Demo Reviews vol. 2

Hello everyone. After the popularity of my first Demo’s review, you know I was gonna come back for more. In case you’re not aware, I asked my readers to send in their music for me to judge. This was partially cause I need content but also cause people send me shit all the time and I never listen to it. I figured I’d open the flood gates for a bit and it worked. Just to be clear I’M NOT ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS RIGHT NOW. If you send me music, I’ll erase the email before I even open it. Trust me, my dance card is full with all the submissions I got when I was accepting them.
The reviews work as so: I write a little bit about what i think and then give the demo’s a 1-10 rating based on these three categories:
Originality: Obviously rating how much this differs from other music out there in a positive way. I’ll be shocked if anyone gets above a 5 out of 10 as this is a pretty tough category.
Listenability: Rating how hard/easy it was to sit through. This could go a few ways as I often find humor in music that’s extra bad so, it’s not always a compliment.
Production technique: Rating how well crafted the song was. Was it “professional”. How was it recorded and mixed.

If you sent in music and are mad cause you got a bunch of three’s, just realize, I’m judging this how I would music by professional artists. In fact, getting a 5 out of 10 in this situation is pretty spectacular considering the low bar that that has been set. So, you know, take it with a grain of salt.

Artist: Anders Niemand
Song: Monica Bellucci

This was kinda ll over the place. I get where he was going with it but it was out of key at times (a huge peeve of mine) and didn’t really go anywhere. I do think it improves as it goes but still, the out of tune shit is kinda unacceptable when dealing with instrumental hip hop type music. I mean, it’s pretty much the only rule: Keep things in key. The drums, while thumping , sounded to much like factory sounds.

Originality: 3 out of 10
Listenability: 3 out of 10
Production technique: 4 out of 10

Artist:Nicklebag Beats
Song: Sunshine

This sounds like some “I just started making beats” kinda deal. The guitar riff (the main part) is okay but , much like the track before it, the songs out of key with it itself. The “sunshine” sample (which is crucial, as that’s the title of the song) is flat.So is the little reversed sound. The drums are very amateur and remind me of my drums in like 97. So, that’s good cause you can only go up from there. From what I gather, it’s a beat for a rapper which is good cause this is nowhere near ready to be a stand alone track.

Originality:2 out of 10
Listenability: 2.5 out of 10
Production technique: 2 out of 10

Artist: Collectable humans
Song: To eat a human

This kinda reminds me of this but serious. Verbose , angry white guys rappin’.This is something that has been done to death pretty much since the early 2000’s. There’s a strange hint of gravediggaz/jedi mind tricks in there with a dash of Aesop. While the rapping is technically sound, it’s also not exactly fun to listen to. Between the voices and the tinny tones of the beat, it’s a bit of overkill. The lyrics are interesting at times but also they come off as trying to be smart and way more complex than the ideas themselves. Musically, I actually like some of the things going on in the beat but the main guitar sample and the drums seems way to treble-y for me. It’s grating.
I see what you’re going for but I’d just say: be yourself ,guys. Rappers like this don’t sound like real people to me. Not that that’s a requirement for rapping it just there’s not much about this type of rap that makes people wanna check it again. There was once a small market for this kind of thing but those fans are now either into rock music or became juggalos.

Originality: 3 out of 10
Listenability: 3 out of 10
Production technique: 3.5 out of 10

Artist: Nick Abitia AKA Nvbeats
Song: Normal

This was pretty smooth. I’d say my biggest complaint would be using that way too famous break beat but he fucked with it a decent amount which lessens that blow. Other then that, it’s got a nice mood to it and moves along nicely. A rapper would sound good on this. This isn’t breaking any new ground but it’s certainly in the pocket so I can’t fault anyone for that.

Originality:5 out of 10
Listenability:6.5 out of 10
Production technique: 5.5 out of 10

Artist: Gravel
Song:Drank’ Sypin’

This is one of those beats where the artist masturbates to the idea naming what genre it is. Just looking at the page and seeing how the artist tagged it was kinda infuriating. Is it witch house? is it grimehop? Chillwave? If you’re an artist that that is your chief concern, stop it. Make the music you make and let other people name it. It’s for the better cause , trust me, a lot of the side genre’s won’t be around in a year. Between that and how the song name and artist name are written on the soundcloud page, it’s clear this person is “Going” for something. But I’m not judging this dudes marketing campaign so that’s all neither here nor there…I just felt it needed to be said.
Beyond that, it’s okay. It’s not my cup of tea but this “cloud hop” shit is all the rage now and he doesn’t do a bad job. Some nice layered melodies going on and it’s certainly captures a mood. It’s a but muddy though so a cleaner mix would improve it greatly. But, beyond just mixing the basstones too loud, it’s actually pretty well made.

