Saturday, February 4, 2017

SpinTunes #12 Round 1 Reviews: Ted Kiper

Hello again! It's another competition in the world of Spintunes, and I'm excited to see so many peers come out to participate.

It was a tough decision whether I should judge or compete, but I knew my computer wouldn't easily cooperate with me anymore. Despite having several new ideas, my days to record them have been very, very few. I can't even record for myself. And with only a week to record songs for each round, I couldn't afford investing so much effort, only for my computer to crash out and lose everything. It's absolutely tragic.

Almost as tragic as this challenge. I'm very mindful to politics, but it's not my favorite topic to discuss, even with family and friends. When I first realized that we would have this challenge, I feared I was going to hear nothing but the five-letter T-word. (He seems to be all the rage lately; and I, quite frankly, have heard enough about him.) There were no Senate hearings for us to be your judges; you are stuck with us. I find that politics encourage peers into endless debating, so I'm very concerned that my low ranks are going to rile up some competitors, arguing that I'm too ignorant or bias.

So... as much as I want to be lazier in analyzing (and all you veterans know, I analyze the crap out of some!), I need to show you guys, more than ever, on why I rank the way I do, that bias has nothing to do with it.

Thankfully, you guys were nice to me. Not only are the songs shorter than I expected, but the creativity have also not been dampened.

Let's take a look at the challenge:

Party Mix - Write a song from the point of view of someone who just won or lost an election.  It could be a recent election, one from the past, or even a fictional one.  It doesn't even have to be political.  (2 minute minimum length)

Now... it was difficult for me to see how anyone can seperate politics out of elections. But after listening to a couple of submissions, I was impressed how people would take the idea. Even better, some songs were not as depressing as I had expected. So I'm proud to see our community still holding up and lifting our heads to what we do best: the expressing and sharing of our creative arts. To this, I hope we vote unanimously.

And now on to the reviews...

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1. Zoe Gray - Long Live The Queen

When I first heard this, I was honestly picturing Snow White. But really, where is this from? It's quite surreal. Murder? Sleeplessness? Insanity? Barbie? I know where this is going, but I wonder where it come from or how everything comes together. Regardless, the rise of a queen sounds pretty awesome the way you present it here.

Enchanting lyrics, reminds me of Tim Burton.

My god, I hear a sexy matrimony of Lana Del Ray and Dido. I'm in heaven, or at least some demented version of it.

I've been told I'm a huge reverb hog. I'd like use your submission as proof that there is no such thing.

The Queen attitude in your voice is much more prominent on the verses than the chorus.

I absolutely adore this. If this wasn't my favorite song in the round, then it's at least my favorite submission from you. You can count on me replaying this for a while.


2. Lucky Witch & The Righteous Ghost - Spoiler

I'm a bit lost which POV I should be seeing. A winner who wants to lose? Or does he win by losing? Interesting concept, but I don't feel the idea has fully unfolded itself into any recognizable shape. And "Spoiler"? I still don't get that one.

"Ashes", "crown of thorns", "blood", "glory", "king": is it safe to say there is a Christian reference here? If so, then I see the pictures, but I don't quite sense the storyline. If my guess of your take on the challenge was correct, the metaphor would be very impressive.

As a man who loves chords and their progressions, I am in love with the verses. I find their use quite original and inspiring.

I don't mind not having a drum beat, but having a bit more punctuating sounds could benefit transitions throughout the song. The twinkly-keyboardy sounds were delightful.

Congratulations. This is my favorite song in the round. I find this one of the catchiest and therefore most replayed. And is that Niveous I see in the credits?... I'm very impressed.


3. Brian Gray - Abernathy Fitzgerald

Good grief, what did Abernathy do so badly to you? "Suck it"? Lots of fun punctuations and interjections on the rhythm side.

Honestly, I don't know what's going on here. It's like being forced to take a ride in a creepy kiddie-coaster. Just gotta roll with it and try not to freak.

I couldn't find more cheese in a Bilderberg banquet.

And "suck it"?

What is wrong with you. And what is with me giving you high rankings.


4. Heather Zink - BeFuhrer

Hitler. Of course. A man who somehow gained power and never should have. People are bound to have some point of view for him. But I wonder what exactly inspired you to pick the topic...

Jeez, why does this remind me of Schubert? You are the intelligent one here. Really, it's the song "Erlkonig" that sticks out in my mind.

