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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

SpinTunes 18 Bonus Album

Thank you to the artists who contributed to the 11 cover songs on the SpinTunes 18 Bonus Album. If you missed the Listening Party, download the album now at https://spintunes.bandcamp.com/album/spintunes-18-bonus-round or stream below, and hear the reimagining of these songs from the first four SpinTunes 18 rounds.

That wraps up SpinTunes 18. Thanks to all the contestants, our hard-working judges, Tommy G who faithfully runs the Listening Parties, and Matt Schubbe who provides us with fantastic cover art. See you all in SpinTunes 19!

SpinTunes 18 Results

The votes are in, and your SpinTunes 18 Champion is Brian Gray! Congratulations Brian on your second SpinTunes tournament victory!

Forteen contestants cast votes, as tabulated below. Voters have received animal pseudonyms courtesy of my five-year-old.

Brian GraySoberDaniel SitlerChas RockJim of Seattle

The judges cast votes as well, although they are not included in the total. The salacious music theory lessons and Telecaster virtuosity on display in Sober's entry won over the judges.

SoberJim of SeattleDaniel SitlerBrian GrayChas Rock
Boy on the Wall45132
Leonie Connellan41523
Ryan Finholm12435

Reviews! We've got those too:

ST18.4 Reviews and Rankings - Guest Judge Spintown

One of our regular judges had an unforeseen conflict and is unable to review the final round songs, so to round out the judges' slate for this round, I turned to the guy who started it all...

SpinTunes 18 Round 4 Reviews: Spintown

Quick refresher for those who might be new to the contest.  I used to run this thing, and I've had to do a number of reviews in the past.  I'm not a musician, and I don't know jack shit about music.  Since I stopped running this contest, I've spent some time writing lyrics for parodies & a few original songs.  Turns out I kinda suck at lyric writing, but I'll probably still focus on your lyrics a lot.  I like clear stories & usually don't like stuff that I have to figure out the meaning to.  I tend to like upbeat & funny songs.  The challenge was technical this time, and since I'm not qualified to judge whether you met the challenge or not, I'm just going to leave that up to the other judges.  I'll be judging your song purely by how much I enjoyed listening to it.  I'll also be judging you personally based on whether or not you've covered the song "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown.  That won't affect your rankings...but know you're being judged. *gives side eye*

Daniel Sitler - What If?
Didn't really care for the intro.  Felt off balance & messy.  Probably not the right words to use, but I feels what I feels!  Liked the vocals from the start, but felt the music didn't match the vocals.  Not in quality, but in style.  At first I didn't like the prechorus, but it grew on me.  Your vocals really shined for me in the chorus.  To me this song has a lot of good things in it, but sometimes those things don't go together all that well.  Lyrically it's simple, but held my interest.  Let me know if you find my car keys.

Brian Gray - Gestalt
Glad you tried to write it with 2 meanings.  When I judged Nur Ein last time there were 2 bands who basically went "Concept Album" on me, and that gets old for me fast.  I really thought the lyrics were great.  Very creative, and I've come to expect from you.  The music sounded great, and I'm impressed with how committed you are to this universe.  This whole concept album thing isn't for me, but picking your instruments based on what you think these people might carry with this is next level.  The big thing this lacked for me was a hook I could get into.  It sounds lovely, but at the same time I didn't remember it by the time I listened to all 5 finalists.

Sober - It Never Comes
The song bio...top notch.  I'm conflicted with this song.  I'm not a big fan of going meta, and this is the fucking finals, so I'm really not keen on the idea this round.  At the same time I found the lyrics creative, funny, and the song was the most memorable one of the round for me.  I don't like you...

Jim Of Seattle - Variations On An End
Oh damn you got screwed having me as a judge.  The music is truly beautiful.  Very impressed with the overall sound & feel you created.  It was on the long side, but it sounded so purdy I didn't mind.  The vocals weren't bad, but I felt a stripped down vocal performance would have been better.  The music was so moving that I think the raw emotion you could have got from the vocals would have been amazing.  Lyrically this isn't for me...at all.  Not much story there for me to sink my teeth into.  Overall not really the type of song I'm coming back to over & over, but I can appreciate how good it is.

