Latest Musical Ponderings…..

Latest Musical Ponderings…..

Image result for pondering


OK, here we go….

The new song by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Holy Mountain,” is pretty catchy. Also refreshing to see the eldest Gallagher rest his arsenal of Gibson ES 335s for what appears to be a Fender Jazzmaster, per the music video. You can’t talk about one Gallagher brother without talking about the other. Younger bro, Liam Gallagher, just released his first solo record, post Beady Eye, entitled very Britishly…wait for it, As You Were, to largely critical praise. From what I heard after a couple of listens, some good songs but seems a bit over-hyped.  Paul Weller of The Jam fame thinks it just sounds like more, well, Beady Eye and I have to agree. In end, I like post Oasis songs from both Gallagher brothers but they are best, and more importantly whole, when they play together, otherwise something sounds severely missing. Ex-Sunny Day Real Estate front man, Jeremy Enigk, just released a new solo record, Ghosts, that I still need to jump headfirst into, but the little that I heard sounds promising…looking forward to hearing more since anything SDRE-related is perfectly fine by me.

NJ’s The Brixton Riot brand spanking new album, Close Counts, is my new favorite recording of the moment and destined to make my best of 2017 list.  Eleven (11) songs of beautiful, fuzzy, power pop with killer guitar hooks and deliberate but subtly mesmerizing backing vocals and harmonies, with some songs have a very early R.E.M.-ish vibe to them. As some of the band members knows (because I remind them all the time whether they want to be or not), my favorite song off their 2012 release, Palace Amusements, is “Pinwheel,” and this killer song can finally catch a breather with such new tunes as “Ballad of Pete Best” (Fab Four fans take note), “Maybe Tomorrow” and the lyrically funny but true “Talk About Nothing” among many others.  I absolutely love the song “Caroline” due to the opening guitar work and vocals throughout. As an added bonus, J. Robbins of Jawbox/Burning Airlines/Office of Future Plans fame recorded and produced the record at his Baltimore’s Magpie Cage Recording Studio. Seriously, check this record out or you are just plain lame.

Speaking of Charm City, I finally discovered their hardcore champs, Trapped Under Ice, largely due to my Syracusan hardcore bro, DJ Rose on a recent visit to get some ink work done at his co-owned shop, Halo Tattoos. I always heard of TUI but finally took the plunge with Secrets of the World (2009), which DJ did the album artwork. Heavy punching, groove core…I dig it….re-flirting with Echo and the Bunnymen as of late, especially their extended dance remix hits, “Lips Like Sugar” and “Bring on the Dancing Horses.” I am sorry, but out of all the Brit-Pop frontmen of the 80s/90s, Ian McCulloch has the full package – hot, sexy stylish, etc. – If I were female or gay I would be all over his shit. Still checking in with Philly’s Beach Slang from time to time, while catching up on Tom Petty since his untimely death (RIP). Brooklyn’s Black Flagy noise punk outfit, Big Ups, still catches my fancy from time to time. Their latest release, Before a Million Universes (2016), is decent but I still always revert back to 18 Hours of Static  (2013).

I find Spotify awesome as it seems like it has every recording you are looking for until you stumble on the one album it doesn’t have and it is usually unexplained and annoying. Unless I am looking in the wrong place, how come it seems like every Dischord Records is on the site but then they don’t have the famous  1982 Flex Your Head  punk comp in its entirety, but scattered in pieces?  Can’t the folks at Spotify just put the entire comp up?   It is hands down one of the best punk band compilations ever to be released next to This is Boston Not L.A.  Thank Kafka they have the comp bands like Youth Brigade (DC on LA) Teen Idles, and Void and many others up though, again just separately. The latter band’s sick, messy guitars on the song “Dehumanized” is just as infectious now as it was back when I was 18.

The new Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold, is predictably ho-hum and irritating right down to the album title as I knew it would be, while the The National’s new album, Sleep Well Beast, is surprisingly decent (even with its Radioheady club noise flirtations) despite its predictable, safe, baby steps progression towards success, which is understandable.  The band is obviously trying to avoid shooting their load too early like their peers in  The Gaslight Anthem and The Hold Steady.  My wife, otherwise a big fan of the Brooklyn via Ohio, transplants, finds the music great but the lyrics very self-indulgent and she may be onto something….been listening to a lot Husker Du with the untimely passing of Grant Hart….name a song better than “It’s Not Funny Anymore?” …DC’s Dot Dash has also been in consistent, heavy rotation. Digging the new Quicksand songs though I wouldn’t really call it Quicksand.  Despite having some Quicksand-ish qualities, it makes you wonder if they just couldn’t classify it under any of Walter Schriefel’s bands (even with the original lineup minus Tom Capone and his reportedly disappointing massive 5 finger discount bust while on tour).  Nevertheless looking forward to their new record, Interiors out next week and will report back what I hear.

