Demo Reviews Vol. 54

Hello and welcome to another edition of ‘Demo Reviews”. This is where you, the readers, send me your music to critique. Why? I really don’t know. I think people assume any press is better than no press and, somehow, this qualifies as “press”.
I’m trying something a little different this week. Instead of reviewing 10 songs, I’m going with 8. Honestly, I don’t think most of you listen to all these every week anyway so I figure making the task easier will benefit us both. It allows us to focus more on the tracks and also allows me to not have to listen and review 10 demos.
If you wondering about submitting music for this column, I’m not currently accepting submissions. When that time comes, I will announce it and open the flood gates. Until then, please don’t send me your demos cause I won’t even open the emails. We need order and my stupid rules are the only way to keep this thing civilized.
Anyway, the reviews work like so: I write a paragraph or two about the songs then review them on a scale of 1-10 in these categories:

I can’t stress enough how unimportant the number ratings are but i know how much people like quantified ratings so I oblige. Let’s get into this weeks batch. It was not an easy one for me.

Artist:Ben Lowder

This is music that gets made when someone has been alone for too long. On one hand, it’s pretty pretentious but, on the other, there’s probably a girl out there that will hear this and maybe be impressed.
The rapper is verbose but his flow isn’t really a flow and his voice is abrasively white. Lyrically, there are moments where I was like “ah, that’s interesting” but way more moments of “what is the dude babbling about?”. That might just be me being dumb but, in general, the only way I can stomach raps like these is when they’re delivered by a dope voice in a highly efficient flow.
Beat-wise, I actually think it’s kinds interesting. I don’t love the track but it’s original and it’s lo-fi quality was clearly done on purpose and worked decently well. I’m more impressed by the way it’s made than then music itself.
Production:5 out of 10
Vocals:3 out of 10
Listenability:3.5 out of 10
Originality:5 out of 10

Song: Beautiful

Is this a remix? i feel like this a remix of some song I’ve never heard. Lemme google this…be back in one second.
Okay…Nothing solid turned up and, while I do await someone correcting me in the comments , I’m gonna treat this song like it’s 100% original content.
Okay, well, obviously this is impressive production quality. It’s pop music. Say what you will about pop music but it’s harder to make than most people think. As a song, it’s corny and heavy handed but, like I said, it’s pop music so that’s the point. So, on one hand, it’s crafted better than anything I’ve ever done and to that I tip my hat. On the other hand, I never need to hear it again. BUt I’m also a 37 year old rap guy and not a 16 year old girl so , obviously, I’m not the target audience. This is a tough one to grade cause , when something is both really well made but also so far out of my interests, how can you really judge it fairly?
Production:7.5 out of 10
Vocals:4 out of 10
Listenability:4.5 out of 10
Originality:4 out of 10

Artist: Eko Le Scarifie
Song:Fuck the pain away

Okay guys. I might have to set a “No rap that isn’t in english” rule. Not cause I think it’s terrible (though, admittedly, it’s not for me) but cause I have no idea what the fuck you are saying and , if I can’t understand the words, how can I truly review the song? It leaves me basically telling you if I like gibberish or now. Here’s a hint: Not a fan of gibberish. What i can review , however, is the beat.
This beat isn’t very good. It’s strange, which is nice, but it’s all over the place and just too much.
Production:4 out of 10
Listenability:4 out of 10
Originality:4 out of 10

Artist: Dyslexia and sik sense
Song: Prescriptions Feat. Whyze oner

It kinda surprises me that people still make rap like this. This is some 2002 backpack demo type shit. I used to make this kinda stuff with my friends in the 90’s. It’s funny cause, while rapping of this nature is technically more “Advanced” stylistically it’s also extremely dated at this point. The rapid fire flow and the over done voices/white dudes rapping fast. It’s pretty much the musical equivalent of chubby white dudes with goatees and oversized fitted hats.
These guys can rap decently enough though. The second guy, in particular, can flow really well. It’s just this kinda rap doesn’t ring any bells with me anymore.
That said, I like this beat. It’s simple but effective. Good mood to it. I’d hope there would be more changes to it but that’s really my only complaint on that end.
Production:5.5 out of 10
Vocals:4.5 out of 10
Listenability:5 out of 10
Originality:2 out of 10

