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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Spintunes #5 Round 1 Review: Hazen Nester


SHADOW ENTRIES

Dex01 – “Brand New Life”: Lo-fi to the nth degree isn’t necessarily a bad thing; that aesthetic works really well for the challenge. That being said, I’d love it if the song were cleaned up. A lot. The playing is incredibly loosey-goosey and the vocals are so mumble-y, I could barely understand what was being sung. As a demo, this is great. For homework, I want you to it again, and throw in a break of some sort. Doesn’t even have to be a proper bridge; a solo is sufficient enough.

Overall Rating: 7.25/10

Dr. Lyndike – “Mayan Holiday”: Holy cow, that piano is loud. Now that I have that out of the way, I can honestly say that I wasn’t impressed. In a nutshell, there wasn’t anything to old my attention. Also, at points it seemed like you tried to shoehorn a few syllables into your meter. Knowing some of your catalog, this isn’t one of your better works. Were you in competition, you’d probably be on the bubble.

Overall Rating: 6.9/10

Zoe Gray – “Say Goodbye”: Again, my interest isn’t really being held. The piano feels pretty robotic and rigid; where’s the soul? Also, the bridge didn’t really feel like a bridge to me. Instead, it was a few random synthesizer sounds that didn’t really go anywhere. I would have preferred some lyrics in there, too. One more thing, “I’m going away ‘til the day I die.” I couldn’t get over that line. If this is a star we’re talking about, its going away usually means that it has died. Buck up, though, I think that with a lot more practice, you can get that jazz lounge piano feel down and own it.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Greg Hosack – “I’m Gonna Go”: Really wish I had the lyrics to follow along with. It would really help next time when you submit your song. I absolutely can’t fault you for your ability to play guitar. Also, the melancholy mood you use is a welcome change of pace from the vengeful and the celebratory tunes I’ve heard so far. Shaker seems to be a bit loud in the mix, though. All-in-all, well done

Overall Rating: 8/10

COMPETITORS’ ENTRIES

Caravan Ray – “The Beginning of the End”: I know that SpinTunes usually draws Americans and the occasional Briton, but having a bit of Aussie cheek come in is most welcome. In terms of mood and lyrics, spot-on. My only concerns are in the mix. The highs from the drum machine’s hi-hat are almost painful and the vocals, particularly during the chorus, are a bit buried as well. Overall, home run. Oh, wait, that’s right. Australia. Successful try. 6 runs. Goal. Whatever analogue you choose.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Governing Dynamics – “Swing Shift”: Good gravy, I love it when the only issues I have are production-based. That usually means that the song itself is solid. So far, batting 1.000 for the entries proper. Anyway, some of the guitars blend into each other (particularly when there’s a solo going on), may want to run a few more filters during mastering to make sure that you can really hear the solos. All-in-all, this is the most structured song I’ve heard from GD in a long time, if not ever.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Francis Wms. – “Redundant Redunit”: Songs in which the lyrics are made up of snippets from outside dialogue can be quite interesting. In Francis’ case, I just wish I could hear them. The bass is way too overpowering and, even with the lyrics in front of me, the end result is nothing short of cacophony. If I can only understand the first and last parts of the song, there’s a problem.

Overall Rating: 4/10

RC – “Goodbye Everybody”: Given the type of music I usually listen to, I’m already digging this song’s feel. That being said, there are still a few things that seem a bit off. In particular, the bits that precede the chorus. It felt like that those were the start of the chorus in and of themselves. The shift between them and the actual choruses were a bit startling. Sill, I like it. Well done.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Mariah Mercedes – “Ending(eternal)”: First, I must say that you’ve got a beautiful voice. I find it sultry, yet angry. Pair that with your acoustic guitar and you’ve got a great sound. The song, however, seems only tangentially related to the challenge. As a result, it’ll take a few hits in the rankings. You work it really well; it’s just too ambiguously framed.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Jailhouse Payback – “Escalator”: The song wasn’t terribly produced, but it wasn’t masterfully produced either. It wasn’t insipid, but it wasn’t terribly clever either. In fact, everything about it seemed fair-to-middling. As a result, I was pretty bored listening to it and once it stopped, it was forgotten.

