We Are Going to be Awesome
With their fast rhythms, melodic transitions and heavy breakdowns, Quor seem to be testing the waters of several genres, mostly rock and nü-metal. They sound very professional, but you come away without an understanding of what exactly you've just listened too. If Quor is "going to be awesome," they aren't there yet.
TRSW Live 1989
The Exxon Valdez spill. The Stockton Massacre. The Tiananmen Square protests. What do these tragedies from 1989 have in common? I'd rather revisit any one of them than listen to this recording of the Radical Molesters' performance at the Del Mar Fair that same year, which includes poorly recorded covers of The Who and The Doors at the "Picnic Stage." I probably wouldn't have minded some of their original compositions, if I'd been there live. But then again, I'd probably have enjoyed George H.W. Bush's inauguration address if you gave me a churro.
2 Song Demo
Skyla Rayne is somewhere between Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. For such a young, independent singer-songwriter, her production and songwriting is impressive. And her songs are catchy, so catchy. Even if you don't want to like it, you will. You. Can't. Help. It. Hopefully Rayne can act, 'cause she'd be a perfect fit for the Disney Channel. Then your 13-year-old daughter will listen to her all day long. You'll tell her to turn it off, but, secretly, you'll be singing Rayne's songs in the shower.
Memories in Stereo
This is perfect walk-through-the-city music for a stoney—er, sunny—afternoon, opening with the super-chill "Sun Dried Tomatoes" and drifting through excellently mixed electronic hip-hop beats under sexy-sleek samples. Rebuilder's Jordan Leal clearly has a lot of talent, but he could explore a wider-ranging emotional landscape. What he's given us here isn't a failure; it just might need to take a couple-day vacation from the antidepressants in order to find some new footing.
An album by an ambient post-rocker who's proficient at introducing esoteric sound samples to sleepy guitar riffs. My favorite track, the twangy "Room 361," ends in a jazzy cacophony of piercing whistles, plunky synths, nasally horns and other discordant sounds worth digging. The second half of the four-track EP is a duo of sleepy interludes fit for stargazing, driving in the rain and whatever else those sappy post-rockers pretend not to enjoy.
Dig That Entertainment Mix Tape Vol. 1
Well-produced jams with quirky beats and relatable subject matter, such as meeting women ("Fantasy"), breakups ("Tryna B A Man") and premature ejaculation ("I Bet I Bus'"). But the highlight is when Lady Emanon and Insatiable lend their velvety snark to a few tracks, enlightening listeners to the oft-neglected perspective of badass chicks of local hip-hop.
Rick Ross may have found huge success by glorifying the hustle, but rapper Rembrant is closer to the conflicted hustler image that T.I. has perfected. His hustle is a tiresome grind and Rembrant reveals his everyday struggles, to say nothing of his moral struggles. Pain is his strength and he smartly stays in his lane. The beats are nothing to write home about, but they operate well enough, if only for not distracting from Rembrantís lyrics.
Challenging, reflective, highly experimental indie-rock workouts covered in four-track tape hiss. Some tracks on this CD feel like one-off experiments, with lots of noisy guitar texture throughout. But there are flashes of inspiration, like the slow-blossoming jam of track No. 7 (the CD came unlabeled) or the beatific bed of guitars that guide No. 8. Consider me intrigued.
Mushrooms & Speed
Who the fuck would ever think about doing mushrooms and speed at the same time? Apparently, the same kind of folks who enjoy making "psychedelic noise ritual" sounds (read: "noise rock sludge"). I would rather put out a lit cigarette in my eye than have to listen to another millisecond of this dissonant, grating crap, which the quartet describes as coming from "channeling energies from the 93rd current." For those of you who picture the combination of psilocybin and methamphetamine as a murderous, horrifying nightmare scenario, I can confirm for you that your theory is well-founded.
“Don’t Cry for Me (Elvis Tribute)”
Methinks we might have a hipster Elvis impersonator on our hands. Bruce Robbins' old-fashioned croon is serviceable enough, but his gritty lo-fi aesthetic is what gets me: That cheap drum machine beat and synthy-sounding guitar could've come straight from an Ariel Pink record. Robbins might consider hitting up a hip boutique label like Art Fag or Volar.
