Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by vowlvom » Thu May 16, 2019 12:02 pm

For the record I think all the judges are doing a great job and I love the transparency and having a bunch of useful feedback. I have no objection to the judges in any competition using their own criteria, even if it's something objectively insane like that guy from Spintunes who actively punished songs for using near rhymes, but it really helps when we get some idea what those criteria are so we can adjust to them (or not, all depends on how we play the game I guess).
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by frankie big face » Thu May 16, 2019 12:55 pm

Chumpy wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 10:21 am
The last time I judged Nur Ein, I got zero satisfaction from it. Lunkhead thought I was an idiot, Glennny said I was one of the worst judges and flipped me shit for my lack of reviews, and my challenges were roundly criticized on the boards. Yay judging!
Haha. Welcome to Song Fight. Due to my general lack of being around the last 6 years, I don't know any of the judges except Niveous, but it is absolutely obvious to me that you all take this very seriously and you care a lot about the process and the way you communicate with the participants. It's hard to tell someone why you don't like their song without hurting their feelings. Which is why reviews are sometimes scarce. I personally don't think you're under any obligation to explain your rankings but I think most people appreciate the insight. I like reviews that say nice things about my songs and I sometimes like constructive criticism, but neither has ever made a difference in how I write a song so....<shrug>. :)
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by mo » Thu May 16, 2019 1:30 pm

Having been a Nur Ein judge before (waaaaaaayyy back in the day) I can only say I really appreciate all the time and effort all the judges put into this. Not only do you have a big target on your back as a judge, but you really feel it as well, so just tons of respect for being as transparent and accountable as you can. I was just looking back at a couple of the old threads from when I judged and AFAICT bitching about challenges, their descriptions/boundaries, and the interpretation thereof by contestants/judges has been a relatively constant thread in Nur Ein. I don't feel like my group of judges took a lot of flak, but there were certainly discussion between contestants and judges about how they felt we were looking at challenges, what was fair or not, etc. I think you guys are doing a more complete job than we did back then in the judging. These kinds of fights, with Titles and Challenges, can get a little hairy when people feel differently about whether the title/challenge was approached "organically" or just "shoehorned in."

I do agree with Frankie though that the Dynamics challenge could have been worded a little more specifically--on the one hand too specific a wording maybe limits the challenge too much, and you hope to be surprised by how people find creative ways to deal with the challenge. On the other hand, too open and people worry a lot about knowing where the line is instead of being able to find those creative ways to push against it. What I'm trying to say is, I get that it's a balancing act, and I know it's tough. In our Agony Sauce track, we didn't just do dynamics via the mixing/mastering verse/prechorus/chorus, but also in the arrangement. Glenn's vocal uses the dynamics of the microphone. In the guitar solo I used the guitar volume knob to change tonal dynamics; I even put in the bit on the bends while rolling up the volume knob so you could hear the gain/compression change on the same notes. And of course the fretboard noise in V3 and at the end. Glenn does a Prince-esque "whisper to scream" backing vocal leading into the last chorus. We actually tried to throw in bunches of dynamics tricks.

About PTB, Glenn and I felt pretty good about the "diss track" challenge specifically because we felt we were able to go the hip hop route, musically and skill-wise, in a relative sense (I mean, I love ya Glenn, but I'm pretty sure Jay-Z or Nas would destroy you in a battle rap beef). Our concept was that Glenn's inner battle rapper was being unleashed, such that he kind of just doesn't want to stop dissing, and ends up with himself, like he's out of control. Glenn was impressive with this too, I'm pretty sure he spit out all these lyrics in like the span of one evening while he was supposed to be doing something else. I also agree with whomever said the hype man was the best part of it (also Glenn, mostly)

Music-wise, I started out trying to do something A Tribe Called Quest-ish but basically fell prey to the diminished scale and ended up doing moodscapes of different altered dominants and diminished arpeggios, so in the end it was less ATCQ than I had hoped. We decided that we needed to change up the beat at some point in the song, or it would get just too monotonous. Fortuitously, that also gave us the chance to "pump the brakes" sonically, as it were, as well as change to a more "James Brown"-esque type of feel. Although our song is pretty much Inside NurEinBall, we felt it was pretty strong. If we plan to release it someday outside of Nur Ein though, we'd have to think about what to do lyrically.
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm

On a general note: coming into this, I understood "diss track" pretty narrowly, to the point of looking it up to see if third person would be OK or if it would have to be directed at a "you"! I was also grateful for Niveous's early clarification that rapping was not a necessary part of the challenge.

I really appreciated Chumpy articulating my issue with the lyrics in a lot of these songs--"Also, there is a difference between being angry with someone for legitimately shitty things they've done, verses petty insults designed to disrespect." There's a definite qualitative difference between genuine, heartfelt grievance and the petty ad hominem insults I was expecting. And like Spintown, I was expecting to see pointed, personal insults and not vague societal complaints.

