Saturday, February 22, 2020


Well the judging is in. If you haven't had enough, please check out Jerkatorium's misnamed-yet-still-entertaining podcast:

This time around the jerks are joined by Tommy G, who shares some insights into the BYD as well as the JoCo cruises, and other interesting stuff in addition to sharing his feelings about each of the songs.

As for the results, here they are. Since we have five judges on the roster this round, my rankings have not been recorded and will not be used.

JoeTravis*MicahMary AnnRussTotal
Steve Stearns23271024
Ross Durand42113626
Nick Work37591135
Glen Raphael513183241
“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson1141211442
Faster Jackelope146410842
Governing Dynamics1015136145
Good Guy Sojabe7101721450
Vowl Sounds169612750
Caravan Ray151288952
Timothy Patrick Hinkle11610151658
Ominous Ride1751451859
Jocko Homomorphism919920562
Rob from Amersfoort201416171784
Boffo Yux Dudes121820182088
The Quantifiers192019191996

“Eligible” Shadows **

Menage a Tune

The Brewhouse Sessions

Jeb and Iwa

PigFarmer, Jr.

* scores used in place of reigning champion Zoe Gray, who is unable to judge due to her college schedule. <3
** Bands that were eliminated for reasons other than disqualification, and which have submitted non-disqualifying shadows every round since their elimination

Note that there are eight (8) eliminations. The top twelve bands move on to the third round, where eight more will be shaken out, leaving four bands in the Final Round.

There's a tie in 6th/7th place, and I'm calling it for BucketHat Bobby. But take heart, Faster Jackelope... the slate's wiped clean in the 3rd round.
As for Round 3, that's underway. You've already gotten the challenge, and we can't wait to see what you do with it! 

Good luck, all. and to those in the grey, Please keep shadowing!

ST16R2 REVIEWS - Dave Leigh

With a five judges on the roster this round, my rankings won't be used. However, I still write reviews, and here they are...

Of course we knew that in giving a bunch of highly intelligent geeks a challenge involving math, we'd be swamped with every obscure counting method in the book... and probably some new ones. That's perfectly OK. As for me, I'm not looking so much at the cleverness of the number sequence, but the cleverness and utility of the song. Does it sound natural? Is the counting appropriately integrated or just stuck on? Does the song have merit outside the challenge? Does it make me feel? And, of course, how does it sound?

To be sure, you guys did a better job than I would have. I offer for your amusement this hook from an unpublished opus:
Let me be your abacus, Baby
Let me be your rosary beads
In your trials and tribulations
Baby, you can count on me
Yeah... this is why I let other people write lyrics for me.

Here's how I think you did...

In order of submission:

1. Caravan Ray - Peak Misery 02:13
It's well-done technically. I must be in a really weird mood, though, as I've just been unable to get into it. I had a bit of a time understanding the repetitious "Peak Misery". It's something that easily falls into "misheard lyrics" territory. I kept hearing "eat" something, even when I knew the words.

2. Timothy Patrick Hinkle - Number Line 04:10
Let's just stop for a moment and acknowledge the baritone grandeur that is your singing voice, Tim. That's a great instrument you've got, and there's definitely an audience for men who sound like men. And let's face it, you sound like Ron Ely looked. Now, the song: nothin' really wrong there. Good use of counting, and I like the schtick where you're discounting while counting. ;) I've got a few a little higher on my list, but you can blame it on those folks. Honestly, some of these bands are in dead heats, but I've got to put some ahead of others.  

3. Jocko Homomorphism - Discretion 02:51
JAZZ! Real, almost anarchic jazz! And a truly unique counting method using mod 13 arithmetic. Unfortunately, while having "roundabout" lyrics is totally in keeping with the subject, the result is so obscure that it doesn't work as a bit of instruction, and isn't really intelligible except to those already in-the-know (again, totally in keeping with the subject!). And while I do like me some smooth jazz, this one's a little brash for my taste.

4. BucketHat Bobby Matheson - Countin' Dice 02:15
You got my attention with the first line. By the third line you had me hooked. I love a little D&D geekery! The counting bit as a bridge is a leeeetle bit "tacked on", but I don't much care, because it's just such a fun little song. There's no way to not like this song, as everything about it illustrates the tag, "It's having fun that counts."

5. Steve Stearns - The Fibonacci Sequence 03:05
I'm not even going to pretend to be coy about this: there simply isn't another choice for first place. This ranks up with the very best Schoolhouse Rock songs, and I've already put it in a playlist next to Tom Lehrer's "The Elements" and Jonathan Coulton's "Mandlebrot Set" (as well as our own Edric Haleen's "0.999999..."). It's got everything you need... history, exposition, the actual sequence, how to calculate the sequence, the significance of it, and some humor to keep you interested. The lyrics do not sound stilted or pedantic. The music is engaging, the syncopation superb. There is nothing about this song I do not like. It did make me laugh out loud in the listening party that you had the confidence to pull this off as an electric jazz piece while simultaneously being so cautious as to put in a straight counting section. Your trepidation was unwarranted, though the feeling of power it fills me with is exhilarating. And though it might sound strange to talk of "feels" with regard to an educational song, the overall effect here is joyful. "Happy" and "sad" are emotions that are primary colors... anybody can paint with those. This one's more subtle: the elated joy of discovery, and it counts as art in my book. Well done!

6. Faster Jackelope - Limerence 04:17
I love the name. For some reason it reminded me of "Jabberwocky", as if it were a made-up word. So of course, I looked it up and found that it's "the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one's feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship." I loined somethin' today; namely, that some psychologist felt the need for this label. This is the sort of easy-listening song that doesn't call attention to itself, making it perfect to keep on in the background at work. Unfortunately, it's the sort of easy-listening song that doesn't call attention to itself... double-edged sword. It's going to go somewhere safely in the middle of the pack.

7. Rob From Amersfoort - Count Me Out 02:11
I have to say that this is one of the more interesting tunes that I've heard from you, Rob. Your style is really getting better, or I'm getting used to it. But that's the tune. Lyric-wise, I'm not sure this has a lot to say, so it's not going to rank as high as some.

8. Vowl Sounds - Blood on the Tracks 03:38
I spent several listens having no idea what this is about. Then I realized it's a pun... blood on the tracks... in the jukebox. D'oh! This doesn't really stand out for me, except for the fact that when taken as a whole it's really nice to listen to. And oddly enough, I'm in the sort of mood where that counts.

9. The Quantifiers - The Terrible Trivium 04:16
"With tweezers!" OK, that made me laugh out loud... and not just me, but everyone in the room with me at the listening party. I kind of get the feeling that you're trying very hard not to wake the neighbors while recording this. As with the last entry, I think a bit more commitment to the performance would help sell the piece. You talk quite a lot about counting, but there's very little counting that you do. So while this may semantically meet the challenge; given the examples we gave it's not as close to the spirit of what we asked for as other entries.

10. Good Guy Sôjàbé - The Wire 03:19
Oh, HELL yeah. This must be the day for metal. This is very much a 'mood' song which relies on invoking visual imagery as opposed to a clear narrative (not unlike Outlyer's "Napalm" in that respect). I rarely like metal... it's just a personal genre bias... but I have to respect the work that went into this. Very cleanly done!

