Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

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Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Mon May 20, 2019 12:40 pm

the dog really did eat my guitar?


Yeah.. me neither.
Evil Grin has an album: https://evilgrin.bandcamp.com/
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Mon May 20, 2019 12:44 pm

Lyric thread is around about here (ish): https://songfight.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11471
Evil Grin has an album: https://evilgrin.bandcamp.com/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1Dcqs6LhwsoYS6EDGPhCCk

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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Mon May 20, 2019 2:03 pm

Thanks again for creating the review review, again.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Wed May 29, 2019 11:14 am

Songs posted. Thanks for tolerating the delay.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Wed May 29, 2019 11:21 am

First fight in nearly six months that I'm not involved with! I had a good run. Will still be listening and commenting, obvz.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Wed May 29, 2019 12:23 pm

There are issues with the Jukebox at the moment, I'm working on fixing it.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:41 am

Definite Votes
The Lowest Bitter - this is great! And really loud! I love the synths and the dissonant plucks, and the drums have a great sort of Glam Rock stomp to them. That “still alive yet” line feels a bit clunky to me but maybe makes sense given the inspiration. Better “still alive yet” than “still alive? nyet” - as usual the vocal layering is your not-so-secret weapon, this has a great build to it.

Possom Sauce - I love this one so much! It has a similar “the world’s a mess” lyrical theme to a few of the others but there’s more of an irreverent spirit to this one that totally gets me on board. I really like the gentle vocal, subtle use of harmonies (including harmonised swearing, be still my filthy heart), warm acoustic vibe and basically everything else.

Probable Votes
Cybronica - six minutes? Brave! I don’t think this totally works, I find some of the lyrics a bit on-the-nose, particularly the chorus. But it’s a wonderful showcase for your voice and the emotion that comes through on some lines - particularly “I don’t think I can scream any more” - is very powerful. Mostly I think I’ll be voting for this one because on a bunch of listens through these songs I never felt like this was too long, even though it’s one of the longest Song Fight entries I remember hearing, and that’s impressive.

Tom Skillman - there are a few things that stopped me getting fully on board with this one, I feel like the tremolo guitar is overdone a bit and makes for some awkward rhythmic moments when several parts overlap, and the high-passed vocal is a little excessive too. But I really like the rhythms and melodies of the guitar parts and the way you sing the last line of the chorus really works for me.

Possible Votes
Geech Sorensen - this is too Classic Rock for my personal tastes but a lot of it is done well, I like the lead guitar melodies on the pre-chorus and the chorus itself has good energy. It sounds like you’re going for a sort of live sound on the vocals and it just feels like everything is a bit muddy, which is maybe fine for the genre but a bit of a turn-off for me - I couldn’t really understand the lyrics while listening at all. The stop-start rhythms on the instrumental section don’t fully click with me either.

Paco del Stinko - I like the country-rock vibes in the music here a lot, great guitar work as ever and I really like the little piano flourishes. The vocal melody doesn’t really capture my attention at any point though which keeps this at lower-tier Paco for me.

Third Cat - the chorus here feels different to anything I’ve heard from you before, there’s a sort of folksy rhythm to it that is quite interesting. I really like the melodic line at the end, which I assumed was a synth but might be a heavily processed guitar. On the whole it isn’t one of my favourite TC songs, I think quite often I struggle when the lyrics are quite this stripped-down, but as usual I love that you’re always trying new things. I hope you managed to get out of that hole.

Travels With Brindle - this is charming and I can imagine getting quite into it with a bit more polish. As (presumably) a one-take recording it’s quite enjoyable, and I like the rhythmic change after the first chorus although it feels like that section goes on for a little too long. I’m not crazy about the fade-out-but-not-really-a-fade-out ending. You have a voice that is very pleasant to listen to and I hope you experiment with adding additional instrumentation at some point!

Definitely Not Votes
Evil Grin - more like Wholesome Grin. This is objectively a pretty good song, I like that you’ve properly gone for the duet route, and it has a strong melody. My only non-personal critique is that the lyrics are a bit clunky in places, especially “jealousy” / “captives free” in the second verse which really feel crammed into the line. So good work on the whole. On a personal level though, this reminds me of being a child stuck in assembly and forced to sing Christian songs every day for seven years and I cannot stand it. Sorry.

Leppakron - that band name promises a cross between Irish Traditional Folk and Insane Clown Posse to me, I’m both pleased and slightly disappointed that this doesn’t deliver on that promise. Some good moments in here but the vocal melody is a little wandering and the non-stop lead guitar that doesn’t seem to pay much attention to anything else going on in the song is a dealbreaker for me.

Not Blue Dolphins - I like the intro, with that catchy lead guitar melody, and the chorus with doubled vocals is pretty solid. I’m not sure if I’m missing something stylistically with the lead vocal in the verses but it’s a real struggle for me, the timing is so weird and the lyrics feel kinda poetic but in a way that doesn’t really transfer well to music - that “kinda drifted further from” line especially just leaves me scratching my head.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by MicahSommer » Sun Jun 02, 2019 7:13 pm

Should "Possom Sauce" be "Possum Sauce"? The latter is how it's spelled in the ID3 tag, and there's (presumably the same?) artist with two earlier SF entries.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Lunkhead » Sun Jun 02, 2019 8:59 pm

Aw, whoops. You are correct. I'll fix it when I have a chance. Might be easier for me to wait and fix it after the fight is over though or I'll have to do major surgery on the voting information.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by thirdcatmusic » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:12 am

Cyberonica - this is a nice song, I like the piano playing, and it has grown on me a bit on the second listen, but it is very very long and the minimalism of the arrangement makes the length really felt.

Evil Grin - ambitious, respect for that, but I don't like the lyrics and that puts me off quite a bit. especially the "amen" / "hallelujah" bit. the "love spreading love" part is pretty catchy though. nice. the song could be a little bit tighter overall.