Anyway! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to write up reviews, and a special thank you to the judges--this is so very labor intensive, and there are so many good contestants in the mix. You have a tough job and I appreciate you all being transparent about your rankings and writing reviews. Also! I apologize in advance if I sound harsh in any of these, I kind of ran out of time to go through and rephrase things. I was impressed by everyone's entries, regardless of whether I sound like it or not--the general quality of Nur Ein entries this year is amazing.

Abominominous: Nice spacious groove, I like that organ sound and the guitars sound great. However, it did kind of overstay its welcome for me... at 3:50 I thought it was about to end and was surprised to find it going on for another minute and a half after that. (But I do like the harmonized lead bit there at the end.) Nice production and performance all around. Lyrics-wise, I think the lyrics are sharp and nicely written, but I don't think I ever would have called this a diss track. I appreciate it but it didn't connect with me personally.

Agony Sauce: Congrats! One of my favorites of this round and 100% a diss track. Great flow and variation in the lyrics and rhythms, funny insults that weren't too nasty, and it was all very clever and personalized (the "where a parrot's gone" rhyme was my favorite) I actually thought more people would take this approach and I briefly considered it but didn't really trust myself not to be actually hurtful. I guess my main complaint about this song is that it's so specific--I doubt it would appeal to anyone not mentioned in it, or even to anyone after this Nur Ein round is over. But since the people mentioned in it are most of the people listening, you played to your audience and it paid off! Well produced too! I like the slower grungey choruses and the speed up and noodling at the end. (Not sure I get what the "pump the brakes" part of the chorus is supposed to actually mean, now that I'm thinking more carefully about it. Glenn telling himself to stop insulting people? But why would he do that? Anyway, it sounds natural and not shoehorned in there.)

Berkeley Social Scene: hmmm... that opening riff is straight out of "Ceremony," but fortunately this goes off into very different territory soon enough that it didn't really bother me. It kind of felt like an awkward speed to me--not quite languid enough to be a slow song and not quite fast enough to be a rocker. The "Ray Charles" verse was great and made me laugh, even though the pedantic part of my mind was like "if you cut off your ear you can still hear stuff!" But the other insults didn't feel too inspired--"you were dumb" is not really going to destroy anyone's ego, you know? I also wish the rhyme scheme were a bit more complex, there were a lot of AAAA (or nearly so) series of rhymes that felt a bit too simple. Good production--I liked those long kind of melancholy guitar leads; and nice use of the prompt as a hook.

Boffo Yux Dudes: One of the songs that actually captured the spirit of the challenge, I thought--I was really pretty entertained and pleased that you decided to go with this theme, particularly for a song due on Mother's Day. The music was poppy and fun to listen to, although it got too repetitive for me after a while, and the phrasing didn't feel very natural for some of the lyrics, like the M&M line. I did not research to see which of these are existing jokes pulled off the Internet and which were originals (like I feel I've seen the "concentrate" joke before, but I still liked it)--either way, the song made me laugh. I particularly liked the scattered digs at the son like "And she’s stupid, too/If she said she loves you" and "she gave birth to you".

Faster Jackalope: What a fucking weird song. I loved it! One of my other favorites of this round. Musically lovely, I really liked the sounds of the banjo and mandolin together. The phrasing in the verses is super awkward (which I kind of figured was a deliberate choice? No rhymes in the first verse and then the Latin medical terms in the second?) but the rhythm of "one belly bump/and keep Olive Oyl warm at night" really pleased me, and "I can't takes no more" was great. I also like that you didn't put on weird novelty voices for this song--it made it far funnier to have these lyrics sung straight. And it's definitely a diss track.

Frankie Big Face: I really like your voice, it's nice to know you're feeling better! Great catchy tune--it feels very iconic. I can see the Bowie comparison someone else mentioned. Parts of the chorus melody kind of reminded me of "The Promise" by When In Rome (in particular, that "We've come a long way baby..." part makes me think of "I'm sorry but I'm just thinking of the right words to say...")--aspects of the production probably had something to do with this too. I didn't love the actual sharpest/dullest lines for a couple of reasons (they felt mean/condescending in a way the other insult lines didn't, and instead of sounding like a double insult it just sounds to me like you're rephrasing the same insult), but I did really love the dullest/fullest/cruelest rhymes and the overall sweet arc of that verse, and the general biting but affectionate timbre of the lyrics. I like the every-other-line chorus thing at the end there too. Personally, I don't think I would really characterize this as a diss track, but it's good stuff.

