MARCH-APRIL 2004 Demos Of The Week
The Bitter End, Transporter, Paper Crane, Red Giant

Our Demo Of The Week for 5th April, 2004:
Red Giant

This one was also sent to us in the last couple of weeks so a gold star to be stuck to our foreheads for listening to it pronto!. And Ben makes his demo review debut...

Reg Giant are on top of the ladder! 1st song 'Lament' - great opener. Strong melody reminding us of 'Norwegian Wood' backed by unorhodox harmony vocals (not a bad thing). Another fine Australian drinking song. Drums like 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. Yes, they are fans of the Beatles. 2nd song 'Counting The Heads' - disjointed rhythm in the verse and the vocals remind me of Madness. Leads into melodic dreamy chorus. Interesting chords. Excellent, unusually structured song. Me like. papercrane

3rd song 'Better Off' - my least favourite song on the demo. Didn't hold my attention like the first two. No theme (melody or structure). 4th song 'Silence' - love the guitars playing slightly behind the beat in the verses which gives it a laidback feel. Overview - beautifully crafted demo from this creative Melbourne four-piece. Deserves to do well. We look forward to the follow up album (as mentioned in their bio). - BP

Our Demo Of The Week for 23rd March, 2004 is:
Paper Crane
Soft White Porcelain cd single

As promised, here's a cd that only arrived about two weeks ago. Paper Crane are a five-piece from Melbourne and are looking for a label to release their two-track single. They'd best be looking for a major then, as it's just not viable for small indies to put out cd singles these days, especially by new bands. Anyway, for us, the two tracks just weren't enough. We wanted more! 'Soft White Porcelain' starts with an effected guitar, subdued keyboards and a laidback vocal meandering over the top. It's slow, sparse but doesn't bore. A great lead guitar comes in, danging away until some synth noise creeps up and takes us back to the vocal section. Sophie says they remind her of Radiohead, a band I'm not too familiar with, and for me I thought of fellow Melbournians Art Of Fighting (and that's mainly the tempo and the cruisy, yet melodic vocals). papercrane

The highlight of this cd is the minor-ish, fuzzy riff that ascends over drum rolls in the second track 'Fall From Grace'. Another top guitar solo finishes it off. The songs, recorded by guitarist Tihm Harvey, are based around the 'vocal and guitar sketches' of Jimmi Buscombe with all members contributing to the arrangements. A band to watch out for. -ND

This one caught our eye from the Bad Hats, who supplied us with quite a humorous bio

Our Demo Of The Week for 8th March, 2004:

Yes, another demo from the dark ages. Next week we promise to bring you a cd that was sent to us last week. Shock, Horror. Onto Transporter from Crows Nest in Sydney. A very confident sounding band with well-structured (or de-constructed in some cases) songs with great vocals that don't irritate at all - which can really bug with some bands, where the singer's not sure whether he wants to be Eddie Vedder or Jeff Buckley - sometimes in the same song. Not here, where the twin vocals of Piers Twomey and Damien Press are very good, very British even (as in Beatles-y harmonies, and Nic says they remind him a lot like NZ's Straitjacket Fits). This shines through in 'Gather Round', 'Rise & Fall' and the final track 'Bask In The Sun'. This demo, their first, is from March 2002 and the bio says they formed in Sydney in 2001 and all four members were/are active in other bands, Sydney Con percussion degrees, even double bass in the SSO. So they know their stuff. You can hear the assured playing in the music. Beautiful high and graceful singing in 'Rise & Fall' which has complimentary musical highs and lows pulsating underneath. transporter

The one track that doesn't seem to gel with the others, to these ears anyway, is the fourth 'Dead Ed Wood' - it's still good, just a bit generic 'indie-rock', especially in the verses. Maybe this morning, reviewing a two-year-old demo, it's just a little too quick and jaunty. 'Parallel Lines' builds to a fantastic psychedelic middle section which gets another whopping 1-minute-30-second airing right through to the end of the track. So, Transporter, if you're still out there, a rather late tip-of-the-hat to you. -SH