Geech Sorensen - I like the music alright but the vocals aren't pulling me in. Musically there are some nice guitar bits.

Leppakron - this is a strange mix; sounds like you've got multiple lead guitars just sort of jamming on the sides. on one hand I like the experimental nature of it - reminds me of some of Syd Barrett's solo stuff - but on the other hand it's pretty distracting from the song itself.

The Lowest Bitter - I like the song and the music, the vocals could be stronger. Still; I find this pretty charming despite the (or maybe partly because) of how wobbly the vocals are. The instrumentation / mix is definitely up my alley; this is probably my favorite instrumental of the fight.

Not Blue Dolphins - Mostly pleasant song, and I like the male & female vocals together in the chorus. The mix could be brighter. Verse vocals seem a bit too loose.

Paco Del Stinko - excellent musicianship / mix as always. I'm always impressed by the stuff you're able to turn out fight after fight after fight. it always sounds so fully realized. that said; this isn't one of my favorite PDS songs. still; you're getting a vote. cool guitar leads.

Possom Sauce - I quite like this one. Probably my favorite of the fight. Really like the vocals here. Beautifully played instruments and just very tastefully put together. Also impressed at even with its short length and pretty minimal arrangement it sounds like a complete song to me. Definite vote.

Third Cat - yes that's a heavily effected guitar at the end, that's probably my favorite part of this one. I approached the writing/recording of this one much different than I normally do. it's an admittedly slight song.

Tom Skillman - I'm not sure how I feel about this one but I'm finding it a pretty interesting song to listen to so I think it's getting a vote. Might be a grower as I'm enjoying it more with each listen. I quite like the tremolo guitar.

Travels With Brindle - pretty nice for a "girl & uke" song. does feel pretty long for being only 2:48, often an issue for very minimalist songs.

votes for Tom Skillman, Possom Sauce, and Paco Del Stinko ...& maybe The Lowest Bitter.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by thelowestbitter » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:47 am

Hey, I’ve been on holiday so not had a chance to listen and review yet, will try to tonight. Just a little info about my song; as I posted in the pre-fight thread, after the (warranted) criticism of my vocals for Bend The Knee I spent two hours working on better vocal takes for Hope Against Hope, pressed save... and the program crashed. When I went to recover project, it didn’t work and so I lost all of the vocals. Annoyingly because of holiday prep/other time constraints when I went back to it next day I only had about an hour for the second pass of vocals, so while I do think they’re better than the Bend The Knee vocals they’re still ‘wobbly’ and undoubtedly worse than my first attempt. I’ll be honest though, I’m not really one for attempting a “perfect” vocal take as my voice isn’t that strong and I generally choose to embrace the imperfections rather than aiming for a flawless take of vocals that - because of the limitations of my voice and vocal range - aren’t ever going to be seen as ‘perfect’. Hopefully this doesn’t infuriate too much!

Found the topic a struggle (wanted to avoid anything too cloyingly optimistic as it’s really not my wheelhouse), but had been rereading One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich and thought that would work as a reference point. In terms of the music, I’ve just moved and my parents took the opportunity to dump some of my old things that have been clogging up their house, including an old ukulele that hadn’t been tuned in about half a decade. I already had all the synth parts but they sounded a bit too clean and upbeat for the subject matter, so I used the detuned uke for the distorted, weird sounding plucked part, and added some pickax sounds from the BBC’s free sound effects archive, to try dirty it up a little. Pretty pleased with this overall (particularly the big last chorus with the guitar and bass synth) even if lyrically it feels weak to me. That “still alive yet” line Vom pointed out is a definite case of forcing a rhyme.

Anyway, not sure I’ll make Freak Flag before the deadline but we’ll see, I’ll probably come back tonight with reviews
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Geech » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:47 pm

This is a collection of hippy dippy songs. Mostly.

Cybronica - You have guts to put a long, minimalist, slow, tender piece on SF. You have done some solid work with your lyrical layering. I feel like it would have benefitted from varying using a single vocal at times and not just harmonized vocals. As a song, it’s too long, but overall, it’s a touching piece. I like the main piano riff.

Evil Grin - I live in Berkeley, CA and we have more than enough hippy revivalists and kumbaya-enthusiasts. I am not going to attend your church picnic. I want to dig into this and be more constructive, but it’s hard with this vibe and lyrics for me. That said, I do like the grit in her voice on “hallelujah”. I want to hear more of that from you guys. Stop being nice and give me some tension.

Geech - Though I’ve been involved in a number of BSS songs by now and have released a few of my own tracks here on SF, this is the first song I have recorded and mixed entirely on my own (in modern times, with a DAW…). Lunkhead did pretty much all of that stuff before. I got so frustrated in my last take recording drums I started banging out the fills that appear in the song breakdown. I did the vocals with my only mic, an SM57. Overall, It’s got flaws, it’s muddy, my singing is not great (and it has too much reverb), I had no idea what I was doing tracking and mixing, but it was a great learning experience. It’s pretty garage rock, which I dig. And I like the fundamentals of the song, the TRex guitar hits and also the lyrics.

Leppakron - This is a sketch of a song featuring meandering singing over a collection of guitar leads. It floats away without much of my attention.

The Lowest Bitter - This reminds me of the band Beulah for some reason. Your voice is like that guy’s anyways. Some cool electronic instrumentation. I can dig your wandering vocal style, though the song's melody is sometimes hard to get a grasp of. The breakdown works and I like the way it gets back to the main part of the song. The lead guitar that comes in there is kinda misplaced. The out of tune keyboard/piano thing at the beginning and end is distracting at best. Still, I like this.

Not Blue Dolphins - See review of Evil Grin, but your performances and lyrics are better. And the song doesn’t drag. Good harmonies.

