“You just don't get it.” That's what Hamer would say to this review, and that's fine because I most assuredly don't get it. Nor do I want to. It's a beat-by-beat guide of what not to do when emulating Nine Inch Nails. The song “10,000 Proof” is Van Halen's “Eruption” over Marilyn Manson's “Disposable Teens,” and the demo as a whole is the sound of a boy jacking off to Yngwie Malmsteen YouTube videos with one hand and playing Legend of Zelda with the other. MS/trevorhamermusic
Bring Love Home
This live CD is recommended for all occasions when any old adult contemporary will do, but it is henceforth compulsory for all 40-and-older, gay-friendly dinner parties in the Hillcrest-University Heights area. Crooning about marriage equality, cowboy romance and the love gay men feel for their female friends—“pride music”—Hassett takes piano-bar singing to a level on par with the best of the first-round American Idol rejects. MS/cahassett.
The Filth and the Fury
Bluesy, Florida-panhandling Southern rock flies fast and, er, furious from the get-go on this rural song cycle—and it's a guilty pleasure worthy of second and third listens. Sure, the Stevie Ray Vaughn and Hendrix rip-offs are obvious, but that's never been reason enough to hit skip on an entire genre. Heavy Glow play it a bit safe, however. Ironically, a little less heroin, maybe some Red Bull and some rawer, North Mississippi Delta energy, and this record could make it onto the jukebox at some of the hipper joints in town. MS/heavyglowmusic.
—Will K. Shilling
The Heavy Guilt
Lift Us Up from This
With a name like The Heavy Guilt, you know you're in for something heavy-handed. The mellow country rock on this album can be a little dry in songs like “Clove,” especially with Erik Canzona's lovelorn vocals. But the band shows its chops in highlight “You Took So Little,” in which Sean Martin pulls off a perfectly sly guitar solo. MS/theheavyguilt.
Rock, dudes, rock. These are dudes. This is rock. Rock, dudes, rock. And keep the Smirnoff Ice a-flowing. MS/hectorsrevenge.
Helen Earth Band
Our Own Ghost City
This album isn't terrible, but it's also not awesome. It's meh. The lyrics are inspired. But great writing doesn't always translate into great music. MS/helenearthband.com.
2012: The Burning City
Higher Minds' 2012 is badass hip-hop at its finest. MCs M7 and Stevie-b, along with DJ Kut Kaper, serve up dope rhymes, smooth samples and old-school scratch-rap. If you like Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, you'll go enloquecer de esta súper banda de hip-hop diversión. MS/higherminds.
Some Stan Ridgway, a pinch of Charlie Hunter and a whole lot of shit that I can't tell if it's supposed to be serious or is coming from Weird Al's stoner cousin. But I'm always down with 11-minute, drug-induced, vulgarity-filled, space jam / hate letters to ex-friends. www.ricks-studio.com.
Better Than You
Straight up post-Nirvana rock 'n' roll that meanders into singer / songwriter territory. On faster songs like “Bipolar Girl” and “Outside Your Door,” Hocus does a decent job of ratcheting up the energy level, but the slower songs reveal the deficiencies in the songwriting, which tends to be predictable and trite. Not a bad record, but every song has virtually the same rhyme scheme, and it kind of lulls you to sleep after a while. MS/hocusmusic.
Holly Hofmann and Bill Cunliffe
Hofmann sure can blow. As far as flutists go, her chops are top. And Grammy-winning pianist Cunliffe is right there stride-for-stride. Pros Regina Carter and Terrell Stafford also get in the act, but this ain't no demo. www.hollyhofmann.com.
To Miss V, the sexy-sounding lead singer of indie-rock band Hypnotic Odyssey: Your voice sounds pretty awesome, but you're being drowned out by one or two of your sub-par band mates. Tell your lead guitarist to find the “treble” knob and dial it waaaay down. The rhythm guitar, however, is just right. As for your bassist and drummer, you could definitely use more of them. And while we're at it, add cowbell. There's always room for cowbell. Love, Justin. MS/thehypnoticodyssey.
