Six of the best.
… because round numbers are over-rated.
As you’d expect, we get loadsa demos, either sent to us or we're hunted down via other means. Very few of these reach our demo reviews section although a lot of the bands end up playing DiS gigs and the like. Which is nice. So here is a roundup of some of the finest demos which HAVEN'T yet been reviewed on these pages. They've been floating our boats and, in some cases, the boats of some of those elusive A&R people too.
Cameran are from Austria and rock in a Jane's Addiction style. This is a big rock behemoth with proper tunes, balls, riffs - the whole package as it were. 'Brave New Souls' opens, trundling along with a driving groove before breaking down with an almighty "GO!", which is a pretty ace way to open a song. And things seem to get better as it goes along. 'Free Them' twists into a feedback direction with a "we're stuck in second gear" refrain. 'Greatest Escape' takes things into a more RATM school of guitar and bass riffing & effects. But mere words can't really explain how powerful it all sounds. What Cameran have is the power to rock, whilst adding subtler moments, building the songs up and breaking them down again, all the time with Mr Tune firmly strapped to their backs. And yeah, it has its emo moments. The singer has obviously been pissed off plenty in the past and likes to let you know about it.
2. THE HOLIDAY PLAN
North London nippers The Holiday Plan are a mysterious lot. Having pulled out of playing DiS gigs twice now (grr), it appears that the A&R interest came on thick and fast. The reason for this would be their demo of Xfm-friendly popcore anthems in an Ataris style, with delightfully shouty choruses. It's a baby Jimmy Eat World! Coo! No, wait! this is better than Jimmy Eat World. Yeah yeah, it's nowt you haven't already heard but some bands suck at this, some don't, and The Holiday Plan have a mere seven (7) gigs behind them. The potential is scary. They make me happy. I like bands who make me happy. A birdie tells us the band have signed to The Man.
The Strokes meets The Cure? Why are so many singers around at the moment getting compared to Robert Smith? Steven from Crackout, Steve from Hot Hot Heat... or maybe it's just singers called Steve. But I digress. Union generally play fast, arty rock, sounding like they've been splurted out of a New Wave blender. 'This Is Not A Competition' sounds like they're very unsatisfied with the derivative rock scene, and who can blame them eh? A band daring to be that little bit different, by taking influences from the last three decades and making it their own in an artrock style. And they look as cool as they sound. It's all very fast and very addictive.
4. PANDA LOVE UNIT
Evident throughout is a Seafood influence but a bit more fucked up than that. They also remind this listener of Urusei Yatsura... and Urusei liked Pavement etc and so on, the influences go further and further back. But look! This is 2003 and we need something fresh like this. The 4-piece boys/girl combo (yes, the girl is the bassist) from Birmingham know how to torture their guitars and like to have a good ol' thump on keyboards too. If we were to go back a generation or so, the fanzine kids would be over this lot like a rash. That doesn't scream "major label deal, now!" at you, but watch a cult following grow. With hardly a gig outside Brum to their name, there's plenty of time to develop. For now, 'Closer Closer Sound' will continue to be on heavy rotation on my stereo.
5. YOUTH MOVIE SOUNDTRACK STRATEGIES
Stop-start rock with a brilliant name, skinny boys from High Wycombe who go from Tortoise-style post rock to Trail Of Dead screeching. In the same song. Dark, intense, scary. The songs are long and diverse. It needs to be heard with the volume LOUD. Just when you think your ears have been spared from the noize, the noize returns, and what a wonderful noize it is. Expect to see them wowing bemused audiences wherever they leave their trail. It's just so damn creepy and different. Where have you been all my life? Anthony from Hope Of The States has produced their debut 5-track ‘single’.
6. HOOKER'S GREEN No. 1
Now this is just weird... Incorporating the standard guitar, bass etc, we have organ, piano, glockenspiel, trombone, trumpet, cello, flute and... oh I can't go on. The core of HG#1 is a 2-piece under the monikers of J.Turgenev and N.H.G. If we're going to go for the lazy comparisons again, then it's not a million miles from the fragility of Mercury Rev, but if Mercury Rev recorded at home and had just been listening to Miles Davis and the Warp Records back-catalogue. And if they lived in Aberdeen. The amount of instruments used makes it sound like it could be overly pretentious, but it's anything but. It's got a lovely, warm, lo-fi sound, which doesn't strangle the tunes. Bags of imagination here. "We sampled Frank Sinatra, police cars, and a programme about mormons," just so you know.