Shapes of Future Frames
I listen to and enjoy the Ziggy Stardust oeuvre as much as the next guy, as long as the next guys aren't SoFF. Swap out most of the camp for earnestness, add some fuzzed-out guitar riffs and here we are. It'd be one thing to be inspired by Bowie and add a twist, but this plays more like a DIY paean. MS/shapesoffutureframes.
When I heard Shrewd Lucy, I felt as if 1991 had never ended. These guys are a complete throwback to the beloved grunge era of rock 'n' roll. Hell, from the opening chords of “Cantor,” any Alice in Chains fan is gonna be creaming his slacks. Lead singer Collyn Pankratz sounds a whole lot like Layne Staley, and that ain't no easy voice to emulate. They're not reinventing the wheel, but they're certainly bringing flannel rims back in style. MS/shrewdlucy.
“Maybe Seth Combs can rip me a new one this time around,” says a note in the CD jacket. Nope, but I will! In this admittedly rough sample of songs from Flick's upcoming Piquant, he's overly ambitious with his vocals. While the accompanying musicians are somewhat tolerable (as far as yacht-rock goes), the result is a remedial jam band that tries to revive the throwaway tracks from a lost Bad Company record. What's worse is that the song “Preaching to the Choir” is suspiciously similar to (cough, rip-off) “Hey” by the Pixies. This band would be booed off a cruise ship. MS/simeonflick.
Sweets 'n' Treats
A sugary rush of children's music that is, predictably, almost nauseatingly upbeat. Not that kids should play with straight razors while listening to Joy Division in the dark or anything, but repetitive listens to the excruciating refrain of “Nana Nana Boo Boo” might have the same effect. I can empathize with Singer's effort to infuse cheerful zing into songs like “Camping Trip,” “Christmas in July” and “Sweets 'n' Treats,” but mostly it just makes me want to give myself a vasectomy. MS/traceysinger.
Smirnoff has high Bob Dylan aspirations with his acoustic guitar and rambling speech, but the message of his title track is so obvious (yes, the war in Afghanistan does suck) that there isn't much to be gained from the observations. Four unnamed songs follow. Some fare better, but most succumb to halting guitar expeditions that ultimately leave the listener wanting less.
Michael Seth Smith
This is music for the tie-dyed, closed-eyed, aging noodle dancers among us. The lyrics are overplayed—Talking Heads already said (in “Nothing But Flowers”) what Smith is saying in “Hypocrisy,” but better. The music could also use some variation. Smith, modernize your sound and give it another shot.
Lose the Girl
God, I hate the fuckin' '90s. I remember growing up thinking that my generation's music was going to be as influential as that of the '60s, creating a vast template for future creative minds. So here comes the fucktards in SO3, proving to me once again that it wasn't the Nirvanas and the Radioheads that had the most impact; it was the Weezers (as evidenced by “She”), the Dave Matthews Bands (“You Love a Parade”) the Creeds (“Montezuma”) and the Barenaked Ladies (“Streets”) of the world. SO3: Coming to a Wal-Mart near you. MS/so3music.
Solid early Stooges and Troggs homage with jamming keyboard interludes, foreboding solos and a singer channeling the ghost of Lux Interior. Garage and punk enough to play at Radio Room, and jam-band enough for Winston's. Good stuff. MS/spacenaturesd.
If you like acoustic singer-songwriting, post-rock, calypso, noise-rock, or anything else that doesn't really have anything to do with those, there's probably an odd 30-second sample somewhere in this nine-minute string of clips that don't have any transitions or apparent relation to each other. This is roughly the effect of setting your car radio to scan.
Street of Little Girls
The Beauty is in the Street
Well-executed hints of neo-vaudeville, dirty gypsy love making and noise (helped in part by the banging and clacking of a Hungry Hungry Hippos travel edition and a He-Man hip-swivel action figure) make this an unexpected surprise. Think The Burning of Rome, if they were fronted by a chick who can stir up a mean goulash, drink you under the table and teach you how to circuit-bend your Simon Says and who offers to fuck you with a strap-on—all in the same night. Standouts include “Battle Cry,” a critique on mega-churches and their “congregations of the blind.” Why does your church look like a 10-story high rise? / Do those tax breaks buy you more space to get you closer to God? Another song also howls against mindless bimbos: You're a big girl now in your big girl shoes / Happy to do what they're asking of you / And you hate all of us more than we'll ever know / But you'll shove it back down to put on a good show. Inside an office at The Rock Church—in between fornicating sessions with her NFL boyfriend—we can hear Carrie Prejean penning an angry letter right now. MS/streetoflittlegirls.
Something is off here. The whole album sounds like someone who really loves musical theater recorded herself singing over the low-budget, slightly skewed, foreign karaoke versions of your favorite songs. On “Sweet Daddy Devine,” no one bothered to tell the musicians that they forgot to tune their instruments. Lady Jean's voice reminds me of when you snuck downstairs after bedtime while your parents were having a party and your alcoholic “aunt” (who's really just your mom's friend from college) was belting out show tunes and cackling. High's too high, low's too low—do they still make 'ludes?