Through Sight and Sound EP
Fans of múm, Caribou / Manitoba's Dan Snaith and Four Tet's Kieran Hebden will grab a spoon and eat up the first track of Inspired Flight's demo. The simple keyboard and ethereal electronic blips flitting through the song make its mellow electronic genre instantly recognizable, but the slow rap vocals that come in on the second track throw off the listener a bit. Not that it's a bad addition, just an unexpected one. Inspired Flight's elegant simplicity will most likely be pleasing to the ear of someone who recognizes any of the above-listed artists or is a frequent listener of FM 94/9's Big Sonic Chill. MS/inspiredflight.
When the Screws Came Loose
Some nights I wake up in a cold sweat for fear that Crazytown has made another record. Now my sleepless nights belong to InTransit Audio. White-boy rap with a side of dub—like if Linkin Park spent too much time at Winston's. MS/intransitaudio.
I Am the Horn
Sounding like At the Drive-In with woodwinds, Irradio packs its volatile but emotional rock with layers of guitar, saxophone and organ, topping it off Steven Welker's raspy vocals. The jumble of riffs that muck up “Espera Na Esquina” fail to coalesce into a memorable hook, but I feel exhilarated just thinking about the soaring guitar riff and thumping beat of “Think About the Dream.” MS/irradio.
Jabba Bakes' raison d'etre is to make it unequivocally clear that they enjoy smoking vast quantities of marijuana. The low-budget production is competent in small doses, but the MC's rhymes and flow fall somewhere between those of MC Karl Rove and K-Fed. MS/jabbabakes.
—Ian M. Rick
Christian James has one of those simple yet soul-stirring voices that instantly conjure a feeling of old-timey solitude and reflection. “Soothing the Kill” is one of this album's best songs, but the shimmery reverb and crisp sound quality don't really fit its feeling of lowly, whiskey-soaked desperation. “Lyin' Out Here,” on the other hand, fits James' voice to a T. With its more lo-fi, bone-dry production style, one can almost imagine James as a weary drifter pickin' out a lonely melody while hitchin' a ride on an open flat-wheel railroad car. MS/christianjames.
While surfing, guy gets mauled by a shark, comes close to death, finds a new lease on life by writing life-affirming soft rock—basically, the Tuesdays with Morrie of surfer-bro music. Soothing, easily digestible, non-challenging—like Tuesdays, my mom would love Justin James. MS/justinjames.
In 15 tracks that range from melodic to bipolar and with just a thimbleful of new country, James regales the listener with tales of laundry, creditor calls and all around “craptastic” days. Mark our words, we predict this San Diego-bred singer / songwriter's opus will be a hit in Santee. Vanjajames.com
Jasper and Mariel
These Things Are Pleasing
Imagine, if you will, Pink Martini but with an Ambien hangover—the sort of songs you'd expect to play
during the ending credits of just about any Lifetime Movie Network “premiere event” or a slow-mo montage of Johnny Weir's Winter Olympic snub. Vocoder! Lullabies! Cricket sounds! Talk about going for the gold. MS/jasperandmariel.
The Jake Torre Experiment
Pride & Joy
Jake Torre has a “reason for living,” a “reason for giving” and a “reason for singing.” That reason? Well, apparently, it's me. (“You,” actually.) Torre's one-song demo exemplifies what happens when someone spends too much time reading the CliffsNotes of Songwriting for Dummies. MS/thejaketorreexperiment.
While Kaya doesn't lack in technical skill, his six-song instrumental demo—which runs the gamut from Jack Johnson beach-jazz to moody ambience to a Randy Rhoads cover—comes off more like a session guitarist's résumé than a coherent EP. His first-rate production quality does, however, suggest promise behind the scenes. MS/chadkaya.
Cinnamon and Bourbon
By-the-numbers troubadourism that wants desperately to be deeper than it is. Keefer's voice verges on overtly earnest on the ballads, and the rough-and-tumble fast numbers are sub-par alt-country. Lesson of the day: Extra emphasis on the words “you” and “me” and stretching out consonants does not a Ryan Adams make. Bryan Adams, maybe. MS/keefersongs.
