It's been another two weeks of pain and misery for me, gentle readers, because I'm still in the process of listening to all the god-awful crap that you untalented losers have tried to pass off as music. Once again, I haven’t had nearly enough time or willpower to listen to and review everything I received, so I just pretty much picked out the weirdest and most interesting demos. In case you’re wondering if I’m sitting on a heap of demos that are simply too good for me to say anything terrible about, let me just put that fear to bed right now: most of the other demos were even worse than these ones. In fact, it got to the point where I simply stopped opening files sent by people who wrote “my band is shitty, but take a listen to this anyway.” If you’re one of the people who said this, take this advice: break up your goddamn band now instead of torturing other people with music you know is terrible. Even people who think their band is great probably suck, so what makes you think that your admittedly terrible band is anything but a waste of everyone’s time and effort?
Listen to a sample of Unaffected
**What would you get if you crossed A Perfect Circle and Morrissey? Something that nobody in their right mind want to listen to. To be fair to Recalcitrance (who need a new name), the Morrissey similarity is probably a totally unintentional side-effect of the singer's whining croon. The song title is clearly a misnomer, though, because the singer's Maynard James Keenan affectation is fairly transparent. Even more frighteningly, the band’s lyrical style of vague, ham-fisted poetry about difficult relationships seems to follow in the footsteps of such true visionaries of crap as Staind and Trapt. Sorry Recalcitrance, I’m not buying what you’re selling. Your drummer doesn’t suck, but clean up your act or you’ll never be any better than Nickelback.
Listen to a sample of Sugarcakes & Moonbeams
*Totally unrecognizable as music. I'd tell Beefhoven to give up if I suspected that they had put any effort into their music, but it seems to be some sort of a joke. I'd ignore their file and assume it was just some fourteen-year-olds fucking around in a basement, but the fact that they sent it to me gives some sort of indication that they intend people to hear their music, which is totally inexcusable. They call their unique style "Industrial Art Metal," which is their clever way of intellectualizing their lack of talent into some sort of social and musical experiment. I'm sorry, Beefhoven, but there are a couple of things you should know. First of all, irreverent Situationist parodies of pop music are nothing new, and they're generally carried out by people much smarter than you. Secondly, you shouldn't go throwing the word "art" around if you have no idea what it means. And finally and most importantly: there is nothing funny about bad music. Music that earnestly tries to be good but fails miserably, as we all know, is hilarious. Music that sets out to be bad and succeeds is worthless on every conceivable level. Hey, worthless on every conceivable level. I like that. Congratulations on winning the Your Band Sucks “Worthless on Every Conceivable Level Award.”
Cars Can Be Blue
Listen to a sample of I Like
***1/2I'm going to go ahead and admit that I enjoyed this song. Unlike the pretentious faux-experimentalism that seems to be the theme this week, this song made no attempt to be anything other than stupid, friendly, and pleasant. I don't necessarily foresee any great success for Cars Can Be Blue, but at least when they play at a party to entertain their friends, their friends will actually be entertained instead of just pretending to like it so as not to upset anyone.
Listen to a sample of Sleeping In Your Bedwomb
*Bean Yellow's e-mail to me included the sentence "I hope you like it, it’s on our forthcoming EP." After listening to this song, it became clear that the hope than anyone might like this is an absolutely ridiculous conceit. Since no record label would touch this material with a ten-foot pole, it’s apparent that this "EP" will surely be one of the countless thousands of pathetic internet-only vanity releases that account for the 49% of the internet that’s not Livejournals or fetish porn. Unfortunately for Bean Yellow and their ilk, it's fairly easy for even an untrained ear to distinguish "experimental music" from "just dicking around." Over the course of this depressing and ill-advised Demo Roundup, I've seen plenty of examples of people who are under the mistaken impression that if they add enough weirdy-beardy effects to their unlistenable rubbish then someone is bound to mistake it for some sort of worthwhile musical experiment. Unfortunately, the sad truth of the matter is that unless you're Frank Zappa or Radiohead, it almost never works. Bean Yellow, you're the proud winners of my first-ever "Failed Experiment Award." Try wearing funny hats when you perform live! If you pile on enough shitty gimmicks, someone is sure to mistake you for an artist.