Ooh. Clipping? Maybe it's my headphones.

Funny enough, the dictator shtick was also covered by Dr. Lindyke's submission. One fictional, one very not fictional. Both equally stiff and well-researched. Thanks for the true history lesson!


5. Ryan M. Brewer - Recount, Revenge

Without hearing other comments, I pictured that the back story related to the Florida vote recounts in the 2000 Election. (I was there at the time; and at age 10, I thought I would remember it well.) But aside from "chad" and "recount", I can't connect any more dots here. Is this winner known for getting "high"? Revenge from what? Ordained? Blood and cash behind curtains? (any politician could be accused of this, these days...) The best I can interpret is: This is a song about a loser who cheated to became a winner.

I absolutely love the music, as simple as it was. I'm not familiar of Bob Dylan or Bruce Springstein, but I would believe this sounds Americana. Martina McBride's "Independence Day" comes to mind. But even with much less production, this song explores much more thoroughly.

I especially love the "kick the chair from under chad" delivery. But I find that the low notes that followed felt slightly unnatural.

I enjoyed this song very much. I felt lost in the words. But it's the kind of lost I don't mind wandering around. This has high replay-value to me.


6. Ominous Ride - 19 Never Comes

I'm not one who enjoys songs with countdowns. But this song's use of the technique is strangely effective to me. Perhaps the catchiest I heard.

I love the subtle synth sounds on the background, distorted and subversive.

This is another backstory I know very little about.

I'm not sure if I feel the tension as explained in the narration. Nightmare is the term I might use. But it's a nightmare I enjoyed listening to.


7. Kyleen Downes - Do What You Do

This feels like an ode to Hillary Clinton. And if it is, it was very well written. I can completely see her sing this very song. Or at least, I would think she needs it.

It's just four chords in a simple progression. And you used them very very well. The creativity is clearly in the choice of chord play. Arpeggios for introspection, off-beat strums for fun-zies, and full play in the end with full confidence.

With less instruments, the song highlights the humanity in the losing character. It helps me connect better with the person.

From sad to sassy. From sincere to sardonic. It's a bit bipolar, if you ask me. But my mood followed it around, wherever it went, which makes your submission very effective and personal. Well done.


8. Governing Dynamics - Concessions

This is a song that turns the hurt into an anthem for something better. I admire it. I find it neat to mix the dark disappointments with an optimistic, get-together message.

I especially dig the low, swooping string/bass notes with that extended attack. (I don't know if I said that right, but I hope you know what I mean.) It couples well with the sharp front-beat.

The guitar solo adds more, perhaps a bit too much. The energy is different than the more serious backdrop of music. And I kind of wish more energy and will into the singing, like it demands to be heard above the hurts.

Ever since "Ireland Delay", I can't shake how much I sense U2 from you, but of their more modern incarnation. And this also reminds me of Radiohead for some strange reason. Whatever, I like what you delivered.


9. Steve Stearns - Overthrown

I am very curious to know what inspired you to make this song. I feel like I am missing a connection to something in pop culture. Bladerunner? But the idea of voting in an electronic world is rather fascinating. But it's not clear.

What's a Free-Vee? Google fails me. I'm a sci-fi lover, so many of these words make me happy to think about.

It's a funky pop song. It's brought together by the catchy bass line riff. But what a weird, funky synth bass. It honestly makes the song.

I rather enjoyed the submission. But why "Overthrown"? Do positions of power last for only one day?


10. DJ Ranger Den - My Fellow Mannabadoos

Finally, it's about time, so long overdue. So much fun! And so disjointed. And the random hard-cut repeat of "my fellow Mannabadoos"? A bit touched, are we?

And what are Mannabadoos? Do they hold elections? Do they have healthcare for the fleas? Is corruption rampant? And why do I have so many questions on this song?

With much love. Thank you.


11. Megalodon - Democrat Pixie

What a strange use of synths. I like it, it reminds of recent MGMT. And the chord progression on the chorus was tasty stuff. Are we talking about Richard Nixon or Donald Trump? I find it a bit lengthy. Thankfully the instrumentation keeps this fresh.


12. Emperor Gum - Lucifer

Would "cheeky" be the right word to use here?  Also, it's a miracle you weren't DQ'd. None of that was sung! I don't care, I actually loved it. Musically straightfoward, it carries the narrative wherever it needed to go. And it changes up to match the story-telling. Aside from the complicated steps into power, it's actually pretty charming.


