Wednesday, February 19, 2020

ST16R2 Songs!

Here is the Round 2 album, with cover art, as always, by the incomparable Matt "Shoobs" Schubbe.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Spintunes 16 Round 2 Listening Party

It's "time's up" for Round 2, and here's how it shakes out. Of 20 bands who made it into the round, all 20 submitted an entry. We had 4 shadows that were eligible for reinstatement this round, but no slots available. Next round everybody gets another shot.

The Listening Party will be Monday (tonight) at 9 pm on YouTube, hosted by Tom Giarrosso.
Here's your link!

Sunday, February 9, 2020



Steve Stearns takes the round with his Indiana Jones tribute, followed closely by Ominous Ride, Ross Durand, and Glen Raphael.

Seven groups are eliminated this round... BUT... diligent rules-lawyers know that if they continue to shadow, they could be re-instated in another round. In fact, it's possible for a band to be eliminated in Round 1, enter shadows for rounds 2 through 4, be re-instated in the final round, and win. It's crazy, I know, but rules is rules. But you can't win if you don't play, so shadow!

Here's a breakdown of the scoring.

JoeDave*MicahMary AnnRussTotal
Steve Stearns2186421
Ominous Ride53431025
Ross Durand66171131
Glen Raphael114182338
Nick Work32528543
The Quantifiers202655258
Vowl Sounds18910121160
Timothy Patrick Hinkle1473171960
Caravan Ray10129151561
Good Guy Sojabe2310713962
Faster Jackelope7812201663
Governing Dynamics151615101369
Jocko Homomorphism92323111278
Boffo Yux Dudes12226261480
Rob from Amersfoort41913242080
“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson171321221891
Menage a Tune191516212293
Lichen Throat21272019895
Mike Lamb25212691798
Jordan Carroll2711221825103
The Brewhouse Sessions2618241423105
Jeb and Iwa2220252521113
PigFarmer, Jr2424272727129

It's very simple: judges rank the bands from best (1) to least (27); the numbers are added together, and that's the score. Low score wins. I break ties; and we have several ties this round but as none of them affect who's staying and going, I'm going to let them stand as ties.

Remember, scoring is not cumulative. Your goal is to get to the next round. 
Good luck!

Saturday, February 8, 2020




Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to bring you your regularly scheduled SpinTunes Final Results.

If you must know, something came up for one of the judges. It seems to us that since you've already got the challenge for Round 2, we've got a little bit of leeway to give you as much feedback as possible from all of the judges, including a full set of rankings. Rather than make you wait, you get to peruse what we've posted, and I'll work up the final numbers when we get them.

So bear with us, and check back tomorrow. We'll send a shout out through the usual channels.

-- Dave (aka Dr. Lindyke)

