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1492: Conquest of Paradise Jul 28, 2014 Gérard Depardieu plays Christopher Columbus in Ridley Scott’s big-budget telling of the “discovery” of the Americas. This film is presented as part of Film in the Garden, the Museum's Monday night sundown film series in the May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden. 65 other events on Monday, July 28
San Diego planning director’s uphill battle to create walkable communities
Documentary about the famous film critic leads our rundown of movies screening around town
Kevin Faulconer should follow Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins’ lead
Seen Local
Painter spends plenty of time curating and exhibiting interesting work online
Arts & Culture feature
A look at the late architect's lasting impacts as his murderer faces 15 years to life


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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

Jazz Domingo
Covered in Jazz

Itís kind of impossible to tell much of anything from these three songs. Clocking in at just under nine minutes (premature ejazzulation?), anything brewing here is long gone before it even really starts. 

—Scott McDonald

Johnny Fuckin Reese Ya’ll

Hey, ya'll, this fuckin guy can fuckin strum a fuckin guitar really fuckin hard, and if you saw him sitting on the fuckin curb singing his fuckin songs, ya'll might throw 35 fuckin cents into his Styro-fuckin-foam cup. But if you actually fuckin stuck around for a few fuckin minutes and heard his lyrics—"I give you almost everything / Not enough / Still you want to take all my stuff / You're a bitch / You annoy me like an itch"—you'd realize that Johnny Fuckin Reese is a fuckin dick. The saving fuckin grace of his four-song demo is that all the fuckin tracks were recorded on a fuckin Tascam four-track recorder for ya'll fuckin analog nerds. 

—Dave Maass

Luke Andrew Johnson
Wrote You a Song 

Johnson's songwriting is a good balance of earnestness, country melancholy and humor, and he usually manages to avoid cliché. Violin, organs and sparse drums are a nice touch, too. Johnson and his band just need to find a style of their own, because Dawes is already doing the Jackson Browne-knockoff thing. RN/

—T. Loper

Corey Johnston
Better Start Digging Your Grave / Low on Cash

I'll assume that it's coincidental that this guy shares a surname with Daniel Johnston and sounds almost exactly like Daniel Johnston. The weird sampling and electronic textures on Grave are a nice touch, and on Low on Cash, Corey does Eels almost as well as Eels does itself, but there's nothing on either of these discs that weirdoes like Daniel, Mark Everett or Jeff Mangum haven't already covered. 

—Seth Combs

Just in Case

Just when I thought pop-punk had died off for good, Just in Case came along to haunt my dreams. Whatever goodwill this band gains with its rocking, At the Drive-In-style riffs it soon squanders by letting a whiny frontman sing his poor little heart out over some background singer's totally obnoxious, totally clichéd screams. 

—Peter Holslin

Jonathan Karrant
On and On

Everything about this music is done correctly. The players are exceptional, the vocals proficient and the guitar solo in the cover of Stephen Bishop's "On and On" is mellifluous and busy, yet tasteful. But the music lacks even the slightest edge of originality. It would sound at home in a Miami hotel lobby, perfect for when you lock eyes with that lovely post-cougar and your mind plays out exactly what you're gonna do after your Matlock hot-tub session. 

—Alfred Howard

Greg Kester
Balance EP

I have no idea what Greg Kester looks like. The pictures on his Bandcamp page are of a pastoral sunset and a full moon. But if he looks anything like Bret Michaels, dude could easily give up his own gig and start a Poison cover band. Their voices just sound so unnervingly similar. Then again, he could just lie in wait: I've heard Michaels has some health problems. 

—Scott McDonald

Kinetic Circus
“7 Off”

With its big riffs, driving beat and fist-pumping lyrics, this six-and-a-half-minute single sounds like something out of a cheesy Broadway musical about teenage punks living in the '80s. Except guitarist Brian Davis has trouble keeping on beat and singer Yolonda Johnston is a bit rusty, so more like off-off-Broadway. 

—Peter Holslin 

Chris Laguna
The Cycle

Laguna's only 21, and he has the singer-songwriter thing nailed. With a bevy of worthy inspirations behind him, it won't be long before he learns to use them effectively. For now, it feels a bit like a work in progress, despite multiple stretches of deadpan niceness. But with a healthy dose of recreational drugs and/or Jeffrey Lewis records, I think Laguna could really be onto something. 

—Scott McDonald

Lake Reflector

There are some halfway decent ideas floating around in these lo-fi / bedroom instrumentals. Unfortunately, they're all in such a rudimentary state, any chance of an overall coherency—or a translatable identity for that matter—seems impossible. Hopefully, these songs will serve as very rough demos for a more complete vision somewhere down the line. 

