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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spintunes #5 Round 1 Review: Charlie McCarron

Hi everyone,

For those who don't know me, I'm a producer/composer, independent filmmaker, and SpinTunes 1-3 veteran. If you're wondering what my judging criteria is, check out my post at CharlieMcCarron.com.

I realized after writing these reviews that some of them appear pretty critical. I hope in doing this grading system I don't dishearten those who are used to getting all A's in school. I enjoyed listening to all of your songs, and I just hope my feedback will be helpful in some way the next time you work on a song.

Ross Durand - I'm Lyin'

Composition: A
This song is really well written, musically and lyrically. Great phrasing around the "I'm lyin'" section. Both the lyrics and phrasing up to that point are predictable (in a good way), and then the shorter "I'm lyin'" lyric ends more suddenly than expected, and it turns the story in a new direction. A subtly brilliant way to create this unexpected twist.
Production/Arrangement: A-
This song has the most pleasant acoustic guitar sound of the round. The multiple guitar tracks panned out really help fill out the soundscape. The harmonica solo was an awesome surprise. The organ and background vocals really add to the emotion at the climax of the song. The handclaps are a bit distracting rhythmically, but they work okay in the background along with the shaker. The tap sound after the song ends slightly detracts from the otherwise awesome production.
Lyrics/Narrative: A
This was really the only song this round that felt genuinely emotional to me. I like that it goes beyond just the obvious reaction of anger towards a boss into the realm of shame. It's a great story, and I like that it's never resolved what this narrator is going to say to his family.
Performance: A
I like that the vocals are understated. The real emotion actually comes from the instruments, especially the heartfelt harmonica solo. The guitar performance is really dynamic, and I like the fills you do between the vocal lines.
Originality/Memorability: A
The genuine emotion in this song really sets it apart. Although I didn't initially think I'd like this country-style story song, it keeps growing on me. The production goes beyond the average folky tune, which makes me want to listen again.

Godz Poodlz - It's a Great Day at BigMart® Today

Composition: A
There are a lot of good things going on compositionally. This is definitely going to get stuck in my head. Great melodic phrasing, and catchy vocal riffs. My challenge to you in future songs is to try changing chords in the middle of measures occasionally rather than always on beat one.
Production/Arrangement: A-
I like the energetic beat going on in the background. The mix is solid. I wonder if the vocals would mesh slightly better with the beat if they had more reverb. Nice SFX.
Lyrics/Narrative: A+
These lyrics are really clever. "Made in China, destroyed right here" - love it. Excellent job of making a political statement in a funny and appealing way.
Performance: B+
Your vocals work well for this song. I really like the slidey-ness to them, especially on the phrases like "corporate mascot," "business is exploding," etc. Your voice is great during the chorus. The only things I didn't dig were the "Hello"s during the chorus. They're slightly annoying. But I suppose that represents the slightly annoying Wal…ahem…BigMart® greeter.
Originality/Memorability: A
This song conjures up such a funny image of someone going crazy in a superstore. I seriously hope you make a music video. Super slo-mo footage of utter destruction with giant bouncy balls everywhere.

Felix Frost - Leaving Lyman's Liquor Store

Composition: A
So many of the regular songwriting rules have been thrown out the window in making this song. But that's what makes this song cool! Like a scene change in a film, each section has its own unique compositional style. They all flow together really nicely, though. The vocal melodies are very unusual and the rhythms are unpredictable, but again, they work well in every mini "scene."
Production/Arrangement: A+
Had this song been done with just an acoustic guitar, it would make almost no sense. The arrangement of all these synths is perfect for creating this strange world, and the mix is really solid.
Lyrics/Narrative: A-
Where did this story come from? It seems just about as off the wall as the music. The lyrics are all matter-of-fact, but written very poetically. My favorite line is "Bandit of the sand land sun band." My only complaint is that it's a bit of an unsatisfying end to the story. I guess I'll have to wait for the sequel.
Performance: B
The vocal performance is fairly emotionless, but that seems to fit the style of the rest of the song. Pitch-wise everything sounds good.
Originality/Memorability: A
This song feels like it was created in an alien world, with a whole different set of songwriting rules. That hooked me in on the first listen. The production sets it apart from anything else in this round. I'm curious to hear about how you compose, Felix.

