Gernika Reviews on Garageband

I’ve not much time for music making at present, but just a little for writing about it, so four years ago I travelled in the Basque country. I stopped in Gernika ( which is known in Castillian Spanish as Guernica) and wrote some lyrics for a song about an experience there and the history. Then last winter I made it into a song and recorded a demo version at home, getting feedback from some Stormcock members along the way. Some people really like it, others not. Since then I’ve released it as a free download in various places, but not managed to make a live performance recording, which is how I kind of envisaged it. One of the places I tried out is an online service called Garageband – nothing to do with the excellent Apple Mac sound recording software of the same name, which is what I used to mix it by the way. The Garageband website encourages member reviews, including comparative ratings, of each others songs and then compiles some charts. The mechanism uses a form of encouragement based on earning points and credits, including an interesting method whereby you can only unlock reviews which have been written after having provided a certain number of ratings of teh usefulness of other reviews. You don’t need to listen to the song being reviewed to rate the review – the criteria are not about opinions or accuracy, just whether the writer has actually mentioned a few specific aspects of the song or not. So they are using humans to detect cut and paste gaming of the system, although I’m not sure exactly what is at stake that people would go to such lengths, but I’m guessing this was introduced after experience. After months of almost no activity on the site, I suddenly received a whole bunch of reviews for some reason, possibly out of a queuing system or something, and I really don’t know what to make of the range of comments so I thought I’d record them underneath here:

Band: Andy Roberts
Genre: Folk

Effects Not Needed
My first reaction is that the effects are not necessary and are distracting rather than complimentary to the song. The second thing that hits me are the harmonies, sometimes off, sometimes right on.

The chord structure is very classical folk, as is the beat, rhythm and melody. I sense a touch of Donovan or early Beatles (portions of you’ve got to hide your love away). The lyrics are political and flow with the music as they should.

All in all, this is a folk song in rough form with good potential to be interesting.
BobandDeb from Watkinsville, Georgia on 27Nov2007

simmon and garfunk.the song is a little long for me to stay with it.Im 3 min.s into but sorry ive got to bail out.CHEERS
millskeith from Houston, Texas on 23Nov2007

Theres a really nice chord progression in the song, the chords really compliment each other. I really liked the vocals especially the accent that they had . I like how your not sure where the song is going its not predictable and therefore interesting to listen to . Theres a nice relaxed mood and the song ends in a nice way reminding and taking the listener back to the beginning of the song.
rilokilee from Unspecified on 22Nov2007

Dingy space folk
Lovely dirty folk sound. I really like the story teller style. Awesome atherial key sounds in the background. Nicely done. A bit long maybe, unless some other element is introduced somewhere in the 4-6 minute range.
Tubesponge from Seattle, Washington on 20Nov2007

Beatles influence?
I’m not sure if it’s an effect, but the guitars sound out of tune with each other. The voices are pretty far back in the mix, and I can’t understand the lyrics at all. For a song over eight minutes, I feel like the lyrics must be important. I’m now at 3:50, and I don’t understand where the song is going. It definitely needs a bridge or something to hold the listener’s attention. The melody of the song is great. I’ve heard the lyrics mention John Lennon, and there’s an obvious Beatles influence here. The song just needs some polishing in terms of its production and arrangement.
KelcyDW from New Orleans, Louisiana on 20Nov2007

Excited to listen to this.
Lyrics are great. Hisorically accurate i hope. The backup vocals, or the double, are quite annoying. I like the music, the chord structure that us. Some cool effects on the vocal that if tightened up would be very interesting. can’t give it 8 minutes.
benjaminamettt from Oakland Park, Florida on 18Nov2007

Yet another classical sounding piece with a hint of the Beatles.
Sounds like drop tuning but still keeps a nice tuning with fair ground melody hiding at the back.
renolio from Drogheda, Ireland on 18Nov2007

Two Old Blues Guitarists
Sounds a lot like what Syd Barrett was headed for, only what Roger Waters could finish. Great use of layering multiple guitar tones.
DHawks from Portland, Oregon on 17Nov2007

Lennon�s image
The guitar sound is nice, with an experimental touch, great performance.
Great lyrics and vocals nice and with style, i could feel and hear that this is a great production, nice record and mix work!.
This song has a 60�s taste, i enjoy listening to this song.
YorkO from Mexico City, Edo.Mx, Mexico on 17Nov2007

