Saturday, November 24, 2018

SpinTunes #15 Round 3 Challenge

It's been a while since we've had a purely technical challenge. The drought ends here:
Rubber Band: To reach the final round, we're asking our competitors to stretch themselves. Write a pastiche (a song in the style) of a band or artist whose style is appreciably different from your own. (When ranking the songs, the judges will be paying particular attention to how great a departure competitors made from the kinds of songs we've already heard from them, as well as how faithfully they emulate the chosen artist's style.) 
And to be perfectly clear, we are requiring a pastiche that is an original song in the style of the artist, not a parody or derivative work. Think Weird Al writing "Dare To Be Stupid" in the style of Devo . . . not Weird Al writing "Party in the C.I.A." based on the song "Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus.
When submitting the email with your entry, identify the band or artist that you are emulating. 
Only four competitors will move on to the final round. Good luck!

Submitting Entries:
  • Your entry must be received by November 18, 2018 @ 11:59 PM EDTOtherwise it'll be posted as a shadow. 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 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. "Rubber Band - Dr Lindyke") (The title of the 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. 
  • 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. 

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.
  • You can send in an entry to SpinTunes 15 without competing. Just tell me it's a "Shadow Song". It will be played at the listening party, but won't be ranked and you might not receive feedback from the judges. Check the FAQ if you don't know what that means. You can even complete past challenges from previous contests. It's a nice way of playing along if you can't commit to the schedule or you just want to get your feet wet.
  • The only other way to get your music played at the LP is to cover "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown.

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.

ST15R2 Results

Here are the second round rankings. Zoe Gray takes this round as well!

Zoe Gray37122113
Faster Jackalope13311715
Vom Vorton44544219
Third Cat86665629
Brian Gray12121136436
Ominous Ride510788538
Good Guy Sôjàbé62413101241
PigFarmer Jr.988971042
Menage a Tune105101211846
Jocko Homomorphism111312712953
Governing Dynamics13111311131361
Running Green Lights14141414141470
Glen Raphael**------------------0

* My rankings are only used in the breaking of ties or in case one of the regular judges doesn't deliver. All the regular judges did deliver, so my rankings are not summed into the total. The tie between Mandibles and Third Cat was broken by me.

** DQ

The next challenge will be posted in about 2 hours. As you'll see, it's a doozy, so those of you who were eliminated, please shadow. You may once again have a chance to be reinstated!

Only four of the bands in blue will move on to Round four!

ST13R2 Reviews: Chumpy Wumpikins & Ryan Finholm

Chumpy and Ryan's reviews on their podcast at, as usual. If it's not there by the time this is posted, it will be soon.

Here are Chumpy's rankings:
  1. Faster Jackalope
  2. Zoe Gray
  3. Mandibles
  4. Vom Vorton
  5. Third Cat
  6. Brian Gray
  7. Pig Farmer, Jr.
  8. Ominous Ride
  9. Temnere
  10. Good Guy Sojabe
  11. Menage a Tune
  12. Jocko Homomorphism
  13. Governing Dynamics
  14. Running Green Lights
  15. Glen Raphael (DQ)

And Ryan's

  1. Faster Jackalope
  2. Zoe Gray
  3. Brian Gray
  4. Vom Vorton
  5. Mandibles
  6. Third Cat
  7. Jocko Homomorphism
  8. Ominous Ride
  9. PigFarmer Jr.
  10. Temnere
  11. Governing Dynamics
  12. Menage a Tune
  13. Good Guy Sojabe
  14. Running Green Lights
  15. Glen Raphael (DQ)

Choosing the top 5 was easy for me, as was the bottom 3 or 4.  Everything in the middle was extremely difficult for me to rank, and I have juggled their places over and over and over and I'm still not even remotely confident about where I put them.  Trying to balance objective quality standards against the gut feeling of what I do or don't want to listen to again has made this impossible.

ST15R2 Reviews: Joe Lamb

If no-one minds too much - a few thoughts on this round. For songs about gratitude, there were so few obvious up-beat tracks it was puzzling. A HUGE majority either played it safe or just seemed to lacked imagination.

A word on vocals... We need to HEAR them. I get that a lot of people might see themselves mainly as musicians and not vocalists, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that "If I put a lot of reverb on it and put it lower in the mix" that it will sound better - a bad mix screws the whole song up, and vocals should be to the forefront.

My short reviews are below...

(note: Joe's reviews are in listening party order, with rank noted)

1. Glen Raphael — Work of the Programmers
DQ - Not an original tune. 
2. Zoe Gray — How to Sing
This is alright, but doesn't really grab me, lyric is a little repetitive, and isn't helped by being over-long with little diversity.  7th
3. Vom Vorton — Thank You Rafa & Agnes
Great opening, and a very nice mix. The vocals could have done with a little polishing, but a nice bouncy song.  4th
4. Good Guy Sojabe — Upward & Onward
For some reason this really reminds me of Vom's track! Vocals are a bit lost in the mix - a definite Pearl Jam vibe going on here, but that's not a bad thing... liked it.  2nd
5. PigFarmer, Jr. — So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
Harmonies are very subdued (almost subliminal!) Vocals very lost, but a decent enough song. 8th
6. Mandibles — InDependence
Lovely guitar at the start of this. Harmonies again very lost in the mix in the first verse. A bit one paced, but I quite liked this. 9th
7. Brian Gray — Your Name
The instrumental was amazing for the intro but after that everything just fell away. I could 'feel' the ambition in this one, but don;t think it made it, and ended up being the show tune which comes just before just before the other show tune that takes you to the interval. 12th
8. Running Green Lights — Thanks for No(thing)
No thanks. 14th
9. Temnere — Not This Time
Excellent opening! But marred by lost vocals. (This sounded very TYR-like to me (not a bad thing!)) This song needs a thorough remix, but I really liked it. (Ending was bit naf though!)  :)  1st
10. Ominous Ride — Dodging Bullets
A great bass opening, but then it carried on to swamp the rest of the track (Mix was really bad) I think the melody of the harmonies was far better than that of the main vocal  10th
11. Faster Jackalope — Selfless Heart
Banjo aside... choose an instrument! :) I liked the song, but the constantly shifting instruments was a bit off-putting. 3rd
12. Third Cat — Looking for Light
I liked the song, but it was very unpolished. Given some work, this would work. 6th
13. Governing Dynamics — Guiding Star
The drums make this hard to listen to, It doesn't seem to go anywhere and so felt over-long  11th
14. Menage a Tune — I Wish (Jennifer's Song)
Vocals and the lyric need a bit of work - synths sound pretty good. Simplistic, but it works. 5th
15. Jocko Homomorphism — A New Id
Freezepop! The synth BIAB was pretty good, vocal and lyric was a bit rough and overall way too long.  13th

Sorry I didn't have time to really do the Shadows - but, honestly, ALL of them would have been placed higher than some of the main tracks. Marlon's would have been a bout middle table, And ALL of the rest would have been top end of the table.