EvelBist - The Beginning Of The End

Composition: A-
I like the melodies and the chords in this song. It's a nice build up to the super high "sadness" and "fear" notes. You use space really well. I'm glad you weren't tempted to fill these spaces in with something else.
Production/Arrangement: A-
The vocals really sound like they're straight from the 60s. Curious to hear what you did to them. I bet you plugged the acoustic guitar straight into your mixer. I would say use an external mic on an acoustic guitar if you can. It will sound much more natural. Only one other qualm with the production - there's a buzz in the right ear during the guitar solo.
Lyrics/Narrative: B
The lyrics are simple, but poetic. I really like the line "In the basement of my memory, I recall time seemed so small."
Performance: A
Your song reminds me of later John Lennon stuff. I like that you really get into the lyrics wholeheartedly, especially the high notes. I love the ornamental sliding you sing on "moved." The backing band sounds great. Nice guitar solo.
Originality/Memorability: B
This one doesn't strike me as being super original, but the vocal performance and well-crafted melodies will be worth multiple listens.

Jailhouse Payback - Escalator

Composition: B+
The song flows really nicely. Great chord progressions and smooth transitions between sections. The verse lyrics feel just a little bit slow and plodding for the groove you have going. But the chorus melodies make up for it. Nice harmonies there, too.
Production/Arrangement: A
I really love the mellow backing instruments. One of the few songs to have real drums, which is refreshing to hear. Whatever delay/reverb effect you have on the electric guitar sounds great.
Lyrics/Narrative: C+
The lyrics aren't super poetic, but I actually like that they're an understated description of the day. I pictured myself on the escalator at my work waving goodbye to everyone for the last time. A great feeling!
Performance: A-
Your vocals aren't particularly expressive or unique, but you're always on pitch, and they fit in well with the rest of the band. The instrumental lines are all solid.
Originality/Memorability: A-
The instrumental outro might actually be my favorite part of this entire round of SpinTunes. I love the guitar, bass, and drum groove you have going. Perfect production, great counter rhythms between the guitar and drums, and there's an awesome dynamic swell in the guitar and bass that hooked me in.

Jeremy Lambright - Empty Spaces

Composition: A-
You use some unique chords. I enjoy the transition from the verse to the chorus. And I like all the background instrumental goodies going on in the song. Nice build towards the end of the song.
Production/Arrangement: B
The instruments sound great. Really smooth during the chorus. I love the guitar sound that comes in at 2:30. I wonder why the vocals are so far in the background. That detracted from the song for me. Even if you're not 100% confident in your vocals, you've got to be confident with them in the mix and people will believe in them. They sound awesome to me, especially the scooping up during the chorus.
Lyrics/Narrative: B
The lyrics are slightly generic, but they're pretty heartbreaking, and they really add to the melancholy of the song.
Performance: B+
Like I said, I enjoyed your voice, and would have liked to hear it more present in the mix. The instrumental performances were right on.
Originality/Memorability: A-
It's a pretty unique song, and although it's a little repetitive, I'll keep listening to this one.

Army Defense - You're Not Paid

Composition: B+
There's nothing super complex about the chords or melody in the first half of the song, but the simplicity is what gives it charm. I like the syncopation in the vocals, so they're constantly pushing the beat, giving these seemingly simple vocal lines their momentum. The highlight for me is the "long ride home" section - good call keeping those chords a secret until that moment. I also like the outro section. I just wish the transition section was something other than silence. Maybe it would be more effective if the silence happened right as the vocals ended with "home."
Production/Arrangement: A
The mix is really smooth on this one. Great electric guitar sound. The bass/guitar combo is nice adds a nice weight to the song. I like the slapback echo on the vocals, but my one suggestion would be to try timing it to the tempo of the song (based on the tempo, I'd say around 155 milliseconds if you have the option). It's a subtle way to reinforce the beat.
Lyrics/Narrative: A-
The repetitive phrase is a nice hook. Reminds me of "Numb" by U2 (a compliment!). I really like how you turn it around at the end to say simply "you're not paid anymore." Simple, but cleverly done.
Performance: B-
The vocals are a little wavery on some pitches, but it actually doesn't bother me much in the grand scheme of the song. I think the slapback echo actually helps smooth over the out-of-tune notes. The instrumental performances are all solid.
Originality/Memorability: B
This one will probably be stuck in my head for a while. It stood out on the first listen as having a nice sound, and although it's not breaking new musical ground, it's one I'd want to listen to again.