The latest  Maplewood, NJ bands popping out of the practice studios and offering fantastic music via solid recordings are DC & the Desperados with their jangly, stonesy, garage rock sound and French Postcard with their noise/shoegaze one-two punch, both found on SoundCloud. Both bands sound awesome and I am looking forward to catching them live one day.  Excitement is also bubbling for Pete Cenedella’s (American Ambulance, Dirty Rollers) latest project, Petey & the True Mongrel Hearts.  They are debut their first live show at this Friday’s Rent Party @ the Woodland (60 Woodland Road) in Maplewood, playing along side Jersey City, NJ indie heavyweights, Miss Ohio and others.  P&TTMHs are releasing an ambitious double album by the time you finish reading this entire review.

Still can’t stop listening to Los Angeles hardcore outfit, Touche Amore’s Stage 4 (2016) record. Hardcore typically evokes feelings of anger, frustration and thanks to posi-core, well uplifting positivity, but sadness? Lead singer’s Jeremy Bolm’s heart-wrenching, insightful and confessional lyrics revolving around the death of his Grandmother makes you rush to the surface, gasping for air, while on the surface of his reflective sadness lies hope and strength….Minneapolis Gods, The Replacements,  have a surprising new release in the shape of For Sale, 29 live songs from a 1986 Hoboken, NJ’s Maxwells (RIP) set. Fantastic! …My own musical God,  Morrissey released a new song, “Spent the Day in Bed,” with a new album out soon. I find the single just OK and hoping for better with tunes….also just released in Smithland is the anniversary, remastered deluxe version of The Queen Is Dead with all kinds of extra demos and live tracks and is the closest you will ever get to GOD…Morrissey worshipers should check out the film, England is Mine (2017), recounting the life a young Sean Patrick before being canonized to the St. Moz. Unless you are a rabid fan this film will bore you to death and is for the die-hard Moz-heads only, but it does shed some light on the music Mancunian legend linking what he was and what he became.

FINALLY, I will be co-hosting a Sunday Ramblers with my pal and host, Paul Alirangues on November 19th, who graciously invited me to come play in his internet radio show sandbox.  Our goal is to showcase SoMA (Maplewood/South Orange for those no in the know) bands that you already may be aware of and some you aren’t.  It will be fun and a treat and can’t wait!

Until next time….xoxo


The Brixton Riot: More Earworms Than A Zombie Corpse…

The Brixton Riot: More Earworms Than A Zombie Corpse…

Hey yo, check out this fantastic record review about a fantastic record by a fantastic band from my swell friend, Tim Fazekas, fellow musical brother in arms and owner of the fabulous Sounder Studios.

Do yourself a huge favor and check out Sounder Studios. They specialize in instruments and gear for professional musicians and recording use. They take pride in selecting items based on solid build quality and the unique tonal variations they provide. It brings them great pleasure to see their items become the tools of creativity for working musicians. In addition to their Reverb shop inventory, rentals are available on a library of vintage instruments, amplifiers, and effects. Please contact them for specific details on Reverb items or rentals. More information on restorations and custom work can be found at or by clicking the link below.




Now on to the main attraction……xo



Sometimes there is synergy in discovering a new band at just the right time in your life. The songs become your playlist and heavy rotation is an understatement. This happened to me in 2011 when I first heard Palace Amusements by The Brixton Riot (hereinafter TBR). After six years, the band has finally returned with their third release Close Counts, their debut on Mint 400 Records. This is undoubtedly their finest sonic output. The album was recorded at Magpie Studios in Baltimore with the talented J Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) behind the desk. Robbins captured an amazing sound floor for the record – big guitars, bigger drums, enough separation to satisfy audiophiles and plenty of punch for the old punks. This is a killer album for a late summer drive to the Jersey Shore – windows down, singing your lungs out, and playing steering wheel drums that warrant concerned looks from passersby.

Fresh off a few listens, I decided to put something down on paper that might be called a review. I’m going to avoid the all too common comparisons to other bands. It’s rock and roll so we all owe The Beatles and The Stones anyway. TBR fits somewhere between late 70s post punk and early 90s alternative rock both inherent in their incredibly catchy songs. There is also a lyrical slyness that hints at sarcasm throughout. It’s a welcome addition since the record was recorded on the heels of some incredibly difficult personal losses for all four members. But it’s not an album of dirges – it’s a memorial honoring what once was and what will always be.