Grumpy Mike: Great vocals (that deep awooo sounds really rich!); I really appreciate your performance even though I am not a fan of that Chris Cornell style of vocal. Instrumentals are also well performed and the production feels just right for the genre. I appreciated the Jerkatorium podcast discussing this, because I didn't have enough Nur Ein history under my belt to understand this, and spent quite a while trying to figure out what this song had to do with actual reigning champs Merisan. That being said, I appreciate that the lyrics apparently have a lot of specific references, but they are all worked in very naturally--nothing stuck out to me as being shoehorned in. I'm 50-50 on how much of a diss track this is--the attitude is definitely right, but the actual insults seem kind of thin on the ground; much more of it is about the challenge to the target.

IVeg (shadow): Really enjoyed the verse lyrics--I think you have a gift for vivid character studies and interesting, poetic phrasing. "She thinks she's so hot but she's not" felt overly simplistic to me, even if it's supposed to be a play on the whole winter metaphor. It also seems to be the only real diss in the lyrics--the rest just felt like description to me. Love the melody in the chorus, it was a nice use of the title and it's catchy, I think with a slicker production it could feel like a lost new wave synthpop gem. Do sleds have brakes? Actually, don't you live in Hawaii? Maybe I shouldn't be asking you. It snowed here like 3 weeks ago.

Lichen Throat (shadow): I've really been enjoying the productions you have been putting together for Nur Ein! I like the arrangement for this one, it has some nice movement and lead melodies; instrumentally, it reminds me a bit of some song off The Magnetic Fields' "Charm of the Highway Strip"--I'm thinking "When The Open Road Is Closing In" but not 100% sure if that's the one. The vocals have some good moments--"telescopic philanthropy" and the end of that verse from "Mrs. Jellyby" to "in your town" were delivered quite nicely, although there are also still a number of pitchy or off-time vocal parts elsewhere that could use some work. Good lyrics, I like that this is a fairly scathing diss track presented in an understated, 19th-century sort of way, and I'm enjoying seeing you flesh out your Bleak House concept album, even though I've never read the book.

Lucky Spoon: Sorry to see you're out--I hope you keep submitting shadow entries. I thought this song delightful and your ranking was unjust! (Although it was also probably more a reflection of how many good submissions there were this round than of yours not being up to par.) Quirky, charming, and distinctive, excellent vocal performances throughout (shoutouts to the mouth trumpet, I LOVED the mouth trumpet; the spoken word in the middle, which was delivered really cleanly; and the background wailing behind the 2nd chorus, which I'm not sure I've seen anyone mention yet but it's GREAT!) I also really enjoyed the positive message and the "diss-tracktion" pun; I thought the lyrics were well put together in general--although I would not have categorized this as a diss track either.

Mandibles: Sorry to see you guys go! And I hope you do shadow entries! I love the sound of those electric guitar arpeggios! Lots of story here, and lots of disses! The vocals aren't really up to what I would consider your usual standards, they seemed a bit pitchy and oddly restrained. I wish you'd posted the lyrics, I probably missed some stuff; but I liked some of these insults a lot, like the bit about "ask the sound guy to leave you out of the mix" and the "driving 54" part. The "psychoanalysis" and "malice is" lines felt kind of clunky, as did the syllabification verse, but i couldn't quite make those lyrics out so perhaps it was intentional there. I thought the "We clash over money..." part was really nicely written and delivered, the words just tumbled out there in a really pleasing way. The little burst of drums at the end confused me.

Max Bombast: This song is really catchy and memorable--it's been periodically stuck in my head since listening to it, and I'm not sure I can say that about anyone else's songs I heard this round, no matter how much I liked them at the time of listening. I like the singing, BUT I cannot sign on for the "P-P-P-Pow" bit, I just have this visceral dislike for it stylistically.

Merisan: Gorgeous harmonies and shimmery guitars, this was really beautifully put together and I really enjoyed listening to this. (Side note--I couldn't really figure out what it was supposed to be about as I Googled "12000 years" and ended up finding a bunch of articles about a comet crashing into the Earth.) Minor complaints: it didn't seem to go a whole lot of different places musically, and it seemed to end rather abruptly, so I'm not sure how many repeat listens it would hold up to for me, but the first however-many listens have been very enjoyable so maybe I'm just making up imaginary complaints by Future Owl. It's also not really much of a diss track to my ears. But whatever, it is lovely and dreamy, and hooray for smashing the patriarchy!

Nick Soma: All the instruments sound great, love that bass! and the funky guitars! and the percussion! (so much vibraslap!) "Listen to the rain fall..." has a wonderful melody, but I liked it more than the actual "pump the brakes" chorus. I appreciated the explanation of what the track was about as I had a bunch of half-baked theories about Charlie Sheen and Trump and Reagan. You have some wonderful-sounding turns of phrase in the lyrics, like "phlegmatic sheen," "almost anesthetized," "Show off your bling-bling, there goes a Persian king/but to me he's just a peasant" but I thought the rhymes for "brake" seemed a bit too obvious. (I say this having put the exact same "mistake" rhyme in our song too, so pot, kettle, etc; but I think repeating it so many times pushes it to the forefront.) Some good disses in here.