Paco - I dig the main bass line a lot. Nice instrumentation. Good clean mix. Cool changes. Nice subtle use of harmonies. I have great respect that you play all of these instruments, including the drums, and sing all the parts yourself -> and of course, the recording and the mixing. This is one of your better tunes of late.

Possum Sauce - Not my style really but better than the other folky tunes this fight, with good singing, harmonies and structure. Opening acoustic guitar reminds of “We’re gonna be friends” by the White Stripes. I like how you introduce the piano subtlety. Cool flute/pipe use. Interesting use of cursing in such a gentle tune.

Third Cat - Not your best work, but I like that you attempted a stripped down version of things with minimalist effects. I also rhymed “cope” with “hope”, who knew that would be so popular? I really like the weird melody thing at the end (what is that? keys? effected guitar)? I would like to see a whole song based on that.

Tom Skillman - I like the basic vibe. Cool instrumentation and clear sound. I like the vibrato guitar. Good use of backgrounds. Are you Paco’s cousin or something? The vibe and feel has so much in common with Paco’s stuff, except less insane sounding. (All this comparison to Paco is a complement, btw, see my above review of his song.)

Travels with Brindle - This is a good song. Good hooky melodies that work with the minimalist song structure. Did you cut this live playing and singing at once? Not even three minutes but somehow still seems too long, this is probably due to the half-time part. I like the return to the head. Is this song a fade-out? It seems like that, but somehow something went wrong there as it doesn’t really fade out.

My faves, not including my own are Paco and Tom. Cybronica, Lowest Bitter are next.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by MicahSommer » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:39 am

I've been listening to and enjoying this fight since it was posted; I wanted to write these reviews earlier but life has kept me busy. Judging from the relative paucity of reviews, I'm not the only one.

Cybronica - There's a lot to like about this one. The piano arrangement is tastefully done, it doesn't feel too long at over six minutes, and your vocals are impeccable as always. The multitracked harmonies are very well-done, especially - and this is something I find myself complaining about a lot - in that you've SYNCHRONIZED YOUR FINAL CONSONANTS! (No "hope against hope-p-p", for which I thank you!)
One might not think that a subdued, six-minute piano ballad would have some of the strongest earworms in the fight, but "And I hope… against hope" has been getting stuck in my head regularly, and the leap up to the appoggiatura on "purity" is a great melodic moment as well.
The lyrics, though, are where you lose me. On a micro level, there are some clunky lines ("feeling blue", rhyming "anymore" with "more", a few overly clinical word choices like "structures"), but on a macro level, the narrator's martyr complex as revealed in the last verse really puts me off. The switch in perspective while keeping most of the lyrics the same (which usually I'm all for - see my "What to say and how to say it" entry) result in the narrator proclaiming, essentially, "MY ideological purity is good, YOUR ideological purity is bad!" I'm not opposed to songs that argue for one stance over another, but in the absence of any specific concrete moral or political arguments here it just comes of as hypocrisy. Artful, beautifully rendered hypocrisy, yes, but still.

Evil Grin - Trading off the lead vocal works well here, and you sound good together too in the chorus, although Amanda's vocals sound a little muffled compared to Pig's nice and clear vocals, which she makes up for in her performance, although there are some odd phrasing choices like "looks of jealousy", where "of" is stretched out and "jealousy" is rushed.
The acoustic guitar suffers from the same issue I perceived in your "What to say…" entry, where what mostly comes through, at least to my ears, is the percussive strumming noise and not the actual chords being played.
Otherwise, the arrangement is nice, and the melody is good with some nice catchy moments. Lyrically, there's more I don't like than I do - the line "hope against hope" doesn't feel like it's earned its place as the title (since you proclaim "It's NOT hope against hope"), and Pig doesn't sound like he's really feeling those Amens. The line that annoys me the most is "random acts of kindness to set the captives free", which seems to suggest that systemic injustice will be overcome by people just being nice to each other. As a much less serious complaint, the appropriate response to "Can I get an amen?" is "Amen", and Amanda leaves Pig hanging until the very end.

Geech Sorensen - The lyrics are the strong suit here, not too wordy or ostentatious but not too simple either; clear about the subject matter but vague enough about the details that we can all insert our own shameful histories.
The riffs are solid but do feel derivative of something I can't quite put my finger on - maybe just a half-remembered decade or so of guitar-based rock. Riff-based songwriting is so outside my own wheelhouse that it's tough for me to evaluate it. I do like the instrumental middle section where the meter seems to shift subtly, or else the riff just doesn't resolve rhythmically the way I expect. It's a neat moment. Otherwise, musically it feels a bit by-the-numbers.
Congrats on recording, mixing and everything on your own - no mean feat. To me, the mix and production sound quite good, certainly on par with the typical Song Fight entry.

Leppakron - Vocally and lyrically, this sounds like John Lennon if he was still alive and could see how little his "give peace a chance" idealism ended up amounting to. The vocal is pretty strong and has some nice melodies, which makes the competing wandering lead guitars all the more frustrating to listen to. I don't mind if a performance feels spontaneous, but the musicians should at least be listening to each other.

The Lowest Bitter - I first heard "Scrape through today somehow" as "Strength for today somehow", which made me connect this song in my head to the hymn "Great is the Faithfulness" ("Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow / Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside"), which made for an interesting juxtaposition since the songs' respective outlooks are VERY different.
Anyway, I like this song a lot! I'm still getting used to your voice but it continues to grow on me, and the layering is very cool. It sounds to me like you use basically the same chord progression throughout the whole song but with plenty of variation in instrumentation which keeps things interesting. And I'm a sucker for the a cappella chorus where the instruments come slamming back in midday through. It's an easy trick but it's deployed to great effect here.
The pickaxe sample sounds weak and thin compared to the rest of the arrangement and I don't think has quite the effect it should - some processing of some kind could probably give it more punch. That's my only complaint about the production, as I think all the weird sounds you mix together work really well, especially given the subject matter. (I do just have to note that in drawing inspiration from Stalinist-era Soviet literature you passed up a great opportunity to reference Nadezhda Mandelstam's memoir "Hope Against Hope"...)