Awesome lyrics, tell a great story! The guitar chords complimented the singer’s voice well. Reminds me vaguely og Donovan.
BadCats from Bridgetown, Barbados on 17Nov2007

The day after.
Fine ringing guitar intro …and I like the historical aspects of this song “Gurnica” (excuse the spelling) ….gosh, you just pipped me …it’s on my list of songs to write (I’d seen some vintage artwork on it’s distruction). I’ll check my notes …but the artist was arrested by the Nazis and was asked “Did you do this” no said the artist “You did”!
Guess you sound like Lennon? Well wot do you know …one second after typing “Lennon” you mention him! Actually I’ve written a song on Bomber Harris ….there you go again as soon as I type you mention Dresden!!!! Ah, but we have a youtube up on Pearl Harbor ….I’m waiting for you to mention it too!!! Anyway thanks for doing this song …a real contribution to real music. And did I say …brilliant on all counts!
PS. Youtube under INDIE KLINE gets you to “PEARL”, the song vid ….if you’re interested.
Cheers and good fortune with your music …I’ll join you fan club before you start charging!
HarperJohn from Cobourg & Brighton, Ontario, Canada on 14Nov2007

Gernika (sp?)
You sound very 60’s; circa The Incredible String Band era. Chord structure is fine. It doesn’t jump out at me as overally unusual or exceptional – it just works for you. For war lyrics, it’s a little different than the usual fare. I like the spooky guitar sounds but at 6:51 with almost another 2 minutes to go, it’s dragging a bit. I appreciate the stories you’re telling but my mind is wandering at this point. Good song for a documentary and I’m sure you’re not intending to be at the top of the pops with it. But maybe a little editing could be considered. Then again, maybe I should get over my adhd.
steveroth from Nashville, Tennessee on 13Nov2007

I think this song would have a narrow audience base. It is very long and dare I say quite boring. It’s about a very dire subject but is delivered with a somewhat sing-song melody. Is it supposed to be a modern day Irish fighting song?
the effects are well placed and definitely add interest. You could maybe leave out quite a few verses esp the lines about bodyparts strewn all over the place. I think there’s a better way of expressing that more fitting for a song. But leave in the verse about singing “Imagine” And try to focus on one massacre. I think it might be easier to listen to that way.
alderete74 from Steilacoom, Washington on 12Nov2007

well done
a little long winded, but i think it works. i like whatever the siren effect is…i think it’s well done. i always enjoy music about something…
ericmire from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 10Nov2007

Well, this is certainly an interesting piece. I really like the lyrics, and I think its laudable to write a piece that teaches as well as entertains. Writing about epic historical events, however, has been done before. Iron Maiden filled their catalogue with these songs, for example. But, since you guys aren’t overly bombastic hair metal junkies (or at least I don'[t think you are), your approach seems more interesting.
I would say that an abridged version of this song might be more appropriate for your typical listener. The harmonies are nice, as is the chord structure, but since there aren’t really strong catchy choruses, I don’t sense any momentum in the piece. For me, although it was interesting, it didn’t grab me as a great piece of music.
rockin1208 from Cambridge, Massachusetts on 10Nov2007

not my taste
guitar effects suck and detract. don’t like the tune very much in the verse; chorus is better but harmonies should be a little tighter- they are a bit muffled in some parts- other parts are better.
shannonsmith from Fairfax, Virginia on 7Nov2007

Folk review
Very interesting and unique sound.
Lyrics are very nice and the chord structure is well done.
Vocals are good, and I like the harmory.
GraciePike from Atlanta, Georgia on 3Nov2007

folk song
Original,interesting lyrics.competent musicianship and well sung but it does feel that it drags on a bit .Can’t think of anyone it sounds like though,probably yourselves which is always a good thing.
merry_dale2001 from Beverly, Yorkshire, United Kingdom on 3Nov2007

Good effort
liked most things about this one apart from the lyrics – its fine to use unpoetic expressions sparingly. Admittedly the subject is almost impossible!
robeyley from United Kingdom on 29Oct2007