The Boffo Yux Dudes - The Ballad Of JJR

Composition: A
I really like the chord progressions throughout the song. It's especially a nice twist from minor to major during the transition to the chorus. And the chorus is really well-written. Love the chord change under "can't be fired."
Production/Arrangement: B
The mix sounds pretty good. It would have been nice to have live drums, but these sample drums work okay under the circumstances. The guitars and organ fill out the soundscape nicely. The vocals could use some work I think. As long as you have multiple voices, why not pan them out a bit? Also, it sounds like the high frequencies in your vocals are being EQed out. I think I'd like to hear them back in, unless you're going for an old tape sound. I'm also not sure if the distortion on the vocals was intentional, so that's probably a sign that you should either eliminate this distortion or go off the deep end with it.
Lyrics/Narrative: A-
It's a solid ballad, with a nice arc to the story. I like your chorus lyrics.
Performance: B-
My only qualm with the performance is that it's rhythmically pretty stiff. The beat is rigid, and the vocals don't escape this rigidity during the verse. The chorus loosens up nicely. The Johnny Cash-type voices work for this song.
Originality/Memorability: B+
The chorus is the highlight of this song for me. I'm not big into political satire music, but I do appreciate that someone's making a song out of the Supreme Court.

RC - Goodbye Everybody

Composition: A
The chorus is easily the strongest part of the song. Sounds like some of the best stuff I heard on the radio in the 90s. Sweet harmonies, chords and rhythms in the chorus. The "anytime at all" section is a nice tag onto the end of the already great chorus. The chord change under "inbox" was intriguing, but changing back to the original tonic chord almost immediately seemed to undermine its coolness.
Production/Arrangement: A-
You're really talented at adding in fills to complement your vocal lines, both with backing vocals and with the lead guitar. This production is one of the best in the round. My only suggestion would be to change up the production to complement the dark twist in the lyrics.
Lyrics/Narrative: C+
In a song challenge about the last day at work, there were bound to be a bunch of songs about being fired and getting revenge. This one has a potentially funny story behind it, but the lyrics are a little too generic to set it apart from the crowd, in my opinion.
Performance: B
Instrumentally, the song is flawless. Really tight performances. My only disappointment is that the vocals sound held back, as if the vocalist is choking on his tongue (sorry if that sounds harsh). It's mostly noticeable on the "e"s and "i"s. Maybe that's the vocal style you're going for, but for me it kind of holds the song back as a whole and feels like the emotions are held back, too. As an experiment, next time you're recording, try singing in totally different voices, with totally unique expressions and mouth shapes. Your voice definitely has the potential to sound awesome, with just a little tweaking and toying around with it.
Originality/Memorability: B-
There are definitely a ton of little hooks throughout the song. It might be nice to get a little electric guitar hook in for the very start of the song, since the beginning of the song didn't stand out to me.

Edric Haleen - The Death Of A Meme

Composition: A-
The start of this song is really excellent. Great melodic phrasing and use of space. The single piano note after "peace" and "prayers" is a really effective punctuation. Great dynamic evolution. My only criticism is that the melody is a little too meandering during the loud section of the song to get stuck in my head. Also, maybe it's harder to get hooked by vocals that are rhythmically free flowing like these.
Production/Arrangement: B+
Other instruments could have helped support the transition into the loud section. But aside from that, this piano and vocal mix sounds great.
Lyrics/Narrative: C
The lyrics are fairly epic (luckily the performance matches them), but they don't really hit home to me. It feels a little like a section of a musical out of context from the rest of the story.
Performance: A
Both the piano performance and vocal performance are spot on. Very expressive vocals!
Originality/Memorability: B-
It's definitely a unique song within this round of SpinTunes. I don't hear a catchy hook in the song, but the dynamic structure and epic performance are the highlights.