11. Governing Dynamics - Get Lost! 02:27
Pardon the pun, but the vocal harmonies have gotten a little lost. I think they undermine what would otherwise be a very nice hook. Then again, the fault might lie in my ears. 

12. Outlyer - Napalm 03:31
Handheld shakey-cam, urban streets, hoodies, homies, cash transactions in back alleys... somewhere in this story is arson. There's not much in the lyrics alone, but the words, style, tone, and that weird dyad on the word "time!" all combine into a song with illustrative POWER, adding mood to the visual piece that you know it MUST accompany. Great work.

13. Nick Work - Reasons (That I Love You) 02:39
Well, this is embarrassing. I have nothing to say about this. That's not a bad thing... it's just a thing. I'm going to park this in the middle while I think about it. (The bassline does sound like "Lady Godiva" ;) )

14. Ross Durand - Don't Blink 02:49
Dammit, Ross, you made me shed an actual salty tear. This is a perfect example of "less is more". Where Outlyer's entry is all in the music, this one's all in the story. I don't know how this affects others, but when you're my age and the 'kids' are grown men, a song like this hits like a gut punch. Perfect.

15. Glen Raphael - Song of Many 02:29
VERY nice. Reminds me a bit of "Just One Person", and I'd love to hear the expanded version that counts to five. If you send it after judging I'll put it on the album. The "Badela dah dahs" get a little too chaotic at the end, but I love the idea of counting singers.

16. Temnere - Cynics Anxiety 04:04
If there were such a genre as "Polished Metal", this would be it. This takes "Space Opera" literally, and the interstellar theme gives a classic excuse to incorporate a countdown. Great vocal reach and control on those extended notes. Clean guitar throughout and robotically precise percussion.

17. Jerkatorium - 8-bit Love 03:27
If you're going to count, why not count by powers of two? I eight-bit love it. One thing about a Jerkatorium tune is that it will always demand attention. ALWAYS!! That's not a bad thing: like a B52s tune, there is no just leaving it on and going about your business. Unless, of course, your business happens to be modding C64s, Ataris, and Amstrads in 1984. This just about cries out for a chiptune solo and I was ever-so-slightly disappointed that it wasn't there. In places the vocals sound positively Beatlesque (As in the word "love" in "This eight bit love is commin' straight at you / this eight bit love evaluates as true"). 

18. Ominous Ride - Seven Naughty Children 05:06
Holy smoke, the story...! I love this! Counting up (and down) children is so completely central and necessary to the song that it can't sound contrived. It doesn't sound like a challenge song, just a nice little novelty song. The folks listening with me thought the 'ominous' transitions were a bit jarring, but I say they're meant to be. Nevertheless, I see the point that the transitions themselves could be just a bit smoother. As it is it sounds like it completely jumps to a different song. Coming out of those sections is much smoother.

19. Mandibles - Breathe 05:41
With a song called 'Breathe' you'd better have mastered vocal control, and Cybronica, you have. I don't even feel qualified to opine on it. I'll just enjoy it. If one were just to read the lyrics it would seem that the lyrics were just tacked on. But the song puts the lie to that. The story and the backstory are the same story, and I find it a fascinating choice of subject. I'm finding it hard to describe my overall reaction to the piece, as I find it smooth and harsh at the same time. Possibly the choice of tinny piano might have something to do with it. In any event, that bit of off-center balance works well with the "panic attack" theme.

20. Boffo Yux Dudes - When The Band Counts Down 01:55
At the beginning it sounded like you were just playing radio drops. Of course, you were; but that's the song, too! Good choice of subject matter! Structurally... maybe it's a little formulaic. Doesn't mean I don't like it. 


21. Menage a Tune - Same Old Dance (SHADOW) 
Much more upbeat and accessible than your first-round song! I think I'd prefer the opening "1,2,3" on the beats. Other than that, it's a nice li'l waltz, and we don't get many of those!

22. The Brewhouse Sessions - Please Come Home Faye (SHADOW) 
I normally don't like Autotune, but I know you were fighting a head cold, Mike. And to be honest, this is one of those situations where you just have to acknowledge with solid respect the "nothing's going to keep me down" attitude that gets an entry in on time despite every excuse to miss the deadline. This is more your singing range anyway, so despite the cold I'm counting it as progress. Now let's talk about the song, and specifically the story. Counting the minutes since a child has disappeared...? Easily the most heart-wrenching subject choice on the album. I'd say more, but I've got something in my eye.

23. Jeb and Iwa - Fibonnacci Encounters Pie (SHADOW) 
You were so preoccupied with
whether or not you could, you
didn't stop to think if you should.
13 inches + 5 hours = 18 hundred calories. It sounds surreal, but so does everything about this one. The song bio is essential to work out what's going on here... The Fibonacci sequence is somehow mashed up with the value of Pi and Valentine's day and with a delivery that somehow, inexplicably, reminds me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. To any other band I'd say, "you tried too hard," but I suspect you know exactly what you created here. I will not try to explain it. I will not try to understand it. But honestly, I'm keeping this song on a playlist. Go figure.

24. PigFarmer Jr - Gal For Me (SHADOW)
Counting strikes? I think the counting could be a little more explicit, but we did say that the song should "prominently feature counting": we didn't actually say that you have to count. A description of counting is a technical pass on the challenge. I love these autobiographical songs. ;) 

25. Micah Sommersmith - Chuck and Juanita (SHADOW) 03:38
If I want really, really clever lyrics, you're my go-to guy, Micah. 
Well... you and Edric Haleen. 

26. Heather Miller - The Good Stuff (SHADOW) 02:18
It's been AGES since we've heard from you, Heather! Welcome back! And thanks for bringing the good stuff!

