Hey there, NCIS.
I like both of these. Really good musicianship and creativity. I do agree, though, with the “stranger” piece, that it seems to get monotonous and needs a little something different to break things up. I like some of the textures and creative “sounds” toward the end.
Both of 'em sound a little off EQ-wise. I’m not good enough to know exactly what it is. It seems a little muddy to me. I’m not sure if it’s that or that the low-mids need to be cleared out or what. Maybe it just needs some sparkle up top (in that 5-8 K range).
Really, I am trying to learn to identify this by ear, and I’m not there yet. So my comments on EQ could be way off. Would welcome someone putting me in my place if I’m off, or weighing in one way or the other if I’m on track or off base. But there’s something in the EQ.
That said, you’re buddy is a gifted musician. Recording, arranging, mixing, producing. Tell him he done well.