Man in black t-shirt and black framed sunglasses climbing cliff

ST16R1 REVIEW - Russ Rogers

In Submission Order

Jocko Homomorphism - John Goodman's Crowbar 
A Gary Numan/Cars Vibe. Big Lebowski Theme. I bet there will be a LOT of those. Begins with what sounds like 30 seconds of Metal Machine Music. I've never seen Big Lebowski. That's on me. I own Metal Machine Music on vinyl. Dear Lord, trim that intro!
The Quantifiers - Dining in Dictionopolis 
Cello. Needs ukulele, even if that's a DoubleClicks thing. Wear your influences on your sleeve. CLEVER lyric!!! Lovely, innocent vocals. The melody runs up and down the scale like Gilbert and Sullivan or a Children's Song. But, that's what it is. I'm only two songs in, and this is one of my faves.
Ominous Ride - Running 
Great Production. Piano gets buried after the intro. That's too bad. Dark lyrics. Journey meets Toto thing. I can't tell what movie or book inspired this. But I like it.
Caravan Ray - A Soul as Light as a Feather 
Drums, Bass and Vocals. Huh. Capt. Beefheart? Do these people even know of Capt. Beefheart? Nice Production. Who is Miss Watson? (Mary Jane?) I want to know. Great vocals. I don't know the book or movie. I just don't care!
Steve Stearns - The Doctor Has No Time To See You Now 
Piano and Melodica? Neil Innes-like. Funny title. Funny punch. Great Piano HOOK! I'm hooked. I was expecting to hate this (don't ask why--no good reasons) and I loved it instead. WOW! What a pleasant surprise.
OutLyer - Take Me Away
Theme: Peter Pan. This sounds like a rough draft. It's got a chorus and ONE rap break. Then it repeats. It needs a verse. I needs more. Who had the recent pop hit with a Peter Pan Song. My daughters sing it all the time.
Jordan Carroll - WALL-E Meets Eva 
Chip Tunes, cool. Minimalism with Vocoder. Clever. I get it. But I never need to hear it again. The joke gets stale before the end of the song. It needs more. Less Minimalism, I guess. I don't hate it. I just wouldn't put this in a playlist.
Temnere - Amplified 
Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto. Styx meets TR-1. Robots...IN SPACE!
"Feast on your misery"?
"All Pain Amplified"?
I'm too depressed. It's too much winter for this dark stuff right now.
The Brewhouse Sessions - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of It All 
America vibe to the strummy-strum guitars. Strained vocals. Even more strained rhymes.
"BucketHat" Bobby Matheson - This Aggression Will Not Stand 
Buried Guitar. Odd Vocals. Another Big Lebowski song? Fame is double edged. I was hoping for more Accordion.
Boffo Yux Dudes - Logan's Run 
Bad synth patch. Very 70's Sci-Fi. That's probably intentional. But, that is an angry wasp in my ear.
Rob from Amersfoort - How to Stay Afloat
Why is his voice in a well? The song is only two minutes, but I'm drowning.
Vowl Sounds - Squid Linguistics 
Hypnotic Vocals. Why did I write that? I will have to listen again. Great production.
Faster Jackelope - Scotch and Soda 
Swirling guitar intro. Cool sound, but too long. Everybody's intros are generally too dang long
Mike Lamb - Falling Down
Full production. Shaky vocals. People. It's rock and roll. You don't have to sound good. You just have to sound CONFIDENT. Don't bury the vocals with effects. Don't sound like you don't know your own melody. Dive in!
Timothy Patrick Hinkle - Sorcerer's Son 
Mandolin. Ren-Festy! Jethro Tull's step-son.
Governing Dynamics - Chiba City Blues
Great Production. Buried vocals.
Nick Work - All Kinds
It's a Tom Petty song! Seriously, that's a good this. Nice, classic pop/rock! I needed this right now.
Jeb and Iwa - Memory Thief
Witchy vocals. Like Maleficent is singing. Not enough melody. Needs more memorable tune in a song called, "Memory Thief."
Good Guy Sôjàbé - Into the Maze
Peter Gabriel, wait. That's BOWIE!
Nice production, but there's a weird vocal effect. Weird vocals are just weird, not creative. The voice is great. Put less junk on it.
Ross Durand - Back to the Beginning (The Ballad of Inigo Montoya)
YES! YES! YES! Clever lyrics and a meringue (some Latin Rhythm). Fun. I expected more Princess Bride this round. This stuck to one scene. Very nice. And a real chorus!
Lichen Throat - Clear Sky and Cool Water
Two notes on a Bass is not a hook or an intro. It's Tom Sawyer! Another Capt. Beefheart guy. But the vocals are more confident. Poetic lyrics that do not scan. Rhyme needs Meter as much as Meter needs Rhyme. Neither has to be perfect. But don't break the Meter or Rhyme just to pack in more words. Hey, on the bright side, there's a real chorus and it's upbeat and catchy! Kudos for a happy chorus.
Menage a Tune - Peter and... 
Peter Pan should have been avoided as a theme. It's a bigger cliche than The Big Lebowski. I LOVE the harp accompaniment. The woman's vocals are buried. The harp should not be louder than the vocal. The duet part is cute, but it just repeats the first two verses together. There should be more payoff there. The straight repeat makes the song too long and too ponderous.
Glen Raphael - Right As Rain
Great guitar. Perfect. Glen's vocals have a jingle -jangle quality that is distinctive.  A REAL CHORUS! A BRIDGE! YES! And. Yes. Bang. Bingo! Packs a punch. I want to learn this song!
Mandibles - Rock Beats Paper
Another D&D Jethro Tull, Magic the Gathering thing? No. Wait. The distorted guitar kicks in and it pick up. The chorus is very cleverly worded. And here's a guitar solo that I can actually stomach. Kudos.
PigFarmer Jr - They're Here 
Poltergeist. Into is too long. Into is WAY too long. I command thee song, begin NOW! More than halfway in, still no song. Melody is swiped from somewhere. I'll figure it out eventually, if I ever get back to this song. 30 seconds of song for something 2+ minutes long? Nope.
Jerkatorium - In the Future 
Funny, punctilious, pedantic, redundant lyrics. These guys like They Might Be Giants. Nice dragged out....
...pause. Funny. I wish it rhymed and had a more memorable melody. I will listen to this again, but I doubt I'll be humming it tomorrow.


1Ross Durand
2The Quantifiers
3Glen Raphael
4Steve Stearns
5Nick Work
8Lichen Throat
9Good Guy Sojabe
10Ominous Ride
11Vowl Sounds
12Jocko Homomorphism
13Governing Dynamics
14Boffo Yux Dudes
15Caravan Ray
16Faster Jackelope
17Mike Lamb
18“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson
19Timothy Patrick Hinkle
20Rob from Amersfoort
21Jeb and Iwa
22Menage a Tune
23The Brewhouse Sessions
25Jordan Carroll
27PigFarmer, Jr

ST16R1 REVIEW - Mary Ann Randall

To start, I am a newbie judge… I may be a bit, er, conservative in my approach as this is my first time so I must proceed gently.

Also, as a female, I may be succumbing to my maternal side in some reviews so that may explain some of the approach and why it took my so long to finish (besides trying to do them during a week of the flu running through the house, and trying to finish up while playing dance mom at a dance competition all weekend…and I’m OCD AND clinically ADHD.)  So it took me awhile to find a “style” of giving reviews.


  1. Jocko Homomophism – John Goodman’s Crowbar

The song definitely follows the theme,  and there’s inspiration there, I just think it sits on the hook and looses my attention (even the background sounds don’t break it up enough to me.)
Mom answer:  Good job, I’m proud of you, win or lose.

  1.   The Quantifiers – Dining in Dictionopolis

I liked the ever clever poetry of this song, about “eating your words” lol.  Intellectually speaking sounds like an English language lesson you might hear in a classroom.
Mom answer:  I’m sure you will get an A on this assignment!

  1. Ominous Ride – Running

Nice production, I have to admit I’m a sucker for nice easy guitar hooks…  Sounds like nice song you would have at very end of movie credits to set that kind of “closure” to the mood.  Radio ready, no but I could hear this on the alternative rock station. 
I thought it nailed the theme.   
Mom answer:  I’m gonna post this on facebook!!

  1. Caravan Ray – A Soul as Light as a Feather
Kind of groovy, low key, late night bar listening song.  Kind of like that original song a band will work in in-between cover stuff and the local groupies love it.
Mom answer:  Let’s go listen, I’m so excited that tonight they are debuting one of their original songs!!

  1. Steve Stearns – The Doctor has no time to see you now

My favorite application of the theme to a song.   The tune was fun, had a tv sitcom kind of feel to it.   Fun, laid back sound!  Only challenge I had, is I just had a hard time recalling the tune specifically.
Mom answer:  This is so good!  You should put that up on your Spotify!

