Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SpinTunes #2 Champion: Mitchell Adam Johnson

Runner Up: Chris Cogott
3rd: Zarni De Wet
4th: Rebecca Brickley

Congratulations Mitchell! You survived all 4 rounds, and you've earned the blue ribbon. Wish I had more to give you, but everyone knows the real prize the music you helped create & share. It was great having you involved in the contest, and I do hope to see you in SpinTunes #3 as a judge or competitor. (expect an e-mail in early June about judging) If we ever get t-shirts made for SpinTunes, I'll make sure you & Kevin are the first to get one.

I want to say well done to all the other finalists as well. You all earned your way into the finals, and I could have been happy with any of you being the SpinTunes #2 champion.

Totals & Reviews:
In the end 21 of 25 people sent in their votes/rankings, and the final count was:

Mitchell - 70
Chris - 63
Zarni - 44
Rebecca - 33

Popular vote totals:

Mitchell - 162
Zarni - 56
Chris - 24
Rebecca - 3

Kevin Savino-Riker - Dr. Lindyke - Zack Scott - Jeff MacDougall - Glen Phillips

Guest Judge's Review: Sara Parsons
Alternate Judge's Review: Spin

Album Cover:
Dave tied JoAnn in the album cover vote (31-31), and since I never made a tiebreaker rule I guess that means it's my decision. Well, I'm going with Dave. I liked both, but his gave me a chuckle when I first saw it. Congrats Dave, your cover will be used. Thank you both for contributing.

Thank You
Not only to the finalists, but to everyone that signed up or participated in SpinTunes. Judges, shadows, fans who listened & voted... I think this contest had far less bumps in the road than the first one. There are still a few improvements & adjustments to make, but don't expect major changes in the next edition...just a few minor ones. Please feel free to leave feedback about the contest in the comments section or e-mail me your thoughts. I'll read through everything before starting the next contest.

I'll be updating the "SpinTunes Hall Of Fame & Records" page sometime this week. In case anyone is interested knowing more about how the stats have changed from 1 contest to the next. I will also be announcing the first SpinTunes 'side project' in the next week or so. This will not be a 'contest'...but more info on that later.

The next contest will probably start around late June or early July. (I plan on it being after Nur Ein VI)

If you need something to keep you busy until the next contest there are plenty of options. You have Nur Ein VI in the spring, Song Fight always has something going on, Edric has his Song Writing Cycle starting in March & like I said...there will be a side project posted here in a week. Keep an eye on the blog & the @SpinTunes twitter feed for updates.

SpinTunes #2 Round 4 Review: Sara Parsons

I'm very happy to have Sara (a former competitor) return to give feedback as a guest judge.  I've respected her work in Masters Of Song Fu, SpinTunes & on YouTube.  She's always welcome around these parts.


Zarni De Wet - The Bleeding Effect
Your chord progression is super dark and lovely, and your voice is plenty easy to listen to, all stuff I’m sure you’re used to hearing. I really enjoyed the build into the second minute, well executed. As far as the challenge goes, you obviously met it. You did a really nice job of telling the story. I guess I just felt like things were just kind of left hanging, like I wanted to hear a resolution, or a bit more development of what your character is up against. A pretty tune, but it left me wanting more.

Mitchell Adam Johnson - In Another Castle
This song is painfully catchy in the best possible way. Brilliant use of sampling. I mean, seriously. I’m struggling to really review this one because I’m enjoying it so much, so, good job there. Perhaps it’s just my limited knowledge of video games in general, but this one was the most clear to me in terms of the character and the situation without the blatant mentioning of the character’s name. The development of your story is clear and fun and the whole thing just makes me laugh and smile and feel like a huge dork. But that’s a good thing.

Rebecca Brickley - Where I Am
I really enjoyed the groove you had going on here. It’s pretty danceable. I do feel, however, that the lyrics showed you trying rather indelicately to get the context to show through. The chorus works well, but the verses seem to say the same thing without any real growth throughout the song. I found it a bit repetitive towards the end. I feel like I got it after the first two minutes. Perhaps if you had just gone a little bit farther with the concept... It’s still a really fun tune, though, one that I enjoyed listening to. Good job!

Chris Cogott - In Bright Falls
This sounded like a cross between Nirvana, Weird Al, and The Beach Boys. I don’t know, maybe that’s your thing, but whatever it is, I really liked it. I really liked your backing vocals too ohmygosh! As a self-professed non-expert in video games, I really appreciated your mentioning of your character. And you did it in a way that wasn’t particularly awkward, at least not to me. You used rhyme to your advantage and you used it well. Everything seemed kind of seamless and it just made sense, which is important. I just wish there were more to it. I felt like I was just starting to get into it when it ended. I could have used a bridge, or maybe even another verse. But still, I really enjoyed this one as well.

(Shadow review may be added later.)

SpinTunes #2 Round 4 Review: Jeff MacDougall

Yet another judge decided to do a video review. (Direct Link)

SpinTunes #2 Round 4 Review: Glen Phillips

Rebecca Brickley - Where I Am

What’s up with the poor recording? Is there not a proper mix to come? I think you’re a great singer. However I think you’re over-singing this song. On the other hand you’re really selling a sub-par song. You get props for selling it, but this is just not a strong song. “Catch me if you can” yikes. Cliché’ salad lyrics are rather annoying. You’re a good player, and a great singer, I find your writing hit and miss. This one is a big miss for me. You’re my 4th favorite.

Mitchell Adam Johnson - In Another Castle

Pop yummy candy! The female vocals are excellent! I love the beat and the video game noises! The production is awesome! Yeah I love this song! The 2:06 running time is perfect for this song. The melody is super catchy. I wouldn’t mind at all if this won. The horn blasts are tasty. It’s all so very tasteful and delicious! You may have played it too safe and not been ambitious enough to rise above 3rd place for me. This is a keeper! Great job!

Zarni De Wet - The Bleeding Effect

Holy Crap! Beautiful and dramatic! I couldn’t care less about the lyrics, but at least they don’t bother me at all. Your voice is amazing! Your delivery is top notch! The prominent piano is flawless and dynamic! Great playing! The drums are a good idea; you could have done better on the drum tone. I like the synth string accents a lot! They really mood up and embellish the song! I don’t like the fade out. I would’ve liked you to nail an ending. I assume the minute plus of silence is a mistake. I’m assuming you’ll win based on the poll. This isn’t a bad thing. You’ve submitted 3 awesome songs and one misguided one. You’re a star, you’re going to be far more famous in the future than you are now. Deservedly so. Great job! Good song! My 2nd favorite!

Chris Cogott - In Bright Falls

In my world, in my view, in my humble opinion, this hasn’t been much of a contest. Chris has again blown away the competition. I will find it somewhat disturbing if Chris doesn’t get this title. Were the criteria to be based on having the most music in one’s submissions Chris wins hands down. Not only does he consistently have very good lyrics, but he’s got the best drums, the best bass lines, awesome keys (Zarni has the best keys skillz), the best song structures, the catchiest riffs, by far the best guitar playing, and for me the best songs. This song belongs right up there with the other 3. The organ and the bass really make this thing groove! I love Chris’s vocals too! Chris Cogott does it again. This is my favorite song of the batch!

Monday, November 29, 2010

SpinTunes #2 Round 4 Review: Zack Scott

Hey everyone! I have mixed feelings about this round. I love video games, and I consider myself quite the gamer. However, I've been told that the judge's reviews probably won't matter this round, so I had a hard time being motivated to write the reviews. Nevertheless, now that I've found the time, I'm excited to hear the songs and what you guys came up with. Due to my procrastination, my time is wearing thin, so I will only be writing reviews for the four main songs. I did like a few of the shadows better than the main entries though. I will say that the entries were all fairly strong, but I wish the main entries had a bit more variety.

Mitchell Adam Johnston (In Another Castle) - Right off the bat, I knew I'd like this song. I love how the music incorporates Super Mario Brothers 8-bit sounds and in an original composition. I really love how the warp pipe effect syncs with the first "I'm so alive." I think the song also did a good job of capturing how the Princess might actually feel.

Zarni De Wet (The Bleeding Effect) - I have no idea why it ends with a long stretch of silence, but I'm actually glad the song was shorter than I thought. It was a nice song, but I feel it didn't benefit from the nostalgia that Johnston employed.

Chris Cogott (In Bright Falls) - This is perhaps the most literal entry of the group. It's about the Alan Wake, a game I grew frustrated with. However, in the past, I've mentioned how Cogott often walked the fine line of rock I liked and didn't like. This time, it happened to fall on the side I don't particularly care for. Still, I enjoyed listening to the song.

Rebecca Brickley (Where I Am) - I feel this song did the best job of turning the perspective of a character into a song that could be enjoyed by anyone regardless if they are a gaming fan or not. However, when it comes to the overall song, I enjoyed it the least.

SpinTunes #2 Round 4 Review: Dr. Lindyke

Dr. Lindyke also decided to do his reviews via video. (Direct Link)

When we got to the Final Four of the LP, the one thing that immediately struck me was that this round would be great. The quality of the entries were uniformly excellent. This being a POV challenge, I'm judging how well the songwriter got into the head of the character he or she was portraying. I really wasn't looking for bleeps and bloops, though the 8-bit sound was appreciated, where appropriate. But it's important to remember that this challenge is character-based... NOT game-based. The successful entries get us into the head of the character, not the feel of the game.

Something different I've done today is I've noted the running time of each song. I did this after I noticed how incredibly short (time-wise) the playlist is. Fully 10 of the 15 songs clock in at under 3 minutes. NINE of those clock in at 2:30 or less. In keeping with my expectation that this challenge would knock a lot of folks out of their comfort zones, I got a general feeling of "get me the hell out of here" from some of the entries. I also think it's a general trend that the longer entries tend to be the much better ones. These come from the writers who successfully avoided the "game vs. character" trap. Those who took the time to develop the character tended to take their songs out of novelty territory and imbue them with genuine replay value.

The previously eliminated competitors are voting on this round, so my rankings don't count for much. Nevertheless, I'm presenting the four competitive entries in their ranked order, top to bottom. The shadows are unranked and appear in album order.

