Congrats to Possum Sauce and Tom Skillman!
I enjoyed the podcast and hearing from Lichen Throat, lots of interesting insights and comments as always (I especially liked the part where you said you liked my Bend the Knee song, haha) and it's also fascinating hearing more about that whole painstaking composition process with MuseScore--definitely does sound like skipping directly from zero to extra-hard mode.
Cybronica--Ahh, such pretty, heartfelt vocals and piano. Your harmonies are lovely and really well executed, although I think I would have preferred them to come in and out gradually rather than being all over on every vocal almost all the way through, to give the song a bit more ebb and flow in intensity over time. The chorus melody is really wonderful (it reminds me a bit of the Pretenders song "Hymn to Her"), I love how your voice soars up to a clear high note on "purity"! I did enjoy this, but thought the song felt a bit long, so I think it could probably stand a bit of editing or some arrangement tweaks to keep the listener's interest. The lyrics are emotional but vague, with some weaker lines like "I'm feeling blue," that feels a bit cliched, and I think actually reading your explanation of them in the thread made them more powerful, so if you do decide to rework it, I would love seeing your inspiration and message made a bit more raw and clear. Great job though, it was a really gorgeous song and one of the standouts in this fight for me!
Evil Grin--well, my parents are atheists and I was never forced to go to church or Sunday school, so unlike apparently a lot of people commenting here, the "amen" "hallelujah" didn't really bother me on any personal level... I have a soft spot for the old-timey revival/gospel songs collected in the Smithsonian Folkways box sets and this kind of reminds me of those. I really like the duet arrangement, your voices work nicely together, although Amanda's vocal does sound a bit more throaty and muffled than TC's, which is nice and clear. Very nice performances from both of you, IMO, not sure why there were some complaints about this elsewhere! You have a good catchy melody in the prechorus and chorus--the verses seemed a bit less strong in terms of melody and lyrics, I think I'd revisit some choices like rhyming "see" with "see" and the delivery on "looks of jealousy," or "set the captives free," which I think could probably work but both currently sound rhythmically awkward as delivered. It's your song, and this is more of a genre/personal taste type of choice, but if I were arranging it, I'd probably lean away from the electric guitar stuff and the adult contemporary worship vibe and towards more old-timey acoustic instrumentation, with more vocal layers and harmonies on the chorus. I liked this and voted for it, for the record, but it seems that bias against religious songs here is hard to overcome.
Geech Sorensen--I like the loose, garagey feel to this and the guitar riffs playing off each other--love the "call" guitar in the call-and-response breakdown around where around 1:55 you stop playing the rest between phrases (I don't know if this makes sense, hopefully you understand the part I mean). There are a couple of higher/brighter guitar parts that feel like they stand out too much in the mix where the rest has a bit of a fuzzy washed-out feel--particularly the "response" guitar in the breakdown starting around 1:49. The chorus was my favorite part--I love the interplay of the lead and backing vocals in the chorus. The verses started to lose me a bit, as I didn't feel like they hung together as well as the chorus and didn't seem very tightly edited in terms of overall song structure--I think perhaps a slightly faster tempo would be good for keeping the verses feeling peppy? The lyrics weren't really specific enough for my taste, but it's not that easy to make them out in any case, and this song seems like it's more about what's happening on the guitars and in the general vibe than the vocals... they scanned well (especially the more held-out delivery on "I hope against hope" at the end, which I really liked) and that's probably the most important part in a song like this. Also, I'm super impressed to hear this was your first mix in a DAW, nice!
Leppakron--There are some really gorgeous, poignant melodic moments in the vocal (although there are some pitchy bits too that could have used another take or two) BUT I feel like the guitars are doing their absolute best to distract the listener from noticing this. I loved the tune on that "sorry" line around 00:50, for instance, but there is so much else going on with the lead guitar noodling that it's hard to focus on that! Also, everything feels too reverb'd out to me. I would have liked to have heard this in a more conventional arrangement that emphasizes that vocal melody, and maybe with a bit of editing to find those strong melodic hooks and repeat them in a more structured way. I think you have the bones of a good song here, but it was so hard to focus on that with the arrangement you have here. If you feel like posting a version with those guitars muted, I'd be curious to hear it stripped-back.
The Lowest Bitter--love the vocal melody on that chorus, it's so catchy where it goes up to "tomorrow"! I love the inspiration as well, I think your take on the title was my favorite of all of these. The verse lyrics felt a bit thin to me, though; it seems like there would be a lot of great details you could pull from the source material that might be more specific. Lots of nice arrangement details, I like that fat crunchy synth bass arpeggio and all the vocal layers, LOVE the plucked ukulele noise and the detuned synth lead. I would have liked the lead verse vocal to be doubled maybe, or EQ'd/effected differently; it somehow felt a bit thin compared to the other parts that come in with harmonies and layers. I think the standout for me overall is the chorus--that's what made the song into another favorite of the fight for me.
