You should know the drill by now. You send your crappy demos, I tell you how crappy they are, everybody laughs at you. Simple enough, right? Wrong! Wait, actually, it is simple enough, I don't know where I was going with that "wrong" thing.

Dissident Saint – The Lost Cause
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This one was certifiably bad right out of the gate, with some truly misguided rhythm and delightfully uncouth keyboard mincing. When the singing started, however, the badness approached divine. I think the pinnacle of the demo roundup will always be the guitar solo from Psyatika’s “What You Call Life” (here's a clip), but the absurd vocals on this track are a definite contender. Imagine if Kermit the Frog and Morrissey had a kid, and then imagine that that child was really into the Scorpions. The scary part is that it sort of works. Every bit of my rational mind knows how bad it is, but I’ve nonetheless listened to it a few more times than technically necessary for journalistic purposes. I have a soft spot for this singer because he just lays it all out on the line and doesn’t give a shit. “Sure, I sound like heavy metal Scott Walker with a nosebleed. There it is. Take it or leave it.” My recommendation: the singer and keyboardist from Dissident Saint should find the original guitarist from Psyatika (who understandably but unfortunately got kicked out of the band) and form some sort of all-star bad demo supergroup.

The Six – Casino
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Okay, serious question: it took six guys to make this song? Come on, guys, I’ve heard one-man bands put out more interesting material than this. Much as you want to include every single one of your friends in the band, you have to admit that probably two or three or five of them are just deadweight. Worse than that, they’ll become a financial liability once you hit it big (har har har) and have to split the proceeds six ways. As the band’s unofficial accountant, I suggest that everyone in the group fire himself and the bandmate standing to his left.

Fireweed – Exodus
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Surprisingly competent acoustic guitar playing in the beginning and throughout, but then, as always, some jerk starts singing and curdles the whole operation. Not only is the whole affair –and I hate to resort to such harshness– fairly Creedish, but the problem is more complex than that. There’s a prominent element of gauche hard-rock tastelessness that seventy-five percent spoils the song and twenty-five percent redeems it: it has unabashed, unconcealed, power-ballad falsetto backing vocals. We’re talking Mr. Big-level backing vocals. It wouldn’t surprise me if I found out that Fireweed was actually an offshoot of Firehouse. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t have a grandiose enough chorus or a catchy enough tune to scale the heights of true monster-balladry. Instead of majestically soaring like hair metal, it plods like mediocre nu-metal. I recommend that the guitarist and the falsetto backing vocalist start a band of their own and grow their hair long and rip their jeans and make a really heartfelt black and white video.

D’FektiV – Animal Friends
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A) Come up with a new name, you’re not in junior high (well, I shouldn’t jump to conclusions; you may very well be in junior high). B) Make your singer stand closer to the microphone if you want people to hear him. Personally, I think he should forego microphones entirely and stick to keeping his goddamn mouth shut. C) Wait a minute, why am I giving you morons free advice? Fuck you guys.

Deathrow Bodine – Cripple Creek
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Hey, it’s hillbillies! That’s different. Thanks for not being another stupid pile of white teenage angst. You guys can come play at my birthday party and we’ll get drunk and howl at the moon while all the other bands in the Demo Roundup sit at home and try to get girls to “friend” them on Myspace.

DismaY – Elitistic Behavior Patterns
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I’m not sure why people are still sending me metal crap like this. It’s like asking a person to judge dolphin music or something. I don’t even know what the standards for a dolphin song are supposed to be, I can’t make heads or tails of it. It’s all just twitters and whistles to me. In fact, that’s a pretty good analogy, because I don’t even consider metal to be “music” as such. It’s like bird songs or whale songs: we call them “songs,” but really they’re just sort of naturally-occurring noises without any real artistic intent. Birds will make birdsongs on their own without any “musical” training, and fat nerds just sort of fall together into metal bands like birds form flocks. I bet even if there were no other music on Earth, and the concept of music had never even been thought of by humanity, there would still be nerds forming heavy metal bands and writing heavy metal songs and nobody would give it any more thought than we give chirping birds. God, I write such amazing material.

Head of Destiny – Cream Filled Caribou
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I might just go ahead and tell these dudes to keep rocking. Their music isn’t my cup of tea, but whatever it is they’re doing, they’re pretty much just doing it. Do you ever see some hipster at a show who’s just dressed in a completely crazy outfit with an insane hairstyle that looks like it’s held together by pure destiny (a head of destiny, if you will), and you think “I don’t know what that guy’s deal is, but whatever he’s into he’s really into it”? That’s the same general impression I get from these cats. If I threw my negativity at them it wouldn’t even break their stride, because they would know I just didn’t understand what they were doing, and they’d just kind of snicker at my ignorance and keep rocking out.