  1. Outlyer – Take Me Away

I had to fast forward, the beginning just took a little long, my attention span struggled getting to the beginning.  I liked the effort to do the “rap” style interjected, I just couldn’t stick with the song,  it just dragged for me.
Mom answer:  That’s lovely… did you do any other songs?  I’d love to hear those too.

  1. Jordan Carroll -  Wall-E Meets EVA

I wanted to love this.  I did.  I think it’s got a great catchy little tune in there, but somehow the creativity lagged after that.  I’d revisit the tune and see if it can get further off the ground.
Mom answer:  Great start, but I think you need to go back and review your work again, I think you can add a little more to it.

  1. Temnere – Amplified

Late night stoner music.  I think I got caught up in the heavier rock sound of this, and I am a sucker for fantasy lyrics, guitar solos, and a solid inclusion of drumwork.
Mom answer to the neighbors:  I don’t understand this rock music they listen too, I’ll ask them to turn it down  (but secretly really likes the music and doesn’t actually make good on the request.)

  1. The Brewhouse Sessions – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Kind of Dylan sounding alternative folk rock sound…  this song could be popular with the coffee shop crowd…  I couldn’t find a reason to love it, couldn’t find a reason to dislike it.
                Mom answer:  I’ll never completely understand what’s cool and what’s not these days.

  1. Bobby Matheson – This Aggression Will Not Stand

I got it,  it met the criteria for the theme, .  Not a bad song, I just didn’t get into it…  
Mom answer:  I think you tried, let’s just see what everybody else thinks.

  1. Boffo Yux Dudes – Logan’s Run

I found this song took the theme a bit too dead on…  I did want to run by the end of it.  It was just too repetitive for me, although if you think about it, it did fit the theme. 
Mom answer:  Ok, that’s enough of that for now.  

  1. Rob from Amersfoort – How to Stay Afloat

I struggled to stay afloat, the song didn’t help.  Maybe it was the raspy production, it was uncomfortable to listen to for me, the melody didn’t stick with me.
Mom answer:  Not everyone likes everything everyone else does.

  1. Vowl Sounds – Squid Linguistics

The title of the song gave a completely different impression of what was about to play.  I was expecting something very weird but instead got a nice driving song with a pleasant tune and I felt like there was a flow to the “story” of the lyrics. 
Mom answer:  Let’s all sit and listen to the new song they just wrote, I’m sure you will all enjoy it!

  1. Faster Jackalope – Scoth and Soda

I’m not sure how I ranked this down as much as I did, the kind of slightly “off” tune was a unique change to your basic “catchy” tune…  but I think the sort of “off” sound may have been what contributed to getting pushed down when I was doing relative comparisons to other songs I ended up ranking higher.
Mom answer:  Sometimes that happens, keep trying I think next time will go better.

  1. Mike Lamb – Falling Down

Song about one of my favorite movies.  Annnnd another Dylan-esque sounding style…  Ok, ok, I’m gonna favor a strong guitar interjection, especially with a great chorus to mix it with…  I think what really caught my attention is I could definitely remember the song in my head after listening to it.  Strong production, strong lyrics imo.  
Mom answer:  You should use that for your next audition! 

  1. Timothy Patrick Hinkle – Sorcerer’s Son

A modern minstrel?  Rock minstrel?  A storytelling song that tells a story.  The lyrics kept me listening to finish the story – bad lyrics could have killed this on for me.  Music style and lyrics were a great fit and it worked– that’s what made it!
Mom answer:  Those theater kids are at it again!

  1. Governing Dynamics – Chiba City Blues

This song makes me reminice back to my 2 week goth phase when I bought my first album by The Cure and the soundtrack to The Crow.  Yummy distortion on this one.  This is another song that got snagged in the relative perspective against the other songs based on the contest  for me.
Mom answer:   You look nice in black dear.

  1. Nick Work – All Kinds

I like “driving songs” this has a very commercial sound to me.  I’d toss it up on Spotify and see what happens. 
Mom answer:  “Nods head to the beat and smiles”

  1. Jeb and Iwa – Memory Thief

I can see this song is trying to set a mood, and in context, I can see (er, hear) that.  It just wasn’t listen-able by itself to me.   It could possibly be I don’t recognize true art when I hear it…  my opinion is just one of many.
Mom answer:  Ok – I’ve heard some of it…  Can we listen to the rest later? 

  1. Good Guy Sojabe – Into the Maze

This song sounds like it’s in a maze….  But the tune stuck with me, and I can see this playing on alternative rock radio.  The production is strong, rich guitar and drum work and fits the theme it’s modeled after.
Mom answer:  I used to listen to David Bowie when I was younger and that song reminds me we should rent that movie again sometime

  1. Ross Durand – Back to the Beginning (The Ballad of Inigo Montoya)

Clever tune, clever lyrics, entertaining enough to make me laugh out loud the first time I heard it!  Song style and lyrics were completely in line, and fun to listen to!  Very much catches the spirit of its muse.  Not only that, the melody, the song, stuck with me in the most pleasant way!
Mom answer: Anyone that hasn’t seen The Princess Bride can’t be friends with my kids (just kidding…. Maybe….)

  1. Lichen Throat – Clear Sky and Cool Water

I liked the guitar melody in this one.  I liked the words…  it stuck with me…  I’d rather heard more of a singing melody.  Again, another song where what made it stand out “different” to me is also probably what hurt the ranking too. 
Mom answer:  Maybe we should get several opinions before making a decision

  1. Menage A Tune – Peter and…

This song made me feel sad and kind of got lumped in with the group of songs where the tune being different stood out to me, but gave me conflicted feelings on ranking.   Maybe relax a little, felt like the sadness was more pushed on me rather than let me just feel the emotion of the tune…. Perhaps the heavy enunciation made it sound like theatre teachers presenting a song for the play to their students.  Soften up the singing, more wistful and less over-pronunciation.
                Mom answer:  This is an example of why we get 2nd opinions.