ST15R2 RANKINGS - Mary Ann Randall


I feel like I’m accidentally applying the buttered cat review method this time…

  1. Outlyer:  To be honest, I just  really liked this song.  It’s a little more relevant style to  what the kids are listening to these days… but hey! I’m trans-millenial lol!  A little repetitive, but since I really liked the tune, not an issue for me on this one. 
  2. Good Guy Sojabe:  At first my impression was that this might have been a cool jam on the shelf waiting to compete.. Once again though, I am a sucker for a hard rock hook that I would add to my playlist.  With the right production, I think this song could be radio ready with the right band.
  3. Glen Raphael:  STOP IT!  Stop making me like a music style I swear I’m not that fond of.  I have a strong urge to take a walk down a country road with a band of merry muppets by my side on this one. The da da das get a little much at the end, but the tune, is blessed stuck in my head.
  4. Jerkatorium:  Clever lyrics, appealing to the geek side of my brain lol.  You really should be writing jingles or sitcom themes I swear it because once again – stuck in. my. Head. Not seeing this on my playlist, but definitely strong sound commercially. 
  5. Ominous Ride:  HAHAAHAHHAHA I had to listen to this several times before it clicked.  When I listened to the song expecting well, a song, I was confused.  But after reading the lyrics and listening as a STORY I got it.  I had to change my expectations and then it changed my whole perspective…  that moved the song up a lot in my list.  Very interesting, dark humor for sure.
  6. Governing Dynamics: Is there static? Or is it my earphones? I didn’t like the buzzy sounding thing going on but I liked the tune and lyrics which helped override it.
  7. Steve Stearns:  Ok, I LOVED the clever counting application, seriously Dude, that’s a super-intellectual groove.  I think my IQ went up a point listening.  However, it did strike me more as a musical math lesson than anything. 
  8. Caravan Ray:  Could we scale back on the na nan as? I think keeping this song on the short side kept it from wearing out its welcome for me… good lyrics and toe tapping beat made it enjoyable. 
  9. Nick Work: I almost hated this song based on the beginning.  But after making myself go on past the intro, I have to give credit for the lyrics and construction of the song.  I’m not a fan of the predictable retro styling but I can’t find a reason to knock it down based on talent and overall structure, melody etc.
  10. Faster Jackalope:  Another one I didn’t care for at first…  It’s kind of easy to criticize songs for being repetitive, but on the converse we should give credit to songs that do well in being creatively constructed to avoid the boredom.   That said, the transitions on this one almost sound like a mashup more than a song verse/chorus flow.   I have to move it up based on construction and ingenuity.
  11. Buckethat Bobby Matheson:  A cute little ditty.  The lyrics made my head hurt tryn’ to get the D&D reference – imirite? I didn’t love or hate the song lol I just got hung up on the lyrics. 
  12. Vowl Sounds: Are we going for the coffee house vibe?  I think this one fell in my list due to relative perspective. Played very safe, I just get a little bored with the styling.
  13. Ross Durand: Dude! Sounds like a song on one of those supermom feel good songs for babies CDs.  Sappy sentimentality – I think you took the easy way out here tbh.  On the positive side, I think you should try to sell this song on a CD full of songs for babies and toddlers for insta-influencer moms to market on social media.
  14. Temnere:  I had such high hopes here.  THIS is my genre.  But 3 minutes of the melodic part before really sinking your teeth into the guitar and growling I had to push this down.  I feel like you are trying to appeal to the other genres and folks who don’t get the style and not breaking out into what you really want to do.  You do you Boo!   Commit! Hit!  I’m disappointed in the construction of the song – the counting sounded tacked on and forced, you need to mix up your guitar break and growling.  
  15. Timothy Patrick Hinkle:  Nothing stood out for me here.  The melody was a bit bland and the overlay of counting kind of sounded like when you are listening to music on Bluetooth and all of a sudden the Instagram stories with sound kick in in the background and you are trying to figure out what that sound is in the background of the song.  Still the melody was strong enough to keep the song up in the list for me.
  16. Mandibles:  too long too long too long too long too long too long… dragging the song out made it hyper-dull for me.   I liked the tune, it was just too long.  I think the appeal here came from the fact that I too, was hospitalized with an extreme anxiety/panic attack a little over a year ago and the surreal-ness of the experience along with only being able to describe it as “I can’t breathe” caught me up a bit.
  17. Rob from Amersfoort: It’s so weird, the song itself sound so innocuous, yet so “angry.”  It was a bit uncomfortable to listen to for me, and the musicality was harsh.  Not horrible, just harsh imo. 
  18. Boffo Yux Dudes:  Is there such a thing as “soft punk rock”?  This sounded more last minute thrown together than anything.
  19. Quantifiers: This has such a sweet genuine-ness to it I hate knocking it down.  But it sounds more like a non-conversation conversation… like the guy is trying to draft a song and the woman is in the background trying to add her 2 cents and he’s not really paying attention. 
  20. Jocko Homomorphism:  Seriously – lesson learned – elliptic curves and music just don’t mix.  I’ts ok not everything works, props for going out on a limb on this one, it just did not work.  Can we leave math as the subject, not the method from now on? 

Best Regards,

Mary Ann Randall


Good Guy Sojabe
Glen Raphael
Ominous Ride
Governing Dynamics
Steve Stearns
Caravan Ray
Nick Work
Faster Jackelope
“BucketHat” Bobby Matheson
Vowl Sounds
Ross Durand
Timothy Patrick Hinkle
Rob from Amersfoort
Boffo Yux Dudes
The Quantifiers
Jocko Homomorphism

ST16R2 RANKINGS - Russ Rogers


1 Governing Dynamics
2. Glen Rapheal
3. Jerkatorium.
4. Bucket Hat Bobby
5. Jocko Homorphism
6. Ross Durrand
7. Vowel Sounds
8 Faster Jackelope
9 Caravan Ray
10. Steve Stearns
11. Nick Work
13. Mandibles
14. Good Guy Sojabe
15. Tenmere
16. Timothy Patrick Hinkle
17. Rob From Ammersfoort
18. Ominous Ride
19 The Quantifiers
20. Boffo Yux Dudes

I don’t have reviews for this round. Sorry.

ST16R2 REVIEWS - Micah Sommersmith


Ranking these songs was tough - I had a hard time deciding how much to weigh the execution of the challenge vs. the quality of the song as a whole, as well as how to weigh lyrics vs. music, composition vs. performance, concept vs. execution, etc. There are lots of good songs here, many of which are good in very different ways. I have no idea how the other judges will be ranking you, but I’m sure their rankings will be entirely different from mine, and just as valid.

in ascending order of excellence

20. Boffo Yux Dudes - When The Band Counts Down
Lately I’ve been paying a lot of attention to syncopation in vocal lines, and I’ve noticed that it’s often used in an attempt to make boring melodies sound a little more interesting. Unfortunately that’s what’s happening here: For example, in the first line, “I think you can understand”, every syllable but the first is on an off-beat, a pattern that mostly continues throughout the verses and part of the chorus (e.g. “Melts away your aggravation”). Syncopation often makes melodies feel more spontaneous and natural, but in these parts the relentlessness actually has the opposite effect: It feels just as robotic as it would on the beat, with the added minus of sounding like you accidentally got the tracks out of sync.
It’s where you use syncopation more sparingly that the results are much better: The title hook is nice and memorable, I think in large part because “Band. Counts.” come on strong beats and then “Down.” comes - surprise! - just after the beat. In this case, you set up a pattern and then subvert it, which is just good writing.
Other than the hook, and the strong overall concept, there’s unfortunately not much I like about this song. The backing track is as monotonous as the melody. I think you were going for a kind of driving, relentless punk-rock feel, but the energy isn’t there to support it.

19. The Quantifiers - The Terrible Trivium
Given the challenge, your band name, and your previous entry, it is of course only right and proper that you continue your Phantom Tollbooth adaptation. I wish this entry was as strong as your previous one, though.
Lyrically, the structure is good and clear, and the additive lists of tasks is a neat idea. There are some clever uses of counting throughout, as well as clever uses of the word “count” in the chorus, but otherwise the lyrics lack a lot of the surprise and wordplay of “Dining in Dictionopolis”. The lyrics are good - if probably overlong - but not good enough to make up for the weakness of the music.
The melody is boring and repetitive, and suffers from looong pauses that drag the energy down. (“The Terrible Trivium asks………. three terribly trivial tasks.”) The minimalist accompaniment doesn’t help, itself pausing in the exact same places as the vocal line - and the result feels even longer than 4:16.
The melody did get stuck in my head, but mostly because it was so repetitive that after one listen through I knew exactly what to expect. The melody and chord progression that end the chorus (“It might be easy, and it might be fun / But you can count on getting nothing done.”) are the highlight, musically (and maybe lyrically).