Battling the Sun EP
Spanning several genres—rock, pop, acoustic—Kelly proves herself to be a musician with genuine abilities, but none of these six songs stands out as earth-shaking or even memorable. It doesn't sound as if she's doomed to mediocrity, though. She has talent, but it seems as though a new source of inspiration might be necessary. Unless, of course, she's content with the bargain bin in the music store. MS/astrakelly.
New-age whimsy, soft jazz and subdued Irish instrumental stylings that alternately sound like either the film score to an IMAX documentary on whales mating or the kind of thing you might listen to while raking your Japanese meditation garden. You're not gonna rock it on your “workout mix,” but it does provide soothing atmospherics for dusting the coffee table, reading Better Homes & Gardens at the doctor's office or spending those tranquil moments after you've self-administered a lethal dose of sleeping pills. MS/keltikkharma.
Live at Beauty Bar, Aug. 25th at 9 p.m.
The four songs on this CD-R, which arrived at CityBeat's offices in a paper case without aid of track titles or band info, show a band with a keen ear for good, old-fashioned song-craft. Bringing to mind the emotional indie rock of Rainer Maria, Tracks 2 and 4 feature inventive guitar while Track 3's lush chorus is accented with a perfectly simple synth. But what really gets me is Track 1, with its jumpy rhythm section, spidery guitars and winsome vocal harmonies. MS/kennedyscurse.
If Bill and Ted were more obsessed with King Crimson and conspiracy theories than Van Halen and cute babes, they might have sounded a lot like King Ludd—an enlightening journey for those involved but an amateur-hour exercise in impenetrable prog-rock tedium for everyone else.
Oh man, I don't even know what to say. Are you a fan of radio rap from the late '90s? If so, these are your jams. It's a mixed bag of musicians, and some songs are much better than others. Skip the first three and move straight to “Break Rocks” for some decent rap. You'll thank me. www.kingspinrecords.com.
The Lawn Jockeys
For Mass Consumption
One of the stranger records in the pile, The Lawn Jockeys sound like a basement band. Filtered vocals, mechanical drumbeats and nonsensical lyrics, some of which are good for a few laughs. “She's Sexy, She's 17, and She's Stupid,” is clever, catchy and, well, mean. But by the time we get to “She's Sexy, She's 18, and She's Pregnant,” a few songs later, the joke feels tired and worn out. For Mass Consumption? I don't think so. Closer to the other end of the digestive system.
The four tracks on this demo all have formulaic, unnecessary breakdowns that make me want to hide the high hat from the drummer and scold him. The style of music changes from song to song, evolving from smooth jazz to a close relative of Switchfoot. Levan can go one of two ways from here: Make the lack of direction work for him with a potent and much-needed injection of personality (à la Bob Schneider), or continue sounding like my dad's friend's band that plays all the neighborhood block parties. MS/johnlevanmusic.
Listening to Rocks
Do they rock? Sure. But not in a Gene Simmons kinda way, rather in a KISS midget-tribute-band fashion. Rift-heavy and with a joie de vivre all their own, they're like the cul-de-sac garage band that you semi enjoy listening to rehearse and wouldn't dare call the cops on. MS/listeningtorocks.
Long Live Logos
Let's Take a Walk
Listening to Let's Take a Walk--produced by Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins)--is like taking a dance-stroll through Balboa Parkon an impossibly clear, sunny day while eating ice cream, sipping margaritas and chatting with your best friend. Not sure what I mean? Try this: Imagine if The Thrills, The Flaming Lips and a fluffy white cloud all had sex and produced an album. MS/longlivelogos.
This band is doomed to live in the rarely visited land of “mediocre local band on MySpace” oblivion, which makes me sad because I was initially charmed by the Bob Dylan reference as a band name and the allusion to Tom Waits in their MySpace URL. They're not awful, but far from inspiring. I imagine they're a band a bar crowd would be talking over throughout their set, only to later forget they even played. MS/thegunnstreetgirl.