Chas Rock - Hotel By The Hospital
Another that's not really my kinda song, but done well.  Really liked the story telling.  I thought the music did a great job of supporting the story & helped keep me emotionally connected throughout.  Another very long song, but like the last one, I didn't mind.  It had my attention the entire time.  What hurts you for me is repeated listens.  This is not the type of song I come back to often.

Rankings: (1 being my favorite)
Chas Rock
Jim Of Seattle
Daniel Sitler
Brian Gray

ST18.4 Reviews and Rankings - Boy on the Wall

 Thank you all for your incredible effort over the last couple months! 

In (irrelevant) ranking order: 

  1. Daniel Sitler – What If? 

Daniel, you’ve quietly been excellent through the whole competition, never topping a prior round but hanging around the top spots with a nice variety of songwriting styles. Your song’s vibe for the final round could hardly be different from last round’s sincere storybook setting. You crushed it. You wrote a great song, with a lyrically engaging verse, a driving pre-chorus, and an undeniable chorus. No one would ever think to notice the number of chords in the song, because the various other compositional tools you’re using are so varied in each of the sections. It’s a rich complex song despite the constraints of the challenge. Nice guitar work, nice production overall, nice vocal performance, nice indie rock lyrics, nice matching of “feel” to message. This is my favorite of the round and I’d have ranked you first if the judges were still judging. 

  1. Chas Rock – Hotel by the Hospital

Chas, you’re only narrowly in second place in my final round irrelevant reviews. I *love* the production feel and quality of this song. It’s got that dark, pseudo industrial, but nonetheless *pop* thing going to perfection, sorta like the hits from Robyn’s Body Talk records or that Sia Chandelier song? Check out the album Ten Love Songs by Susanne Sundfor too. This is the world your song moves in, for me, and I mean that as a super high compliment. You’ve had such rich and awesome pop productions throughout the competition and I’m so grateful for it. The verses in this song are so great, damn. The sneaky internal rhymes, that steady repeated eighth note rhythm, the jumping to a higher take on the melody for the second half of the verse, it’s all great. For me the chorus isn’t at the same lofty standard, and that’s why I had to put you below Daniel’s killer chorus. The lyrics feel real, the way a person would actually speak, and I like that. But I’m not wowed by the chorus, and you might have gone a little too far in dropping out the instrumentation here too? On the final chorus I might have had the climactic return of all the percussion and driving synths on “neither” and keep it at that high pitch through the chorus rather than waiting for “home”. Anyway it’s a narrow margin (and my vote doesn’t matter anyway) and I’m still in awe of your pop production skill.  

  1. Brian Gray – Gestalt

I wasn’t sure how you’d do it, Brian, taking the two chord challenge and fitting it into the Gleebleverse musical, but dang you did it. Whether you intended this or not, I felt that the simple two chord strumming style evoked the same kind of story-appropriateness that your instrumentation choices did. Apocalypse survivors in hiding aren’t necessarily writing harmonically complex avant garde music right? A couple chords back and forth seems right for that vibe. Your turns of phrase are excellent as ever, “The parts the sum is greater than” got a wry smile from me, and “of course it’s no one’s fault, except of course it is” is also great. Looking back on the whole competition, honestly it’s been so fun to see more and more of the Gleebleverse come into existence while also adhering to the challenges of each round. I hope you’re really happy with these four songs because I think they’re all great. It’s probably unfair but I’ve got Chas ahead of you for sorta contradictory reasons to what I’m complimenting you on: his complex production. And Daniel just crushed a one off pop song with a windows down singalong chorus. But my vote doesn’t matter anyway! Congrats on a great four songs. 

  1. Sober – It Never Comes

This is so freaking funny. You get the “just have fun” award for the final round, Sober, and thanks to you now I’ll never think of “the one and five” the same way, lol. Everything about the production and performance is impeccable as always, thanks for always putting in such great effort for us. The guitar solos and licks here are particularly strong, and I love that walking bass back there too. This one really belongs in a packed, steamy dive bar, with the whole place singing along rowdily, just before last call. Just really great job nailing this sound and giving us these great lyrics that somehow match theoretical precision with raunch. So great. Hate to have to (meaninglessly) rank you fourth here. I think there may be a viral hit sensation version of this song with a slightly different or catchier first line of the chorus. The “She plays that seventh…” melody sounds a bit samey to the verse, and maybe there’s a more transparent alternate lyric to put there? I don’t know, these are fine margins. 