  1. Glen Raphael – Right as Rain

I only put this 2nd because I had to do a 1st and 2nd and not 2 firsts.  I would buy this song, and folksy music isn’t even my thing.  I love the guitar work and the tune… the only thing that pushed it second was comparing the application of the theme with it being just a bit more obscure in application.  Such a lovely little ditty in juxtaposition against a heavy violent movie. 

Mom answer:  “Taps foot, pours glass of wine, puts on headphones”

  1. Mandibles – Rock Beats Paper

Heavy metal folk minstrel….   Trans-siberian type arrangement?  Creative idea – I liked the guitar but the singing and the tune just grated on my ears.   I wish I could be more constructive on this one… 
Mom answer:  Why don’t you try another style and see if that works?

  1. Pig Farmer – They’re here

Half of a 2 minute song with an intro that doesn’t match….  I’ll leave it at that
Mom answer:  Not every idea works, maybe just try again with something else?

  1. Jerkatorium – In the Future

At first I hated this…. Then I couldn’t get the damn song out of my head.  Bravo for establishing a place in my brain.  Catchy and commercial ready!

Mom answer:  The only song I can’t get out of my head aftre the baby shark song is…… 

  1. Micah Sommersmith – Chariot Ride

I liked the piano tune, the song and lyrics – altho the tendon comment made me cringe a little  -  lol the lyrics were quite clever tho.
Mom answer: Why didn’t you enter?

  1.    Brian Gray – A New Story

Beautiful tune and lyrics and zombies!  I love zombies!!!  Easy to listen to, pleasant, interesting, and lyrics sneak up on the listener.
Mom answer:  I’m so disappointed in you for not entering.

  1. Just Ducky – Under the Big W

Refereshing different style!  Very much the style of Puttin on the Ritz! Clever, interesting, fun to listen to….
Mom answer: I’m disappointed in you too for not entering.


1Ross Durand
2Glen Raphael
3Ominous Ride
5The Quantifiers
6Steve Stearns
8Nick Work
9Mike Lamb
10Governing Dynamics
11Jocko Homomorphism
12Vowl Sounds
13Good Guy Sojabe
14The Brewhouse Sessions
15Caravan Ray
17Timothy Patrick Hinkle
18Jordan Carroll
19Lichen Throat
20Faster Jackelope
21Menage a Tune
22“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson
24Rob from Amersfoort
25Jeb and Iwa
26Boffo Yux Dudes
27PigFarmer, Jr

ST16R1 REVIEW - Micah Sommersmith

Micah Sommersmith
ST16R1 Reviews and Ranking


Ranking 27 songs is hard. It’s absurd to think there could be one set of criteria that could fairly rank so many songs of such different styles. Every artist set out to meet a different goal, and “How well did you meet your goal?” and “How worthwhile was this goal in the first place?” are two of many questions that can be asked.

You may feel that my rankings are wildly unfair, and you may be right. I hope that my reviews are clear on how I feel about your entry and what might be able to be improved. If you have any questions or complaints, feel free to post in the Song Fight forum or the Facebook group, and I’ll try to justify myself if I can.

OFFICIAL ENTRIES - in ascending order of excellence

27. PigFarmer Jr - They're Here
I’m not opposed to this approach in principle but I don’t think it was well executed. The last 15 seconds of the song were creepy, the first minute was almost there but lacked the hazy static feeling you got at the ending. When the electric guitar first comes in, it sounds like the guitarist in a bar band playing random notes before the band’s set actually starts. If you had added some effects to the guitar - fading in and out, panning, EQ, reverb, anything really - it would have been more effective at creating an atmosphere.

When the song proper comes in, the melody is uninspired, the vocal rhythm is weird, and the lyrics are uninspired.

I wish I had more positive things to say about this song: the idea is solid but the execution didn’t deliver.

26. Mike Lamb - Falling Down
This song has good energy; it moves along and keeps the blood pumping. It doesn’t stick in my head at all after listening, though. There’s not a distinctive hook anywhere, and the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and drums are all playing essentially the same rhythm so the instrumentation just sort of blends together into a generic rock mass. The guitar solo is not bad at all, although some of the high notes are a little too far out of tune.

Lyrically, there are only a few moments that really stand out - “The light in the tunnel is just another oncoming train” in particular. And the vocal line feels like you needed a few more run-throughs to figure out the timing, and revise the lyrics to make sure they fit rhythmically.

The recording and mix is solid, and this song doesn’t hurt to listen to, but it doesn’t make much of a positive impression either.

25. Jeb and Iwa - Memory Thief
This is probably the weirdest entry this round, which is not necessarily good or bad. This is not one that’s particularly fun to listen to, although there are certainly some interesting ideas. The harmonium and guitar make for a unique texture, although I wish the music was varied more throughout the song. The verse melody with its distinctive leap upward is memorable but starts to grate. In general, I wish there was more variation to this song, especially at over 4 minutes long.

The lyrics are certainly evocative, and they do work well with the music to create an unsettling atmosphere. I had forgotten that specific scene from Amélie, and after re-watching it I see the references in the lyrics, although your music gives them more of a menacing edge.

Amélie is an interesting choice, since for me it’s so strongly associated with a very specific style of music. It sort of puts you between a rock and a hard place: You can try to emulate the sound of the Amélie score (and either succeed and be nothing but a pastiche, or fail and make an inferior copy), or you can ignore the score and do your own thing, which raises its own questions.

24. The Brewhouse Sessions - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of It All
It’s always great to see competitions like this one getting people into songwriting for the first time, or getting people to finally commit to something they’ve talked about doing forever. So congratulations on your first original song!

