Saturday, January 30, 2016

SpinTunes #11 Round 1 Reviews: Crayondroids

When I look for guest judges I always try to get people I'm a fan of, but sometimes I make a point of getting people that might have a different musical take on things as well.  I think the Crayondroids fit that bill nicely.  I really enjoy their work, and you can hear why by listening to the track below as you take in their reviews.

- Spin





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This was a great and fun round to judge.  You will see in our analysis that we gave each entry a score in three different categories: instrumental, vocals and production mastery.  There is also a 4th criteria that is not detailed - our overall enjoyment of the track.  We listened to each song at least twice, and those that got a third play or more were set aside as farovites.  As EDM guys, we are extra hard on production quality and the cleanliness of your mix, so we tried hard to provide feedback that can help in the next round.  First we have our ranks from favorite on down and then an analysis for each song. 

Thanks for having us, SpinTunes 11!

The Rankings:

1 jailhouse payback - first time caller
2 mark humble - the first time you broke my heart
3 james young - alone
4 buckethead bobby - free to be me
5 glen raphael - first time
6 ellie sparrow - footprints on the moon
7 adam sakellarides - have you heard
8 megalodon - my foolish mind
9 edric haleen - how it began
10 ominus ride - maiden trip
11 jon eric - perry's song
12 emperor gun - leaving
13 pigfarmer jr - kill a man
14 ross durand - premier 
15 the boffo yux dudes - first wurst
16 keen sid - never done that before
17 jeff brown - the frist time
18 sam rodewald - my first song will be 
19 steve durand - original sin
20 governing dynamics - fool me once
21 rob from amersfoort - the first time you die
22 turtle fence - first
23 ben taggart - like the first time


keen sid - never done that before
production on the instrumental is super rough - beyond that lofi sound you might shoot for intentionally and it sounds like this was a cover to blend together samples instead of an original recording.  pretty basic surfrock riff - voice reminds me of what Marty McFly would sound like if emo was a thing in the 50s.  maybe bowling for soup if J had a sinus infection
instrumental: 6
vocals: 7
production mastery: 5

jeff brown - the frist time
this is standard guitar under a tree on the quad aye gurl lemme emotions at you kinda stuff.  reminds beaker of Projekt Zero.  The songs strongest point is the emotional lyrical structure and dramatic delivery.  a tighter guitar melody that echoes this sense of despiration (i cant tell if she actually lied, was just a bitch or she actually left you)  its hard to keep track of the intended message because its hidden behind some unnecessarily melodramatic phrasing.  the end product though sounds excellent and is very well produced. 
instrumental: 5
vocals: 5
prodcution mastery: 8

Megalodon - my foolish mind
we are actually familiar with these guys and that mix of synth pop rock to some psychedlic coo-coo-cachoo was not unexpected.  This song is like a mix between Cake and the Stevie Miller band with just a hint of LSD.  the instrumental is super solid - great drum work specifically.  the vocals are a mess - well produced but the ad libs and hype shit in the back actually tramples over the intended chorus lines.  also, guitarist, calm down son.  we can tell this is an actual band as some parts, most noticably the bass line, loses the tempo a few times.  this is the first track we actually played 3 times to completion.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 7
procutions mastery: 7

edric haleen - how it began
straight out of Glee this is a solo from a highschool drama troup.  it's even about his highschool band teacher.  then BOOM HERE IS SOME SYNTHS lolololol it all comes together for us - it sounds like a drama rip because it is.  well played, edirc.  well played.  aside from the obvious digs on phantom, newsies and rent there are other tropes here so familiar its impossible to pin them to one single performance.  Production score is a compromise here, as we cant tell what you actually produced - I think thats a good thing but I am only half of the judging team here.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 8
production mastery: 6

sam rodewald - my first song will be 
this is another "im so sensitive" emo dude soft rock songs - this one is in the vein of Tommy Fullerton and Superpowerless.  this sound sounds good, production is solid, each channel has its own presence in the mix - the problem here is the super hard changes in tempo and delivery. not only does it make the song feel longer than it is but it makes that time distortion extra uncomfrotable.  You may not know how to being - but we do... back at the drawing board. 
instrumental: 6
vocals: 5
production mastery: 6 (you got an extra point for that steller outro)

steve durand - original sin
so we get it and all, but teh long ass 35 second intro (which represents literally 1/6 of your entire song) is a massive let down compared to the saucy jazz club sound of the track itself.  its really too bad because with a little more work on the vocal delviery this track could be fucking amazing.  really.  we have to assume this track was assembled from a stem pack or sample pack, because an actual band would not tolerate the amature level of this delivery.  how unfortunate - the lyrics are A+, beat, timing and transitions all A+... this one was truly killed by the vocalist
instrumental: 6 if samples, 9 if original
vocalist: 3
production mastery: 8 (we are sure he did what he could with the vocals)

