Saturday, November 28, 2020

2020 Winter Warm-up #1 - THE CHALLENGE

Welcome to the 2020 Winter Warm-up! We're just getting back into the swing of things so we can make some music in earnest starting in January. There are no sign-ups for this warm up. You have the challenge, just submit your song.

Epic Rap Battles of Courtesy!: Write a song where two people try to outdo each other with compliments and/or self-deprecation.

Although this is supposed to be a rap battle, don't let that stop you. If you think you can get the flavor across in a tune, have at it. If you've been hiding under a rock and don't know what we're going for, check out this Compliment Rap Battle on YouTube (NSFW). Give us a beat.

SongFighters know there can never be too many songs. They've opened a SpinTunes subforum on their message boards. So go participate & post your lyrics. We're under SideFights and Highlights, but the board is waaaay bigger than that. Look around. SongFights are ongoing.

The Listening Party will be held on December 7th, 2020 at 9pm EST here.

Submitting Entries:
  • Your entry must be received by Sunday, December 6th, 2020 @ 11:59 PM EDT 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. One minute late is too late.
  • You are allowed and encouraged to submit a draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens and you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song and send in a better version closer to the deadline. The last version received prior to the deadline is your official entry. 
  • Lyrics are mandatory. No instrumentals. Having no lyrics will get you disqualified.
  • Name your file the your band name + the song's title, but without spaces & punctuation.
  • Title of the e-mail should be the title of the Challenge & your band's name. (e.g. "Winter Warmup #1 - Dr Lindyke") (The title of your song is whatever you want it to be)
  • Include information on anyone that should be credited for collaboration. Remember, collaborations are OK, even among competitors. You must write your song, but if you want to use another vocalist or musicians, do so. Use the Facebook and SongFight forums!
  • 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. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION!
  • Other file sharing options if you need them: Sound Cloud (set to download a format BandCamp is ok with) & Drop Box. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. 
  • If you're using something other than Bandcamp, It's best if you 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.
  • If you send me an MP3, I will attempt to convert it for you. But be warned... I will be strapped for time, and I will post whatever Audacity spits out of the conversion. So if you picked the wrong sample rate, your dulcet tones may wind up sounding like termites or chipmunks or random static. And that is what will be judged. So please... save and submit your files in the right format. 
  • You can update your picture anytime you like, or even use a different one on each album if you send them with your submissions. Just make sure it's up to size (1400x1400 pixels or larger) unless you like fuzzy, blocky photos. I'll crop and re-size it as best I can. Otherwise the album art will be displayed.

Side Notes:
  • You are allowed to send in a little background about your song. We encourage and appreciate "song bios". You don't have to do it, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. I'll even link to longer blog posts if you want to explain your song on your blog. Some judges will read this extra info, but they aren't required to.
  • Since this is a single round, there are no shadows. Just making music and having fun.

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

Monday, November 23, 2020


SpinTunes is back, and we're starting off the Winter season with some warm-ups (or cool-downs, if you're Down Under). There will be TWO one-off challenges in December, to be judged independently, just to get us in the mood. In January we'll have a full competition schedule.

There will be no sign-ups necessary for these warm-ups. I'll post the challenges, you send in the songs. Simple as that.

The dates are:

WARM-UP #1: 

November 28: The challenge is posted

December 06: The songs are due

December 12: The results are posted 


December 05: The challenge is posted

December 13: The songs are due

December 19: The results are posted

We've been idle for a while now. Let's dust off the instruments and get in the mood to make some music and have some fun!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

SpinTunes 16 Round 4 RESULTS


nuclear explosion mushroom cloud atomic bomb free photo
SpinTunes 16 Champion!
Had to go with the explosion. 
Fireworks don't contain enough heavy metal

Temnere wins the coveted no-prize, and also earns a spot as a judge in our next contest, where he can give as well as he received.

And this, Ladies and Gentlebeings, is why you shadow.

Thanks to everyone who participated, and special thanks to the judges (Micah Sommersmith, Joe Lamb, Russ Rogers, Mary Ann Randall, and Travis Langworthy, as well as William Hoover); to Tom Giarrosso for his deft performace as MC at our listening parties; and to Matt "Shoobs" Schubbe for the exquisite cover art.

Be sure to check out the Two Jerks One Vote podcast, on which Temnere coincidentally appears as a special guest!