For all the irreverent, psychedelic wackiness on their CD cover, Sweet Pee delivers a sparse, melancholy, straight take on Southern blues that feels like it was recorded in an intimate shack along the Bayou. My only complaint is the abundance of “authentic” sound effects—twittering birds, barking dogs, leaky faucet drips—that detract from the overall experience. MS/sweetpeetunes.
Theo and the Zydeco Patrol
The Monkey and the Baboon
A little piece of Bourbon Street. Good if you're in the mood for a Monte Cristo sandwich but a bit too sugary any other time. Still, hints of Paul Simon's Graceland make this a worthwhile listen. www.zydecopatrol.com.
Three Chord Justice
It's a scientific fact that country music peaked from 1956 to 1964. With toe-tapping, tip-one-back covers of Johnny Cash and Buck Owens, the veterans of Three Chord Justice pay proper homage to the golden age. In original material, Liz Grace revs up her inner Loretta Lynn and weaves familiar themes—weary hearts, hard drinking, outlaw living—through picking and steel bends that strike the elusive balance between crying into your beer and breaking it over someone's head. MS/threechordjustice.
Tim and the 23's
I'm not saying you will definitely get rufied if you go to this fratboy-anthem band's show, but, ladies, please, cover your cup. This P.B. Bar and Grill-ish band is trying way too hard. Seen Ghost World? Think Blueshammer. MS/timandthe23s.
The Tony Parker Project
Despite a slightly annoying spoken-word theme based on the supposedly unifying worlds of gambling and romance (sampled from the movie Rounders), The Tony Parker Project is an encouraging exploration of what used to be called “backpack hip-hop.” It's mellowed-out flow over jazzy-soul backdrops—all freestyle feel without any of the so-called edge (read: lack of skills) that gangsta rap ruined the genre with. Some of the better tracks here evoke early Digable Planets and the mellower side of Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest. Spoiler alert: TP likes weed and liquor analogies, too.
—Will K. Shilling
Improvisational jazz for tenor sax backed with piano, guitar, bass and drums. Tordella's style is neither experimental nor easy-listening, but somewhere in the middle. Good for background music or active listening on your headphones or in your car. Restless, inquisitive and unstintingly melodic, Magnolia is a record that wants to take you places. MS/iantordella.
To Suffer With One
To Suffer With One
Female-fronted hard-rock from El Cajon. Soulful singing and excellent guitar work combine to create a classic metal soundscape. Overall, the songs show a great deal of promise, but seven minutes is too damn long for a rock anthem, and the fetus logo kind of creeps me out. MS/tosufferwithone.
This CD was hand-delivered by the band's stripper-hot drummer along with a bottle of Crown Royal and assorted other goodies. Good thing, because I'd need to be drunk to enjoy this generic Ramones-style pop-punk. There's even an unholy cover of My Bloody Valentine's “Only Shallow.” Not enough whiskey in the world, my friends. MS/thetouchies.
Anarchy (DJ Mix) and War
Let me start by saying there are good elements to Tran's music. His ability to make decent basic beats, for example, is present in nearly every track. But Tran seriously needs to expand his musical horizons. Some of these songs sound like a teenage goth girl got drunk off her parents' alcohol and decided to give Apple's GarageBand a whirl for the very first time. Just because one run on the keyboard happens to sound good to you, Mr. Tran, doesn't give you leave to repeat it ad nauseam. MS/johnnytranmusic.
2 Track Sampler
Trophy Wife fit my notion of a band I have no desire to listen to on my own accord but wouldn't be disappointed to see playing at a show I was already at. A gritty and articulate bar band is lurking somewhere here, but they need to jettison the default mid-'90 riff on “Move to the Desert” and escape the lyrical morass of lines like “Do you like rocks? / I found a perfect place for you / You better wear thick socks.” MS/trophywifemusic.
—Ian M. Rick
Trouble in the Wind
All My Hopes on a Sailing Boat
Light guitar strumming reminiscent of Modest Mouse, and just as sullen. Trouble in the Wind is a baying hound, raw and troubled with love attachments. MS/troubleinthewind.
blue one demo
Turbinado's Matt and Andrew like to share warm embraces, posed like Dudley Moore and Susan Anton, in front of Christmas trees. But with influences ranging from Ween, Sleep to Doves and Black Flag, these O.B. jokers know more than they're letting on. MS/turbinadomusic.
New Music from San Diego
This CD was sent to us with a snippy note about how CityBeat was wrong when we wrote that San Diego wasn't a top destination for modern classical-music composers—evidenced, apparently, by this compilation from, well, New York. I guess the key here is how much this disc makes us care so little. The only thing that could be more off-putting than the music is the accompanying press release that describes San Diego as an “isolated beach town.” Sigh. www.carrierrecords.com.