18. Glen Raphael - Song of Many
This song is not without its charms, but I can’t help comparing it to the similarly-themed but much better executed “One Voice” by the Wailin’ Jennys.
Your guitar technique and your vocal tone are great, as always, but I can tell that your strengths are as a live performer. The multi-tracked instruments and voices have a runaway train feel, especially at the end, and while listening I worry about the whole thing going off the rails entirely. In that final chaotic pile of voices, I usually don’t know where the downbeat is, and I’m not sure you do either.
The more restrained harmony voices during the verses are mostly well-done, although you know what I’m going to say about the word “friends” in the second verse.
Okay, fine I’ll say it anyway: SYNCHRONIZE. YOUR. FINAL. CONSONANTS.

17. Good Guy Sôjàbé - The Wire
The aggressive music matches the claustrophobic paranoia of the lyrics. The chug-chugga-chugging gets monotonous, although when the guitar throws in some more involved riffing my interest perks back up.
The chorus is catchy but the melody of the verse doesn’t leave an impression on me. I like how you switch up how you are counting, starting out one number at a time and integrated grammatically (two hands, three strikes, etc), then switching to a call-and-response rhyming pattern.
I wish the guitar solo were either more virtuosic or more intentionally melodic - as it is, it mostly sounds noodly. The slow arpeggio (guitar harmonics?) that first shows up at 0:48 is really weird - it doesn’t seem to match the rest of what’s going on in feel or even be in the same key? I’m not sure what’s going on.

16. Rob From Amersfoort - Count Me Out
Sonically, this has plenty of great things going on - the harpsichord and Strawberry Fields Forever organ and the backwards drums especially. A Rob from Amersfoort song always has plenty of forward motion - sometimes at the expense of rhythmic variety. Here the harpsichord does a lot to mix things up and maintain rhythmic interest, while the half-time drums come at just the right time to break things up and give us a breather.
The lyrics are nothing special here - the counting up to ten feels very tacked on, rather than being an integral part of the lyrics. You could cut it and the song would lose nothing - except for meeting the challenge! This is going to cost you in a round when lots of people did very creative things with the challenge.

15. Outlyer - Napalm
In this and other songwriting competitions, I’m used to hearing songs that sound like they’re three or four (or five) decades behind schedule in terms of the rest of popular music - so it’s refreshing to hear something that wouldn’t have been out of place on pop radio in the past decade! For better or worse, rappers don’t seem to rap much these days, and you fit right in with the new vocal paradigm.
The lyrics, melody, and production all work together to create a consistent atmosphere, which is great. It’s a good listen, although the pitch-shifting is a bit much.
The counting feels entirely incidental to the song as a whole. The “running out of time” hook would seem to open up the possibility of some more counting (minutes, steps, etc) but instead the counting is reduced to a few throwaway lines. Yeah, it’s there, but I want more.

14. Ominous Ride - Seven Naughty Children
There’s a lot to like about this one: the overall concept, the diversity of manners of death, the stealth encoding of the Fibonacci sequence, the swerve into dirge-like music at the end of each verse. It’s all very very clever.
Two things keep me from loving this song, and even from particularly enjoying repeated listens: First, the song drags on toooo long - clever as it is, cleverness can’t sustain my interest for five minutes of the same verses and choruses. Obviously you thought about how to abbreviate the songs by killing off multiple children within verses, but it still gets monotonous.
The second fatal flaw is the instrumentation, specifically the piano, which is repetitive to the point of roboticism, clearly fake, and way too loud in the mix. It’s a shame given how much care you put into the arranging, performing, and mixing of the vocals, which sound great, but which are buried under the sound of that damn piano.

13. Governing Dynamics - Get Lost!
Dreamy, hazy, beautiful. Most of this, I like a lot. The snaking melisma of the title hook is really really great, as are the sketchy verse lyrics that are kind of about driving but mostly about sex.
I’m not sure about the lines “why does time and distance work the way it does / never counting up and giving us the answer that we want" - they seem to add an element of conflict that’s absent from the rest of the lyrics. Maybe that’s intentional, but it seems a bit out of place to me. The ending also feels like a misstep, closing on those lines rather than giving us more of the chorus (except for an ill-advised, pitchy “do you wanna get lost” buried in the background), and then cutting out entirely with an abruptness that feels, again, out of place, and unsatisfying. It doesn’t leave me wanting more, it leaves me hanging.

12. BucketHat Bobby Matheson - Countin' Dice
This is a fun and pleasant tune. The accordion is of course lovely - I dig the tone of your instrument, and you play it well. I wouldn’t have minded some more involved melodic playing, but this style of song doesn’t demand it.
The melody and chord progression are nothing ground-breaking - you are in well-worn folk song territory. It doesn’t feel like you’re ripping off anything specific but it’s not particularly original either.
The lyrics are great - you stay on topic and on message (D&D is fun but the math is hard) while maintaining a consistent rhyme scheme, which I will always appreciate. I do think you could have leaned harder into the specifics of the dice math. Obviously the “counting” aspect provides the original inspiration (and the pun in the chorus) but the counting itself is confined to the bridge and doesn’t feel specific to D&D in any meaningful way - I think you missed an opportunity to mine the nerdy humor even more than you did.

11. Temnere - Cynics Anxiety
This entry lacks some of the epicness of last round’s “Amplified” - many of the same elements are here but they don’t add up to the same effect for me. The lyrics are great, tersely and economically (heh) exploring the idea that greed and inequality won’t magically disappear if and when we make it off the planet. The countdown (to, one assumes, a rocket launch) is not really integrated into the rest of the lyrics, but it does set the scene.
The last minute feels unnecessary, and I’m really not a fan of screamed/growled/whatever it’s called metal vocals, so the last thirty seconds would go especially unmissed. I know that 4:04 isn’t even that long in this genre, but trimming it down might help make more of an impact.

10. Timothy Patrick Hinkle - Number Line
These lyrics are anchored in a specific experience, and they convey that experience very well, with well-drawn images (and as a bonus, a consistent ABAB rhyme scheme for the verses). Lyrically, I think the only misstep is the word “traffic” in which the accent is forced onto the second syllable.
I don’t love the electric guitar tone, and I wish either that it was less grating or that the production was more involved to give my ears a break from it. The synth solo after the chorus comes as a welcome change, but I have to wait two minutes to get to it. I understand that the sound matches the sense of anxiety conveyed by the lyrics, but a balance has to be struck between conveying the mood and still being enjoyable to listen to.
The verse melody is strong but it’s the chorus that’s the highlight, with some excellent harmony vocals. Other entries feature more creative counting than your straightforward “1, 2, 3, 4”, but you’ve given this simple counting litany a specific meaning and emotional heft. Well done.

