The South Carolina Music Guide
Album Reviews

Roast or Toast by Ian – Dempsey’s “In Retrospect”

I’m being asked to review a CD that was released in November of 2015. Pssseeeeewwwww. Awesome. So, who is really chomping at the bit for their first chance to hear about a CD that was released 17 months ago?



Yeah, you have to figure if you haven’t heard of it by now, it was probably not worth hearing about.

Why do bands do this? Here is a rule for any band reading this – YOUR CD HAS A SIX MONTH LIFE SPAN! That’s it. If you don’t pick up speed in six months, it is dead. 80%-90% of your CD sales will happen in the first six months after it is released. If someone sees your CD at a show and sees a copyright date from last year, their first thought is, “where is your new CD.” If your answer is, “that’s it.” They will then think, “that’s it? The one from 2015 is the new one? I think I’ll check my watch. Yup, it is 2017. No thanks.”

So now you are asking a reviewer to pick up a CD that has been dead for over a year and see if we can give it new life? You want to know what I think about your music?

Well let me first say you really need to learn how to promote your CD.

  1. Don’t let anyone hear the songs until they are mastered. Not even girlfriends or family. Nobody.
  2. As soon as you have a product to promote, keep it close, but let special tastemakers hear it. That means writers, managers, record labels. Those who can help you spread a buzz.
  3. When you do have that product to promote, get it to those people at least two months before anyone can buy it. TWO MONTHS MINIMUM. These writers and reviewers need time to digest your material, get to know you, and then write something great about you. If you send it to press two weeks ahead of your release, you run the risk of a rushed review or them skipping it entirely. Build the buzz before you release, and you will get a better opening week sale.
  4. Release the CD with a minimum of 40 shows booked in the following six months all over your region. That is less than 2 shows a week. Promote the heck out of the CD. Build on any press you get. Then the next release (a year later) has a chance to do even better.

Those are just a few basic tips. I could say a lot more, but you get the basic idea.

So now that I’ve said all of that, you probably want to know what I think about this CD? Got it.

This CD.

The one that came out 17 months ago.

Let me remind you how long ago 17 months is.

In November of 2015, the Chicago Cubs had not won a world series in over 100 years. Cleveland had not had a champion in any sport for over 50 years and it looked like LeBron would still fail in that.

In November of 2015, everyone in Flint thought their water was safe to drink. We had yet to hear of these words: Brexit, Zika, or Pokemon Go.

In November of 2015 Hurricane Matthew had not yet come to South Carolina.

In November of 2015, Prince, John Glenn, George Michael, Fidel Casto, Carrie Fischer, David Bowie, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, Arnold Palmer and a whole lot of other people were still alive.

Heck, in November of 2015, there were still more black folk in the White House than in Beyonce.

That’s how long it has been Dempsey released their “new” CD.

So, I made you wait and read all this time to hear what I think of the new CD. Kind of like they waited 17 months to get more press. So here is my review:

They waited too long for a full review.  Too bad. The CD shows promise. The music arrived as a link to Spotify, with no bio, description of band, list of members, etc. This is another beef I have with bands who want reviews. Give me something. Album cover shows 4 members. Facebook lists three and doesn’t tell me which instruments they play. (How many marketing mistakes can one band make? Here’s a hint, they don’t come close to the record for mistakes.)

So, the music is indie. That “indie” used to mean independent of record labels. Now it means….. heck I don’t even know. Positives on this CD: Terrific production with only minor criticisms. Wonderfully identifiable lead singer with just enough of that x-factor to set him apart. Lush guitars covered in delay and reverb. Understated, but confident bass and drums (though the drums too often use the one tom/cymbal hit that sound from the Cranberries’ “Linger”.)

Opener “Circles,” rises from just a guitar and vocals, with the singer acting more the public speaker than singer, until the whole band joins in and the song reaches a massive crescendo. Think of “The Funeral” by Band of Horses, but without the hook. And that is where the band falls flat. They’ve got a great sound. And that’s where they stopped. The songs play out like some movie, always moving forward. They lack the hook that keeps you coming back. My A&R report two years ago would have been: they’ve got the sound to capture the tail end of the atmospheric indie vibe, but need to develop song structure. My A&R report if it were released today would say: They nail a sound that is past its prime and lack the hooks to bring it back.

I hope they make another one. I’d like to hear what they’ve been doing since 2015. I give it 3/5.

Article submitted by Ian. Ian has played in a lot of crappy bands and a few decent ones. He’s also seen more bands than he can count, and listened through tens of thousands of releases, most of which were simply awful. But he keeps coming back to find those bands or records that represent great music. His liver is shot. He may be on the verge of tinnitus. He’s been told he has a great face for radio. He comes to us loaded with opinions and a desire to review bands based on whether they can make it outside of their local bar. Musician, music fan, A&R scout and beer snob. Welcome to the SC Music Guide.

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