ellie sparrow - footprints on the moon
the first thing that really gest you is teh wash tub bass trampling all over Ellie's unique and engaging vocal style.  this is one of the most college alternative sounding spin tunes ever.  we really liked this song and listened to it all the way through all 3 times and the only real complaints come from a production perspective - the instro is too loud when the vocals should be the focus here, without a doubt... this modest mouse souding instro track is really basic, that piano riff just lording over all the other channels.  ellie either fire your producer or hire one, at least to handle the final product mastery to avoid these issues in the future.  this one is an inch away from being a winner.  also that ending? why? 
instrumental: 7
vocals: 8
production mastery: 4

governing dynamics - fool me once
this is a great 90s esque TtWS kind of song and the verses are great - the chorus is so busy it sounds muddled and heavily distorted, to a point of causing discomfort.  more of that Cake style song structure and instro composition.  this song is right in the middle of the road - the kind of stuff you would hear but not listen to while drowning yourself in a bottle at your corner dive bar.  yall need to hook up with steve durand and make some magic.
instrumental: 6
vocals: 6
production mastery: 4

glen raphael - first time (phantom menace)
ok we dont even know how to what the ever even so far to do what look with this song.  Glen Raphael, the flaminco country emo FuMP kid rock meets weird al song about not being able to trust Star Wars since the Phantom Menace. 
It is going to be hard to give a serious critique here, but we are gonna try.  The vocals are a little low and at random points off key - we assume thats on purpose because it works.  the production is soft in all the right spots... like if you were 12 we would consider you a garage band prodigy and nominate you for a weebly.  go look up insane ian and the guys at the funny music project - I bet you 10 bucks this track can be on the dr. demento show in a week. 
instrumental: a confusing 7
vocals: a confusing 8
production mastery: a not at all confusing 7

Rob From Amersfoort - the first time you die
WHEN WILL YOU LEARN, YOUR ACTIONS HAVE CONSIQUENCES
this song would be haunting and threatening if the vocal delivery wasnt potato. 
In fact that transition to the hook could have been spooky and powerful but the silliness of the delivery took all of that agency and make the song feel silly.  like original sin, this song feels like it could have been great if the vocalist took a more serious approach in their delivery.  if you come back at this song I would suggest you take a more hard rock approach - less acoustic strumming, more electric leading and little growler on the vox could instantly transform this to a solid rock song instead of a mediocre folk song.
instrumental: 6
vocals: 4
prodcuction mastery: 6

james young - alone
the first full minute will have you waiting for teh song to actually start, and instead of dropping in to an epic 80s power ballad (redo this as an epic 80s power ballad) we get a jonathan coulton b-side track that didnt make it on to his "whining about feelings" album.  we actually really, really like this song - but for almost 4 minutes we feel like youre literally missing half of a complete product and it comes back to wanting that swaying, rocking, lighters in the air stadium groove we would have gotten from GnR.  
instrumental: 8
vocals: 8
production mastery: 6

jailhouse payback - first time caller
reminds us of established country hybred acts like the hollar time and ray wylie hubbard - this song is excellent.  lets break down why we think this submission is so great:
the instrumental is excellently arranged, each instrument stands out independently in the mix but nothing is over powering... the ride from the drum kit sits behind the banjo perfectly and the bass line is not only mixed perfectly but it shares the mix with the drum kit instead of fighting for that low end presence. 
the guitar solo at 2:35 is excellent - on tempo, flawless and engaging.  you guys reached for that classic folk country assembly and nailed it. 
the vocals are mixed excellently, there is just a touch of reverb and doubling to create a dymanic effect but not make that obvious double-dubbd sound.  
the lyrics are solid - you dont have to get every reference when the point of the vocal delivery is to enjoy the ride.  this is a sing along song, easy and fun to follow. "first time caller, long time drinker" dosent have to make a lick of sense if its fun to sing along to. you sir, are this compeitions Marc with a C and we love you for it.
instrumental: 9
vocals: 10
production mastery: 9

ominous ride - maiden trip
this track starts off strong with a powerful bass line and leads in to some psychadelic throwback.  we had to take a few minutes bewteen the previous submission to clean our palets and it was worth it - this track is awesome IF youre feeling some tool meets the doors droning rock.  the producer on this track was obviously having some good fun and the dissonance work on the vocals is stellar.  we would be interested in hearing the album this song slots in to and the tracks that surround it.  the absence of a hard rock element to round it out is ok assuming its cushioned by some super sad aggo metal ala that tool feeling.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 6 
production mastery: 8

pigfarmer jr - kill a man
the song is straight forward - pigfarmer did not like having to shoot a man, and it changed his mind on war and combat.  the spoke word style of the verses makes sense when the chorus hits - pigfarmer is a soldier, not a singer - and thats ok.  this is a coffee house kinda jam and there is a market for this type of stuff.  college rock dive bar shows here you come
instrumental: 8
vocals: 6
production mastery: 6