9. Jocko Homomorphism - Discretion
I assume, since I know that you are a very smart person, that the pun in the title is intentional: discretion as in discreet (private, concealed, encrypted) and discrete (discrete math, modular arithmetic). WELL DONE MY FRIEND.
Getting past the title, this song is just pretty damn good. It requires a certain frame of mind to enjoy fully, at least for me - as is true of jazz in general. But the melody (and countermelody) are interesting, well-constructed, and catchy. This was stuck in my head a lot.
The muted trumpet sound is a little harsh which does detract from the replay value for me, but otherwise there are some nice instrumentation choices - I particularly like the xylophone (or similar).
Your voice is in good form, and I think you’ve found a melodic style that suits your voice well. The lyrics are sketchy enough that we don’t really get a lesson in cryptography just from listening to the song on its own, but they’re evocative enough. I wonder if you could have found some way to make the encryption formula explicit - otherwise, without the song bio, you just seem to be listing random numbers in the chorus.

8. Caravan Ray - Peak Misery
This is damn catchy - the clav, the tasty hand percussion, the “na na na” hook. It also doesn’t overstay its welcome, making the wise choice of leaving the listener wanting more.
The counting off of misery levels is very clever and well-done, as are the lyrics as a whole. We are all familiar with breakup stories, so we don’t need tons of detail, but the “chap like me” verse injects a nice specific image and helps us feel bad for this poor guy.
When the vocals are layered on top of each other, as in the “past two weeks” and “5-4-3-2-1” sections, it all turns into mush, and nothing is really intelligible at all. That’s too bad, because the first time you sing the title “peak misery”, I don’t understand it at all. Generally, if you’re layering two different vocal lines and we’ve already heard one of them before, pull that one back in the mix, or adjust the EQ or something, so that we can actually hear the new line.

7. Mandibles - Breathe
Man, that ascending piano line in the verses is so good. Is it exactly like something I’ve heard in another song? Probably, but I don’t care. It fits perfectly, and it saves the verses from falling victim to my sworn enemy, the Call and Response with No Response. (I’m going to keep calling it that until someone comes up with a better name, or everyone stops doing it.)
There’s plenty more that’s lovely about this song, of course. The title hook is gorgeous - sung impeccably, of course. The slide guitar that introduces everything is beautiful. The increasing layering of instruments at the end, including the guitar solo, is quite nice.
You’ve made a really interesting choice with this song, which I think hampers its effectiveness considerably. The first four minutes of the song, musically, are beautiful, lush, and calm - and the lyrics are describing a panic attack. Then, when we get to the breathing exercise to calm us down and bring us out of the attack, we get an increase in energy, layers of instruments including the aforementioned (pretty frenetic) guitar solo, and some seriously surprising, even unsettling, harmonic shifts and vocal counterpoint. None of these are bad musical choices per se, but again, this is supposed to be the calming section!
Essentially, at least to my ears, the music and lyrics seem to be working at cross-purposes to each other. I don’t think it dooms the song to failure altogether, but it is a flaw built into the very structure of the song, which can’t be fixed without taking the whole thing apart and putting it back together.

6. Vowl Sounds - Blood on the Tracks
Just to be clear I follow the story here: He asks her to marry him, she says no, so he kills her and himself in public. Right? Maybe I’m just cranky, but we hear enough “jilted lover driven to murder” stories in real life that I’m not particularly in the mood for it in song.
That aside, this song does have a lot going for it. Sonically, it’s beautiful, with a pleasantly subtle vein of country folded among the typically lush Vowl Sounds sounds. I am not a vibraslap fan myself, but it’s used tastefully enough that I give it a pass, and the mark tree/windchimes/whatever under “Count the ways I love you” in the last chorus (and I think maybe somewhere else earlier too) is a perfect little touch.
The lead vocal also has a tinge of country, with mixed results - the melisma on “goodbye” is gorgeous; the fall on “you” of “I never promised you forever” is annoying.
I’m not sure how prominent you can argue that the counting is, but it is a nice rhetorical touch that 1-2-3-4-5 first refers to declarations of love, and then to bullets in the jukebox. There are some stealthily brilliant lines elsewhere, like when the lead vocal sings “Looking for some change” and the backup adds “looking for a change”, and that it’s the Temptations that they first dance to.

5. Nick Work - Reasons (That I Love You)
Having only heard two of your songs, I am already impressed with your stylistic range. In both of your songs, you fully embodied the genre you’re occupying, with very enjoyable results.
The groove is infectious, the guitar playing is tastefully virtuosic, the production is impeccable, and your vocal performance is confident and competent (although there are a few too many grunts for my personal taste).
My only complaint is your handling of the counting aspect - yes, you’re counting, and what you are counting is right there in the title, but the list itself is not very inspired. Let’s review:
Reasons that I love you:

  1. I’m always thinking of you
  2. I’ve got nothing else to do
  3. That feeling every time we kiss
  4. A couple hundred thousand (unspecified) reasons more

If I were the recipient of this love song, I’d have a few follow-up questions.

4. Faster Jackelope - Limerence
Is that Frisbee singing lead? It’s a mellower, warmer vocal tone than I’m used to. Whoever it is, it’s gorgeous and fits the dream-like atmosphere created by the slide guitars and the production as a whole.
I often find glennnnny’s vocals to be the weak link in a Faster Jackalope song, but here they work really well to establish a contrast, since it’s another character trying to bring the protagonist down to earth. The less polished, more - no offense - normal voice, in conjunction with the more aggressive instrumentation, reminds us of reality.
The production is so lush that the lyrics take a back seat, and upon close examination some lines are pretty hokey - especially “Don’t have the wherewithall / To not be a ne’er-do-well”. The counting is integrated fine, although I’m not sure I want to know exactly what “fluids mingling / Upon this alphabet” really means.
Really, my only other complaint is that the “all this time, all this time” hook feels lifted too directly from Tears for Fears’ “Mad World”. I know, I know, it’s two descending intervals and it’s not even note-for-note (the second one jumping straight down rather than walking down the scale). Still, I can’t not hear it.

3. Jerkatorium - 8-bit Love
This is the quality Jerkatorium content I came here for. You play to your strengths here: clever wordplay and rhymes (“comin straight at you” / “evaluates as true”), catchy hooks (“11111111 la la la la love. love. love.”), nifty guitar solos (digging the clean tone this time around).
The following are not really criticisms, but rather observations for you to ponder: It is unclear until the final bridge and chorus whether this is a love song to a computer, or to an actual person but in the language of a computer-obsessed nerd. And given the subject matter, it’s an interesting choice to lean into the guitar-driven pop-rock sound, instead of, you know, something more… computery.

2. Steve Stearns - The Fibonacci Sequence
The groove is infectious, and the lyrics are oh-so-clever. The concept might be considered low-hanging fruit, but when you execute it this well, who can complain?
Lyrically, the explanation and elaboration of the sequence is very well-done, as are the mentions of its real-world applications. The cascades of rhymes are quite pleasing, although I think “Bonacci” should be pronounced with the emphasis on “na”, just like “Fibonacci”.
Musically, this is also very well-done - “foundation of the golden ratio” stands out as the melodic hook that gets stuck in my head. Ironically, the elaboration of the sequence is the weak spot - it drags the energy down just when it feels like it should pick up. Cutting the vocal rests down between numbers somehow (“Zero and one is one…[too long a pause] one and one is two...”) might help.

