Frankensong Challenge number one ended spectacularly. I wanted to write my own reactions to each song, which I’ve been putting off for way too long. Well, I finally finished it up! Originally I was going to give out special awards for the “best” entries, but I really don’t want to rank these songs, since I love each of them for completely different reasons. I also like that the challenge turned out to be way more collaborative than competitive between the teams. So I decided to write a little something about each person’s contribution. I also picked out my favorite moments from each track.
Bryce’s string arrangement made me think of a team of oarsmen rowing a giant galley out on the high seas. Although real-life strings would have been awesome here, the synths actually sound pretty good, and I think Bryce’s part was a perfect backdrop for the tracks to come.
Favorite moment: 1:12 - I like how the lumbering, dark beat shifts instantly to a more flowing, lighter mood. To beat the ship metaphor over your head again, it’s like the sails suddenly catch wind.
Graham’s baseline might not be the flashiest, but it gives the song a solid backbone. I like the shift to the higher-range, repeated eighth notes during the chorus. Helps propel that section even more.
Favorite moment: 0:25 - The little melodic slide up is a nice change of pace from the first bass section.
Bram’s electric guitar part adds a rhythm to the song I wasn’t expecting, but it definitely gives the song a lot of life and a little funkiness to it. I’m going to have to listen to some more of Bram’s stuff now.
Joe took on what I would consider the hardest job of the team. He wrote the lyrics, sang them, and also came up with three great drum parts! Lyrically and vocally it paints a great picture. One critique I might add - I would have liked to hear a little more variety in Joe’s melody. I know from listening to his other songs that he has a good vocal range and an excellent sense of melody. There were a few times (mostly around the choruses) where the song felt like it was hovering around three or four notes, and landing on the tonic note quite a bit. But at the same time, this song gets stuck in my head a lot, so maybe I shouldn’t be saying anything!
Favorite moment: 0:01 - “How can it be that when we all sleep…” - this is definitely the hook of the song. Great melody.
Team captain Denise was great about organizing Donutworthy on Twitter. When it was finally her turn to record, she added one of the most beautiful layers in the Frankensong challenge - backing vocals, piano, viola, and a dreamy synth. Denise’s lovely voice is a nice complement to Joe’s. It’s like they’ve worked together before or something…
Favorite moment: 1:19 - “Never miss the moon” - I love Denise’s voice right here, and it was the perfect spot to echo the lead vocals.
I’m a sucker for fingerstyle guitar, especially if it involves a lot of unique chords, like Ryan’s part. I thought it was also pretty creative that he added background vocals before there were any “real” vocals.
Favorite moment: 2:44 - I love the “whoa-o”s. They meld so well with the reversed cymbal hit in the seed track. Nice touch.
Matt recorded this part in my “studio” (ahem…closet), and I was hearing some good stuff from outside. Funnily enough, the vocals started in a completely different spot than I expected. I really like the unique phrasing he came up with. Having been in a band with Matt in the past, I have to say that his voice keeps getting better and better every song he does. The piano part is also a nice complement to Ryan’s guitar in the verses.
Favorite moment: 2 “A drop of water in a mountain range, a drop of water will evaporate.” Awesome imagery in Matt’s lyrics. For a little more background on them, he was inspired by this story.
I was running the dials while Rob recorded his drum part, and it was really awesome hearing it come to life. His inspiration was Radiohead’s “The Reckoner,” where two different percussion parts are panned to each ear. The effect didn’t end up in the final mix, but maybe he’ll try remixing it sometime?
Favorite moment: 1:54 - This transition rocks. I love the way Rob plays off the seed track here.
This is one track that you almost don’t realize its awesomeness until you hear it solo. It blends so well as a bassy undercurrent to the song. Jess Scherer also did the team’s final mix, so kudos to her.
Favorite moment: 0:50 - The arrangement during this part is gorgeous. I also like the crescendo to the complete cut-out at the end of this section.
I was kind of surprised to only hear two acoustic guitar parts in a group of singer/songwriters! Reese, the team captain over in Japan, added a second acoustic guitar line over Ryan’s. It’s hard to believe these two parts were recorded on opposite sides of the world. Reese’s part blends so well with the rest of it.
Favorite moment: 0:25 - I love Reese’s entrance. Awesome inner melody for the song. And there’s also a really cool effect created by a little reverb on his fret noise.