  1. Jim of Seattle – Variations on an End

I’m sorry to put you last, Jim. I’m just not completely sure about your interpretation and direction with the challenge. In the past I think Spintunes has had a round where only a certain number of words were allowed in the lyrics, and it seems like you were imposing that kind of restriction on yourself in addition to the two chords. And it didn’t totally work for me. It’s also not my place to critique because judges’ votes don’t count this round, but I do think you played a bit fast and loose with the two chords. Even if you were technically within the “can a guest play along” rule Micah shared, I’m not sure those piano interludes match the spirit of the challenge? But I might be out of my music theory depth. All that said, it’s a very lovely piece, more in the realm of film score or musical theater again, and I’d usually want to rank any song with a smooth sax line higher! And then the harp and clip-clop and whistling and strings and everything, it’s obviously a very rich lovely composition. The lyrics didn’t really let me in and I guess I didn’t jive with your interpretation to try to make two chords sound like a million different chords. Congrats though on bringing it every single round; your songs have always been highlights. 

ST18.4 Reviews and Rankings - Leonie Connellan

Round four. Two chords. One winner. Glad this one is not on us judges (unless there’s a tie-breaker, of course, which is not entirely unlikely…). Once again, these cycled through my rankings, and I had to be super picky at decision time. When we decided on this challenge, the point wasn’t the chords themselves, but for you to focus on other ways to make your songs interesting, and we’ve ended up with five (or twelve, counting the shadows) very different songs, which is great. To judge, I went through my usual descending order list of song / structure > lyrics > emotional core / storytelling / intention > musical ability > production skills. All the competing songs have some great characteristics this time round, but I want to specifically praise all the really great shadow entries submitted, because there’s some excellent songs in there.

1. Jim of Seattle

2. Brian Gray

3. Chas Rock

4. Sober

5. Daniel Sitler

Daniel Sitler, What If?

It took a few spins to get my head around this one. At first I didn’t realise that the timing was changing between four and triple metre in different sections, and it sounded like you were off time, but that was a result of my tired brain, not you! I do think that the intro section could do a better job of setting up the timing, even if it’s your intention that it feel unsettled, as that part continues to confound me a little after listening a lot.

I think the lyrics are really well written. The structure and rhymes feel very natural and well placed. As it is, I feel like the song as a whole is a touch suppressed. It asks the existential questions, but doesn’t offer any moment of light or revelation to answer those questions. The song could really benefit from building up to a release moment. Even if you don’t necessarily have the answers to the questions asked, you could possibly try a bridge or something that approaches the same questions from a different perspective. One thing your lyrics made me think of was an episode of the TV series ‘Angel’, where one character comes to an existential realisation and sums it up as “if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do”. For me, your song hits that first part of the statement, but it doesn’t explore the second part, and that part of questioning existence is what’s most interesting to me. I do think that if you wanted to, you could find a way to explore that musically and lyrically. Musically, a song that I loved and listened to obsessively as a teenager that kind of approaches this is ‘Mayonaise’ by the Smashing Pumpkins. It sits in the same genre that you’re going for with ‘What If?’, with shifts from slower to heavier sections, and it asks many of the same doom-laden questions, but there’s a lightness that breaks through both lyrically and musically that helps give it another dimension.

