Well, since I’ve still got hundreds of demos sitting in my inbox waiting for a thrashing, I figure it’s time for another painstaking installment of the Demo Roundup. I’ve been putting it off for a couple of months now, but not without good reason. I’d like to remind you that this truly is a death-defying feat. For your own safety, I’m only including brief clips of the songs I’m reviewing, but I’m afforded no such precaution. Believe it or not, in order to write about these songs, I have to listen to them all several times. I also have to listen to countless others which are too boring to be reviewed. By the end of it, I’m in a state of glassy-eyed internet shellshock comparable only to what our own SpokkerJones might feel after writing The Weekend Web.
I’m doing things a little differently this time. I’m not going to be giving each song a one-to-five star rating anymore. If the song is crap, I’ll say it’s crap and you’ll believe it’s crap, then you’ll download the clip and confirm that it’s crap. I’m not going to baby-sit you anymore! I’ve had enough!
EvenFate – Back Down
mp3 SampleWhat follows is an absolutely not-made-up and 100% real quote from EvenFate’s website: “EvenFate's members form so clearly the pool of their music: the ripples of each individual's craving for creation and the ripples of music that has influenced them. Stark, bold, complex, and moving, Even Fate intends the listener to let the waves inspire them, so the waves bounce back, and inspire Even Fate.” If you’ve ever wondered just how pretentious a band of Texan Incubus copyists could get, there’s your answer. I’d think that was a joke if only there was any hint of anything at all but brow-furrowing seriousness going on with EvenFate (by the way, is it EvenFate or Even Fate? They alternate between the two all willy- nilly). Since there is not even a single trace of artistry or originality buried anywhere within this song, one is forced to conclude that EvenFate formed as some sort of a moneymaking venture. As evidence of this, I submit to you that the only band photo on their website (www. evenfate.com) shows the band members from the neck down only. Why? Because they are sixty- year-old Japanese businessmen. They have come to America to cash in on our love of artless, soulless angst-pop-metal. They have manufactured their sound in high-tech laboratories to be as pleasing to the tin ears of stupid people as possible. They have implanted themselves deep within the suburbs of Houston, playing at far-flung venues with names like “The Sidecar Pub” in order to win over the cultureless dregs of America. Unfortunately for them, their plan to sound exactly like everything else worked a little too well; amazingly enough, they’re probably too bland and unoriginal even for American chart success.
Hideous – Waste
mp3 SampleThe easy joke, of course, would be to say that the band’s name and the song’s title represent a refreshing example of truth in advertising. You know what? I’m going to go with the easy joke.
The 68’s – Sureshot
mp3 SampleIt used to sort of depress me that all the local garage bands in my town were pretty much boring and terrible. I’d go to shows to please my friends or just to have a night out, but the music was always terrible. All the hipsters would go on and on about how great some new local band was: “Oh man, you’ve got to hear them, it’s Tim from The Flamin’ Hots on guitar and Tim from The Flamin’ Fires on vocals!” Deep down, I think that even the most with-it scenesters knew that all these bands were just pure garbage, but admitting that would mean admitting that they were basically scenesters without a scene. This song warmed my heart, in a way, because it made me realize that no matter were you live, no matter how big or small the town, all of the local scene bands are shit. I wonder if The 68’s know that they’re just an excuse for people to get drunk on a Saturday night, or if they’ve deluded themselves into thinking they’re actually good. Either way, I commend them for carrying on the ancient tradition of playing shitty rock and roll shows in tiny clubs so that guys in tight sweaters might go home with girls who work in record stores. Scene Award!
American Diary – Too Long To Wait
mp3 SampleApparently whiny alterna-pop is the new punk, because an amazingly large percentage of the demos I’ve heard lately from DIY suburbanite bands sound like Hoobastank’s little brothers. It’s getting a bit hard to review this shit, because what I say about this band might as well apply to all the others as well. However, I’ve committed myself to this stupid project, so I must soldier on. I promise to do my best to illustrate what’s specifically wrong with this one song without resorting to condemnations of the genre at large. Well, first of all, it’s complete crap. The instrumentation would fit perfectly as the background music to some “extreme sports” video game: It sounds like a synthesized and sequenced approximation of some old guy in a studio’s idea of “totally rad rock and roll.” Secondly, the singer sounds incredibly noncommittal; I have no idea what on Earth gives him the idea that he’s cut out to be a rock singer. If he doesn’t sound like he cares, why should be care? There are many different kinds of good rock singers, and some of them are certainly cool and detached. However, this guy just sounds hesitant and bored. The lyrics are strike three: they include every imaginable angsty bad-relationship cliché, and the only surprise comes when the singer says “I’ve got this gun up to my head, just say the words.” Chill out, hombre, it’s only a terrible song.
Hands of Arioch – Plight of Midgard
mp3 SampleWhy do people even bother sending me this stupid screaming bullshit? Yeah, go ahead and play it at your little dungeons and dragons parties or whatever, but keep it the hell away from polite society types like me. The only possible use I can envision for music like this is building a time machine, taking a stereo back to the thirties, playing it for Hitler and saying “hey Hitler, this is what the future is going to be like.” He kills himself a few years earlier, the whole nasty business is averted, and we all have a party. Oh, and at the party we play real music.