Magnetic Flux Records
The Purple Beat Tape
Fucking-awesome-sounding jazz, soul and hip-hop riffs—but that's it. It's just the riffs. Seriously, there aren't any songs on this demo. It's 20 minutes long and spans 15 tracks, but all they are are ingredients for greatness. It's like Magnetic Flux sent us 15 of the samples used on an upcoming album instead of including the actual songs. We'd love to hear the final product! With the right recipe, this shit could be amazing. www.magflux.net.
Girly pop with lots of texture and innuendo-laced lyrics. There's most definitely something to build on here. Someone needs to make a snappy YouTube video out of one of these songs and then hire a viral guru to work his magic. MS/makelovemakelovemakelove.
Made up of experienced San Diego scenesters, Mananaland is a good homage to simple indie pop. It'll sound good in a North County bar after a day of surfing, and it'll sound good with a glass of whisky. It's got a lazy cadence, with a bit of the wry lyricism of Built to Spill or Pavement and a little sand between the toes for good measure. MS/mananaland.
Please excuse the Kelly Clarkson comparison—I just don't listen to a lot of country-tinged power-pop. On the bright side, Marie certainly has the pipes to validate her solo status, and her music feels more honest than other squeaky-clean pop-starlets. The beautiful pedal steel doesn't hurt, either. MS/christinemariesings.
For years, The Infants have been a reliable source of traditional mid-'60s blues-rock revival. Their shows have petered out lately, but frontman Scott Mathiasen has emerged with a solo EP displaying a new, matured and independent voice. The EP leads with 'Borrowed Time,' a scorching update of desperate, hard-charging rail blues. 'Sweet Mama Blues (That's Alright)' nails straight-ahead blues and 'She Said' channels the oohs, aahs and handclaps that recall the early rock songs that forced their way into the mainstream. Slowed down for '9 O'Clock Line,' we get the full benefit of the plaintive vocals, complete with cooled-out guitar strumming and warm backing harmonies. Closing with 'The Song,' Mathiasen finishes a confident application of blues-rock lessons that inform The Infants, graduating from straight tribute to deliver a full-out reinterpretation for a new era.
When I first heard The Mashtis, I immediately thought of the Pixies. The band delivers an intriguing strain of indie rock that shows obvious love for both traditional pop alongside more experimental influences. The key Pixies tie-in is the interplay between vocalist / guitarist Itai Faierman and bass player Erica Putis. They just nail that great guy / girl vocal weave that Kim and Frank used as their band's special, um, pixie dust. The songs are generally restrained, but once in a while, they open up the rock jar to let loose with some hip shakers such as the excellent 'Better.' Most of the tunes seem to simmer slowly, allowing the voices to gently lure the listener to the bait, before the instruments kick in and firmly plant the hook in the cheek. Once reeled in, you may actually request to not be thrown back into the sea of crap. MS/themashtis.
Mayhem and Miracles
Have your handkerchief on hand. Soft and compassionate, this progressive, piano-pounding group is serious and emotionally crushed. Imagine a mix between Coldplay and U2 and you have Mayhem and Miracles. MS/mayhemandmiracles.
Mecca Town ENT
Tha Meccatown Connection
Flow? Check. Style? Check. Sick beats and a decent mix tape? Check, check. All this crew needs is to catch the eye of the right “big-time” producer. He'll smooth it out, tweak it a bit, add some bells and whistles, and you'll be hearing these guys repping San Diego through speakers nationwide. Not to say that it's not impressive on its own. I mean, they reference laser tag and still manage to sound gangsta. In “Believe Dat,” they promise they'll “shine before they die,” and I do, indeed, believe dat. MS/hustlin4cheese.
Men of Praise
Totally not my scene, but if I were the type to go to The Rock Church and Men of Praise were playing, I just might be forced to see The Light and repent. This bilingual Christian biker band sticks to catchy riffs that are reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Steve Miller Band. Though I could do without the '80s sax and synth.