Zarni DeWet - The Bleeding Effect (4:07)
Game: Assassin's Creed
Character: Desmond Miles

You know what I said above, about taking a song out of novelty territory...? This is the quintessential example. I have to admit, I was completely unprepared for the superb quality of this entry. If you didn't know one thing at all of this game, or that the song had any connection to it, you'd still get an emotional charge from the hook, "I became a ghost / so you won't bleed...". What a selfless expression! The music is elegant and beautiful; I could listen to this all day long. Way back in the first round I noted Zarni's economy of words, and it's at work here again. Imagine for a moment all the different ways that you could express that you kill for a cause; that the ends justify your means; that you're working for a higher purpose; that contrary to appearances your focus is not on destruction, but life. Then consider the words, "If I gotta shed some blood to save some -- then I'll save some." Try to do that better, 'cause I can't.

Your votes will determine if Zarni's won the contest, but this song says she's won me over completely.

Rebecca Brickley - Where Am I? (3:33)
Game: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
Character: Carmen Sandiego

I had an internal struggle over whether Chris or Rebecca got the #2 spot. In the end Rebecca got it because she's got a better handle, I think, on her character. I like the vocal performance. I like the fact that she's not just singing it, she's acting the part. I like the fact that she can do that because she wrote a part that could be acted, and set it to music that allows and furthers that performance. Through this we get a sense of Carmen's playfulness and her sense of superiority. Great job!

Chris Cogott - In Bright Falls (2:30)
Game: Alan Wake
Character: Alan Wake

I like Chris' music, his sound, the arrangement, and his unique choice of character. The song has a bit of a happy-creepy quality to it that both works for and against it. For it, because it's catchy, and just really, really nice to listen to. Against it, for the same reason. We have here a character whose wife has ben dragged into a lake; whose life is a veritable horror show: yet I keep expecting the Munstermobile to drive up and Eddie and Grandpa to jump out. Though the song is undeniably in Alan's POV, I don't get the feeling that Alan is feeling anything. But again, it's a great poppy sound and it meets the challenge, and I love both the organ and the guitar work and the "Paperback Writer" homage. All things considered, it was the musical production that took my 3rd spot.

Mitchell Adam Johnson - In Another Castle (2:06)
Game: Super Mario Brothers
Character: Princess Peach

I hate that every round has to have someone come in last. I'm surprised in the extreme that we didn't have a slew of Mario-themed songs; and that the one we have here is so damned good. The POV is good, and I like the little twist that Peach could probably escape anytime she really felt like it. The game sound effects are a little tedious for a prolonged listen: I suspect that Mitchell knows that, too, as the song is just over the minimum length. In the end, it was the novelty nature of the song that kept it from ranking higher with me.


Charlie McCarron - The Pac-Man Duet (1:09)
Game: Pac-Man / Ms. Pacman
Character: Pac-Man & Ms. Pacman

If you're thinking that you'd wish the overly-busy dot-eating noises would go away during the song, keep in mind that it's not just background noise. Each leg between gulps is exactly 4-beats, or a measure. That makes this sample part of the instrumentation. Still, I wish it were pulled into the background a bit. This is very cute. The voices, with their vibrato and ever-so slight Chipmunkification, sound pretty much as I'd expect Pac-man and his Ms. to sound. There's not a whole lot on either of our protagonists' mind: eat, avoid death, love your significant other. Simple game, simple sentiment. Alas, it's too short to have met the challenge.

Mark Humble - I'm Q*Bert, Babe (2:30)
Game: Q*Bert
Character: Q*Bert

Mark Humble's Q*Bert is apparently the alien answer to Leisure Suit Larry. You might find riffs like this in a 1970s-era soft-porn flick... or so I've heard. *ahem*. Tries for "geek-chic", but winds up overshooting and going a little too meta. If you've ever wondered why Q*Bert is so keen on clearing those levels, you're not going to find out from this song... unless it has something to do with getting into your pants. Entertaining stuff, though. Mark, I'm still trying to decide if you deserve cake or death for near-rhyming Nietzsche and pizza. Oh, hell, take a coveted no-prize.

Brian Gray - Hard to Get (4:06)
Game: Donkey Kong
Character: Donkey Kong

Brian wrote an excellent little bio of this song. The concept: what if Donkey Kong were classically educated, and in love with Mario to boot? And what if he only used the captured Pauline as bait to attract his beloved Mario? Brian does an excellent job of getting into the big ape's head, and keeps the song focused on that POV. Picking out the longhair references is entertaining for those who are well-read. Musically, this is excellent... eminently listenable, and Brian's vocals are great, meshing well with the acoustic guitar. I've rated Brian highly previous rounds and feel more than justified by this great entry. He's one of my favorite performers. I feel Brian would have done extremely well in this round.

Boffo Yux Dudes - Floating Away (2:30)
Game: Asteroids
Character: The Asteroid ship pilot

Not quite matching Duality's four-song tour-de-force in Round 3, BYD have submitted not one, but three shadows. This one is the weakest of the lot. The "character" is the implied pilot of the asteroid-shooting spaceship. They describe it as their homage to Major Tom... and that actually makes a bit of sense. Take it from someone who put more than his share of quarters into one of these arcade machines, the primary winning tactic in Asteroids is to ignore the big rocks. Shoot the little ones, and keep the overall number of asteroids on the screen low. At the end of a screen you can then take a rest by leaving one asteroid fragment which you can leisurely dodge. At this point you're just floating away, as the "pilot" is, knowing that at some point you're going to have to destroy that last rock and embark on a fresh cycle, never to gain a permanent victory. Musically this drags a little bit, but I think that's intentional. Performance-wise, there are a few places where it could benefit from a visit by the Autotune-fairy.

JoAnn Abbot - Go For The Eyes (2:44)
Game: Baldur's Gate
Character: Boo

The POV here is indeed a hamster. While there are definite bonus points to be had for thinking outside the box, there's a limit to the depth of character provided by what is arguably a completely normal rodent. But what if he's not exactly normal...? Most of the idiosyncrasies -- and potential -- may appear to be in Boo's owner, Minsc; but here Jo takes him at face value and explores Boo as if Minsc's wetware didn't need a reboot. Jo does a very decent job portraying their relationship from Boo's perspective, though I expected Boo to be... er... wiser. The tune is simple -- the sort of thing you'd write for your grandkids -- and Caleb Hines' accompaniment is very well done. Jo gives us a good sampling of catch-phrases, so fans of Baldur's Gate should really like this song. I strongly, strongly, strongly recommend the "hamster mix" of this song.

Boffo Yux Dudes - One level Down (1:58)
Game: Space Invaders
Character: a Space Invader

Sam -- I mean, Tom -- and his invisible friend Al have brought us yet another shadow, this one better than the first. And yes, it's about one of those Space Invaders, advancing in rank and file with their zig-zag motion. There are a number of things I like about this song. I like the gradual accellerando, as in the game. I like the alien perspective of "...follow my brothers all the way to the ground." Apparently, Space Invaders are a bit monomaniacal, so this song wouldn't compete with the more character-driven ones, but I really don't think it tries to. It's worth listening to on its own merits. Sadly, they cut it exactly two seconds too short, and it doesn't meet the letter of the challenge.

David Ritter - Pitfall! (2:01)
Game: Pitfall!
Character: Pitfall Harry

I think this song has a great character and a great concept and a bit of a missed opportunity. David has given us a good sampling of the "whats" of Pitfall!, but gives us none of the "whys", and that's a huge difference. This song could be twice as long as it is, and be more entertaining, if we have a little hook into Pitfall Harry's psyche. I think that for a jungle vine-swinging character, acoustic is a good choice, but we do need to hear more of Harry's thoughts as opposed to his actions.

Boffo Yux Dudes - The Elf Shot The Food (2:02)
Game: Gauntlet
Character: The Party

If you've only played Gauntlet as a console game, then you missed out. Gauntlet truly shone as a four-player stand-up arcade game. Gauntlet was one of the early games where your character actually had to eat. Those who've played it with partners know the frustration of having a weakened, hungry character approach bounty, only to see it accidentally destroyed by a stray arrow. So this song is sure to get a smile from old-school arcade gamers. However, that's pretty much the whole joke, so we don't mind that the song's over in 2 minutes... that's actually about the right length for it.

Caleb Hines - The Writing On The Wall (2:16)
Game: Portal
Character: Chell

What! you say... didn't Jonathan Coulton already write the definitive Portal song? Well, maaaybe... his did actually show up in the game, but it's written from the perspective of GlaDOS, the AI. Caleb Hines gives us the story from the viewpoint of Chell, GlaDOS's victim. He crams an awful lot into two and a half minutes. The song is firmly focused on Chell's thoughts. Ultimately it's a build-up to the punchline best associated with Portal. Musically... well, I'm not convinced that Chell would sing something so tuneful and carefree after her ordeal. GlaDOS would, but she's not real.

Governing Dynamics - One Four One (Roach) (4:07)
Game: Modern Warfare 2
Character: Gary "Roach" Sanderson

Travis has an interesting storytelling style... he reveals his character's thoughts through his impressions... those things that are noticed by the character. Don't expect to understand Roach's thoughts... expect to share his feelings. In this case the lyrics turn out to be a recounting of the game itself aside from some wordplay around the names Shepherd and Ghost. The mood here is carried by the music, and by the choice of adjectives.

Inverse T Clown - I'm Tops (3:24)
Game: Megaman 3
Character: Topman

OK, when you listen to this I want you to consider something: ITC doesn't play a note of his music. He scores every bit of it by pushing notes around on a music staff. Now keep in mind that he generally gets this stuff done early (when not plagued by equipment malfunctions). Given that synthetic music is ITC's briar patch, I fully expected him to run away with this challenge. He very nearly does so... he has far and away the best videogame soundtrack-styled entry on the playlist; made all the more impressive in that this isn't done with samples (save for one effect at the very end). Please, somebody, give this guy a job writing actual videogame music! Lyrically, ITC gives us a unique and clever take on a tertiary game character from Megaman 3... Topman. Here Topman poo-poos the suggestion that he's named for his top-like weapons, insisting that it's because he's the best of Dr. Wiley's Robot Masters. Uh... yeah. I really wish this challenge had come earlier in the competition.