Ménage a Tune - Crowning Glory

Composition: A-
This song has some of the most interesting chord progressions of the round. I like the surprising turn under "glory." The melodies are well-constructed. I like the modal guitar intro. My only compositional critique is that the rhythmic phrasing gets kind of predictable by the end of the song.
Production/Arrangement: B-
The heavy reverb is effective in setting this in an epic space. But the synthetic and short thud of the kick drum clashes with that a bit. I think I'd rather hear a more booming, echoey drum sound, along the lines of a timpani. Also, the fact that the vocal rhythms follow this kick drum beat makes the song feel slower than it actually is. The piano helps with some counter rhythms, but even more rhythmic interest would help.
Lyrics/Narrative: C+
The lyrics are equally epic and fit the mood of the song. I have no empathy towards this Egyptian emperor, or whoever is narrating, but I guess that's not really the point of the lyrics. The lyrics at the very beginning are the most poetic part of the song.
Performance: B-
I think my favorite part of the performance is the free-flowing guitar at the beginning. I kind of wish the vocals could have some of this less-rigid flavor. The vocals are actually pretty good, and I do like the change in singers throughout. The harmonies at the very end are nice.
Originality/Memorability: A-
This is a pretty original style. Renaissance meets ancient Egyptian? I can't decide what I would even call this genre. Whatever it is, you've created something that I'm sure will take listeners to another world and another era.

Wait What - Middle Management

Composition: B
I really like the melody in the chorus. Simple but effective. Structurally the song works well. My only suggestion would be to do something more creative with the gap between "chihuahua with gas" and "middle management."
Production/Arrangement: B-
The song is really laid back for how angry the lyrics are. But it's kind of a nice contrast. I really like the slide guitar. The synth violin is a little goofy in the mix, but then again it's kind of a goofy song. The drums and acoustic guitars are pretty far in the background. A little compression and reverb on individual tracks would make things sound more professional. But then again "professional" doesn't seem to be something this character would be aiming for.
Lyrics/Narrative: A-
They're disgusting lyrics, but they're vivid and funny. You've created an interesting character here.
Performance: C
The laid back vocal performance works for the song, but I think it could have just a tad more confidence, especially considering the lyrics. Same with the electric guitar. The notes are all there, it just feels a little hesitant.
Originality/Memorability: A-
Yes, I will remember certain parts of this song, whether I want to or not. It made me laugh. I think it's a refreshing song, and the descriptive lyrics make it one best "angry at the office" songs of the round.

"BucketHat" Bobby - On The Pogey

Composition: B+
The song has nice melodic phrasing, and the "on the pogey" section is pretty catchy.
Production/Arrangement: D+
The single piano note bassline is pretty uninspired, and there are some timing issues between that and the drum track. Also, I think you'd be better off with a shorter reverb decay time, so it sounds more like it's in a bar rather than a cathedral. This style is really calling for some natural instruments rather than just synths.
Lyrics/Narrative: A
I enjoyed the wordplay in this one. My favorite line is "personally, I'd rather be here sittin' on my arse." You've created some entertaining characters here.
Performance: B-
There's just a slight feeling like the vocals are held back a bit to keep them under control. I say let it loose in a song like this. The lead vocals and the backing vocal responses are the highlight of this performance.
Originality/Memorability: B
I could definitely hear this sung down at a pub. I've never heard the term "pogey" before, so I guess I learned something from this song, too.

Mariah Mercedes - Ending(eternal)

Composition: C+
I really like the creative chord progression in the verses - takes some unexpected twists. I wish that the melody was equally unpredictable in this section ("remember the times that spent together"), but it changes notes on beat one along with the chords pretty rigidly. On the plus side, I like that the melody in this section forms a nice long rising phrase. As a whole, I think the musical structure is a bit meandering, but there are definitely some strong and unique sections.
Production/Arrangement: B+
The production is simple, but it works for the song. The vocals and guitar are mixed really nicely.
Lyrics/Narrative: C
The "my sons and their sons and their sons" line combined with "battles and victories" for some reason made me think this is an American revolutionary war veteran. I'm guessing that's not the real story behind this song, since they're calling up their neighbors the line before. The lyrics didn't quite pull me into the story, and the line about dying at the end was a little surprising.
Performance: A+
The lyrics didn't draw me in, but the performance sure did. This is one of the best vocal performances I've heard in SpinTunes yet. Pitch-perfect and super expressive, especially on the "God I feel so weak" line. Congratulations!
Originality/Memorability: C+
I would listen to this song again just to figure out what chords you did on guitar in the verses. That's the most memorable part of the song for me. An additional, unique instrument could have helped set this song apart from the average acoustic guitar and vocals song.

