Feb. 26 2014 02:00 PM

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


El Monte Slim
If I Could Just Break Even

El Monte Slim frontman Ian Trumbull cut his teeth playing rockabilly in Michigan bars, but it makes perfect sense that he now calls California home. While Trumbull hangs his hat in San Diego, If I Could Just Break Even is clearly born of a Bakersfield heart. These 11 whiskey-soaked gems do Mr. Owens and Mr. Haggard proud. Punctuated by Joe Camacho's stellar pedal steel, Ruben Ramos' chugging stand-up and Paul Brewin's nuanced drum work, this excellent quartet serves up a deliciously dusty slice of honky-tonk without filler. Equally perfect for a late-night drive down a lonely stretch of road, a two-step with yer best gal or a night of heavy lifting at the local watering hole, this is an authentic and enjoyable record that gets better with every listen. reverbnation.com/elmonteslim

—Scott McDonald

El Gun Legro
Memoirs of a Legro 

Dominique Gilbert, aka El Gun Legro, lets us know from Track 1 that he’s all about “bills never on time, crashing at my mom’s place,” but while his funds are meager, the résumé folded up inside the CD case is not. He toots his own horn as a hip-hop artist and mentions that “he often rocks a Little Richardesque hairdo with a front ponytail,” but there’s no photographic evidence to support this claim. Anyway, his sound ranges from reggae to slow jamming to mid-’90s rap, but in spite of his wordy letter, he doesn’t include a track listing with the names of the songs. Standout track: 5, for its Rick Rubin-esque rock / rap sound. facebook.com/elgunlegromusic

—Diana Death

Empirical Pi
Premium Yoda 

In hilariously clumsy fashion, this upstart metal band stumbles through gibberish guitar solos, constipated bass rumblings and by-the-numbers Cookie Monster growls. You can’t knock the guys for wanting to rock out, but you’ll hear better music coming out of Satan’s asshole.

—Peter Holslin



Hip-hop has become a tired parody of itself, but Alvin Shamoun, formerly known as Entre-P and currently known as Biggie Babylon, makes the genre fresh and exciting again by telling it from the Iraqi-American perspective. He neither samples hits from the 1970s nor brags about bling; he composes his own tasty Middle Eastern-flavored riffs and spits out rhymes that don't make me feel embarrassed for him (hello, Kanye). Every song is polished, professional and ready for radio airplay, but two in particular stood out. The first, "After Party," has an Italo-disco bass line so twisted that it must have been born in Chernobyl, and if you can't shake your ass to this, you have no ass at all. "Neapolitan Blunts," however, is my new favorite jam. Here Entre-P informs us that his entrepreneurial ventures include a dispensary and that the Neapolitan is "3 different weeds and 1 Swisher Sweet." Other thoroughly kick-ass tunes include "Quit Leechin'" and "Zombies." I'll definitely be keeping my ear out for his latest project, Biggie Babylon. facebook.com/biggiebabylon

—Diana Death

Dragon Tails 

This band prominently lists its instrumentation in the press material as: djembe (a hand drum), lumanog (a guitar), harmonica, shakers, footcussion and keyboards— which gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect on its 50-minute demo. What all of that translates to sounds like a mediocre recording of a jam under the Ocean Beach pier. It’s kinda folky, sorta jammy, somewhat new-agey and vaguely reminiscent of every classic rock song you’ve ever heard. Some moments do get pretty fucking weird, though, and remind me of freakrock acts like Frank Zappa, Mr. Bungle and Ween, but those are few and far between. reverbnation.com/ETDT

—Jackson Milgaten

Exiles of Doom
5 Songs 

5 Songs by Exiles of Doom isn’t exactly what I expected, based on the name alone ( just goes to show the age-old book / cover adage still rings true), but it’s hard to describe what it actually is. It sounds like Tears for Fears’ Roland Orzabal fronting a scatter-brained A Perfect Circle. Little bits of emo, new wave, electro, grunge and post-rock emerge now and then— sometimes all within the same song—and because of that lack offocus, the songs sound a bit clumsy. With a little editing, they could be pretty good. facebook.com/DigTheKnife

—Dustin Lothspeich


Demos on Bandcamp

The guy behind this project, Robert Iwanik, is a veteran experimental musician, having spent time playing ambient jazz in Seattle and avant-rock in Chicago. Now he's in San Diego, and he's stocking his Bandcamp site with hissy, unsettling recordings of clangorous electric bass, unorthodox percussion, wordless vocals and, I think, field-recorded noise, all pieced together in ways that ensure you have no idea what to expect from the next track. My favorite was "Santa Ana," a seven-and-a-half-minute song featuring a narcotic rhythm (that sounds like it's being pounded out on basement plumbing) and the layered howls of dead-eyed strangelings over a wall of low-roaring fuzz. Unnerving. Engrossing. Laborious. Addictive. All of the above. faro1.bandcamp.com

—Ben Salmon

Festival of Whores
One Bad Haircut After Another 

Half of the songs on One Bad Haircut After Another are covers, starting with a scuzzy, sleazy cover of A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran (So Far Away),” then a chugging pisstake of The Beatles’ “Yer Blues” and finally a machine-punk stomp through The B-52’s’ “Planet Claire.” The originals, on the other hand, include a song about Frankenstein babes and another about big-assed trailertrash honeys. Oh, and one called “She’s So Sexy.” They weren’t kidding with this Festival of Whores thing, but One Bad Haircut After Another is definitely a joke.

—Jeff Terich

Fighting with Irons
“Her Hands” 

“Her Hands” is a song that goes nowhere in a hurry, slowly moving along the same clean-tone guitar riff for about two minutes before much of anything else happens. And though the addition of some nifty little riffs eventually turn this six-minute ballad into something a little more interesting than the sparse dirge it started as, there’s very little here that justifies its length. Fighting with Irons seem to aim for something big and ambitious, but I can’t help but feel something’s missing. I can hear the talent, I’m just not sure this is the best use of it. fightingwithirons.bandcamp.com

—Jeff Terich

The Fink Bombs
6 Tracks 

Garage-rock bands are a dime a dozen in, well, pretty much every city in the world. This is not an exaggeration; where there are bored teenagers and cheap pawnshop guitars, there are garage-rock bands. The Fink Bombs are one of them, though they sound considerably older than teenagers and, for that matter, more skilled and melodically colorful than the average amateur fuzz fiends. They certainly sound like they’ve spent plenty of time with Here Are the Sonics!!!, but they add a touch of cowpunk on “Writing on the Wall” and surfrock on “Trucker Brown,” which give them a slight edge over likeminded bands. It’s only a slight edge, but it’ll do. reverbnation.com/thefinkbombs

—Jeff Terich

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