Here's the voting:

Steve Stearns
Ross Durand
Boffo Yux Dudes1234
Faster Jackalope4312
Governing Dynamics3124
Jocko Homomorphism4123
Lichen Throat4312
Menage a Tune1234
Mike Lamb3214
Nick Work4213
Ominous Ride3421
PigFarmer Jr1243
Ross Durand2431
Steve Stearns1432
The Brewhouse Sessions2314
Timothy Patrick Hinkle3214
Vowl Sounds4213


Steve Stearns
Ross Durand
Dr. Lindyke1432
Mary Ann1423

As you can tell from the above, a number of competitors did not make the deadline for rankings. I waited an extra hour before closing submissions, so late entries will not affect the rankings and results as reported above. Nevertheless, if you'd like to have your voice heard, send them in and I'll post them here.

Jerkatorium: 1. Temnere, 2. Steve Stearns, 3. Jerktorium, 4. Ross Durand.
[editorial comment: not voting for yourself is laudably honest, though borderline Darwin-worthy]

ST16R4 REVIEWS - Joe Lamb

Joe asked me [Dave]  to pass on this message:

I found it hard to see most of the songs meeting the challenge, but Mandibles would have won it for me across the board.

For Joe's rankings,  see the results page.

ST16R4 REVIEWS - Micah Sommersmith


This challenge had lots of possible ways to interpret it, although the title of the challenge had me worried we’d have a bunch of joke songs about stupid people dying. Fortunately, there was some very nice variety in the directions people took - which of course can make ranking difficult. Lucky for me, my votes don’t matter all that much this round. With that it mind, here are all the entries in their original album order:


Steve Stearns - Surf of Die
The production is impeccable, and those electric piano sounds are oh so tasty. The melody is not very sticky, and aside from the title none of the lyrics are particularly memorable either, so while I enjoy it while listening, as soon as it’s done I remember it only as that pleasant song about surfing while there are sharks around. It comes across as a comedy song, but comedy songs require actual jokes in the lyrics and not just a jokey premise.

Temnere - In Flames
In SpinTuneses past, your resolute commitment to your chosen genre has ultimately been your downfall, when you were asked to either provide a theme song for the community as a whole (ST14R4), or venture as far from your regular sound as possible (ST15R3). I don’t think that’s a problem here, as you lean into your strengths and deliver an undeniably epic listening experience.
Musically, you know exactly what you’re doing and you do it extremely well, so I’m not sure all that much feedback is necessary. I will offer three comments on the music, two positive and one negative.
Positive: I love the unison guitar+organ lines at 2:40, and the increasing vibrato on the word “done” at around 2:10 is very cool - it’s an effect I am used to hearing on electric guitars, especially in this genre. I don’t know how much you’re actually doing with your voice and how much is an effect in production, but I love it.
Negative: The instrumental intro is great, but the splash cymbal that hits every four beats for almost the entire first minute of the song gets old fast. I tiny thing but something I definitely noticed.
As for the lyrics, the general storyline of “leader fails to warn his people of impending catastrophe” is clear enough, but I need more details to fill in the very sketchy narrative. I THINK it’s about Trump and COVID-19? But maybe I’m projecting my own political biases onto the blank canvas of your song. One more tiny technical note: your use of the word “okay” feels out of place and anachronistic within the more formal tone of the rest of the lyrics.

Jerkatorium - Oh Pandora
Great choice of subject matter, and great title hook - it got stuck in my head instantly and has stayed there ever since. The verses don’t match the catchiness of the chorus (which I suppose is to be expected) and sort of get bogged down in their wordiness and exposition. I do like the Pandora-Eve connection you made, and I think that was very well done.
The instrumental backing is groovy but gets fatiguing, as it is fairly homogenous throughout the song - part of the problem is that there is no melodic/lead instrument until the guitar solo comes in. It also makes the shift from verse to chorus feel awkward and abrupt as the drums change to a new pattern with no warning - a guitar or organ fill or something leading into the change would help a lot.
The bells tolling after “that bell can’t be unrung” are a great touch, but - like your “Ya-hoo!”s in the last round - they’re buried so far in the mix that I they lose their impact. I had to rewind a few times to make sure I actually heard them and didn’t imagine it. If you’re doing something for effect you have to commit to it!

Ross Durand - One Last Drink
This song could benefit from a fuller instrumentation and/or trimming down the length - the barebones acoustic guitar and light percussion, combined with the very standard verse/chorus form, means the song starts to overstay its welcome.
But the story is fairly compelling, helped out by specific and concrete images in the lyrics - the wine glasses are low; her hand on my knee; picks me up by the hair; etc etc etc. The lyrics do the heavy lifting to carry the song forward - although the melody is decently catchy too - “One last drink, yeah one for the ro-o-oad” sticks in my head. Changing the lyrics of the last chorus to reflect on the poor decision is a great choice and wraps up the song nicely. I can imagine this as a barroom sing-along favorite, with the audience joining in for the choruses.