Governing Dynamics - Swing Shift

Composition: B
The chord progressions aren't super original, but they flow through the song smoothly. My favorite part melodically and rhythmically is the "alarming incisions" - that's a nice surprise set up well by repeating the same melody three times before. I like the harmonies in the breakdown section, and I think I'd like to hear more of those interesting harmonies throughout the song.
Production/Arrangement: B+
This song really needs de-essing on the vocals. I'm guessing the highs were cranked with EQ? If you can find a compressor preset that says de-esser, that would help control the sibilant hisses by ducking down the level every time these high frequencies happen in the vocals. Aside from that, the song is pretty quality production-wise. Whatever mix of distortion and reverb you have on the vocals during "I've got answers" sounds really cool. Maybe it's just the way you sung it there, but I think that sound would be awesome to hear throughout the song.
Lyrics/Narrative: C-
The lyrics didn't really draw me in as I listened, aside from the line "I hope you never stay in touch." I was curious who the narrator was talking to. I think the lyrics would be more compelling for me if there was a specific target for the narrator's hatred rather than just the vague description of an 8 to 5 job.
Performance: A-
Great performance here. Guitars are all well played, and the vocals are expressive. I like the switch in vocal styles from the heavy sections to the quieter section.
Originality/Memorability: C-
It is a well-done song, but the solid performance and performance aren't enough to get me listening again. You obviously have guitar skills, and I think you could use those to your advantage by weaving catchy instrumental hooks into your verses and choruses. I'd rather hear those in the background than just the standard punk rock backing chords.

Heather Miller - Not Gonna Miss Your Face

Composition: B+
Your phrasing is nice. I like the use of space in your melodies. The structure is pretty unique, but it works. The only weak point in the structure is the transition from the bridge back into the verse/chorus. I wish you had tried out something other than just strumming the single note there.
Production/Arrangement: C
I'm glad you threw reverb on this track, because otherwise it would sound like it was done with a webcam mic. I still think the poor mic quality is a hindrance to the song. The guitar arrangement isn't super inspired, but it works okay in the song.
Lyrics/Narrative: B+
I especially like the characterization of the boss. The repeating lyric "Not gonna miss your face," grounds the song well. I like the devilish twist you alluded to at the end.
Performance: C-
The vocals are somewhat pitchy and shaky. I wonder what this would sound like sped up a bit.
Originality/Memorability: B-
This song is among a bunch of office revenge tunes this round, but its descriptive story helps set it apart.

Glen Raphael - Naked

Composition: B
The chord progressions and vocal phrasing flow pretty naturally. I like the wide range of notes you use for your melodies. It would have been nice to hear the song go somewhere other than the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure.
Production/Arrangement: C-
The guitar seems to have some strange compression/limiter/gate effect on it that makes it suddenly get quiet when you hit a loud note (look at the waveform at 53.5 seconds). Did you cut out some of the lows in your voice with EQ? I feel like it could use a little more bass in your voice. If you sing closer to the mic, this would help give you a bass boost.
Lyrics/Narrative: B
These are some thoughtful, wistful lyrics. I like the line "What you see is only a look that somebody chose."
Performance: B-
The guitar is a little rhythmically sloppy. The vocal performance is nice. You've got a good voice - I'd like to hear it with a little better microphone.
Originality/Memorability: B-
This one didn't stand out initially, but it grew on me. I think with an arrangement beyond just acoustic guitar strumming this one would have more potential.

Rats Of The Sky - Two Weeks Notice

Composition: C+
I like the backing music during the chorus. The song has a good groove throughout. I like the rhythmic phrasing of the vocals during the beginning of the chorus. Other sections seem a little predictable rhythmically. It'd be nice to hear more of those stuttery, off-beat-style rhythms from the chorus elsewhere.
Production/Arrangement: B+
The beat and sixteenth note synth sound great. The bass sounds a little too clean to me. Maybe it would mesh with the beat better if it sounded more "synthy" and less like a real electric bass. Also, the bass sound you chose decays in volume pretty fast, whereas a more synthy bass would hold the intensity until you release the note.
Lyrics/Narrative: C-
I think the song would be more effective if it focused on one person and wasn't split between two characters. I think the girl's story in the second verse was off to a good start. But neither story really goes anywhere, and the chorus is kind of generic lyrically.
Performance: A-
It takes guts to rap and get into it, so I commend you on not holding back. You have a consistent rap style, and I think with some lyrics that are a little more personal and emotional your rapping would be really effective.
Originality/Memorability: C-
As much as the chorus works within the rap, it didn't really hook me enough to want to listen again.