The recording and mixing sound quite good - the instruments are all audible in their own space and nothing is overpowering. The timing of the performances can be a bit loose at time, but nothing that makes it unlistenable. It has the feel of an informal, backyard or bar patio jam session, which is nice, but tightening things up a bit would also be welcome.

Similarly, the lyrics are certainly decent and tell the story clearly, but could stand revision to make sure they fit rhythmically - or at least the vocal performance could take a little more care as to how the lyrics should scan. One example that stood out is “made Tuco dig - the poor knave”, which is oddly emphasized and doesn’t quite fit rhythmically.

The title hook, “That’s the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all”, has a lot of syllables jammed into a pretty short line, which makes it feel rushed and awkward. If you are ending the chorus with the title line and want it to be memorable and catchy, you want to make sure it’s simple to remember, easy to sing, and sounds natural. I’m not sure what the best fix is here, but it’s something to keep in mind as you continue to write more songs.

My last criticism is that I don’t get a sense from the song itself of why you love this movie, or what you think is important about it. The verses tell the story of the final scene, and they do a good job of doing so. But I wonder if the chorus could, in the few lines you have, dig a little deeper into the psychology of the characters. You’re getting there with the title line and the “burn inside your soul”, but I think there’s more to explore.

I look forward to hearing more from you guys. This song has its faults but it’s well recorded, confidently performed, and has some very nice moments both musically and lyrically. 

23. Jocko Homomorphism - John Goodman's Crowbar
I love that SpinTunes 16 has started off with a few seconds of bewildering noise, and I wondered if you were going to go full Notational Distinction on us. The groove you settle into is pretty enjoyable as well, though. There are some really nice musical flourishes throughout the production.

The repeated “See what you get” is a great hook and gets stuck in my head easily. The rest of the melody feels pretty uninspired, though. The lyrics feel jokey but not clever enough to be particularly memorable or elevate the song above novelty status. There isn’t much commentary or reflection on the source material besides “This sure was silly!” I did chuckle after I watched the source scene and realized what “find a stranger in the Alps” was actually a reference to, and I thought “Think you’ll stonewall me? / Well you’ll crack before too long” was a nice touch.

I know you don’t usually write lyrics and don’t consider it your strong suit, so I’m not surprised that I found the production a lot stronger than the lyrics in this song - but I know that you’ve also come up with some much stronger lyrics in the past too.

22. Jordan Carroll - WALL-E Meets Eva
This song very wisely doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a fun jam, and instantly entertaining. I don’t think the glitchiness in the beginning and the ending really adds to the listening experience in any meaningful way, but otherwise the synth sounds are pleasant and the beats and riffs are well-composed.

Lyrically, you’ve done the bare minimum. I think you could have done more to differentiate the two voices (presumably through more differentiated effects and processing), so the nature of the dialog is easier to follow and it’s clearer that by the end they are saying each others’ names. You don’t need a lot of detail to follow the story: two strangers meet, introduce themselves, and by the end have gotten to know each other.

21. "BucketHat" Bobby Matheson - This Aggression Will Not Stand
This laid-back acoustic groove pretty perfectly captures the Dude’s demeanor, even as he’s recounting a dramatic (and traumatic) event. The accordion is great (I may be biased), although the guitar and hand-drum are basically doing the same rhythm, so I’m not sure how much the drum actually adds.

The lyrics are faithful to the source, although you never explicitly say it’s the rug that the thugs defiled, possibly leaving anyone unfamiliar with the movie in the dark on that account. The lyrics also don’t add much to the story, such that a fan of the movie will enjoy the references, and non-fans aren’t really given a reason to care. The rhyme scheme is pretty clever (even though “money / funny” is on my personal list of banned rhymes), especially with the repetition of the name Bunny, and all the rhymes for “bowling”.

It’s a reasonably fun song, but it doesn’t have much of a reason to exist besides being a reference to a movie. There’s nothing wrong with that, really, but there are plenty of other songs in this fight that are doing more interesting things.

20. Lichen Throat - Clear Sky and Cool Water
These lyrics do a great job of conveying the scene, through the use of a lot of specific details. We really get the sense of the narrator experiencing a lot for the first time and really noticing everything. I haven’t read Huckleberry Finn, so I don’t know how much is lifted straight from the book and how much is your filling in details, but it’s effective either way.

A downside to the lyrics is that they are not very metrically regular, and you don’t deliver them in a way that’s very sensitive to the rhythm, so each line feels cluttered and the vocals don’t line up with the backing track much at all. I know in the past you’ve had issues lining up tracks after you’ve recorded, and I honestly don’t know if that’s the case here or if your rhythm is just especially poor this round.

The chorus, on the other hand, is actually pretty great. The title hook is delivered precisely, with both a memorable rhythm and melodic shape, and the double-tracked vocals are really effective at making it sound nice and full. Have you done multi-tracked vocals before? I don’t think I’ve noticed if you have - here you do it really well.

19. OutLyer - Take Me Away
This is very listenable. The production is good: the synth lines build and layer upon each other nicely, the percussion drives things forward.

The lyrics are brief but efficient: We all know about Peter Pan, Neverland, and Captain Hook, so you don’t need to spend much time with details. Instead, you’ve focused on the emotional aspect, and the relatable desire to return to childhood and escape responsibilities.

The rap verse feels pretty slight, especially since it’s repeated. And I think it’s interesting that, given how few lyrics you have, your lyrics as recorded don’t actually match your lyrics as typed - e.g. “Give me a chance, just take me away” vs. “Give me a chance to take away” and a few other spots. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that you either sing the words you wrote or write the words you sang.

Due to the length and repetition, I can’t help but regard this song as somewhat small, especially compared to some more ambitious entries in this round. I like what you are doing, but I wish you did more.