—Scott McDonald

Landis EP

You know how when you're listening to a really cool metal band like Opeth or Porcupine Tree, and they just throw in some epic Renaissance Fair-style romantic ballad, and you're all, like, "What the fuck, man?! I was just about to throw up my devil horns and yell at that hippie!" Well, imagine an entire four-song EP of that kind of emo melodrama and you're getting close to the sound of Landis. The booker of SOMA would probably jizz over this band. 

—Seth Combs

Lazy Cobra
No Horizons

This is just the sludge-metal cup of coffee I needed this morning. Lazy Cobra's riffs are as heavy as fat Val Kilmer after a free Vegas buffet. Singer Joshua Zinn screams in such a way that I'm going to go ahead and preemptively diagnose him with vocal nodes: Try some throat-coat tea as you whisper hoarsely through your day job, Joshua. All in all, I'm sold. Also, I don't want to slam them 'cause they sound perfectly willing to stab someone in an alley at night. 

—Alfred Howard

Michael David Lewis
Headin’ North: A Rock Opera

I thought a rock opera about a man called "The Protagonist" trying to find God would be at least a little interesting. After 38 minutes and 33 seconds of nasally, static melodies, some sort of '80s drum kit pounding out repetitive, stale beats and a countless number of underwhelming wah-wah solos, I found out that it wasn't. Listening all the way through is like walking across a desolate wasteland as Weird Al describes the scenery to the tune of "My Sharona." It hurts. 

—Andrew Scoggins

Scott Lingner
Occasioni Musicali

Scott Lingner's ambitious solo project is excessively abstract, noodly and hard to follow, but that doesn't mean he's a lost cause. Songs like "Across the Sea" and the album's title track show that he's an inspired songwriter and musician. Lingner just needs a little help from his friends. Get some bandmates and enlist their help in distilling these 14 ideas into five solid songs. 

—T. Loper

Lost on Our Way
Assembly Line

The band name pretty much sums it up: It sounds like the members have never met, and they're actually walking through isolated time warps, carrying their respective instruments and antiquated tape recorders. The guitarist's path brings him to hair-metal heaven. The vocalist arrives at some distorted R.E.M.-meets-Live fork in the road. The drummer is stuck in quicksand, barely keeping his own rhythm, let alone anyone elseís. None of it makes any sense together—or apart, really. 

—Natalie Jacobs

I’m Over It

The "Mason" in LoveMason is singer-songwriter Heidi Mason, whose style can evoke anything from slow-burning alt-country á la Neko Case to adult-contemporary pop. "Words Obscure the Truth" follows the awkward opening line, "You're awesome / I love you," and the track picks up into a subdued rocker in the vein of The National. A little all over the place, sometimes the EP works, sometimes it doesnít. The professionalism is there, but it's a little too slick—getting a little grittier might do this band some good.  

—Jeff Terich 

“The Perihelion”

"The Perihelion" is just a single, comprising three minutes and 47 seconds of slow, weepy, waltzing alt-country sadness centered on frontwoman Heidi Mason's extra-sappy lyrics ("You are not just my night fire / You are more than my bright star / You are my life-giving sun / You are the only one"). That's probably pretty flattering for whoever's on the receiving end, but the sentimental overdose is a bit much. That said, the crisp guitar licks and thick layers of Hammond organ make the lyrics go down a little easier.  

—Jeff Terich 


I'm going to let Lunarray speak for themselves on this one: "At the moment the mixes only have guitar and drums. Bass and vocals will be added soon, but we figured it was better to send something in rather than nothing." It's a halfway decent start, fellas, but a folded piece of bread does not a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich make.  

—Scott McDonald

How to Save Home Planet EP

Lunitorpia's Carlos Nath clearly has a penchant for the bizarre. This aptly titled EP sounds as if it were broadcast from another planet, with eerie bits of theremin emerging through heavy squeals of noise-rock guitar. It's not that the three-track set doesn't groove—"2C Hummingbirds," in particular, is a hypnotically tasty slice of exotic space-age dub. But the title track sends Nath's spacecraft soaring into the outermost cosmos, as rhythms and melodies barely maintain any semblance of organization or synchronicity. Apparently, thereís plenty of bad acid on the moon. 

—Jeff Terich 

M&M Blues
Blues Will Never Die

You know that scene in Pee Wee's Big Adventure when he's riding on the train with the singing / sardine-eating hobo and everything is cool until the guy starts singing "Jimmy Crack Corn"? And then he just keeps singing it until Pee Wee can't take it anymore and jumps off the train? Yeah, me too. 

—Scott McDonald

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