This is what garage-rock is all about: The singer isn’t always on pitch, and the guitarist and drummer are a bit sloppy, but they still manage to deliver a refreshing pop hook that has me listening to this track more than once. Follow your dreams and you will go far, dudes.—Peter Holslin
electro-pop overload of carnival-esque synths, cracking beats and
overlapping samples, “C.O.S.M.I.C.” is like candy-flipping on a
Gravitron. You might need a barf bag, but you’ll still have a blast.
East of Sweden
parts Foo Fighters, one part Green Day, a dash of The Strokes and a
generous handful of Linkin Park is about what it took to cook up East of
Sweden’s demo. These guys obviously aren’t aiming for a niche market;
rather, their sound demonstrates a craving for front-and-center
placement on a mainstream rock station. Luckily for them, they’re
actually pretty talented. As long as they avoid being pressured by
publicists into getting flat-ironed hair, spray tans and $400 jeans,
they might just make a name for themselves.
Jesse Daniel Edwards
Fire in the Rain
his heartfelt lyrics and powerful voice, Jesse Daniel Edwards’ songs
are mellow yet emotionally provocative. I couldn’t help but picture
scenes from films about love and heartbreak while listening to standout
tracks like “You Get What You Give.” Definitely worth downloading when
the full-length album is released in March.
just put aside the fact that there’s a song on this three-song cycle
of shit called “Ride the Snake” and that the song isn’t some kind of
epic Tenacious D homage. Having done that, the only positive thing I
can say about Emerald City is that the singer sounds hot. That’s it.
Red Tide EP
The world-famous Los Angeles “beat scene” might boast an army of enviable talent, but San Diego has some amazing beat-makers of its own, and one of them is Mystery Cave. On this limited-edition cassette tape, mastermind John Christopher Harris II warps his samples beyond recognition to conjure a sound world with surprises at every turn. There are melodious synths and glimmering drone tones, orchestras playing in reverse and beats assembled out of clicks, pops and sucking sounds. Even the tape itself serves as a kind of instrument, embracing the music in a bosom of warm fuzz. Of course, Red Tide can be a challenging listen—it’s pretty weird stuff, and good luck finding a way to actually play it (tape decks aren’t exactly common). But if you accept it on its own terms, this wonderful little tape will reveal more of itself with each listen.
Cause and Effect
a lot less death-screaming than I’d expect from an album that comes
with a pullout sheet connecting rivers and waste to violence and hate.
But vocals aside, this is straight political hardcore, with all of the
intricate guitars, preachy slogans (sample song titles: “World Crisis,”
“Peace Bomb”) and DIY production qualities you know and love.
is a somewhat prefab country, blues, roots-rock hybrid. There’s even a
dash of Hootie & The Blowfish in there. (Even a dash of Hootie is
too much!) It’s well-produced, and the players sound professional: It’s
exactly the kind of demo I imagine major labels got a lot of in the
’90s before promptly tossing them in the trash.
The FABulous Rudies
pop-rock-ska-punk that’s stuck in the late ’90s. If you took the
awesome opening five seconds of “Keep on Movin’” and looped it for five
minutes, you’d get a pretty rockin’ song. The rest, however, is
Far From Ya Average
Featuring an array of unknown MCs, this hip-hop debut has just about everything—a seductive slow-jam (“Feeling You”), a politically conscious morality tune (“Dark Alley”), chest-thumping brag-raps (“Third Degree,” “Stuck Up Playa”)—even a cheesy ode to the city (“The Sound of San Diego”). Not every track is a winner, and some of these MCs desperately need some personality, but the imaginative beats help make up for the flaws.
Sunshine Over Flowers
put aside the punctuation-challenged name and the fact that the band
describes itself as “ambassadors of cognitive introspection.” They sound
like a space-age Pavement minus the talent, or maybe Slightly
Stoopid-ish jamming, only 1,000 times stoopider. Please don’t make me listen to these five songs again.
Joe Flatt sounds like every other singer-songwriter that regularly plays the Gaslamp bar circuit at any given time. Serviceable guitar work but slightly tone-deaf vocals and an emo aesthetic make it easy to understand why he doesn’t have a backing band.
I can practically smell the stench of engine fuel while listening to this greasy slab of high-octane rock ’n’ roll. But, guys, where’s the roaring guitar solos? Where’s the sweet-ass production quality? Where are the fiery collisions, screamed vocals and smashed instruments? The longer this 48-minute set drags on, the more this hot-rod looks like a jalopy.
A fairly solid dose of indie hip-hop with some tight beats, decent lyrics and interesting sampling choices. There’s just nothing particularly groundbreaking on it, and the attempts at conscious-rap and heartfelt love jams are sooooo 1997.
Get Off the Map
What the Judge Meant Was What the Judgement Was
The homemade CD cover (a torn shred of paper with a cartoon heart and “I love you with all my neurosis” written on it) is a nice intro to the handcrafted strangeness that ensues on this disc. Each of the seven tracks are collages of various sounds and noises. There’s mellow indie-rock, answering-machine messages, people singing “Happy Birthday,” Casio beats, droning synth parts and random white noise. I have no idea what any of it means or why they chose the wordy album title, but I feel like they mean all of it.
boss bass lines, but I’m not a fan of the wordy, carnival barker
vocals. Feels like being lectured by Willy Wonka.
parents who make an album with their kids are cool in my book.
Six-year-old Rory and 2-year-old Kailen aren’t exactly rock stars, but
it sure is adorable when they recite the alphabet and yell stuff like
“It’s breakfast time!” over what I can only assume are mom and
dad’s guitar and sample accompaniment. (And naturally, this album
deserves bonus points for “Drunken Friend,” a song based around a line
written by CityBeat columnist Aaryn Belfer.) Kidz Bop, eat your heart out.
Gone Baby Gone
Gone Baby Gone / And the Beat Goes On
Gone Baby Gone are raw, minimalist art-rockers in the vein of early Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They don’t sound like a rip-off band, but they’re not as good as Karen O and Co. The singer is much tamer, the music isn’t quite as arty and I could do without the guitarist’s occasional drifts into 1950s-cliché territory.
Samples from Included Intuition
Ugh! Your press kit is all that’s wrong with music and humanity. From the first page (in a non-ironic way): “Twenty-five years of pure talent, six feet of eye-candy, a well traveled mind, and a heart of gold.” When is all this phony, pseudo-sensitive singer-songwriter garbage going to be taken out to the Dumpster? I’d rather listen to Chris Gaines, because at least he admitted to being phony. Sure, Thomas, you’ve got a nice voice. Go on American Idol; you’re the perfect type. Nothing but buzz words, trite metaphors and a fedora.