I know from reading that this is not your forte, and I’ve been trying hard not to judge all the songs on the quality of the song itself, not the mix, but I have a few tips that might be helpful to you. I personally find this kind of music incredibly difficult to mix well. I think I’ve said another similar thing in one of you previous reviews, but this has a lot of bass buildup and it sounds like you’ve used a lot of compression, and that’s adding to the overall lack of light in the song. If you listen to a song like ‘Mayonaise’, there’s a lot of light sounds mixed in to the fuzz, and they utilise a lot of treble to cut through those darker sounds and add musical interest. Even if you didn’t want to add any other sounds or instruments to the arrangement, you could improve this mix a lot by cutting the bass EQs quite drastically on many of the tracks, and by maybe using a bit less reverb on the guitars. There’s a lot of muddiness happening in your sounds, and carefully cleaning that up will give you a lot more headroom and you won’t have to compress the whole track so heavily at the end. Look at high passing anything that might have a lot of room resonance. With other instruments, look and listen carefully to make sure they’re not all just taking up the same sonic space. Just carefully applying different EQs across multiple guitar layers in this kind of track will make them sound louder and bigger without needing to turn up the volume.

Although it focusses on plugins from a particular brand, this article has some good information in it that might be useful to you: https://www.izotope.com/en/learn/6-ways-to-use-a-high-pass-filter-when-mixing.html

On articles, here’s an interview with Butch Vig, producer of Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, etc., on recording and mixing guitars: https://guitar.com/features/interviews/butch-vig-guitar-recording-secrets-nirvana-the-smashing-pumpkins-foo-fighters/

Overall, good job with the track. While I think it’s one that could be improved upon, it’s an interesting song and would be worth investing the time and energy to really make it shine. 

Brian Gray, Gestalt

I realised when listening to this song for the first time that, while I had heard the word “gestalt” before, I had absolutely no idea what it meant or how to say it. So I learned a new thing! 

Way to go here on taking an already restrictive challenge and restricting it even further by only allowing yourself instruments that could be easily carried onto a spaceship. You’ve managed to come up with a sound that is both authentic and enjoyable, while keeping interest throughout the arrangement. I especially love the tambourine that comes in half way through. And those harmonies, hell yes.

Lyrically this is just as good, although I do keep getting stuck on the “Surprise! Here’s some debt to go into!” line. That seems a little too outside of the story; does debt still matter when you’re escaping an apocalypse, or is “debt” meant more as a catch-all for the general terrible situation?

Overall, I think this is very effective both as a song that could exist as part of your musical, and also as something with a life of its own.

Sober, It Never Comes 

I’m a total sucker for a good double entendre song. This is lighthearted, especially in comparison to the other songs this round, but it’s also clever and thoroughly enjoyable.

There are a few moments in the breakout sections that feel a little awkward in this recording. The rhythm in the slowdown part where you starts to sing the “In my fantasies” section feels a bit off. It tripped me up on the first few listens, and I think that it’s one of those things that would work really well if this was being performed live, as the band would play off one another and make it feel more natural and exaggerated, but as it stands it’s just sounding a little bit awkward. I think some of the lyrics there could be be rewritten a little to add some more spice as well. The “I want to hear a nice subdominant” line could do with an extra syllable, or at least a more exciting word than “nice”. I keep rewriting it in my mind as “I want to hear that sweet subdominant” (in Australia and New Zealand, “sweet”, or “sweeeeet” is slang for “awesome”, “cool”, etc., and that’s more the vibe I mean, rather than “sweet” meaning “delightful” or “sugary”).

The mix is generally good. There were a few moments where something sounded like it was masking the vocal, particularly the first time you sing “bassline”; there’s something hitting in a frequency there that makes it sound like you’re singing “face line”. The vibrato on “half cadence” is lovely, and I still want you to nudge that fader up just a touch on your lead vocal. Just a l’il bit more presence would be great.

Good job. Thanks for making me laugh.

Jim of Seattle, Variations on an End

This was my immediate favourite of the round. That minor 7 / G7 combo is right up my melancholy music street. I love that, for a song about endings, this one feels very much like it doesn’t have a beginning or ending; you can just jump in at any point and feel up to speed. It’s also one of the longer songs but never seems to get tired for me. There’s so many little things that keep me engaged, or pull me back in if I drift away while listening: little crossings in the panning, new instruments coming in and leaving, the strings, the sad saxophone. It feels like it could be in a film. 

The only thing I’d really suggest looking at would be the EQ on some of the very high end sounds. In particular, on my main listening headphones, the mix sounded a bit spiky on some of the higher pitched piano lines.

On the whole though, I really loved this from start to end.