ST15R2 Reviews: Edric Haleen

Hello again, Participants!

Same preamble -- congrats on completing and submitting a song and then turning it over to the reviewers!  I hope you're all having fun this SpinTunes -- here we go!


A lot of my general comments (about rhymes and rhyme schemes, etc.) would be essentially the same as last time.

•  Zoe Gray was once again most adept at rhyming . . . but still had a single inexact pair ("eyes"/"realized").  (And Zoe?  I don't know if "music" and "all this" were meant to have rhymed in your chorus.  That is, I can't tell if it starts out ABAB or ABCB.  If I listen further, the second half is clearly ABCB(BB) . . . but then again, that half of the chorus is also structured just a little differently right there where you've now got me listening comparatively.  Now, if the rest of the song were rhymed perfectly without exception, I'd go ahead and assume that it wasn't meant to rhyme and maybe just point out how close to each other they turned out to be.  But as there's already one example of "close-enough" to be found in your lyric . . .)

•  None of the metrical frameworks were absolute again.  (Zoe was closest, but gave a halting delivery on "oh, please" and a hesitation between "please/am i ready" in the first verse that she didn't duplicate at the corresponding points of the second verse.)

•  And another list of ever-so-slightly mangled words this round . . .
Glen Raphael -- PROgramMERS 
Zoe Gray -- (ev'ryTHING?  ev'RYthing?) 
Vom Vorton -- oVER 
Good Guy Sôjàbé -- invinciBLE/spectacuLAR 
Brian Gray -- hypocriSY  (this was also the root of your one not-quite-true rhyme -- you forced "aren't me" and "hypocrisy" to sound like they rhyme by mis-accenting hypocrisy.)
Ominous Ride -- chemisTRY 
Third Cat -- oPEN 
Marlon -- witCHES 
RedWatcher -- (poWER?  POW-WER?) 
Matchy Matchy -- recoverING
Plus a few weird accents within sentences.
PigFarmer Jr. -- 'CAUSE you died (when the more important word is "died").  Perhaps if you had placed "died" on the downbeat and added a few more syllables (e.g. "'cause you DIED in a really bad year in my life..."). 
PigFarmer Jr. -- [I wish I could say] "thank YOU" (this just sits on the melodic line in a weird way). 
Governing Dynamics -- CAN do (particularly as paired with "deSERVE you").  If one says the phrase, "It's all I can do . . ." the accent is usually on "all" or "do," or even both.  (Otherwise, you're saying that you're incapable of doing anything BUT the one thing you're describing.)


Standout thoughts again:
Zoe Gray -- Another really strong musical entry.  Of the four sections (verse, pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge), I think the pre-chorus is the weakest (and a bit reminiscent of Katy Perry).  The bridge is fine and I don't have a lot to say about it.  But from there on things rise and rise in my estimation.  The verses are very good.  The choruses are even better.  The vocal harmonies throughout are very well done and used to good effect.  But the thing I liked above all was the octave jumps on the final "how to sing"s -- those were stellar!  Good job [again!], Zoe!
Vom Vorton -- Wanted to give a special shout out for your music.  I thought it was very well-written, well-performed, and well-recorded.  I didn't think the lyric, as a whole, was as good as the music upon which it rode (although there were definitely some good bits within the lyric), but did I want to make sure that I gave you props for your music in this round.
Good Guy Sôjàbé -- Really liked your music, too.  When your vocals came in at the beginning, I thought they were a bit of a "let-down," but then when the arrangement really kicked it, in brought things back together again nicely.  And when the arrangement thinned out for the start of Verse Two, the vocals were right back to feeling "empty" for me, so it really is the strength of the music you wrote that carried this song in my mind.  Congrats!
Brian Gray -- You know that I often reward people [and by "people," I often mean "you"] for their musical or lyrical ambition.  I'm going to ding you pretty hard on something else later on, but I want to make sure that I spend some time here acknowledging your musical ambition in this song.  The aural soundscape you created, when coupled with the melody and the harmonic structures and the arrangement, definitely establishes an evocative world.  I also like how the song changes emotionally throughout the three minutes -- from dystopian despair to introspective musing to triumphal paeans for the fallen.  The ever-shifting key signatures add to this nicely, as well -- keeping the listener off-balance even while shepherding him/her through the various aspects of the new realities on Earth.  And the arrangement was a lot of fun.  (I've been called out for crappy brass sounds before, so I'll mention that yes, some of your brass sounds are, as Dave Leigh would say, "whhuufff."  But I also know that none of us have a full symphony orchestra on retainer, so I'm going to just imagine the brass sounds I know you really WANTED there, because your intentions are certainly abundantly clear.)
Temnere -- You just keep on impressing us, don't you?  Before the album went up, I was really interested in how you, with your style, would deal with a "gratitude" challenge . . . and you pleasantly surprised me!  You actually simultaneously departed from your style enough to "sell" the song, while departing from your style a LOT LESS than I suspected you'd have to!  And it's still of a very high quality -- both in terms of melody and in terms of musical accompaniment.  Keep rockin' -- you do seem to kick ass at it!
Faster Jackalope -- Crazy props to you for including a live violin and French horn among the instruments performed!  I thought the arrangement was lovely (with the possible exception of the banjo which I thought was maybe a little too "harsh" or "strident" for this particular mix).  The melody of this song was good and the harmonic structure was solid.  The lyric of this particular song, to my mind, was just "okay" . . . which probably would have kept this song in the "middle" echelon of my rankings had it not been for the excellent arrangement and performance of your instrumentation.  The only regret I have -- and this might be because I've played French horn myself since I was in 7th grade band -- is that the horn didn't sound like it got to "soar" appropriately during its solo.  I wanted Jill to really let it fly at 3:02, but instead it felt restrained.  I don't know if she recorded the line solo or with the group, but it sounds on the recording as if she was playing "live" with the band and then correspondingly didn't want to overpower the other performers.  If she had gone for "greater gusto" on those soaring bits, with more air and more volume, it not only would have helped the couple of notes that went a bit flat but it would have changed the feel of her whole overall performance.  (Recording instrumental lines solo, of course, allows for this, knowing that the track can be mixed back "down" to the appropriate level for the final recording.  If Jill did record those lines solo, then I just wish she had let those awesome parts really ring out . . .)
Governing Dynamics -- Umm . . . what happened?  This song sounded disjointed and out of sync in a way I've never heard from you before.  There were points where it sounded like you were actually falling behind by full sixteenth notes at times.  (And I did ask myself if this were perhaps an intentional choice to match some facet of the story being told, but that didn't seem to scan.)  My notes from my initial listen actually included the following quote:  "One section is either way out of tune or horribly written?!"  And the percussion -- which in a song like this is supposed to be keeping the rhythm -- seemed to keep wandering at spots?  And there were a couple spots where both the guitars and the vocals both seemed out of tune . . . both with the song and with each other?  I know you're ALWAYS of a higher quality than I'm hearing here, so I'm imagining that it was in some way, shape, or form a really tough week for you.  Illness?  Equipment troubles?  Software vexations?  If that's it, then here's wishing you a speedy recovery . . .
Menage a Tune -- Often, the "Kiper-accompaniment" is the driving force of a Menage a Tune song.  This time the arrangement almost seems "phoned in" from Ted.  (See my notes from the last round, delivered to Marlon, about Mike Lombardo's "auto-pilot" entry in MoSF...)  And your choice of mallets is somewhat baffling, in that they start off the song sounding out-of-tune.  My notes from my initial listen actually included the following quote:  "Intro is odd as hell," and I actually STOPPED THE SONG thirteen seconds into the first listen and replayed the intro THREE TIMES just to figure out the tonal center of the song before going on and hearing the rest of your entry.  If Faster Jackalope's song is an example of the song being improved by an arrangement, then this song is an example of a song being degraded by an arrangement.  There's actually nothing really much wrong with the style of the accompaniment, or the harmonic structure or the melody of this song . . . but now when I judge this song, I have to basically ignore everything I hear on your recording, and judge instead what this song would sound like with a better singer and a completely different instrumentation.
Marlon -- THERE ya go!  Thanks for coming back and giving us this!  I really like the song -- not just what you wrote, but also the fun you had playing it on your guitar.  I know sometimes the guitar chords went a bit "sideways" on you at a couple of points in the bridge and into the final chorus, but I REALLY liked your little fill from 1:03-1:05.  I didn't think its corollary at 2:05-2:06 was as good, but I did enjoy your strumming-with-reckless-abandon when the song started to really rock out.  I know that this single-take recording would end up getting DQ'd due to its lack of vocal harmonies if it were an actual entry, but after I summarily-dismissed your effort from Round 1, I did want to take some time to commend you for your effort in Round 2.  I suspect the reason Dave likes covering your songs as he does is because he can also listen through rudimentary recording techniques to appreciate songwriting quality underneath.
Red Watcher -- I wanted to commend your orchestration and recording in I Wasn't The One.  Sounds very professional.  The only thing that struck was that your switch to falsetto, while well-executed, feels to me to actually work against the sentiment about which you're singing.  Particularly in a song where the very premise for its existence is the imperative to express gratitude for something, to have the vocal line -- repeated in the recurring chorus, no less --  "I should grateful I wasn't the one" be the line that sounds weakest when sung is probably a bit of a mistake.  (But if you listen only to your delivery, it does sound nice...)