13. Ross Durand - Homeroom

This is a clear example of losing the important vote of love. I don't usually like sappy romance songs, but using it for this challenge was unexpected and stands out well to me. Thanks for the song bio, it really brings me back to school, when life was retrospectively much simpler. How sweet.


14. Adam Sakellarides - A Better Place To Live

I heard tentacles, and I was sold. Thank you for bringing aliens to the election ballot. It harkens the humor of "Mars Attacks!"


15. Boffo Yux Dudes - Bully For You

Theodore Roosevelt is my favorite president. (I think you can guess why.) So a song for his fallout from the Republican Party is something I never would have dreamt to hear. Such an awkward part of history, fitting for only you lovely guys to bring up to the spotlight. And I don't feel comfortable with how you delivered the speak-softly part at the end. It made me feel dirty.


16. Jailhouse Payback - How To Lose A School Board Election

Is this based on a true story? It sounds sad. But the changes in music direction really makes this song stand out. But the transitions are weird and awkward. Oh wait, just like changing school board members? Well done.


**17. Dr. Lindyke - Doom's Day

I'm afraid I'm still not a nerd like you when it comes to world of comics. But thank you for making it a fictional "election" (I mean that both ways), which is currently more interesting than today's politics.

I picked up the European sound instantly, very clever. At first, I wasn't sure if I'd like the tango, but it makes sense. Still don't like tango, but I'll accept for art's sake.

So we included the anthem used in a previous challenge? I appreciate the connection. (You see, Travis? People don't mind looking back at past rounds to do more cool stuff.) I find the song rather stiff, but I guess it needs to be stiff for a strict dictator.

I like it, despite the relatively slow pace. It fits into the challenge, no denying that, but forgive me, your shadows have been much more enjoyable. And keep in mind, gotta keep your A-game on; I imagine this is your last chance to win Spintunes and finally be champion. Don't worry, I won't slack on my critiques for you. ;)


**18. Mariah Mercedes - Election Of Love

I never EVER would have connected politics with sex. And yet, you handled this like a pro! Excellent performance.

Imagine if politics really did try to appeal to people with this mood. This should've solved the voter turnout problem.


19. Shyfox - Berdie

I'm guessing this is about finding peace about losing. And I'm also guessing the bird represents the ego that needs the peace, in a form that may symbolize peace.

The music matches sweetly into the self-comfort mood. The ending kind of deflates. But I guess a big bang ending wouldn't have been any more appropriate. Fair enough. I absolutely love the whistle, and it's the best implementation of it on this round.

It's a sweet song, and goodness knows we need more sweetness for the losers in their depths of despair. It kind of serves like a lullaby. My view on this song is how I generally view birds: pretty to observe, but awkward to handle.


20. Rob From Amersfoort - Why

Why not? Sticking it safe, I see. And the lyrics are even less adventurous. Love your style, this psychedelic electronica, but I think we could've baked this a little longer.


21. Jerry Skids - The Ethical Ballad Of Mayor Goldie Wilson

This "Back To The Future" reference is unexpected and pretty cool. No, I had never thought about how awful Hill Valley was when Goldie became mayor. I did find it weird he liked that much power for so long.

Well crafted and well paced. The bridge is my favorite part, like the melody stands up with Goldie.


22. Army Defense - Elected

I get a surfer-rock vibe, which is pretty cool. (Or if you prefer, Radiohead's "Knives Out", but not as creepy.) This seems very generalized, like this is about the transitioning of power from generation to generation; and I actually think that's interesting to ponder about. But I'm not sure where this song was heading.


23. Alex Forger - Change The World (I Hope)

You know, most of these submissions like to look at the winners in the song as antagonists. Not you, which is wonderful, because maybe the winners... really deserved to win. (Yeah, wow, what a thought!) But the characteristics of humility and eagerness is a nice change to see in winners, compared to selfish pride and reckless evil.

There is something about the "yelling wives" and "coffee" lines that make me laugh, like it's real. Yes, I can relate to a yelling wife. She's yelling at me right now, wondering why I'm spending so much time on these reviews. :P

This stands out well. Good job!


