first track, “Happy When I’m High,” is the fluffy and dissonant
standout on this five-song electro EP. A close second is “Sun Go Away,”
which calls to mind The xx. But after that, the set descends into the
trendier trenches of computer-generated music, where synths are used for
synths’ sake and vocal effects rival those of T-Pain. I am so close to
liking “Everyone Talks Too Much” but just can’t commit. And, I have to
say, “Living Dreams” sounds way too much like the song from that old
Internet video “Aicha, Aicha,” in which that acne-covered white kid
sings and dances in his bedroom.
The Last Years
put, The Last Years is loud and fun. This album gives you the urge to
mosh, or just do some slight head-banging. It’s probably most suitable
for drinking beer at warm-weather barbecues and skateboarding.
of all, I need to describe Latex Grenade’s logo: a severed hand
holding the Earth in the shape of a water balloon. Yep. Anyway, the
music is more straightforward: Pennywise-style punk melodies roughed-up
with some thrash-metal riffs. Plus, there’s a song called “Tits on a
Stick.” San Diego has produced about 5 million bands just like Latex
Grenade. Here’s another one.
Oldest Boy & Girl
Get What You Give
Oldest Boy & Girl’s folk-pop is deceptively simple. On Get What You Give, brother-sister duo Jesse and Cristina Evans mostly strum acoustic guitars as they sing tales of love lost, love won and love unrequited. Every so often, though, they’ll emphasize their desperation with a frantic guitar solo that seemingly comes out of nowhere. The warm, bluesy guitar and simple lyrics of “Nowhere Left to Go” shows how willing this duo is to leave everything behind for love: “I just want to be on the floor / and lay with you,” Jesse sings. It all comes off as incredibly honest, especially considering that the duo got their start busking on the streets of Dublin for potatoes and cheap whiskey. After trekking around the globe, this humble band has finally settled in Carlsbad, and we’re lucky to have them.
James St. Laurent
Folk singer-songwriter James St. Laurent has a pretty bland voice, all of his songs sound the same and this hour-long video (featuring live performances by Laurent and some other unknowns) is about 45 minutes too long. Still, there’s something endearing about his easygoing folk tunes—it’s like he doesn’t care if you think he’s cool, which itself makes him kind of cool.
Leigh Taylor’s Watermark Tribe
The Tribe’s Live Studio Tracks Volume 1
Christianity-themed pop fusion usually makes my ears bleed, but this
band’s saving grace is frontman Leigh Taylor, who lends a dollop of
much-needed grit with his raspy voice.
Lillian Lefranc and the Proper Villains
This generic rock ’n’ roll / doowop / rockabilly outfit is unintentionally strange because they don’t at all sound like they could have come out of the ’50s. Rather, you can imagine them at home playing some smoky, empty bar in 2012 in a scary town with a population of 250. Also, their singer is consistently slightly out of tune.
3 Song Demo
a name like The Lovebirds, I expected some middle-aged ex-hippies
playing stale freedom-rock. Instead, they turned out to be a lesbian duo
who sing dreamy love songs. With a guitar (and an occasional harmonica
or keyboard) and lots of gorgeous vocals, the songs are all
sugary-sweet and endearing, providing an almost surreal tranquility.
Their lyrics would be corny (“I’ve got such a good love / That is why I have such a good life”) if they didn’t sound so sincere.
Undernourished pop-rock and kinda-sorta funk figure strongly in Lovesoul’s four-song demo, a sampler of this duo’s forthcoming EP. Donny Taylor makes an adequate if unimpressive lead vocalist while Rebeca Lopez’s voice is energetic and bright but reduced to backup duty—the duo should really give switching roles a shot. They manage a few memorable hooks (the nimble, fun “Lot Like U” is a high point), but their uninventive rhyme schemes (“desire / fire”) almost derail the whole thing. And it doesn’t help that one track is dedicated to the hokey notions of “rocking” and “grooving.”
Documentation Beats Conversion
native M-double-a-l throws a lot of curve balls at you on this hip-hop
record—whether it’s the unusual swinging beat (“STFU”), the weird
vocal processor (“Prince Charming”), the big sporadic orchestral bursts
(“Brink Truck”), the oddly placed high-energy backbeat (“Patience”),
the overly distorted mix (“Jeans Off”), the surreal samples (“Revel8”)
or the abrasive electronics (“All Alone”). While M-double-a-l’s lyrics
and flow are fairly remedial, with a little work he could be on par with the experimental originality of the production.
On 7even, M&M
Blues mix blues, psych, garage and ambient rock into a bizarre sound.
They begin with a lulling drone, transition into raucous jangly rock
and then go all out with blazing, feedback-heavy riffs. In the second
part of the three-part suite “I Am a Dog,” they even incorporate a long
spoken-word passage recited in what sounds like Indonesian. After too
many scrambled-circuits riffs, 7even grows grating, but its early eruptions are thrilling.
Mack N Biz
The Tree House
well-produced, rich-white-kid party music. There are moments of
cleverness in this hip-hop collection, but the gratuitous rhymes about
weed are all we seem to have in common, and the overarching theme of
“I’m a kid and I just like to have fun!” quickly gets tiresome.
This duo is like Pacific Beach, personified. So, if you like P.B.,
enjoy. If you like music with substance, look elsewhere.
All You Monarchs & Music for a Film
their best, Martian Horses ride a cool wave of dreamy indie-pop, like a
band on Barsuk Records. The secret weapon may be the his-and-her
harmonies that have spelled success for any band from Fleetwood Mac to
She & Him. As long as they keep the tempos up, the band stays
entertaining. It’s only when they hit the brakes too much that they
begin to drift.
Matthew Walker Project
impressive thing about the Matthew Walker Project is that two
guys—Walker and his drummer / recording engineer, Alexander Dausch—are
able to produce a contemporary blues album that sounds like they’ve got a
full lineup. Other than that, though, this duo sounds like G. Love
with slightly less special sauce or a second-class Citizen Cope.
The Mike Michaels Program
first track on this three-song demo does a great job evoking a truly
palpable mood—something like a dangerous, border-town bar a la From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. And
while the guitar work is strong throughout, the spotty lyrics on the
next two songs can’t evoke anything more than distraction.
Misspent Warhead Premise
Come on and Take One
straightforward indiepop. These are the kind of songs that grow on you
after a while. Hasn’t happened for me yet.
Moon Shoes for Your Fish Feet
There is some gold on this new project from John Paul Labno (Grand Ole Party, The Hot Moon) and girlfriend Sasha Evangelista. First, Evangelista has a sexy coo on tracks like “Paradiso” and “Our Lady of Space” that’s all but unrivaled in town. Still, the tracks feel skeletal and need to be fleshed out with a full band. If that happens, you just might find a full feature on these guys in next year’s issue.
admitted George Winston fan, Moeller is shooting to soothe the savage
beast here. I’m sure these 12 instrumentals would make the new-age
maestro proud. Grab the lavender candles and your little waterfall
machine—let’s get this party started.
every song on this EP gels with equal success—it’s hard for
indecipherable spoken words to make an impact on a track already thick
with wailing funk guitars. But when everything comes together just
right—opening track “LttleBter,” in particular gets strength from a
minimalist approach and Megan Carlson’s guest vocals—the resulting dark,
atmospheric beats invite repeat listens.
The Mosaic Quartet
Color Me In EP
The cover of this EP features the musicians high-fiving in outer space, which just goes to show how positive this band is. Their eclectic style drifts from super-earnest, upbeat Maroon 5-style dance jams to power piano ballads. Swelling synths and harmonies tie their big sound together.