Lovely haunting strings and string vocals. Very traditional in many ways but with a twist. Reminds me of fairport. Chord structure is interesting and sometimes unexpected. Like it a lot
soliloquise from United Kingdom on 28Oct2007

Instrumentally and structurally, this song is very interesting (particularly the raid alarm noises) the build up in the middle section also. The (almost tinny?) sound of the guitar gives it a very original feel. The subject matter of the song is very good, I’m all up for music with actual matter in it! Lyrically I’m not so sure the poetics of the song ( what I mean by that is the superficial sound of the language)is fairly bland – the song is straightforward and quite to the point, which has negatives and positives in itself. I can hear a lot of “Beetles” influence? that sort of musical period, particularly because of the strong english accent in the singing! All in all good work guys and goodluck!
i_is_steph from United Kingdom on 28Oct2007

Accoustic Gisms filled with thought provoking..
THis one remninded me of the Irish rovers with the sweet harmonies. It is quite a simple production but definetly carries itself well.
DanHartal from Montreal, Quebec, Canada on 25Oct2007

not bad
it was ok reminded me of a david bowie tune, might sound better with a better recording…good luck….
Hughes from Cambridge, Ontario, Canada on 25Oct2007

Something Picasso Said
Shane McGowan wrote a very good song about the Spanish Civil War and this song covers similar territory. I like the sirens and bells and other sound effects. Very strong lyrics here. You don’t hear many thoughful historical ballads and this is certainly one. It sounds like a demo — it could benefit from more expensive production. And, with all due respect, 8 minutes is a bit long. But it’s a good thoughful song that connects the past with the present.
drybone1 from Queensbury, New York on 23Oct2007

I respect the ideas..
But I fear that some of the effects added to this song take away from the lyrics at times. I think a lot of the effects are very cool, and after a couple of listens the really story really started to shine.

The performance is very good.. Vocals and everything are done well.. Maybe just taking the effects down a little in the mix..

maybe its just me!?
Stonewhite28 from Fort Smith, Arkansas on 22Oct2007

A lesson in War
Well, thats what it sounds like. Like the vibe though, but the recording is very wet and not great. Good singing, songwriting and all the things that make a nice folk song.

Would like to hear a better recording, or even see it live.

The chord structure is active, and moving, as often folk is, but not in a “trying to be clever”-way, which is refreshing. It keeps the key, so no surprises there.
danienel from South Africa on 18Oct2007

nice construction of a song. great use of chords. i’m not sure what instrument is making that squealing cat sound but it fits nice. the bells are a nice inclusion. defiately a song about war/state building? this song reminds me of a simongarfunkel piece. i like it very much but the vocals need to be turned up some. keep writing this kind of stuff, very subtle but very scathing at the same time. damn the politicians, dam their wars, dam the fascists, and dam the whole screwed up mess. the innocent die at from the mechnization of humans ability to be in human. i only hope the result of this forlorn attempt at our leaders to divide and destroy leads to a revolution of the innocent against the evil passion of power mongers.
BushDickey from Taylor, Nebraska on 17Oct2007

Lyrics solid. Chord structure worked well but the melody was a bit repetitious but possibly due to the length of the song. I think the melody was light-hearted. Some nicely embedded sarcasm. Sorry, can’t determine who you sound like. Nice work – may want to consider a shorter version.
dbmurd from Apopka, Florida on 16Oct2007

From the strat you know this is going to be a story which is perfect for a folk song. First time i’ve heard a folk song about WW2! I like how you have made the air raid siren noises. A lot of effects on the guitars slightly draw away from the vocals, i think maybe thinning this out a bit would improve the way they work together. Vocals are good, nice and soft but still cutting through strongly. The use of samples works well in this. The guitars could maybe create a bit more rhythm as it gets a bit samey after a while esp[ecially as the song is so long.
MichaelButlin from Unspecified on 16Oct2007

Yeah Donovan?
chord structure:nice very donovan
folky and interesting minor turnarounds
lyrics: good, political and interesting, engaging

