Friday, January 13, 2012

Song Fight! - A Conversation

A new Song Fight! went live this week. Time to review the latest batch from my favorite songwriting community. This fight is a pretty big one: 22 entries; and there are a lot of strong songs.

Andy Sucks vs Darrell and Company
--- snnnnnnnnnnnnnnnrrrrrrrrrrxxxx ---

I'm sorry, were you trying to do something interesting or just a bunch of insular noise? Going meta doesn't save this. Maybe you should go back to the definition of the term "conversation," because this is nothing like that.

Berkeley Social Scene | lyrics
+++ hard-panned guitars; I especially like the acoustic tones +++
+++ melody; especially the chorus +++
--- lyrics are really on the nose ---

Billy and The Psychotics | lyrics | Vote
+++ melody; love the enjambment +++
+++ dynamics +++
+++ RAWK in the chorus +++

Blue Movies | Vote
+++ groove +++
/// putting such an overt effect on the vocals is a risky gamble ... ///
+++ that I think really pays off for this tune +++
/// bring that solo UP ///

Caravan Ray | lyrics | Vote
+++ vocals harmonies +++
+++ nice hymnal reference there +++
+++ great layering +++

This could do with some more melodic variation. The harmonies and instrumental layers are fantastic, but the whole thing seems to drag. I love the snark of the coda, but it seems tacked on.

This song sounds as if you just keep finding interesting tones and effects to pile on without rhyme or reason.; very little coheres.

The Elephant Choir
+++ call and response vocals +++

I have a soft spot for murder ballads and the minimalist instrumentation makes room for the vocal harmonies. Yet, this still doesn't really engage me. Maybe it needs more passion, energy, or... I'm not sure.

FauX | lyrics
--- instrumentation, especially that high-end, 70/80's synth arpeggio ---
--- prosody is either forced or sing-songy ---
--- boring story is boring ---

--- lyrics ---
--- the story is banal, which has possibilities, but never really goes anywhere ---

This has a lot of neat elements. I love the hard-panned guitars flanking the main acoustic tone. But, their use is inconsistent and don't seem to have a purpose.

Infinity Point Buck | lyrics
--- awkward prosody ---
--- unfinished; though that may be part of the point ---

Jan Krueger | lyrics | Vote
+++ groove and tone +++
+++ vocal harmonies +++

Jim of Seattle
This is a very interesting artistic experiment: a soundtrack to a short-short story, posted here. Separately, these works are brilliant. The "story," more of a prose poem about loss and leaving and identity, is emotionally engaging without being overwrought. The music is equally so: wonderfully performed and produced.

However, they don't gel well together. Jon Eric hit upon the right idea before I did:
[R]eading words on a page and listening to an audio recording aren't analogous because the listening is temporal, but the reading is not. People read at different paces, and you'd then have the benefit of being able to tailor the music to the point in the essay it's meant to accompany.
In literary and academic circles, the name for your problem is the "chronotope." While some scholars refer to this strictly as the way a give work represents time, a more post-modern take includes the reader in this representation. Reading has a highly-variable temporal experience; music (and cinema and theatrical performances) have a much more rigid chronotope. The present dissonance detracts from this possibly wonderful work.

Long story short (too late!): I'd love to hear these performed together.

Jon Eric | lyrics
+++ drums +++
+++ great lineBut being born in this town is walking in on a conversation / The moment it turns awkward. +++

I'd like to see this story more developed, though I'm not sure where you might go. That line is fantastic and good place to stop.

Longfellow Street | Vote
+++ RAWK; love the rough edges +++
+++ pleasantly unexpected female vox +++
--- oi oi oi ---

Paco del Stinko | lyrics
+++ vocal effect +++
+++ ending +++
/// This is short and punchy, but I'd still like to see a bit more dynamism ///

Ross Durand | Vote
+++ as usual, a fantastic Guy n' Guitar tune +++
+++ lyric narrative +++

This is a perfect coffee shop, or more appropriately, campfire tune. I want sit down next to Ross and pass around a bottle of whiskey and talk about lost love.

Scott Gesser | Vote
+++ riff +++
+++ melody +++
+++ chorus +++

I have a soft spot for "anti-choruses," or choruses with no words but memorable melodies.

Seismic Toss
+++ good groove +++
/// lacks dynamism ///

Smashy Claw
/// opening reminds me of Sublime ///
--- the tinny EQ on the guitars should be used much more sparingly; when the full band comes in it's a very welcome change, but it's long overdue ///
+++ when this finally takes off, it's great : lyrics, melody, performance and production are all spot on +++
/// end seems abrupt ///

Steve Durand | lyrics | Vote
+++ great gel of lyrics and musical genre +++
+++ excellent mix +++

Suckweasel | lyrics
+++ good rock vibe +++
/// familiar guitar tones and riffs ///

I would bop along with this in the background at a bar, but there's not much here to make it stand out.

Tuners Union
/// mix is rather quiet ///
+++ once I turn it up, it's beautiful: lovely harmonies, (mostly) nice instrument tones, good melody +++
/// the snare and guitar strum on beats 2 and 4 are really hot and nearly the same tone; it slices right through the mix and becomes distracting///
/// the acoustic guitar part in general is a little hot and lacks satisfying low end. ///

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