24. 27 Tikis - Kahuna Of The Corn Tropics

Oooh boy, a ukulele. The instrument normally makes me cringe, but it sounds like you guys know how to use it responsibly. The song development stays in the same energy level throughout the piece. Perhaps you wanted the peaceful, calming mood. I find the background ambience of animal noises is most successful, even if it seems so very obvious to use.

A visit to the beach sounds pretty good right about now.

26. James Young - Vote For Me!

My goodness, you REALLY want that vote for high ranking, don't you?

This submission is exactly what I feared everyone was going to end up doing on this round. But thankfully this is not overwhelming. The synth beats were weird at first, but it's quickly growing on me. But insistent requests usually makes me want to turn away.


27. Mick Bordet - Democracy Inaction

What is going on here? I do enjoy it, but I feel like I just dropped by a madhouse. Very surreal and distant.

This feels like it can fit very nicely in the Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut" album; Roger Waters would pay you money for this gem.

Sounds more fitting for a soundtrack than a self-sustaining song. Pretty cool, though.


28. Bryan Schumann - Royal Blood

This has a delicately rustic play, which has an amazing feel. But who is singing? The royal king or usurping king? And how did he win? So many questions to this story. But at least the mood is mature and proper.


29. Caravan Ray - Party Games

Ew. Not Trump again. And the instrumentation reflects the goofiness of the subject.

"Schadenfreude" is a word I hadn't learned in school. And I can't believe you rhymed it. The skillz.

In fact, you have pulled up all sorts of relevent subjects throughout his election. It's a time capsule of his campaign trail. I'm hoping I won't need to open it for a while.

But this is a nice change of pace from your usual. I admire your stretch.


30. Kevin Savino-Riker - The Damn Breaks

Sounds like someone doesn't like the results. I don't blame you, many would agree. This has a watch-your-back approach, to not underestimate the opposition, and to keep an open-mind.

I don't care much for the title pun, but I appreciate the metaphor of overflowing water. Perhaps it can wash away the filth.

The flow is smooth and consistent. Perhaps a bit too consistent for my taste. It all works, but it doesn't explore. Like stuck behind a wall? I feel much is holding back instead of breaking out.

Perhaps the breaking dam was the bandwidth.

It's not a bad submission in any respect. But all in all, I find this too safe.


31. Sumner Wynn - The Great Weight

This song is very poetic, but there are two things that hampers my ability to like it more: the very heavily-distorted lead instrument and the lack of direction to the song delivery and story.

But I do like your stream-of-consiousness, burst of ideas. I just wish I knew what I was suppose to be thinking while listening.


32. Domingo - Buleria de Persuacion

Whew, metaphor galore! It is very difficult for me to know what's going on. My questions are: did the election take place? Did the character lose by being thrown out? Or win to reclaim?

(Well first, thank you for the translation! My Spanish is embarrassingly rusty.) This was like reading a whole bunch of nouns with no verbs. Absolutely gorgeous, but too many pictures to see the bigger picture.

The structure is so weird in my ears. It's nicely free-flowing.

It has all the right ingredients for a Spanish song. Sounds emotional.

I can't lie, I'm always excited to hear what you bring forth in Spintunes. Your ethnic takes are so very different.


33. Turtle Fence - Mr. Brexit (or, Nobody Loves EU)

We like to work minimal, don't we?

Those are some low notes, sir. Are you comfortable delivering that low?

What's actually rather cool about this song is the round of the verses and the funny quip of lyrics. With proper execution and song design, this could go somewhere fun.


DQ. Edric Haleen - This Changes Everything

It's actually a shame. This song was freaking brilliant. The very intention of DQing himself reminded me of how people protest with tape on their mouths, showing how their voices have been shut.


DQ. The Crack Fox - Erection

The vocals were either undiscernable or non-existant. Perhaps it was a mistake. Shame, since I actually like the background of music. Let's try again later.


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Conclusion:

So...

As you can see, despite everything I said at the introduction, you will find that my reviews have no tallies or marks. I tried very hard to be diplomatic about it all, but my largest political donor [AKA my wife] had threatened me with stern pressure and lower quality of life. I'm afraid I had to satisfy my immediate vicinity sooner than I can satisfy my hopefully forgiving community.

Also, as part of the deal of continuing support, my very important donor has requested an additional challenge that I must implement for every following round. I will need to change my format of reviews to her liking of style, including--well, I don't want to tell you just yet, let's keep it a surprise.

So before Travis runs out of patience with me, I'll see you all in the next round. Great job, everybody!