SpinTunes #2 Round 4 Review: Kevin Savino-Riker

Kevin decided to do his review on video. (Direct Link)

Monday, November 22, 2010

SpinTunes 2: Round 4 Songs

You can find the album on BandCamp by clicking the image below:

You can vote for your favorite songs with the poll in the right sidebar. -->
(Popular vote stays open til 8PM on the 29th.)

You can also vote for your favorite album cover in the 2nd poll. -->

Dave & JoAnn

Judges need to have their reviews sent to me by November 29th 11PM. I plan on posting the reviews/rankings/new champion by 1AM on the 30th...hopefully. :p

It's YOUR Turn To Vote:
If you signed up for this contest, and submitted at least 1 song (shadows count), then you now get to vote on who wins this last round. If you want a say in who wins, you just have to rank the songs from favorite to least favorite. When you've decided how you want to rank them, just send me your rankings via e-mail. (same address you've been using this contest) After you have officially voted I will add your name to a list here on the blog, but I will NOT show your rankings. Your 4 finalist are listed below:

Zarni De Wet - Mitchell Adam Johnson - Rebecca Brickley - Chris Cogott
(You can find notes about some songs on their BandCamp pages.)

People Who Have Voted:

Edric Haleen - Ben Walker - Danny Blackwell - Common Lisp - Inverse T. Clown - Duality - Gweebol - Governing Dynamics - Swatshots - JoAnn Abbott - David Ritter - Ross Durand - Ryan Ruff Smith - Boffo Yux Dudes - Charlie McCarron - Russ Rogers - Steve Durand - Brian Gray - Heather Miller - Emperor Gum - wait WHAT
(21 of 25 votes have been cast.)


The Pac-Man Duet
Charlie McCarron made a video for his shadow this round.

Links Of Interest:

- Tom of the Boffo Yux Dudes posted a review of this round.

- Common Lisp posted a review of this round.

- Inverse T. Clown reviewed this round. The review is posted in the comments section.

- JoAnn posted a remix of her shadow this round.

Round 4 LP & Deadline News

We have good news & potentially very bad news. The good news is that I got songs from all 4 finalist. The bad news is that 1 of them might be DQ'ed. (don't worry, if you haven't heard about it...it ain't you) The judges & myself are working matters out in our Super Secret Forum, and will hopefully have a decision about that entry soon.

Now the really great news is that we have 9 shadows turned in so far. Could still get more before the LP, but that means at least 13 new songs this round.

I hope everyone remembers that the judges do not decide who wins this round. The finals are determined by YOU! "In the last round, everyone who has been eliminated (who also submitted at least 1 song) will be allowed to rank the songs. This round the judges have no say in matters, but they will still be required to review each song. Rules for a tie are altered just a bit. Popular vote is the first deciding factor, and then the judges are the last deciding factor." If you are entered as a group or band...you only get 1 vote. You have to decide as a group how to rank the entries. The 4 finalist will not be voting/ranking. More on that stuff later...

Art Contest:
There were 2 album covers submitted for this round. So I'll upload both of them (links below), and you can vote for your favorite in the 2nd poll in the right sidebar. The one that wins the popular vote will be the round 4 album cover.

Dave & JoAnn

Listening Party:
It will be hosted by me at the following address: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spintunes

It will officially start at 8PM Cincinnati time, (check the counter) TODAY. I will probably start broadcasting a little early just to make sure everything is set up & ready, but won't start the SpinTunes songs until 8PM. All songs will be available for FREE listen & download shortly after the LP.

If you plan on turning in a late shadow song for this round, you should have it turned in by 5PM if you want me to play it at the LP. Like I said...it'll be a busy day for me...

I didn't have time to make place cards or post the lyrics, but I did post a PLAYLIST.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

SpinTunes #2: Round 4 Challenge

It's-A Me, Mario! - Write a song from the point of view of a videogame character. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due November 21st 11:59PM Sun)

Please make sure it's not JUST a song about a videogame character: being from a FIRST PERSON POINT OF VIEW is part of the challenge. You also need to pick an existing videogame character, you cannot make up your own character. A lot of characters from other forms of media often cross over into videogames. You should pick a character that originated from the media of videogames. So even though there is a "Lord Of The Rings" videogame, you can't write about those characters.

Dr. Mario WITH LYRICS (Fever Theme) by Brentalfloss

<a href="http://brentalfloss.bandcamp.com/track/dr-mario-with-lyrics-fever-theme">Dr. Mario With Lyrics (Fever Theme) by brentalfloss</a>

Submitting Entries:
- Entries must be received by the given deadline. Otherwise it'll be posted as a shadow. Received means that it has to appear in my e-mail inbox by the given deadline. I will be going by the time stamp on the e-mail in my inbox.

- 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.

- 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.

- Include the song lyrics in the body of the e-mail. (If your song doesn't have lyrics...consider yourself eliminated. Instrumentals can be pretty, but SpinTunes does require lyrics.)

- Include information on anyone that needs credited if you collabed with someone.

- File sharing options if you need them: YouSendIt, RapidShare, ZShare & MediaFire. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. Please follow directions so your file doesn't wind up in my spam or trash folder accidentally.

- 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, and have it set so that I don't have to put in an e-mail to download it if you pick this option.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Totals

So here are the links to the individual reviews:

Dr. Lindyke - Glen Phillips - Kevin Savino-Riker - Jeff MacDougall - Zack Scott

Guest Judge's Review: Andy Rehfeldt
Alternate Judge's Review: Spin

You can listen to all the wonderful songs from this round by checking out the free album HERE.

As always feel free to check my totals...mistakes are possible. However, if my figures are correct the 8 people in bold have been eliminated from the contest. Big thanks to all the competitors & all the judges this round. Hopefully, we'll once again get a lot of shadows in the final round. Just because you've been eliminated at some point, it doesn't mean we wouldn't LOVE to hear more of your music.

Judges Totals:
Chris Cogott - 61
Zarni DeWet - 48
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 48
Rebecca Brickley - 47
Steve Durand - 44
Charlie McCarron - 44
Governing Dynamics - 36
Inverse T. Clown - 34
Ross Durand - 31
Ryan Ruff Smith - 28
Gweebol - 24
Edric Haleen - 23

Dr. Lindyke:
Zarni DeWet - 12
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 11
Chris Cogott - 10
Rebecca Brickley - 9
Steve Durand - 8
Inverse T. Clown - 7
Ross Durand - 6
Governing Dynamics - 5
Ryan Ruff Smith - 4
Charlie McCarron - 3
Gweebol - 2
Edric Haleen - 1

Glen Phillips:
Steve Durand - 12
Chris Cogott - 11
Zarni DeWet - 10
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 9
Ryan Ruff Smith - 8
Gweebol - 7
Charlie McCarron - 6
Ross Durand - 5
Governing Dynamics - 4
Inverse T. Clown - 3
Edric Haleen - 2
Rebecca Brickley - 1

Kevin Savino-Riker:
Chris Cogott - 12
Rebecca Brickley - 11
Charlie McCarron - 10
Zarni DeWet - 9
Steve Durand - 8
Governing Dynamics - 7
Ryan Ruff Smith - 6
Gweebol - 5
Ross Durand - 4
Inverse T. Clown - 3
Edric Haleen - 2
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 1

Jeff MacDougall:
Zarni DeWet - 12
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 11
Rebecca Brickley - 10
Edric Haleen - 9
Chris Cogott - 8
Inverse T. Clown - 7
Steve Durand - 6
Ross Durand - 5
Charlie McCarron - 4
Governing Dynamics - 3
Ryan Ruff Smith - 2
Gweebol - 1

Zack Scott:
Governing Dynamics - 12
Charlie McCarron - 11
Inverse T. Clown - 10
Ross Durand - 9
Chris Cogott - 8
Rebecca Brickley - 7
Edric Haleen - 6
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 5
Zarni DeWet - 4
Gweebol - 3
Steve Durand - 2
Ryan Ruff Smith - 1

Andy Rehfeldt:
Chris Cogott - 12
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 11
Charlie McCarron - 10
Rebecca Brickley - 9
Steve Durand - 8
Ryan Ruff Smith - 7
Gweebol - 6
Governing Dynamics - 5
Inverse T. Clown - 4
Edric Haleen - 3
Ross Durand - 2
Zarni DeWet - 1

Popular Vote:
Zarni DeWet - 53
Rebecca Brickley - 17
Chris Cogott - 16
Governing Dynamics - 13
Inverse T. Clown - 11
Mitchell Adam Johnson - 11
Gweebol - 7
Steve Durand - 6
Ryan Ruff Smith - 6
Edric Haleen - 5
Charlie McCarron - 4
Ross Durand - 4

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Review: Andy Rehfeldt

We are very lucky to have a professional (Grammy winning) musician as the round 3 guest judge. Andy Rehfeldt is a TV, movie & commercial composer as well as being a studio musician. He recently gained some internet fame with his amazing dub videos on YouTube. If you want to know more about Andy, I'll include links to his sites & a couple videos at the bottom of the page. Now on to his reviews!


I'd like to start out by saying that, in my opinion, all these songwriters are great. When I was asked to be a judge, I thought, "Sure that'll will be easy". But as it turns out, I kind of feel like Paula Abdul here. So, with that said, here is what I wrote.

Governing Dynamics (Los Alamos) - This song reminded me of Peter Gabriel at the beginning, very cool. It started dragging for me toward the end. I thought the lyrics were great.

Inverse T. Clown (I Have A Leap) - It sounds like a TV show theme. I was missing a memorable chorus on this one.

Charlie McCarron (Queen Of Heart) - I thought this song was very clever and thoughtful. I liked all the chord changes, and the lyrics really made it go somewhere.

Ryan Ruff Smith (The Driver 'Dallas, 1963') - Well the guitar playing and singing were great, with very cool chords. Some of the lyrics seemed weird to me ("holy head ever blooming rosy") and there was too much of the static sample at the end.

Edric Haleen (I Was There) - Sign this guy up for a Broadway score. It was well written and dramatic. Nice low piano chords.

Ross Durand (Ivan Vaughan) - The lyrics were great and the chorus was really catchy. Only problem was that I've heard those chord changes so many times before.