Overall Rating: 6.75/10

Edric Haleen – “The Death of a Meme”: Could it be finally happening? Have I heard so many Edric songs that I’m finally getting burned out on him? It’s still entertaining. It’s still showing his background in musical theatre and how he can emulate the great masters. I just don’t see it as another stellar achievement for him. Even PIXAR can produce Cars 2; I guess it was only a matter of time before Edric came up with his.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Felix Frost – “Leaving Lyman’s Liquor Store”: In a word, this song is quirky. Thankfully, I like to think that I’ve listened to enough Peter Gabriel-era Genesis to appreciate quirky works. I honestly think that you do well in this style, but I feel like the way your song is structured sounds too haphazardly constructed for it to be seen as a quality recording. Perhaps that’s a product of these sections that you cut-and-paste to arrange as you see fit.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Army Defense – “You’re Not Paid”: I’m going to be frank, your vocals are pretty pitchy and it’s not helped by the Lennon-esque reverb. Also, there was so little going into it that it seemed like there wasn’t much effort placed in making it sound like a cohesive whole. I admit that I don’t know when you submitted it, but since you’re #10, I find it unlikely that you rushed this out.

Overall Rating: 6.5/10

Alex Boyd – “The Bastard Had It Coming”: You really need to be on your game, musically speaking, if you’re going to go with minimalist production. Unfortunately, pitchy vocals can torpedo songs like this quickly. Even with the vocal weaknesses, this is still a jaunty and, dare I say, catchy little tune. If you’ve got the extra time to get it down pat, do so.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Glen Raphael – “Naked”: I’m having a difficult time formulating something to say about this song because it’s so good. It’s well constructed, it’s well executed, and it captures the nostalgic mood from the word “go.” The chorus there just seems a wee bit random from the rest of the context. It still works, but I’m thrown off for just that instant.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Milton – “Today’s the Day”: I must admit that seeing those words made me think, “Really? You submitted a cover?” Pressing play proved otherwise. Still, this is a diamond in the rough. I think that some of the instrumental parts sound incomplete and the vocals are pretty darn pitchy at times. But you made early U2 sound interesting to me and I’ve been burned out on U2 for a long time. Bravo.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Ménage a Tune – “Crowning Glory”: Collaboration has certainly improved the quality of the recording from past MaT works, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. 30 seconds of classical guitar intro is too long. Had this song been in my iPod, I would have skipped it at around the 15- to 20-second mark. The song proper, while still sounding like something from Sunday school, is able to hold my attention. In the future, now that you have the tools, let’s see something a bit more daring.

Overall Rating: 7.75/10

Rats of the Sky – “Two Weeks Notice”: I’ve heard worse hip-hop songs and I’ve heard better. The beat itself worked pretty well, but the breaks after each chorus were so empty, you could drive a caravan of trucks through it side-by-side. As for the flow, the rhythm was nothing short of bland and predictable. In the absence of melody, rhythm is key and without changing our expectations, the song remains forgettable.

Overall Rating: 6,75/10

Wait What – “Middle Management”: As much as I like the Johnny Cash feel you’re going for with this one, there’s just so much going against it that more than negates any positive feelings I get from it. The imagery you use seems to serve no other purpose than to be gratuitously shocking, the vocals are very pitchy, and the lack of any bottom end leaves this sounding hollow and empty.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Ross Durand – “I’m Lyin’”: Bravo, Ross. Your construction, as always, is fantastic, even though some of the ways you construct your verses make me feel like you’re cramming in a bit too much. Also, approaching it from the angle of being downsized is a breath of fresh air to my ears. If the verses didn’t feel crammed and if your background vocals were mixed better, I think you’d probably be at or near a perfect 10.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

“Buckethat” Bobby – “On The Pogey”: First of all, BHB, welcome back. We missed you. It’s nice to see that your knack for quirky hasn’t been dulled during your absence. I love that Irish drinking song feel about it, even though the instrumentation doesn’t lend itself to that style. To be honest, I was wondering if you would bust out your accordion right off the bat. Still, a criticism like that is only picking nits from me. For your first appearance back in the songwriting scene, you made it a good one

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Hudson and Day – “It Worked Out”: It’s really hard to discern a melody with this. Or how the choruses and verses are different in any way. It seemed to be two chords repeating ad infinitum. The instrumentation’s fine and you two can clearly sing but without discernable structure, the house collapsed.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

The Orion Sound – “Praying”: Even though you can play your instrument and sing, the mixing skills and sense of harmony needs quite a bit of work. And then, there are the lyrics. I’m not sure what to think about them. On the one hand, you present quite a few tales of how some need deliverance from their plights, but on the other, you resort to stereotypes that don’t really have much place in the contemporary world. No. Just no. Swing and a miss.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Emperor Gum – “Pygmalion”: There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on this one before it could be considered ready for prime time. Several tracks are brought out to the fore that shouldn’t be, the vocals are pitchy, and the chord structure is so awkward that I actually winced in pain hearing this. I certainly hope that you had a bad week before sitting down to pen and record this.