Originality: 3 out of 10
Listenability:4.5 out of 10
Production technique:4.5 out of 10

Artist: Dropouts Inc.
Song: Staircase

This is like the more emo version of the “Collectable Humans” track. It’s a pretty well crafted song but it wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve. Anticon, Def Jux. Rhymesayers. Nothing wrong with that but it’s a little too obvious for my taste.
The rapper is capable (flow wise and lyrically) but I really can’t get past the voice. Whining white guy. I know I keep coming back to this but it’s a never ending thing. Lemme just lay it out: A lot of white dudes don’t have voices cut out for rapping (myself included). Because of this, you either gotta not rap or just learn to use your voice in the best possible way. Personally, the “urgent plea” style of rapping does not bode well for the guy with your average white voice. It’s a bummer cause there are plenty of rappers out there who I’m sure are great writers but it’s all for naught when the voice saying those words isn’t enjoyable on the ears.
I appreciate the effort of this song , but it’s not for me.

Originality:3.5 out of 10
Listenability: 4 out of 10
Production technique:6 out of 10

Artist: Mane Rok & DeeJay Tense (Ft. Benjamin Butters
Song: Addicted

First and foremost, This is a well made song. It’s mixed well and you can tell the person who put it together has a clear idea of how to arrange a song. That said, I’m almost never a fan of songs about girls like this. It’s just me but I kinda wish they had sent me a different type of song cause , judging from how well put together this song is, I would have liked it more. but , hey, that’s inconsequential at this point. The rapping is very average but the production keeps it from falling of the tracks. I’m not crazy about the singing but the fact that I couldn’t 100% say if it was a sample or an actual person is a good thing.

Originality: 4 out 0f 10
Listenability: 5.5 out of 10
Production Technique: 7 out of 10

Artist: All that is

In defense of this dude, he did write this with his email:
I am an amateur producer, but what I lack in professionalism- I try to make up for in originality & creativity.

I am looking for nothing else here but some constructive criticism.
I am only looking to grow, and keep growing.

Fair enough. This is obviously amateur. It’s also nothing I would ever listen to, genre wise.
All I’ll say is you need new sounds. Drums, synths…everything. The little samples are cool but everything , when combined comes across as “too clean”. Even though this isn’t my steeze, there is actually an audience for a refined version of this though. I wouldn’t have ever knew it existed but playing electronic festivals has taught me otherwise.

Originality: 4 out 0f 10
Listenability:3.5 out of 10
Production technique:2 out of 10

Artist: Colin Thieme
Song: Coming back

This is half good. I like some of the ideas but it gets pitchy (in particular that first guitar that comes in round 00:32) at times and the transitions are all over the place. You can’t just jump around from one thing to the other without rhyme or reason. Some of the individual parts are better than others but when blended how they are, it just kinda brings the overall song down. Also, get some different break beats. Those have been used to death since the early 90’s.

Originality: 4 out of 10
Listenability:3.5 out of 10
Production technique:4 out of 10

Song: Spot Recognition (Pictures of my arm)
Man, I’d kill for someone to send me rap that doesn’t feel like it was recorded in dark candle filled room by a sad white person. This is a lighter fair than the prior two rap submissions. There’s nothing wrong with this…but there’s also nothing interesting about it either. This one had a more musical feel to it, which was nice but this seems like another case of people sending me a song they assume I’ll be into cause I make some sad beats. Readers out there: trust, I’m not at all into shit like this. That doesn’t mean it’s without merit, but for me, personally, I wouldn’t make it past the first song of an album if it sounded like this sort of rap.
I dunno why but I get the feeling the rapper was once (or still is) a hippie type. Can’t put my finger on why that popped into my head but it did
Anyway, The beat and overall production isn’t too bad though the vocals are mixed pretty poorly. The rapper is…fine…I mean…there’s really no one thing he does badly yet I just didn’t feel drawn in at any point.

Originality: 3 out of 10
Listenability:4 out of 10
Production technique: 4.5 out of 10 (woulda been higher if not for the bad vocal mixing)

Here’s where you tell me who the best was. Well? Who was it?

43 thoughts on “Demo Reviews vol. 2

  1. Any chance of criticism that is more on the “sadistic, dream crushing” side of things? Feels like you’re holding back on some of these. As a human being this is probably a good thing, but for sheer entertainment it would be cool if you just got straight up ruthless on a few of em. Either way, good read.