Chas Rock, Hotel by the Hospital

If there’s any surefire way to suck me into a song, it’s a heartbeat rhythm. Sonically this is a style that I definitely love, and I’ll happily listen to this song outside of the contest for a long time to come. The pacing is great, and while the lyrics don’t necessary fall exactly as they would if you were speaking the lines, the rhythms work for the song.

My one minor quibble is unfortunately in the focal line of the song, where you sing “I don’t want to be here neither”; I understand that “neither” is easier to sing than “either”, because it has that nice consonant at the beginning of the word, but because you’ve used a negative construction for the sentence (“I don’t want to be here…”), it should be “either”. You’ve built the world of the song so well, and that line yanks me right out of it every time.

Well done though on making a 5 minute plus song feel not remotely long and incredibly engaging.

See-man-ski, Brief

First couple of listens I thought you’d deliberately gone the three chord route, and then I realised it was a one chord song right up until the end and it became even funnier. (I do hope I got that correct!)

There are some spots in the mix that feel like the vocal is being masked a bit. The word “brief” sometimes gets buried and is a little hard to make out. I’m not sure if it’s a case of playing with EQs to give the vocals a bit of room, or just riding the volume automation on them a bit to bring some parts out a touch more clearly.

Stacking Theory (ft Toshiro), Holding My Own

Definite fave. Love the Yo La Tengo style doot doots, and I like that you and yr wife are singing different variations of the doot (ba ba and da da); they blend together in a really interesting way. I also appreciate that in a song about holding your own, you’ve called in multiple people to help out, which helps underline the main theme of the song. I also love that you’ve referenced parts from all your Spintunes songs this round to help build this one. 

The bridge going very small and quiet is a good decision thematically. And it’s a nice sounding glockenspiel in there, but I am curious as to why you’ve used a fake one when I know for a fact that you own a real one. ;)

One mix tip: use a de-esser at the start of your vocal chain. I accidentally listened to this way to loud at one point, and the sibilance was quite harsh. It wasn’t so much of an issue when I sorted my shit out and turned down the volume, but still, de-essing is useful and will help your mix on the whole.

My husband put in a request for royalties when he heard me listening to this for the millionth time. In his defence, those guitar parts are just lovely.

Best lyrical moment “this precious crowd / don’t hold me down / they pull me up / we share the cup /until I am holding my own”

See-man-ski, Love Is

Lovely contrast here with your other entry. That Jeff Tweedy book is a great reference, and I should probably borrow it again and do some of the exercises. I know that making something so stripped back and then leaving all the little random bits in was probably more about pushing back on things that had been picked up on as distracting in previous songs, but I do think that in this context they really work to add to the humanity of a song that comes from a very sincere place. I’m super glad you submitted this.

Hot Pink Halo, One Two Punch

This one is me. The subject matter has been making me sad since 2012, so I wanted to write something bouncy that made me feel happy. The contrast in theme to feel is very deliberate. I’d love to release this somehow, but I’m slightly terrified of even sharing it on my Facebook page. The politicians in the Australian Liberal Party have been pretty slap-happy with the defamation lawsuits of late. Of course, silencing potential dissent is exactly the purpose of their lawsuits… ugh. Anyway, very pleased with how this ended up.

Jocko Homomorphism, Tuck and Roll

I love the general vibe of this. All those sounds are wild and invigorating, and there’s a lot of energy in the arrangement. There’s something in there that sounds to me like a typewriter spacebar, and I’m 100% here for it. I wish you’d spent as much care on the vocals as you did on the rest of the song, because they feel really tacked on. Lyrically they work, but the delivery is lacking in creativity and energy. You could do so much cool stuff with these lyrics, and I hope you revisit them.

Cybronica, Yesterday’s Mascara

Just the title alone, before even listening to the song, is so evocative. The imagery throughout the song continues to be great

There’s some fret buzz on the bass here are there that is a bit distracting, but also kind of humanising at the same time. There’s also a static pop in the bass that happens about a third of the way through as the music hits at the change-up; I’m not sure if it’s the result of comping something, but it might be worth cleaning up that one area. Overall I love the sound and the arrangement, and those very high little piano notes that are sprinkled in towards the end of the song are just beautiful. If this was in the competition it would be right near the top of my rankings.