Caravan Ray - The Beginning Of The End

Composition: B+
For being an immature punk song, this song is musically pretty clever. The chorus has a super catchy melody. Usually you don't hear the main hook until partway into a song, but I think as a fast and furious song it works at the beginning (lyrically too!). I like the measure of 2 instead of 4 during the "Up from here" lyrics. Nice use of the harmony "ooos" as fills between your lyrics. I like how you hold "door" over the decending bassline at the end of the first verse. Also, the space right after that leading into the chorus works well. The bridge is effective and leads into the chorus nicely. I think the verse melodies could have been more interesting rhythmically, especially around the "email jpegs of my arse crack" section. What each of these words was pushed ahead by 1/2 a beat, so they're slightly ahead of the beat? A simple but effective thing to do when you're feeling stuck with heavy-handed on-the-beat lyrics.
Production/Arrangement: B-
It sounds like a true dirty punk tune. The electric guitar really drives the song, but to me, it sounds a little annoying. Possibly because the guitar is really mono-sounding. Maybe a slight stereo reverb or slapback echo on the guitar would help glue the song together sonically. I always think double-tracking the guitar part and panning the two right and left is an awesome effect that helps fill in the stereo soundscape.
Lyrics/Narrative: C+
While I like the chorus musically, the lyrics don't add much to the song in my opinion. The meat of the story is really in the verses, which I enjoyed. My favorite lyrical part comes in the bridge, when we find out our protagonist is an internet rock star.
Performance: C
The vocals feel slightly forced, like you're not 100% into character as this guy. And there are a couple out of tune spots, but that's part of the style I suppose. Other than that, I can't argue with it being a good performance for a punk song.
Memorability/Originality: D+
I do enjoy punk, but unfortunately this isn't a song that I would think to listen to again. It's catchy, but not super original. The most original part is probably the lyrical imagery I'd rather get out of my head. I hope I can drink out of a coffee cup again.

The Chocolate Chips - My Own Boss

Composition: C
There's nothing groundbreaking about the chords in this song, but the melodies are pretty catchy. I like the laid-back tempo, but rhythmically the song is kind of boring during the first verse. The song as a whole kind of meanders without a clear musical direction.
Production/Arrangment: B
This song has a nice mix of acoustic and synth sounds. Reminds me of a lighter Flaming Lips. I also like the effects on your voice, even though it sounds slightly insect-like.
Lyrics/Narrative: D+
The lyrics are so sparse, and not very interesting. I do like the fax machine line. Why is that on this narrator's list of things he hates? Delve into the story more!
Performance: C+
The note you hit on the word "love" always kind of bugs me - I can't tell what note you're aiming for, so it clashes with the chords underneath. But other than that I like your voice. Your vocals sound slightly blocky, since they land on the downbeats pretty religiously. But that also kind of helps make it a peaceful, simple song.
Originality/Memorability: B
Everything about this song is really peaceful. I feel like I'm floating on a relaxing cloud of unemployment.

Alex Boyd - The Bastard Had It Coming

Composition: C+
I like the chords during the chorus, particularly the change under "bastard." The melodies sometimes feel like they hover around single notes for too long, especially during the bridge. There are some catchy segments throughout the song though. I like the "he had it coming" melody right after the chorus.
Production/Arrangement: C+
Sounds like a one mic, one track, mono performance. I can't fault you for choosing that. But if you're going to do that, try and find a room as echo-free as possible, and get the mic as close to yourself as possible. It'll help make the song sound slightly more professional than the average youtube video. The ukelele arrangement is nice, and the switch to straight eighth notes is a nice change of pace during the "everybody knows" section of the chorus.
Lyrics/Narrative: C-
The lyrics are the weak point in the song to me. Many of the rhymed words feel forced (especially "strife" and "disgrace"). In a slew of songs about office revenge, this one's lyrics don't help set it apart.
Performance: B
Part of your performance suffers from trying to fit a ton of lyrics in a space where they don't fit completely. The vocals are a little iffy pitch-wise sometimes. But other than that, the performance drew me in. The ukelele playing gives the song a nice forward momentum.
Originality/Memorability: C
The end of the chorus is definitely the hook of the song - you titled your song well! I'm not sure this particular recording will keep me coming back for more, but I bet your music is fun to hear in a live setting.