Glen Raphael - Hand Washing
This is a catchy ditty that I could imagine being used in a humorous PSA along the lines of the army cartoons with the infantryman who does everything wrong. The large number of verses and the same-ness of the music from one to the next means even its short runtime starts to drag while listening, but I bet this would work great as a group sing-along. Too bad there aren’t too many live music opportunities to share it at right now…

Jocko Homomorphism - Minnow (2020) - Marketing Pitch
I’m glad I don’t have to rank the shadows because I have no idea where I’d put this, but it succeeds brilliantly at what it sets out to do. The seriousness of the voice-over really sells it, along with the sound effects of the seagulls and the bell. The “SS Gill Lagan” is so brilliantly dumb.

Menage a Tune - BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
I get it the joke, and it’s consistently maintained throughout, but it’s just a bit too mean-spirited for me to enjoy (a danger inherent in this challenge). The chorus is memorable, but maybe because it’s almost identical to a polka whose name I can’t remember right now, and the verses feel similarly formulaic. The most musically interesting section is the (maybe racist?) bridge.

Micah Sommersmith - Nuclear
This was inspired by a recent article entitled “The nuclear family was a mistake” written by David Brooks, who I normally don’t expect to agree with all that much, but it was a compelling article about how upholding the model of parents and young children as a self-sufficient unit, at the expense of maintaining strong extended family and community ties, has weakened society as a whole. It’s a great article and my song wandered from the point a bit. I recorded it hastily on the night of the deadline, so the production is… not great, and the flaws in the vocal performance are very apparent to me.

Mandibles - Hurricane Camille
This is just as mean-spirited as Menage a Tune’s, in that it very deliberately finds humor in somebody dying stupidly, but this entry fully commits to wringing all the absurdity out of the situation that it can. The hurricane puns come in almost every line, and the expertly done island-inspired music fits the setting perfectly. I feel bad for laughing, but I’m laughing anyway.

Governing Dynamics - Sink
The melody and instrumental production are gorgeous here - the ebow is fantastic and I wish it featured more prominently throughout the song and not just in the introduction.
The lyrics set the tone and mood very well, although a few lines are very oddly phrased - e.g. “all WILL turn to mist” … “someHOW not well enough”. The song could use some revision of these and other lines, and maybe shortening a bit - the nearly 5-minute runtime feels long to me, but it’s a really lovely song on the whole.

Cavedwellers - Kissing Contest
Sorry, Song Fight is down the hall.

ST16R4 REVIEWS - Dr. Lindyke

FINAL ROUND! Dave here. And this round, having consulted with William Hoover, we're judging as Dr. Lindyke, who now takes over as "I" (it's like Firestorm... just go with it).

Here was the challenge:
Darwin Awards: Write a song about something that seemed a good idea at the time, but ended very badly. Maybe you should have given it a little more thought...
In addition, we gave you this very good piece of advice:
For a good idea of what we have in mind here, I suggest you look at the criteria for the actual Darwin Awards. Keep in mind that a Darwin Award does not require death.
I feel I have to point this stuff out because of an overwhelming tendency (among competitors and judges alike) to inadvertently overlook the challenge in the zeal to make a song. As for me, I'm going to judge you on exactly what you were asked to produce.

You can win a Darwin Award for some incredibly stupid choice leading to an absolutely ironic and avoidable result that removes you personally from the gene pool. And while you can survive, your reproductive ability cannot. Furthermore, you never, never, never get such an award for causing the deaths of others. Keep the consequences of your dumbassedness to yourself, please. For me, this made it pretty easy to sort the entries based on story, even when the musicality is impossible to rank. So don't expect a lot of feedback on your excellent music other than to say it's excellent.

I'll list these in order of preference, best first.

1. Steve Stearns - Surf or Die
You never disappoint, Steve. And neither does the ghost of your surfing doppelganger. Removal from the gene pool? Check. Stupid choice? Check. Targeted at the idiot? Check. The music is, as always, infectious. Solid, tight lyrics and solid musical craftsmanship. It's the one song from this group that I found myself just humming or whistling during the week. For me, you win. Let's see what the crowd says.
2. Ross Durand - One Last Drink
Nice attention to detail on this one. "One for the road" is both stupid and avoidable, but it's that kick "you know where" that wins the Darwin. And, you didn't even have to die to do it! You're getting dinged a bit for some difficult lyrical phrasing, but I think you know that was coming. No points off at all for the busking style, by the way. I'd throw some money in the guitar case.
3. Temnere - In Flames
I'm not ready to give this one a Darwin Award. It is literally overkill. And there's no indication that the protagonist actually removes himself from the gene pool. While I thoroughly enjoy the performance on every level; on grounds of weakly meeting the challenge, I can't let it break into the top two.
4. Jerkatorium - Oh Pandora
Guys, I love ya. But I've got the same problem here as with Temnere's entry. It's both overkill and not enough. Yup, she sets evil loose on the world; but Pandora herself (at least in this song)...? Meh. She just gets a bad rep and a new address. Besides, I don't think you adequately sold the stupidity of the decision. Give it some foreshadowing besides one "leave it alone" from your dumbass brother-in-law. How good could his advice be, anyway? The moron winds up chained to a rock getting eaten by birds. As you note yourself, she was set up. No Darwin.