Mike Michaels Program
This is what makes the Great Demo Review great. Guy from Jamul who looks like a cast-off from a Stevie Ray Vaughan cover band unintentionally does Ariel Pink better than Ariel Pink, substituting the '80s-pop obsession for nothing but guitar licks. If his song “Quest for Fire” were written by an art-school dropout, the kids would embrace it wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, that's just not the world we live in. ms/mikemichaelsband.
Mind Over Matter
They like John Mayer—that's for sure. They're not bad by any means, but all they sing about are “simple things” and “feeling alright.” I'm too young and jaded for that crap, but it makes 40-year-old women get loose, which leads me to believe that Mind Over Matter is “residency at a North County bar” material.
Mr. T's Jam Band
Live @ The Wire
In Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, Lester Bangs wrote of getting fucked up on drugs and going to see Tangerine Dream. If I had followed the late Mr. Bangs' template, I suspect I would have enjoyed this live set from MTJB. The band's name tells you what you need to know about them, much like budget cola plainly informs you what you're about to drink. As a non-fan of the jam genre, I applaud the band for whittling the masturbatory noodling to a relative minimum, adding some crunchy guitar and keeping all songs under five minutes. MS/mtjb3.
—Ian M. Rick
The Morning Glass
Cowboys & Indians EP
In the song “Day Dream,” the chorus goes: “I'm just a boy / And boys have dreams / Of mighty adventures / That they share with their favorite girls / You're my favorite girl.” The dream, here, is that Cowboys & Indians is an EP, when it's not even a demo and only worth sharing with one's mom. The CD is just six immature, generic pop songs on the theme of boyhood by musicians who haven't yet learned how to play together nicely. MS/themorningglass.
The Morning on Fire
Layered and languid indie rock with sporadic vocals that crib from the Conor Oberst and Julian Casablancas schools of Emoting in Song, save for a more extensive and expansive affection for instrumental noodling. There are intriguing flashes of talent here, but, too often, The Morning on Fire dicks around the experimental abyss until it's late afternoon and your patience has long since been reduced to cinders. MS/themorningonfire.
He looks like a Jonas Brother and sounds like Switchfoot meets The Fray. Can someone get this kid on the Disney Channel, quickly? ms/jamesmorrisband.
“Bare bones” is a generous way to describe this very demo-sounding demo. That's not to say there aren't redeeming qualities: harmony, when necessary and competent groove-mongering. Even some chiming guitars and engaging hooks shine through—mostly homage to more famous power-poppers, like Jimmy Eat World and even Unwritten Law. More time in the incubator is certainly needed, however. ms/jamesmorrisband.
—Will K. Shilling
Make it a Double
Black-garbed, tattooed, armed and dangerous, Mower comes at you straight from the heart of bro-dom. These high-strung aggressors congratulate themselves on their SRH-fueled thrash metal. A wall of sound dosed with cocaine reveries and riddled with bullets. MS/mower.
The Musk Deer
Joseph D'Arcy must have a fun time when he introduces work colleagues to his music. I can only imagine the “UHHHHHHHs” that his tunes generate from the American Idol masses. “Girls and Monsters” is especially UHHHHHHHH-worthy and sounds like maybe the “and” in the title should be an “are”—if ya know what I mean. But I'm always all for the bedroom experiments, and The Musk Deer flies its indie-experimental flag low (fi) and proud. MS/themuskdeer.
Myron & The Kyniptionz
World on a String
For a few fleeting moments, there's enough brainlessly energetic Van wailin' guitar-rock going on here to ignore lyrics like “Smells like somebody's cat died.” Then comes an inane song called “Pony Tail Pony Tail” that's either about A) sex, B) headbanging C) an obscure dance craze or D) ponytails. Suffice to say, things go downhill from there as the songs become a little longer and a lot less interesting. Turns out, mediocrity killed the cat. MS/myronandthekyniptionz.
