Our mail carrier has a hernia. When we announced our “All Local Music” issue, we thought we'd get a few dozen submissions. We received enough to start a boutique record shop. So look for us at Kobe's swap meet this week-we'll be the ones selling used Memorex demo CDs.
Our goal with The Great Demo Review Session of 2004 was simple: cover as many San Diego bands in one week as possible. This issue isn't for the bands you already know-the Kill Me Tomorrows and Rocket from the Crypts and Berkley Harts of the city. We've been writing about those bands all along, so you won't find them in here unless we had yet to review their newest albums (Dave Howard and Tristan Prettyman fall under that category).
We figured there had to be at least one mad scientist in a basement in Santee, pouring genius lo-fi folk into a stolen 4-track machine. We wanted to find him, or her. We wanted to find bands like The Nihilist-a metal trio who could kick the crap out of The Darkness. Or Out Brief Candle, an indie-folk duo who should copulate with Chan Marshall and yield tender, virtuosic kittens.
They found us.
We received over 200 submissions. As you can tell, they're not all reviewed here-because there's only so much midnight oil to burn. But we managed to studiously listen to and review 100-plus San Diego artists. And the rest I'll attempt to listen to myself over the next month or so.
It's a moral conundrum, reviewing unknown artists-harsh words could wilt a hothouse flower. The next Cobain might get discouraged and trade his guitar for a PlayStation. Yet we at CityBeat also have a persnickety tendency to tell the truth. That's why words like “awful” and “yikes” weren't edited out of these summations. (Plus, if the next Kurt gives up after one bad review in an alt-weekly, it's probably not meant to be.)
And I'm sure we'll be flooded by a lot of letters filled with dissenting “truth” from musicians and fans as soon as this issue hits the streets.
You'll notice that a few albums are old-that's because in my great grab bag I threw in submissions that didn't make it into the paper over the last year, for whatever reason.
You'll notice that some albums are reviewed twice-because the artist sent us multiple copies and writers each grabbed one. Instead of choosing between the reviews, I thought we'd let you see how different takes can be between critics. Or, how much the same.
You'll also notice 16 reviews with photos marked “EXTRASPECIALGOOD.” That's Cityspeak for bands we think you should actively seek out-the gems that we came across in our demo review session.
Find them, support them.
I gave my writers two guidelines: write whatever the hell you want and be honest. Keep it under 100 words, unless it kicks ass. So you'll find some reviews that basically say, “this sucks.” Conversely, you'll find some esoteric ramblings about great new artists.
I also learned a lot about these bastard writer friends of mine in the process. I learned that Seth Henry-Combs is a very good rock critic and a mean man (although I had to draw the line at him referring to someone as a “dick shit” because their music was palpably horrible). I learned that Loren Graves is the funniest motherfucker I've read in a while (check his review of his own demo).
So here it is, San Diego-the Great Demo Review Session of 2004. We hope you enjoy it, and if your band got slammed and you'd like to ritually lynch the writer's goldfish with a guitar string, please email me your salutations. I will pass them along.
Troy JohnsonArts & Entertainment Editor