Not Blue Dolphins - I was on vacation with some old friends from college, and I had no ideas for a full song, so came up with a chorus and invited one friend to sing harmony with me and another to come up with lyrics and sing the verses. We completed the song in basically one evening.
The only instrument we had with us was a guitar, and without a midi controller I didn't want to sequence any fancy midi instrumentation so the stripped-down arrangement is what I came up with. I consider myself a "campfire guitarist" but I think my one-string solo is at least not unpleasant to listen to.
Basil Marie has written lots of poetry and has been singing for years but never really written a song, so I think that accounts for the unorthodox phrasing that some have pointed out. It's certainly completely different from anything I would have come up with, but I like it.

Paco Del Stinko - A nice groove starts things off and carries us through the song; the bass especially is quite engaging and catchy. The lyrics don’t do much for me, but your vocal delivery is great, especially on “How much is enuh-uh-uff”, which is one of the best hooks in the fight.
The bridge (“Is there even a point…”) doesn’t match the energy level or catchiness of the rest of the song and feels extraneous. I’d consider cutting it and keeping the song short and focused.

Possum Sauce - Is this the best song of the fight? Yes it is. The guitar playing, layered vocals, delicate piano, and whatever kind of pipe thing is happening, are all so beautiful, and the lyrics somehow are both achingly sincere and mischievously clever.
Observe the very first lines: "World's on fire, we all die (BIG PROBLEMS!!!!!) and I've broke my pencil (very small problem)." A clever little juxtaposition, but also getting at a universal truth: when everything is extremely shitty, it's easy to blow tiny inconveniences way out of proportion.
And the next line, "Love will win (awwww!), pigs will fly (oh, you were joking about the love thing then?)." You use clever rhetorical devices to pack a lot of meaning into a few lines.
The use of profanity is of course the elephant in the room, but when your first line includes the words "we all die," that should clue in the listener that this is not a children's song. To me, the profanity is warranted. The world is indeed both fucked over and fucked up (I love that you use both of these phrases, which seem superficially the same but whose meanings differ in very specific but hard-to-explain ways).
Oh, and the backing vocals in the chorus singing/chanting "HOPE. HOPE." drawing attention to the key lyrics but also serving as a cool percussive almost instrumental sound? So good.

Third Cat - I'm interested in what you do - or don't do - to your voice here; I hear a vocal tone/inflection specifically on the word "dark" that I don't think I've heard from you before. I don't know if it's a performance think or a production thing, and I don't even know how much I like it, but it's fun to hear something different.
Otherwise, the song does feel a bit slight; the melody is not particularly strong and the oddly-accented guitar playing is off-putting as it's difficult at first to tell where the beat is.

Tom Skillman - In voice, arrangement, and general attitude this reminds me of early-ish Elvis Costello, which is a good thing. I love that (gated? phased? idk) guitar line and the snare drum rolls.
The lyrics don't do much for me. There are some nice lines ("Maybe the world would be so much clearer / if you did your talking into a mirror") but more clunkers ("With such bold emotion, what you lack is charm and grace"; "There's no satisfaction in a life without real chase"), although I'm impressed you maintain not just the rhyme scheme but the rhymes themselves between verses. It helps the song feel cohesive.

Travels With Brindle - A sweet little song about growing up and coming into your own. I wish the lyrics had been posted as there were some lines I struggled to understand, especially in the slower bridge section. And I’m pretty sure you forgot the lyrics yourself at “Some day you’ll show these kids the [????????] of yourself”. Another take might have been in order, and the poor recording quality doesn’t help my difficulty getting the lyrics. But what I do hear, I like. The protagonist takes refuge from his poor social/school life in listening to his favorite music, until growing up and finding a community of their own. I imagine it’s a story a few of us here can relate to...
"you did a skillful job pulling off the sexy" - RangerDenni
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by MicahSommer » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:42 am

vowlvom wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:41 am
Not Blue Dolphins - I like the intro, with that catchy lead guitar melody, and the chorus with doubled vocals is pretty solid. I’m not sure if I’m missing something stylistically with the lead vocal in the verses but it’s a real struggle for me, the timing is so weird and the lyrics feel kinda poetic but in a way that doesn’t really transfer well to music - that “kinda drifted further from” line especially just leaves me scratching my head.
Since I didn't have anything to do with the verse vocals I can only speak so much to your issues, but I will point out that the specific line you cite continues grammatically into the next line: "Kinda drifted further from / Some kind of line, holding in sighs"
"you did a skillful job pulling off the sexy" - RangerDenni
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by vowlvom » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:54 am

MicahSommer wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:42 am
vowlvom wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:41 am
Not Blue Dolphins - I like the intro, with that catchy lead guitar melody, and the chorus with doubled vocals is pretty solid. I’m not sure if I’m missing something stylistically with the lead vocal in the verses but it’s a real struggle for me, the timing is so weird and the lyrics feel kinda poetic but in a way that doesn’t really transfer well to music - that “kinda drifted further from” line especially just leaves me scratching my head.
Since I didn't have anything to do with the verse vocals I can only speak so much to your issues, but I will point out that the specific line you cite continues grammatically into the next line: "Kinda drifted further from / Some kind of line, holding in sighs"
They do flow into each other on the page, but the way they're sung completely separates them in a way that really didn't work for me. I like the tone of your verse-singer's voice very much but the phrasing and timing is a deal breaker.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Cybronica » Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:10 pm