Milton - Today's The Day

Composition: C-
My overall impression is that the song meanders too much. The chorus is decently catchy though. The harmonies there are well written. The second verse repeats the same notes over and over again a few too many times, to my ear.
Production/Arrangement: C+
I like the beat and synths in the song. The vocals could use compression and limiting, to even out their levels and prevent them from clipping (like they do at 3:20).
Lyrics/Narrative: B-
I'd be okay with never hearing "life" rhymed with "strife" again. But I do like the following line about numbers on a flattened tree. You did a good job of putting things in perspective with your lyrics.
Performance: C
Your voice could use some practice. There's definitely potential in your voice to sound awesome, and you can sing on pitch. I think it's just a matter of being confident and trying out a few different vocal styles (which you already do in this song).
Originality/Memorability: C+
I think you definitely have a likable style going here. Do you listen to the band Cloud Cult? Your song reminds me a lot of them. Personally I'm not into that style, but I'm sure the Cloud Cult crowd would dig your music once you've honed your production and performance skills.

Hudson And Day - It Worked out

Composition: D+
This one really wanders, without really going anywhere. That's in part because the background track seems aimless. I think in this case a more distinct verse-chorus arrangement could have helped out.
Production/Arrangement: B
The production actually sounds like something that could have been on the radio in the 90s. The synths are a little cheesy, but they work with your diva voices. Why is there a fade out while the lead vocals are still finishing a thought?
Lyrics/Narrative: D+
I like the "just kidding" line. But other than that, the lyrics didn't really stand out to me.
Performance: B+
The vocals are the highlight of this song. You really have beautiful voices, and this shows them off. I just would like to hear you singing lyrics with a little more substance.
Originality/Memorability: C-
Although the dual female vocals sound awesome, there's not one particular hook that would bring me back for another listen.

Trader Jack - Last Day

Composition: C
You're good at writing catchy melodies. That main melody will probably pop into my head whenever I hear someone say "It's my last day." I like the instrumental section right before "WHAT?"
Production/Arrangement: B-
I'm curious what the horse hooves and neighing have to do with the rest of the song. Is it a horse singing the song? I like the synths throughout the song. To my ear, the vocals had too many of the high frequencies filtered out, either through EQing or through a cheap microphone. I think brighter vocals would fit with your synth sounds a little better.
Lyrics/Narrative: D
The lyrics don't really do much for the song. I like the "working smile" reference, and I wish there were more lyrics along those lines.
Performance: C
You do sound excited, but it also sounds like you're trying to sing this under your breath in your cubicle. Don't be afraid to belt out the lyrics!
Originality/Memorability: B-
The song is pretty different and catchy. I'm not sure I'd listen to it later though. The lyrics aren't doing anything for me aside from getting stuck in my head.

Gorbzilla - The Last Last Day

Composition: B-
I like the main guitar and vocal riff. That's gotten stuck in my head already. Maybe it would be better to use it a little more sparingly though, so you don't water down its awesomeness. I like the chords you use to end the chorus.
Production: D
There are a couple things about the production that distract me from the song. It sounds like you recorded just the internal guitar pickup from your guitar. If you can throw an external mic on it, too, that would sound much more natural. You can sometime mix in the internal guitar pickup to give it a bit more definition, but I've found external mics are usually the way to go. Looking at the waveform of your track, it seems like you have a compressor or limiter on the track that's making the whole thing distort. Or maybe you're recording it too hot? As a sidenote, I've found it's generally better to put a compressor on individual tracks than on a master track.
Lyrics/Narrative: C
It's a sad story, but for some reason the lyrics didn't affect me emotionally. I think because it's kind of a generic "against the bureaucracy" protest. There's no personal side to the school, either. I'm wondering what's unique about this school or this teacher that would draw in an audience?
Performance: C+
The vocals are certainly expressive. The rock/country inflection in your voice kind of turns me off from the song though, because it sounds to me like it's not your genuine voice.
Originality/Memorability: C
The main melody is a good hook, but I'm not sure it's enough to get me to listen again

