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Carlsbad Music Festival and Village Music Walk Sep 19, 2014 Now in its 11th year, this year's fest will feature over 50 performances in three days with concerts in Magee Park and Carlsbad Village Theater. Almost all genres are represented, from country and jazz to indie-rock and classical. 76 other events on Friday, September 19
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Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013

The Great Demo Review of 2013

Behold and beware: It’s our annual critique of local music submissions

By CityBeat Staff

Eddie Dougherty
I Might Be A Dog

I Might Be A Dog, essentially a hyperactive child’s wet dream, is a string of choppy, arrhythmic guitar chords underneath mostly indiscernible lyrics. But look! A lyrics cheat sheet was provided for my curious mind! After following along through each of the mind-numbing songs, I realized how much better they’d have been without knowing what the hell Dougherty was prattling on about. One interesting thing about Dougherty: One of his latest “liked” items on Facebook is a, um, “band” called Carly Rae Jepsen Sex Tape. Cute. You might want to hire a better PR manager, dear sir. FB/

—Justin Roberts

Dub Sutra
The Rise of Downtempo

Dub Sutra want to make music that’s “perfect for chill, yoga, lounge and moving meditation,” and their new album, The Rise of Downtempo, definitely fits that bill. Songs like “Ascentia” and “Buffalo Dance” are cinematic but amorphous enough to suit any mood. The steamy guitar on “Electric Slide” feels as suited for doggy-style as it does downwardfacing dog, but judging by the awkward nude yoga on the LP’s artwork, that might be exactly what the husband-and-wife duo had in mind. 

—Chris Maroulakos

Sharon DuBois
Here I Am

This breed of mostly bland elevator jazz hits my ear in the same way a thick, chalky, liquid antacid would hit my tongue if I were dying of thirst. The music has few-and-far-between expressive moments, but more often causes my index finger to fondle the “next track” button on my CD player. Curiously, in one of DuBois’ less tone-deaf ditties, she repeatedly and somewhat frantically namechecks Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. I’m just thankful she didn’t do that during her 52-second sex jam, “Seduction.” 

—Justin Roberts

Ed Ghost Tucker

Looks like San Diego has a killer new folk band. With its homespun melodies, boy-girl vocal harmonies and lush arrangements, this five-song demo is as welcoming as a well-worn La-Z-Boy. “Swans” is the obvious highlight, full of bracing guitar and glorious vocal parts, but opener “Anyone” is lovely and infectious, and “Virginia Woolf” has some classy lounge guitar. If only more bands were as versatile and surprising as Ed Ghost Tucker. 

—Peter Holslin

Blaze Eisner
American Spirit

Is it just me, or is Blaze Eisner just begging for somebody to smash his acoustic guitar? With this stale, neutered EP of all-American folk music, the singer-songwriter might as well just take a shit right on Bob Dylan’s head. I’m particularly appalled by “The Way it Goes,” a cynical political ballad in which Eisner strings together a bunch of clichés (“Everybody wants a piece of the action / everybody’s got their hand in the bowl”) and throws up his hands in surrender (“That’s the way it goes”). Barf! 

—Peter Holslin

The Electrocarpathians
Cafe Bego

There’s nothing quite like some plucky Eastern European folk tunes to get you feeling nostalgic for the old country. The Electrocarpathians bring all the fixin’s on this CD—accordion drones, bouzouki flourishes, clarinet and trumpet melodies, even their own take on “Koroboushka,” the madcap Russian folk song made famous on Tetris. 

—Peter Holslin

Elektric Monk

Think suburban Midwest block party—your friend’s dad, who really loves U2, is jamming with his high-school buddies next to a parked F-150, drinking Bud Light. Sounds fun, right? This collection comes complete with a whole song dedicated to their band name (“Elektric Monk, Elektric Monk, Elektric Monk”), entire verses consisting of the sound “oh oh oh oh oh” and a painful acoustic number. But with enough beer and some delicious barbeque, you could be convinced to stick around for a bit. Maybe. 

—Natalie Jacobs

Fake Book
Sea Turtles Rising

Fake Book fits squarely into the post-punk / post-surf genre that’s come to characterize San Diego’s indie-rock scene in the last three years. But while other bands— such as New Mexico and Mrs. Magician—have made that heavy-distortion style something worthy of the national stage, Fake Book sounds a little all-ages to me, or, at best, an opening act. 

—Dave Maass

Far from Ya Average
Stage Crasher... The LP

As decent as this 76-minute hip-hop record is, it’s only slightly above average. The beats are solid, and several MCs featured have nice flows and fresh rhymes. But the beats also sound like they were made with factory presets, and there are some really bad lines, like “You’re gonna get served good ’n’ plenty / And we can go 24 hours like a Denny’s” in the latenight sex jam “Me & You.” Yeah, because Denny’s is so sexy.  

