PROFESSIONAL DEMO REVIEW - Jun 12, 2006
- “These guys have the sound that captures the College / Hot AC market these days”
Unsigned Artists Of The Week Epic Hero, Ropetree and Blacklist have been reviewed by our panel of three music industry professionals: producers Dale Penner (Nickelback), Charlie Peacock (Switchfoot, The OC) and Colin Richardson (Fightstar).
The reviewers analyzed all aspects: vocals, production, composition, visual presentation; provided tips on improving the tracks; evaluated their overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, and advised on approaching the music industry.
Epic Hero – US – Rock/Pop
Minneapolis-based Epic Hero’s new album “New Life” is produced by Dan Wilson (Semisonic, Dixie Chicks, Jason Mraz). The band has been steadily touring in support of the record, including opening dates with Ben Folds, Semisonic, Phantom Planet and even Rascall Flatts. They are available for record, management and publishing deals.
Listen to Epic Hero – Stars
Ropetree – US – Rock
Ropetree’s last independent release sold 3000 copies. They have supported Creed, Killradio and Revielle, been produced by Grammy nominated producer Glen Robinson (Tori Amos, Queensryche, Iggy Pop), and mastered by Alan Douches (Ben Folds Five). They are available for record, management and publishing deals.
Listen to Ropetree – Day Sleeper
Blacklist – Ireland – Rock
Blacklist, a 5 piece melodic rock band from Ireland, is influenced by Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and AC/DC. They are available for record and management deals.
Listen to Blacklist – Going Home
Our industry professional review panel:
Dale Penner – Producer – Canada
Dale's production credits include gold and platinum selling artists, Nickelback, Econoline Crush, Holly McNarland and The Matthew Good Band to name a few. He is the driving force behind Paradise Alley Productions, a combination Production and Artist development/management concept.
One of Dale's recent productions JONAS was nominated for two Juno Awards at the 2006 Junos (Canadian equivalent to the Grammy's), including "Rock Album of the Year". Dale has recently completed production for Montreal-based Psychotic4 (Sony/BMG), and L.A. based Sideshow who are signed to Dale's Paradise Alley Productions.
Charlie Peacock – Producer – USA
Grammy winning producer Charlie Peacock is Sr. VP of A&R for Runway Network and acting Director for Runway Network Publishing. Charlie is the founder of EMI’s Boutique label, Re:think, and has served as Head of A&R for EMI’s Forefront label.
As the Director of A&R for Re:think, Charlie signed and developed the multi-platinum act Switchfoot and co-produced their multi-format hit, “Dare You To Move.” Charlie has 25 years of experience in music publishing from both the artist/songwriter and publisher’s perspective.
As an artist/songwriter he has worked with CBS Songs, SBK Publishing, and EMI Music Publishing. He has developed three very successful publishing catalogs: Andi Beat Goes On Music (BMI), Sugar Pete Songs (ASACP), and Alright Bug Music (BMI).
Film and television credits range from Fame in the 80s to The OC today, as well as films such as A Walk To Remember and Spiderman II. Charlie is currently producing jam-band/funk favorites Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.
Colin Richardson – Producer – UK
British producer/mixer Colin Richardson has a list of credits that spans from the melodic to the full on heavy, some of which include: Funeral For A Friend, "Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation" (produced and mixed); Fightstar, "Grand Unification" (produced and mixed); Bullet For My Valentine, "The Poison" (produced and mixed, Slipknot "9.0: Live" (mixed) and "Disasterpieces" (mixed); Fear Factory, "Soul of a New Machine" (produced and mixed) and "Demanufacture" (produced), and many, many Machine Head albums!
Reviews on Epic Hero:
Like the song says in the opening lyric, “Everybody has an opinion”… personally I really like Epic Hero. These guys have the sound that seems to be capturing the College / Hot AC market these days. Justin’s voice is perfect for the songs he’s writing and singing, however the production and musical composition falls short at times of delivering the landscape for Justin’s voice.
I would like to have heard some coloring that could have made the repeating chord progression seem more interesting in the verses. The falsetto chorus hook is awesome, why not develop it. Epic Hero is a great chorus hook and one or two original elements away from having a real shot at success. Hit Potential as it is – about a 4, and Hit Potential with a great chorus and something unique - an 8 or 9.