Again -- all of the above was written after my initial rounds of listening.  Now I'll play all of the songs again on my computer, write comments about each as I go along, and sort them into my upper, middle, and lower ranking echelons.

Work of the Programmers (prior to Dave sharing a link to "Work of the Weavers") -- A lively jig!  Putting this in my upper echelon right away.  I there are a couple of weird breathing-places here and there, but I also understand that you were away from your home base during this songwriting window.  Only thing that really ate at my brain while listening to your song was probably due to what's most likely just an unfortunate typo ("hae") in your lyric.  When you perform a song in a particular style (in this case, with an Irish brogue), it needs to be performed consistently.  And my brain kept thinking it found parts in the lyric that were "less-Irishy" and "more-Irishy" . . . and then "SUPER-Irishy" when you got to "You wouldn’a hae a thing" in each chorus.  And perhaps it's just an aural illusion, but some of the "had"s really sound a lot like actual "hae"s (1:21 in particular) -- whereas must of the "had"s that preceded "Google maps" had nice, hard "d"s at the end of them.  So anyway -- this is just a picky, picky thing that's not going to affect your ranking or anything like that.  Good, fun song.  Thanks, Glen!
Work of the Programmers (subsequent to Dave sharing a link to "Work of the Weavers") -- Sorry, my plagiarism-checker wasn't switched on.  Funny -- now that I see Donald Shaw's original lyrics, it turns out that "had" was the actual typo.  Wouldn'a hae guessed.  Anyway -- not an original melody.  That right there probably means a DQ, even before addressing the question of whether your lyrics are an homage, a parody, or "heavily borrowed."  Sorry, Glen!  I do still like the song -- and props to your dad and his fellow programmers -- but it does say in the rules that there needs to be original music...
How to Sing -- I've already talked a bit about this song above.  It's definitely going into the upper echelon.  I do have a question about the lyric in the pre-chorus:  Do you really think you need the "no" and the "oh" that seem needlessly appended to the ends of lines that don't really require them?  (That "oh" really seems especially awkward when you sing it.)  I really liked the lyric as a whole -- you picked a good topic and then gave it treatment both subtle and deep . . . where a lot of your competitor's lyrics were stuck in a more superficial-sounding place.  You're definitely setting yourself up as the "one to beat" in this SpinTunes . . . but don't let off the gas.  (I know of what I speak . . . see also: Spintunes #1.)
Thank You Rafa & Agnes -- I like this song a lot.  I don't know whether it should be the lowest song in my upper echelon, or the highest song in my middle echelon, but it's definitely fun and well done.  The thing that's holding it back in my mind is its lyric -- it needs a little more polish and a little more depth.  It comes off as either needing to be a little less familiar if the audience is all of us or a little more familiar if the audience is your cats.  (For instance -- "a tennis player and a film director/became a ladder climber and a shoe inspector" seems like it's for our benefit, even though the song is ostensibly addressed to Rafa and Agnes proper.)  But the music's fun and upbeat, and I like it a lot.
Upward & Onward -- Another song for the upper echelon.  Like I said before, the only "letdowns" in this song are from 0:11 to 0:22 and from 1:35 to 1:46.  Everything else sounds great.  (I still wish everyone's rhymes were more exact across the board . . . but I already promised that near-rhymes wouldn't affect my rankings.  This song in particular was like "InDependence" in that it started off not rhyming . . . but then gradually picked up more and more rhymes -- sometimes in weird places -- which made my brain markedly unhappy.)
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish -- A pretty solid song.  Definitely going in the middle echelon.  Another song whose lyric could use a little more depth, as the masculine rhymes you chose seem really "easy" and lend the lyric a somewhat superficial feel.  I'm also a little distracted by how similarly your chorus tracks with much of Pachelbel's Canon . . . but then again, Pachelbel's Canon has survived and thrived for centuries now, so that can't be all bad, can it?
InDependence -- In my initial notes, I wrote, "weird bridge cements middle."  Most of the music was quite nice (although the piano cut through a bit too strongly), and the lyric was heartfelt.  But that bridge didn't really do it for me.  (Also -- while you did have a lot of things that rhymed well throughout the song, you started out right off the bat with two bad pairs in particularly noticeable spots ["around"/"sounds" and "gone"/"song"], which meant that all your good rhymes became kind of an afterthought . . . at least until "love"/"drug" went and rent that all again.  But again, my persnickety-ness about rhymes won't affect my rankings.)  On a separate note -- if you wanted to resubmit your song without the accidental 37 seconds of silence at the end, I'm sure Dave'd be happy to replace the track for you...
Your Name -- Musically masterful.  An interesting and (can I call it fun?!) successor to "For The Glory of Gleeble Glorp."  And divorced from this competition, I absolutely love this song.  But I'm nevertheless sending this to the lower echelon of my rankings -- and the reason why has to do entirely with the extent to which I think you met the challenge.  The text of the challenge (with emphasis added so I can expound upon my thinking) read, "Write a song that expresses or conveys GENUINE gratitude for someone or something. Your song may be fictional but THE EXPRESSION OF GRATITUDE SHOULD BE SINCERE. Your song must include vocal harmonies."  In this sense, I think that this song did the worst at meeting the challenge we gave everyone.  I'm not really reading "sincere gratitude" from this character.  I mean . . . yeah, he's alive.  But you've done such a complete job of painting so hopelessly bleak a picture of what the world is like any more (and what existence on/in that world will entail) that this guy doesn't seem like he's exactly jumping for joy to learn that someone else stepped in and took the bullet (slime slug) meant for him.  But even this could have been redeemed if the character had jumped up and vowed to make things right . . . vowed to beat the aliens back and reclaim this world for the human race . . . or at least to kill the particular alien who had proved to be the end of his anonymous savior.  But instead, you have your character shrink BACK into himself to offer his thanks (this withdrawal is scored right into your orchestration) and then deliver an extraordinarily passive-aggressive promise that whatever he does will be in his savior's [unknown] name.  (And everything you've given us prior to that moment suggests heavily that there's a good chance that he'll soon be captured and compelled to join the other chanting, moaning slaves.)  So I'm not hearing a song that proffers sincere gratitude as we envisioned it when we wrote the challenge.  So while I'm sure your craft and musicianship will all but guarantee you the very top spot in my lower echelon, this song's not going to be a front-runner on my list this time.  Sorry.