Glen Raphael - Hand Washing (SHADOW) 
Cute song, but no Darwin. See above.

Jocko Homomorphism - Minnow (2020) - Marketing Pitch (SHADOW) 
No Darwin. If anything, Robert's chances of procreation have exponentially increased.

Menage A Tune - BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! (SHADOW) 
This gets not merely a Darwin, but are actual Darwin Award winners. I wouldn't exactly call the tune inspired (it's a pretty standard formula), but it's a neat concept and could be developed. I suspect you'll get grief for the 'politically incorrect' bridge. I wouldn't let that bother you too much. Ironic humor is a part of the Darwins, and this does describe an actual winner.

Micah Sommersmith - Nuclear (SHADOW) 
While it's a nice commentary on the suburban American nuclear family in the tradition of 'Little Boxes' and 'Pleasant Valley Sunday', I don't see anything actually Darwin-winning happening here. Societal malaise isn't what we're looking for. Now, if the "when this family goes nuclear" line were not metaphorical it would be a different story entirely. It still wouldn't be Darwin Award-winning (as the idiot wouldn't be taking out just himself), but at least it would be another story entirely.

Mandibles - Hurricane Camille (SHADOW) 
As a native son of Charleston, SC, I can tell you that hurricane parties are ABSOLUTELY Darwin-worthy!  Or can be, if you don't survive. I wish this were an official entry.  I'd have given it some love.

Governing Dynamics - Sink (SHADOW)
I'm SO glad you broke out the eBow. I love that thing. A nice anthem-ish tune going on here, not rambling at all. And good Darwin-worthy choice of subject. Listening to sirens at sea...? Not a good decision.

Cavedwellers - Kissing Contest (SHADOW) 
What's a Cavedweller? It's like a Jackelope, only slower. Unfortunately, getting sick ain't enough for a Darwin, with certain very specific exceptions that don't appear in this song.


[Re-joining us this round is Spin himself - Travis Langworthy]

(in Album Order)

Steve Stearns - Surf Of Die
Music sounded great, the vocals were good, and the lyrics flowed well.  I have no idea if surfers use the lingo that you gave them in the song, but it sounded ?surfery? to me.  I can’t really think of anything bad to say.  The lyrics were a bit humorous being so over the top with the stereotype, but it wasn’t a laugh out loud type funny.  The music set the tone & I was chill & relaxed the entire way through.  This will be hard to beat.

Temnere - In Flames
Doesn’t mention Trump or the coronavirus, but it’s kinda an obvious jump if this isn’t about that.  Doesn’t have to be though, you left it vague enough that people can fill in their own blanks.  Which is good.  I mean taking on politics in SpinTunes is very risky.  You get 1 judge who isn’t all that great at staying objective about your message & you’re at the bottom instantly.  The opening was a bit long, but it sounded killer, so I didn’t mind.  The instrumental bridge was again great.  I’ve got no idea if you brought your vocals up in the mix any from previous songs, but after the first listen, I listened again without reading the lyrics & I was able to pick up the vast majority of them.  There were still places I struggled a bit, but I don’t know if that’s just me or not.

Jerkatorium - Oh Pandora
This is great storytelling, and it’s another song I’d struggle to find anything bad to say about.  I think it would think this is a winner on most days.  After repeated listens I just don’t find the level of enjoyment I got from Steve or Temnere.  I think it’s because I don’t find the chorus as catchy.  It’s the “Oh Pandora” line.  Just doesn’t flow like I want it to when I’m singing I guess.  Stupid reason to knock the song?  Probably, but I’m struggling to find negatives with any of these songs.  So you just have to deal with it.

Ross Durand - One Last Drink
Again great storytelling.  A couple places that didn’t flow too well or seemed forced (backwards ABC’s).  The production was a lot simpler than the other songs, but that doesn’t really matter.  What you did fit the song, and it didn’t make it less entertaining.  At the moment you & the Jerks are in the same boat.  You got great songs that would normally win or have a good chance at it.  Unfortunately I got 2 other songs I can’t really find anything bad to say about.  I haven’t made my final rankings at the time of writing this, but I expect you both to fight over the 3rd & 4th spots.  Which says a lot about the level of songs in this round.


Steve Stearns
Ross Durand