Chris Cogott (Final Flight) - I really liked this one. The lyrics were great and the melody and chords were awesome.

Mitchell Adam Johnson (Pictures Of Love) - That was extremely well written. I can tell that the author has studied the music of the Beatles. Very cool.

Steve Durand (Cuban Missile Mambo) - I thought this song was very entertaining and the lyrics were great. It reminded me of a song for a kid's movie.

Rebecca Brickley (Oh Mercy) - I loved the chorus. The lyrics really told the story. I wished that the vocals were louder in the mix.

Zarni DeWet (Eric) - I've heard the 1 to the 4 progression so much that it's starting to irritate. I thought the lyrics were great, and the chorus worked really well. But the sad and serious vibe was too much for me.

Gweebol (She Said, As She Handed The Telephone) - I thought verses were great. The choruses sounded like a bridge was added each time.

Spintown Interviews...Andy Rehfeldt

Andy's YouTube Channel:
Andy's Twitter:
Andy's MySpace:

Enter Sandman (Smooth Jazz Version)
This Metallica dub is Andy's most viewed video on YouTube, but there's A LOT more on his channel.

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Review: Glen Phillips

This was a good round as an aggregate. Every song was listenable, and most of them had something really going well for them. I actually managed to make the listening party, mind you I was at work, so my full attention was not there. So the challenge was to write about a historical event. You really didn’t need to say “the rest is history, the legend lives on, we just witnessed hist’ry,“.

So here we are in a Song Writing contest and there again is no musical challenge. Just a lyrical challenge and everyone met the challenge this time. Some takes on the challenge were brilliant, some not so much. This is a good “album”. I have about 20 listens in at this point. (90 minute commute each way, gives a lot of listening time. You can add in another 10 listens each as I write.)

Spin Tunes #2 Round Three: Secondary Historical Figures
Glennny’s judgemet:

12th place 1pt - Rebecca Brickley (Oh Mercy) - This is heartbreaking. You clearly had technical difficulties, or little time to record. See 6.5th place for Zero points. I review the proper mix, though I was explicitly instructed to judge on the “judge’s mix”. I skipped the judges mix when I could, and spent my 30 listens on the “remix”.

11th place 2pts - Edric Haleen (I Was There) - It has been fun discussing music with you. No hard feelings sir. This was my least favorite song of the bunch that I can judge. This was worlds better than most of the shadows, but they’re not in the contest. You are an excellent vocalist. No conversion necessary, I like the genre you are dwelling in here. I just don’t think it works. The piano line is rather brilliant actually. I wish it was a touch louder compared to the vocals, but that’s no big deal. I was excited when I heard your concept. It was a good idea. My 3 big problems with this are the performance, the writing and the lyrics.

Performance: I think you’re over-singing the whole way through. The vocal delivery could use more dynamics. There’s a strange marriage of articulate stage musical enunciation and sprinklings of contraction Southern drawl. They clash. The vibrato, while impressive, I think is way over used. The drama is at about the same level of intensity throughout.

Writing: So Man 1 and Man 2 sound the same until the 7th Stanza (if I’m counting right). The call and response is a good idea to separate them. They are in slightly different registers when they call and respond. It’s not actually call and response, since they are not reacting to each other. It’s more like interlacing call and call. Anyway, listening to this without the lyrics in front of me is confusing. I think you should have given Man One and Man Two clearly different voices. Get a friend, a different register, a different cadence, something to tell me they are 2 different (excuse me “diff’rent”) characters.

Lyrics: This is not quite as bad as full on Wiki-pedia Rock, a phenomenon that plagues Song Fight if the title is too obscure. This was dare I say a “brilliant” concept. Your job in selling me the drama is to give me insight into the human condition, or convey the emotional experience. I know the story, I know what happened, I know it was historical, you’re not telling me what you think it means or how you felt. I suppose Man one has regret and wishes it could be diff’rent. That’s pretty thin, and I KNOW you can do better. You had me listen to 7 of your other songs. You’re much cleverer than this song. I listened to this no less than 30 times, and I never wanted to skip ahead. I really liked the piano; I like your voice, though misplaced (in my opinion) at times. Competition was tough, and this is where you landed with me. And besides” Where are the drums?” (joke) I happened to catch your chat during the listening party; no this song doesn’t need drums (though it could be really cool if done right), it is genre appropriate in instrumentation.

10th place 3pts - Inverse T. Clown (I Have A Leap) - This is cute. This is my favorite of your 3 entries. I suppose to be fair I should investigate your back catalog. Perhaps you have some suggestions for the ITC best of? I like this song. You have some tough competition. I can actually hear the bass line, the drums, the faux horns, the keys. The vocals are way up front in your signature Karaoke mix level. Your vocals are really nice. You have well placed harmonies. The bass line is my favorite part, not so much the timbre of it, but the line is good! Those complimentary faux horns are really cool too. I am projecting a real horn section for those. The long notes over the pulsing bass are great. The “drummer” and the “bass player” are not really jibing. Your vocal melody is a little weak and obvious, but it’s not bad. What I really don’t like about this song is the concept and the lyrics. Actually I think the lyrics suffer most from the concept. So I suppose I should give you an “attaboy” for thinking outside the box. You heard the challenge and then decided to fulfill it a rather smart-ass way (which I highly appreciate). So I’m hearing what happened in an episode of Quantum Leap. Was this a real episode? Or was this a fictionalized episode with QL characters? It doesn’t matter either way. You are telling me what happened in this fiction that flirts with history, but why should I care about any of these characters? Sure, you successfully tell a story, why is it a good story? This is told from an omniscient perspective, omniscient that is until it comes to the use of speculation, wherein the narrator must guess. The lyrics are as deep as Quantum Leap. It’s neat to change history, but there’s not a lot to relate to and care about. No hard feelings! Cheers!

9th place 4pts - Governing Dynamics (Los Almos) - There’s a lot to like even love about this song. Your lyrics are excellent. That is the verses are excellent and the chorus is okay for rock. I’m with you until the chorus. Though the line “Should I suspect I aid and abet” is so awesome, I want to steal it, the next 3 lines I don’t think are very good. They hold the place for vocal noises required in rock music but I don’t like the content. First off, I don’t believe those are the thoughts you truly want to convey, I think the force of “History” and “Mystery” rhyming find them coupled together (AGAIN) in a rock song. You lyrically paint a vivid picture. Your vocal delivery makes me feel for the main character. The intensity builds to the chorus where the insight to the human condition, what he’s learning is revealed. Then the opportunity is discarded, wimped out with “I don’t really want to know, because tell me who doesn’t love a good mystery?” It’s just weird, and I don’t think it’s in keeping with the established character. Those are just nitpicks, these verses might be my favorite lyrics of the album. Guitars- Yes! Nice and loud. You sound like a Radiohead fan now. I get it. In fact you remind me a lot of Pinebender. Check out “Kick It” when you get a chance. Seems like a bird of a feather. So the drums are adequate for what you’re going for. The bass is okay too, but not all that interesting, which is genre appropriate. The guitars are really cool. The long sustained notes drift into sourness or unwanted dissonance at times. That is something that might be resolved with wicked tight vibrato. That’s a nit pick, for the most part the guitars are awesome, well played and dynamic. The solo is more of a noise solo than a “notes on a staff” composition, but it works well. The big problem I have with this is the vocals. Your voice is good. The melody is really drab. There’s nothing to really grab onto. Then the worst part, or should I say the place you can improve the most is the backing vocals. Those are not harmonies. For the most part they are octaves, and they are pitchy at times. Do yourself a favor and write out some harmonies on guitar, then sing the line. I understand the draw towards the upper octave, it takes some determination to write a harmonic line. You’ve got a lot of good stuff going on, but you are out matched by your competition. It’s a cool song though, love to hear it with some re-thought vocal melodies and harmonies.

8th place 5pts - Ross Durand (Ivan Vaughan) - Ahhhhh! So nice to hear an excellent recording! Your vocals sound excellent and I really envy your acoustic sound. Ross, I consider you a friend. I hate ranking you this low. When you’re on you write songs that are sublime. Then every now and then we get one of these things from you. Don’t get me wrong, this is a quality song. Listening to your music for the past 5 years, this one sounds “phoned in”. I bet you had a lot of papers to grade or something. The song just feels like folk song by numbers. That can be okay with particularly clever lyrics or a super catchy hook. Neither of those things I find in this song. The guitar hook is catchy, but it reminds me of “Pop goes the world” which is a weird genre hop. The lyrics are fine, but rather obvious. I’m sorry man. I’m sure you’re going to win one of these things one day, but I just can’t see this song getting you there.

7th place 6pts - Charlie McCarron (Queen Of Heart) - I like this song a lot. The vocals are beautiful. I relate to the main character. The music is beautiful. The trumpet is wonderful. The piano is really pretty too. The guitar is laid back and tasteful. Your vocals are excellent! The backing vocals and harmonies are well placed and complimentary. The dynamics are superb. For the most part I really like the lyrics. Oh those guitar bends are soooo sweet! The chorus vocal is where you lose me. I get the “Queen of Heart” is designed to be taken literally, but how can one ignore the deck of cards metaphor? Or the Juice Newton song? You even drudged up a Loverboy song from deep in my memory. It’s some weird compliment, but it strikes me really awkward. I love the personal tale telling in the verses. The resolve falls flat to me. The song is great though! I will be keeping this and listening to this for ages. Well done!

0pts - Rebecca Brickley (Oh Mercy 'Remix') - Oh so this is what you meant it to sound like. It sounds excellent. Your sense of melody is arguably the best in the competition. The chorus melody is my favorite of the album. The harmony vocals are exquisite to! So there’s some implied instrumentation and dynamics (at least in my head), but how can I be sure it’s really there. Based on the fact you had to submit the other version, I take it you didn’t have much time for this song. Your vocals are bad ass, and I believe you can conjure up vocal gold like this at will. However, the piano line is pretty thin. The chord pattern is just fine, but I’m surprised how little piano playing you did, especially when it’s really the only instrument. The tambourine is a dangerous instrument. It cuts through any recording and dominates the high end like nothing else. It sounds intended for 2 and 4, but it’s not as in time as the piano which is solid. Is it its own track? Is it just a foot tappin the tambo on the floor? This sounds unfinished (still) to me. What you got works for an intro and probably the outro, but its begging for drums, bass, and guitar. Some kind of guitar or piano solo would help too. Actually, some vocal soloing might be your strongest contender. Anyway, good job! I’m very impressed with your melodic sense!