It's official: Pall Jenkins is so the new Tricky. Along with GF Addiquit, this brooding, trip-hop project could have been a disaster (as is often the case when musical couples decide to make music together), but these initial demos are extremely promising. Slow, cooing vocals, bizarre guitar interludes and valium-paced beats that certainly got stuck in my head. MS/myth2myth.
The Napoleon Complex
Yes, yes, you did it! You somehow channeled Jack White and The Devil Makes Three at the same time, dressed them as pirates and covered everything in whiskey. The result is an album that combines the two greats: boot-stomping and head banging. MS/thenapoleoncomplex.
The Napoleon Complex
Nicely produced little five-banger by dudes who encourage you via MySpace to request them on either 91X or FM 94/9. They'd make a perfect fit for rotation on either. Just don't mention their height. MS/thenapoleoncomplex.
This band is quintessentially San Diegan in character, not just because of the name, but because they're so remarkably similar in sound to Lucy's Fur Coat (though a bit rougher and more bitter). Yet, for all our five minutes of Googling, we couldn't establish any crossover. Warning to the prudish: There's some chick's “fur coat” on the cover of this collection of two EPs and new songs. MS/ nauticaldisastermusic.
The Cuts You Said Were Good
“Take off your makeup / Your husband's overseas.” So goes the oddly time-signatured opener on this songwriter's overindulgent, polished, ambitious collection. Where he's going for Coldplay, Newman can barely come up with comely—his lyrics are so eighth-grade earnest that it's hard to take them seriously. “Choppin' Broccoli” tendencies are the most damaging faults here. MS/gregnewmanmusic.
—Will K. Shilling
Nick Z EP
A self-described “gypsy MC,” Nick Z sounds like Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz butt-fucking on a Thai beach. God-awful white-boy acoustic soul complete with Jesus references and lyrics so incredibly cheesy that Velveeta execs should consider legal action. This is, without a doubt, the shittiest CD I received this year—not because it's all mellow-yellow, but because even by that genre's already low standards, it's still contrived and mundane.
Quiet, yes. Brooding, yes. But eventually Noise Gate is tedious without the aid of psychedelics because it takes far too long to unfold. This disc might make a great contemporary noir film soundtrack one day when it grows up. MS/noisegateband.
The Odd Get Even
Remember that episode of Freaks and Geeks when the Neil Peart-obsessed kid experiences the revelatory drumming of Buddy Rich for the first time? While snobs argue about the differences between lo-fi, shitgaze and post-whatever, these musical veterans bust out a combination of B-movie sleaze, sexploitation and prog that can awe the most jaded hipster. MS/theoddgeteven.
The Old In Out
Classic garage-rock in the sense that it kicks itself into your head and bounces around, but the accepted term of art is “Dance Loud.” And if that doesn't make sense to you yet, it isn't for lack of trying. The Old In Out has been everywhere in San Diego, teaching rockers how to keep punk's razor edge in a new era. Beats and bass lines rumble up from the center of the Earth, guitars punch through the pretenders and Mike Turi tears through every track with vocals like Jonathan Richman finally cranked to 11. MS/theoldinoutbandits.
I don't listen to modern jazz (who does?), but there's some next-level shit going on here. Apparently, Olson spent a few years directing 18 different musicians without sheet music, then uploaded all the recordings onto a computer program and manipulated them as he saw fit. Not exactly something to throw in between Drake and Lady Gaga on your next party mix, but fascinating for the right type of listener. ms/henceforthrecords.
Like a lo-fi Manu Chao, Orozco layers smooth Spanish and English vocals over dark acoustic beats—the perfect soundtrack to a backyard party winding down on a sweltering summer evening.
There are good bits here, but they are interspersed between Kanye West mimics, Outkast rips and biting refrains about Manolos. This might sound good in a crowded club, but there's no depth to the rhyme or the rhythm—at least not enough to make this interesting outside of a quick spin on a drunken Saturday night. MS/magfluxpac10.