Save it ‘til the Morning
Inoffensive, contrived and derivative as a Gin Blossoms tribute band. Lyrics like “There's a light outside your house tonight, may I please come inside?” and song titles like “Can't Stop This Feeling” should give you a good idea of what you're dealing with, but if you like alt-rock that recycles every hook and clichéd nuance of the genre, then this is the band for you. MS/vinylfilm.
On a Love Odyssey
Have you ever watched that public-access channel that shows only neon text, pictures of buildings around the city and bulletins with clip art? This is the music they use. (I love that channel.) MS/vozfrontera.
Watch Us Burn
This very promising demo showcases a band with the studio slickness and pop sensibilities of Jimmy Eat World juxtaposed with anthemic screams and dark-honed riffs reminiscent of Thursday or AFI. It's an interesting formula that works particularly well on second track “Call for a Quickening,” where dual chunking guitars tower in either ear as Ken Rapp's piercing, larynx-shredding vocals push their way straight down the gut. The five-song sampling goes for the jugular, quickly churning out a collection exclusively made up of heavy, energetic rockers. This one-dimensionality is somewhat disappointing but only makes one hope for a more proper full-length from this band in the near future. MS/watchusburnmusic.
Fuck Yer Family: The Single
From the few lyrics I could actually make out, the disdain Malarky Mark (best rap name ever) and MC Shake n Bake (second best rap name ever) have for my (the listener's) household is palpable. The linguistic ingenuity of Wince is exemplified best by the line “Fuck your dog, I hope he shits on your best pair of shoes.” If this is a joke, then it's incredible. If not, I'm going to have to take a cue from “Fuck Yer Family” and shit in the CD case and send it back.
Mark Steven Wiskowski
None of Wiskowski's previous bands (Cape May, Swedish Models, The Jury) sounded like funk juggernauts, but this demo leads one to believe he's equal parts Isaac Hayes and Gene Simmons. The bass literally sounds like a large bouncing boo-tay. Let this guy do the soundtrack for your next blaxploitation flick and he may be so kind as to play the lead villain, as well.
Sins of the Times
Wolff is clearly disturbed by the American political and economic status quo. Nevertheless, Sins of the Times is a belated '90s blood-boiling car-chase record combined with Morrissey-like mellow singing. Mostly morose.
With tracks that include “Ghost,” “Ghost 1,” “Ghosts, Too,” “Ghost (12),” “My Ghost” and “Ghost 3,” I thought someone was playing a trick on me, but the songwriting is actually pretty good. If neurotic self-deprecating acoustic folk is your thing, Vwortboy just might catch your ear. MS/vwortboy.
Young takes advantage of layering to bring you a buffet of trance and electronic textures, with interplays of jazz chords and industrial sounds. Esoteric, Distance is a Terminator-type dystopian landscape. MS/selwynyoung.
Young Mass Presents…
The Best of Daygo City
With some three-dozen local rappers featured on this album, you'd think that at least some of them can handle a microphone. The album is noteworthy enough for the fact that it assembles 20 legitimate tracks in a city where local hip-hop mostly lives a subterranean Sasquatch existence. But, to the credit of ringmaster Young Mass, Daygo City does, in fact, represent a solid collection of homegrown talent. Granted, a lot of the subject material is threadbare with lyrical content often mirroring the base instincts of song titles that range from the not-so-subtle (“Work My Kitty”) to the absurdly straightforward (“Smoke and Get High”). Then again, one of the album's high-water marks is HeatRok's gritty trunk-thumper “Feelin Like Ooh Wee,” which sounds like it could have been a b-side on the Hustle & Flow soundtrack. Other highlights include “Same James” (Jimmy Powers), “Come Correct” (O.C.T. / Outta Control) and “Danger! Danger!” (Mr. Ridley, Bazerkowitz, Trust 1, Matlock). Curiously, most of the tracks (with “Free” a possible exception) featuring Young Mass play second fiddle to the best the album has to offer, but he deserves credit for offering them up in the first place. Labeling this the best San Diego has to offer might not be entirely accurate, but it's a good start. MS/masterpiece.
Without a BridgeZank is one man, and this man specializes in singer / songwriter fare similar to Pete Yorn and Train. He has the best weapon to succeed in his field: a worthy set of pipes. Songs aren't too groundbreaking, but there's plenty to satisfy lovers of this genre. If you adore the coffeehouse troubadours with a bit of an experimental side, prepare to get Zanked. MS/zankmusic.
Ghetto-ass rap from a supposed homeless man of seven years. You'd think it would be zanier. Instead, it's just standard thug-life posturing over cheap beats. But if you see Zany-Zane hocking this on a street corner (good possibility), save yourself a stabbing and buy it. MS/zanyzane619.