I love how everyone in the first round took off in a completely different direction than I expected. And it was also cool to see what kind of rhythms people came up with based on the seed track. Chris’ guitar part gave his team’s track a ton of rhythmic energy from the get-go. The main riff sounds awesome, especially when it comes back at the end.
Favorite moment: 1:02 - I thought this was a clever and smooth transition, considering the strange rhythm I gave you during this part of the seed track.
Team 3, Round 2 - Gorbzilla (David Gorbe) - Mix - Solo
Just when I thought this track couldn’t get any grungier, David Gorbe added a guitar part that gave Chris’ a run for its money. The ascending guitar riff is cool.
Favorite moment: 2:18 - This was an easy pick for my favorite part. Totally surprised by this guitar entrance. I love this riff.
I didn’t notice this until after the final track was finished, but it sounds like Kevin pitch-shifted the song down a whole step. Maybe so his bass part would be more doable? Regardless, Kevin added a great bass line. Very melodic. I like how well he plays off of Chris and David’s parts.
Favorite moment: 2:24 - Bass solo! I love the interaction between Kevin’s part and the seed track, then Kevin goes further and melds perfectly with David’s riff at 2:18
Team 3, Round 4 - Jason P. Schumacher - Mix - Solo
To understand the uniqueness of Jason’s track, you have to watch the video these guys put together. Jason’s percussion consists of a wooden spoon, handclaps, a foam pillow, and some sort of soy sauce bottle? It’s kind of hard to hear all of them, but regardless, he clearly had a lot of fun with it.
Favorite moment: 2:30 - Right around this part, Jason starts some whispery scat singing. Pretty subtle, but I like it!
Team 3, Round 5 - The Boffo Yux Dudes - Mix - Solo
The team’s co-captains Tom Giarrosso and Allan Morgan had four rounds to think about the lyrics for their song. I wonder, did they have robosexual innuendo on the mind to begin with? Well anyways, it turned out to be a dirty, mildly disturbing, but hilarious vocal track. And special props to Tom for putting the music video together. What an undertaking!
Favorite moment: 2:19 - Creative sound design from the BYD made this section even better.
Team 4: The Fuzzy Pink Bunny Slippers of Doom and Despair
Captain Edric started his team off with an epic and horrifying piano part. I think he sensed his team would be willing to create a monster. I like how crafty Edric was about playing with the seed track’s rhythms. Lots of interesting chords. Excellent performance.
Favorite moment: 0:34 - I don’t know if I’ve ever heard so many chords in a row descending by 1/2 step. It’s a really cool downward spiraling effect.
I remember when JoAnn first signed up, she mentioned that she was going to toll a big ceramic bowl. I was kind of curious to hear it. But anyways, JoAnn took Edric’s monstrous piano part and added a vocal line Dr. Frankenstein himself would approve of. I love hearing from the perspective of the Bride of Frankenstein, and JoAnn’s vocal performance was perfect for the mood of the song.
Favorite moment: 2:12 - I especially like this second verse. JoAnn ends it really well, too.
Team 4, Round 3 - The Offhand Band (Mark S. Meritt) - Mix - Solo
Mark Meritt did an excellent job of building the song gradually to an epic level. First castanets and tambourine, then an eerie choir of voices, then the drums and bass kick in. It’s all topped off at the end with a creepy version of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to hint at the lyric “Life is but a…” I can tell Mark put a lot of thought into his part.
Favorite moment: 2:04 - I love the plunky synth bass. It sounds especially awesome when it slides around.
Since Gweebol resides in the bedroom right next to mine, I kept hearing a bunch of random screams and maniacal laughter. I wasn’t sure what to think, until I heard her final track. Wow, what a clever way she went about the lyrics and vocals! Between the musical sound effects of The Offhand Band and the actual sound effects of Gweebol, this song turned out to be incredibly epic. And also totally in the spirit of the Frankensong. I love it.
Favorite moment: 1:10 - “She…she’s…SHE’S ALIVE!!!” I was really glad this lyric made it into the song, and performed with such gusto!
Well that about wraps it up. I hope you guys all had an awesome time being a part of this. I’m pumped for the next Frankensong challenge! Can’t say for sure when that will be, but stay tuned. If any of your friends would like to get in on the next Frankensong, have them email me - firstname.lastname@example.org