Listen to a sample of Tomorrow
***1/2Whatever the hell this guy is saying, at least he sounds like he means it. Since all metal sounds exactly the same to me, this shit is really, really great for all I know. In that it illustrates just how ridiculously out of touch with metal I am, listening to it somehow reminds me of the time several readers e-mailed me raving about how great Opeth is and how I simply must download their songs at the first available opportunity in order to witness their genius. I downloaded a song that was recommended to me, and I must say that I couldn’t give it an objective listen because I couldn’t get past how hilarious it was. It sounded pretty normal until the singer came into the mix and started belching out “BLLLAAUUUUUUUGHHH YOOUUU WILL MEET YOUR DOOOOOOM ARRRRGHHHH.” I know music is supposed to stir one’s emotions, but the only emotion it provoked from me was mild worry that he was going to damage his throat, followed by my aforementioned amusement at the ridiculousness of it. It became even more difficult to take seriously when the singer (whom I have named Bjorn Opeth) reverted to his “normal” singing voice, which sounded not entirely unlike “Weird Al” Yankovic. But enough of this digression, I’m supposed to be talking about Losa. Well, their singer (whom I will call Olaf Losa) can certainly scream like he’s about to puke out a baby, which as I understand it is one of the main criteria of being a metal singer. I was particularly moved by the lyrics at the climax of the song, which go a little something like this: “Wake up, that was a blaaauuuaargh! Wake up, der der a braaaar! Wayne said da da da daaar! Wummy say, that was a blllaaaauuuuuurrrgh!” I’m just going to do what Rolling Stone does at least three times in every issue and give it three and a half stars because I don’t want to think about whether it’s good or not.
Listen to a sample of Old Man
**1/2It's been a while since the world has had a good "You're Old And I'm Young So Fuck You, Grandpa" song. Unfortunately, this isn't it, but it certainly doesn't fail for lack of trying. Nearly every line is some sort of non-specific condemnation of the middle-aged, complete with vague and probably poorly-thought-out assertions that the youth of today are just way, way, better in every possible way than old Grandpa was when he was young. Aside from the clichéd concept and poor execution, there’s something likeable about Frog Stupid. They really do sound naïve enough to believe what they’re saying, even when they’re saying ridiculous things like “set your hearing aid to stun.” Also, kudos on the Brass Eye reference.
The Aaron Marshall Band
Listen to a sample of Bring You Back
*1/2Well, I've had the misfortune of sitting around all day listening to the demos of terrible unprofessional bands, so imagine my delight when I had the opportunity to listen to the demo of a terrible professional band! The band's namesake, the deceptively female Aaron Marshall, is lucky enough to have sung with former members of Kansas and Molly Hatchet. This leads me to believe she is no stranger to the grand openings of strip malls, which will be highly beneficial to the future of her musical career. The guitarist, an intensively-trained muso and a graduate of Berklee (where he presumably finished second-to-last in his class, right above John Mayer) crafts highly conventional guitar leads which perfectly compliment the highly conventional everything-else. To his credit, one would imagine that he'd have absolutely no difficulty getting a job writing jingles for moderately successful plumbing companies and furniture stores; hell, Aaron Marshall could even sing on them. Music this tame, boring, and conventional almost makes me wish I was listening to some teenager's amateur garage punk band. Aaron Marshall, enjoy your new place in musical history as the first recipient of the first-ever Your Band Sucks “Artless Professional Award.”
Stars and Sons
Listen to a sample of Asymmetrical Man
***I almost gave up on this song due to the truly obtrusive and unnecessary guitar riff that begins it, but luckily that ends soon enough what follows is a not entirely terrible song. In fact, I could even foresee this song being good if they put a lot more work into it. First of all, come up with a chorus. Secondly, rework the guitar part. Good work, guys, “this song has the potential to not be terrible” is more than I can say about most of what I’ve heard.
Listen to a sample of My Deal With O'Neill
**1/2This song is the opposite of the last one. Initially, it tricked me into thinking it wasn't going to be terrible, but then the chorus came along and hit me like a banana cream pie in the face.
Listen to a sample of Homewrecker
***As if being in a party-rap band named after a popular vanilla-flavored cookie wasn't enough to prevent people from inviting you to their parties, The Nillaz actually go on record threatening to defecate in the upper tank of your toilet should they be allowed into your home. The rapping isn’t always entirely on the mark and the production is not particularly inspired, but the Nillaz certainly convince us that they’re capable of having a good time at someone else’s expense. Also, for better or worse, you’d have to have nerves of steel not to listen to this song and then have it sneak back into your head the next day.