Buckethat Bobby Matheson, Two Cords 

This is a long song, for sure, but I think the lyrics really do carry it well, moreso than in some of your other longer songs. It has a personal poetic feel combined with a narrative that justifies the length. I think this one is definitely worth refining in the orchestration and delivery; there’s a lot of room to experiment and play with different arrangements if you wanted to. It’s the kind of song that you could make as big or as small as you want, which is a great indicator that you (and your discord cohorts) have written a really good song.

ST18.4 Reviews and Rankings - Chumpy and Ryan

 As ever, Chumpy and Ryan share their reviews on the Two Jerks One Vote podcast, this time joined by special guest Cybronica! Find the episode here.

Chumpy's rankings:

  1. Sober
  2. Daniel Sitler
  3. Brian Gray
  4. Jim of Seattle
  5. Chas Rock

Ryan's rankings:

  1. Sober
  2. Jim of Seattle
  3. Brian Gray
  4. Daniel Sitler
  5. Chas Rock

ST18.4 Contestant Reviews

Some of our SpinTunes 18 contestants offered reviews along with their Final Round rankings. Here they are!

Jocko Homomorphism


When I listen to your music, I think to myself "Wow! That's really talented! But can he do any other tricks?" I'll put it this way -- I would accept a "Best of Sober" album that consists of just your most recent songs. It's great that you are consistently entertaining! But I don't think I would be able to identify anything missing from that album, which is not great for the amount of work you put in each week.

I know that style identity is something that is very important to you, which is why I am loving what you have done this week. I was actually surprised when you mentioned feeling self-conscious in this style. I was thinking more "oh yeah, of course he's good at country, too! That's a pretty natural pair for folk music." It's definitely a Sober song, but one that I can point at as being its own thing. How far can you push this?

I dig the references to the challenge. Excellent wordplay. (Don't play the D no more, playing with one and five.) "Lost lover" is really an excuse plot for delivering japes, and you are not lacking for japes.

Daniel Sitler

That's a neat drum line in the introduction. Then it tightens up a bit, but keeps some of the tilted flavor. Nice! It's wise not to put the seventh extension on the D chord here. Your two chords share most of their notes, but neither contains the base triad of the other.

You're using the usual tropes to good effect, like the staccato beats leading into the chorus. I really enjoy the competing rhythms, in the instrumental section and in the outro.

The opening guitar is a little muddy. You could probably EQ it some to let the bass chords come through clearer.

Brian Gray

I think the alien stuff is an amusing artistic motif, but we need to be frank: You would be better off writing Gleeble when it fits your vision, and dropping it when it doesn't.

Alien stories have some poignant things to say about outsiders, resource extraction, and unequal allocation of consequences, but you're not tapping into that at all. I do not understand why you are splitting the difference like you have here -- putting aliens in the liner notes, but not using them to any potential in the song. If anything, the promise of hopping on a spaceship in a couple years undermines the weight of the piece.

"My People" had this problem, too. The actual words you sing make for a nice song, and the aliens are just shoehorned into the notes. But the eponymous line only lands if you know the singer is an extraterrestrial, which isn't actually explained in the audible words.

Let's talk craft. It's a fine song. A lot of folks are worrying about this stuff right now, and you're doing a good job of putting these feelings into music.

That said, "the parts the sum is greater than" is a badly tortured line. Your melody signals that the preceding line, "no time like now to understand" is a complete thought, and will be followed by one more complete thought to close the verse. It would be awkward to continue any sentence through that pause. You not only slapped on a cliche, but you wrote it backwards. The ordering is trying to establish "parts" as the subject, but anyone familiar with the idiom knows that it's the object. This makes the line very awkward to parse. It leads me to the conclusion that the words don't actually matter and you're just hunting for a rhyme.

Chas Rock

This is a good song for zoning out and feeling sad. In the context of SpinTunes, the lyrics should be a major component, but they don't hold up when I scrutinize.