The Pride and the Parliament
Paper Forest is a two-man act composed of multi-instrumentalist Sean Burdeaux and drummer / vocalist Ryan Cooper. Check out Track 5—spoken word (uh-oh) against a backdrop of ambient indie-pop (double uh-oh), and the classic couplet “It defies God / It defies science and Led Zeppelin.” So, obviously the “it” in this case is Tipper Gore, right? Elsewhere, the disc sounds like Violent Femmes minus their punky charm with a little Syd Barrett substituted instead. Perhaps a bit too far on the crazy and monotonous side, though. Maybe it will all make sense once I stop taking my lithium. MS/paperforest.
Paper Plane Pilot
Dustin Frelich's one-man approach to sensitive, electro-emo is remarkable for how much it accomplishes on the cheap, but it's difficult to get over the image of a lone, heartbroken man in his apartment with a keyboard and ProTools at his disposal. First Flight is a pleasant, ephemeral journey, but easily forgotten after landing. MS/paperplanepilot.
Loungy and soulful, Paras' work provides the perfect soundtrack for going around the Maypole during a Wiccan Summer Solstice celebration or a new-age bookstore's semi-annual prism sale. What's that you say, Bianca, in your oh-so-tortured twang? Hold on to that thought. I hear The Lady of the Lake has a quartz sale going on. Biancaparas.com.
Parker and the Numberman
A fantastic if not slightly unbalanced four-song suite by two local MCs that runs the gamut of hip-hop topics (trifling women, police problems, etc.). “Caught Up” is a ridiculously catchy ode to a snooping woman that might as well be the anti-“Single Ladies.” Almost an “extraspecialgood,” it's evidence of maturation that will likely land them on the shortlist of best hip-hop groups in town soon enough. MS/parkerandthenumberman.
Six Songs Demo
Any vinyl crate digger will tell you about stumbling upon something in the $1 section that looks like some forgotten treasure only to get it home and find out that it's just some mid-'80s boob who thought he was going to be the next Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson. I paid nothing for Pemberton's demo and I still feel robbed.
The scribbles on the CD-R promised “pure rock 'n' roll as you haven't heard in years.” Uh, sure, but anyone who owns a Cheap Trick, T. Rex or KISS record knows that they did it better. And over the last few years, there's also been these bands called Eagles of Death Metal, Sloan, Supergrass…. MS/victorpenalosa.
Plack is apparently something of a control freak, handling all the vocals, instruments and production on this four-song precursor to his forthcoming full-length. But just because you have the chops to pull off an album singlehandedly doesn't always mean you should. This is more developed—and, for the most part, more interesting—acoustic indie rock than you'll get from the average coffeehouse carbon copy, but while Plack sounds better flying solo than many full bands manage en masse, I suspect some additional perspectives could turn this insular pet project into something bigger and better. MS/jesseplack.
A synthesis of Mr. Bungle-inspired bass lines, ska-metal guitar riffs, female vocals and general goofiness, Platypus Egg plays a funky blend of circus music that closely resembles that of every single act that used to populate my high school's band shows. The band seems to be having fun, but when lyrics like “I want you to close your fucking eyes, open your mouth and spread your sweaty thighs” constitute its greatest insight, I have difficulty defending this boondoggle. Also: The demo literally smells like an old man. MS/platypusegg.
—Ian M. Rick
If I were a Pitchfork writer, I'd know how to describe Primitive Noyes' music without missing a beat. I'd reference all kind of obscure bands that you've never heard of, like Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Explosions in
the Sky, unless, of course, you're an indie geek like me. I'd use words you'd have to look up, like “emollient,” “supplicatory” and “incantational.” I'd tell you that the quartet makes a beautiful, haunting blend of electro white noise and progressive indie rock, but I'd say it in a way that would likely make you feel more like an idiot for not knowing what the fuck I'm saying. I'd say you just have to hear the gorgeous ballad “Science Vs. The Story” and that The Album Leaf would be mad jealous of “Where Are You Calling From?” Finally, I'd tell you that if you don't go check them out live and stare at them, bespectacled and arms-crossed, then you're just not going to be in the know. But I don't work for Pitchfork, so I'll just say that this was the best CD I received this year. “It's always perfect; it could always be better,” bellows the singer during one of the few songs with vocals. Yep, absolutely. MS/primitivenoyes.