The only online mention of Mr. Robbins I could find is his participation in a guitar duo called Take Two, but the music on Pop Rock is not the work of a duo. In fact, the two tracks don't even sound like the same band: The first track is a sugary, generic country tune, and the other sounds like a Casio-laden yacht-rock ballad that you'd hear during your step-cousin's awkward wedding reception. Mr. Robbins, we'd appreciate a little more cohesion. And maybe a Facebook page.
Sombres del Tiempo
I would've liked to hear this one after listening to Robbins' intriguing Elvis tribute (see above), but the CD-R was broken when it came in the mail. Next time, use a jewel case.
Pop Music Take Two: Café La Maze
Either this CD was blank or he's offering a refreshing take on John Cage's "4'33."
Rock Paper Tiger
More stuff from Corey Johnston (I've also reviewed his solo stuff and his band, The Goomies, in the Demo Review). This time, he's on drums and surrounded by a bunch of dudes that, I assume, spend a lot of time snorting Adderall and listening to Fugazi, The Misfits (Kellen Minor's voice is a dead-ringer for a young Danzig) and, to a lesser extent, Tortoise and Built to Spill. It's OK, but most of it just sounds like some kids fucking around in the basement.
Robinson didn't give us much to work with in his two-track, four-and-a-half-minute demo, but he appears to have a good ear for mixing and the ability to play a wide range of instruments, including mountain dulcimer, Native American flute and the ever-so-important Casio. A few more minutes would've been helpful in providing a more insightful review. Next year, perhaps?
Many good things have been found on craigslist, and Ernesto Garcia Jr. knows this well. Garcia used the classifieds site to assemble his band, and, for the most part, it paid off. Only one complaint: Candice Campbel-Earnhart is underused. The album's best track, "Dull," features her gloriously smoky voice, but it's buried in the middle.
Rum for Your Life
Rum for Your Life apparently hail from Pacific Beach, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're aliens, because this four-song demo sounds like a transmission from another planet. Coated in lo-fi crackle, the 17-minute effort finds them drawing up a storm cloud of angular guitar riffs, reflective trumpet harmonies and limber, metallic rhythms. While the textures are often harsh, the quartet takes a patient approach, laying down repetitive, slow-changing patterns that could go on in a trance-inducing infinity loop without getting tiresome. Though they clearly take cues from shoegazers My Bloody Valentine—particularly with their sweet, murmured vocals—their songs sound truly foreign, in part thanks to the rough nature of these recordings: Opener "Bronco" is so loud that it pushes the limits of the recording equipment, and it cuts off abruptly (and somewhat frustratingly) after two-and-a-half minutes. And while this may be the demo-iest demo I got this year, it's also the most incredible one. I'd be perfectly happy if their subsequent recordings were just as raw.
“Canyon” / “CT”
Vivid storytelling, restrained-but-rich instrumentation and excellent production make these tracks a joy to play. Itís great to hear lyrics about nature in Southern California that aren't centered on the beach. You can almost feel the thorny oak leaves and smell the sage of the canyons. The only thing about this music that isn't like chaparral is that it's slow-burning—and that's a good thing.
Beautifully constructed hip-hop, with musicianship and lyricism that outweigh egotism. It's obvious from the stark organ on "Get 'Em High," bold horns on "Right Now" and ear-tickling guitars on "Wannabe" that Sabotawj understands masterful composition. These complex, serious songs are also party jams—rich with thumping beats, groovy melodies and perfect pacing. How many albums do you own that you love to dance to, but also contain philosophical discussions about, say, how life mirrors art? This album is worth spending time with, whether youíre pensive or partying.
This salsa CD sounds like something from a scene in Dexter, when the camera pans over the colorful aspects of Miami. There's some great musicianship on these tracks and some outstanding percussion work. Some of the guitar, keys and bass tones sound a little dated, though not overwhelmingly so. Most impressive is the fact that lead man Carlos S·nchez plays piano, bass, congas, bongo, timbales, guiro, clave, keys, drum programming and lead vocal, yet the album maintains a live feel.