Saturday, March 12, 2016

SpinTunes #11 Round 4 Reviews: Ted Kiper

Oh goodness, this week went by really fast for me! I’ll try not to bore you with my usually long intros. First, I’d like to say that I’m very proud to have these four contestants. You guys have done an extraordinary amount of quality work. Second, I might not be very descriptive in the reviews for your songs, but I made a little more comment on your progress throughout the competition. Finally, I will not be using this grading system in the future; it’s been much too exhausting and needless for me, but I promise I will be more precise and consolidated next time. Thanks for all of your patience and continual reading. Again, you guys have done an amazing job, and I hope to see you all after the competition break.

Reviews:


Megalodon – Stout Cortez
Rank: 1
Score = 46

Challenge = 10
It’s one thing to write a song about an image; it’s another to connect the image to another form of art, in this case a poem. Very clever and rather effective. Curiously, was this concept a leftover from the last round? How fortunate!
Lyrics = 7
I don’t know where “Balboa” comes from, but the direction of the lyrics doesn’t leave me with any concerns.
Composition = 6
There is a smooth balance between adventurous and reflective.
Songcrafting = 7
The song a great variety of styles, all in good taste.
Arrangement = 3
Rather similar to your previous entry Cassandra. Acceptable enough, I suppose.
Performance = 4
I enjoyed the calming verses and the swinging chorus.
Recording = 4
As clean as any other entry you’ve submitted. No problems I can perceive.
Judge’s Whim = 7
In my opinion, the song is a little on the safe side for your usual work. Yet, it’s catchy enough for me to remember it well.
Final Conclusions:
You came to the competition in full force, and you did not disappoint. All your submissions could easily be in my top 10 favorites of Spintunes 11—not because of the consistently excellent executions, but because there is so much potential in the sound you craft. But my favorite of your submissions? That’s difficult to discern. I think it would be “Exact Change”; the composition was thoroughly captivating. Perhaps almost as interesting, I see an amazing transformation of lyrics, from the oopsy, goofy “My Foolish Mind” to the detailed, more delicate “Stout Cortez”. Awesome job, through and through.


Jailhouse Payback – Steps And Regrets (Shadow)
Potential Rank: 2
Score: 46

Challenge - 8
Neither the music nor lyrics reflects the picture of the challenge as well as the other entries did. But this type of challenge is quite open to anything, and I’m completely able to accept this. Actually, I admire it, as explained later.
Lyrics - 6
I’m really confused about the lyrics. Is it about hunting? Homicide? Suicide? Otherwise, I am completely enamored by the setting. The words feel so folksy, it’s as normal as a backyard.
Composition – 7
That chord progression gets me, every time! It’s nothing new to me, but you safely get my nod in how you handled it. It’s like comfort food!
Songcrafting - 6
The musical muteness at the later verses was very appropriate. It wastes no effort to alter the form, pretty straightforward, and I think this was a wise idea. Maintains the folksy energy. Just a tad bit lengthy at the end, but I get it.
Arrangement - 3
The sound certainly matches mountainside, but I was kind of hoping for
Performance - 4
Nearly clean execution. Perfect enough to be impressive, imperfect enough to not sound plastic and fake.
Recording - 4
Was there a slight volume drop in the outro la-la-la’s? Maybe not. No big deal.
Judge’s Whim - 8
There is a certain beauty in here, something that feels rather real to me. I have absolutely no problem putting this song in repeat and sleeping on it, merely by the strange comfort. I am quite depressed that this wasn’t the official entry—this is my favorite song presented in Spintunes 11.
Final Conclusions:
I remember first hearing your songs back in the much earlier rounds, during the JoAnn era. I was quite honestly not so impressed, easily confusing you to Army Defense at the time. Take no offense, because I am proud to say I have confidently changed my mind. I don’t think I need to mention that this is my favorite submission from you.


Jailhouse Payback – The Real Indiana Jones
Rank: 2
Score: 44

Challenge = 7
It was the hat, wasn’t it? That stupid hat. Nah, I’m joking. Indiana Jones is pretty cool, but he wasn’t at the front of my mind for this challenge. However, you managed to combine both worlds pretty good.
Lyrics = 6
You got the storytelling down pat. No surprise, you seem to master it rather well. What I really love is how it also takes me through the adventure.
Composition = 7
It’s really quite amazing and different. It’s like Spanish punk.
Songcrafting = 7
I quite like the guitar licks dispersed in the song. Part of smart songcraft-stitching.
Arrangement = 4
It’s almost perfect… but since I can’t find any problems, I can’t dock points here.
Performance = 3
I absolutely admire the chorus performance…
Recording = 3
…but “clouds” is nearly just as invisible as itself.
Judge’s Whim = 7
Despite not having my highest rank, I think I would pick this as the winner of the four official entries.
Final Conclusions:
You worked very hard for this competition. You created some cool and different sounds, without the need to sacrifice your style, and that’s very respectable. Besides your shadow on this round, I’d also say I very much enjoyed “Watching ‘Lockdown’”; although I found the lyrics rather weak, the music for the chorus made so much sense to me and was ultimately very catchy. You have impressed me so much since Round 1. Best of luck!