Artist:Fugitive 9

Jesus, is it mystical magical rap week? It’s like all the colors of the complex rap rainbow on show. Much like the demo above it, it’s just dated. This is more on some “barz” shit so it’s actually more interesting to me. Kinda. It’s just dudes rapping…and LOTS of dude. This song has like 40 rappers on it. some are better than others. Some shoulda probably been left off the track. None stick out too far either way. I’m not mad at this song, but I’m also not excited by it either.
It just is. It’s like a buddhist.
The track is just kinda there. It doesn’t ruin the song but it doesn’t add much to it either.
Production:4.5 out of 10
Vocals:5 out of 10
Listenability:5 out of 10
Originality:4 out of 10

Artist: DJ Rapevan
Song: Dictate Feat.Citizen Smith 1 and Citizen Smith 2

So this song is recorded much worse than any other demos we’ve heard this week but it’s got something about it that , to me, stands out. I don’t really care for the beat that much on it’s own but it works within the context of the track.
The first rapper has a good presence. His voice is good and he’s not trying to sound like anything but himself, which is appreciated. The second guy is less successful.
Also, DJ RapeVan is an ill name.
Production:4.5 out of 10
Vocals:5.5 out of 10
Listenability:5 out of 10
Originality:4 out of 10

Artist: K.A.V.
Song: Soul station

This rap style is very old. I’m talking like 1989. It’s crazy cause it’s mixed with production that’s fairly current so it sounds…well…bizarre. It’s like a 18 year old made a beat and let his 45 year old dad rap on it. I can’t even tell if the rapping is bad. It’s just a very dated sound. This song is confusing but also strangely listenable.
Production:5.5 out of 10
Vocals:4.5 out of 10
Listenability:5.5 out of 10
Originality:5 out of 10

Artist:Bloodshot Pyramid
Song:Every Level Larger

Is this what the kids are listening to nowadays? I’m way too old for this kinda shit. I’m sure, blasting in a club, on molly this will be a fingerbanging anthem but I’m not that guy.
If I can step back from my disconnect with this kinda music and just look at it from a strictly music perspective. It’s got some cool parts but it’s also kinda boring. Still, it’s made well so that’s something.
Production:5 out of 10
Listenability:4 out of 10
Originality:4.5 out of 10

So, what do you think?

18 thoughts on “Demo Reviews Vol. 54

  1. Did you give a song that’s mixed better than anything you have ever done a 7.5 for production? What kind of self-awareness/respect/deprecation is that? Does the production value only account for the sound/mixing quality or does it also include your appreciation of the beat/rhythm?

    Is there a post where you explain these things or where you name some tracks that you considere 10’s? I’m trying to search your older posts, but your blog opens each new page in the same page, instead of having a “Next’ button, which would make it more efficient(and would get you more clicks, if it matters)

    • The “production” rating is all encompassing. Meaning, it refers to mixing quality and actual skill in making the beat. Sometimes a beat will be extremely well crafted and mixed but I’ll think it kinda sucks musically. Other times it’ll be mixed like shit but the creativity of the producer is enough for me to bump their score. 7.5 is honestly one of the highest rating I’ve ever given anything on these demos. There is no “10” cause that doesn’t exist. Nothing will ever get a ten.
      In the case of this song, it’s extremely well made pop music but it’s really corny musically, thus the rating i gave it.
      As for my annoying windows opening, sorry and deal with it.

      • First of all, I’m not pissed, i’m more in awe!
        I didn’t take this too seriously, I was just wondering, for example, if you could give us an example(outside of your inbox) of a song that you consider a 10 for originiality(for now, or when it came out) or production. Like a “Favorite tracks” type of post. Maybe judge some of your own songs?

      • Like I said, “10” does not exist. It’s perfect. No song is perfect. Also, this is all opinion based. What I think isn’t the law. It’s my opinion. I just call it how I see it. You’re very entitled to disagree.
        As for judging my own songs, that doesn’t make sense at all as I’m a little too close to them to ever judge them with ay sort of real perspective. That’s why demo reviews works , cause I don’t know any of the people submitting. I have nothing to gain or lose by being honest.

      • You missed my point. I came here asking for your opinion in some matters. When YOU give a 10 that means that YOU feel that something was perfect. Haven’t you listened to something that YOU felt was AMAZING? The first song YOU really liked?
        This took way longer than it should have.

      • Again, no song ever in the history of time has been perfect. There has never be a song that gets 10. EVER. That number is simply there to represent an unattainable ceiling. I love tons of songs. Many of them are flawed. i think a song like “Done by the forces of nature” by the jungle brothers is an amazing song. Would I give it tens across the board? Nope. the thing you’re missing is that pretty much every week I note that the rating system is entirely arbitrary and pretty much only exists cause I know people like to be quantified. The aspect of the reviews that gets what I think across is the written part.