MicahSommer wrote:
Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:39 am
Cybronica - There's a lot to like about this one. The piano arrangement is tastefully done, it doesn't feel too long at over six minutes, and your vocals are impeccable as always. The multitracked harmonies are very well-done, especially - and this is something I find myself complaining about a lot - in that you've SYNCHRONIZED YOUR FINAL CONSONANTS! (No "hope against hope-p-p", for which I thank you!)
One might not think that a subdued, six-minute piano ballad would have some of the strongest earworms in the fight, but "And I hope… against hope" has been getting stuck in my head regularly, and the leap up to the appoggiatura on "purity" is a great melodic moment as well.
The lyrics, though, are where you lose me. On a micro level, there are some clunky lines ("feeling blue", rhyming "anymore" with "more", a few overly clinical word choices like "structures"), but on a macro level, the narrator's martyr complex as revealed in the last verse really puts me off. The switch in perspective while keeping most of the lyrics the same (which usually I'm all for - see my "What to say and how to say it" entry) result in the narrator proclaiming, essentially, "MY ideological purity is good, YOUR ideological purity is bad!" I'm not opposed to songs that argue for one stance over another, but in the absence of any specific concrete moral or political arguments here it just comes of as hypocrisy. Artful, beautifully rendered hypocrisy, yes, but still.
Thank you for your kind words! I agree, it is long, and the lyrics are a bit clunky- I did this song in about three hours the Sunday night before the due date, so to paraphrase Blaise Pascal, if I had more time I would have written you a shorter/better song (and added some drums). I'm pleased so many people have said they didn't mind the length, though! I thought for sure it would have been my downfall.

Re: the words, I feel a bit of a need to explain them, and warning: it gets political, because this song is very political. It was written in response to the sudden explosion of "heartbeat bills" that swept the southern American states. The words are a little vague because 1. I wanted it to first and foremost convey the emotions I was feeling and 2. Overtly political songs are not always well received. I wanted this song to convey how suddenly hopeless and fatigued I felt about the fight over Roe vs Wade ("I don't think I can scream anymore"), how heartless the political right acts ("You hear my words but you don't care"), and how America his the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations (and the mortality rate is even higher among minority women) ("They'll kill so many people with their pens"- referring to the legislation). The first two choruses are saying "I wish you would just listen and realize these women are trying to do what is best for themselves and their families, and they don't need you coming in and imposing your religious beliefs on the law." The "agony and pain for purity" refers to how tightly women are regulated to uphold the moral standard of abstinence. In the last chorus, the narrator is praying as she dies in childbirth, praying that her death can bring about a change. Here the "agony and pain for [your] purity" refers more literally to childbirth. She's not saying her purity is better- the purity here is the same purity in the first two verses: the purity demanded by the religious right.

tl;dr this song is very political, and not saying "my way or the highway," but "please stop you're killing people."
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by thirdcatmusic » Sun Jun 09, 2019 5:10 pm

Micah - great reviews, it really adds a lot to this place when people take the time to add such indepth reviews (and I say that as a self criticism as I know my own reviews are lacking, sometimes I find it hard to say much beyond I like it or I don't like it.) - on my vocals on this song; basically I did a lot less processing than I normally do. this is pretty raw.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:38 pm

Cyberonica - I like the sound of this song and while it does feel a bit long it definitely doesn't feel as long as it is.

Evil Grin - I'm an atheist. Still, I think I can agree with the message in this song. I disagree with whoever said that we can't make change on a personal level. In fact, I believe that's the only way that real change is possible.

Geech Sorensen - Cool enough guitar riffage. The vocal doesn't really draw me in, though.

Leppakron - I like alt.country styles of music and this seems like it was recorded at a bar (a little distant, muffled) but I'd like it a lot more if I were actually at the bar with a drink.

The Lowest Bitter - That beat is cool but it's a bit "up" in the mix for me... got a bit old after a bit. I'd love to hear your non-rushed vocals. While I don't think these are bad, I wonder how much it would change my impression of the song.

Not Blue Dolphins - Dang you sound just like Jay Farrar when your vocal comes in. Which is cool for me as I like Uncle Tupelo and his first Son Volt record. I love the sound of your two vocals together. Very much so.

Paco Del Stinko - You manage to have such a happy sounding rhythm in a lot of your songs and I have to be honest that I don't like happy sounding rhythms as much as I should. But this song works pretty damn well for me.

Possum Sauce - Oh, nice playing right from the intro. This almost sounds like it was recorded live in an intimate house concert setting. And you make me want to be at that house concert.

Third Cat - I really like your outro (from 1:30 ish on.) I think this is one of my least favorite vocals from you, but mostly because of the mix. I want either more effect or less. A stronger feeling would work for me.

Tom Skillman - Man, I really like that feeling, that rhythm and feel is great and your vocal works really well against it. I'm not sure this is in my top two or three, but it makes me feel so good it might get wedged in there.

Travels With Brindle - Single instrument and vocal arrangements generally get panned here to the point that I think there is a very real bias against them. That being said, I'd love to hear something more in this arrangement. BUT, I like your voice a lot and I think you change up the strum pattern/rhythm enough to keep it from becoming too stale. It's not an overly long song but any longer and it might feel that way. It's good to hear a vocal like this here at songfight.

Maybe it's the headspace I'm in right now, but Not Blue Dolphins and Possum Sauce are both hitting me in a good place right now. Lots of others I enjoyed as well.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Leaf » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:13 pm

My reviews today are quite loose; it's been a busy week! So, it's going to be a reaction kinda trip this time from me as I listen and share my mostly unfiltered response to the track. I'm feeling like using "track" a lot on this review session, just to feel more studio-legit. I think slang and latin are generally the go-tos for tricking yourself into being...um..legit.

Okay.


Third Cat:
The feel is good; I like the way it sits “calmly.” The bass tone is excellent.
I don't really know what to compare this to; so I won't force it.
The drop outs are effective; good choice.
I think this has lots of cool ideas for arrangement, tone and structure.
The addition of a slight swing vibe to the drums at the end; I didn't catch that the first few listens, it's unexpected with the way the groove sets up before hand. There are lots of neat rhythmic thoughts going on, and I like it. It adds to the vibe.