Overall Rating: 5/10

Jeremy Lambright – “Empty Spaces”: The instrumental work is fantastic, even though it feels incomplete at times. It’s mournful, yet light. It grabbed me in a bear hug and didn’t let me go until it finished. Make sure you bring out your vocals next time. Your voice is a bit on the airy side so you need to compensate. Still, it’s a solid entry. Nicely done.

Overall Rating: 8.75/10

David Ritter – “Graveyard”: If you could have worked in better rhymes, it probably would have made more of an impact on me. As it stands right now, there are only two things it has going for it. The first is the whole “zombie” angle. And even that’s getting a bit played out. The second was that telephone exchange, but it took so long to get there that it pretty much wasn’t worth it.

Overall Rating: 7/10

EvelBist – “The Beginning of the End”: If the sync between the tracks isn’t as it should be, it sounds sloppy. The vocals suffer the most from that part. In fact, the vocals suffer greatly in general. The singing seemed to be on the border of your range. Might want to transpose it to something you can actually sing next time around. It’s a pity that had to be the case because I like what you did lyrically.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Gorbzilla – “The Last Last Day”: I want to hear this with a full band, because this is fantastic. Also, with family in education, I can certainly relate to the subject matter. The music is perfect for a protest song and the lyrics are direct and on-point. Well done.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

The Boffo Yux Dudes – “The Ballad of JJR”: Knowing that the BYD would team up with Chris Cogott got me excited. Then I hear this and I’m completely underwhelmed. Just a political thing that’s hardly related to the challenge to begin with. And beyond the topic, there’s nothing there at all. I am disappointed.

Overall Rating: 6/10

Trader Jack – “Last Day”: What this song does, more than anything, is capture that bouncy feel of knowing that your last day at a job is here. Beyond that, there’s not a whole lot. The lyrics aren’t particularly clever and the music isn’t terribly memorable. Despite that, though, I still enjoyed it. That’s basically what matters in the end.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Godz Poodlz – “It’s a Great Day at BigMart® Today”: Not sure the techno/electronica style is the way that the Pood should have gone with this song. Even with this discrepancy, the structure is what it should be, the chord progression is great, and the lyrics are biting. It’s just that one execution thing. Perhaps I’ll grow to like that style someday. Unfortunately, it’s not today. Still, great entry.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Heather Miller – “Not Gonna Miss Your Face”: Classic chord progressions still work for a reason. On the whole, this is a great song. Just make sure before recording it, you take the time to make sure you get the patter and meter down (that “good to the last drop” line sounded awkward). Also, if you get the chance, try and record it with a proper band because I’d love to hear it. All-in-all, nice work.

Overall Rating: 9/10

The Chocolate Chips – “My Own Boss”: You might want to be careful or people might confuse you for Oasis. The instrumentation may seem a bit unsupported, but it still works without the bass. Keep in mind that the change in the rhythm from the verse (6/8) to the chorus (4/4) was incredibly abrupt. It took me a while to find the rhythm again before it started normal again. Also, that ending sounded it was cut off abruptly. Not sure you intended that. It would have been right near the top had those not been issues for me. Still, I look forward to any more you may have.

Overall Rating: 8.75/10

4 comments:

  1. Lol, one judge said that the intro was his favorite part, and now you are saying it was too long- me? I think it was just right. Gonna be hard to please judges with such different likes and dislikes!
    Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My song was very rushed --- no excuse for it, just left it for the last second! (I literally finished it 10 minutes before the deadline.) So I didn't have time to add all of the stuff I wanted to add... next time it'll be something grand!

    What I'd say about my own track:

    1. acoustic guitar is a bit sloppy. didn't have time to rerecord it.

    2. undeveloped lyrics.

    3. too repetitive.

    4. abrupt time change.

    5. decently catchy chorus (this is probably what saved me for another round... barely.)

    ~~~

    Thanks for the review (and I appreciate the Oasis reference - not sure if it's meant as a compliment or an insult, but I'll take it as a compliment!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Oasis remark is to be taken however you want to take it.

      Delete