Sunday, February 17, 2013

Spintunes #6 Round 2 Review: Debs And Errol

Hello Spintunes and welcome back for Round 2, 'Song Fight'!

For Round 1, we ranked the songs together straight off the bat. This time we separately gave each song a rating between 1-10 separately and then combined those scores to get our final rankings. We were really impressed with the diversity of the submissions and many of the scores were really tightly packed.

Debs wrote up most of these which is why Errol keeps arguing with her about word choice even though he agrees with the content. Songs are posted in their original Bandcamp order.

1. TurboShandy - 'Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch FC'
We utterly adore this and even if you hadn't taken on the huge challenge of pronouncing one of the longest place names in the world, we would still utterly adore it. The metaphor in the fourth line is beautiful and 'singing it right' adds just that little hint of humour. The Celtic marching feel is irresistible and you completely sell it with those gorgeous, authentic vocals. It feels really epic, but almost understated at the same time which lets the deep pride and affection for the team really come through. The way you bring things down at the end instead of piling on more vocals is unexpected, but we like it.

Errol: Every time I see see that word, which is really just twice now, I think Piggy Wiggy. Which reminds me of Asterix & Obelix, who are gaulish! See how that fits?

Debs: No.

2. Glen Raphael - 'Gunn High Chess Team Fight!'
It feels there's a disconnection between the lyrics and the actual delivery because you're using a lot of aggressive words like 'dead', 'fight' and 'mighty' but there's very little aggression and drive in the way you're singing it. This would be a lot more effective if you either punched up the vocals or went with lyrics that were less in your face like 'better options are rarely seen'. It might be fun to play up the fact that the team is sort of uncomfortable about being aggressive in the jock sense because they're not naturally that way. More presence in the background bass would also help punch this up. The harmonies on this are really cohesive and we dig your choice of team.

E: Maybe they were trying to be in character. Chess people not really that excited about winning and being mighty. But if that were the case, I think the awkward could have been played better too.

D: You should know, you do awkward well.

E: Ya. Thanks for that.

3. Jenny Katz - 'Load The Cannon, Light The Fuse'
This actually feels thoroughly British as far as lyrics and performance go and that's really impressive. It comes across as slightly reserved and the jabs at the Emirates and the US are precise and elegant and bring a twinge of haughty pride to the mix. On headphones, the reverb feels a little thick when the additional voice comes into the second verse. On speakers, it's all good though. This is quite unique and ridiculously well crafted.

E: I read that as Warcraft.

D: Uh hunh.

E: See what I did there? War? Well crafted?

D: ...

4. The Middle Relievers - 'Here's To Joe's'
Now we're starting to get our hands dirty with a more traditional take on the challenge. We love the rough feel to this and the vocals completely sell it - they're really high quality without being too perfect...because you know, we're drinking after all. Melodically, this is pretty much perfect because it feels so natural and the rhythmic variation between the verse and the chorus is great. We hear some clipping in places like 'Home Run' but given the style we don't really mind. We like the clinking glasses but don't think they needed to be used as often as they were. A really solid entry.

E: The clicking reminded me of Monty Python.

D: Don't quote.

E: 'Where'd you get the coconuts?'

D: DON'T QUOTE.

E: *sigh*

5. Brian Gray - 'Fei Gong!'
D: Notes from my first listen were ':D :D :D !!!!' because I was laughing too hard to get anything else down. This is a work of genius. The vocals are so darn earnest and just a tad sheepish at the same time as if to say, 'Yes, we know this is just slightly left-of-center'.

This is the smartest lyric of the challenge for us - 'Two teams enter, two teams leave' just about killed us and bringing in tapestry and crowning jewel feels very culturally appropriate. The breakdown is really wonderful too. We stand in awe.

E: This reminds me of 'Kung Fu Hustle.'

D: Every song reminds you of something.

6. Steven Wesley Guiles - 'Minecraft Fight Song' DISQUALIFIED
D: All right, I have a confession to make. I have never played Minecraft. I know how awful that is, being in a geek band, but it's true and I'm ashamed to say it.

Of course you wrote a Minecraft song, Steven! You are clearly having an awesome time with this and it shows. It has wonderful energy and excitement to it and is also really accessible for listeners of all ages. That's not just because you've brought in the kids but also because of the call and response in the 'Building! Crafting!' section. We love the pixelated-sounding intro and the synth that comes along for the melody ride provides some really nice support for the singing.

Unfortunately, we had to agree that Team Minecraft it doesn't qualify as a sports team and that makes us sad.