On my first listen, I thought you were winding up for some heavy shit about current events, namely police murder. In comparison, an alcoholic losing his license is far less ambitious. I guess it's intellectually sad in a world where autonomy automatically entails automobiles, but I don't really feel pathos for a person that operates heavy machinery while impaired.

We move on to a generalized idea of people hiding from their families in a hospital. Are they the patients? The staff? Maybe these people show pity for the singer in a shared therapy group, or maybe they don't interact, and just the thought of others' situations makes the singer realize that they themself do not want pity from family members. Again, this mostly works, so long as I don't think about it too much.

Then the song gets to the singer's issue, and it turns out that it's the least interesting problem of the whole song, a broken relationship with no details given whatsoever.

My inclination is to disbelieve this character. As in, I'd rather believe am witnessing crocodile tears. If things were so bad that the couple has been forcibly separated, and the singer is living in a hotel, then no, I do not want to see these people back together. Ever! Do not expect me to feel for this person just because they are the POV character. Work for it.

Jim of Seattle

This is an interesting composition. You mentioned on the forum that you wanted to keep it as an instrumental. I agree with that judgement. The vocals lines you've added detract a lot from my enjoyment of the piece.

"Relationship gone bad" is an overdone topic in my book, and committing to ambiguity only makes my gripe worse. Your lyrics do not describe why the couple was initially together, why they stopped communicating, and crucially for your ending, why there is anything left to salvage. There is no metaphorical layer to spice things up or reward repeat listenings. Instead, we're given a vague, secondhand retelling of a conversation without any details about who these people are or what they mean to each other. It's not clear what we should be reading into these shallow lyrics, and it's less clear why we should even care.

The vocals seem dull and tacked on compared to the thoughtful instrumental lines. The overdubbed ensemble makes it impersonal. I get that the intent is "say more with less", but the effect on me is "God I don't wanna write any more words". Your lyric sheet only has eighty-one words for a five minute song, and you're wasting time on cliches like "You've got yours / I've got mine."

Love the sax. Love the wood blocks. Hate the whistling -- find a ringer or go synthetic.


Very fun listening, but I need the rest of my free time for doing a cover. Micah, why does my track say (SHADOW) on the album? That's a completely different hedgehog!


Daniel Sitler - What If?


First off, I didn't think I was going to like this song as much as I did. First impressions weren't great for me. The intro just didn't feel right, I think you were doing some clever stuff with timing but it just felt off to me and the first verse just lacked something (I think it was the drums). However, once the chorus came in I was hooked. I totally related to the lyrics as I spend most of my life wondering if I am good enough, at work, parenting, music etc and this touched that nerve. After the first chorus the song just seemed to lift, maybe it was because I just suddenly related to it and that was it.


Sober - It Never Comes


Your production chops always amaze me. This is no exception. The guitar work is wonderful and I really liked how you used your knowledge on music theory as a way of describing a relationship where the protagonist isn't happy. Someone with a bit more music theory will probably get all the meanings i.e. I'm guess D would be the forth inversion (I'm not even sure that is the right term :P). Admittedly, I read the lyric "picardy third" as being the great Jean Luc Picard. This is a nice tongue in cheek take on the challenge and interesting.


Jim of Seattle - Variations on an End


The scenario that played around in my head whilst listening was a piano with the 2 singers either side having a mini argument. Not really saying anything that is useful (which in most cases is what an argument is). I imagined as it went into the instrumental the singers turned away not having resolved whatever conflict they were having this argument about. Throughout the tune I imagined some kind of café lounge and when the western bit came in that threw me and I felt it was out of place of the setting I had just built up in my head. I also felt the instrumental was a bit too long for my taste. The scenario continued to play out in my head when the characters appear to resolve there indifferences as the song reaches its finale.


Although this didn't distract me from the song I did hear a lot of hiss in the piano at the start and in the middle.


Brian Gray - Gestalt


The guitar work is really nice, it reminds me a bit of Jane Says. I do like the sentiment and it's relatable outside of this whole Gleeble universe thing you have got going on. I do think this is a really nice song, it sounds great and there are some great elements. The harmonies and harmonica to name a few things I really liked. I felt like I wanted more from it though.