6th place 7pts - Gweebol (She Said, As She Handed Him The Telephone) - The organ was a strange choice, but I think a very good one. The vibe is very nice. Your vocals are very cool! There’s an abundance of those notes bent down at the end of a phrase. I suppose that’s a stylistic thing, but I think it’s overused. The lyrics are alright. I still don’t understand why this is the last chance. Seems like it is a chance, but I don’t get why it’s the last chance. Or if it is because the first person is imposing that ultimatum, I don’t understand why. Not a big deal, you have awesome vocal licks, and a groovy back beat. I again think the vocals are too upfront, but not offensively so. Very cool song!

5th place 8pts - Ryan Ruff Smith (The Driver 'Dallas, 1963') - This song causes me to be rather conflicted. There is soooo much right with this! The chord pattern is fantastic! The vocal melody is gorgeous! Your voice is wonderful too! You placed your tambourine perfectly, and it keeps excellent time! The art noise is cool, and I’m conflicted as to how good of an idea it was. It is very effective, but it’s also a little distracting, and probably too dominant. Only a slight adjustment to bring that back a bit, I think would cause major improvements. The worst thing is the: pretty chord- SCREECH- pretty chord- SCREECH…. I generally like string noise from changing chord positions, but those screeches are louder than the deliberate notes. I’d hate to lose the sound of the guitar the way you have it recorded, but that noise is crazy loud. You could go back and reduce those peaks in software. Maybe learn some alternate voicings that don’t require the string slide. Anyway, that is a nitpicking. This song is fantastic and gorgeous. You knocked the challenge out of the park. The lyrics are stellar. The juxtaposition of the beautiful melody and music with what we all know is going on is truly haunting. Well done!

I pretty much knew the top 4 from the 1st listen, but ordering these 4 has been very difficult. They have all spent time at the top of my playlist. Were I to decide the order next week they might be different, but here’s the order to the best of my abilities:

4th place 9pts - Mitchell Adam Johnson (Pictures Of Love) - Okay you get the “Smartest Competitor” award. You noticed that the aggregate of the judges heavily leans towards S & G. Just look how Dominating Chris did with the last challenge. So you realized you have a strong and convincing S & G vibe you can bust out. I hope you make the finals. I’m very excited and curious as to what you’ll do next. Your 3 submissions have been very different and all awesome. I remember some documentary or “movies that rock” with John’s painter friend. This makes me want to see it again. The lyrics are nearly perfect. It tells the story, it conveys the emotion, it brings me to the mid sixties. I won’t mind at all if this is the winner, it is certainly good enough! Great job!

3rd place 10pts - Zarni DeWet (Eric) - Wow! This is devastating. This is just beautiful. The dynamics and the presentation are unparalleled in this competition. Your chord pattern is smart and beautiful. I wouldn’t change a thing with the instrumentation. The subject lends itself well to a solo piano piece. The variation in the piano line is incredibly interesting; it could almost stand up on its own as an instrumental. Then you have those gorgeous vocals atop it and it’s just awesome. The lyrics make one think. I am the father of two, so of course I imagine losing a child and then having the mother of the murderer sing this song to me. This is the smallest of criticisms so feel free to disregard. Were I to lose my child, the last person I would want to hear from is any surviving member of his family. I don’t think such a mother would have the gall to actually say this. I love the “monsters in the closet” metaphor. You have me seriously questioning how I should deal with the monsters in my 3-year-old’s closet. However misguided the protagonist to be saying this, I feel for her. This made me think a lot, and feel a lot. Wonderful! I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t carry you to the finals.

2nd place 11pts - Chris Cogott (Final Flight) - Hot damn! CC just cranks out the hits! I love this in the truck and on the stereo, but it REALLY shines on my headphones! The harmonic lick makes much more sense on the headphones with the full on stereo separation. In other settings it borders on being messy. My favorite part is the riff that appears at 0:59. Thanks for bringing the ROCK! Rock power will take you far! The guitar solo is jamming! The chorus is nice and catchy. The lyrics are good, and above and beyond for the genre! Yeah, were to change anything it would be the echo setting for the harmonics, making them a subset of the tempo, and hopefully keeping them sounding deliberate. The bass is so tasty throughout! I love all the guitar sounds! Your vocals are very good too! I don’t know if it would help or hurt, but I’d be curious to hear your singular voice unaffected more often. The harmonies and effects are spot on, but having the 10 Cogott songs I have; it seems to be a staple. Of course the last round is probably not the time to experiment. I will be flabbergasted if you don’t make the finals. Well done!

1st place 12pts - Steve Durand (Cuban Missle Mambo) - Steve being Steve is hard to compete with. I think some might find your voice a required taste, but I acquired it long ago! (That was shitty, why did I give you that back handed compliment?). How do you compare this against Zarni’s tune? Classic drama verses comedy. This is not only comedy, but funny! At least I find it to be hilarious. It is poignant lyrically, at the same time funny, and it tells a story successfully. This conjures up my parents retelling of the Cuban missile crisis, I think that was the most frightened my dad ever was in his life. What can you do as the world powers play with the fate of the world? Mambo! Genius! What really brings this to the top spot on my list is all the interplay with the different horn sections, the piano, and the vocal melody. The percussion is really nice too! It’s odd too me how sparse the kick and the snare is, but that makes them all the more chilling when they appear. I mean, my daughter and I have to get up and do our best pseudo –mambo when this is on the stereo. I want more!!!! Good job!

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Review: Kevin Savino-Riker

Okay, we’re back! I’m going to start off with some thoughts, because I have them. Now you’re stuck with ‘em:

History is, almost by necessity, a category of unparalleled depth and breadth; it encompasses every location on our planet and reaches back to the beginning of, well... history. And yet, with all that potential source material, there was a surprising level of convergence among the entries this round... more even than we should expect considering that most of our contestants live in the United States. Not only did we get two entries that addressed Rosa Parks’ contribution to the American civil rights movement, we got two songs covering circumstances that led to Paul McCartney joining the Beatles, three songs that chose significant events of the Kennedy administration, two songs from the perspective of a laboratory assistant, and two songs about television characters who traveled through time correcting mistakes in the past.

The above doesn’t have any bearing on how everyones’ entries are going to score; I just found it to be interesting enough to point out how ideas coalesced this round.

Okay, onto the judging. This wasn’t really a challenge that could be met better or worse... it was either met, or not met. In this case, everyone wrote about someone associated with a famous person or event in the past, and accounting for my potential ignorance of the topics covered, every song was unambiguous about the event(s) in question. We finally got a round free of mandated DQs! Pat yourselves on the back.

Keep patting, because I have reasons to love each and every song from this round. In the days since the listening party, I’ve caught myself outside of my dedicated “listening time” singing fragments of every one of your entries. Each of you has had your turn stuck in my head. I apologize for any discomfort this may have caused. Once more, and I hate to say it because it’s going to feel disingenuous to those of you who end up at the bottom of my list, but your song was great. I loved it. It’s a matter of twelve songs that are between 95% and 99% perfect, and I’m stuck trying to figure out criteria that can refine my enjoyment of your music until there is no more joy... just placement. It’s a rough gig. You guys already know how I judge, so I won’t reiterate. I’ll just implement. Best of luck to you all; I have no idea who’s going to end up in the final four, and it could honestly be any of you.


(Unfortunately, I was called in to work this weekend and had significantly less time to write up my reviews than I had originally anticipated. As such, some of your reviews are not very informative. I apologize profusely for this, and I will come back to write more in-depth commentary as soon as I am done with work today. I have to get this all typed out over my lunch break, and if I can finish my day early, longer reviews will be up not long after. Again, I’m sorry and I’ll work to correct my errors as quickly as possible.)

Governing Dynamics (Los Alamos) - This song has an excellent tone and does a great job illuminating the thoughts of someone not sure whether they’re doing the right thing. There’s one lyric that feels a little amateurish (...I’m not equal / ...what he’ll do for a sequel) - it seems like you went out of your way to use those two words, but ‘sequel’ really isn’t the right word to use to describe the scientist’s next career move. That’s the only gripe I have with the song; everything else hits the mark.

Inverse T. Clown (I Have A Leap) - You sure took advantage of our allowance of fictionalization on this one. It was a little risky, but I enjoyed it; the composition and vocals are really good here; it sounds like your drums are as 8-bit as ever, but everything else seems to have come up a notch, and the full harmonies are nicely presented. Your bridge is my favorite part of the song, followed closely by your title.

Charlie McCarron (Queen Of Heart) - This is the best song I’ve heard from you. The horns are a really nice addition, and your lyrics dance nicely between concrete and abstract as you shift from verse to chorus. Your melody, the instrumental breakdown, the horn accompaniment... everything adds up beautifully. One of my favorites of the round.

Ryan Ruff Smith (The Driver 'Dallas, 1963') - You have consistently given us the most picturesque lyrics in the contest, and you’ve continued the trend here; I’ve never heard someone describe an exploding head so gorgeously. The guitar really matches your vocals nicely, and both are excellent, but for whatever reason this song isn’t grabbing me. I can’t decide whether the radio chatter backdrop is beneficial to the song or not; I think it’s distracting while I listen, but when I imagine the song without it, it seems like there’s something missing. Ultimately, It is on the merits of your lyrical performance that the song moved up a few places from its original spot.

Edric Haleen (I Was There) - We have another taste of your particular brand of perfection with this song. The piano is precise and well-designed; your vocals are fantastically emotive, and the character voice changes work well with the song. It isn’t wowing me, however. Had Charlie not blown me away with his take on the same topic, your song would be in a much higher spot.

Ross Durand (Ivan Vaughan) - This song is simple and pleasant; you have a great hook in the chorus; this was one of the ones I spent a lot of time singing to myself during my off-time. Your voice is a great tool and fits the folk style very nicely.