“Stars” is one of those tracks that gets close to hitting the radio bulls-eye but ultimately misses. Though “Stars” is produced by the more than capable Dan Wilson (Jason Mraz, Dixie Chicks), the mix suffers from a rare disorder - the passionate vocal is actually too loud. Still the track is honest, no-frills, band-style production at its best. This is obviously a good band with good intentions.
Next time out, trim back the lyric content, tune up the falsetto unison, and resist the impulse to add a B section to the chorus. A few gentle A&R tweaks might have made this song a national contender.
The singer has quite a good voice with a nice falsetto, but the song itself is too dreary and bland for me in its current state. Musically it sounds empty in places, in terms of instrumentation, and the production itself is good but not great. I'd say that the drums could use more groove in the verses.
I think it could use another vocal melody after the song hits the chorus (the lead vocal falsetto), because the chorus is sounding very empty. All in all the song may need some re-arranging to flow better and perhaps more writing or studio time to fill it out, but it isn't bad. They should watch out for the lyrical rhyming as it is a little trite.
Reviews on Ropetree:
Ropetree has the quiet verse, loud chorus style nailed, but the bridge is the best part of the song. The out of tune vocals in the opening verse really draws you away from the talent Ropetree have as musicians. They have an image and a sound that is very marketable but this song will not get them signed or become a hit. Expand the lyrics and focus on melody and the confident delivery of melody.
Musically the band sounds great and judging by their image and musicianship I’m sure they put on a great show. Ropetree are in a very big crowd stylistically. So work on vocals and melodies that bring something unique into play and you’ll be much closer to success. Hit Potential as it is – 2. Hit Potential with the right song – 7.
“Day Sleeper” epitomizes the rock and roll dream by honoring the adolescent, time-worn tradition of sleeping past noon with the added fantasy of borrowing some space on a sleepy lover’s mattress: “If I had it my way we’d stay in your bed all day.” The Brit-affected verse vocals drip with attitude. Too bad they’re as pitchy as a pine tree.
Once the chorus hits, the singer morphs from a high-cred whisper to somewhere within Scott Stapp territory (which I imagine is not what they were going for). The guitars compete with anything out there and the song is so, so close to having the stuff of a hit. If I had it my way we would have got up early and spent all day and night in the studio polishing this potential hit.
Over-all, I quite like this song. It has good production, but there are a few issues I think they need to keep their eye on. The loud/quiet bits sound a little too familiar. Even though it is very catchy, they'll want to watch themselves and not make this aspect too formula on all of their tracks - it has been done many times by many others. Too much of this sort of thing can make a band sound unoriginal.
The vocals are good, but do tend to go out of key at times. That is obviously something to watch out for on future recordings. I really liked the harmonic riff that runs throughout as it reminds me of a rocked up version of Pixies meets Presidents of the USA. On repeated plays the track can be quite infectious.
Reviews on Blacklist:
I love the opening riff. I might have to go find my old Black Sabbath records. The arrangement of this song is very weak - if you’re going to sing the same lyrics in the second half of each verse, please change it up musically so it at least appears to be a repeating pre-chorus. I like the chorus of this song, but the inconsistencies in the tempo make the chorus seem kind of flat.
Blacklist needs a producer to help sort through their ideas. This just sounds too much like an undeveloped demo to really get people's attention. Hit potential in North America for this is near nil. Put on an awesome show and play 200 + shows a year and they may have a career.
There are several reasons to commend the Irish rock band Blacklist, but rhythmic accuracy is not one of them. I appreciate any group that will record a track without quantizing the life out of it. But if you can’t play 8th notes together and make it sound like you’re one organism then you’d better learn to use Beat Detective!
Still, this band has a great singer with a unique voice. I don’t think this is the song that sends them over the top, but I love the vocal delivery and the fact that the band stretches out instrumentally. This isn’t radio ready, but their next one could be. Good guitar sounds - just tighten them up. And get that kick drum under control.
The track itself is good, but the production quality and playing itself needs to improve. This band could be sitting on the next trend (who knows), but they would benefit from cleaning up the playing on the demo before moving forward with it. Doing more work on the track in the studio would also allow the band to go for a more solid mix.
It sounds like the singer has a good voice and I suspect he has more diversity in him. With a band such as this, image will be more of a key issue. To play this kind of rock they will need to look cool and not be a bunch of old rockers. It needs more work…
Demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To upload your songs, click here.