Our Demo Of The Week for 1st March, 2004 is...drum roll please:
The Bitter End Element
Dum-De-Dum Records 2001

Sophie has come back from holidays saying Right, we have got to attack The Box. Not The Box, I reply. Yes, that box, the one that sits on top of the filing cabinet and has all the demo cds (and still a few tapes to prove how ancient it is) collected since 2001, possibly even earlier. Truth is, as a lot of demos and their accompanying bios don't have a date on them, we actually don't know when something was sent to us. So if you get an email from Half A Cow saying 'thanks, but no thanks' in response to a demo you did back in '99 when you'd just finished high school BEFORE you'd come to your senses and got a real job, then you'll shake your head and laugh at your childish musical antics and our continuation of them! So, onto The Box...

Well, well, well, don't we feel silly. Wished we'd discovered this one when it was sent to us, and not 3 (ouch!) yes, 3 years later. We've listened to Melbourne's The Bitter End 10 track, 41 minute album Element so many times now it's had its demo moniker stripped in favour of current stereo fave. And it's not exactly a demo. Like some of the cds that get sent to us it's an independently-released, mixed and mastered album or one ready to be pressed up and distributed. Led by songwriter Steven Camden who, with Rod McQueen, recorded, sang and played all the instruments (except drums and a few special guests), have created a faultless album of laidback country-folk pop with one of the best lead vocals to be heard in a long time. Maybe Steven Camden has become a big star already, it's damn good singing. The bio says he's supported Ron Sexsmith here in Australia a few times and I can hear the similarity in the vocals (as in the wavering vocals at the end of a line) but Steven has his own thing going on as well. He also sounds like a marshmallow Neil Young (especially on 'Winds Of Change' with it's equally Youngesque - Youngish? Youngian? - harmonica solo). bitterend

The songs, written from '96 to '01, are all memorable with a melancholic thread running through them that match the controlled arrangement of the instruments - there's nothing running off the meter and there doesn't need to be - the music is so inviting, the singing so comforting that there's no need for any added bells & whistles to make it attractive. Special mention then, to drummers Ben Kuring and Adam Dempsey, and to Paul Rigby, who adds luscious pedal steel and banjo to a few of the tracks. There's so many standout songs on Element that we'd have to mention them all but the ones that pushed their way to the front are 'The Sun, The Moon, The Stars & The Sky', 'Take My Breath Away', '(Looking For) Somewhere', and 'Cul-de-Sac'. I'd be surprised if this album by The Bitter End didn't get some glowing attention when it came out as it deserves to Big Time. We'll have to investigate. - ND
contact: The Bitter End PO Box 2154 Caulfield Junction VIC 3161
The Bitter End website

Previous Demos Of The Week
NOV 2003-FEBRUARY 2004Mr Grass, Chris Eaves, Angel Ice, Nick Ainsworth & The Former Bullies
OCTOBER 2003 Capital City, Erik Damberg, The Vacant Lanes, Winnie, Toby Mendelson, Senani, Wilberforce
JUNE 2003 Wons Phreely, Jerkwater
APRIL-MAY 2003 The Rawhypnols, Wayfaring Strangers, Lizz-aard, Highway, Swayback
OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2002 Sarah Sarah, Mirablue, Skeptic, Dog Rocket, The Bigger Lovers, Grise, Treetops
MARCH-APRIL 2002 Genes, Landy, The Sound Platform
JANUARY 2002 Temporal Lobe, Hero Puppy, The Carousel, Randy Lee Majors, Sharmelle Peterson
DECEMBER 2001 Sugarchild, The Rectifiers
NOVEMBER 2001 The Drones, The Savages, Sideshow, Arbuckle
OCTOBER 2001 Halfway, Earth To Nigel, Closure, A Cat Called Monty