—Peter Holslin

Fighting with Irons
“Summer Sand”

It’s easy to imagine Gilchrist playing solo to friends sitting around a beach bonfire. The night sky, cold sand, bare feet and ripped jeans are all there in the acoustic guitar, violin and Gilchrist’s quirky vocals. Unfortunately, so is the influence of Dave Matthews. 

—T. Loper

The Flowerthief
Natural Selection

It might be The Flowerthief’s mix of honesty, vulnerability and irony that forces me to crack a smile against my will. With song titles like “Teeny Bopper Baby,” “Cowboy Song” and “La La (Singalong),” it’s deliberately tongue-in-cheek, embarrassingly so—corny in its irony. I like that. The music is simple and consistently off-kilter, for which I also have a soft spot. They play different rock variations: country-rock, alt-rock, ’60s rock. But it’s always rooted in that good ol’ fashioned rock ’n’ roll. 

—Aaron Carnes

Forbidden Image


Thanks to the mainstreaming of “EDM,” this kind of half-baked electro schmaltz will only become more prevalent. Two individual tracks, both equally incompetent, further prove that a guy with a MIDI keyboard and a Macbook is even more soulless than the guy with the acoustic guitar thinking he’s gonna be the next Bob Dylan.

—Seth Combs

Friend of a Friend
Coldhead Full EP

There is a good deal I like about this little EP: It’s a bit of a minimalist approach to new-wavy ’80s pop, and, at certain points, sounds like a young American version of Phoenix. If Friend of a Friend can build on their strengths (particularly their keen sense of melody and solid vocal delivery) and avoid the spots where they fall into some pitfalls of predictable, radiofriendly rock, they might truly have something special. Even after a fourth listen, I still want to overlook the shortcomings.

—Jackson Milgaten

Fuck Parade
Don’t Call Me Chocolate EP

The first track eased into my ears with a mellow, dulcet groove, but was quickly interrupted by an irritating din that pierced through the smooth foundation. Remember when Jim Carrey offers up the most annoying sound in the world in Dumb and Dumber? That’s the one. The EP only gets worse from there, descending deep into a valium-heavy, dubstep / hip-hop hellhole. 

—Justin Roberts

Future You
Meant to Be

Between Portland and Brooklyn, there are plenty of guys in western shirts making dreamy, wistful, teary-eyed indie-pop, but Future You add a worthy contribution to the mix. Here, the five-piece group elegantly balances the reverb-laden balladry of My Morning Jacket with stunning slide surf guitar à la Santo and Johnny. The world may not necessarily need another sad-bastard indie-pop group. But with strong songwriting; sublime, heady arrangements; and a whiff of romanticism, Future You is one worth keeping around. 

—Jeff Terich

4 Song Demo

Garbo describe themselves as Americana. Really, they’re a bar band, playing roots-rock and ’70s classic rock. They’d be great to see if you were having a drink at some dive somewhere in Central California, or if you were at an arts-and-crafts fair on a Sunday afternoon. They’re solid in their execution, so, as long as these guys know they’re just playing generic bar music, I say more power to them. 

—Aaron Carnes


G-Code is made up of vets from what some have deemed San Diego’s hip-hop Golden Age, during the days of The Underground Improv open mic. The experience definitely shows in the rappers’ solid rhymes, especially on the knowledge-kicking “Wake Up Time.” Their attempts at making songs for the club fall short, though, with uninspired hooks and beats. When they stick to boombap and raw rap, they’re golden.

—Quan Vu

Sweaters in the Summer

Solid beat-boxing, on-point versespitting and abstract psy-fly / hip-hop rhythms come together to make one of the more interesting demos I’ve heard this year. Generik (aka Jonaire’) delivers lyrics whose meaning isn’t immediately evident. Often, though, obscure words make for a more alluring piece of art, which Sweaters most certainly is. 

—Justin Roberts

Gone Baby Gone

GBG’s bio says their main focus is “to have fun,” and they deliver on that promise. Every one of these throwback rockers seems out for a good time, while frontwoman Dizzy ties the whole thing together with her easy swagger. Though the quartet’s still unproven, it’ll be interesting to see if their upcoming EP can take them to the next level. 

—Scott McDonald

The Goomies
Make an Appointment with Disappointment

This is some pretty swell lo-fi slacker-rock, and I can’t help but think that, had it been heard by the right ears around the time it was recorded (2005, according to the CD sleeve), it would’ve gotten both local and national attention. If they’re not together anymore, then I’m thinking some reunion gigs are in order.

—Seth Combs

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