If you are a music industry professional that would like to participate in the demo reviews, please send us a message.
Previous Demo Reviews:Professional Demo Review - May 1, 2006
Artists: Irina Lamb (Pop/Urban/Ukraine/US) – Julia Othmer (Pop/US) – DaNica (Pop/Urban/US)
Professionals: Allan Wells – Manager – US - George Samuelson – Producer – Sweden - Robyx a.k.a. Roberto Zanetti – Producer – Italy
- “This girl has an incredible voice. It's hard to tell that she is a blond, young and very beautiful artist!”
- “Industry types love to see that an artist is out there doing it for real.”
- “At the moment I hear too much of the Anastacias, Mariahs, and the plethora of Church singers around the world, and compared to them she will always risk looking pale as a developing artist.”
Professional Demo Review - March 13, 2006
Artists: Gang Of Roses (Urban/US) – Gio (Hip Hop/US) – Ken Fluid (Hip Hop/US)
Professionals: Jermaine Russ p.k.a. Mac G (Producer/US) – Spike Leroy (Producer/US) – Mughal (Producer/Canada)
- “This has hit written all over it!”
- “The bio is a story I’ve heard over and over and over again, same old blah, blah, blah… I’m just sick of rappers thinking they need to put out how bad they were, or how much dirt they did, or how many times they’ve been shot, etc.”
- “He's a nice looking guy, so the ladies would like to buy a magazine that features him, or a nice poster, so he shouldn't have a problem there. He's definitely marketable.”
Professional Demo Review - Jan 16, 2006
Artists: No Silence (Pop/UK – Junk TV (Pop/UK) – Lesley Roy (Pop/Ireland)
Professionals: Gary Cooper (Manager/A&R Consultant/Germany) – David Coulommiers (Producer/France) – Stani Djukanovic (Producer/Germany)
- “She can offer any label a first class artist!”
- “I don’t think the heavier guitars help the song, and they’re certainly too dominant for her vocals.”
- “From the spine-tingling introduction to the huge chorus drop, ‘There’ll Be Angels’ begs the listener to reach for the volume, and is a flawless example of savvy production quality and awesome songwriting.”
Professional Demo Review - Sep 19, 2005
Artists: Melange Edinburgh (Rap/USA) – Kareem (R&B/USA) – Bristh (R&B/USA)
Professionals: Yann Rouiller (Producer/Switzerland) – Prince Valium (Producer/Denmark) – Andrew Lane (Producer/USA)
- “In her case the visual presentation is what can decide whether she gets signed or not.”
- “Kareem has real potential. The fact that he is (almost) self-contained will make his path a lot easier.”
- “The brass parts are really bad and should be played for real instead of the awful sounding programming, and the pitch instrumental parts are a mess and should be deleted or not pitched at all.”
Professional Demo Review - Aug 8, 2005
Artists: Anne Judith (Pop/Norway) – Mooli (Pop/UK) – TonDalaya (R&B/USA)
Professionals: Michael Puskas (A&R/Australia) – Robert Uhlmann (Producer/Sweden) – O-Jay (Producer/Germany)
- “The track has a great commercial hook that drives it straight to the radio.”
- “This song came across as a cliché on top of a cliché.”
- “I love this track - the lo-fi drums, nice string arrangements and bubbling sounds give it a very nice atmosphere.”
Professional Demo Review – Jul 4, 2005
Artists: Exkzile (Rap/USA) – Hazel (Rap/USA) – T.U. Savant (Rap/USA)
Professionals: Steve “Blast” Wills (Producer/USA) – Gabo (TV producer/USA) – Mughal (Producer/Canada)
- “She has good potential to be signed by a record label!”
- “He needs a photographer to frame him for industry appreciation.”
- “Please quit while you’re ahead. This ain’t going anywhere!”
Professional Demo Review – Apr 18, 2005
Artists: Mis Marie (Rap/Denmark) – Vladimir Vasileski Cetkar (Pop/USA) – Penny Foster (Pop/UK)
Professionals: Lotte Aagaard (Publisher/Denmark) – Leo Chantzaras (Producer/Germany) – Robert Waterman (A&R/UK)
- “A very catchy song with potential! I like it!”
- “He is a good singer but should try losing the accent.”
- “I would suggest she looked closely at herself and ask, ‘why me? What's special about me?”
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