Governing Dynamics – Sound On Sound
Rank: 3
Score: 44

Challenge – 9
“Music” on a “body of water”? Very clever! And to tie to the whole image of the challenge? I suppose the man the narrator in a state of observation. Covered.
Lyrics - 6
A lot of things are happening, but the lack of direction creates a distracted imagery. On the other extreme, I found it somewhat too rhymy. Yet, I love the amount of description.
Composition - 7
The intro fade in of multiple layers—I see what you did there. The dual guitar instrumental was a nice add, perhaps the best add to the song.
Songcrafting - 7
Honestly, I can’t find anything wrong in the crafting of this song. The form was interesting enough. I suppose my only suggestion is adding more dynamics or a bigger indicator of switching stanzas.
Arrangement - 3
I don’t know if the harsher guitars were entirely necessary. But they sounded good.
Performance – 3
Despite some weak landings on notes, I like the eagerness and direction of the vocals.
Recording - 4
Good mix. Nothing bad here.
Judge’s Whim – 5
Overall, I find the entry on the mushy side. No, not so much the sound by production, but perhaps the whole idea. And I hate to admit it, but it seems frustratingly leaning on anticlimactic. I think it needed a unique element to elevate some brightness into the song.
Final Conclusions:
Well, Mr. Past Champion, I’m not sure if #11 will be your #2. You had some tough competitors. But you’ve delivered some really creative content. My favorite from you this time around may be “Wax Wings”. As much as I like electronic sounds and U2, your Round 3 entry was emotionally smart and adventurous.


Ominous Ride – Rocks And Sky And Water And Sand
Rank = 4
Score = 43

Challenge = 8
Your theme is understandable, but I actually find the loss of faith almost as interesting as the shift of reality. I do admire your sensibility to see this challenge not as a “pretty picture” but as a “stark reminder”. Also, the idea to use the sunrise in the picture to represent the sunrise to his new sense of perception is quite genius!
Lyrics = 7
I’m not sure what the daggers and absurd questions are in the first verse, but the subtleties are smartly calm and collective. I sense new realization.
Composition = 6
The music fits well for a morning sunrise; it also has the feel of waking up in bed, rubbing the sleep away from the eyes.
Songcrafting = 6
Safe and tame, with exceptions for some stanzas. It’s a well-crafted song.
Arrangement = 3
The harsh guitars at 1’56” are an odd add-on to a morning setting.
Performance = 4
The vocal bends are well executed.
Recording = 4
A clean piano sound does seem to give a new sense of clarity you talk about.
Judge’s Whim = 4
Again, I appreciate the concept of the song. But I am more fond of “pretty picture” ideas than “this will die like everything else” ideas. (I joke, don’t kill me!) With three other amazing entries, I still found the song rather on the safer side.
Final Conclusions:
I’m very glad you made it this far and have delivered so much more interesting material. I’d like to personally apologize if you were offended by my review of “Cheap Wine”. I was honest in what I said, but you should I know really did enjoy the song, even if my rankings didn’t show it. Most of my favorite songs here are either shadows or songs that eliminate players. For your amusement, I’m still jealous that people liked your song “Beano” more than my song “Cialis”. And after having the honor to judge you, I really must admit you are a better composer than me, through and through.


The Boffo Yux Dudes – The Color Of Invisible Light (Shadow)
Potential Rank: 5
Score: 41

Challenge – 6
This is probably the farthest from the challenge.
Lyrics - 7
Omg, I luv it! My nerdness is exploding! I’m a fan of electromagnetic science. And the words “spectrum” and “rectum”? Disgustingly brilliant.
Composition – 7
It’s as bouncy and poppy as my beloved 80’s style, with an ambiguous blend.
Songcrafting - 5
The ending is quite sloppy, unfortunately. I think I’ll call it “rhythmic dissonance”.
Arrangement - 4
It has all the electro-elements I demand to hear for a topic such as this.
Performance – 2
What a weird duet. I approve.
Recording - 3
It seems a little on the quiet side.
Judge’s Whim - 6
I actually like this shadow a little more than the depressing one. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that hardcore physics comforts me more than a dying old man. Which would you rather suffer?


The Boffo Yux Dudes – Sunset (Shadow)
Potential Rank: 5
Score = 40

Challenge = 8
This is probably the closest to the challenge.
Lyrics = 6
Yup, sounds like an old man slowly losing his mind with the rest of his life. It’s a barely recognizable acceptance of the twilight days.
Composition = 6
I’m usually pretty fond of slow songs, but perhaps this is a little too dragging. I suppose it works for your take of the challenge.
Songcrafting = 6
The imagery is formed perfectly by the injection of the words into the music. The slowing of the tempo at the end proves effective for the final hours of the day.
Arrangement = 3
Strummy guitar and insistent shakers are excellent for an old man’s song.
Performance = 2
The low-pitched vocals are slightly distracting. They are a wonderful idea, but they aren’t very precise. Or maybe that was the point…
Recording = 4
Very good blend of layers, especially the subtle doubling of voices.
Judge’s Whim = 5
At first, I didn’t like it very much. The “I’m-ready-to-die” attitude is a bit of a turn-off. But after listening to it a couple more times, I can appreciate the paralyzing fear and respect of the closing of life. It’s really tough to decide which shadow I like more!
Final Conclusions:
Um, you haven’t done many songs on Competition #11 for me to figure out my favorite from you. So… I’ll just mention you should’ve done more songs. I really liked “First Wurst”, or I think I would’ve liked where it could’ve turned out to be. Seriously, it was probably on my top 5 faves for ST11.

Rankings:

Megalodon– Stout Cortez
Jailhouse Payback– The Real Indiana Jones
Governing Dynamics – Sound On Sound
Ominous Ride – Rocks And Sky And Water And Sand