Neves – Now
mp3 SampleThis is one of the irritating breed of self-referential rock and roll songs that do nothing but describe how wonderful rock and roll is. Yes, most of us already know that rock and roll is pretty good, or else we wouldn’t be going out of our way to listen to some unknown band of hacks in the far-fetched hope that it might not suck. This song adds nothing new to the genre of rock and roll, but even worse, it doesn’t even bring anything new to the field of talking about how great rock and roll is. “Rock and roll is going to save our soul”? Great. “Rock and roll is going to pay our toll?” Probably not. If you’re going to write one of these insipid things, you might as well give us some new reasons why rock and roll is great. Maybe rock and roll could be used to cheat at gambling. Maybe rock and roll could invent a new way to give your dog a bath. Maybe rock and roll could go back in time and kill Hitler, like in that review of Hands of Arioch I wrote. I don’t know, I don’t care, just don’t give me the same old bullshit about saving my soul. Oh dear, I'd better give Neves the Day Job award, just in case they believe the thing about rock and roll paying their toll.
Cowsponge – Aquaman
mp3 SampleWonderful, it’s this week’s first “hilarious song” contender. If people wanted to listen to unfunny nerds dicking around with crappy recording equipment, they’d buy They Might Be Giants’ first record.
The Elliot Project – Postcards and Polaroids
mp3 SampleWhat we’ve got here is some authentic indie mope music! You see, in the aftermath of emo, moping is the new dancing, and songs like this are the emo kid’s version of disco. This song has pretty much everything you could hope for in a good mope: it’s got driving all night, it’s got memories from last year, it’s got lines like “I’ll promise you that I’ll die trying,” and it’s got guys with shaggy hair and pretty faces playing acoustic guitars. It’s even got that part at the end where it sort of sounds like the guy might be crying a little bit. Clearly, this sort of music is not for everyone. Is this song for you? I don’t know, look down. If you see a really tight faded t-shirt advertising a place you’ve never been, or if you see Chuck Taylors which have been written all over with a sharpie, then yes, this song is probably for you.
Splatterfest – Cathedral of the Archfiends
mp3 SampleSplatterfest is a one-man “ digital metal” band, which from what I gather means that he makes scary metal songs with his computer. I have some bad news for you, Splatterfest. Nobody wants to listen to shit like this. In fact, I’d venture to guess that you’re making these recordings purely out of boredom and you don’t even particularly want to listen to them. Is metal without guitars and drums and basses inherently better than metal with them? Obviously it’s not. Are you some sort of genius who can transcend the limitations of your chosen genre and make something truly revolutionary? No, you’re barely competent. Just because you can, Splatterfest, doesn’t mean you have to.
The Day We Die – Severed Head Money Shot
mp3 SampleSo do you just make this crap to confuse your parents? They don’t care, you know. They just think you’re an idiot.
Pixels – Two More Bodies
mp3 SampleOkay, imagine if you were down in a deep, deep well and it was 1986 outside. If someone topside played their favorite obscure indie record down the well, it would probably sound to you a little something like “Two More Bodies.” The main thing this song has going for it is the fact that it’s recorded poorly enough that I can’t really tell if it’s crap. For all I know, what I thought were vocal harmonies could have been someone’s mom yelling at him to take out the trash.
Many Small Functions – Betrayal
mp3 SampleI’m going to go ahead and admit that I sort of dug this. It sounds like the theme music to some educational show about space from the 80s. In fact, I think Many Small Functions should just go with that. They ought to record a track over this with some deep- voiced narration: “The glory… of the cosmos. The mysterious spiral of a distant galaxy… what wonders does it hold? Mankind may never know.” Or don’t, whatever. I’m just trying to make your stupid song better.
Shelton San – In This Very Moment
mp3 SampleYou know what I’ve always wanted to do in a music review? I’ve always wanted to use the term “tour-de-force.” There’s just something awesome about that phrase. It’s a TOUR… of FORCE. Well, I’m going to live my dream and call this demo a tour-de-force. It’s a tour-de-force of me not wanting to listen to it ever again. It’s an unrelenting hurricane of skull-shattering unpleasantness! It’s the sonic equivalent of getting mugged by a junkie at Disneyland! It’s sort of like being alone on graduation day and getting drunk with your grandma, just like my friend Bobby did! Basically I’m just filling space at this point, because there’ not a lot to say about this demo other than that the singer honestly sounds like he has Down’s syndrome. If I find out that he does, I’ll probably feel a little bit bad about it. What if this poor guy is one of those high- functioning mental defectives and he’s just trying to lead a normal life by being the lead singer in a band? Maybe he didn’t fully understand the concept of this demo roundup and just wanted to get his demo heard. If that’s the case, I’m sorry, little buddy. I admire your gumption. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. For your bravery in the face of adversity, I give you the Special Needs Award. Oh, and if by some outrageous stroke of luck you’re not retarded, you really should do something about that sounding-like-you-have- Down’s-syndrome thing.
Well, I’m certainly spoiled with variety. I’ve heard everything from indie mope music to inexplicable screaming metal, and I’ve come away from it hating the world just a little bit more than before. I apologize if you sent in a demo and I haven’t reviewed it. First of all, I got way too many of them. Secondly, a lot of them were boring and worthless. Thirdly, I’m not your goddamn slave.
If you’re still dying to send in a demo for next time I do one of these, you can mail it to email@example.com with the subject “DEMO ROUNDUP.” Give me the name of your band, where you’re from, and what the song is called, as well as a link to an mp3. You have no idea how many people just sent a link to an mp3 file and expected me to magically guess the name of their band using nothing but my internet fame. The rule is: if it takes me more than ten seconds to determine the basic fundamental information, I’m not going to bother. If you tell me that your song sucks, I won’t listen to it (if you already know it’s bad, why do you need me to tell you?). Do not attach files, because I won’t open them.n them.
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