    • I don’t think i can do that in good conscience. I mean, as a person under critical scrutiny myself, I understand the other side of it. That said, The fact that the average score I’m giving is like a 4 out of 10, I would hope that translate realistically to the people sending me music to judge.

    • I dunno what to tell you. I’m going in order so if your demo hasn’t come up yet it means
      1)I haven’t gotten to yet
      2)There was something wrong with the email you sent me
      3)I never got the email.
      It’s not a conspiracy , bro.

  2. This scoring system is horrendous. I can’t believe that all of these songs are average-below average. Well done, sir.

    • How does that reflect my scoring system? The bright side of it is that it leaves a lot of room for people to be great…but most people happen to be mediocre. That’s not my fault.

  3. When you say a track is “out of key”? You’ve said before that you don’t play any instruments, so how do you know what key anything is in? Not knocking you, just wondering. Any beats I have made(and I haven’t made a ton) have only sampled from one song, just clipping various parts(guitar, vocal, horns) because, well that one song has got to be in fucking key, right? Are you referring to someone pulling from 2 different songs that don’t match because they are in different keys and just sound off when put together. How do you know, when sampling multiple songs if they are in the same key?

    • I’m saying that two parts are not harmonious with each other.
      I’m assuming who ever I was referring to took pieces from two different songs and they simply weren’t in the same key.

      How I know if something is in key with another thing is by hearing it. I mean that’s all it is really? When an out of tune instrument comes in, it jumps out to me. There’s no scientific explanation I could give you except that I can tell when something doesn’t sound right. It certainly has nothing to do with playing instruments though. I don’t know WHAT key the samples are in but I do know when there is a pitch issue. I mean, shit, my music is based on that one talent. It’s an ear thing.

      • Couldn’t it also be: If someone used parts from the same song, but sped one of the parts up or slowed it down, it would effectively change the pitch of that part, making it out of key with the other parts and the rest of the track?

      • I’m sure that could be true..but it doesn’t change the fact the if something is out of key, it’s out of key and therefor not enjoyable to my ears.

    • You don’t need to play an instrument to know when something sounds off. It’s the same skill you use when you identify a singer as good or bad. Unless you’re tone-deaf, having been exposed to music and your society’s cultural preference over its aesthetics all your life means you can just hear it when something sounds wrong. If you’re a musician long enough, and if your work relies on it as Blockhead already mentioned, I guess your sense of it will probably become heightened.

      With that said, it isn’t necessarily a matter of key as much as it is harmony and musical context. Notes in the same key can clash when played together (notably half-step intervals), and songs can also modulate between keys, be written in non-standard tuning, or with obscure scales, and occasionally use notes outside of the key. All of these things can prevent samples from the same song fitting together. You just have to listen out.

      You can sample songs that are in different keys as well, as long as the bit you are sampling is in tune (which it to say harmonises) with your thing. For example, A Minor and E Minor contain 6 our of 7 of the same notes, so you could theoretically sample from the E Minor piece if you had already established your piece to be in A Minor, as long as you evaded that F-sharp when it came up. Again, you’d hear it being wrong; you wouldn’t need to know it was an F-sharp, or called that, or that it was the second note in the scale, or even what scale it was, you’d just know it as “that asshole note that keeps fucking with my shit”.

      In effect, everything that sounds right when you put things together are parts that conform to your piece of music’s sense of key and tuning. Music is all about context; everything needs to conform to its own standard.

      I was being a bit pedantic before, but in most instances sampling from the same one-key track would sound okay. My point was just that it’s misguided to assume it works in every case. It isn’t an absolute law of music. A one-key piece of music can go out of key in ways that don’t sound wrong; the musicians just create the context in which they work. Jazz does it to a really complicated degree, but you can identify it in generic Rock music too, typically in bridges stepping into choruses. The idea that harmony and context are more relevant than key is again applicable here. Keys are just loose guides for dictating which notes fulfil tonal expectation, and fit alongside each other.

      • I feel smarter after reading this reply. Not sure if i actually am any smarter, but i think i could take down a reigning jeopardy champ right now. Can i vote for Matt’s post instead of a song? I wish this guy could follow me around to explain everything in life that i don’t get, like why i have to call midgets “little people” or why “urinal cakes” are called “urinal cakes” when they are clearly NOT edible. . .

  4. Appreciate you taking the time to listen sir.

    For the record of course, the song “Addicted” is about music…as a drug…not girls.
    Addiction referring to a form of “love” in a sense.
    The album is entitled “Saul Amore: A Modern Day Massacre”
    Actually Features Illogic on a coming remix.
    (& I did fight with the notion of sending this song of the lead single “Here I Am”, but alas, here we are.)