18. Glen Raphael - Right As Rain
Last year, I ranked your ST15R1 song “Humans Seem the Same to Me” at the top of the heap. This song feels like it should hit a lot of the same buttons, but doesn’t have quite the same effect on me. The guitar playing is lovely, the melody is pleasing and natural, and your voice sounds great (although a few of the low notes are just outside what I’d consider your ideal range). The problem for me is the lyrics, which sound nice line by line but don’t feel like they add up to much coherent, even though they’re relaying a scene from a movie I’ve seen. The details are jumbled -  “Take comfort in a taste” … of what? “Take comfort in the stuff” … what stuff? “You’ll feel right as rain” could be a great emotional hook if the build-up to it made more sense. Still, again, it’s great Glen guitar playing and singing, and that is worth something.

17. Ross Durand - Back to the Beginning (The Ballad of Inigo Montoya)
You’ve done a great job capturing a musical style, and the song is very well performed, recorded and mixed. The vocal range may be a little wider than is ideal for your voice, but you deliver the melody with gusto.

Lyrically, you do a pretty good job of summarizing the scene in question (and including easter eggs for those familiar with the movie). For me personally, this song feels a little more like parody than homage. Maybe it’s appropriate considering the tone and parodic nature of the source material itself, but I wish you had tried to dig a little deeper emotionally into Inigo’s character and motivation. “Back to the beginning” is a great lyrical hook to zero in on, but in the movie, going back to the beginning took Inigo to a pretty dark place (with the help of copious amounts of alcohol), and I would have liked to have seen that explored more.

It feels bad to criticize your song for what I wanted it to be, versus what you tried (and I think largely succeeded) to make it - but I have to judge based on something...

16. Menage a Tune - Peter and…
Non-guitar or piano based instrumentation is usually going to be a plus for me, especially when it is done well, as it is here. The harp is lovely, and complements the wistful tone of the music and lyrics.

The lyrics are faithful to the source while also opening themselves up to broader interpretation, which is great. The duet vocals are effective, although the mix leaves the male vocal much louder than the female vocal, such that I was adjusting the volume multiple times while listening.

The main flaw is that the song drags on too long - the last minute and a half particularly, in which there isn’t really any new musical or lyrical material introduced. Lovely as it is, and as heavy as the lyrical content is, the spare instrumentation and rather repetitive lyrics mean that the extra length is really felt. Trimming it down would do a lot toward increasing the replay value.

15. Governing Dynamics - Chiba City Blues
I haven’t read “Neuromancer”, but my understanding is that it’s basically “Snow Crash” minus the fun parts, so your gritty cyberpunk sound and lyrics seem to be right on the money. I feel like this is a little bit of a departure for you, more structured and heavier. A lot of it is the bass line, which contributes a lot toward the atmosphere of the song.

The song does still feel like a bit of an undifferentiated mass, which is perhaps appropriate given the theme of dystopian hopelessness. Verses and choruses don’t strongly distinguish themselves from each other either in melody or in arrangement.

The lyrics are good, contributing vivid images that communicate the setting and mood very well (even if plot is a bit hazy).

14. Jerkatorium - In the Future
This song is undeniably toe-tapping, and I’m a sucker for whatever you call that guitar strumming pattern (see also: my accordion playing on our “Flamethrower” collaboration). The line “Future events such as these will affect you… in the future” has just the right amount of dumb-brilliant logic, and you juuuust get away with the ever-increasing length of the pause.

Obviously your production is top-notch, and I’ve seen behind the curtain so I know the work that goes into it. The melody and lyrics, however, don’t rise to the standard you’ve set in many other of your songs. The aforementioned title hook is the only really memorable melody OR lyric in the whole song. Aside from the reference to aliens, there’s not really any specific details in the song at all. It’s all vague, vague, vague, and the music isn’t compelling enough to make me think you guys are all that invested in it either.

This isn’t really a criticism, but I think it’s interesting that a band that has drafted some very complex and rigorous rhyme schemes has released a song without any rhymes at all, unless you count “future / future” and VERY slanty slant rhymes like “moment / know it” and “evidence / shocking facts”.

Addendum: I wrote this review before watching your music video and the Criswell clip, so I didn’t realize just how directly the lyrics were lifted. I’m not sure if my opinion of the song has increased or decreased. I’m suppose I’m impressed at the level of rhyme and meter that you did manage to come up with. 

13. Rob from Amersfoort - How to Stay Afloat
The signature Rob from Amersfoort sound doesn’t always work for me, but when it is used effectively, it really works, and that’s the case here.

I’m not at all familiar with this movie, but for me the song stands very well on its own. The lyrics are vague enough that a listener can relate their own experiences to the song (whether or not they are literally drowning!) which for me is a positive.

The music is squarely in the realm of what I expect from your style. In this case it works really well, the off-putting vocal delivery (and mixing), the abrasive guitars, and rigid percussion serving to support the thematic material. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t welcome some exploration in different stylistic directions from you in the future...

12. Faster Jackalope - Scotch and Soda
All the classic Faster Jackalope traits are here, and add up to an enjoyable track. I love the interlocking 6/8 - 3/4 guitar lines in the intro. The guitar solo is nice but surprisingly restrained. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more virtuosity.

Melodically, my favorite part is the pre-chorus “Maybe it’s the whiskey talking” which has a great classic pop feel. The rest of the melody gets the job done but doesn’t particularly stick in my head. The lyrics do a good job of telling the story economically. I like the ABBA rhyme scheme of the first verse, but you don’t stick with it for the second verse.

There’s really not much I can fault this song for - it’s well put together and competent in all regards, but it doesn’t excite me or offer something truly memorable the way some other songs in this fight do.

11. Mandibles - Rock Beats Paper
Drums need to be louder. Drums need to be louder. Drums need to be louder. Sorry, now that I have that out of the way, there’s a lot that’s pretty great about this one. 

The lyrics convey the essence of the story with impressive economy. It helps that you’ve picked source material with an easily summarizable concept - but that wouldn’t matter if you didn’t use the music to convey the emotion inherent in it - which you do, quite well.

The mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation is great (although the transition would be a lot more effective if your drums were louder). The electric guitar playing is suitably epic, and so are the soaring vocals, with some caveats: The male vocals are definitely the weak link; even though Truth doesn’t have much to do with his line compared to the others, it could have been punchier. The vocals suffer in parts from overly fussy classical diction, e.g. at “it goes against our natural lot / for rock to beat paper if paper meets dot.” And the vocal rhythm in the bridge is pretty weird, with emphasis on “be” in “corn be heavy soon”, which feels unnatural. Again, though, mostly the vocals are epic, with the final stripped-down coda a very satisfying conclusion.

But please, please, please, turn up the drums.

10. Vowl Sounds - Squid Linguistics
I’m glad you didn’t focus on the runaway Whorfianism central to the plot of Arrival, which is my least favorite thing about pop culture commentary on linguistics (and I’m not even a real linguist). The meditation on parenthood and selfishness is a lot more interesting, so I’m glad you made that the focus, even if it does render your song title a red herring.

The lyrics are good, although they don’t have as much of that brilliant owlian insight as I’ve come to believe I deserve. “The stars moved so I could meet you” stands out, and generally the lines that refer ambiguously to either the daughter or the aliens are well done.

Sonically, everything is beautiful, except for the scritchy-scratchy guitar in the last chorus which detracts rather than adds, for me. The vocals are excellent, as expected, although the uncoordinated final “s” on the word “hands” bothers me. And I know that over-enunciation is its own danger, but in your delivery “words” and “worlds” are almost entirely indistinguishable. It’s a great bit of wordplay but it’s not worth anything if the listener can’t actually hear it.

The melody is nice but there is a LOT of empty space (what I call, probably annoyingly by now, “call-and-response with no response”), especially in the verses: sing for four beats, rest for four beats, repeat.) A more involved backing track, or a lead synth or guitar line or something to fill the silence, would have been welcome, as long as it’s tastefully done. And I know that you two have taste.

9. Caravan Ray - A Soul as Light as a Feather
This song definitely grew on me the more I listened to it. At first I was put off by the raw aggressiveness and the abrasive vocal delivery, but I’ve grown to appreciate them as indicative of the intensity inherent in the moment you’re depicting.

The lyrics are really well-constructed. In the first half, phrases and lines are repeated and varied and circle around each other, reflecting Huck’s uncertainty and hesitation. When he makes up his mind in the second half, the lyrics come out in a barrage of intensity. The music reflects this shift as well, and by the ending the repetitions of “Alright then, I will go to hell” are defiant rather than uncertain.

I do wonder if you’ve included enough detail here for someone unfamiliar with the book to fully appreciate the song: we aren’t told who the narrator or Miss Watson or “he” is, or what is written in the letter or exactly what action is going to send him to hell. We get the anguish of making the decision, and general idea of going along with society’s view of good and evil vs. sticking to your own principles - but it might be more powerful if the specific context is made more explicit.

8. Steve Stearns - The Doctor Has No Time To See You Now
That piano riff is very catchy - on the whole this song is groovy and fun. The melodica line is catchy too although it sounds a little thin against the piano.

The title hook is great - I approve of putting an unexpected twist on a well-worn but memorable phrase. It’s also clever to combine the plot of the actual scene with the behind-the-scenes trivia (Harrison Ford’s illness leading to cutting short the fight scene).

There’s a drop in energy from the verse to the chorus - the sustained chords in the piano, contrasting with the bouncy riffs coming before, mean there’s suddenly a lot less going on, which took me by surprise, in a not particularly pleasant way. I wonder if changing up the drum pattern also, or some other change in arrangement, might make the transition more effective.

On the whole, there’s no deep insight or thoughtful reflection on the source material here, just a fun and catchy take on a memorable movie moment. And when it’s done this well, that’s enough.

7. Good Guy Sôjàbé - Into the Maze
The atmosphere you create here is great. The production and instrumental performances are the strong suit. I love the wobbly synth bass and the guitar licks. The vocals are solid enough - there are better singers competing, but you use your voices well to reinforce the mood - with the exception of the annoying tinny echo voice in the chorus that goes e.g. “not long at all…” and that gets the last word with the chopped-up and repeated final line. Making that the last thing I hear ends the song on a sour note for me, which is a shame because there is so much good stuff going on.

The lyrics are good here, if slight - a lot of direct quotes or references from the movie, somewhat sketchily strung together. In this case I don’t really have a problem with that since the music does the emotional heavy lifting.

6. Boffo Yux Dudes - Run Logan Run
I don’t know anything about this movie, but your lyrics provide a clear enough picture of some kind of sci-fi dystopia, and the music complements the lyrics very well.

The repetitive “Run Logan Run” refrain is a great simple hook, whose urgency is reinforced by its repetition, and the menacing, driving music backs it up, especially the insistent drums.

This is a song where I could quibble about the lyrics and whether they give enough detail to actually tell the story on their own, or just to serve as plot reminders to people familiar with the movie. (Procedure 03-03, hmm, gem on the palm, hmm, the ankh, yes, it all sounds very dystopian, indeed.) For me, the music and the chorus were enough to satisfy me and allow me to overlook any problems with the rest of the lyrics.

5. The Quantifiers - Dining in Dictionopolis
This is an extremely clever take on an extremely clever book. The lyrics are so well-done - the intricate rhyme scheme consistently maintained over all verses is on the level of Flanders and Swann, Tom Lehrer, Gilbert and Sullivan, etc. Same for the music: it has a classic, well-crafted feel to it. Emotionally, it doesn’t have a lot going for it, but that’s not really what you’re going for.

