We opened our doors, and local music flooded in as if we were SriLankaBeat.
Two weeks ago, I sat with 10 writers and a few boxes of CDs-some wrapped in college-ruled paper, some in thin CDR plastic cases, some full-artwork CDs, vinyl, even a tape (remember those?).
CityBeat's writers, all music-scene junkies who've chosen computer keyboards over Stratocasters, dug in. Aside from a handful of submissions we'd heard or seen over the years, most of the names were foreign. Writers chose their albums like your girlfriend chooses ponies at the track. “Oooh, kittycat lollipop!,” one writer proclaimed. “I have to review that one on name alone.”
Associate editor Kelly Davis would later regret that decision, admitting the music frightened her.
Fear, love, loathing, titillation-those are all valid responses to The Great Demo Review Session 2005 (GDR), when you ask anyone in San Diego with a song and a means to record it to send in their music for review.
One CityBeat writer simply gave up, and the albums in his possession will be lost forever. They, and he, were a casualty. It happens. As he explained about his failure, “The insipidism contained therein makes my bowels groan.”
Like we said in our ad for the GDR, we don't promise to be nice. There are perfectly good publicity firms around town who will speak nicely of you. We promise real opinions from people who listen to a shitload of music and like to think they know a good or bad thing when they hear it.
Maybe they do. Maybe they don't. But my experience is that CityBeat's writers have pretty well-tuned ears. They're like the friend you have who turned you on to Modest Mouse when Isaac Brock was just a mild psychotic with a funny voice and a new band.
Admittedly, the GDR is not a perfect process-when the mailman assaults you with a hailstorm of manila envelopes, you get woozy. Some get buried beneath a copy of SDMusicMatters. Some got lost in the seat crack of my truck, I'm sure. Some are sitting in my disenfranchised writer's trash bin as he groans through a bowel movement.
But we don't do this to satiate our masochistic tendencies. There are a few reasons we love the GDR:
It gives all local artists a chance to get their name into print, regardless of talent or “buzz.”
It helps us discover the diamonds in the rough-the sorts who rarely play out live or wouldn't send us their music unless we asked 'em to.
Speaking for myself, I just like hearing it all-the good, the bad, the fucking awful. It's like an audio documentary of our backyard.
The positive result is that we've uncovered 14 new or relatively new artists that knocked our socks off. We have identified them throughout this issue as EXTRASPECIALGOOD. We encourage you to at least Google them and take a listen.
Of the 14 EXTRASPECIALGOODERS, I had personally heard the music of three before this issue. As for another four of them, I had heard the names, not the music. Seven others, however-I had no clue they existed. And that's the beauty of the GDR.
One artist in particular knocked almost all of our socks off-a full-on de-socking. The artist is Wilderness Survival-which is essentially a one-man project by a dude named Nick Grosvenor. We hereby unofficially name Wilderness Survival the favorite find of CityBeat's GDR 2005.
As such, we invited Nick to play a few songs at our “All Local Music Issue” party, to be held on April 1 at the Zombie Lounge. He responded, “I'll do it, but I'm not professional at all. I've played a few open mics and I sound no different than any other kid with an acoustic bitching about how his chick dumped him.... I'm nervous as fuck.”
We've never seen him live, so we'll take him at his word. But the guy's album is so good that we don't care if he yodels for a few minutes and we have to revive him from a panic attack. Stoked to have him, and we'll be stoked to have you down there to see him.
A few of our other favorite local musicians-Mario Escovedo (the ex-Dragon gone solo), the punch-rock cuties in The After Party and our fave hip-hop troupe Deep Rooted will also play. And between sets, the fabulous Vagabond DJs-Morgan and Wendy-will spin some semi-obscure rock, punkwave, glitter, glam and psych-garage.
Keep in mind that CityBeat doesn't stop covering local music after this issue. I upload every album I receive into my iPod and every one gets a fair spin (even if it takes a month). We usually highlight one standout local musician or band an issue.
So keep sendin' it. We're masochistic that way.
Cheers, Troy Johnson, music editor