    Anyhow…just some info.
    Again…thanks for listening.

    ps. The singing. It’s live. Mr. Benjamin Butters. & like most opinions, up to the listener if they like it. The womens dig it more than guys from what we’ve seen, but the lyrics and tune themselves we’ve also noted are…for lack of a better term, addicting.

    • Ah..that makes sense. Music , not women. MAybe I just don’t really feel songs like that in general…or I just don’t feel most music in anymore in general. hahaha…..I’m brunt out on this shit, bro.
      Not shocked that women like the song more than men do. Thus the whole “I kinda wish you had sent me a different song” part.

      • Hahaha…I feel you on that. Was just having a convo with a publicist friend on that very subject.

        Well, in your busy schedule, if you hadn’t feel free to peep others…of course.


      • By the by, my dude Es Nine of En Stereo/Prime Element on the boards. One of the best HipHop engineers in the game…on some Eddie Sancho shit.

  5. I see at this moment we have the lion’s share of votes. Pretty sweet! Thanks again for reviewing, man. For anyone that wants more insight to this song (STAIRCASE by Dropouts Inc.), an NYC film company made a short documentary about it (not a snooze-fest kind of documentary) (scroll down on the homepage, it’s nice and big so you can’t miss it).

  6. Inspiring. I’m enjoying this piece, but I’m even more captivated by the fact that you gave the time to listen to submissions from your audience (which I imagine arrives in myriads). Colin Thieme a.k.a. Centz is from Dusted Wax Kingdom, the same publisher of my music. I love his work, so it was beautiful reading this. I regret being unable to submit something of my own. Maybe next time, when the flood gates open again. 🙂

  7. thanks for the review dude. that was definately for my rapper buddy, so i guess it definately sounds kinda wack without his raps. i guess it sounds flat cause i played that guitar, then sampled it, but to be honest all my beats came 2 track out the mpc1000 and i just dont know how to get good eq’ing done in there, so lately ive been doing more stuff in ableton, just seems to open shit up a bit. thanks again dude, super cool

  8. Blockhead, you are a genuinely nice person. After having to listen to all of this, I fear for your soul. Don’t get cynical, there’s good music somewhere! Seriously, some of those caused me physical pain. Ouch.

  9. Is there anyway to know if an entry got to you? For instance, I didn’t know you were doing this but sent you something about a month or so ago thinking you might check it out cause we had spoken some through email before. No hard feelings though, I get that you are inundated with the shit and most of it is garbage. Might have been slightly longer, no more than a month and a half either way, but this makes me think you probably didn’t include it in all this and I should be paying attention for the next opportunity to send it…

    • I got over 60 submissions. I’ve done 20 of them. There’s a good chance it’s in the pile…if not, it may have missed the deadline. I suppose the only way you’ll know is to wait.

      • It was an attached file, and its “feat. Madman Apoth,” I would appreciate it not being made available for download, because I am just rhyming on it. If I need to send you a link to it on ReverbNation I can….

      • I’m not clear on what you’re talking about. Did you send me the song yet? What’s the big deal of letting it be downloadable? It’s a demo, right? If so, trust me, no one cares.

      • Not that it would be an issue for me to send it to you for you to hear and do your blog thing with.

  10. that sunshine beat by nicklebag sounds like a beat that got left on the cutting room floor of a cella dwellaz studio session

  11. I vote for colin theme because the samples remind me of your work, and thats probably the best thing going for it. My 2nd choice would be Nvbeats because of the work behind the beat, but you hit the nail on the head with the beat, it has the ‘clubbed to death’ beat that is just straight up overused (!) ….everywhere. Love this section by the way, as such a sick producer/creator its awesome to hear what you have to say about others peoples music. Guided by your ears with the help of your head (whether round or block shaped) on straight, good, great or not good enough is all you need to know.

    • Thanks Putnam. I made this when I was just learning to play with beats so I didn’t really know what I was doing with breaks yet! I definitely spend a lot more time with my drums now. I may revisit the track with yours and Blockheads notes in mind.

  12. Thanks for doing this. I really appreciate it. And I know a lot of other people do as well. Peace to you and yours.

  13. I did the Spot Recognition track. Kinda wish I would have sent you something else. Never good to see the first sentence of a review address the box that the song fills, but I fully understand where you’re coming from on that.

    • I feel you but i did give fair warning of how I would be reviewing these demo’s. I appreciate the submission though. And remember, this is just my opinion. Don’t take it to hard. I don’t like most music.

  14. spent whole work day checking this thread… was wondered how tolerate you are with some songs. when shits obvious, your trying to make a decent advice to amateur and this really great.

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