Thanks For No(thing) -- Don't know/understand the story behind this.  I'm hoping it was just that you had a rough week that unexpectedly didn't leave time for a full-fledged entry, and that you submitted this as at least some small morsel or quality while simultaneously essentially recusing yourself from the round at large.  But whatever its inception-story, I'm going to send this song to the bottom of my rankings just as I did with Marlon's entry last round.  Sorry.  Hope all is well with all of you.
Not This Time -- Yeah -- definitely another song for the upper echelon.  I'll confess I had to ask for help in interpreting your lyric.  I didn't know if this was sung by a particular character from some comic book universe or something.  But Dave filled me in, saying, "The singer has been trapped in a karmic cycle of death and rebirth for hundreds of lifetimes, unable to progress. With the help of friends he's able to overcome the mistakes of the past and move forward his spiritual journey."  Sounds like a good reason for sincere gratitude to me.  I really like your entries so far this SpinTunes, and I can easily imagine you winning it all if the cards fall right . . .
Dodging Bullets -- Okay, this sounds good.  Well produced and recorded, with a good melody and chord progression.  Just trying to figure out what's going on with your lyric construction.  Your verses about "Mama," the "autumn breeze" woman and the "LA 10" woman are similar enough to suggest that they should be a "matched set."  But there's a completely different rhyme scheme in the second half of the third verse as there is in the first two.  Is there a reason for this (other than expedience)?  I'm going to keep this song in my middle echelon rather than considering whether it's strong enough to propel itself into the upper echelon -- mostly due to this perplexing facet of the lyrics's construction.  But I do enjoy listening to the song.
Selfless Heart -- Bits of this lyric are a bit odd to my brain.  Like I wrote about PigFarmer Jr.'s song, the masculine rhymes you chose seem "easy" ("might"/"night"?  "plateful"/"grateful"?) and lend the lyric a somewhat superficial feel, which cuts against the deep connection/support that the singer's trying to relate/describe through these lyrics.  But this song gets bumped into the upper echelon by virtue of its superb arrangement.  Well done.
Looking for Light -- A perfectly serviceable song.  Nothing bad I can say about it (save the weird opening "rhyme" of "oPEN/again"), but also nothing that's screaming out to me to consider it for the upper echelon.  A good, solid song that fits squarely in the middle echelon.
Guiding Star -- Yeah.  If Brian Gray's song for this round didn't exist, I still wouldn't know whether this should be at the top of my bottom echelon or the bottom of my middle echelon.  But Brian's song does exist (and it's already been promised the very top slot of my bottom echelon) . . . and I can't have that song finish below this song in my rankings.  So I have to move this into my lower echelon of rankings . . . and if you had asked me last week if that was ever likely to happen to a Governing Dynamics song, I'd have probably answered, "Not a chance."  So I look forward to hearing what you do in the future, but this song's a "pass" for me.  (Sorry.)
I Wish (Jennifer's Song) -- Okay, so some things in the lyric jumped out at me.  One -- did you change the rhyme scheme for the second verse, or did you really try to rhyme "yard" and "was" in Verse 1?  Two -- instead of setting "wish" on a melisma (twice!) in each pre-chorus, why didn't you just make the line "I wish that you could see her," which wouldn't sound so stilted and artificial?  (The final recurrence could still be as you sing it.)  This is the kind of little, easily-ironed-out glitch in lyric writing that always bothered me when Mark Meritt kept doing it.  (Best example of what I'm talking about?  "Like cho-co-late and peanut butter" instead of "Like peanut butter AND choc'late" at 3:44 in "Do It (Duet).")  So in addition to the fact that the arrangement seemed lazy (as I discussed above), it also seems like bits of the lyric were written somewhat lazily as well.  Unlike the previous song, this song's still strong enough overall that I'm going to keep it in my middle echelon, but there I know there will be other songs that are better constructed that will end up ranking higher than this one.
A New Ideal -- Okay -- this one had the weirdest rhyme scheme of any of the songs.  To such an extent that it ended up feeling a lot like, "Eh -- we're just gonna throw in rhymes whenever we feel like it, or whenever it's convenient to do so."  And that lyric-writing laziness is going to doom this song to my lower echelon of rankings.  Yes, there's lots of details to be mined in the lyrics about mathematics and mathematical history -- and kudos for bringing attention to one of our female mathematicians!  And the music is bouncy and fun.  But in a songwriting competition, I can't reward such a sloppy approach to lyric construction.  Sorry.
I Am Not Your Princess -- Silly topic, but big fun to be had in this song.  If this wasn't a shadow and if I wouldn't have had to DQ it for not having any vocal harmonies, I would have happily put this in my middle echelon of rankings.
I Wasn't the One -- Okay, so some things in the lyric jumped out at me.  One -- did you change the rhyme scheme for the second verse, or did you really try to rhyme "not" and "heart" in Verse 1 and "go" and "alone" in Verse 2?  Two -- you have a really, REALLY strong [partial] rhyme with "face [it]" and "erase" in Verse 3.  Does that imply that you meant to similarly try to rhyme "hap[pen]" and "sat[isfy]" in Verse 1 and "hap[pen]" and "sad" in Verse 2?  Or is your lyric construction more like Jocko Homomorphism's (i.e. "I'll-rhyme-whenever-it-seems-convenient-to-do-so")?  I liked listening to the song . . . but had this song not been a shadow, these niggling questions would probably have kept it in the upper ranks of the middle echelon, not the upper echelon itself.
Match -- A perfectly serviceable, run-of-the-mill Dr. Lindyke song.  Would have been in the middle of the middle echelon had it not been a shadow.  But may I indulge myself and good-naturedly berate you for being the only entry in the entirety of SpinTunes #15 so far whose every attempted rhyme fails to actually rhyme properly?  ;-)
Kindness Reigns Power -- I like this song, too.  Another one that would have been in high up in the middle echelon if it weren't a shadow.  But I'm going to point out that this song enjoys the dubious distinction of having the greatest number of rhymes-that-don't-really-rhyme.  (Dave's song right before this one had the highest percentage, but this one had more.)
Thanks -- Has moments of Billy Joel amidst some nice 50s-style vocal harmonies.  Never really grabbed me, but it was pleasant enough and would definitely have been in my middle echelon of rankings had it not been a shadow.