Monkey Throw Feces – Meatball
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This is the kind of thing that makes me hate the Demo Roundup. These clowns actually admitted that this travesty of a track was inspired by They Might Be Giants’ “Fingertips.” I would be slightly less disgusted if they said they were inspired by Hitler. I wish I had the power to ban things, because I would impose such a strict embargo on these shitheads that their own mothers wouldn’t be allowed to look at them.

Verbal Aggression – awhitemansrythemmmmddd
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You should see the idiotic e-mail these idiotic idiots sent me: “The Chickenlord will come for your soul. The Werecow has been spotted again after a 10 year hiatus. Beware. You could be next. Tori Amos is still the Devil. Polka! Blue java rag mold silk, face, club. Mildred is still dead. We still wanna put it in yer pooper. The See & Say Symphony was quite majestic on Jerkbeast. Big Fun. We still want Goth Boy to die. Jello Pudding with Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame was the best fucking meal I ever had. We are from Seattle. We make the music Rodney Dangerfield likes. We can teach your Furby to speak.” Yeah, you’re random and wacky and hilarious! Warecow? How totally off-the-wall! Can you even imagine such a thing? It’s patently absurd! Okay, so we’ve established that they’re morons. How about the music? Well, if you’ve read any of the Demo Roundups in the past you’ll surely be aware that bands that have to fall back on wackiness are always just pure garbage. Surprisingly enough, Verbal Aggression represents a rare exception: their music is experimental but listenable and surprisingly ripe with ideas. Ha! I had you going for a minute! Yeah, they’re fucking terrible.

Rol Jui – Let’s Operate Our Machinery
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I sometimes get tricked into thinking things are good during the Demo Roundup just because I have to listen to so much bad nonsense. Sometimes, after I’ve spent all day writing one up, I’ll turn on the radio and think “holy moly, Tom Petty is really effing spectacular” (I never swear in my internal monologue). Of course, Tom Petty is not effing spectacular, and probably neither is Rol Jui, but after listening to all this Verbal Aggression and Monkey Throw Feces it sounds to me like Rol Jui is going to be the next Beatles. I sent it to one of my homeboys and he said it sounded like Paula Cole with an electronic voice adjuster, and he’s probably right.

Shuteye Train – I Don’t Want You
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Awesome, these guys can play at my birthday party with Deathrow Bodine, and then we’ll stay up all night listening to old records and throwing knives at a stump while the guy from Monkey Throw Feces sits at home and thinks about a chubby girl who talked to him in high school one time, and wonders whether she was trying to hit on him (she wasn’t).

Elmo Sexwhistle – Modulator
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Remember when Ministry first started out and they had those great chintzy electronic beats and the phony British accents? Then they started being all serious and industrial and they weren’t half as funny anymore. On some level, Elmo Sexwhistle manages to remind me of that, except that the British accent on display here is real. You know what? I think I would prefer it if it were a fake accent. None of the singers in the Demo Roundup (besides the Dissident Saint guy) have any balls, so a fake accent or a ridiculous affectation every once in a while would do wonders for my constitution. I was extremely dubious of Elmo Sexwhistle because of their name, because bands with “hilarious” name are terrible in 99% of all cases (actual statistic), but these dorks managed to halfway win me over.

Vagittarius – President Groove
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Maybe we should keep this song in an archive somewhere just in case all the other dance music in the world gets destroyed in a war or something. Under those circumstances, assuming there was no longer any disco or funk or party rap or house music or Jamiroquai or anything left, I’d imagine that humanity would be willing to dance to this song.

The Greatest – Mothership
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This song right here was the biggest disappointment of the day for me. Their e-mail said that they were music students from Northern Ireland and that their band played ’70s Arena Rock. How rad does that sound, right? Music students should mean some degree of musical competence, and it’s even better that they’re from the UK, because judging by the demos I’ve seen in the past, people from the UK don’t feel automatically entitled to be in a band just because they’re white and they’re morons. And arena rock should mean big hooks and awesome solos and stuff. But alas, none of that was true. It’s the same dull crap that a band of computer science students from Ohio would come up with, and it’s about as close to “arena rock” as it is to gangsta rap. Normally if I hear a boring demo like this I just say “whatever” and move on, but these idiots got me mad. They got my hopes up and turned out to be crap. I feel like I got invited out to an authentic Mexican dinner and was served tacos with bologna and ketchup.


Please mail your demos to [email protected] 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. Do not attach files, because I won’t open them. It is highly unlikely that I’ll bother with things on purevolume.com, soundclick.com, or whatever. Direct links are much more likely to be followed.

– Dr. David Thorpe (@Arr)

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