Listen to a sample of Tadpole
****1/2I'm fairly impressed with the level of competence displayed by this band. Believe it or not, they actually sound commercially viable; if I were awarding one of these bands with a record deal like some sort of low-budget, zero-credibility version of American Idol, my "congratulations, dawg, you're going to Hollywood" would definitely go to the Neon Thrills. They've got guitar solos, twanging Axl vocals, and enough melodies in one track to fill three songs by anyone else I've heard this week. I'm not saying the Neon Thrills are the next Beatles or even the next Badfinger, but they certainly have the potential to release a major-label LP which spawns one minor modern rock chart hit and then drops off the Billboard Hot 500 forever, causing them to be dropped from their label. Neon Thrills, when you've lost it all and you're playing some county fair in Arkansas, signing your names with Sharpies on the sweaty breasts of porcine redneck girls who barely remember who you once were, remember that Dr. David Thorpe predicted it first. Here's to the future has-beens, the Neon Thrills, who for their bravery in the face of hypothetical semi-obscurity will receive the second Your Band Sucks - Keep Rockin' Award. And by the way, as long as I'm predicting the future, I'm also going to say that your minor hit single will be called "Sweet Cactus." So get to work writing it, and sign your future away to my fiendish plan! I am mad with power!
From This Dying Hope
Listen to a sample of Away From Here
*Holy mother of God, what hideous crap. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a thimbleful of a talent sounds like when it’s squished through the world’s cheapest recording equipment, here’s your chance. The singer’s pained groaning makes me wish I was listening to Losa again. At least good old Olaf Losa could scream like his mother was on fire, whereas the dude in this band can only holler like he got rejected by his cousin.
The Elastic Band
Listen to a sample of Jackpot
**Insincere bongo-infested funky nonsense. Avoid if possible, unless you enjoy dancing with overweight band-geek girls who fancy themselves classicist hipsters. The nadir of this song, and quite possibly the nadir of my entirely music-listening life, came when the singer (in preparation for a squealing saxophone solo, of all things) croaked out an insulting James Brownish “Ow! Hear me now!” For all its desperate attempts to co-opt black culture, I would imagine that this song, if played for actual African American people, would have approximately same effect as would walking up to an Asian person, stretching out the sides of your eyes with your fingers, and saying “wing wong ching chang!” There was, however, one highlight to this song. The intro, which was rather wonky, clumsy, and out of time, created a strange feeling of unease, much like the music in Dirty Harry when the cops are chasing the sniper and he’s getting away and there’s the crazy irritating creepy music. If the whole song had been like that, they just might have been on to something.
Listen to a sample of When It All Goes Wrong
*Of course it wouldn’t be a proper demo roundup without someone sending in their brilliant contribution to the genre of “electronic music which is impossible to dance to.” This time we even get some terrible delay-pedal guitar playing in no particular key, which is the hallmark of a band which has access to real instruments but no clue as to how to use them. Yeah, guys, turn on that delay pedal! Delay makes everything sound cool, even if you haven’t the first clue how to slap two chords together without it resulting in a discordant mess. Listen, if you can’t play the guitar, just put it down. There’s no need to worsen your already-abysmal lo-fi electronic crap by insulting the legacy of real music in the process.
Listen to a sample of Final Desision
(No Stars)Jesus, guys, you might as well at least try to spell your song title right. This is like turning in a resume with “Burger King” spelled wrong in the “previous experience” section. ¡Que ridiculo! Oh, and I listened to your song, and it’s crap anyway.
Well, that’s all I have the energy for this week. Listening to a whole bunch of songs written by amateur songwriters and then complaining about them sounds easy, but believe me, calling it “hellish” would be an insult to Satan’s administrative capabilities. As always, you can feel free to send me an e-mail describing the dream you had in which I was a sea lion and I was being torn apart by killer whales while you looked on and laughed.
This is Sid Meier's world, I’m just building wonders in it.
Nightmares Fear Factory is BACK, baby!
According to Dr. David Thorpe and "Your Band Sucks," the music you hold dear is actually unimportant, dull, and staggeringly awful. Everything from folk music to terrorcore-techstep is absolute garbage that has somehow fallen off the trash heap of modern music and found its way into your CD player.