Project: Out of Bounds
Project: Out of Bounds
Fire up those bongs, San Diego lovers of music and marijuana! There are about a gazillion of you out there, and when I last checked, 93 percent of you preferred the soothing rhythms of reggae to accompany your state of bake. Project: Out of Bounds isn't that far out of bounds, though, unless you consider Sublime's mellow side to be as tough a sell as a Yoko Ono album. Pick up the Project: Out of Bounds disc, rip it, love it and then see if you can trade it for some choice nugs at the local dispensary. MS/projectoutofbounds.
A Night at Quail Gardens
Just picture that scene in Titanic in the basement of the ship with the po' folks dancing. I can confidently say I don't know of any other Celtic bands in San Diego that have accomplished as much as Raggle Taggle, but to be fair, I could have ended that sentence after “Diego” and it'd still be true. www.raggletaggle.com.
Less is RayMo. Vocals. Acoustic guitar. Harmonica. That's pretty much it, save for a couple shakes of the maraca. Sparse is good for six-course-meal desserts, change-of-pace songs and studio apartments, but what would otherwise be a commendable show of restraint in a world where unheralded artists typically try to do way too much ultimately results in too little. With no real counterbalance, simplicity in excess simply conjures stunted ability and creativity when the material suggests there's enough talent here to dive deeper. MS/raymoca.
The Recordable Colors
Allow me to introduce you to Erica Putis. She's certainly this issue's double threat, having landed two “extraspecialgood” nods, playing bass and sharing vocals in both The Mashtis (see Page 31) and this indie-rock threesome. The other members are also scene vets, and you can hear them coming at each other with different musical approaches. One minute they're channeling the guitar rock of bands like Silversun Pickups, the next there's co-ed cooing of the likes of The xx. And fans of The National and Jarvis Cocker will certainly dig Dorian Tucker's sexy, come-hither vocal delivery. Overall, it's a sharp debut that you'll swear you've heard before. Hell, you probably have, but The RC have a musical palate that runs deep, and, lucky for us, they're influenced by all the right bands. Geeky rock boys (and some girls), take note of Putis—you just met your newest crush. MS/recordablecolors.
Ringo Jones Gang
The Vulture City Bank Robbery
I have no doubt in my mind that a gun-slinging, Indian-fighting bank robber like Ringo Jones would be embarrassed by the uninspired instrumentation, unmoving harmonies and unimaginative lyrics that tell the story of his most ambitious heist in this unexciting rock opera. Then again, a character as uninteresting as Jones is hardly deserving of a score by the esteemed Ennio Morricone. MS/theoutlawringojones.
Robert Morgan Band
Seems like there's some decent good-time rock 'n' roll buried in here somewhere, but trudging through the awful recording quality makes it tough to find. The clothes do not make the man, but they can augment positively.
Gold star for taking the concept to another level by not submitting a demo, per se, but, rather, a low-budget DVD of the trio playing their demo “live.” There's a mix of tongue-in-cheek farce and eccentric sincerity in the stage presentation (which includes the bassist dressed like SoCal G.I. Joe and the vocalist / guitarist writhing manically in a purple evening gown, black Count Chocula cape and upside-down sunglasses) but the music—garbled garage rock infused with psychedelic strains of Hendrix—is solid enough to stand on its own without theatrics. MS/schitzophonicsmusic.
The psychedelic blues-rock that this three-piece throws down in this 24-minute performance may not rise to the level of “Purple Haze” in terms of innovation or catchiness, but guitarist Pat Beers certainly conjures the spirit of Jimi Hendrix with his rough-hewn vocals and gnarled riffs—not to mention his bizarre alien-wizard costume. Extra credit goes to bassist Jim Accardi for playing an entire song with his instrument running through an awesome laser-blast effect without a hint of irony. MS/schitzophonicsmusic.