Chas Rock - Hotel by the Hospital


There are some really nice synths sounds in this track, it has a lovely atmosphere about it which I really admire. The eq that you have used on the centred vocals is really nice and I liked that. I did feel like it never really changed and I felt myself longing for something a bit different. The ending does resurrect it a bit but I found myself switching off quite early on in the song and by that point unfortunately you had lost me.


I do also wonder if this songs suffers a bit from it's placement, maybe if it had been earlier on in my listening experience it might have captured my attention more. I have listened a few more times with it first rather at the last of the pack but it doesn't quite grab me still.


Stacking Theory (featuring Toshiro) - Holding My Own (SHADOW)


This is an exceptional song, it hits so many of the right notes (even though its just 2 chords). The sentiment is lovely and is a really pleasant listen. I love how you have put all of your songs together into a single finale song. You've had a great spintunes journey and this is the icing on the cake. Gutted you didn't make it to the final, this would have been my top song if you had. I can't put a fault on it, it sounds amazing and feels amazing to listen to.


Hot Pink Halo - One Two Punch (SHADOW)


This is awesome, I absolutely loved the groove and you mentioned in the chats you were dancing around the room, I can see why. I had an immediate comparison when I heard it which is I am Robot and Proud, specifically the Touch/Tone album. I loved the tubular bass sound and it is catchy is hell. The f bomb is used so effectively. This is one of my favourites that I have heard from you, absolutely loved it.


Jocko Homomorphism - Tuck and Roll (SHADOW)


Damn you, you have put my sonic song to shame  :(. I really like all you synth sounds, they are gelling really really well. The playful vocals fit really well and give this a I'm having fun playing games with my mates feel. I'm am transformed back to my childhood days sitting on the floor with the mega drive, admittedly I was playing Mortal Kombat at the time.


Cybronica - Yesterday's Mascara (SHADOW)


I got exorcism intro music vibes from the piano. It definitely feels like a horror movie intro, it is the arpeggiated piano that gives me those vibes I think. The tempo changes are really effectively, I get a sense that you have just reached your tether and its time to stop. What the hell are you saying in "Not so fond and not so fair"? I can hear a curse word but can't make out what it is. Ok, so I put it in my DAW and played around with the eq and I think it is "fucking bitch". That was a nice touch but a little buried in the mix to hear totally (maybe that was intentional, and I can get behind that). This was creepy and emotional at the same time, I like it.


"BucketHat" Bobby Matheson - Two Cords (SHADOW)


These lyrics are cracking, there are so many lines that I love. The idea of 2 cords of a knot describing a relationship or feelings for another is really great. They give me the feeling of a yearning for a love not quite realised and I like the idea of knot being not as in this is a love that is not going to happen. The reverb on the piano is really nice and I am more than happy for this to be a scratch tune, as you put it, I think this being as minimal as it is works well for it.

Third Cat

1. Chas Rock - Cool epic vibes. I really like the synth/drum sounds used. The "hotel TV / wake up inside the episode" lyric is great.  

2. Jim of Seattle - Love the vocals and the piano sounds great. Really impressive arrangement. Close call for me, almost have this one at number one but the Chas Rock track is just a bit more my thing. 

3. Brian Gray - Love the harmony vocals. Great understated acoustic guitar & percussion backing. I was pretty sure this was going to be my winner when I first heard it but then I heard the Chas Rock and JoS songs. Really strong round pushes this down to number 3 for me but I really like it. 

4. Sober - This one is well done and amusing and I love what I'm interpreting as double entendre musical/sexual lyrics. Unless that's somehow not what you're going for and I'm a pervert for hearing it that way. I kind of feel like this one deserves a higher ranking, but you guys all did such a good job I guess I'm putting this at 4th because it does feel a bit meta/jokey and my top three all across as more earnest and it seems like that deserves my vote for some odd reason or another.  

5. Daniel Sitler - This is probably mostly just genre bias (I am not a pop-punk fan and that's mostly what this sounds like to me) but this one isn't quite my jam although I do like some of the guitar sounds (the delayed / reversed? sounding bit that first comes in on the intro). I'll also say that this one grew on me a bit with repeated listening. It's good too. Great round to all of the finalists.