E: The 8 bit sounding intro you mean? How can it be pixelated?

D: Because it's old!

E: PIXEL IS A GRAPHIC TERM!

D: Yeah but it's still about things being broken up into little bits.

7. RC - 'We Will Bury You'
D: I gave these lyrics absolutely no credit until my third listen when I started reading along. Then I realized that they are ridiculously clever and awesome. Oh man, the puns!

The production is really high quality but we found ourselves wishing for a little more grit and oomph to really get the bite across because it almost seems too polished. We think that having multiple voices bringing in some raw energy would pretty much do it. What you're doing on the last 'you' there is utterly wonderful and the switch into minor there is perfect.

E: 'Switch into Minor'? You DO know what that tune is, don't you?

D: Yes. Sheesh!

8. Edric Haleen - 'A Father's Fight Song'
E: Debs, are you crying again?

D: What?!

E: You don't even have kids! Ugh... I'm surrounded by people with emotions.

Once again you've completely disarmed us with an arrow from left-field that that that goes straight to the heart. We know you said in your song bio that you loathed this challenge, but being able to pull something out of parameters you hate kind of feels good for the songwriting soul, right? The crowd and the kids in the background bring us right into the moment with you and that one synth is placed exactly where it should be for the mood shift.  This is poignant and beautiful.

9. Army Defense - '72Dolphins' DISQUALIFIED
This is pretty strong performance-wise and the vocals are cool but it's a victory song, not a fight song. That being said, we do like the lyrics a lot, especially what you've done with 'white lines'. There's no build climax to it though and unfortunately the long, drawn out clip became boring very fast and we found it hard to stay interested.

E: This reminds me of....

D: Stop it!

E: But...

D: Not listening!

10. The Chocolate Chips - 'Indian Cricket Team Fight Song (Win For India!)'
The exotic choice of team here made us chuckle and does make this stand out. Although the instrumental choices are really fitting, the tune feels quite Western in terms of its actual composition. We would have loved it you had taken the Indian influence further and drawn from traditional musical styles (we're thinking along the lines of using ragas or even going Bollywood). The fact that it's laid back seems really appropriate but it really does still feel like a fight song so kudos there. The lyrics aren't coming through distinctly in the mix, but one thing we'd like to suggest is to really be conscious of word and syllable emphasis. The line 'Defend our wicket' sounds forced and awkward because the melody is placing emphasis in the wrong place. If you were to speak this line, you would usually say 'DEfend our WICket' but what you've actually sung is 'DEfend OUR wickET.'

E: Hah! That's great! Wicket reminds me of -

D: Star Wars.

E: Yes.

D: Yes.

11. Kevin Savino-Riker - The 12th Man
The 12th man concept is really cool and make this stand out as unique even though it's a traditional as far the team you've chosen. There are some really tight harmonies in this one and we like how it builds and layers. The vocal delivery doesn't quite bring the bite and excitement we're wishing for - we want it to be rougher and less perfect with some added weight in the lower register.

E: Oh. That's a sporting term. I had to look it up.

D: It didn't remind you of anything?

E: Oh! It reminded me of -

D: DON'T CARE!

12. Blimp Exhaust - Checkmate!
D:  CHESS PUNCH IN THE FACE! I don't think I've ever been this excited about chess, ever.

You do so many thing right here. 'Checkmate' is the perfect hook and 'You shall not pass' earned the loudest laugh of the night. We love how you're messing with our heads at 0:50, alternating bars of rhymically straightforward with crazy overlaid patterns. The minor on 'Your' ('kick your ass') is fresh because it's so unexpected.

E: What's wrong with chess? Why aren't you excited about it?

D: ...

E: You hate nerds.

D: I DON'T!

13. Jerry Skids - Psyche 'Em Out!
HAH! Nice team choice. Energetically, this is another punch to the face, which is fabulous. We're really impressed that you can hit everything as cleanly as you are and still be belting, clearly you have superb vocal control.  We really like how the refrain comes right out of the verses without a break. We wouldn't have thought that would work but the 'beeeeers' yell as it's transitioning pulls it all together seamlessly. There's an unpolished and careless vibe to the lyrics (e.g. the 'blonde dude' line) that really fits the mood well. You've managed to put a lot of content into the lyrics and yet it's still really easy to sing along to the whole thing. Love it.

E: I thought he was saying 'bears'.

D: Uh hunh...

E: So I thought that was a real sport team.

D: Yup.