      • I get that the numbers aren’t rock solid. I didn’t ask you about your favorite songs so I can make a plaque with them and put it outside your house! I was just trying to get your opinion. I was giving you ideas for more content, I wasn’t trying to get you to sign something!

        The main misunderstanding was that I thought an established producer claimed to have never even come close to MIXING his records in a manner that he would consider optimal. In math form for the more optical among us:
        Blockhead records Blockhead records 3(!) points off optimal(10)
        It would be weird if at this stage in your career you still only had access to such subpar equipment, OR, even worse, were too lazy to do a proper job yourself!

        (Sorry for the caps, but there are no bolds)

      • Here’s the thing, perhaps my records don’t need a polished pop sound. I don’t make pop music. I deal in samples. Dusty records. I’ll never make music that sounds like it’s ready for radio and, honestly, it’s not something I aspire to. I’m a bedroom producer who happen to be successful. I don’t own tons of equipment. I don’t go to expensive studios. I sit literally sit in my bedroom and make beats on abelton and a sampler from 1994. These are things I do cause I want to do. I’m happy making music the way I do. Pop musicians make that kinda music cause that’s what they do. I do niche instrumental hip hop. I have all the respect in the world for those people who can make a beautiful shiny sounding record but that’s not what I’m into personally. Could I do it? Maybe. You put me in the right studio with the right engineer and anything is possible. But, the fact remains, it’s simply not a sound I’m drawn to creatively.
        Why is this such a big deal to you? Are you in that group or something? It’s a review from like a month ago. I’ve done 5o something volumes of these things and never have I had someone have such an issue with any of it. Not even people whose albums I shit on.
        Also, What ideas are you giving me for content? a list of my favorite albums? Who cares about that. I apologize if I’m being pissy about this but your tone in this exchange has been pretty antagonistic and confusing from the start. If I’m reading that wrong, my bad but, yeah…this has all been pretty fucking annoying from where I’m sitting.

      • The first paragraph of your answer is what I wanted to hear from the beginning.
        If you read all my posts in a “benign and friendly” tone, instead of “angry, white rap nerd” or whatever, this would have been so much better! Although, I have to admit that my last post may have been a bit offensive.
        But that’s my confusion with this rating. You are the one writing the reviews, so that means that you judge songs the way you LIKE. If you prefer a dirty sound, why give a polished one such props? It’s like you are trying to conform to some elitist standards. That’s where the “self-deprecation” part came from. It seemed like you weren’t proud of the job you do with your records.
        Also, are you sure that people wouldn’t want to hear what your favorite songs/albums are?
        We are at a musician’s blog, after all.

      • I like a dirtier sound for myself. That’s what I create. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate when someone makes a really well crafted/mixed song, even if it’s not my cup of tea. There’s no conforming. It’s a basic understanding of how music is made and what sounds good and/or professional.
        Consider this: a great deal of the demo’s I get sound like amateurs made them. So they get reviewed that way. So, when something comes along that sounds highly polished, I’m going to acknowledge it. At the same time, that doesn’t mean I enjoy the song. In the case of the song you’re talking about, you’ll notice I gave it a high production rating (cause it was extremely well made) but a low “listenability” rating cause, well, I didn’t like the song at all. Does that make more sense now?
        As for the favorite song/album thing, it’s just a played out question to me. It’s what people who interviewed me in 2004 would ask. Basically, I’m over that as a question and a concept. All my favorite albums are from my youth and , yet, I probably haven’t listened to them in years. When I find new music I like, I post about it. But a list of all-time favorites? nah. It’s been done to death and, honestly, I don’t have a cemented top 5 of anything. I’m not into making lists like that cause things change constantly.

      • “Although, I have to admit that my last post may have been a bit offensive.”

        I wouldn’t say offensive, but you should probably be more respectful, the way you worded things it made it sound like Blockhead owed you an answer.

        “This took way longer than it should have.” Come on… Maybe it’s because you asked strange and strangely worded questions. That said, I enjoyed the answers that you got out of him 🙂

    • plus it is probably a good clue to yourself when you have to say “First of all, I’m not pissed, i’m more in awe!” on the second post, lol

      • A clue to what? I was just pointing that my very first question was supposed to be read in a “WOW! Did he really say that?!”-tone, not in a “Fuck you Blockhead, you can’t be giving us your opinion!”-tone. But that’s the downside of internet chatting: you can’t see the other person and his gestures.

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