. It’s based on a simple hook, both lyrical (“right again”) and melodic (three descending notes), which gets varied in both respects (lyrically: “right again” / “alright again” / “right, my friend”; melodically: mi-re-do / fa-re-do).
There are many other brilliant musical moments: The swing from minor to major in the verse; the imitative melodic repetition of “If you saw the good in me, / How wrong could I ever be?”; the borrowed minor chord on “right, my friend”. And lyrical ones: the stealth rhyme in the chorus of “get” and “let”; lines like “And I demurred, the words all blurred into a mess / And I confess” - I mean COME ON! And it all adds up to a great complex picture of a relationship, with the narrator both contrite and defiant, as summed up perfectly in the title and elaborated through the whole song. Damn, this is a good track.
I suppose I should criticize something. The song has two brief instrumental sections: an intro before the first verse, and an interlude between the first chorus and second verse. In my opinion, the interlude is much stronger and fits better with the sound of the song as a whole than the intro does, and I’d recommend replacing the intro with an expanded version of it. If you do keep the intro as it is, the synth part has some weird dynamic issues where some notes are dramatically louder than the preceding and following notes.
Additionally, you have some great synth countermelodies throughout, but they’re curiously absent in the chorus, e.g. after “What does it get you when you’re right again?” You could fill out the sound more with some instrumental responses in places like this.
Did I mention that, um, this song is amazing?

SHADOWS (UNRANKED)

Jocko Homomorphism as Jimmy Buffett - We Were So Grand
Sounds like quite the party! Your voice is in particularly fine form this round, and I can tell the lyric draws on fond memories. The fun-loving party theme is there, but does it really SOUND like Jimmy Buffett? No, but maybe it could with some more involved instrumentation. And lines like “Solidarity, / We march to the sea, / And our hymn never sounded so grand” are a little, well, grand for the Parrotheads. Since it’s a shadow entry, I’m content to forget about Mr. Cheeseburger in Paradise entirely and enjoy the song for what it is.

Menage A Tune as the Beach Boys - Surfin' The Web
It’s fun, it’s funny. The Beach Boys’ influence is obvious, although the lyrics make it more of a parody than an earnest homage. The layered vocals are very well done, although the lead vocal is dramatically louder than the other tracks - this is most conspicuous during the “summer never ends” sections, where the various vocal lines are basically equal in compositional importance but not in volume.
The organ is a little loud, the drums a little quiet, and I’d like some guitar or something else to spruce up the instrumentation.

Faster Jackelope as ??? - They Know - Sorry, Song Fight is down the hall.

Jerkatorium as Matchy Matchy as [presumably] A Flock of Seagulls - Eagles - Solid lyrics, nice production, Chumpy’s voice in fine form, etc, etc. When are you guys going to surprise me?

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A: GUT RANKING

PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You? 10
Brian Gray - Boy and His Kumquat Tree 9
Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge 8
Vom Vorton - Silver Streak 7
Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That 6
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two 5
Temnere - The Grifter 4
Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab 3
Third Cat - Hideaway 2
Mandibles - Right Again 1

APPENDIX B: FIDELITY RANKING
PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You? 10
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two 9
Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge 8
Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab 7
Brian Gray - Boy and His Kumquat Tree 6
Vom Vorton - Silver Streak 5
Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That 4
Temnere - The Grifter 3
Third Cat - Hideaway 2
Mandibles - Right Again 1

APPENDIX C: DIFFERENCE RANKING
Temnere - The Grifter 10
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two 9
Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab 8
Vom Vorton - Silver Streak 7
Third Cat - Hideaway 6
Brian Gray - Boy and His Kumquat Tree 5
Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge 4
Mandibles - Right Again 3
Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That 2
PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You? 1

APPENDIX D: QUALITY RANKING
PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You? 10
Brian Gray - Boy and His Kumquat Tree 9
Vom Vorton - Silver Streak 8
Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge 7
Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That 6
Temnere - The Grifter 5
Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab 4
Third Cat - Hideaway 3
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two 2
Mandibles - Right Again 1

APPENDIX E: AGGREGATE RANKING
(Numbers = Sum of previous 3 / New rank out of 10)
PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You? 21 / 10
Brian Gray - Boy and His Kumquat Tree 20 / 9
Vom Vorton - Silver Streak 20 / 8
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two 20 / 7
Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge 19 / 6
Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab 19 / 5
Temnere - The Grifter 18 / 4
Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That 12 / 3
Third Cat - Hideaway 11 / 2
Mandibles - Right Again 5 / 1

APPENDIX F: FINAL RANKING
(Subjective combination of A and E)
PigFarmer, Jr. - Who Are You? 10
Brian Gray - Boy and His Kumquat Tree 9
Vom Vorton - Silver Streak 8
Zoe Gray - Old Lovers' Bridge 7
Faster Jackelope - Ghia's Got Room For Two 6
Governing Dynamics - Leave It At That 5
Temnere - The Grifter 4
Good Guy Sojabe - Ahab 3
Third Cat - Hideaway 2
Mandibles - Right Again 1
"you did a skillful job pulling off the sexy" - RangerDenni
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby thirdcat » Sat Dec 08, 2018 10:10 pm

Not sure how I would have ranked 'em as a judge but I think Vom Vorton's was my personal favorite of the round. Appreciate all of the feedback from the judges, the in-depth reviews are interesting.
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby vowlvom » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:44 am

Thanks thirdcat! Excellent work making the final!

I thought I was doing a really good job with my song up until the point where I added the vocals, I just don't think I found a way to get the right level of RAWK into them and after a couple of takes it hurt too much to try again (which is probably a good sign that I was doing it wrong). Micah's also right that there should probably have been more crashing cymbals in there.

Disappointed to be eliminated but tbh there were at least four songs I would have ranked above my own so I'm not too surprised! I will definitely attempt a shadow for the final round.

Congrats to Mandibles, you absolutely killed it this round!
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Re: Spintunes 15 Round 3 Challenge

Postby Pigfarmer Jr » Sun Dec 09, 2018 6:50 am

Huge congratz to all the folks who made it.

re: podcast. Thanks, guys! You had me smiling throughout. Nailed it with (the paraphrasing) middle aged white guy trying to rap for the first time. Way better than I thought it might be and still not great. For the record (and it's not a defense, I don't disagree) if you listen to recent vanilla ice (like on the ship-hop cruise videos) I think you'll find it fits a little closer than just generic 80's rap. But it's a little quibble in the overall largely accurate assessment.

re: Third Cat's assessment of Vom... it's hard to pick the best, but I agree that I liked the Vorton track. I can see why it landed just outside the top four, but I, too, liked it lots and was a bit disappointed that he wasn't in the top four. Still, all four are damn fine choices.
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