I “feel” like maybe some tracks could be slid around a bit to sit tighter to each other?
If this was my song, I'd start messing about with that (I get lots of latency issues I haven't resolved yet, and this is why I thought of this).. on next listen, It was really only on the bass off the top... I think. I feel like it's slightly late. Anyway, I guess my thought is that this feels like something that might be worth putting more work into and take it to another level and see if it's a good one?
I'd also re-do the vocals more until they sit with the same emotional vibe but tighter to the overall tune, and if it was not a Songfight thing, I could see that outro hanging in a lot longer to set a dreamy, thoughtful ending to it.

Overall I liked it; and I appreciated it more on further listens.


Cybronica:
I don't know if this is one person singing two parts; but if it is, good job on creating two tones that sound tight to each other but have enough uniqueness to not sound totally like the same person. I'm leaning towards it's one person; suppose I might find out.
I am most impressed when duet vocals are rhythmically tight on the entries, exits and timing of note changes, especially when a song has a more rubato feel to it.
I think you mostly achieve that; but if this was going on an album, I'd put more time into really tightening that up more.
One of my bias' is for what I call “church tone”... and to clarify, I mean my Grandmother or Mom's way of singing with clear tone and vibrato (like on “purity”) on non-secular material, usually at a family event or something.. and sometimes that tone is so super cheesy that it makes me cringe.
Of course I hear it that way because of my personal history and experience with what that tone means to me; I'm not saying my bias is valid lol... but ever so often I hear it in a way that says “right on , that makes total sense”.
Like the RHCP's mom's and aunts singing on the outro of “Under the Bridge downtown”.
So, I liked the way you used it, suits the tune and the feel and vibe.

Very emotional and I am only on the first listen! So I haven't turned my ear to the lyrics yet.
I guess my only picky thought is in reference to a concept I learned from my good buddy who goes by “thehipcola” on SF.
That's about “common space” or common room. It's not a requirement, it's a choice. Do you want the listener to be transported to a “place” when they listen to the recording? I don't know if this is something you consider in your recording... but I'm going to go on about it for a minute here.

I feel like the vocals presence is so on top of the piano that it doesn't feel like I'm in a room listening to you; I'm listening to tracks. I don't' know if it's a slight volume balance issue, or the reverb choices not matching or what..because I am NO expert in this thought, it's something I'm working on... but you know when you listen to something, and it takes you “there”? I want that for this track.

I feel like a certain room sound, that considers the placement of the listener in relation to the singers and the piano would elevate this. I not saying that as it is, it's bad or wrong or anything like that. I think this could benefit from working with the room sound (if you have those features available in your studio) to create a more intimate sound.

.. I guess the sound I would hunt for I would give me a warmer, feeling, more intimate, less sounding like it's in a PA.
That said, I could see me spending five hours screwing around trying to figure out this thought and if I can achieve it by dialing through a million reverb room presets. I might think of this in relation to a tune, but I truly don't know a lot about how you'd achieve it. (This is assuming, again, that it's not something you already considered, I get that).
I shoulda gone to school for recording cause sometimes the DIY approach can be frustrating.

So I clearly liked your track; still not consciously aware of the intent of the lyrics but the feel, music, performance and vibe are great, and I think it can also elevate with more time.

Geech Sorensen
I liked this one; I checked out a few tunes early in the week before my constant desire to keep myself super-busy had me overwhelmed with my job and cramming three gigs in there... today is recovery day! So, going at some reviews.
Listening to it again.
I still like it.

This gives me the 70's feel; and what I like the most is the feel and vibe. There is much that I would make different choices on as a musician; but it's all nit-picky stuff like guitar tone is a bit beefy in the mid-range in my opinion, and I'd try to tighten up all the parts.
Each part is played in time; but, for example on what I THINK is an Ab chord, “that answers the vocals in the verse, such as at “0:12”?
I feel like those two guitars should be exactly on each other, and they are slightly (like I bet milliseconds) consistently off.
I'd work on that with recording again, or editing the track in some way to really snap it up.

On the “and I can explain” bit, there are back up vocals I wish were louder, cause I think with more dominant back ups that part becomes more of a hook. Like at 0:41
. Yeah... I don't know if you are going “baaa bah-bah” or singing the words. I kinda think both of that, or ahhs, AND a higher back up voice would juice up that section.. louder back ups!!! lol.

There are some other performance details that I'd scrap, or work on too.. the drum break at 1:43 sounds like the drummer didn't' realize a breakdown was coming, or it's a solo that needs WAY more work.
The shaker sound that comes in part way though.. man, turn that up too, cause it creates and carries the groove in that part, I like it.

Overall I like the feel and it takes me back in time. Now, when this kind of music was new; I was probably 7 or 8 years old...but I dig the 70's pop-wave-punk sound. Enjoyable.

Evil Grin:
When this one FIRST starts I got all excited, it gave me an Eagles vibe and then to be blunt the singing turned me off right away. Female vocal comes in, nice tone. Overall the whole thing feels poorly rehearsed and performed.

So, I try to turn my attention to the lyrics, to see if the “song” at it's core is something I think works.
I just cannot hear what this has to do with “hope against hope”.
The chorus hammers home a completely different thought.
Maybe... .in the verse, where the Mom gives a thought out using that line... but this song isn't about hope against hope. It's about love and forgiveness, or at least that's what it gets me thinking about. Which is an EXCELLENT theme for a song.. but does not work for me as a songfight entry about hoping against hope.

I will say that the first two listens last week.. I kinda hated this whole thing. (And I apologize, that's a tough thing to read someone say about your song).. but I did.

I felt like it was dishonest to the intention of the title, a song written for a different purpose or audience just to get your song out there.