Rachael Layne: Great vocal performance, and I really loved the melodies in the prechorus and chorus. instrumentation sounds great, I like the little guitar licks and runs between vocal lines, there's a particular ascending bit that sounds slightly dissonant and I really dig it. Lots of disses! However, I kind of wished they were more creative; things like "you're an idiot and a loser" are insulting but not terribly specific. The "buffoon" part is controversial but I liked it! But I will admit it doesn't seem like it fits into the rest of the song stylistically. (Maybe take it out for the radio edit?)

Rain Watt: I haven't gotten a chance to finish writing up reviews of any earlier rounds, so I haven't gotten the chance to say this yet, but I wanted to tell you I have been super impressed with your songs so far and they've been favorites every time--they're just totally up my alley genre-wise; and they are catchy, thoughtfully produced and well written and performed, and feel honest and heartfelt. This is no exception. My main complaint about this song is just the thing I mentioned up at the top of the review, that I wouldn't call this a "diss track" so much as a song expressing justifiable rage. And the phrasing "I don't think that that is fine" feels slightly awkward to me, also. But in general I just really loved this song. I like the little parts where your voice feels like it's cracking from the intensity, and the lyrics from "i'm not saying that you killed someone..." to "...i hope you have no-one left" are brutal. Just keep doing what you're doing! If you are actually 23, I'm kind of mad that you're only 23 and making such ridiculously good music!

The Sunday Colors: I am also going to give you a shout-out for being right up my alley and making music I am really loving. The bareness of G&G arrangements means you don't have anywhere to hide shabby songwriting or performances; and this one sounds really good, nicely recorded and performed. I love the Mountain Goats and this is VERY Mountain Goats-y (right down to mentioning Dilaudid!) but with better singing. (Sorry, John Darnielle!) Great storytelling, harrowing and sad story told with evocative lyrics, and I love hearing the ringing out of the open strings with your intense strumming. And I like the little exhausted breath you left in there at the end. Main complaint is the same one as above, it's not quite what I'd call a diss track. I think you had my favorite lyrics this round (well, maybe a tie between yours and Agony Sauce's, but your songs don't really exist in the same universe, so I can have two favorites.)

Third Cat: I really enjoyed the specificity of your lyrics this time, and there are parts of the melody I really liked, like "leave me alone/don't even call me on the phone". Some of the other parts of the melody just wouldn't stay in my head. The vocals seem a bit too loud. As usual, I like your creative use of effects, although the production as a whole didn't grab me (might be the vocals drowning it out). I feel like it's not a diss track so much as a description of a nasty character, but there's some good vitriol in here, those last lines in particular. I just looked at your notes and saw you weren't happy with your vocal performance, but I didn't notice any issues...?

Ujn Hunter and Friends: I wish this got a bit louder and bigger--I know you can do that well, and it felt like you were holding back, or something. I'm apparently in the minority, but the prechorus where this drops back to just vocals and guitar strums didn't really work for me, vox/guitar didn't sound coordinated, but less in a devil-may-care punk rock way and more in an amateurish way. I do really like the vocals and the guitar solo, which is full of attitude. (Can I say that about a guitar solo? I will say it anyway.) So-so on the diss meter. I liked the verses more than the choruses, but the chorus is pretty catchy.

Vowl Sounds: I think VV was slightly dreading this challenge, but I guess I'm more mean-spirited than him. Or maybe just more American and willing to be rude. But I relished the process of coming up with some nasty things to say! And I loved the power pop instrumental Vom came up with and all the dynamic arrangement changes and flourishes once we got the structure settled--my favorite little touch is the triumphant synth note heading into the chorus after the "fine and empty space" break.

Also, my dumb cat wouldn't leave me alone when I was trying to record vocals for this, and I ran out of time to listen back to all my tracks before sending them over to Vom Vorton Saturday night, so I just attached three takes of the main vocal track and asked him to check for cat sounds and try to comp together the good takes. Attached for your enjoyment is an outtake he sent back, "Pump The Catnip" ft. Miss Lily Kitty. And cat tax.
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by frankie big face » Fri May 17, 2019 4:26 am

