Take the worst Korn song you can remember and throw in the singer from Ugly Kid Joe (look 'em up—or, better yet, don't) and that would still be better than this steaming pile of nu-metal rehash. This is what I imagine George Zimmerman listens to while beating up his girlfriend. facebook.com/weare.trelic
Trouble in the Wind
If you have a beachside bungalow and a sunset, you might want to jam out to these busy rock arrangements, often layered with accordion, upright bass and/or banjo. With throaty, moody vocals and tight, frenetic instrumentation, it's not hard to see this being more than a few somebodies' cup of gin-splashed lemon zinger. troubleinthewind.com
—Joshua Emerson Smith
The Jason Tryp Experience
The Many Colours Of
A hand-written letter taped to the outside of this CD informed me that Jason Tryp is a Brooklyn native who's an "occasional dweller of the regions of San Diego when having to find himself sleeping in his mode of transport." But he's a touch cooler than Jewel. If you dig lo-fi, mid-tempo '60s grooves with wah-wah and tambourine, Tryp's your guy. He doesn't mention any other personnel, so I'm guessing he plays all the instruments himself, à la Prince, and does so competently. The vocals sound OK until he does flat, zombified harmonies that sound like a slightly more coherent Ariel Pink; he'd do well with the help of some proper backup vocalists, unless, of course, that Ariel Pink shit is what he's going for. Standout tracks: the extremely Jesus and Mary Chain-y "She's Cute" and the Merseybeat sounds of "You Must Be Crazy." soundcloud.com/Jason-Tryp
Two Eyes Meet Redux
Words Without a Voice EP
Two Eyes Meet Redux describes itself as "pummeling beats" and "sparkling synths," but this is false advertising—the beats are lethargically toothless and the synths wiggle along without aplomb. The (thankfully) brief EP ultimately suffers from flat-line syndrome: There are neither peaks nor valleys. Hey, dude, try enticing your audience; get 'em in the mood. How about doing a cover of something like Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You"? Then you might be saying something. twoeyesmeetredux.bandcamp.com
I'm always impressed by the kind of range that some bands are able to encapsulate through limited means. Void Lake is one such band, taking on a relatively ambitious dream-pop / shoegaze sound without the array of effects pedals that fill up Kevin Shields' bedroom closet. But Void Lake's sound is closer to that of minimalist U.K. post-punks Young Marble Giants than My Bloody Valentine. There's a dark, gothic intrigue happening in their hazy guitars, detached and distant-sounding female vocals and dub-flavored drum-machine beats. Void Lake are chilly and chilling, and they capture a wide range with relatively few instruments. voidlake.bandcamp.com
Well Strung to Hang
Well Strung to Hang
Record producer / former Drive Like Jehu drummer Mark Trombino recorded most of these songs way back in '92. Now, Well Strung to Hang are back together with a new lineup (the only original member is frontman Mark Anderson). Alas, their raw, emotive indie-punk sounds as flabby and shapeless today as it would've 22 years ago, though I do dig the jackknife riffs of "Disconnected," a track recorded in 2002.
American Nookie EP
Wicked Randall pulls no punches. He bellows / "raps" (I use that word very loosely here) on songs titled "Suicide Bombers" and "Payback, Gonna Be a Bitch," where he basically shouts the title phrases over and over—and over. His accompanying cheese-metal riffs sound like canned, cornball Garageband loops. Randall also doesn't fuck around with cover artwork and presentation; instead, he scrawls words out on a piece of loose-leaf notebook paper with the handwriting of a 5-year-old. This is one of the worst things I've ever heard.
The Wild Young Hearts
The Wild Young Hearts are kind of like Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men: kind of dumb, but with a big heart. California Dreams, like a Pacific Beach bro, can be charming, especially when name-dropping San Diego streets and landmarks, but ultimately bland. When the central conflict to nearly every song is finding the party or "fucking a supermodel" (from the song "Supermodel"), I guess you can't expect much intellectual challenge. Oops, my bad—they do get all provocative on "What We Know is Wrong," a critique of some ubiquitous "they" that has the complexity of a Pennywise song: "They keep us silent as sheep, then they distract us with drugs and MTV." Not exactly Rage Against the Machine, but their audience is probably too drunk and sunburned to notice. thewildyounghearts.bandcamp.com
Geography and Other Problems
Singer / songwriter Normandie Wilson gets a lot of Burt Bacharach comparisons. It's a fair association, and Wilson regularly cites him as an influence, but she's never been as Bacharach-y as she is here—her strongest work yet. A song like "A Lack of You" is a perfect example of Wilson as an artist in full control—vocals out front, with minimal accompaniment, as she confidently turns a tale of heartbreak into an easy-going standard in the making. It'll be interesting to see where she goes from here. normandiewilson.bandcamp.com
With a pleasant voice and all the coffeehouse trappings of every other acoustic-based, country-folk band, Paul Wolfe's four-song demo showcases some fine guitar playing and well-sung harmonies here and there. Sadly, the songwriting comes off awkward and disingenuous—especially on "Union Mine" and the ultra-cringeworthy "Screenwriter."
"Won't Gimme a Chance"
Based on her photo, I was expecting Lacy Younger to play fairly standard singer / songwriter fare. Then "Won't Gimme a Chance" started and out came some huge, distorted guitar riffs and AC/DC-inspired badass talk. Kudos for the element of surprise, Lacy! What ultimately holds the song back is how tied to the early-'90s it sounds, right during that brief period when butt-rock was on the way out but grunge hadn't broken big just yet. Sure, it rocks, but it could benefit from a little updating. lacyyounger.com
I guess Zombie Barbie kind of sounds exactly how I thought they would—like the B-52's met Aqua and Right Said Fred in a weird '80s electro-goth sex dungeon. And reading their one sheet, it seems that's basically how they describe their music. If mock-rock is your thing, or if Hasselhoff, Benatar and Yankovic are your idea of a "supergroup" then this band is for you.
Some rappers do creative things with Auto-Tune. Zoniak is not one of them. When he uses the famed vocal filter, he sounds like a robot filled with cheap brandy, stumbling around to paint-by-numbers club beats. Unfortunately, he's not any better when he rhymes in a regular voice.