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Wednesday, Mar 07, 2012

The 2012 Great Demo Review

Our annual critique of local music submissions

- Ilustration by Dusty Dirtweed

Let’s be honest: Bad reviews can be fun. Writers love writing ’em, many readers love reading ’em and some musicians even love getting ’em.

Every year, CityBeat puts out a call for local music, and our team of music nerds reviews every CD, LP, DVD, digital download and cassette tape that comes in. Not all of what we get is good. In fact, some of it is awful. And while plenty of readers get a kick out of our brutally honest appraisals, we’ve also been dismissed as bullies, egomaniacs and (at least in the case of Seth Combs) assholes.

We don’t put together the Great Demo Review to pick on the music scene. We want to discover new sounds, highlight great artists and clue you in to music that might’ve otherwise been over looked. For all the stinkers we got this year, there were also plenty of gems—and we deemed our 10 favorites “EXTRASPECIALGOOD.”

Still, this issue isn’t just about saying what’s good and what’s bad and leaving it at that. Especially in the age of social media, criticism goes more ways than one. If these reviews spark conversations and debates about the music that’s being made in our city, that means we’re doing our job.

Whether you love our reviews, hate them or love to hate them, come tell us all about it at our Local Music Issue party at The Casbah on Thursday, March 8.

2 Bit Radio
Dirty Time

Cross “Jizz in My Pants” with The Faint, and you’ll end up with something like 2 Bit Radio. As hilarious as that sounds, though, I have a sinking feeling that these guys are being totally serious when they sing groaners like “Move that ass, grab that ass” and “It’s dirty time, mama” over their two-bit electro grooves. They might think they’re players, but, in reality, they’re about as sexy as a liquor-soaked Gaslamp creeper who won’t stop groping ladies on the dance floor.

—Peter Holslin

321 Stereo
Lights & Late Nights EP

321 Stereo look like they were genetically engineered in an Axe Body Spray lab to suck ass and play Six Flags theme parks, and their music is just as bad. The band’s own description of their music is apt: “Part ‘80s dance. Part Electro Pop. Part Alt Rock. All Party.” Yeah, the party where you used the toilet seat as a pillow while your BF got rufied and raped.

—Seth Combs


When the name 7hundercun7 is the best thing about your band, it’s time to start a different band. The drone-folk group’s interminable two-song EP is a soul-crushing car wreck of Pro Tools wankery, but that’s probably the intention. Or maybe assuming it’s all a joke is just wishful thinking—the only thing more disturbing than 7hundercun7’s cacophonous claptrap is the possibility that they’re actually being sincere.

—Chris Maroulakos

9th Street Shakedown
Yellow Garage EP

These guys are decent musicians, but I’m not convinced they’re anything more than a Rolling Stones cover band that hasn’t become self-aware yet. I would love it if they played at my block party, but I don’t know that my interest would last much longer after that.

—Sammi Skolmoski

Adams and Eves

This collection isn’t so much a finished product as a dreamy patchwork quilt of ideas and sounds. Still, the impressions contained within do well to convey that fans of 2011’s Dear Professor can expect more soft, sweet, accordion-and-glockenspiel-frosted indie quirkiness on this band’s sophomore effort. The inspired seven-minute Modest Mouse-meets-Ennio Morricone opener was an extra-special treat.

—Sasha Orman


Brad Shitt EP

Photo by Angie Ollman

Beat-driven pop duo Bruin tagged this new EP with the term “chillwave” on Bandcamp, but there’s nothing on this two-song EP that indicates anything about Instagram filters or melancholy, half-remembered trips to the beach in the ‘80s. Their music is definitely chill, but their soulful samples, fat beats and stoned, hazy vocals evoke summer barbecues and lazy afternoons. At their core, “Brad Shitt” and “Oh My Hoodness” are great, sample-based pop tunes with equal parts humor and warm, crackly melodies. Dominic Fawcett is charmingly blunt on the title track, dropping verses like “We can laugh and fuck / and with a little luck / more of the latter.” And despite its silly title, “Oh My Hoodness” is sublimely hypnotic, looping a brief strings phrase into a mesmerizing one-note hook. The band is reportedly releasing a full-length album later this year, and there’s bound to be more laid-back good times where this came from.

—Jeff Terich

Alas de Mosca

Lucha y Libertad

This Latin-flavored, reggae-tinged, Gipsy Kings-style world-beat combo isn’t half bad, but its two singers might want to work on their cheesy clichés and bumbling rhyme schemes. Take this line from “Break of Day”: “Although there will be obstacles and roadblocks in your way / I’m sure you’ll find your way.” Rhyming “way” with “way”? Come on, you can do better than that! Still, they overcome their flaws with an endless stream of deeply funky Afro-Cuban percussion grooves.

—Peter Holslin


Synth strings, tribal drums, tubular bells and twinkling synths start and stop without rhythm or warning, like staircases and doorways ultimately leading nowhere. This disc is the Winchester Mystery House of ambient sounds. But while the house can be fun, this music is simply baffling.

—Sasha Orman

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