Feb. 26 2014 02:00 PM

You sent it in, and we reviewed—whether you like it or not


Just when you think chillwave (or glo-fi or nu-gaze or whatever the hell you wanna call it) was a genre that came and went, some John Hughes-worshipping introvert (or, in this case, two of them) comes out with lovely little set of tunes that could very well be the score for your summertime heartbreak. This 10-track album is just on the cusp of EXTRASPECIALGOOD status, filled with angsty teenage anthems (mostly made from samples, voice and guitar) with a hip-hop heart beating just underneath the surface. soundcloud.com/bruinjams/dnelian

—Seth Combs

Buddha Trixie

This rock band, composed of three high-school seniors, is still finding its voice and style. There’s no common thread tying their three singles together—each displays characteristics of different genres, and in each one, the singer sounds like a different person. “Pull Me Under” is the best attempt at rock harmony, but it still fell short. soundcloud.com/buddha-trixie

—Dita Quiñones

The Buddy System
The Buddy System EP 

Warm, fuzzy power-pop tunes for adorkable indie kids. The lyrics are cheesy, and the melodies don’t stick, but these guys get a lot of mileage just out of being total sweethearts—listening to this, I can practically see the disarming smile on the singer’s face. Awww. thebuddysystemhi.bandcamp.com

—Peter Holslin

Charles Burton Blues Band
Sweet Potato Pie 

Unfortunately for Charlie Burton, I was raised and educated on electric blues by my Chicagoan father, so I’m kind of a snob about this shit. Right off the bat, I called shenanigans: “Shake It” is a tepid “Oh Well” by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, “Livin’ Without You” is “The Thrill is Gone,” “Your Number” is a lukewarm reworking of the Yardbirds’ cover of “Smokestack Lightning,” “Sweet Potato Pie” is a cheesy “Hand Jive,” etc. The coolest track is the instrumental “Crackdown,” which sounds like a brisk “Got to Hurry” by the Yardbirds. Being a white man playing the blues ain’t no crime, but Charlie Burton’s voice is periwinkle at best, and while his guitar-playing is technically on point with all the right chords and licks, I’m simply not feeling the blues, except in the form of Karl Cabbage’s harmonica. Charlie needs to find a new black cat bone (or maybe a gritty lead singer) to get his mojo workin’, ’cause it just don’t work on me, and I know it wouldn’t work on my Dad, either. charlesburton.com

—Diana Death

Cedar Fire
Stars The back cover of Cedar Fire’s Stars depicts a dot-matrix image of Evel Knievel, and that’s a pretty strong visual representation of what the band sounds like. They’re more or less a meat-and-potatoes rock ’n’ roll band, all power chords and hammy vocal affectations— the kind of band you could hear at any dive bar in America and would feel right at home. That said, they’re still just diluted facsimiles of bands like The Stooges or MC5. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing particularly memorable, either. therealcedarfire.bandcamp.com

—Jeff Terich

Buffalo Roam EP 

Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s my nostalgia for things like Sabbath and Kyuss and Sleep. But I dig what Chiefs are doing. And while fuzzedout desert / stoner rock seems like the starting point here, there’s definitely some post-hardcore Quicksand / Helmet influences going on, as well. Has it all been done before? Sure. But Chiefs are doing it well, so I’m going to pay attention. wearechiefs.bandcamp.com

—Scott McDonald

The Chili Banditos

These guys call themselves a “taco punk” band. Their colorful logo depicts three smiling chili peppers— one in a Padres cap, the second in a sombrero, the third in a skipper’s hat. So why, oh why, do they play milquetoast emo with mish-mash guitars and whiny-boy lyrics about boring road trips? I’m genuinely confused. Did they upload the wrong mp3s or something? You say you play taco punk, so let’s hear some fucking taco punk! thechilibanditos.bandcamp.com

—Peter Holslin

Chill Clinton
Lift and Cut 

Electronic music meets Sublime-style ska riffs with occasional bursts of bizarre rapping and reggae vocals. The band gets points for innovation, though the results can range from clever to “Please, for the love of all that’s holy, make it stop!” Mostly, it’s the rapping that needs work. chillclinton.com

—Joshua Emerson Smith

The Clover Tones

This slice of watered-down rock with a bit of metal influence doesn’t do it for me. The vocalists do their best Ozzy Osbourne impersonations, but there’s not enough power behind them. The band tries to ramp things up on “Fall on Me” with a little bit of punk energy, but the chanted lyrics sound hollow and lack punk’s rebellious, fun spirit. The few slow, mellower tunes at the end aren’t anything to write home about, either.

—Jen Van Tieghem

Hells Fire!!! 

Hells Fire!!! is the best album Low Volts never made. Nine songs of kick-drum stomping, gritty slideguitar and distorted vocals—this duo gets in the groove and keeps going. They don’t quite have Tim Lowman’s swagger, but I doubt they’d even give a shit. I have a feeling Jimmy Dean and Richie Orduno will be just fine, content to jam on their lo-fi rockabilly blues in Ocean Beach. Key tracks: the smoldering, slow surge of “Chingon” and the fun, goofy march of “Chupa Kabra.” facebook.com/confederales

—Dustin Lothspeich

Continuous Nightmare
Murder by Techno 

Murderous this most definitely is not. It’s more like meditation music for sentient computers. The motorik electronic grooves could’ve come from converted fax machines and sampled trashcans, while the synth parts resemble the whoops and sighs of a melancholy android.

—Peter Holslin

Court Yard Roots
Haggin Buddha Boy 

Court Yard Roots’ Haggin Buddha Boy sounds like it was recorded on a ghetto blaster inside a cardboard box by dudes who use phrases like “Irie” and “one love” without irony and probably have 311 moments on the regular. Not that this vibe is exactly consistent—“Burnem in Hell” sounds like Beavis singing Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law,” which kind of harshes my buzz, man. So, San Diego, here’s another awkward reggae-rap-rock band, whether you wanted one or not.

—Jeff Terich

Criss Creamation
T3 Mixtape 

This album is so good that, while bumping it in my car, I sometimes forgot it was a submission to a local demo review. Oceanside’s Criss Creamation is a confident rapper with rhymes for days—offering glimpses of a hard life, he dishes out memorable lines on everything from drugs to dildos to blades to prison cells to low-wage jobs (and why he doesn’t want to work them). His producer is no slouch, either, turning out atmospheric beats full of hypnotizing cloud-rap synths. My one complaint is that these 18 tracks are too generic, like they could’ve come from anywhere. But it’s a solid start from an MC who clearly has a lot to say. facebook.com/ccreamation1

—Peter Holslin

Josh Damigo
“How Am I Supposed to Not Fall” 

Singer / songwriter Josh Damigo is a superpolished, poppy “lovesick troubadour with a guitar,” according to his website. The kid can sing, but the arrangements and lyrics have little soul. He’s worth keeping tabs on. If Damigo ever decides to jettison his mainstream aesthetics, he has the potential to pump out a good song or two. joshdamigo.com

—Joshua Emerson Smith

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