Okay -- I've followed a similar schedule to last round, and having fewer entries to review means it's now just 11:46 p.m. on Friday instead of 1:36 a.m. on Saturday.  But just like last time, I'm gonna go get some sleep and then suss out the final rankings when I wake up.  Best of luck to all of you in the next round!

SP15R2 Reviews: Micah Sommersmith

What a great round, folks! I wish I could go back in time and submit a shadow about how grateful I am to have the privilege to judge these songs. Very nice work.

Here are my reviews of the 15 excellent official entries, in ascending order of excellence, followed by my reviews of the shadows, unranked, in album order.


15. Running Green Lights - Thanks for No(thing) - Nice harmonies, confidently delivered. I would have liked the vocals to be rhythmically tighter. The bigger issue is that we asked for a sincere expression of gratitude, not a sarcastic one.

14. Glen Raphael - Work of the Programmers - This is fun and certainly clever, but since the music and much of the lyrics are directly lifted from another song, I don’t feel like I can justify ranking it very highly. Your vocals throughout are confident and solidly on pitch. However - and I let this slide with your round 1 song because I was so enamored of it - if you’ve got one singer singing multiple harmony parts with the same rhythm, they have to be rhythmically locked in. It’s especially bad in the first chorus around 0:28-0:31, but you also disagree about the final cutoff at the end of the song. It’s a pain in the ass especially when you’re slowing down at the end as you are here, but the extra effort is worth it to get them locked in. - Of course, the ideal would be to recruit all your friends down at the pub to sing live with you. :)
(Dave's Note: Work of the Programmers is a DQ. Judges can rank it, but it will receive no points.)
13. Governing Dynamics - Guiding Star - This is a little more focused than your Round 1 entry, but the wandering, aimless feeling still turns me off. I think a big part of it is having two guitar parts, the distorted chords in the left channel and the clean lead line in the right, that both feel improvised and off-the-cuff. Aside from the cool guitar figure in the intro and at 2:26, there’s no predictability, and therefore nothing to look forward to, in the guitar parts. The incessant but fairly quiet toms during the verse sound scattered and confused rather than driving and energetic which might have been your intention. I do like your vocals a little better this time around, and the harmony in the chorus is quite nice. You do, though, have a tendency toward looooong sustained notes that aren’t quiiiiiite there pitch-wise. On the other hand, your lyrics are pretty good - while the subject matter is similar to several others in the fight, your focus on the “guiding star” metaphor keeps things tight and cohesive.

12. Good Guy Sôjàbé - Upward & Onward - Great choice of subject matter. Lyrically, the question of how explicit to get is a difficult one - I don’t think I would have figured out that this was about Stan Lee without being told so outside the song, and I would have liked some more details within the lyrics to clue me in. The use of his signature phrase is a great touch, though following it up with “isn’t that what you said?” lends it an oddly accusatory air that I don’t think you intend. Musically, this isn’t quite as compelling to me as your Round 1 entry - the looser, janglier guitars don’t work as well, and the verse melody is just a little too much like Aerosmith’s “Dream On”, though the chorus’s melody and driving energy are good.

11. Temnere - Not This Time - Glad your voice is in back in good shape. :) This has all the epic-ness I expect from Temnere. My favorite musical aspect is the piano that rhythmically sometimes doubles the vocal line and sometimes doubles the guitar - I’d like it to be brought a little further up in the mix. Lyrically, this is a good concept to run with - a reincarnated soul striving to do better, and it fits well with the grand scope inherent in your genre. I want more concrete details in the lyrics, though - what is different about this time around? You’re grateful to someone for something they’ve done, but what exactly?

10. PigFarmer, Jr. - So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish - This is really well recorded and mixed - both the acoustic and electric guitars come through nicely, as well as the backing harmony vocals. There’s some great instrumental stuff - the “diggi-di dum” rhythm between verses and at the end, the drum fills, the electric guitar playing at the beginning. The vocal melody is less remarkable, but the vocal delivery is confident and solid. Lyrically, it gets the job done, but I’d love to get more details, either from the books or from your own life. Why do you relate to Marvin so well? Can you quote one of his lines that you love? The Hitchhiker’s Guide is so endlessly quotable, and I think more specific references would have made the lyrics a lot more effective. In terms of construction, the line “I couldn't afford a ticket for a plane” is the only one that sticks out as particularly clunky. I do really like the stealth rhyme between the two pre-choruses: “I read it at twelve years old” / “I love how the story is told.” It helps the song feel unified and cohesive.