(This is why I try to listen at the start of the week, then SIT on that for a few days to clear my head so I can listen more objectively lol).

So I don't hate it now; but if this was on the radio its' not my genre or vibe, I'd switch it to another tune. I also don't really think you submitted a different song and tried to sneak it in... but only after digging into the verse lyrics and hearing that line that references the title... because the chorus wasn't telling me that story at all, it very strongly conveyed a different story.

That said, I might feel a lot differently about it if it was better performed. This is where one of my bias certainly comes in. Where do you draw the line between writing a song and its' merits, when you have a bias for wanting to hear things performed well?

If this was going to continue as a song idea for you all, I'd suggest first changing the title to one that, in my opinion, suits it more. ( I don't know what that is lol, but it's not Hope against hope for me).

Rehearsing it like crazy, so that the song takes on a better life.. of course that's tough to do with Songfight deadlines.. but this track needs this.

When the female vocal comes in it always feels more legit. I think it's just the reaches in the male vocal at times.. and some of the snappy delivery on some words (it sounds slightly country to me, but a bit too “on the button” that lacks the “working with my hands for a living” feeling that makes that tone work in my head. ).. that stuff isn't working for me.

The drum parts are okay, but there are fills crammed in to carry space instead of carry the song. Sometimes it sounds like the snare is out of time with the beat of the guitars. So, is that performance inexperience, not knowing the song, or is it the guitar not playing to the drummer? I don't know, it could be none of that, but it's happening. That needs to be fixed.

The tone of the singers is both good; you are lucky to have nice sounding voices; but I would be interested in hearing this song after critical listening and practice could elevate all the parts to a different territory. This has a demo quality performance on it I guess.

I would not change that intro guitar tone. It's perfect, and the acoustic sounds pretty good too. The leads that slip into the verses work real well.
I've listened to it a number of times now. A positive thought, while I clearly hear it as unfinished, not really suiting the title and performance issues... I can hear how it could be so much better and once I can get through the parts that bother me... I can hear the stuff that is good.


Paco De Stinko

Gives me the Clash feels.
I wonder if things are panned too far apart (first thought sorry lol).
Toms sound real good, snare seems distant to me. Maybe I”m just deaf in the snare frequency these days, cause I hear my stuff like that...but then when I get other people mixing my drums the can sound more “present”..
. I used to mix my drums (in stereo) from the drummer's perspective (hi hat to the left). Lately, I've been thinking about.. “well, who is listening to this, the drummer, or the audience in front? Is the drummer sitting with their back to the listener?
The bass is super solid, ties the whole thing together, it's good.
I wonder if some of the layers shouldn't all come in on the first verse? Like if the keys were introduced later to develop some dynamic layers?
Good back ups.
A very full sound; and I get lots' of late 70's and early 80's pop and new wave feels off this. Damn, your toms sound really good man, I like the tone you got on those.
Weird thing, on first listen (and coming out of the Evil grin track) I felt like the reverb was too “rich” .. wasn't going to say anything at first but as I'm on listen three now I don't notice it. So.. what was I noticing? Maybe there is a lot of stuff compressed so everything is dynamically present and even?
I feel like everyone is sitting right in front of me playing their parts so they can hear themselves, and don't feel like the band is hearing “each other”. I know it's all you, but I assume your goal is to sound like a band. Man, that run down around 1:43, I LOVE that.

I like the tones of everything, and I think this next opinion needs to be taken with a grain of salt as they say.. .cause I just think the balance of the instruments is not quite in a place where I can focus on the groove and have everything support it. It feels like I can hear everything at once so it takes a few listens to find what I'm supposed to settle into.
I'd turn the acoustic down so it's more of a pad personally. I'd try to build this around the vocals, bass guitar, then the drum pocket, and fill the rest in. Except that one run idea, such as at 1:38.. that little arpeggio stuff needs to stick out more on top, it's cool.
I'd want to experiment with different overall room reverbs on the whole band to see if there is a place the whole song shines better than the sonic space it is currently in.
Solo tone is great; I'd try to hunt for the “Dream” melody that would take it to another level and be memorable to really exploit that tone.

Overall it's pretty good and I enjoyed it.


POSSUM SAUCE:

This one makes me feel like I'm sitting in an intimate setting. For some reason, I hear it like a loft. Someone is having a “living room” concert in a loft, wood floor , and ... yeah, it's great.
I love the winds. I am not aware enough to know if that's a recorder or some other instrument, but I love the use and sound of it.
This is pretty good. Feel like you wrote something that when you sing “hope against hope” it's like.. yeah. This is what this title is about.. and I'm not totally aware of your verse lyrics yet, so well done on that.
Nice guitar playing, I wish I could play that kind of pattern, that clean, and the piano comes in perfectly answering the track but not taking over the song.
I wonder if this song is stronger without using “fucked up”? I swear constantly so it's not like it offends me, I just... feel like it comes off as a gimmick. Maybe if I knew you personally I wouldn't think that.
This one comes in strong, nice strong opening lyric, good feel and vibe.

Damn it. Two weeks I've done this.. I heard all the songs last week, VOTED already, then I do my reviews and this should have got a vote from me. Please, in your mind, add a “plus +1” to your vote total cause this is good.
I don't have a ton to critique. Like, so far, one piano note stuck out 0:49 as not the note I'd choose in that chromatic run up, (f#) , gives it a bluesy moment that I personally don't think fits. So, yeah one note that does work, but I didn't like it as a choice. Lol. .
So yeah, I should have given this a vote. I need to do reviews before I vote next time, that's lame.
GOOD.

Leppakron:
This is too loose for me. Guitar seems out of tune, lots of faded out parts in the background. It's experimental; but full of distractions. There's a country thing going on, what seems like a bunch of out of tune instruments and various ideas thrown at the track without any of them really relating to each other. I don't have much more to say about it than that. Too much going on that isn't working that I can't hear the song through it, so it's a pass for me.

