Bringing in this year’s Buddy Holly Glasses Award is Kissing Tigers, who identify as “not an I.V. band.” Our first impression was the package they left: Not only was their demo inside, but also a letter to us written on binder paper, a broken No. 2 pencil, an E.T. figurine, a folded zine and a pack of Dentyne Ice with one piece already taken out (and presumably chewed). The presentation had style. No telling what kind of style it was, but style nonetheless.
We read the handwritten letter, and Erin gave them a bonus point for saying they liked the Daily Nexus. Of course, it would have been two bonus points if they had said they liked Artsweek. Then we unfolded the zine and saw that it was a copy of Flux in which they were interviewed. We voted unanimously to subtract the bonus point. Artsweek giveth, and Artsweek taketh away.
We pressed play, and Erin gave us three guesses to pick out their musical influences. We guessed Weezer, Weezer, the Get Up Kids and Weezer, which is four guesses, but math is for fascists. Their sound was upbeat and catchy, but we weren’t sure if the keyboardist was playing a synthesizer or a GameBoy. Alex estimated the number of pairs of thick-rimmed glasses to be three, though their mug shots sadly revealed none. They did tell us in their letter, however, that they have a new synth player, so hopefully some of the other settings will be featured in upcoming songs. (Maybe it will sound more like Pinkerton than the Blue Album.) Daniel appreciated that Kissing Tigers identify as a “non-sexist, non-homophobic band” who “aren’t in frats either,” but wondered why they played the same show at the Fiji house where, allegedly, the Aquabats said that another fraternity accused the audience of being gay.
The next act deserves an honorable mention for their ability to identify across genres. This year’s Identity Crisis Award goes to Tanj, whose demo proclaimed that they are a “live techno, ambient, breakbeat, [drum ‘n’ bass], hip hop, funk, dance experience.” The insert even beseeched us to check it out, so we did; except, we turned the volume on the boom box up to the three-quarters mark and still could barely hear the music.
Tanj’s sound is clearly inspired by funk, but has a laid-back “Dark Side of the Moon”[[ok]] feel, ruling out any kind of dance experience. The absence of samples disqualified the “techno, ambient, breakbeat” bits, and no vocals or syncopated beats means no hip hop. One of the songs sounded like solid soundtrack music, but lacked that extra stimulus – a used-car dealership would have been the perfect visual. All this aside, there is fun to be had with this music, though it requires paraphernalia that neither Erin, nor Alex, nor Daniel own. Puff, puff, give.
Another honorable mention goes to a band that produced a faithful throwback to earlier, simpler times. The Revive ’95 Award goes to Addison Steele for their painfully accurate reproduction of the sound of Live with the vocals of Pearl Jam. Not surprisingly, they cite both “the Seattle scene of the early ’90s” and “progressive forms of rock,” including – you guessed it – Pearl Jam and Live as their musical influences. The lead guitar parts show promise, with one song featuring technique ostensibly learned from the “Satriani On Quaaludes” AudioBooks series. Even more impressive, Addison Steele’s vocalist sounds more like Eddie Vedder than Creed’s Scott Stapp, though Alex has a word of advice: Never, ever use the word “misery” in a song. Daniel just felt like he was listening to a cover band from the worst years of his life.
Bringing up the rear of the honorable mentions – and it truly is the rear, so we just had to mention them – are the Juke Monsters, who receive the esteemed Rhyme Without Reason Award. Their demo featured a guy with a guitar, another guy on a mic, and maybe a four-track in a garage. In utter amazement, Daniel couldn’t recall when he’d ever heard hip hop without a beat. While this may be a progressive branching out of the art form, lyrical highlights like, “Fuck girls but don’t fall in love,” and rhyming the line, “Fuck you,” with the line, “Fuck you,” left him completely nonplussed. While hip hop minimalism may be somewhat original, sexism in the lyrics of an I.V. band is not. The guitarist “borrowed” the riff from Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason,” for the first song, but left us all without a reason to stay here.
So we went home.