1. Ross Durand - Don't Blink
This is a completely charming song. The nursery rhyme counting at the beginning gives way to counting years going by, until a grandchild comes along to count to again. Very nice. And the “once in a while… twice the person” verse is a clever touch too.
My only complaint with the lyrics is that a few lines could use tightening up - “I can’t tell you anything / Well I can say it, but you won’t hear it / I guess you think I’m just muttering” come to mind. I’d love if the rhythm could match the corresponding lines in other verses, since the extra syllables feel like mistakes, especially the oddly-emphasized “muttering”. Otherwise, the lyrics are well-crafted, although you do sing it at times like you’re not sure of the best delivery - just a matter of practice, I think. The music is simple but well-suited to the style.


Menage a Tune - Same Old Dance (SHADOW)
Dancing with Death! I waltzed to this with my six-week-old trying to get her to sleep. It’s clever and the harp sounds great, although the voices and harp are not always very well synchronized rhythmically.

The Brewhouse Sessions - Please Come Home Faye (SHADOW)
This is a much stronger entry than your Round 1 song, and I’m sorry you were cut because this might have had a good shot of moving you on to Round 3. The instruments hang together better, the vocal melody is good, and the lyrics are emotional without getting excessively sentimental (even though the subject is absolutely horrific).
Presenting all the verses before getting to the chorus is an interesting choice, but it works pretty well here. The guitar solo at the end could probably get trimmed, but it’s a nice groove and I don’t mind that it continues for as long as it does. The heavy pitch correction on the vocals lends a somewhat bizarre feeling - it wouldn’t feel out of place in a more electronic production, but the acoustic rock sound doesn’t normally call for it. Once I get used to it, though, it stops being a serious problem pretty quickly.

Jeb and Iwa - Fibonnacci Encounters Pie (SHADOW)
This is catchy and fun, while maintaining the off-kilter feeling of your first entry. I’m impressed that you were able to use the Fibonacci sequence and digits of pi to create chord progressions that sound natural and not like random collections of chords.

PigFarmer Jr - Gal For Me (SHADOW)
The mandolin is great. The melody is pleasant, although feels under-rehearsed; I think it needed a couple more run-throughs to solidify the phrasing. The lyrics are fun, if silly. All in all it’s a nice little ditty that doesn’t make a strong impression.

Micah Sommersmith - Chuck and Juanita (SHADOW)
I wasn’t sure at all if this idea would actually work at all, but… I think it did?

Heather Miller - The Good Stuff (SHADOW)
A pleasant little reminder to be thankful for what we have, although some of the good and bad doesn’t seem very balanced - if you’re having trouble affording eggs, you probably won’t be finding a 20 in your pants. Needs a few more run-throughs to tighten up the vocal delivery, but it’s got charm to spare.

STR2 REVIEWS - Travis Langworthy

[Dave's Note: This round's guest judge is Spin himself: Travis Langworthy, the founder of SpinTunes. His rankings will be used this round in place of our reigning champion, who couldn't make it]

Doing these reviews in a bit of a rush this time.  No shadow reviews, but I’ll give a tip of the cap to PigFarmer Jr who had my favorite shadow this round.  I normally break down how I rank these things; in short I’ll focus on lyrics a lot.  No time for more details, besides you should know me by now.  First up…

(in listening party order)

Caravan Ray - Peak Misery
Didn’t care for the overlapping vocals at the start.  Probably wouldn’t have been as annoying if it were a softer vocal, maybe a female, more in the background repeating “The pressure was building up”.  As is, it just made it hard for me to follow the lyrics.  I liked the use of the title in the song, even though this isn’t Song Fight, it was well done.  The counting in both instances worked for me.  Overall this was a very Caravan Ray song.  Some good ideas, kinda catchy at times, lots of repetition…but not always all that memorable as a whole.  This is the first song I’ve listened to this round, and without having heard the other songs yet, I would guess this is a middle of the pack track.

Timothy Patrick Hinkle - Number Line
-1 point for using all 3 of your names.  I will now refer to you as Tinkle P. to save time & make up for the time lost reading the extra name.  Your song was tough for me.  On 1 hand you picked a topic that not many people are going to relate to.  On the other did a decent job with it despite that.  I assume that was the sound of the wind & the freeway in your song.  I kinda liked that, it helped me get in your mindset.  I think the song is too long unless you do something to mix it up because it mostly sounds the same throughout.  I don’t see this song competing for the win this round (unless all the other judges get vertigo walking over the freeway on a regular basis), but I think you’ll end up being safe.  Nice work Tinkle P.

Jocko Homomorphism - Discretion
I didn’t understand your explanation of the song, so I sure as heck didn’t understand the song itself.  You’re teaching this shit, so you obviously have a very specific audience in mind.  Unfortunately I’m not in one of your classes, and as an average joe, this just leaves me lost.  And believe it or not I will listen to educational music from time to time.  For instance I subscribe to acapellascience on YouTube.  Even though I don’t understand all their science jibber jabber, I normally come away with the general ideas they’re singing about (I’m sure the video helps that a lot), but with your song I’m just lost.  Musically I can’t say I found anything catchy in this, and the singing could use work.  Unfortunately I’m guessing you’ll be near the bottom of my rankings.

BucketHat Bobby Matheson - Countin’ Dice
Another topic that I’m pretty clueless about, but at least I’m able to follow this story.  It actually flows really well, the music & singing is pleasant, and I despite not understanding what it all means it’s still singable  So far, this simple little diddy is sittin’ pretty.

Steve Stearns - The Fibonacci Sequence
The music had me right off.  The lyrics flowed while teaching me something new.  I get the School House Rock vibe you were going for, but the vocals don’t have the same character those performers had.  Not that your vocals are bad, they aren’t, just doesn’t have the same feel.  This just knocked Bobby down a peg.  You sir are the new leader.  Well done.

Faster Jackelope - Limerence
You just creeped me out in the most beautiful way.  The vocals were lovely, and you did a good job of not letting the friend’s intervening being too abrupt or distracting.  It really came together nicely.  When it was over I was shocked it was over 4 minutes.  Didn’t really seem that long to me.  A few of the lines I had trouble getting their meaning, but I think it’s safe to say you’ll be in the upper half of my rankings.

Rob From Amersfoort - Count Me Out
At the start it sounded like any other song from Rob, but when the chorus started the music changed I was honestly a little intrigued.  Your darker than usual music kept my attention, and your vocals came across a little angry & with more emotion than I’m used to from you.  Is this song going to win the round?  No, but this might get you into round 3, and was my favorite song from you thus far.  Keep up the good work.

Vowl Sounds - Blood On The Tracks
What the hell is wrong with you people?  First you go all dark in Nur Ein with a big twist halfway through the contest, and then you hook me in with this song only to go dark again.  Seriously, who hurt you?  Actually the dark turn was a good thing here.  It was a sweet little story, but honestly I was on the verge of boredom so this made it memorable.  It’s a little odd to have such a dark tale be told by such an angelic voice, but I’m getting used to it.  This isn’t a round winner for me, but you should move onto round 3 easily.