9. Jocko Homomorphism - A New Ideal - Musically this is more immediately accessible than your Round 1 entry, and certainly more obviously betray JH’s roots as a Devo cover band. :) The instrumental is driving and fun (I especially like the bass-synth duet at e.g. 2:08). I do think your drums could be louder and punchier. Your chorus melody is nicely hooky, though your vocal performance is a little pitchy and could have benefited from some additional takes, I think. The harmonies are nicely composed but don’t quite lock in, especially in the chorus. Lyrically, most of the verses went over my head. If you intend this for an eventual audience of fellow mathematicians, they’ll probably love it. For a more general audience, you might think about focusing more on the effect her work had on the world - you mention her influence on Hilbert and Einstein - and less on the mathematical specifics. Or perhaps you could make it more personal and get into how her work has ultimately affected your own? It’s about you being grateful to her, after all. It’s a tough balance to strike and one that will depend on your intended audience. I do appreciate that you’ve crafted a song about an unusual topic, that does sincerely convey your gratitude within a field you’re passionate about, and that’s also fun!

8. Menage a Tune - I Wish (Jennifer's Song) - Your instinct for seeing the possibility of a song in your neighbor’s story was a good one. The very first line “I was young, but I was dying” grabs the listener right away, and there are many other great lyrical moments. Musically, the “thank you, thank you” of the refrain is a strong melodic hook, and your voices blend together in very nice harmony. The musical accompaniment feels a little cheap and demo-ish, which doesn’t serve the heartfelt lyrics very well. Ted, you’ve produced some very sophisticated backing tracks, so I feel like you can do better! This song is unusual in asking the listener to keep track of four characters - two parents and two daughters. It is not always immediately apparent which daughter is referred to line by line, particularly at “You would never hold her children / She would never be a wife / Oh, I wish you could see her.” You introduce a new character without warning, and maybe it’s intentional to make the connection between the families stronger, but it’s worth keeping in mind how the audience will interpret it.

7. Faster Jackalope - Selfless Heart - This has all the elements that should make it a favorite of mine. Frisbee’s voice! Banjo! Actual humans playing string and brass instruments (especially after I just got done telling Brian the importance of decent brass sounds)! In real life and not on paper, it doesn’t quite come together for me the way I wish it did. Part of it is the horn/banjo combo - the magisterial, long-note horn line against the driving banjo picking creates some cognitive dissonance that I can’t shake. Otherwise though, the vocals really are wonderful, especially the melody in the chorus, including the great “lift me up” moment. Glen’s vocal sections are good too, although the “plateful” / “grateful” rhyme sticks out as overly clever and even jokey, in a set of lyrics that are otherwise straightforward and sincere (I’m hesitant to say this is part of a pattern with Glen’s lyrics, but it does make me think of the “re-nouned” pun in “Burning History Down” over at SongFight). As usual, the performances, recording and mixing are impeccable.

6. Third Cat - Looking for Light - I love the way the energy builds across the entirety of the song, from the subdued, sustained opening to the driving, complex and energetic final chorus. Your layered vocals aren’t quite as tight as I think they could be, especially in that final chorus where the different layers don’t all come through cleanly. The high harmony on “pull me out, pull me out” the second time around is a bit much. Your melodies are great and memorable, especially in the chorus on lines like “don’t knooooow what’s seen above”. Lyrically, this doesn’t tread much ground that others in the fight aren’t also treading, but the specific opening images of driving and lying in bed work well to make things concrete and specific.

5. Ominous Ride - Dodging Bullets - This has a great groove throughout, although the main bass riff feels very familiar. The vocals are really well executed, including the harmonies and polyphonic layering. The string interlude is very cool and comes at the right time to shake things up. I really like the lyrics: the take on gratitude is original, there are some great images (mistaking daggers for Cupid’s arrows, cracking a safe from the inside) and I find the narrator really intriguing. He’s so passive that even when he knows a relationship isn’t working, he sticks around and lets her end things. His passivity lends an air of ambiguity to the song’s ending - he’s found someone new who he’s happy with. But… is this new relationship really any different from the others? Is she really right for him, or is he just fooling himself again?

4. Brian Gray - Your Name - I enjoy the return to the Gleebleverse, and it’s a well-crafted song for sure. The chanted vocals work well to set the mood, and your lead vocal is suitably affecting for the emotion of the song. Two suggestions: 1. I don’t love having to rely on the song bio to know what’s going on, and I think a few seconds of dialog and sound effects can establish the scene (the attack and sacrifice by the anonymous hero). Obviously, if you do continue expanding this story you’ll have plenty more decisions to make about how to make the plot points intelligible. 2. The trumpet VST sounds pretty bad, and the otherwise evident care that went into the arranging, recording, and mixing makes it stick out even more. Given the emphasis on trumpets in the lyrics, this feels like an important musical aspect of the song that’s not getting its due. I know that good brass samples are hard to come by, and good brass players even more so, especially on a week’s notice, but it’s worth it. Otherwise, great song.

3. Mandibles - InDependence - Lots to love in this song: the warmth of the antique piano, the crisp guitar playing, the vocal melodies and harmonies generally, and in lines like “the life we lead is hard I know” specifically. All great stuff! Lyrically, the first verse is in danger of metaphorical incoherence: sounds that glitter and glow but also rage, and also can be dimmed, unless they are hammering or drowning. I understand and appreciate the sentiment behind the lyrics, but tightening and focusing on one image would, I think, be more powerful. Melodically, the “what can I do” section doesn’t hold up very well to the rest of the song, and the offbeat vocal “ba”s feel out of place. The piano is holding down that part just fine without help! These complaints aside, this is a very beautiful song.

2. Vom Vorton - Thank You Rafa & Agnes - What fun! Sweet heartfelt and also playful lyrics and upbeat driving music. The jangly descending guitar riff reminds me of a jangly descending guitar riff from a different song but I can’t place it so I can’t accuse you of plagiarism. As usual, you excel at crafting tight, consistent rhyme schemes across verses. The lines about being “just part of the pack” feel out of place and undercut the sentiment you’re trying to express, though I’d hate to lose the great “felt a” / “shelter” rhyme.

1. Zoe Gray - How to Sing - This is a very very good song. Just like in Round 1, there are lots of moments that attest the work you’ve put into developing your song craft: from the subtly unpredictable phrase lengths, to the way lyrical motifs are reused and altered in ways that deepen their meaning (“please don’t ask me if i think i’m ready ... please just tell me how you think i’m ready … please just won’t you promise me i’m ready”), to the just plain old great melodic writing (e.g. the opening figure of a leap upward and gradually descending line). Performance-wise, you display really excellent vocal control, particularly at places like the melodic leap upward at e.g. 1:43 (“and you taught me how to sing”), and the downward slide in the backing vocals at 3:48 is killer. All these elements of great craft and performance combined with the heart-on-sleeve sentimentality make for a really great listen. Your instrumental accompaniment is very much secondary to the melody and lyrics, which I think is smart, but it could use a little more variation and interest. Also, I don’t love that you open with humming because in my opinion, humming is the worst. Go with “ooo” instead! These are minor complaints though, especially when there is so much to love about this song!