Chris Cogott (Final Flight) - Another huge song served up here. You’ve got shades of Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin throughout, both of which provide favorite soundscapes of mine; the ‘...see the Electra flying home’ at the song’s conclusion gave me chills. Once more, you win my top spot, for ambitious musicianship and fantastic lyrics that really pulled me into the character.

Mitchell Adam Johnson (Pictures Of Love) - This is a pretty pretty song, and a story I didn’t know; it’s soft and bubbly, and maybe on account of that fact, it doesn’t stand out as much as others here. There are a lot of sonic cues to the Beatles here, but the first four seconds of your song always catch me off-guard, because they’re also the first four seconds of The Eagles “Lyin’ Eyes”. I’m not scolding you here, but I am explaining just what it is that’s distracting me. That this happens right in the beginning kicks me away from your song, thus requiring a little effort to come back to it, which detracts from the overall experience.

Steve Durand (Cuban Missile Mambo) - I had a great time listening to this one, and I listened to it over and over again. I think this song did the best of the lot in terms of creating a little fictional backstory that prompted a real historical event. You did it with whimsy and creativity, and I loved everything about it.

Rebecca Brickley (Oh Mercy) - I listened to the judges’ version of your song about a dozen times before I listened to the remix, and I can honestly say: the audio is improved by the remix, but the song is just as good in lo-fi. Any fans of Iron & Wine’s first album can understand what I’m getting at here. Frankly, your song is so beautifully written that the means of delivery make almost no difference in the impact the song had on me. Brilliant melody, excellent harmonies, and performance is terrific all-around. You are a serious songwriting talent.

Zarni DeWet (Eric) - Another deeply emotional song; you’ve returned to tear-jerking territory with me. Once more, you’re adept at translating the emotional space of others into sound, and you gave prompted me to think about that mother’s perspective in a way that I never had before. Your voice is at its haunting best, and the piano is simply powerful without being oppressive. Great song.

Gweebol (She Said, As She Handed Him The Telephone) - You have a very unique style in this song, blending an almost Steely Dan-ish rhythm section with your adorable lead singing voice and great little girlish callbacks in the background... and it all adds up to Gweebol: Cute And Quirky. Cute and quirky is your home turf, and you definitely benefit from home field advantage here.



(as mentioned above - I’ll be writing these, but I just didn’t have time to do so before the official review was due. They’re coming, I promise.)


RANKINGS (points awarded / artist. First position is “first place”)

12. Chris Cogott
11. Rebecca Brickley
10. Charlie McCarron
9. Zarni DeWet
8. Steve Durand
7. Governing Dynamics
6. Ryan Ruff Smith
5. Gweebol
4. Ross Durand
3. Inverse T. Clown
2. Edric Haleen
1. Mitchell Adam Johnson

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Review: Zack Scott

Hey everyone, Zack Scott here again. So far I've been enjoying the judge role, and it's really cool to see how you guys attack each challenge. I liked a lot of the topics people chose and the way they addressed them in the lyrics, but to be honest, I only enjoyed listening to about half of them. As a complete musical package, only a few shined and really gave the historical figures true life. Below are my reviews.

Governing Dynamics (Los Alamos) - This somber tune really picks up and delivers the best lyrics of the entries, and I have a soft spot for falsetto background vocals. Reading through the lyrics, I really get a great feeling for this character. I also like the nuclear/science theme. Both the character and the theme were amplified by the tone of the music. It could have rocked more, but this was the only song I wanted to hear more than once.

Charlie McCarron (Queen Of Heart) - A really elegant song with great instrumentation and vocal delivery. Does a really great job of capturing the historical event without being too specific.

Inverse T. Clown (I Have A Leap) - Starts off sounding like an 80s theme-song, but the piano starts to annoy me after awhile. This song is not as exciting musically or lyrically as his previous entries. However, I really appreciate how Inverse really utilized the "fictional" loophole. Basically, given the criteria, any of these musicians could have written a song about anything. But Inverse used the loophole in a respectful manner.

Ross Durand (Ivan Vaughan) - A decent song with a great topic that touches on the history of music. Excellent guitar work too.

Chris Cogott (Final Flight) - Excellent bass work! I'm glad to hear a rocking song again, but sometimes the song seemed too busy. It walked a fine line between rock I like and rock I don't though.

Rebecca Brickley (Oh Mercy) - I really love the vocals (even more than the Remix), but the song seems messy at times. I also really appreciate how the song builds into a really singable chorus. The song overall seems too long though.

Edric Haleen (I Was There) - Really creative vocal performance, but I kept waiting for this music itself to pick up into something more dynamic and grand. I was disappointed it didn't happen. I really like the theme though.

Mitchell Adam Johnson (Picture Of Love) - Provides great throwbacks to an earlier era of music, which is neat to hear for a historical song about the music world.

Zarni DeWet (Eric) - A really nice but slow song. It's not really my style, but I really liked the daring choice of subject matter. Also, as the song progresses, it does get more exciting.

Gweebol (She Said, As She Handed Him The Telephone) - I definitely liked the topic choice, but for some reason the song and music didn't do it for me. As always, the vocals were good.

Steve Durand (Cuban Missile Mambo) - A somewhat fun song that ventured really far into the cheesy side of things. Great instrumentation, although I don't like this style of music.

Ryan Ruff Smith (The Driver 'Dallas, 1963') - This song didn't really do it for me. Seemed a bit too sleepy for what it was trying to convey, and it just wasn't my style.

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Review: Jeff MacDougall

This rounds challenge is to write a about a secondary character in history (actual or fictional). Since meeting the challenge is paramount, I’ll be giving you an extra bump in the ranking if I knew who the actual historical figure your character is related to was without having to think too hard or look it up. All other aspects will be judged according my previous letter grade system (refer to round one for a breakdown) and, like the last round, all songs will be reviewed in order of the album and then placed by rank at the bottom of the page. Let’s begin:

Governing Dynamics - Los Alamos
Challenge: B – Technically this meets the challenge, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around it because there is no primary historical figure to attach to your lab assistant. (i.e. Oppenheimer’s assistant)
Lyrics: A – Good solid rhymes. A little to “on the nose” for me though (too plainly stated)
Structure: A – Solid structure.
Melody: B – Not bad… but it doesn’t stick in my head.
Nice mood. Matches the theme of the story. I think this song will grow on me as I listen. Very Radiohead in feel (which is a little ironic given the last rounds entry.

Inverse T. Clown - I Have A Leap
Challenge: A – Nice interpretation of the challenge. Love me some Quantum Leap
Lyrics: A – Solid rhymes.
Structure: B – Not bad but a little repetitive.
Melody: A – Good. Easy to remember.
I like this song. Nice melody. Not much to say other than I wish it was a little more dynamic with the arrangement. Nice job.

Charlie McCarron - Queen Of Heart
Challenge: A – Great. Got it after one listen.
Lyrics: A – I enjoyed the lyrics, but the rhymes were a bit odd.
Structure: B – Unusual structure. Not bad… but left me feeling perplexed.
Melody: B – Really liked the melody on the chorus but the melody throughout seemed to ramble. This could be due to the odd arrangement.
Good song, great subject. Wishing it was a little more traditional in it’s arrangement. Reminds me of a Stephen Bishop tune.

Ryan Ruff Smith - The Driver (Dallas, 1963)
Challenge: A – Solid. Knew exactly what who this song was about.
Lyrics: A – Great lyrics. Rhyming was a bit odd. Not that songs technically have to rhyme, but your structure worked against you in this regard.
Structure: B – Very odd. Which, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing... I just never knew where we were going next.
Melody: B – Pleasant but didn’t stick with me.
I really enjoyed the production on this. I like the turntable scratches and the nostalgic feeling… but the melody and chord progression seemed to meander and I felt lost. But perhaps that’s exactly how you wanted us to feel.

Edric Haleen - I Was There
Challenge: A – Great. Obvious from the first listen
Lyrics: A – Big. Emotional.
Structure: A – Musical theater.
Melody: A – Grand. Easy to remember.
What are the odds that two contestants would write from the same (or may as well be) secondary character(s)? Really like this. Very poignant.

Ross Durand - Ivan Vaughan
Challenge: A – If you don’t know who this song is about, then you are living in a cave. Nice.
Lyrics: A – Good.
Structure: A - Good. Solid folk/rock.
Melody: B – Not bad but a little plain.
I like this song but I felt like it could have been stronger somehow. It sort of feels like an album cut from a 70’s vinyl album that everyone talks over because they are waiting to listen to the “good” songs.

Chris Cogott - Final Flight
Challenge: A – Nice.
Lyrics: A – Nice references.
Structure: A – Unconventional. But in a good way.
Melody: B – Chris’ melodies are usually superb. This one isn’t bad, but doesn’t stick for me.
Enjoyed the production on this one. Brought me back to the 80’s. Wish the melody was a bit stronger though. Nice work.

Mitchell Adam Johnson - Pictures Of Love
Challenge: A – Awesome. Really enjoyed the first person perspective.
Lyrics: A - Solid. Great story and visuals
Structure: A – Loved this arrangement. The oddly placed “Harrison” guitar solo was perfectly “off”
Melody: A – Wonderful. I love when you get a nice subtle hook in the middle of your verse.
Very nice. Really great work. One of my favorites this round.

Steve Durand - Cuban Missile Mambo
Challenge: A – Great. Couldn’t miss it.
Lyrics: A - Fun. Silly approach to a not so silly moment in time.
Structure: A - Solid. Latin mambo.
Melody: B – Good but I wish it took some more turns. It doesn’t really go anywhere.
Fun song. I really enjoyed it. Nice horn work.

Rebecca Brickley - Oh Mercy (Judges Mix)
Challenge: A – Good. Couldn’t be more clear.
Lyrics: A – Nice perspective. Great imagery.
Structure: A – Classic pop structure.
Melody: A – Love this melody. Found myself humming it well after my first listen.
This is powerful song. I imagine this as an anthem of some sort. Really wonderful work.

Zarni DeWet - Eric
Challenge: A – Good. I’ve give you credit for tackling such a controversial figure’s mother.
Lyrics: A - Great. Very powerful.
Structure: A – Solid ballad. Arrangement keeps us tied to the mother and not the event.
Melody: A – Wonderfully memorable.
Very sad. Very beautiful. Great work.