The Quantifiers - The Terrible Trivium
People compete in this contest for various reasons.  If this song is meant to actually compete & move you onto round 3, I think you’re in trouble.  If this was just another challenge to overcome & improve as you are both new to this, that’s fine.  Unless someone is familiar with the book, this song is going to be hard to follow.  And if the story is hard to follow you better hope the music is catchy & the performance is killer to make up for it.  And well...there was very little music, and the performance wasn’t stellar.  All that being said...for first timers getting past round 1 is good.  Continuing to attack these challenges will only make you better.  Keep working & learning.

Good Guy Sôjàbé - The Wire
Not really my type of music, but this did do a good job of creating a feeling of fear & paranoia. Which is good since I’m not 100% what is going on in the song, it’s good that  it created a tangible feeling for the listener.  The guitar work after the 2 minute mark was pretty cool.  You should be safe this round, and I look forward to hearing your next entry.

Governing Dynamics - Get Lost!
After 2 seconds the volume kinda jumps up a lot.  Took just long enough for me to reach over & turn it up because I just thought my volume was too low.  Not a big fan of the buzz, drone, or whatever that noise is throughout the song.  Lyrically you lost me, but your vocals were really good.  Despite the chorus being kinda catchy, I couldn’t get by the buzzing noise.

Outlyer - Napalm
Whatever you did to your vocals...stop it.  This showed some promise, but each time you got to the chorus, the vocals made me cringe.  I didn’t really follow the story you were telling, but the music held my attention at the start.  The problem is it never really changed much.  Just seems too repetitive for a 3+ minute song.  I look forward to your round 3 song, but you’ll need to really bring it that round.

Nick Work - Reasons (That I Love You)
I really enjoyed this.  I mean it’s not the most original idea for a song, but as long as you do a good job with it that’s fine….and you did.  The one thing this song does lack for me is a great hook.  I found myself more interested in the verses than the chorus.  I enjoyed the guitar work, and the music overall.  Really nothing bad to say other than I wish the hook was stronger.

Ross Durand - Don’t Blink
So far...the best piece of storytelling in the round.  Your restrained performance made it feel like you were just sitting back reflecting to yourself.  It’s something that everyone is going to be able to relate to at some level, and evokes real emotion.  At the moment at least, this is my top song of the round.

Glen Raphael - Song Of Many
The first meta song.  It’s actually an interesting idea though, and I could kinda see something like this on an old episode of Sesame Street.  If you ever record it up to 5, I’d like to hear that version.  All the “Badela dah ba da….” near the end does sound a bit messy though.  Just becomes kinda a mess to listen to.  Overall, this is pretty solid, and I would think it moves you onto the next round.

Temnere - Cynics Anxiety
I wonder if I’ve tweeted anything that’s inspired a song now?  Somewhere there could be a song about murdering people in Minecraft & I could be the inspiration.  Your song is an interesting take on traveling to Mars.  I mean most people do think of the positives of being able to reach that point, but the negatives in your song would probably be more accurate. I think I’ve said this in the past, but I really wish your vocals were more upfront in the mix.  It does come off really dreamy & spacey (probably intended), but I do struggle to hear them unless I crank the volume more than I like to.  Overall...good song, and didn’t feel like it was 4 minutes.

Jerkatorium - 8-bit Love
Fuck Ross, you my new jam.  From the computerized vocals, the great backing vocals, smart & catchy lyrics, the story telling...loved it all.  Everything you did in this song just seems to fit together perfectly & I’m sorry but I have no constructive criticism to share.

Ominous Ride - Seven Naughty Children
I had to double check the name when this started.  Sure doesn’t sound like Ominous Ride, but I’ll trust that Dave didn’t mix up the songs.  I started to lose interest right when the first dark turn happened, and from then on I was hooked.  Looked forward to finding out how each little brat was about to meet their doom.  There were a couple moments when I thought a line might have needed redone or something tweaked.  For instance the line, "They barked up the wrong tree" seems to come in a bit late?  With a short deadline & A LOT of lyrics in what’s a 5 minute song...I can see having to leave a few things like that for later.  For a 5 minute song it DID hold my attention.  Not my favorite song of the round, but it’s in the top 5 somewhere.

Mandibles - Breathe
The vocals were killer.  The obvious is out of the way now.  This song clocked in at well over 5 minutes, and didn’t hold my interest nearly that long.  I think the main reason is the topic.  I understand this was based on something in real life, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great song topic without a little flair added to the story.  So at the start I’m all in...person being woke up from a panic attack...serious stress & emotion at play here…something really bad must be going down.  But then, the song doesn’t go where it should go, what the hell is creating all that panic & creating the drama?  I’m not trying to downplay panic attacks, they’re a serious thing, but it doesn’t make for an interesting song.  It’s a jumping off point to get to something more interesting.  I’m also not trying to pry & find out what sparked your attack, but make some shit up.  Without giving the listener the cause of the panic & justifying a reaction from them...the instructional about how to calm oneself down again near the end just seemed pointless.  This should be a ride the listener goes on with you.  Instead this song took 5 minutes to say, “I had a panic attack, and here’s how I calmed myself down.”  The music itself was enjoyable.  Could have used a bit of a changeup in there somewhere (not the END), but it was relaxing & pleasant.

Boffo Yux Dudes - When The Band Counts Down
2nd meta song of the round.  It’s an interesting idea considering the challenge this round.  What I don’t like is the first verse of your song is complaining about having to wait for the music, and then you make us wait through 15 seconds of other bands counting down.  Also, while the idea is kinda interesting, I got bored with the lyrics.  You don’t have to be funny all the time, but this could have used some humor.


  1. Jerkatorium
  2. Ross Durand
  3. Steve Stearns
  4. BucketHat Bobby Matheson
  5. Ominous Ride
  6. Faster Jackelope
  7. Nick Work
  8. Temnere
  9. Vowl Sounds
  10. Good Guy Sôjàbé
  11. Mandibles
  12. Caravan Ray
  13. Glen Raphael
  14. Rob From Amersfoort
  15. Governing Dynamics
  16. Timothy Patrick Hinkle
  17. Outlyer
  18. Boffo Yux Dudes
  19. Jocko Homomorphism
  20. The Quantifiers

ST16R2 REVIEWS - Joe 'Covenant' Lamb

This round was very difficult for a couple of reasons.
Generally, I’m a believer in the “The song meets the challenge, or it does not” way of thinking – but for this, there were some interpretation which I just didn’t agree with… but not quite enough to call for a DQ. So, for once, meeting what my interpretation of the challenge is a factor… which is also hard because so many songs hit the same level for me… which is to be honest, around mid-table. For me, the top 6-7 were at least a head above the others.
(BTW… Loving the Spintunes Anthem!)

So – from top to bottom… (numbers are album numbers)

2.Timothy Patrick Hinkle - Number Line 04:10
I love this track. (Kinda reminds me of Early pink Floyd) Musically ambitious, certainly not looking to be a snappy, gimmick song (nothing wrong with those, but this is an unusually esoteric song for a song contest!) I do wish the vocals had been EQ'd or separated a bit more.