owl wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm

Frankie Big Face: I really like your voice, it's nice to know you're feeling better! Great catchy tune--it feels very iconic. I can see the Bowie comparison someone else mentioned. Parts of the chorus melody kind of reminded me of "The Promise" by When In Rome (in particular, that "We've come a long way baby..." part makes me think of "I'm sorry but I'm just thinking of the right words to say...")--aspects of the production probably had something to do with this too.
Yeah, this song has a very 80s production vibe. It wasn't intentional but once I recognized it was moving in that direction, I just went with it. I love that When In Rome song - I've covered it live many times. Wasn't thinking of it when I wrote this but I can see the comparison clearly.
owl wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm
I didn't love the actual sharpest/dullest lines for a couple of reasons (they felt mean/condescending in a way the other insult lines didn't, and instead of sounding like a double insult it just sounds to me like you're rephrasing the same insult), but I did really love the dullest/fullest/cruelest rhymes and the overall sweet arc of that verse, and the general biting but affectionate timbre of the lyrics. I like the every-other-line chorus thing at the end there too. Personally, I don't think I would really characterize this as a diss track, but it's good stuff.
No no no! The sharpest/dullest line is not the same insult - the first part says you're dumb and second part says you're boring. I was so proud of that couplet - I hate to see it misunderstood. :) But thank you for your compliments on the rest of the lyrics and song. The ending was going to be much more banal until my girlfriend told me she thought the ending was abrupt and could be improved. That resulted in the every other line chorus, which I like too - glad you caught that as a meaningful part of the arrangement.

Thank you for the thoughtful review!
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by Cybronica » Fri May 17, 2019 6:31 am

owl wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm
Mandibles: Sorry to see you guys go! And I hope you do shadow entries! I love the sound of those electric guitar arpeggios! Lots of story here, and lots of disses! The vocals aren't really up to what I would consider your usual standards... I thought the "We clash over money..." part was really nicely written and delivered, the words just tumbled out there in a really pleasing way. The little burst of drums at the end confused me.
Thank you for your kind words! I agree, the vocals and production aren’t as good as normal, and I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s because we had to scrap our original song- that loss of three days really messed with us. With competition this fierce, one off-week is all it takes to be... offed. And I’m glad you liked the bridge so much! That’s actually my favorite part. This song was a group effort for sure, but I really put a lot into the bridge, trying to emulate the sound of mumble rap without actually rapping (since they told us no bad raps lol). I don’t know how close we got, but I’m really happy with it!

And ahh!! Your kitty is so cute! I love the pump the catnip! <3 =^••^=
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by vowlvom » Fri May 17, 2019 6:39 am

I'm curious to know who your original target was... although I guess if they weren't up for a dissing then you probably can't reveal that either! But I guess you'll have twice as many reasons to diss them now ;)
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by grumpymike » Fri May 17, 2019 8:01 am

Ben's late on the editing. Here are some quick notes to hold you over. I think it's no surprise I see this as a time for people to grow and evolve, so now that we're all warmed up, I have some challenges. Take them or leave them.

Abominominous
Summary: This is well-performed and produced. It's clear you put a lot of craftsmanship into the details, and I really appreciate that.
Challenge: In a sense, I think we both suffer from the same problem - too much effort in places with marginal returns. Make a song that's under 3 minutes that has a beginning, middle, and end.

Agony Sauce
Summary: This is well-made and fun. It's unfortunate that it's only really relevant to this competition.
Challenge: While you've done 3 genres really well, I'd like to see you turn in a song that has more of your own unique signature on it. Make two songs that sound like they could be on the same album, but are still drastically different.

Berkeley Social Scene
Summary: Solid entry, but doesn't bring itself above the high bar that the intro sets.
Challenge: I'd like to hear more coherent, focused compositions. That's difficult when you have 20 people contributing. Do a G&G.

Boffo Yux Dudes
Summary: Solid entry that doesn't know how serious it wants to be.
Challenge: I get a sense that you tend to hide behind the campy aspect of your music. I'd like to hear a genuine, 100% serious effort. What does Boffo Yux feels? What does it sound like when Boffo Yux cries?

Faster Jackalope
Summary: Solid entry with nice parts and some awkward bits.
Challenge: Write a song using only one instrument, and then layer NO MORE than 4 distinct tracks on top.

Frankie Big Face
Summary: A very well-produced, catchy pop song that unfortunately sounds like many other songs. I imagine I suffer from this same problem many times.
Challenge: Make something this good with more of your unique signature on it. Follow your heart, not your ears.

Grumpy Mike
Summary: Somebody bit off more than he can chew.
Challenge: Do more vocal performances that push it.

Lucky Spoon
Summary: Perfect for what it is going for. Super catchy.
Challenge: Write the song you would would want to put on a Lucky Spoon album.

Mandibles
Summary: Solid entry that suffers from pitchy vocals and lack of refinement. This song feels a little like "we reject all of you before you reject us!" and, maybe it's not, but I have to say this isn't the first time I've noticed this.
Challenge: While I love that you tell interesting stories, write a song and then cut half of its lyrics while keeping the song length. Or put another way: less prose and more vocal sustains.