buckethat bobby - free to be me
remember when before paul simon was super famous and did those folksy songs in that band tom and jerry?  somebody shouted that this song would be great as one of those 4 window videos of buckethat playing each instrument and doing vocals side-by-side.  this is a pretty standard folk song - the punch comes from the personal and relatable lyrical content.  free to be me.  we can cosign that.  good job.
instrumental: a simple 7
vocals: a simple 7
production mastery: a simple 7

empror gun - leaving
this is a very touching song and thank goodness the accent and standard set a pace for a 4 and a half minute song.  this is an adult contemporary kind hit - the song you would hear after a track from white ladder in your favorite pub.  there is a wavering in the vocal delivery that seems to highten the emotional atmosphere of the song.  something about that accent makes the off key bits almost charming.  its still a flaw, but its an acceptable flaw, like a friend singing a really personal song at kerokei night. 
instrumental: 7
vocals: 7
production mastery: 6

mark humble - the frist time you broke my heart
this is another long one - ethereal and wavy this song reminds us of what would happen if Beck got totally fucked over by some amazing piece of ass.  there is clearly an excellent producer/engineer working with this outfit.  the work on the vocals is excellent and its easy to identify the man hours it took to dress this track up.  we think this song is radio quality in its production and presentation.  while college rock isnt really out thing, game recognize game - this is fucking solid. 
instrumental: 8
vocals: 7
production mastery: 8

ross durand - premiere 
wow what a powerful song here - the first note to get out of the way immediately, we wish ross' voice was just a few octives lower.  this is a leonard cohen feeling piece of amazing.  the instrumental is great with the exception of teh highs being too sharp on the drum kit.  mellow out that snare and those hats and the instrumental approaches perfection.  the song content is obviously very personal and this is the first song we have reviewed that really tells a story.  the voice tho - if it was just a little lower... ross sounds a lot like Trey Parker and if you are familiar enough with his work in musicals it gets almost impossible to get past. great effort.
instrumental: 6
vocals: 6
production mastery: 6

the boffo yux dudes - first wurst
we have been using the "3 listens" standard for juding these tracks - that being: we force ourselves to listen to each song at least twice - if we go in for a third then its an instant bonus point to the song... except here with first wurst we listened several times in an attempt to understand the song, the content, the composition... anything.
we do not.
we like wurst tho.
instrumental: 7
vocals: 5
production mastery: 6

turtle fence - first
the noise to info ratio is too much lol see what we did there.  we get it - this is a joke track lol #first.  you are right, we do indeed think you are a troll but for what its worth this track could totally be the soundtrack to a sad sexual redesvous in a prison shower.  this is what johnny cash would sound like if he didnt give a fuck and new what the internet was.
nothing to say, but lust to be heard - evident. 
instrumental: 5
vocals: 5
production mastery: 6

ben taggart - like the first time
unfortunately the similarities between this song and five for fightings superman are too numerous to give this track a "heres how youre special" review.  the general points to hit from the angle of this being a cover would be all production focused - the vocals are muddy and could use some attention to clean up.  if the purpose here was to sound like a live recording from the corner coffee hut you open mic'd at, then you nailed it - but that shouldnt have been the goal.  come back to this, bring in a full instrumental accompanyment and try us again. 
instrumental: 5
vocals: 4 
production mastery: 5

jon eric - perry's song (everybody's waiting)
this song hits way to close to home as beaker's wife is pregnant with twins right now.  so he was really in to it but then he was really mad at himself because while the lyrical content and subject matter speak to him directly, its very much a narrow nieche and not really stand-out-ish beyond that.  funny enough we are already familiar with jon eric and that created a bias for us knowing already that this is not his strongest offering if youre familiar with right meow. 
instrumental: 7
vocals: 6
production mastery: 7

adam sakellarides - have you heard
omg this guy really like brussle sprouts and fears the unknown.  thats the take away from this track.  dont be afraid of food esp if you have olive oil.
so haha jokes and whatnot - the instrumental is solid but a little messy.  typical garage band stuff - not detrimental.  the guitarist needs to tighten up a bit, those acoustic hits are not even and a little distracting. vocals are solid, like holy shit brussle sprouts ok buddy calm your tits.  production is what you expect out of recording a band on a budget or in a home studio.  solid submission gg
instrumental: 6
vocals: 7
production mastery: 8

NOTE ON THE SHADOW SUBMISSIONS: 
Jailhouse Payback thanks for literally sending in a whole album.  you picked the right track to represent your band in the comp, but seeing all this shit in the play list and going through them its clear you didnt make your track for this comp, it wasnt an original take on the challenge... it was a song that fit the outline from the current line up youre trying to push. 
while the hustle and struggle et al is real and whatnot, this kinda rubs us the wrong way.  make a new, original track that is totally awesome then refer people to your bandcamp page or something - but we dont rep the contest or the dude who runs it so our opinion on it isnt worth a shit. you do you.