5.Steve Stearns - The Fibonacci Sequence 03:05
Great groove. Well played and produced. And, dammit, helps you learn.
I liked this quite a bit.

13.Nick Work - Reasons (That I Love You) 02:39
60's rock meets sesame street!
To me, this is the epitome of the challenge - and it's a decent song to boot.
Well played, musically interesting, vocally competent and lyrically spot on - with a groovy outro... and all of that in just over 2.5 minutes!!
Catchy and yes, worth more than one listen.

14.Ross Durand - Don't Blink 02:49
Lovely little song. Gets the challenge spot on.
Lyric a bit forced in places, but most soft country is ;)
Well put together, really nice....
(Could have done without the whistling!)

15.Glen Raphael - Song of Many 02:29
A nice riff on the "One Whole Person" style of song and, having covered that, I know how hard they can be to get just right. Glen nails this.
(Although the outro vocal gets a bit too loose - with a touch more structure and it woulda been perfect.)
And a gorgeous guitar to boot.
“How many listeners has this song?” Should be more...

17.Jerkatorium - 8-bit Love 03:27
Yes... fun... great use of the challenge.
Started to make me think of Bowling for Soup!
Well sung, well played, nice production... Yeah... liked it.

10.Good Guy Sôjàbé - The Wire 03:19
Oh!! A rock song!! Terrific musically (a bit muddy, but still there.)
Met the challenge well - loses it's way at the end, would have been better with a resolution of sorts. Would have liked a more ambitious chorus (given the artistry on show here)
Not too much to fault here.

12.Outlyer - Napalm 03:31
BARELY meets the challenge – would have been higher otherwise.
Musically really nice, very atmospheric - **TTIIMEE** really jars with me on what is an otherwise well done vocal. Nice production, I really like the sound of this one.

3.Jocko Homomorphism - Discretion 02:51
If I didn't know any better, I'd say this song was about modular arithmetic and elliptic curves in cryptography...
WOW!!! Downright jazz! (Shame about the midi horns though a bit... off-putting would have rathered this been a keys sample as opposed to attempting brass.)
Is that a jump or a bad edit just before the end? Musically, I can hear what it could be - Sadly, the vocal lets it down. but then what do I know?? The chorus to this was excellent, and with better production could be stunning! But I can't judge a song based on what I can hear it *could * be...

11.Governing Dynamics - Get Lost! 02:27
Shades of Radiohead. Nice to hear Travis being more ambitious with his vocals - but that's not a pointer for judging... just an observation :) Challenge wise, I think that 'gets lost' a little in the middle and end of the track, but still met it. Sudden ending... I thought the track had broken! Well played, could do with better production.

4.BucketHat Bobby Matheson - Countin' Dice 02:15
Same problem with other songs in that the counting is not overly prominent, rather the process of counting... but it was a fun song (and that’s what counts!)
Vocal more prominent this time but still a bit back in the mix. Liked the tune and the idea.
A lot of work in a 135 second song!

20.Boffo Yux Dudes - When The Band Counts Down 01:55
Oooo challenge twisting... Can't deny "counting" is prominent in the song!
Short but rocky.

16.Temnere - Cynics Anxiety 04:04
I did like the song, but it's only in touching distance of the challenge though.
Honestly, it sounds like a song that was already written but had a countdown tacked into it.
Musically superb.

6.Faster Jackelope - Limerence 04:17
Ohhhh now the start of this had me hooked. Loved the music here.
A bit REM-vibey, excellently played, well sung, great melody... and then we hit the chorus.
Which to me, is too out of synch with the rest of the song. Would have been higher with a better chorus.

1.Caravan Ray - Peak Misery 02:13
Muddy vocals under some great music.
Only scraped through challenge-wise to me, but a good enough song - just couldn't make out the words without the lyric in front of me.

8.Vowl Sounds - Blood on the Tracks 03:38
Does this meet the challenge? Well... kinda...
As for the song... it sounds like there are two or three separate songs in here all trying to get out. The *story* of the song is never made clear, but it’s written as if I should know what's going on?
("Till he knelt down on the floor, Opened up the box, And opened up his mouth, But he couldn't get the question out") - No idea what that means.
(As a counter, listen to Brewhouse’s entry this round. I have no idea of the story behind it, but it comes out in the song without stating flat out the awful tragedy behind it)
I wanted to LOVE this... but ended up just liking it.

18.Ominous Ride - Seven Naughty Children 05:06
Okay - this does meet the challenge... and if it had started with five children it might have scored higher, (although harder to scan, I would imagine) but this became a sort of "Ten Little Struwelpeters on The Wall"! with a tune that was a bit too plodding and overlong. (I liked the change of tone with each demise - but I feel it would have benefitted from some differences in style for each one) - Good idea... just waaaayyy too long.

19.Mandibles - Breathe 05:41
If the end piece of this had been more of a chorus then it would have been fine.
(Although as it stands, it was the weakest part melodically.)
Had the outro vocal of the 1234512312312345678 been underlaid across the whole song (or at least parts of it) this would have been VERY high. (And I think a fade out would have been better than the end it has.)
REALLY liked the song - beautifully sung - but not a challenge meet-er - shouldn't have to rely on the pre-amble to see how/why it is thought to meet the challenge.
(Honestly... I did really like this)

9.The Quantifiers - The Terrible Trivium 04:16
Back to Phantom Tollbooth!
Sadly, that's where my inteerst stopped. Brave to do it almost acapella, but too much of a stretch to follow the trivium's own example and make twice as long as it had to be. I never FF through songs when judging, but this one sorely tempted me. Sorry.

7.Rob From Amersfoort - Count Me Out 02:11
Can't really hear this one, sadly.
And, sadder still, I also don't think it meets the challenge.
Sorry Rob, my last pick from this round.


Shadows in a single line-ish
21.Menage a Tune - Same Old Dance (SHADOW) 01:51
Same problem as 1st round, decent sounding song, great harp. Live recording doesn't become you, probably around mid table - didn't need the comedic end.

22.The Brewhouse Sessions - Please Come Home Faye (SHADOW) 05:20
I liked this a lot. Ignoring the pre-amble - it starts like a love song, ends up being far darker and heart-rending. A few lyric tweaks and this would be devastating - would have been top five.
(Am I hearing auto-tune? If so.. only top ten! ;) )

23.Jeb and Iwa - Fibonnacci Encounters Pie (SHADOW) 03:01
Okay.. I get it... it's "clever". It just didn't grab me.

24.PigFarmer Jr - Gal For Me (SHADOW) 02:04
Can't see this meeting the challenge, really. But kudos for the most impressive first line in this round! :)

25.Micah Sommersmith - Chuck and Juanita (SHADOW) 03:38
Sadly, I don't understand Spanish (it's not really heard much in the UK).
(Does "siete ocho nueve diez" mean 7 8 9 10?)
Just not my kind of thing - felt longer than 3:38 :(

26.Heather Miller - The Good Stuff (SHADOW) 02:18
Is Heather playing a Uke???
(There is no god.)
Play this on a guitar and I'll really like it!!! :)