The Lowest Bitter:
I had to turn it down in relation to the other tunes I'd listened to. I recall listening to this earlier in the week. It's got a bunch of ideas I like and some mixing that I don't.. .mostly the dynamic blend between all the parts doesn't keep my focus on anyone thing. I want to sit on the core groove, hear the lyrics, and be wrapped by the instrumentation. I like that it's got a 6/8 feel going on; The vocal play and layers is good. I like the melody choices of the vocals but I don't find the vocals strong in their performance. I like the thick layers of vocals at times but sometimes it seems too much.
Lot's of other neat stuff going on.
What I like about this one is that I can hear a song in it that, with more time and development, could be really strong. I feel like I'm listening to a sketch used to think out what you want the final piece to be, at least that's where I'd go with it.
I think this could benefit from the layers not always being present through out the track.
I like the drop out from the bottom groove on “3653 days in this stretch” part. I have a hard time picking up on your words though.
It's alright.

Travels With Brindel
There are tuning issues that distract me from hearing the song.
Okay, I got it now, the first 30 seconds are rough, it settles down.
First thought for me is that it's another song where I find more things I want to fix than just listening and enjoying it.
I think, with the uncertain notes, melody, slowing down part way through in a way that doesn't feel right... that this is a song that needs more time in the cooker. There is a song there, but it is rough.

I hear it like you are thinking out ideas that you aren't settled on, or parts you didn't practice enough to be comfortable with the notes you are reaching for. It settles down after the first 30 seconds, okay, Problem is, you need to nail that intro so that people are engaged in the song, not critiquing performance or choices. I think sometimes you end your phrases vocally going upwards in your melody and it makes each of those moments sound like a question... and frankly, don't we often frame hopeful words by lifting them up like a question? So, maybe what I'm thinking is... are you doing this deliberately to convey that, or is it just where your melody is going right now?
The middle part drags too much.

Yeah, I feel like all I can offer as an outside opinion is that you got lyrics, you got chords, you can sing melodies but you haven't settled on one that is memorable, and holds the ear to engage it in the song, or feel what the song is about.
It's someone sitting in a kitchen hashing out the song they are working on.
I can't get past that moment with it, but I appreciate that I hear potentials in all of it.



Not Blue Dolphins

Everything is well recorded and you got clear tones and sound.
Vocals on this one sound uncertain and the melody doesn't sound comfortable yet for the singers.
This does sound like a band in a room, I like that.
The song doesn't grab me and I don't have much more to offer on it at this time. I wish I could give it more time and listens but I'm out of time tonight.


Tom Skillman
ON my own track, things I like, things I don't. I really felt I nailed my lyrics, but they are for a limited audience. I had my credit card stolen by a co-worker when I started in on this title; so it provided some inspiration for the lyric. IF you are someone who thinks the world owns you whatever you want just cause you exist... ya. You should hate my song.


DISCLAIMER

If anyone needs a disclaimer on why I think I can just bluntly type what I think,while also knowing the reactions that such views can potentially hold... PM me!
Kidding, don't do that.

I share my perspective in case it's appreciated as validation, or as criticism. If I seem too sensitive throwing a disclaimer on the end of any review I do... well, call me cautious for other's feelings, as my goal is not to insult or harm. You don't have to value my opinion, but if you do, it is shared with that goal in mind. Thank you everyone for entering songs and making my first solo songfight in a decade entertaining.
Last edited by Leaf on Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Mon Jun 10, 2019 4:32 am

Dang, Leaf. Your "quite loose, busy week" reviews are great. Thanks much for doing them.

re: Evil Grin - We know it's not our best work. Most of the song wasn't in my range/wheel house vocally and I have a ton of other excuses. But suffice it to say I agree with most of what you said. Thanks for giving it the time it took to see there were some redeeming qualities buried in there. *evil grin*
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Cybronica » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:05 am

Leaf, I’m so impressed how in-depth your reviews go! To answer your question, the melody is double tracked vocals and the harmony is single tracked, three vocal tracks total. I’m delighted you caught the mom/grandmother/aunts singing at a family gathering vibe because that is a core part of the music education I got growing up and has had a huge influence on my music. I’m really interested by what you have to say about “creating a room”- I’m still learning with the mixing side of all this, so I’ll have to do some more experimenting and research into that. The vocals have reverb, but the piano did not- hence the discrepancy!
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Re: Would You Believe..... (Hope Against Hope Reviews)

Post by Geech » Mon Jun 10, 2019 9:10 am

You know, earlier this weekend, I thought, "bummer, I had hoped (against hope perhaps?) that there'd be more SF reviews." Now with both Micah and Leaf going off, there's a flood. Thank you both so much for taking the time to really listen, take notes and write in-depth reviews. I am going to try to step up my game in this area going forward.

Micah, I appreciate how you give the lyrics so much attention. In terms of reviews, everyone else here gives them the short shrift, except the occasional quotable line. Thank you.

Leaf, your comments on my tune are on point. The guitars being slightly off in time, I'm guessing, has to do with one being tight down strokes and another being up/down strokes in a janglier fashion. I actually like that their not right on top of each other, it gives it more of a garagey feel, and less of the sound of one dude playing all the parts. Your comment about the drummer not knowing the breakdown was coming cracks me up. The drummer was me and I surprised myself by even doing the fills. I did a bunch of drum takes, but only one like this. It was just a throw-away take for grins, the take kept rolling after I had messed something else up and I just did it spur of the moment. But then I listened back a day or two later and actually dug it. The looseness of it also contributes to the songs garagey feel. I wish I had done more takes of it, but I didn't have the time once I realized I liked the idea. In terms of the overall mix - the backgrounds could be louder, the guitar tones could be improved, I agree with them. This was my first mix on a DAW ever.
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