Not Blue Dolphins--I do like your one-string solo, but it also kind of reminds me of "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys a little bit, no offense. I like the timbre of everyone's voices and love the way you trade off vocal duties with each other--the harmonies sound great, but the recording of the vocals sounded frequently a bit odd and muffled to me, I don't know if it's just whatever mic you were using or something with the mix/EQ/reverb settings. A couple of people have mentioned finding the verse vocals too loose, timing-wise--I took the unconventional timing as a stylistic choice, actually, and aside from a few moments where I found the phrasing a bit strange (e.g. "wanes, doesn't disappear," "then/nothing's," "from/some" all felt unnatural to me), it really didn't bother me. The verse vocals did feel quite pitchy to me, though, and that grated on me a bit. Despite the execution details, I did find this one of the most memorable songs of the fight.
Paco del Stinko--Really like that jangly guitar, and the overall production and performance were obviously great as they always are with your submissions. I particularly liked the vocal melody in the bridge, but the rest of the vocals had this kind of nonstop, non-hooky, kind of constantly flowing vibe that never really grabbed me and caught my attention. Like it was all just kind of there and it all worked, and if you played me any given 5 seconds of the song I'd say it was great, but taken as a whole, I wanted to feel more of a clear structure and differentiation between individual lines and parts.
Possum Sauce--This is my favorite song of the fight; it's just so subtly weird and beautiful, it has a gorgeous melody, and your vocal has this delicate, intimate sadness and resignation to it that I just love, particularly where you go up to the higher notes in the melody. Those soft little harmonies on "the world's fucked over" and "hope" are just wonderful. The lyrics are excellent, wry and understated, particularly the opening lines "world's on fire, we all die, and I broke my pencil"--what a lyrical hook. The guitar playing and the tastefully layered piano suit the vibe perfectly. The tin whistle solo reminded me a bit of the ending of of Queen's "39". Enjoyed this SO much all around, I keep listening to it over and over.
Third Cat--this doesn't feel like your tightest performance or most ambitious production, but I do really like the chiming guitar and particularly love that whirring effected guitar at the end. The lift in that "hope against hope" line is very effective. Because I am me, I wish there were more lyrics here and more vocal layers--I do like the kind of hypnotic aspect of repeating the same lyrics, but I feel like it's crying out for a vocal countermelody with long held notes on top of the second go-round. (Speaking of cats, your kind of sparse/dreamy/repetitive arrangement reminds me a bit of Cat Power on this one.)
Tom Skillman--great performances, all very polished and nicely produced but the song itself at its core didn't really grab me; I think I wanted the vocal melody and rhythms to go to some more adventurous places, but they mostly stayed pretty well within the bounds you set. I liked some of your lyrics a lot, like "Hope against hope, and what it implies, / There's two kinds of hope, one is truth, one a disguise", while others felt a bit clunky, like "makes you despise" (I want a direct object for that verb!), "what you lack is charm and grace," (that whole "what you lack is..." phrase feels really awkward and indirect to me, like you're only phrasing it that way to make it scan in the lyrics) "without real chase" (this phrase just kind of confused me--the rest of the tone is pretty straightforward, while this is pretty elliptical, so it feels like you've only used this in order to rhyme, but it doesn't fit in with the conversational tone of the rest of the song). I liked the tremolo guitar, but would have appreciated more of a change-up with it; it started to feel like a lot by the end of the song. Great execution overall.
Travels With Brindle--this is a lovely vocal, although I do think this could have used another take or two; there are notes (throughout the first verse in particular) that I think you're not quite hitting. I like the variations in your strumming pattern, and the chorus melodies are nice and hooky. I also like the tenderness and compassion in your lyrics; I think your storytelling was my favorite part of this song, although I would have liked to have seen the lyrics posted up in the forum for easier reference.
(oh and speaking of ukuleles, and fadeouts, there's a community ukulele group that I haven't gone to in years but used to play in for fun all the time, and it sometimes drove me nuts because the group leader kept insisting on trying to end songs with fadeouts, simply because the original versions of the songs we were covering ended in a fadeout. But it's real damn hard to get 30 amateur ukulele players who are all playing the same thing at the same time on an instrument with a fairly limited dynamic range to all fade out in any kind of consistent way at the same time, and frankly I don't think any song that was originally electric guitar/drums/bass that you're now arranging for 30 ukuleles is going to fool anyone into thinking it sounds exactly like the original song. end rant.)