Emperor Gum - Pygmalion

Composition: C
I really like hearing the intro guitar riff when it comes back in with all the other instruments at 1:26. That's probably my favorite part of the song. The vocal melodies kind of meander, and overall I think the song needs a few more repeated sections to give it direction and focus. But there are definitely some cool riffs.
Production/Arrangement: C
There are some great sounds in here. I really like the mix of electric guitar, synth, and clarinet. The vocals seem a bit too filtered. I'd like to hear more bass in your voice.
Lyrics/Narrative: C+
I like the story. Pretty deep stuff being brought up here. And the lyrics are pretty poetic. At the same time, I also felt like some of these lyrics are better on paper than in song form. Including just a few repeated phrases would really help give guideposts to the listener.
Performance: D+
There are quite a few rhythmically sloppy sections. Your vocals are expressive, but I think they could use some warming up before you record.
Originality/Memorability: C+
This is a pretty unique approach to the challenge. Overall though, I wasn't drawn into the song enough to be fully immersed in this story. Like I mentioned, a few repeating sections would be very helpful.

David Ritter - Graveyard

Composition: C-
I think one of the main issues I have with this song is that almost every second is filled with vocals and the constant background beat, from the very start of the song. There's no time to get into the song before it hits you full blast. I think it would help if the vocal melodies didn't always start on beat one.
Production/Arrangement: D+
The EQing on this one is really distracting. I tested it on a couple audio sources, and it sounds like you took the "disco smile" technique to the extreme. I would suggest bringing the high frequencies back down and bringing up some of the mids.
Lyrics/Narrative: C-
It's an interesting story idea, but the lyrics are very straightforward statements. I do like the phone conversation though.
Performance: C
The vocals are a little pitchy throughout the song. It's always kind of risk to do an octave doubling of vocals - that makes any out of tune notes really stand out. The guitars and other instruments sound good, though.
Originality/Memorability: C
The phone conversation is the highlight for me. Pretty creative addition to the song. The pitchy vocals and extreme EQing make this song hard for me to listen to again, though.

The Orion Sound - Praying

Composition: B-
The chord progressions and melodies are pretty catchy, and the transitions from verse to chorus work well. I think you try to fit too many syllables where there isn't enough space. The piano solo is a nice change of pace.
Production/Arrangement: C-
The mix could use some work. First of all, I'm hearing a lot of distortion. Make sure to use a compressor/limiter to prevent clipping. You should also try using the stereo field - try panning the doubled vocals left and right, or put some stereo reverb or delay on the track to fill it out.
Lyrics/Narrative: F
I was listening to the song in my car, and distracted by the music and melodies, as usual. When I got home I finally read the lyrics carefully, and realized how racist they are. If your motive was to alienate your listeners, it worked. I sincerely hope it's satire, but at face value I can't justify giving these lyrics a good grade.
Performance: C
You have a good voice. You need some more practice singing fast lyrics though if you're going to fit all of them in in rhythm. The guitar and piano performances are good. The harmonies get pretty out of tune at the end of the song.
Originality/Memorability: C
It's a bizarrely offensive song, but I'll admit it's an original concept. I wouldn't expect it from this jam-y guitar sound. I don't think I'll be listening again.

Francis Wms. - Redundant Redunit


Composition: B
This is a pretty different track to judge along with the other entries. Compositionally, it's more of a minimalist sound art piece than a song. I like the subtle evolution of the beat, but I think it could have gone even further. I think there's a reason the most famous minimalist pieces last at least five minutes. I like that the voices get filtered through the entire effects machine and become instruments within this composition.
Production/Arrangement: A-
This is one of the most artfully ugly productions I've heard. There's something strangely appealing about this dirty beat that struck me from the first time I heard it. The only disappointment production-wise was that I could hear the digital artifacts in your sample at the end, which I'd guess is from YouTube's crappy encoding.
Lyrics/Narrative: B-
I liked your selection of words and the way you mixed them in. It's like an audio equivalent of splashing paint on a canvas, and it works well with this oppressive beat.
Performance: C
The energy level is pretty constant throughout. Some dynamic contrast would keep the track fresh on multiple listens.
Originality/Memorability: B
From the first time I heard it, this track stuck out at as being a totally unique to SpinTunes. The visceral groove and subtle production tricks made me want to keep listening to it. Whether or not it will stand up to the test of time remains to be seen.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Charlie;
    Appreciate the review. The only thing I'll note here is that I think you're on to something with the way the vocals are mixed, though there's actually no EQ (compression and reverb, yes, EQ, no) on them. I'm going to take further questions to the forum if anyone wants to chime in, 'cause I'm always looking for tips.

    Al of BYD

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