Gweebol - She Said, As She Handed Him The Telephone
Challenge: A – Good. Perfectly obvious.
Lyrics: B – Interesting but odd.
Structure: B – Pop structure but strange
Melody: B – Not bad but didn’t stick for me.
This one left me feeling lost. Never knew where we were going. Feels like it was born from a jam session instead of a crafted song.

It’s been a hectic and busy week for me personally, so due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to take the time to write reviews for the shadows. However, I hope to write shadow reviews for this round and post them to my blog in the coming weeks, so if you shadowed this round, keep a lookout for that.

As you can see, many of the songs end up on equal footing using my letter grade system. This leaves me to rank many of these songs based on my subjective enjoyment. So here we go:

Zarni DeWet – Eric
Mitchell Adam Johnson - Pictures Of Love
Rebecca Brickley - Oh Mercy (Judges Mix)
Edric Haleen - I Was There
Chris Cogott - Final Flight
Inverse T. Clown - I Have A Leap
Steve Durand - Cuban Missile Mambo
Ross Durand - Ivan Vaughan
Charlie McCarron - Queen Of Heart
Governing Dynamics - Los Alamos
Ryan Ruff Smith - The Driver (Dallas, 1963)
Gweebol - She Said, As She Handed Him The Telephone

SpinTunes #2 Round 3 Review: Dr. Lindyke

I posted my Round 3 judging criteria on my own blog previously. What it boils down to is I'm ranking the songs in the order I like them. You might wonder how that could possibly be when you read the list... the answer is that I am mentioning some bits about production this time 'round, but I'm still ranking sans production where possible. There are certain situations where this simply isn't possible. Good examples would be techno-pop, or a good bit of rap, where the delivery - or even the personality of the performer - is inseparable from the song itself. There's at least one case of that in the current round (more, if you count shadows). I also found that the extent to which a song met the challenge did, in fact, affect my enjoyment of the songs; enough that it affected the rankings. As it also turns out, I'm generally liking the real-life subjects better than the fantasy.

I was thoroughly intrigued by something this round. With the entirety of human history to choose from (at least 6,000 years of it recorded for posterity) and with only a few competitors remaining, we nevertheless saw similar or duplicate concepts. There were TWO songs involving Rosa Parks; TWO fictional time-travelers, THREE songs about Civil Rights, TWO songs about the formation of The Beatles; TWO songs about Amelia Earhart, and FIVE on which Duality performed. ;)

The same sort of thing happened in a Song Fu round where the contestants could write about a number... any number at all. The same sort of duplication occurred. Obviously, there are more similarities than common wisdom admits where human thought is concerned. Perhaps it's simply that all of our meat computers are running the same OS. Maybe as well, the Universe is more deterministic than we care to believe.

One last thing... I've tried to identify the character and event for each song based on whatever clues or bones I've been thrown. It is entirely possible that I've gotten one or more completely and totally wrong... if so, be the first on your block to get a coveted no-prize for stumping the judge, but it won't change your ranking.  And I'm not blaming Heather, either... it's your job to communicate that info, preferably in the song.

Anyway, my fellow automata, here are my reviews, ranked from from top to bottom:

Zarni DeWet - Eric
Character: The mother of Eric Harris (serial killer)
Historical event: The Columbine High School Massacre

I don't care who you are; I don't care where you live: the idea of a mother dealing with the knowledge that the child she gave birth to and loved and raised becoming a psychopathic mass-murderer is powerful. This is a dangerous story for a musician. It's very easy to miss your mark, falling into melodrama or cliche. Zarni does not miss. To some extent, in tone and subject matter, the song reminds me of Elton John's "Ticking"  (from his "Caribou" album); the difference here is that Eric's was a real story; his mother Katherine is a real person. Zarni's song is far more up-close and personal than Elton's. Zarni made me emote with the music alone, the lyrics alone, and with the total package. Challenge-wise, Zarni walked the tightrope beautifully. This is not a song about Eric, and it's not a song about the shooting. Just as the challenge demands, it's about Katherine... her feelings, her reactions, her regrets and sorrow. Nothing more is needed than the sparse piano accompaniment. Superlative.

Mitchell Adam Johnson - Pictures Of Love
Character: Stuart Sutcliffe (bass player, artist, 5th Beatle)
Historical event: The formation of The Beatles as we now know them

The Bandcamp page describes the song. Mitchell's facility with retro styles allows him to offer a good approximation of The Beatle's sound, helping to set the locale. Actually, it's quite a bit better than their early sound, so from my perspective this is an incredibly listenable song. It probably helps that I literally grew up listening to the Fab Four. I love the execution; I love the song.

When I first heard this song, and until I read the Bandcamp page, I completely misunderstood it, as there are a string of freaky coincidences at work. Astrid Kirchherr's involvement with The Beatles didn't end with Stuart's departure, or his death. She became their photographer and continued to take pictures until about 1967. Paul McCartney left the band with Linda. He took up painting. His family album has been described as "Pictures of Love". I'd never notice these parallels before, and think it interesting

Chris Cogott - Final Flight 
Character: Amelia Earhart's Mechanic
Historical event: The disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan (1937)

This is a very nice take on the story of Earhart's disappearance. Her mechanic agonizes over whether he could have prevented the loss of the Electra. The real-life evidence suggests multiple radio problems: Chris has incorporated these into the song, nicely placed as a checklist in the bridge.

The opening echoes get on my nerves... like immediately. They descends into noise rapidly, and by the time it clears up at around 0:39 I'm already ticked. On subsequent listens I just jumped straight there. Excluding that, the song's very well executed, in Chris' classic rock style. The echoes will probably keep it off my MP3 player, but I'd love to listen to a band performing it live without the effects.

Rebecca Brickley - Oh Mercy
Character: An unnamed Confederate Soldier
Historical event: The Battle of Gettysburg

This song has an interesting perspective. A Confederate soldier comes to the realization that he's fighting on the wrong side. At the moment of laying down his weapon and choosing to desert, he is felled by what (for the sake of irony) I choose to be a Union bullet. It's an inventive and moving story. The quality of the "judge's mix" on this song is pretty dismal, so I really expect to see it marked to the basement by the other judges. But bless you, Bekka, for using a soldier's first-person perspective: it makes it easier for me to justifying my usual technique of judging "the song". In this case, I "hear" it performed in period instruments: a strong baritone male voice, accompanied by guitar, tambourine, and violin. Not too damned bad. I do have some quibbles with the lyrics: a Southern boy is unlikely to use the phrase "by unhappy chance". You must understand that we are "American by birth... Southern by the Grace of God," even after all this time. ;)  Nevertheless, the musical hook in the chorus is simply stellar. Despite the poor performance it stuck in my head and stayed there. I still can't shake it... in a quiet moment I find myself singing "Oh, Mercy..." After several incidents like that, I moved the song way up in my estimation.

Steve Durand - Cuban Missile Mambo
Character: Miguel (Castro's Barber)
Historical event: The Cuban Missile Crisis

OK, ok, ok... if aliens were to land tomorrow and threaten to burn the Earth to a cinder unless Steve Durand sung an entire verse on-key, we would all die horrible, fiery deaths. We know that. But DAMN, this is a fun song! Not just musically fun (because, who doesn't like a mambo? Really... mambos are like musical parfait!) but because it's got a terribly clever plot. Not only is Miguel responsible for the Cuban missile crisis, but it's all part of a bigger plot to gain long-term security for Cuba by scaring the Americans into a treaty. What is a frightful episode for the Americans is a major win for Cuba, easily deserving of a celebratory mambo. Smart man, this barber. Smart songwriter, this Steve Durand. And a talented musician at that... this is the best showcase in SpinTunes I've heard so far for his instrumentality. Well done!

Inverse T. Clown - I Have A Leap
Character: Sam Beckett (Quantum Leaper)
Historical event: Martin Luther King's assassination (indirectly - see below)

Well... I suppose we asked for this when we said "fictionalization is OK". Inverse took this to the furthest extreme with what is easily the most creative fictionalization on the playlist, still tied to a real historical event by a slender thread of ITC's invention. Let's see if we can sort this out. In 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life was destined to be saved by a particular physician. This was not to be. The doctor himself was killed ten years prior to King's death by a crazed woman. The result is history as you and I know it... the good Reverend dies. History having thus gone a little ca-ca (as happens, apparently weekly), Sam Beckett, time traveler, leaps into the life of a policeman in 1958, in so doing saving the would-be surgeon from his knife-wielding assailant. The doctor then lives on to prevent the death of Reverend King ten years later. The story would make such a good installment of "Quantum Leap" that I checked to see whether ITC was documenting a real episode. Nope, this is all Inverse T Clown. The MIDI orchestration gives me a good idea of how this would sound with a studio orchestra, and the "Quantum Leap" sound effect at the end is a nice touch. OK, so it's cheese, and it's fan-service, and it's a novelty song. But I'm scoring these based on my enjoyment, and I like this piece of fluff.

Ross Durand - Ivan Vaughan
Character: Ivan Vaughan
Historical event: Formation of The Beatles as we know them.

It's catchy, it's memorable, and Glory Be! It's about a real person! (Ivan Vaughan was a close personal friend of both Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and introduced them.) The song would work with any number of arrangements, but as the song is really just one musician's narrative, I like the simplicity of just Ross and the guitar. I almost feel guilty for not having more to say here, but really, the song says it all.

Governing Dynamics - Los Alamos
Character: Junior Lab Assistant on the Manhattan Project/Trinity
Historical event: Creation of the first nuclear bomb

This has some really nice imagery. First, I like the juxtaposition of the momentous historical event with the lowly status of the guy sweeping up the lab and checking dosimeters. I also like little touches, like "I feel a little sicker every day," and Oppenheimer quoting from the Bhagavad Gita, "I am become Death" (even though the latter is in a pretty awkward verse). There's a nod to the security of the entire project, which our protagonist circumvents simply by being unimportant. Travis does a very good job here of making the song about the character, as the challenge requires. The true purpose of the Manhattan Project is a puzzle to him, and the character focuses on his own experiences and conjectures in solving it. It doesn't grab me like "Stars over Avalon" did, but it is very much in that soft Governing Dynamics style.