There are a few moments where the vocal delivery undercuts the rhyme, as if the singer didn’t really realize the rhyme existed - “said it all / quadrilateral” and “square meal / beware, we’ll” stick out to me. You don’t have to hit the listener over the head with the rhyme, but you shouldn’t make the rhyme harder to hear either.

The musical accompaniment and vocal performance are competent but not particularly interesting. Plenty of other entries have you beat in that regard, but the cleverness of the composition does a lot to make up for it.

Familiarity with “The Phantom Tollbooth” probably helps to enjoy the song, but I don’t think it’s necessary: the point - taking the phrase “eat your words” literally - comes across perfectly.

I could easily imagine this as part of a musical or concept album based on “The Phantom Tollbooth”. Wikipedia says that a musical adaptation already exists, but I say the more the merrier!

4. Ominous Ride - Running
This song does a great job of matching the emotional tone of the lyrics and music - the tense, panicked helplessness comes across really well in both. The main guitar riff is particular is great. I don’t know about starting with just the piano - I think it might be more effective to cut right to the chase with the bass lick leading into the full band intro. The piano sounds great within the context of the full arrangement but on its own it sounds a bit cheap. I do think the piano and vocal coda is effective though.

It feels like you have two choruses, the “And I don’t know where I’m going” section and the “In my head I’m fighting” section. The first feels a lot more effective to me, except the last line “What are the steps my feet are finding” where the instrumentation and feel shift pretty jarringly. The second section brings the energy down and feels tacked on. I’m not sure what the best fix would be, but I’d like the energy to stay up throughout.

The vocal performance is great, and the layered vocal harmonies are very well done. I’d never heard of this movie, but the emotional content is communicated effectively and this song stands on its own very well.

3. Timothy Patrick Hinkle - Sorcerer's Son
Glad to have you in SpinTunes, as I’ve loved many of your Song Fight entries. The melody, instrumentation and verse form give me strong Steeleye Span vibes, although the title, subject matter, and contrast of acoustic folk and prog-rock elements also remind me of Uriah Heep’s “The Wizard” - both plusses in my book.

Your six-line ballad-like verses fit the plot-heavy lyrics well, and well done maintaining the rhyme scheme consistently throughout. The folky instrumentation in the verses is great, and the heavier instrumentation in the chorus makes a nice contrast - and fits into a well-established musical tradition as noted above. The bridge (“The thought of disturbing my father’s rest”) with its spooooky organ feels out of place - I wonder if instead you could have repeated the chorus after the previous verse (where the crow mentions the narrator’s father) and massaged the bridge lyrics into another verse.

The overlapping vocal lines in the final chorus is great in theory but ends up sounding pretty cluttered - adding some kind of effect to the counter-melody might make them stand apart better, or even getting a guest vocalist, since that line steps out of the first-person narration.

My only other criticism is that your plot-heavy lyrics have lots of details in some spots and less so in others - particularly at the end. Why was he a fool to undo the spell? Who is this grand-master mage? What dark magic? Why did the narrator turn his back on his father’s work then, but still willingly reverse the spell now? It’s hard to figure out how to convey the story to someone (like me) who’s never seen the movie, and I don’t think it really affected my enjoyment of the song all that much, but it’s worth thinking about. All in all, this is a very well-crafted song that I had a lot of fun listening to.

2. Nick Work - All Kinds
I just read the Wikipedia entry for the movie “Badlands”, and I’m not sure it’s a story I’d want to spend two hours sitting and watching, but boiled down into a three minute rock song, it’s pretty damn great.

In the listening party, Chumpy compared your sound to Tom Petty, and I think the comparison is definitely fair. But it’s a great sound with or without a reference point - the confident vocal delivery, the instantly memorable chorus hook, the heavy guitar riff that follows the chorus.

My complaints are really minor: You have some nice guitar fills in the second chorus that I would have liked to hear more of in the other choruses as well. In the final “Nat King Cole” verse, you could have kept the drums silent until the end of the verse, so that the transition back to higher energy in the guitar solo is more effective. The first verse sets up an ABAB rhyme scheme that is not followed strictly in the following verses.

As I said, these are minor complaints; on the whole this is fine work and a very enjoyable listen.

1. Temnere - Amplified
You really know how to make a challenge play to your strengths - the progressive and metal genres already draw so heavily from science fiction themes and stories that your choice here is perfectly natural.

The lyrics don’t necessarily fill in every detail, but the important parts are there: hubristic scientists, an experiment gone awry, mortals reaching toward godhood, etc. And you know how to give specific lines their appropriately epic delivery, especially “All of your pain amplified.”

This entry includes more electronic elements than a lot of the more straightforward metal songs that you’ve done in SpinTunes, and it’s a welcome addition - I particularly like when the tapping electric guitar solo gives way to synth arpeggios. It’s a very clever bit of orchestration.

Since I’m supposed to offer some criticism too, I guess when you start tapping at 2:39 it feels like it comes out of nowhere, like “here’s a nice melodic solo, but I just remembered that I can do crazy fast stuff too, so I’d better do that now.” It doesn’t feel well-prepared or supported by the background instrumentation. Is this a tiny complaint? Yes, yes it is.

In SpinTunes 14 you got sunk in Round 3 for not venturing far enough outside of your comfort zone. We’ll see if that becomes a problem here, but for this round you’ve played to your strengths and produced a damn good track.


Micah Sommersmith - Chariot Ride (Shadow)
This started as a scrap of lyrics that I wrote without thinking of this challenge at all, but when I got to the Achilles heel bit I realized I could connect it to the Iliad, which steered the rest of the song. I didn’t worry much about focusing on a specific scene from the Iliad, because I don’t have to worry about actually being judged on whether I met the challenge. So there.

Brian Gray - A New Story (Shadow)
Anthemic, beautiful, filled with pathos, almost enough to make me not sick of zombies as a pop culture trope.

Just Ducky - Under the Big W (Shadow)

Just fun!