Max Bombast
Summary: Catchy a.f. I've been singing this since I heard it. You p p pumped out a hit.
Challenge: I can tell you experiment, but only within a certain range you're already very good at. My challenge to you is to make a song you think you will perform poorly - you might be surprised! Esoteric things, like starting with goofy plosives, don’t count!

Merisan
Summary: Love the delivery and harmonies. Very nice touches all-around. Nice new territory here.
Challenge: While the delivery works great in this song, you can only have so many of them. Let loose a little bit more - try to feel more comfortable being yourselves. I think maybe sprechgesang would be a good challenge to force this.

Nick Soma
Summary: Great ideas throughout. Love the instrumentation bits. Vocal delivery is too rough to look past.
Challenge: You do all sorts of cool stuff with instruments and structure, yet seem to keep trying the same thing with your vocals. Practice identifying the intonations in your voice, where the air is going through and vibrating. My challenge to you is to sing with more of your nose.

Rachel Layne
Summary: Really fun riffs, although reminiscent of other songs. Great vocal performance. Lyrics a bit clunky.
Challenge: Well, I'm not very good at writing lyrics. Lyrics are difficult. So far, I think this has been your weak suit and it holds back your vocal delivery, which is your strong suit. Try to step outside yourself and pick apart how your words are flowing.

Rain Watt
Summary: Another catchy tune with great tones and emotion. Very similar to last week's, yet different enough.
Challenge: I'm having difficulty coming up with a challenge for you, because you've got a good variety within a good sound already. How about: write a slow song and put those emotions to more effective use.

Sunday Colors
Summary: Another well-performed G&G, but not too similar to last week's like last week's was to last.
Challenge: Recording sparsely leaves a lot of space for challenge. I think you already could name some of what those would be. My special challenge to you is to add a counter-melody track.

Third Cat
Summary: I'm confused, but I also have some of this stuck in my head. It's cohesive and catchy yet somehow not.
Challenge: I get a sense that you're doing a lot of experimenting. I like that, though I think you're experimenting in strange places. Experiment with your vocal range and delivery- show us all the different beautiful sounds you can make. Make a song where you sing your lowest and highest notes.

Ujn Hunter
Summary: Well performed but lacking in composition.
Challenge: Make a song with only drums, bass, and lead guitar. I think the rhythm guitar is throwing you off and perhaps weighing you down.

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Summary: Great performances all around. Great production value. The brit-pop elements are so fun.
Challenge: You've got the singing down, but it's performed laid back, with a nonchalant vibe, without many sustains. Your challenge is to use melisma, because why the heck not.
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by Pop Machine » Fri May 17, 2019 9:06 am

owl wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm
Boffo Yux Dudes: One of the songs that actually captured the spirit of the challenge, I thought--I was really pretty entertained and pleased that you decided to go with this theme, particularly for a song due on Mother's Day. The music was poppy and fun to listen to, although it got too repetitive for me after a while, and the phrasing didn't feel very natural for some of the lyrics, like the M&M line. I did not research to see which of these are existing jokes pulled off the Internet and which were originals (like I feel I've seen the "concentrate" joke before, but I still liked it)--either way, the song made me laugh. I particularly liked the scattered digs at the son like "And she’s stupid, too/If she said she loves you" and "she gave birth to you".
Glad you caught the Mother's Day thing! I thought that was a fun coincidence as well. And you're the first review I've seen that mentions the awkward prosody, so now it can be told: We were REALLY crunched on time (partly due to aforementioned Mom's Day), and had NO lyrics (just a handful of "Yo Mama" jokes) at 2 hours before deadline, so I had to find a VERY quick way (about 20 minutes, all told) to pull together a cohesive song and to get several "Yo Mama" jokes to RHYME. Glad it kinda worked, even if the seams are showing. Thanks for the review, it kinda follows my own thoughts as well...
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by Pop Machine » Fri May 17, 2019 9:21 am

grumpymike wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 8:01 am
Boffo Yux Dudes
Summary: Solid entry that doesn't know how serious it wants to be.
Challenge: I get a sense that you tend to hide behind the campy aspect of your music. I'd like to hear a genuine, 100% serious effort. What does Boffo Yux feels? What does it sound like when Boffo Yux cries?
Tom and Scott may disagree with me here, but BYD kind of exists as a conceptual entity rather than just three guys making music, a nexus point where the campier aspects of our senses of humor meet. (At least, that's what I tell myself, since my natural proclivities are to skew darker than BYD usually goes.)