Marlon - I Am Not Your Princess - This is a lot of fun, the guitar riff and vocal melody are quite catchy, and the video game references are quite clever. The performance and recording are rough, but this feels like the demo of a song that a lot of people would really enjoy.

Red Watcher - I Wasn't the One - Wooo-ee, that chorus vocal is something else! Great stuff. The song feels a little like it wants to kick into a higher gear than you let it, but it works well at the level you keep it too. This treads similar ground to Ominous Ride’s entry, but with a thin layer of spite that their entry lacks. I don’t know if you entirely intended the song to come off as creepy as it does, but there it is. It really gets under the skin. A great listen.

Dr. Lindyke - Match (DEMO) - Elton.

Red Watcher - Kindness Reigns (Over?) Power - Another great vocal performance and great production. I love all the vocal acrobatics. Lyrically, this song is getting into the territory of “inspiration porn,” but it is heartfelt and, frankly, just really good. I love the intersection of great lyrics and great performance when your little vocal flip lets you pull off rhyming “quietly” and “politely.”

Matchy Matchy - Thanks - In terms of composition, this is a classic Jerkatorium song with all the strengths one would expect - great chord progressions, clever rhymes, solid overall form, etc. My favorite aspect is how you change the last line of each verse, as an altered refrain: “Thanks for teaching me that / Thanks for teaching me this / Thanks for teaching me how / Thanks for teaching me everything”. Unified, with variation. Very nicely done. Now, the performance on the other hand… I gotta give you credit for going for it and committing to the a cappella arrangement, but it’s a chore to listen to. The signature Jerkatorium harmony vocals are great within the context of a full rock instrumentation but they don’t stand on their own for a whole song, mostly because there’s no dynamic expression to the individual notes. If you’re going to sing one vowel on one note for four counts or more, there’s gotta be some shape to it, otherwise, you’re putting your audience to sleep. In conclusion, hire a real doo-wop group to back you up, or call up your drummer and tell him you’re doing it the way you do it best.

ST15R2 Reviews: Dave Leigh

Note: My rankings are only used in the breaking of ties or in case one of the regular judges doesn't deliver. All the regular judges did deliver, and the one tie we had was minor. 

I have the distinct privilege of hearing these songs long before the listening party, as they're first submitted and I quality check them as I build the album. Just about every one of them was my favorite song at the time of their receipt. I don't envy the regular judges one bit for having to pick five to eliminate. But it has to be done. As a result, some very nitpicky stuff is going to affect the rankings. I have a difficult time finding something constructive to say in the way of improvement on more than a few of them, so don't be surprised if I don't.

