PROFESSIONAL DEMO REVIEW - Aug 24, 2009
-“Charismatic, easy on the eye and powerful without being pink and remotely girly - I like it!”
This month the Professional Demo Review braces itself for a blast of ROCK as our ever-morphing panel of industry experts immerse their ears in three new tracks by three of our unsigned Artists of the Week.
Offering critiques of songs by Dead Rose Beauty, ONOFF and Logan are A&R and rock label MD Julie Weir, manager Steve Hutton and producers Dale Penner and Colin Richardson. The judges analyse all aspects - vocals, production, composition, and visual presentation; provide tips on improving the tracks; evaluate their overall potential to get a record deal and achieve chart success, and advise on approaching the music industry.
Remember, demos on review are chosen from the ones uploaded to the A&R Panel. To get your music assessed by our expert panel upload your tracks here.
The ArtistsDead Rose Beauty – USA – Rock
Dead Rose Beauty are a rock band whose intense, raw, and energetic songs capture the band's life experiences, as well as their own personalities. DRB are currently presenting their unforgettable live performance across the U.S. The band's first single has already been paired with a music video and has been released on STAR 98.7's official web site.
The band has also been fortunate in gaining a lot of media exposure through lead singer Nina Bergman's life in TV, print and films. DRB was supporting band for Meat Loaf's Casa De Carne Tour and are currently in Los Angeles writing the rest of the songs for their full-length debut album. They are available for record and management deals.
ONOFF – UK – Rock
Irish punk band ONOFF are well known for their infamous live performances, which have included getting fans on stage, fire-breathing finales, and even arriving on stage in coffins. Such antics have landed them support slots with their own idols such as Falloutboy, Bad Religion, Funeral For a Friend and Therapy? not to mention a tour with ska-punk legends Reel Big Fish.
October 2008 saw ONOFF release their 40,000 copies of their debut European album 'Don't Take Our Word For It', on the cover of 2 major German music magazines, Stardust magazine and OX Fanzine. The release was supported by an 8-week tour of Western Europe. 2009 sees the band playing festivals across Europe and also start work on their new album.
Logan – UK – Rock
Scottish five-piece hard rock band Logan has sold in excess of 8000 copies of their 2 self-funded albums, 'First Leaf Fallen' and 'Welcome to the Wasteland'. Their single 'When I Get Down' debuted at No.12 on the Official UK Rock Chart, staying in the chart for seven weeks, a feat never before achieved by an unsigned band.
Last year saw the band showed their commitment to their band’s future by dropping their day jobs to devote themselves to Logan full-time. They are available for record and publishing deals.
The Industry Professional Review Panel
Julie Weir - A&R - UK
When Julie Weir founded UK rock label Visible Noise, her goal was to foster and break home-grown talent, and her A&R talents were quickly proven when she launched a “bunch of lads from Wales” into chart-topping rock superstars Lostprophets (UK No.1 & US Top 40). Along with other signings including Bring Me The Horizon and Bullet For My Valentine (UK & US Top 5), Visible Noise has not only established itself as one of the premier rock labels, but also been a major force in putting the UK rock scene back on the map.
As well as Lostprophets and Bring Me The Horizon, Visible Noise’s roster currently includes Burn Down Rome, The Legacy, The Plight, Outcry Collective, Brides, Your Demise and The Dead Formats. Read the HitQuarters interview with Julie here.
Visible Noise MySpace
The Visible Noise YouTube Channel
Dale Penner - Producer - Canada
Producer/Engineer/Mixer Dale Penner is the driving force behind Paradise Alley Productions, a combination production/artist development. Countless projects have benefited from Penner's production, including Nickelback's ‘The State’ (Roadrunner), which was certified gold in the USA, platinum in Canada and scored 2 Billboard Top Ten singles. Dale received the ‘Producer of the Year’ award at the West Coast Music Awards for his work on Holly McNarland's (Universal) platinum selling ‘Stuff’.
Dale prides himself on having the ability to identify and develop hit songs and capture passionate heart felt performances. I do most of my work from my ‘resort’ style studio on a 3-acre river property in Winnipeg, Canada.
Steve Hutton - Manager - USA
After graduating law school in 1993 Stephen Hutton started Uppercut Management. Shortly thereafter he began managing a skinny white rapper from Detroit by the name of Kid Rock. During his eight years as an Uppercut artist, Kid Rock sold over 14 million records, toured the world, sold out numerous arenas, got arrested a few times, and was even nominated for a Grammy. Current Uppercut clients include Better Than Ezra, All That Remains, Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster, and Lions. In addition, Uppercut manages songwriters and has had over ten number 1s in the US in the last four years.
Colin Richardson - Producer - UK
Colin Richardson is a British record producer, mixer and recording engineer, who has lent his formidable talents to over 100 albums by bands including Funeral For A Friend, Slipknot, Machine Head and Bullet For My Valentine.
* * *
Julie Weir - 7
“There are obvious Evanescence/Paramore comparisons here. I can see the attraction in the artist as it is definitely attention grabbing and has crossover appeal with a few different subgenres. It’s commercial enough to appeal to the Nickelback fans, but dark enough to appeal to the more leftfield.
There’s a decent bombastic production on the track, if not a bit effect laden on Nina’s voice, which is highly processed. However, even though I am not remotely a fan of female vocalists, this did hold my attention enough for quite a few listens.
