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Demo Review

Le Tournoi / Newton Faulkner / Nosferatu D2 / Minusplusdivide / The Dastards / A Life in Bandages / Downdime/ Transit Cop / The Koko’s / William / One:day:life
Various demos & self-financed releases

Article written by Ged M - Jun 22, 2006

Listening to demos is a bit like poking through piles of puke for the gold tooth you suspect is there. They can stink, make you retch and underline the sheer rancid misery of existence. But every so often, if you don’t find gold you’ll at least come across an amusingly phallic-shaped carrot that reinstates your joie de vivre. Taking a fairly random sample of demos and self-released singles, I found tracks that makes you want to go round to their house, break their hands and cut their vocal chords (occasional), some you’d invite for dinner and a bunk-up (very rare) and, frequently, those that wash past in an unremarkable blur. In order of listening…

Le Tournoi’s 7 track ‘The Rescue of Wolves’ is the work of singer-songwriter William Sanderson, who has the help, one presumes, of family (Emilie S sings vocals and James S plays drums). It’s jangly, fey indie-pop of the standard sort but on ‘Christmas Eve’, it sounds a little like Felt or early REM, and is that a ukulele on ‘Vague Tales’?. It’s very lo-fi and lo-cost (the CD came wrapped in the back page of the Metro, the cheap bastards). William claims to be “kind of signed” so if you want to hear the sort of music made by a bloke who scrawls messages to very important reviewers on scraps of paper, visit

I wanted to hear Newton Faulkner after the press sheet claimed “when it comes to naming truly great singer-guitarists…Chuck Berry. Eric Clapton. Jimi Hendrix. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Kurt Cobain…get ready to add Newton Faulkner to that shortlist”. Bollocks. The one track on the CD-R shows him to be a funk-lite version of Jack Johnson and Lenny Kravitz with a florid voice and nearly three minutes of guitar showboating (showing off an education at the Academy of Contemporary Music). It’s musical wankery but apparently Jimmy Page really rates him. If you want to know more about the Newt, ask Jim ‘cause I ain’t helping you.

Croydon’s Nosferatu D2 are brothers: Adam drums, Ben plays guitar and sings tunelessly. The brothers constantly sound like they’re playing different songs at the same time. ‘I Killed Burt Bacharach’ is a great title and a dirge of a song (Radiohead stuck in mud). The stream of consciousness lyrics of ‘Springsteen’ remind me of David Feck from Comet Gain, which is one of the positives I took from this recording. Hear if you want at

Leicester’s Minusplusdivide describe themselves as “3 lonely musically minded souls” and if this demo is their lonely hearts advert, they’re bound to attract guitar-fixated long-haired billy-no-mates rockhounds (male, natch). Their music is dirgy, garage-punk-metal, which is intense but has enough stop-start, light-dark contrast to give it a semblance of interesting. The final track ‘–(+/Nothing)’ sounds like the Foo Fighters and has the one welcome snatch of melody on the EP. If violent guitar-rock is your bag, check them out on Don’t tell ‘em I sent you…

The lead singer of the Dastards is called Wake and his singing is an acquired taste, which I still couldn’t take after 4 tracks. Wake’s voice is a pained, folky warble, like few things on earth: Joan Armatrading channelling Joe Pasquale while gargling snot, maybe. They’re into everything from Dylan to Muse they say, meaning they bounce between confessional acoustic guitar-led songs and full on stadium-intense rock; the anthemic last track ‘Trouble’ is the only listenable thing on here. If you must listen, they’re at

Those silvery discs are bursting with potential promise before you listen; then you have to recalibrate your expectations to survive the aural torture. Luckily, some demos are better than others. A Life in Bandages grumble like hell has just opened and out trundled the four horsemen of the apocalypse on a 24 hour pass. They’re devils with guitars but accompanied by decadent glam rock angels scattering pop hooks. ‘Final Act of Treachery’ has Sonic Youth squalling guitars and a post-apocalyptic bassline that’s pure wasteland Pere Ubu but also some neat hooks (shades of Metro Riots). ‘Skeleton Mare’ has a thumping sound but the Roxy Music keyboards add a light touch. At last, a decent demo! Hear more at

Downdive’s ‘Hate the Morning’ should by now be a 7” single on Squirrel Records of Leeds (SQRL15). We’re reviewed them before – they’re engaging US sounding indie poppers, with shades of the Modern Lovers and Pavement – the Northern equivalent of our own Magoo. The keyboards desperately pound away high in the mix, giving the songs a fourth side that guitar bands often lack. ‘Joanne’ on the flipside is a tragic tale told at ramming speed. This is a bit of a ringer to be stuck with the demos but it’s a goody.

Transit Cop is a band with its own record label/ club night in Cheltenham (good taste in live bands too). I couldn’t tell you what Transit Cop really sound like as every track on this demo is completely different (electro-pop to guitar rock) but ‘I Don’t Want to Fade Away’ is the pick of them. The grumbling bassline sounds like New Order but the squishy synth makes you want to sing “you spin me round baby/ right round/ like a record baby…” There’s something poppy and fun about that one. From 80s to hatees: track two is a little like Placebo: agggh! Hear more at

The Koko’s sound like the Kings of Leon and both that and the misplaced apostrophes in their name and crib sheet get on my tits. It’s textbook rock’n’roll – as laboured as the pipsqueak noise made by those squirts the Kooks, whose name mysteriously is an anagram of The Kokos. Dullsville lives at

How did this get into the demo pile? William are on Tough Love Records, home of Coventry’s The Sequins. ‘Five Minute Wonder’ is dishevelled punk rock with a bright lo-fi attitude and distressed guitar solo, while the spoken word verses sound like Richard Hell. Very good – the pick of this here bunch.

And we’re onto the final demo and…fucking ‘ell, it’s Busted! Well, the press release says One:day:life but it’s clearly the Busted toffs, in spirit at least. Growing up on a diet of Foo Fighters and Green Day makes them produce excessively flatulent puppy-punk rock ( I hate it ‘cause I’m not 11 and failing to understand the changes my body is undergoing….

Pearls and swine, shit and stars, three decent bands out of 11 is pretty good going for demos. But several make me want to do amateur nailclipping on the bands – with a chainsaw. Hands out…


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