Saturday, December 22, 2018

ST15R4 Reviews: Dave Leigh

What a great round! And I think it was a pretty good challenge, too. Thanks to Micah Sommersmith for suggesting it. All in all, a great way to kick off the holidays! Before I do anything else, let me give shouts out to all the competitors, to Tom Giarrosso ("Tommy G"), who hosts the listening parties; Matt "Shoobs" Schubbe, who does such a fine job on our album covers; and the fine folks at Song Fight (Spud and Lunkhead) who are hosting us in their Sidefights forum, all of our judges; and of course Travis Langworthy, who started this thing (though this is one time we can safely blame Heather Zink). Merry Christmas all, the very best of whatever holiday you celebrate, and a Happy New Year!

As a reminder, here was the challenge and the songs:
It Grows On You: Write a cumulative song, in which the verses repeat but with additional material each time through, resulting in longer and longer verses.
An easy example would be The Twelve Days of Christmas. Other examples can be found here:  


There's not much to say in advance of my reviews. Basically, this is primarily a lyrical challenge... BUT... the real trick here is to keep the listener interested until the end of the song. There's a reason that most people who pastiche or parody The Twelve Days of Christmas (including me, in my filk parody, The Twelve Days of the Campaign), "cut to the chase" and find a way to skip many of the verses: the repetition can become tedious. The trick is to make it not so. Twelve Days gets past it by putting the new stuff first, relating it to the verses and zooming through the rest of the list. It becomes a fun game. It also employs tersest verses you'll ever find! "On the xth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me..." That's it. Then comes what I think of as a cumulative chorus.

Another way to keep interest is to vary the tune, though I don't think anyone overtly went that route (with one notable exception in the shadows).

My thoughts, in submission order:


Zoe Gray: My Typewriter and Me
This is just a really sweet, melancholy song. Lyrically, it's spot-on. Musically, it's perhaps a little too melancholy for everyday listening, but that's not really a problem. The best things in your home often get put aside and pulled out only on special occasions, and you wouldn't eat candy as a meal. Production-wise, I like the harmonies, and I like the typewriter. It's not really employed as an instrument here; it's more of a storytelling device to lend ambience. 

Mandibles: The Witching Hour
Though this is electric and obviously modern, I can't shake the emotional reaction that this song is somehow Dickensian. It's got a feeling that's completely evocative of Victorian-era Christmas carols such as We Three Kings or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and the use of archaisms like "ne'er" and "o'er" only amplifies it. Theme of traveling home likewise amplifies it. It's a really wonderful auditory environment. It would make a great Christmas song, which makes me wonder why the theme is "the Witching Hour". Nevertheless, it is, and it does a good job of evoking that archaic modernism that's prevalent in J.K. Rowling's works. I love this song, but it confuses me.

Third Cat: Feel My Trouble
The verses are short and sweet, but then so is your list. It's not "fun" enough to be a drinking song, and not terribly hooky, though it is listenable. It's a good entry, but won't win the round for me.

Faster Jackalope: Send Me Off
Hands down, Zoe had the best lyrical response to the challenge. But this song... this is the one that sticks in my head. Seriously, it starts with a hook and sets it firmly. As a result, I've spent the entire week singing it in the car and whistling it in embarrassing moments at work. And though the cumulative list is thin, the clever rhymes (ok, Edric... near rhymes)  in the body of the verses pushes it up my list. My black sense of humor even likes the dark twist at the end. BTW, I don't see that as a literal death... it's a perfect metaphorical description of being "friend zoned". In either event, the lyrics are deep. This guy knows that he's not worthy of the relationship. On the basis of an overall pleasurable listening experience and the compactness of its meaning; among the four contenders, this is the song that I look forward to hearing. That's gotta count for something.


SHADOWS

Micah Sommersmith - You Like Me
The CLAPPING GAME! That tells us right off that we're going to hear a fun schoolyard song, and then there it is! I love everything about it! You're doing the one thing that the contestants didn't do: namely, vary the music. Between that and the name-dropping, and the infectious rhythm and interesting instrumentation, there are so many techniques used to keep the listeners engaged. It never gets boring, and never sounds repetitive. And that little smile in your voice in the last line... "You liiiike me!" There's a reason you won Spintunes 14.

Jocko Homomorphism - On the Beach
This is probably the best song I've heard from Jocko. It's experimental, it's quirky. I like it.

Vom Vorton - One Turkey Sandwich
An actual Christmas song in the Christmas season! Nice story, good humor, and thoroughly engaging! This has already migrated onto my permanent Christmas playlist (along with Twangles, the Christmas Squid (obligatory plug)). Though it's not a contender, I think it takes the round.

Brian Gray - The Yeast Song
The most fun drinking song I've heard in years! Tongue-twisting lyrics delivered at full-lung capacity! The song is the game, and that's the way to do it! By the way, to anyone who's reading this: You Lost The Game. Blame Brian. 

Good Guy Sôjàbé - Nightcrawler 
DOWN COME THE TEETH OF THE NIGHT! Bad-ass metal! Almost cinematic in its auditory texture. That's not a mixed metaphor: it's synesthesia.

Menage A Tune - Let's Have Lunch
Kazoo! I actually LOLed. Since this is acapella, I have to imagine pretty much everything, but even given that, it's a bit long. You could have gotten by with just listing the ingredients -- ' broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce...' -- rather than repeating entire lines. That would tighten it up significantly.

Glen Raphael - If the Climate Changes
I can see carolers singing this. But only on the West Coast. ;) 

Glenny - So Alive
Catchy! And very "eighties" in a way.