Things that suck about being in a band: Bad Reviews

This kind of sucks.

Cedar Fire
Stars The back cover of Cedar Fire’s Stars depicts a dot-matrix image of Evel Knievel, and that’s a pretty strong visual representation of what the band sounds like. They’re more or less a meat-and-potatoes rock ’n’ roll band, all power chords and hammy vocal affectations— the kind of band you could hear at any dive bar in America and would feel right at home. That said, they’re still just diluted facsimiles of bands like The Stooges or MC5. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s also nothing particularly memorable, either.

That’s our review in San Diego Citybeats annual Great Demo Review.

A little background- Citybeat is our alternative weekly and tends strongly towards hipster music- cute indie rock, abrasive indie punk, rap made by rappers who are not black, and, oddly enough, heavy metal.

So it’s not totally surprising that we’re not really what they like.  I’m trying to write hits like I hear on the radio.  I know that’s not cool to admit to, but there it is.  Not cause I want to get rich, but that’s the kind of music I like.   But it’s still not fun getting called lousy, having to talk the rest of the band off the ledge.

I forget where I read this (otherwise I’d credit them), but I was having a discussion about music online and someone made the point of- what if we demanded of food what we routinely demand of musicians- i.e. coming up with something totally unique and new or we don’t like it.  Of course, some food critics probably are like that, but the rest of us are just fine eating something dozens, maybe hundreds of times over our lifetime, without demanding it be brand new.

So yeah, I’m rationalizing here, but I think of our band like a good burrito.  Not a reinvention of the wheel.  I’m too old and not talented enough to make it as a musician, but I love making music and so that’s what I do.

That being said, we’re talking about recording another EP this summer, so I’m going to get on the ball and fine tune some songs.  Maybe do better next year.

Update- added a link to our bandcamp.  The review had a link to our page, so it actually got us a few listens the last couple days, which is nice.  One of the things I told my band was- if I had read this review I would have said- oh a band that likes the MC5 and The Stooges, I’ll check them out regardless of what Citybeat says.  Looks like maybe some people did that.  For the record, I don’t see the resemblance to either band, but to each their own.



  1. Hey I clicked on your link and listened to the song. You’re actually pretty good. Reminds me of a couple Aussie bands from years back. As for critics, oh well … we all have to deal with them one way or another.

  2. Bad reviews are always painful, whatever your art. People assume famous people don’t read reviews, won’t notice a little blog review on the Internet. But they do. They find it, read it. If you trash them, they hate you forever. It doesn’t mean you can’t offer constructive criticism (the only kind worth offering, in my opinion), but a thorough trashing?

    Author’s, for example, NEVER forget a terrible review. I’m betting musicians are the same. Which is why rather than publish an awful review, I say nothing. Artists are people. Sensitive people. Art is part of our soul, our babies. Reviews are PERSONAL.

    1. Yeah, I try to focus my opinion on people who I think have some good qualities but aren’t quite making the most of them. One of my frequent targets on this blog is Bruno Mars because I think he’s got so much talent and he’s wasting it on songs that have an unpleasant message to them. He could be the next Stevie Wonder if he tried. I think that’s fair. I wouldn’t mind hearing people pointing out where we could improve because I’m realistic about what I am and I don’t have a huge ego.

      Then again getting a bad review makes me want to do better, so I’ve actually been really focused this week on getting some songs done. So it’s not all bad.

    1. Thanks! There’s plenty of great rock and roll out there, but it’s not the in thing anymore, which is fine. It’s become part of the same club as jazz, blues, country, folk, soul- all the great American styles. We actually get a lot of compliments from people at the bars we play at so I know people still enjoy it. I would try more current music too, but no one wants to hear me rap and I can’t program music to save me life!

      1. Do what you love and what you do well and it will make you and your audience happy!

        My college advisor when I was a music major (Herb Deutsch) was the co-inventor of the moog synthesizer. Even though we got to be good friends, I’ve never been partial to electronic music. I’m essentially acoustic. Melodic. Rhythmic. And I like songs with words that make sense on some level. I could never get my head behind 12-tone (is that music or a math problem?) and humiliated myself at a Prokofiev concert by having an hysterical fit of giggles. It sounded like a couple of cats having a fight locked in a metal trash bin. It wouldn’t have been so bad were I not seated in the front row …

        Musically speaking, I was retro before they invented a word for it.

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