So while I like your question/challenge, I don't know if there's necessarily a "there" there: for me, if a BYD effort were to be more genuine and feeling, it would become a de facto Pop Machine thing. Of course, we have leaned a bit in that direction before, and we almost always get surprised reactions, so more is not out of the question. We do love subverting expectations, corny as we seem.

So I'm going to bring this review up when the other guys roll their eyes and go "No, you can't do an 8-minute grindcore tribute to Failure, Al!" Maybe we'll all be surprised.
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Fri May 17, 2019 9:26 am

frankie big face wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 4:26 am
owl wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm
I didn't love the actual sharpest/dullest lines for a couple of reasons (they felt mean/condescending in a way the other insult lines didn't, and instead of sounding like a double insult it just sounds to me like you're rephrasing the same insult)
No no no! The sharpest/dullest line is not the same insult - the first part says you're dumb and second part says you're boring. I was so proud of that couplet - I hate to see it misunderstood. :)
Ah, I see what you were getting at, thanks for clarifying. But I still think it seems too mean-spirited in comparison to the other parts of the lyrics.
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by frankie big face » Fri May 17, 2019 9:35 am

owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:26 am
frankie big face wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 4:26 am
owl wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 8:07 pm
I didn't love the actual sharpest/dullest lines for a couple of reasons (they felt mean/condescending in a way the other insult lines didn't, and instead of sounding like a double insult it just sounds to me like you're rephrasing the same insult)
No no no! The sharpest/dullest line is not the same insult - the first part says you're dumb and second part says you're boring. I was so proud of that couplet - I hate to see it misunderstood. :)
Ah, I see what you were getting at, thanks for clarifying. But I still think it seems too mean-spirited in comparison to the other parts of the lyrics.
It's a diss track! :D I hear you. Just think Archie and Edith or Ralph and Alice or Al and Peggy. There's love there. (and perhaps a tiny bit of domestic violence in one case)
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Fri May 17, 2019 9:43 am

Cybronica wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 6:31 am
trying to emulate the sound of mumble rap without actually rapping (since they told us no bad raps lol).
Thank you for sharing the inspiration behind the bridge, that's really interesting! I just saw a couple kind of related videos recently that were pretty fascinating.

(great moment at 5:09:
"some dudes, when they write, they take weeks and months to write those verses..."
cut to:
"GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG, GUCCI GANG")



also, I'm going to second that I want to hear who the original track was about? (Just a hint?!)
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Fri May 17, 2019 11:04 am

grumpymike wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 8:01 am
Ben's late on the editing. Here are some quick notes to hold you over. I think it's no surprise I see this as a time for people to grow and evolve, so now that we're all warmed up, I have some challenges. Take them or leave them.
Vowl Sounds
Summary: Great performances all around. Great production value. The brit-pop elements are so fun.
Challenge: You've got the singing down, but it's performed laid back, with a nonchalant vibe, without many sustains. Your challenge is to use melisma, because why the heck not.
I appreciate your thoughtfulness and the extra challenges! Although I'm not sure it's in every competitor's best interest to take you up on them ;) People may be shooting themselves in the foot with challenges like "do a G&G" or "no rhythm guitar" or, um... "make a song you think will do poorly".

That being said, I think there's coincidentally already a bit of melisma in our next tune. Nothing on the level of Christina Aguilera Sings The Star-Spangled Banner gymnastics, but maybe I'll consider that if we make it to the next round :)

(Grumpy Mike, your production and writing are too conventional! I challenge you to write a song in 17/4 at 55 bpm, and you can only use notes iii and VII of the scale in the vocals. Also, no drums or bass, you can only use a sample of Owen Wilson saying "Wow") (someone please make this as an Ohne Ruhm submission)
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Fri May 17, 2019 11:07 am

Pop Machine wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:06 am
Glad you caught the Mother's Day thing! I thought that was a fun coincidence as well. And you're the first review I've seen that mentions the awkward prosody, so now it can be told: We were REALLY crunched on time (partly due to aforementioned Mom's Day), and had NO lyrics (just a handful of "Yo Mama" jokes) at 2 hours before deadline, so I had to find a VERY quick way (about 20 minutes, all told) to pull together a cohesive song and to get several "Yo Mama" jokes to RHYME. Glad it kinda worked, even if the seams are showing. Thanks for the review, it kinda follows my own thoughts as well...
Wow, kudos on pulling it together in such a short amount of time. Did you have the music written already or was that part of your 2-hour timeframe?
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by Pop Machine » Fri May 17, 2019 11:35 am

owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:07 am
Pop Machine wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:06 am
Glad you caught the Mother's Day thing! I thought that was a fun coincidence as well. And you're the first review I've seen that mentions the awkward prosody, so now it can be told: We were REALLY crunched on time (partly due to aforementioned Mom's Day), and had NO lyrics (just a handful of "Yo Mama" jokes) at 2 hours before deadline, so I had to find a VERY quick way (about 20 minutes, all told) to pull together a cohesive song and to get several "Yo Mama" jokes to RHYME. Glad it kinda worked, even if the seams are showing. Thanks for the review, it kinda follows my own thoughts as well...
Wow, kudos on pulling it together in such a short amount of time. Did you have the music written already or was that part of your 2-hour timeframe?
Thanks! The music was done (thought the mix needed tweaking), I had pulled that together while we kicked around lyric during the week. The last two hours were write lyrics, revise, sing, mix and send. The "sing" part took a few extra minutes since I can't stop trying harmonies on EVERYTHING...
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by grumpymike » Fri May 17, 2019 11:36 am

owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:04 am
I appreciate your thoughtfulness and the extra challenges! Although I'm not sure it's in every competitor's best interest to take you up on them ;) People may be shooting themselves in the foot with challenges like "do a G&G" or "no rhythm guitar" or, um... "make a song you think will do poorly".
You make it sound like I’m being sarcastic or that these are monumental tasks or that I actually expect contestants to do them 100%! The challenges are just directional suggestions, some more concrete than others, in areas where I am observing a pattern. Patterns can be good or bad, and if you like your pattern, you can keep your pattern! A lot of criticism tends to focus on the game or doesn’t provide steps to resolution, so... maybe I come off like an arrogant jerk... but it’s because I’m invested in all of you. ❤️
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by Lucky Spoon » Fri May 17, 2019 11:53 am

owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:04 am

Grumpy Mike I challenge you to write a song in 17/4

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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Fri May 17, 2019 12:14 pm

grumpymike wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 11:36 am
You make it sound like I’m being sarcastic or that these are monumental tasks or that I actually expect contestants to do them 100%! The challenges are just directional suggestions, some more concrete than others, in areas where I am observing a pattern. Patterns can be good or bad, and if you like your pattern, you can keep your pattern! A lot of criticism tends to focus on the game or doesn’t provide steps to resolution, so... maybe I come off like an arrogant jerk... but it’s because I’m invested in all of you. ❤️
No, I think they're actually excellent suggestions to get people to think about pushing and stretching their songwriting and musicianship, and I do appreciate the thought you've put into them. I was just pointing out it might be counterproductive to follow up on some of them as part of Nur Ein if they want to stay in the game, particularly challenge to Max Bombast to "write one you think will perform poorly," which I thought was kind of funny. ETA: especially considering your diss track topic. One might think you were trying to use some psychological tricks to weed out the competition ;)
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by grumpymike » Fri May 17, 2019 12:24 pm

owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 12:14 pm
I was just pointing out it might be counterproductive to follow up on some of them as part of Nur Ein if they want to stay in the game
Ahh missed a word “you think you will perform poorly” not “you think will perform poorly (in the contest)”. I definitely could have phrased it better. Thank you for the feedback on my feedback! I am not trying to pull underhanded tactics to win. I’d rather gracefully lose around round 4-5 like I always do.

Also thanks for re-igniting Lucky Spoon’s argument about whether this song is 17/4 or not.

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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by Cybronica » Fri May 17, 2019 12:45 pm

owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:43 am
Cybronica wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 6:31 am
trying to emulate the sound of mumble rap without actually rapping (since they told us no bad raps lol).
Thank you for sharing the inspiration behind the bridge, that's really interesting! I just saw a couple kind of related videos recently that were pretty fascinating.
Ah, thank you for sharing these! I find this lyric/mumble rift really fascinating despite my lack of knowledge on the genre. My main inspiration was this video:

https://youtu.be/1lmpGxQnjqk
owl wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 9:43 am
also, I'm going to second that I want to hear who the original track was about? (Just a hint?!)
Yeah, in the interest of diplomacy, I’ve probably said too much already. They can come forward if they want. Sorry!
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Re: Nur Ein XIV Round Two "Pump The Brakes"

Post by owl » Fri May 17, 2019 12:52 pm

grumpymike wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 12:24 pm
Ahh missed a word “you think you will perform poorly” not “you think will perform poorly (in the contest)”. I definitely could have phrased it better. Thank you for the feedback on my feedback! I am not trying to pull underhanded tactics to win. I’d rather gracefully lose around round 4-5 like I always do.

Also thanks for re-igniting Lucky Spoon’s argument about whether this song is 17/4 or not.

Oh, haha. Yes, that missing couple of words makes a difference. :)

Love that main riff, very cool-- all you need to do is make a few edits and add a few Owen Wilsons in there and you'll be golden.
I think I'd count that verse riff as 17, but not sure about the rest of the song--I'll defer to the better musicians on that one. Who's on which side of your argument about it?
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