Soundlike: Donovan, or early brit folk band

Overall: Great Stuff!!!
nellis556321 from Ossining, New York on 15Oct2007

This band has an early Bowie, early Pink Floyd sound and vibe to it.The electric guitar helps paint the story the singer is telling with siren like sounds punctating the lyrics.The guitars and production makes you feel you are listening to a 60’s English folk band but the lyrics make you aware that you are in fact listening to a modern song with the lyrics mentioning Baghdad and Sarajevo.The chord structure purpose seems to supprort the lyrics.At 8 minutes 36 seconds this song is a bit long winded seems like this band didn’t learn much from John Lennon when it comes to song structure even if though this singer claims to have sung Imagine.
sheltmusic from Taylor, Michigan on 15Oct2007

The structure of the song is good. The chord progression is interesting. The vocals and performance is sincere. And the mood created suits the lyrics. My only suggestion, which I am sure you have had, make two versions of this song, one (8:36) and another (3:30). I value lyrics, and you clearly do, and this suggestion may seem sacrilegious, but I think more people will listen to it.
thewildfrontier from Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 14Oct2007

very dark intro
the production could be better, but i like the lyrics, and the singers voice. its very folk-story-teller. (which is a good quality in my opinion) i dont particularly like the sirens in the background.. they become more of a distraction, as does the phase effect. the song is pretty good though. i would be curious to hear more.
solesmojo from Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 14Oct2007

It’s a good song. Sounds like the Wiggles covering the Beatles covering Pink floyd. It’s definately interesting. The guitar work is good.
fotithefish from Berea, Kentucky on 14Oct2007

Seldom can such a lengthy track sustain my attention and interest, particularly in the form of a lazy folk song. Lyrically, the song flows well but secondary to a poor mix, some of the words are difficult to discern. The chord structure is good for a simple folk tune, but again, the length will cause a real problem for most listeners. There isn’t enough variation in the arrangement. I can’t draw any solid comparisons for who this band sounds like, but I could liken this song to a bad Simon & Garfunkel. Overall, there’s a hint of good folk in here, but too many drawbacks to bring me in for another listen to this duo.
joel_ascher from Toledo, Ohio on 9Aug2007

The Folk Kinks meet Billy Bragg
I looked at the 8 minutes and went to put the kettle on.

Started very nicely – somewhere between British and Irish folk, and Paul MacCartney.

The chords were pretty standard for folk, so nothing bad but nothing particularly stunning either.

As the lyrics flowed, I was reminded a little of the legendary Billy Bragg in the melody and bending of that to the lyrics.

guitar were clean, vocal strong and harmonies tidy. What more do u want from a folk song? Good lyrics – well u got em.

Great effort, even if I couldn’t make it to 8 minutes.
Akibakei from Tokyo, Japan on 31Jul2007

Great lyrics
This song really told a story, and I enjoyed that. The effects on the guitars were a little distracting, but the structure of the song was interesting and seemed to flow well.
Quiksilvr from Cambridge, Maryland on 8Jul2007

The guitar sounds out of tune
Reminds of 60’s folk rock. It’s not bad, I like the siren sound. Too many effects on the guitars in the beginning. I don’t think I can listen for 8-plus minutes though. Very Pink Floyd.
robb29 from Kankakee, Illinois on 4Jul2007

Are You Tuning?
Although I LOVE military history, I’m not sure that the subject matter is the most appropriate for a compelling folk song. The length of the song is MUCH too looooong. You lost me several verses into the song. Make a point quickly and make it a good one.
BobMarshall from Ortonville, Michigan on 2Jul2007

Too long and same throughout
Lyrics seem alright for a “story song” but I don’t know what your singing about.
Chord Structure is fine.

I hope you sound unique. Do you want to sound like someone else?

I would say make this song about 3 1/2 minuets and say all you have to say in that time. This song is much too long and is the same all the way through. ZZZZZZ snoozeville.
I like the sound effects parts though.
jibes from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on 2Jul2007

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2 Responses to Gernika Reviews on Garageband

  1. Graeme says:

    Interesting seeing the responses from all these folks, reading through I was struck by two things,

    First off the reviews often seemed to say more about the person writing them rather than the song, an awful lot of them complain of the length of the song which to me sadly suggests the sound bite culture even extends to music. Have they all got the attention span of a gnat?

    Secondly quite a few reviwers refer to David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Paul McCartney but none of them made any kind of connection with Roy Harper or Michael Chapman which just shows how little they know! How the heck some of them thought it sounded like David Bowie or Macca is beyond me.

    On the plus side least folks took the time to review the song and there was a lot of positive comments.

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