Faster Jackalope - Selfless Heart 
I tend to group songs into two main categories: "story" and "mood". This one's "mood", with just enough story mixed in to give it coherence. And that ain't bad at all. Normally when ranking songs I don't give a lot of weight to production, but this is a strong round, writing-wise, so naturally production is going to count for a great deal. And obviously, part of the songwriting aspect is the musical arrangement. And MAN, this one's good! The instrumentation is superb, the arrangement is superb, the vocals, the mood... this song hit every sweet spot for me. The use of musicians rather than synth patches gets you major points from me attention to detail and craftsmanship. Primo stuff. I wouldn't change a note.
Temnere - Not This Time
OH, THOSE ROCK-SOLID VOCALS! OH THAT GUITAR! And what a mood it sets! A karmic treadmill, finally broken. For me, that gives it an air of sincerity that really doesn't need schmaltz to convey. And to me, this is interesting (and it's possibly just me being weird)... listening to the song, the undercurrent of regret is less prevalent than I would have thought from just reading the lyrics. Instead, I get a sense that the prior mistakes and present promises are purely factual. It yields a much more pure sense of gratitude. I didn't get it on first listen, but with repeated hearings, this song just steadily climbed up my rankings.
Zoe Gray - How to Sing 
This song sets a bittersweet emotional tone right from the very first line. Of all the songs here, this one makes me verklempt. No notes: it's just great stuff.
Vom Vorton - Thank You Rafa & Agnes 
FUN, FUN, FUN! It perfectly captures the energy of new kittens! (I have three!) This song had me chair-dancing, which defies analysis. Good job!
Ominous Ride - Dodging Bullets 
I'm a sucker for Ominous Ride's sound... it's just cool in a way I wish I could be. The premise here -- thanks for dumping me -- is a difficult one to pull off with sincerity. I think you did it. Structuring this as a retrospective thank you was an excellent choice.
Good Guy Sôjàbé - Upward & Onward 
A fitting tribute Stan Lee! It's got a good, heroic energy driving it forward. The lingering chords and open-throat vocals give me that sense of comic-book flight. I even love your title, with its nod to Stan's signature exclamation, "EXCELSIOR!" There are so many references to here to his work: almost every adjective is from one of his titles... "uncanny", "invincible", "amazing", "spectacular", "astonishing", "fantastic". Allusions to Iron Man, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Avengers, Astonishing Tales, & Captain America are packed into a surprisingly small set of lyrics. I am thoroughly impressed by the density of content here. This is the audio analog of a character splash page.
Mandibles - InDependence 
We asked for sincerity, and this song virtually bleeds with tender sincerity. Top marks for that. I love the harmonies on the verses. The bridge doesn't work quite as well for me. The lyrics would indicate that this should be the most comforting part of the song, but the music here has an edge of "otherness" about it that I can't really define; but just misses underscoring the comfort that should be there.
Third Cat - Looking for Light 
I don't know whether you meant to do this or not, but given your band name, I was entranced with all the "cat sounds" that this piece contains. It happens lyrically (" out", particularly in the backing vocals) and musically (with the use of the bent notes on the guitar solo).
PigFarmer, Jr. - So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish 
Generally speaking, I love it. I'm a big Doug Adams fan myself. There are a few places in the chorus where I think the lyrics could have been tightened up... "'Cause you died in a bad year in my life" (off the top of my head I'm not sure how I'd address that), and and the last two lines, which I'd probably switch to get the wish/fish rhyme to work better given the pause.
Menage a Tune - I Wish (Jennifer's Song) 
The concept is great. The lyrics are fine. The sincerity is undeniable. The music would be fine... on another song. Music should find the emotion in the lyrics and amplify it. The lyrics provide context for the emotion in the music. It's an iterative feedback loop for the senses. Here, the clipped delivery of the vocals coupled with the light and airy feel of the glockenspiel and unvaried tempo don't really give us that. Basically, you're tugging on one heartstring, leaving the others untouched. Look at the first line of the first two verses: "I was young, but I was dying", "She was young, her life was over". You're starting us out lyrically in a very dark place. We go from there to longing and regret before coming to the chorus which opens up and takes us to joyous gratitude for a selfless gift, the context of which was already set. But the music doesn't take us on that same journey. It comes right out of the gate with bells and sweet candy. And then the lyrics in the chorus drag us back to the grief that we've acknowledged. You don't need to acknowledge it in the chorus. Let the thank-you do its work.
If I had to suggest something constructive (and as it happens, I do have to), I would suggest that you take another look at your division of labor and remember that, as with writing anything, editing is what makes the song work. That's editing the song, not just the arrangement. You should both be invested in the total project. Ask yourself what you're trying to feel at any particular point in the song. Even if it's a complex emotion it should be focused. Ignore the words for a bit and ask if the music provides that. Ignore the music for a bit and ask if the words keep you targeted on that. Then pay attention to both to make sure they mesh. If you're not both feeling it, be willing to make changes. Regarding the vocals, approach them as a method actor. Grieve when grieving. Revel when celebrating. You'll find it harder to go wrong or mix messages that way.
Jocko Homomorphism - A New Ideal 
As a song of sincere gratitude, this is a fine tribute song. The expressed gratitude is intellectual, rather than emotional. The quirky tune takes a little time to get used to. On first listen it's jarring, but on subsequent listens -- once your brain becomes trained to it -- it works. I like the sort of 16-bit synth sounds that give it an 80s "Revenge of the Nerds" or "Real Genius" feel. The vocals, I think, would be improved by running them through a ring modulator and Autotuning the hell out of them so as to better mesh with the instrumentation.
Brian Gray - Your Name 
I might wind up being in the minority here, given the inarguable work that went into this one. However, I reserve the right to be curmudgeonly in the context of this challenge while still being enthusiastically supportive of the Gleeble Glorp saga and concept album. Having read the bio, I think this is one case where "the movie is better". Without knowledge of the accompanying visuals, the song leaves people guessing. Who is he thanking? What is he thankful for? This album's been running on my car stereo for the entire week, and when it comes to this song it invariably leaves my passengers confused until I explain it. I hope you put your first idea in the concept album because I feel it could have been done with less textual exposition.
Governing Dynamics - Guiding Star 
hate writing this review because it sounds way more negative than it should. My original reaction to this that there's no real hook in this song. But after listening a few times I realized that's not true: it has a good hook, but I don't think you exploit it. After learning the tune, I went back through the lyrics without the sound, and it seems that 110bpm feels pretty natural... and it's pretty close to what you're using, so tempo isn't really the problem. It's more that the percussion track is so busy and scattered... in places almost random... that it's distracting from the song itself. When it gets to the chorus the cymbal lags just enough to drag it down. It's as if the drums belong to a completely different song. The vocals... need cheering up. The lyrics I read aren't sad. The target is someone that you're happy to be with and happy to follow, but listening to it, it just doesn't sound that way. It shouldn't be Disney, but it's not a dirge either. A cleaner, simpler percussion track and ever-so-slightly more energetic vocals would rank this way higher.
Running Green Lights - Thanks for No(thing) 
Perhaps you won't be surprised if I thought this was a DQ. Fortunately for you, the judges disagreed. Under strict interpretation of the rules and challenge I note that 1. It's a song. 2. We don't have a time limit. 3. You said "thanks". 4. You included vocal harmony. 5. A song thanking someone for nothing can't really describe anything, so you even squeak by on the sincerity requirement... barely.
Glen Raphael - Work of the Programmers - DQ
Glen, even though your expression of gratitude is unarguably sincere, I'm afraid you crossed the line from "homage" to filk parody on this one, and as a result you've pulled a DQ. Shadows can get away with it. But even given that "Work of the Weavers" itself is taken from a traditional tune, you kept so much of the lyrical structure of the copyrighted work that we really don't have a choice on it. 
For the sake of other competitors reading this, the reason we require original submissions is to stay clear of copyright violations on Bandcamp and especially to comply with the rather draconian terms of service on YouTube (which hosts our listening parties). So when you sign up, the form states that you will provide original songs. Parody normally falls clear of that if we ask for it and label it clearly (shadows are easier to argue. I have personally submitted parody as a shadow). But in this round we asked for a sincere expression, and that's hard to pass off as parody.

SHADOWS (unranked)

Marlon - SHADOW - I Am Not Your Princess 
I'll start of with the acknowledgement that, if this had been an official entry it would have been a DQ purely because it lacked the required vocal harmonies. That said, someone in the listening party mentioned that this was a "charm attack": I couldn't agree more. I've mentioned before that this album's been playing in my car all week. A passenger heard this and noted that it sounded as if Toad were actually singing it, so I'd say your songwriting is playing to your vocal strengths here. It's also one of only three songs that I was specifically asked to replay. I'm glad that you stepped up and added instrumentation. Just be careful... there are a couple of moments where it gets away from you.
Red Watcher - SHADOW - I Wasn't the One 
There's ONE thing that would keep this from being a great answer to this challenge, and that's that fact that you sing, "I should be grateful..." instead of "I'm grateful...". As a result, this became a sincere song of sympathy. That said, I don't care. This is a shadow, and you wrote a song that needed to be written.
Dr. Lindyke - SHADOW - Match (DEMO) 
It's my own entry, so I won't review it much other than to say that since it's a shadow, I didn't kill my shoulder trying to get the planned instrumentation into it; but submitted a mere live demo with only the required harmony added, and with all of Hoover's rhymes removed just to torment Edric.
Red Watcher - SHADOW - Kindness Reigns Power 
This one's a bit of an earworm. I love the rounded-vowel David Bowie vocals on words like "spoke" and "joke". I love the soft dance-club sound. The presentation softens, but does not hide, a compelling and inspiring story. It doesn't say "thank you" in so many words... instead, it says it with the entirety of the song. Look at the difference between what you're doing here and what you did as MAT... You start this off on a light note lyrically and musically. You give an uplifting lyrical message throughout and keep it moving, chin-up, with the beat. When you get to the verse about death, the drum machine stops and the vocals soften. But the song's not about death, so you pick it up again and move on. Well done.
Matchy Matchy - SHADOW - Thanks
This is the part where I normally just dismiss Matchy Matchy as a wannabe Jerkatorium knockoff who need to get their own schtick. I'm not going to do that this time, because they're showing us here how to successfully pull off the incredibly complex task of presenting a totally sarcastic, yet totally sincere thank you at the same time. A couple of bands addressed the "thanks for dumping me" theme, but this song is a master class in pointed songwriting humor.