Ryan Ruff Smith - The Driver (Dallas, 1963)
Character: the driver of the Presidential limo
Historical event: The assassination of JFK

Ryan does a great job keeping the song about the driver. "As long as I keep driving / None of this is real". That's a great take on this event. In life, the faster events happen, the fewer details register on your consciousness, and the deeper and more lasting are those specific, seemingly inconsequential, details that remain. Ryan captures this feeling well. With time spiraling down, he documents a pivotal moment in history to an incongruous, surreal backdrop of soft guitar and Secret Service radios. (I hope you don't get any flak for leaving those radios in throughout, Ryan. I agree with your placement). There is some really well-played understated dark humor here. Ryan, you get a coveted no-prize for the lyric, "I see his holy head / Ever blooming rosy in the mirror". What a picture.

Charlie McCarron - Queen Of Heart
Character: An unnamed man on a bus
Historical event: Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger

This is a nice song... and I mean it's a really nice ballad. Charlie doesn't try to recite history, going instead for feelings and impressions, which is a style I can appreciate. In execution, I particularly like the trumpet, and the guitar works in very nicely, though I personally don't need that much drum. However, the challenge here was to write a song about the secondary historical character. Simply put, this is a song to Rosa Parks, and it has more of Rosa in it than the protagonist, particularly in the more memorable parts. There's basically a verse and a bridge that deal with the character himself. It does meet the challenge, but I feel that others do it better, and that nagged at me a bit as I was listening.

Gweebol - She Said, As She Handed Him The Telephone
Character: Mabel Hubbard
Historical event: The invention of the telephone

It's been said (and Harcourt Fenton Mudd wasn't the first) that behind every great man is a woman nagging him on. Mabel Hubbard is an interesting character. When he married her, Alexander Graham Bell gave her all but 10 of his shares in the newly-formed Bell Telephone company. Not a bad character for a song, very much in the tradition of Alma (our example). Despite the incongruity of having a deaf character sing at all, this song starts out on a promising note with the first verse alluding to Mabel's deafness and the phonautograph. Beyond that it is really inconsistent, and ultimately just sort of falls. The chorus should really contain the hook, and it just isn't there. Gweebol, it sounds to me as if maybe time constraints got you and you're settling for a chorus you could deliver instead of the best you could do. It's a shame, because I generally love your sound. There's a lot of "white space" in there, and it's really in need of tightening up. The rhythm is pretty steady throughout. You might consider changing it up, or restructuring the last four lines of the chorus. Then again, it could just be me. On a performance note, the "Mr. Bell's" get lost. It would be nice if they were sharper and not so timid.

Edric Haleen - I Was There
Character:A white man and a black man on the bus
Historical event: Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger

This is a very plausible reconstruction of the events in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955. Unfortunately, it drags. I know that it's "being important", but that is, I think, the problem. This is one of those occasions where the performance is integral to the song. Performance-wise, Edric, I really think you over-reached here. It's a bit too dramatic. I found myself so busy listening to the performance that it was an effort to listen to the song. It's like watching a play and seeing the actor instead of the character. I kept thinking, "wait a second... I should be the one emoting". Then there was the technical aspect of separating the characters, both of whom sounded a pretty much like Edric. Maybe a different voice for the two characters might have helped, But then again... I tried imagining it with someone else, or with some other emphasis, and kept running into the same problem. The song on its own doesn't make me feel anything; you have to drag me there. That and no memorable hook really limits its playability outside the context of a musical. Even there it's unlikely to be a number people remember on the ride home.


Unranked, Grouped by Artist: 

JoAnn Abbot - Candle in the Dark (Shadow)
Character: George Mason's teacher
Historical event: The Birth of the United States of America

George Mason is known as "The Father of the Bill of Rights", the first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which lay out the basic rights of all citizens. The idea here is simple... the teacher shapes the child; the child shapes a nation. Musically, this is very much a period piece. It's structured, arranged, and performed as would have been a piece written in 1776. In that regard it's very successful, and it does meet the challenge extremely well. It wouldn't be on my MP3 player because I'm not generally inclined to regularly listen to 18th century harpsichord music.

David Ritter - Portal of Doom (Shadow)
Character: Reggie (lab assistant to Mikkel Andersen)
Historical event: First photograph of an individual atom

David thoughtfully included a link to the source of his inspiration.  Sounds simple, right? Two lasers scavenged from old CD players to capture an atom. Guess it wasn't so, so, so -- so easy. The first thing that struck me about this song was that the instrumentation would be really good. The second was how perfect David's voice is for the mad scientist role. I might've like to hear some consequences from the release of those creepy evil things, but hey, it ain't my story. This is an easy listen, and it will probably get some repeat playtime from me.

Common Lisp featuring Duality - Sherman's Lament (Shadow)
Character: Sherman (Mr. Peabody's boy)
Historical event: None

OK, I saw the title and I immediately thought General William T. Sherman. Didn't you? Surprise!  This one's about Mr. Peabody's boy. That's right, Mr. Peabody, the time traveling dog, lost his boy. So now we have a potential for anything at all! As Paul mentions in his intro, Mr. Peabody is connected to many historical events.  Sadly... and I hate to have to mention this... just having the connections doesn't meet the challenge. You must "write a song about an unknown character from history, and what connection they had to a major historical event". In other words, the event must be indicated in the song. Paul, though you went to great care writing your story (admittedly very nice), and you had all of history and a lot of stanzas, you forgot to actually include any major historical event in the song. As a result this entry would fail the challenge.

BTW, I don't think the samples are necessary. And what's going on at 0:32? (I know, I know... Dave's hard to please)


I'm wondering if all those tweets from Joe 'Covenant' Lamb about "the judges will hate this" refer to the sheer number of shadows heaped upon us by Duality to review? Actually, it's not a big problem if we review them 'Covenant-style' ("Elton!")

Duality - All Entries  
Character: various
Historical event: various

Nice songs.

OH... very wellll....

Duality - Columbia (Shadow)
Character: an Astronaut
Historical event: a Space Mission

Nice song.

Duality - Historical Verity (Shadow)
Character: the man who shovels the shite
Historical event: various

Nice song.

Duality - St. Andrews (Shadow)
Character: an Unknown Person
Historical event: a Thing that happened in Scotland

Nice song.

Duality - Triangle (Shadow)
Character: The Singer
Historical event: A Disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle

Nice song.

WHAT? Still not good enough?  *sigh*

Duality - Columbia (Shadow)
Character: Michael Collins (Astronaut)
Historical event: the Apollo 11 moon landing

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! Great concept, great song! Nearly everyone on this planet with an education knows that Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon. Many know that he was accompanied by 'Buzz' Aldrin. But how many know that while those two were making history on the surface of the Moon, that Michael Collins was making history possible as he piloted the command module Columbia in orbit around the Moon? Damned few, and that's exactly the sort of thing I was hoping people would address in this challenge. Find an event, a significant "unsung hero" behind that event, and right that wrong. Duality deftly capture the disappointment and loneliness that Collins may have felt as his companions became celebrated heroes and he was quietly acknowledged and largely forgotten by the public. The tune complements the lyrics; it has exactly that sort of contour that I was disappointed not to find in "Mars..." last round. If Duality had survived the last round they would have taken my top spot with this song. For now, though, it's a wholly inadequate, yet well-deserved coveted no-prize for the for the Best Submission. (Dave posted more about this song on his blog.)

Duality - Historical Verity (Shadow)
Character: the man who shovels the shite
Historical event: The First War of Scottish Independence
Joe jokingly proposed this idea in chat when the challenge was revealed and it was apparent exactly how broad the challenge was. Of course, at the time he seemed to be of the opinion that there would be no shadows from Duality at all. So I'm not sure whether I should be more surprised that this song was actually produced, or that Duality went on to enter enough shadows to populate the entire fourth round all by themselves! It also seems that Joe may be having a bit of fun with us by giving us a song so completely divorced from the style of the previous Duality entries. Well, joking or not, this song meets the challenge squarely. It's a clever story of a man using his low station to spy on the English during the First War of Scottish Independence. He comes home with the information that enables the Scots to triumph in the battle of Bannockburn, and is handsomely rewarded. The song is wrapped up and delivered in a kilt with Denise providing vocal color with an Irish lilt. Simply reading the lyrics you'd expect it to be interminably long, but it's extremely fast-paced, clocking in at an entertaining 3:30. We provincial Americans would find a parallel to this sort of song in "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton (coincidentally involving the same enemy). Both songs are fairly dripping with ethnicity and humor. Both can take a lighthearted approach despite the bloody subject matter, being as they are songs of ultimate triumph. Given a choice between the two, I'd rather listen to Duality's.

Duality - St. Andrews (Shadow)
Character: An unnamed witch
Historical event: St. Andrews witch hunt (1572)

"In my Lord Regent's passing to the north he causit burne certane witches in Sanctandrois and in his returning he causit burne ane uther companie of witches in Dundie" 

This is the story of one such witch. She sings this to her lover as she's awaiting execution. She's unclear whether she expects to be thrown into the water to drown or to be burned at the stake, but both were very real possibilities in this place and time. This very minimalist style works for me. I'm OK with being a bit confused and off-guard here. After all, this is a witch. I like as well that in the "Mother Crow" stanza Denise gives us a glimpse of the vast reserve of vocal talent that she rarely unleashes at full strength.

Duality - Triangle (Shadow)
Character: Amelia Earhart's lover
Historical event: The disappearance of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan (1937)

This is not the kind of song you figure out; it's the kind of song you feel. Listen to "Triangle" with the lights out, and the sound turned way up in your headset. If it creeps you out (and it will), then it's a resounding success. It's definitely got this Hitchcock feel to it. There's a certain surreality about it as well, underscored by the hard rock playing in the background at almost subliminal levels.

On the other hand, the only reason I know that this is about Amelia Earhart's lover is because I asked and was told. Even knowing it and looking back on the lyrics, I'm still scratching my head on that one. Besides, Earhart's plane disappeared in the South Pacific, not in the Bermuda Triangle. To me, it seems to be about the Bermuda Triangle, and not about any particular person or event, so it feels a bit of a challenge fail. Not to worry, it's still creepy-afraid-to-go-to-sleep music, and there are three other Duality shadows AND a collaboration to choose from!