A marketable image in the front woman too here – as I said, I have never been a fan of female vocalists but in this case we have a winner. Charismatic, easy on the eye and powerful without being pink and remotely girly - I like it.
Being curious enough to go onto the MySpace too, I found a very organised, very professional band that puts a lot of the demos we get to shame.”
Dale Penner – 7
“Dead Rose Beauty has a great singer, and a great range and attitude. The band performance is solid and tight, however the vocals and lyrics do need some work.
The production has the radio formatted sound. Although formatted well for commercial radio, it could do with sounding heavier, especially for US ‘rock’ radio.
Their EPK says they are writing new material to record, and if they continue to grow as songwriters from here onwards they will almost certainly write a hit. The exposure in the TV show certainly helps, it’s a great marketing tool! What’s more it may peak the interest of record labels. The band has a great image with wide demographic appeal.”
Steve Hutton – 7.5
“Wow, that girl in Evanescence has really lost some weight! OK, bad joke. Nothing new here - sounds very derivative of a few years ago.
The production is professional enough but there's nothing here that excites me. What is with the clearly auto-tuned vocal – can we make a better effort to get that masked?
There’s certainly potential here but a different direction is needed. The mp3 gets a 6 but with the singer’s looks and TV history, I’m increasing it to a 7.5.”
Colin Richardson – 7
“I like the song, but it is quite a crowded market place for where they are positioning themselves.
The track is well arranged with a good dynamic vocal performance, although the production could be better - i.e. the drum sound - as this type of song needs a huge production.
I like the image with these guys - very marketable. They have a good chance of grabbing an audience, but my primary concern is that where they are aiming for is congested and they are running behind the pack a bit.”
Julie Weir - 6
“On first listen, my main problem was that the vocals seem almost buried in a cacophony of guitar. What’s more it does sound a little dated to be honest.
However, there is something truly endearing about bands who are fun, and these guys are all that. Whether I would call them punk or not is another bone of contention as they, when browsing their other stuff, fit more into commercial rock for me (though punk may possibly apply to the song in question).
I have to admit it’s not my taste, but I would probably happily go and see these guys live to get a taste of the full story.”
Dale Penner - 5
“This is a great sound, with a good production. It’s heavy enough to break US rock, but could also have crossover appeal. At least it might if the song was catchier. I don’t think this has enough to grab a radio listener. It’s no hit song.
They clearly have great energy and are probably great live. If this band can kick it up like this on a stage then they are ahead of the game and should be out touring. This will help attract record companies. The photo’s great too - that should get people’s attention!”
Steve Hutton - 6
“Hmm … I kind of like it. It’s got some Billy Talent going on, and I like the guitar sounds. Ultimately though, it’s a bit too polished and safe for my tastes. I like the title, although I’m having a hard time figuring out what the song is actually about.
I’d give it a 6 because there is some promise to it. Finally a note to the singer – Johnny Rotten called, he wants his haircut back.”
Colin Richardson - 5
“Pop punk from Ireland! On the positive side, there's good production with tight playing. However for me the song did not stand out enough comparing it to other bands in the genre – such as Green Day or Rancid.
I checked out the band's MySpace page and liked one of the other songs so much better. They might want to go back and review the song choices for promoting themselves.
I reckon this band would be good live, but on the basis of the review song the song writing needs to step up a few notches.”
Julie Weir - 4
“Unfortunately, this is my idea of hell all in one track. There is nothing technically wrong with this whatsoever, as they are a competent bunch, but that slow approach, meaningful lyrics then chuggy guitar is so predictable. And what’s more it’s been done over and over by bands that are much bigger.
This bunch have the talent to go on and do something more than this. It’s certainly solidly written stuff, but Staind wannabees is what it makes them sound like. If they’re able emulate this style so effortlessly then it makes me think that if you dug a bit deeper you would find more there. They are playing too safe.
Ordinarily, I would have turned this off as soon as the guitars kicked in as it is stylistically like reading a well thumbed book, but having to review it made me listen through, and ditto for exploring onto their web pages. I think it just needs a little rethinking, but hey, that’s just my two penneth – the other way of thinking is if it’s not broke don’t fix it.”
Dale Penner - 5
“Firstly the vocals sound terrific – the singer has the tried and trusted raspy rock voice.
The sound and production is formatted well for commercial radio but the song would be more powerful if there were more dynamics. There isn’t enough here to stand out of the crowd at ‘rock’ radio. What’s more the chorus lyric is pretty weak.
This band has the singer and the sound, but they need a hit. Band photo is not exciting and really doesn’t jump off the page and command attention like it should.“
Steve Hutton - 5
“Jeez, now I know where Scott Stapp has been hiding! I thought only us Americans were dumb enough to listen to this kind of stuff. Could I hear this song on the radio? Yep. Would I change the channel? You betcha. I give it a 5 in case Europe wants to grow this stuff at home.”
Colin Richardson - 8.5
“Stadium rock - nothing wrong with that though. It's nice to hear a UK band taking on North America.
They've got great vocals, as of course you need in a song this big, and that all important seriously catchy chorus. The chorus is straight in your head after only one listen.
The only slight negative for me was the guitar solo in the middle, which could of been more epic in its note choice. I can imagine these guys going down great live – and I would definitely go see them - and can see no reason at all why they cannot bag a record deal. “
Next week: Our series on the graduates of the legendary Cheiron production house continues with producer and songwriter Per Magnusson
Read On ...