E: You're not listening to me... are you...

D: Uh hunh...

14. Dr. Lindyke - 'Cock Fight'
D: Please tell me he didn't...

E: You usually like stuff like this...

D: o.O

We know from the song bio that this challenge was a big stretch for you and that makes this even more impressive. You pulled it off admirably, better than admirably in fact. There was no waiting for jokes because they were stuffed into every line and damn well played.

E: Debs, are you crying again?

D: I'm crying because awesome!

The blending of voices is really well done and the panning is great too.

15. Steve Durand - Put Your Mettle To The Pedals
Clever title! This gets us right in the game and the horn flourishes are a real delight.  Bits of the lyrics were a bit hard to decipher but there are some great lines ('set the tempo' is a particular favourite and really elegant).  This is a really solid entry that does everything right.

D: I cringed a bit when 'Jaune' was mispronounced but after multiple listens I find it endearing since they wouldn't speak French anyway. I am confused about one thing though.

E: What?

D: What does HGH and EPO stand for? Because the Internet says it's drugs.

E: Umm....yeah.

D: But why are the mailmen taking drugs?

E: You do know this isn't a made up team right?

D: Oh. OH. I kind of just thought all the time biking around delivering mail would make them as good as professional bikers. Now I think I love that section more.

16. "BucketHat" Bobby - YTCWGWCT
D: A curling song! I love curling!

E: Wait, you've curled?

D: Yes!

E: Me too.

D: REALLY?

E: Yup... played on a team and everything.

D: You É did a SPORT!?

Ah, curling, a sport nestled in our Canadian hearts. The lyric is quite clever (rock into a roll) and it just wouldn't be a curling song without 'Hurry! Haaaaaaard!'  The flow of 'Yukon Territories' Canada Winter Games Women's Curling Team is really nice. It has a good sound and an easy groove but there's no energy spurring us onto new heights, so as a fight song, it feels a little indirect. The accordion (synth?) has some timing issues and there are a few trouble spots vocally but the performance overall is quite solid.

17. Ross Durand - Bigger In Texas
This so easily could have been just another football song but it's poking fun at itself with a twist that is really wonderful. It's highly smart, amusing and darn entertaining. It didn't really bring the ÒfightÓ energy in a traditional sense but we think that kind of works for the context. This is perfect Texas music too.

E: How would you know what perfect Texas music is?

D: I've been through Texas.

18. MC Ohm-I - Let's Go Mets
Nice polished production here and the horns lend a really grand sense of occasion. The rap section has really great energy and get us pumped up and going with quick rhythms but once 'Time to play ball' kicks in, the drive kind of peters out. I think it's because those lines are sung in a really smooth, elongated manner and that creates a lull. All of the vocals from then on out feel sound really polished but far too restrained so there's no sense of love, fight or passion. Really love the lyrics in the first verse.

E: Do people actually sing songs at sports things?

D: 'Sports things?'

E: Ya... those things people go to É

D: We do.

19. Josh Holober-Ward - Let's Go Ravens!
This is a lot of fun! These are stellar vocals and you make a cappella sound effortless when we know that it's actually anything but. The intro growl and the rap later on are fabulous and really showcase your versatility. Lyrically there's a lot of great humour that we really dig. We also love how it feels as though you're making it up on the spot. Caw-CAW!

E: Uh... I didn't say 'Caw-CAW' at the end. That's all Debs.

D: What's wrong with that? I was imitating them!

E: He made it sound funny. You didn't.

D: Typing doesn't sound like anything!

20. Edric Haleen - ICA School Song (SHADOW)
* Laughs * This sounds so campy but that's a good thing. I like that it's crunchy. It's really sing-alongable too. It's cool that you took something you made this fifteen years ago. Your vocals are clear and fit the song and has the right amount of spirit and enthusiasm.

E: It's crunchy? WHERE'S CRUNCHY?

D: It sounds crunchy...and distorted! And that's cool!

E: I thought you've dated enough guitarists to know what crunchy mean.

D: Remember that jerk comment?

21. The Boffo Yux Dudes - Go, Trenton Wolverines! (Shadow)
Ha! Great take on the challenge! An embittered non-popular kid gets tasked with writing the team spirit song and for some reason, no one checks the lyrics. He's probably the creepy kid on the sidelines that stares at the one cheerleader whom he longs for but can't approach her. Not that this was Errol in anyway. Nope. Nosirree...

E: I'm hungry for a whopper now.

D: I don't think I've eaten a whopper in my entire life.