As far as aural content is concerned, Jerry Lardieri’s mid-saturated guitar tone from the first chords of “Can’t Stop Now” begs the listener to crank the volume knob clockwise. Mark Wright answers with a scooped Fender through Marshall tone for complimentary rhythm and solo work. The two guitarists operate as a cohesive unit throughout the record likely assisted by their years of friendship. Steven Hass resides in the pocket (as a great bassist should) with tasteful, melodic playing where warranted. His backing vocals are the strong suit on almost all of the tracks. Matt Horutz and J Robbins dialed in one hell of a drum sound for the recording as evidenced on “Slow Evolution” – an uptempo surf beat rocker with plenty of vocal hooks. Horutz’ playing drives the music forward and operates as the necessary dynamic cues for the entire band.

Perhaps the most power pop oriented track on the record is “The Ballad of Pete Best” with its tongue in cheek lyrics and one of the catchiest choruses this side of Liverpool. Wright’s guitar work shines here as well. “Caroline” is Lardieri’s magnum opus of this record – a track that evokes the feeling of late summer evenings, shadows lengthening. It is constructed in two distinct parts and represents some of the new musical ground that the band has covered since its last release. “Maybe Tomorrow” offers a rare guest vocal by Alejandra Rodriguez whose voice adds a welcome paintbrush to the palette. This song wants to be blasted from the car stereo while driving down the GSP, Shorepoints signs zooming overhead.

Another standout is “Move On” exhibiting one of the most powerful vocal deliveries by Lardieri and company to date. An ode to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, the rhythm section begins like a punch in the face and continues sparring through the track. You want to turn it up. You want to drive fast. This is the song that will be playing when flashing lights appear in your rear view mirror (Always obey local speed and traffic laws. Band is not responsible for moving violations). Everyone is on fire here – from the swelling drum fills, to the solidly locked in bass line, to the frustrated yet inspiring lyric. Damn near perfection in two minutes, thirty nine!

When you write about loss there is a tendency to wear it on your sleeve. The Brixton Riot has taken a different tack. The record doesn’t hit these serious topics between the eyes. It looks off to the side and gathers all possible strength before pushing through. There are universal stories here delivered with a sense of hope and a reminder that nothing is static no matter how much we want it to be. Between the pure power pop riffs and contemplative lyrics is an eleven song document with more ear worms than a zombie corpse. The band executes in a way that is so enjoyable and familiar that the lyrical content seeps in via osmosis. Ultimately, it is caffeinated rock and roll with a heart.


– Tim Fazekas – Sounder Studios

Moreso:   Math Rock’s Gateway Drug

Moreso: Math Rock’s Gateway Drug

When one thinks of math rock, one thinks of prog gone nuts. Skill typically outshines structure. Changes outweigh choruses. If you have heard Animals As Leaders, you know of what I write. Even bands like Fall of Troy, who tend to lean towards structure, because there are vocals, can get pretty tough on the old noodle. That is where Moreso’s first EP really stands out from the pack. Yes, they have complex riffs. Yes, they have the intricacy associated with math rock. However, their songs have definable and easily digestible patterns. Their songs have structure that allows even they lay person to follow the song’s musical journey without needing some Excedrin afterwards. It is why I would consider Moreso to be the perfect gateway drug into math rock.

The band is a three piece instrumental group. There is no doubt they can play. Could you imagine math rock otherwise? The strength lies, though, in their ability to make the sum greater than the parts. The guitar playing is fluid and flashy without being ostentatious. The drums are powerful without being confounding. The bass will lead support and counterpoint against the guitar for well-defined passages.

The 6-song EP starts strong right out the gate. Oil Spill is blistering with some of the cool single-string passages associated with Fall of Troy. The second song, Sewage Life, is another strong, fire-breather, with wonderful dissonant passages, reminiscent of Voivod. The next song, Shark Breath, has a tip-of-the-hat riff to Animals As Leaders. However, where I think Animals will go out too far, Moreso keeps the song solidly definable and comprehendible. The 4th track, From Gravel to Grass, probably my personal favorite, reminds me a little of some of the later Don Caballero material. After the first four intense tracks, the last two tracks settle in a little bit with Lavenclear and Little Ship. They are very lush and beautiful. It is easy to get lost in them. They’re almost meditative.

As this is Moreso’s freshman release, it is very exciting to hear what will be forthcoming. Be sure to check them out on their Bandcamp page or on Spotify.

Check them out live to see them do their thing. They are playing October 14th at Decicco’s Tavern in Raritan, NJ, with The Growling Hounds, Atom Driver, and Damage Done.

Also, here’s a video they posted from their recent outing at the Court Tavern.


Musical Ponderings as of August 2017….

Musical Ponderings as of August 2017….


Maplewood, NJ indie rock heroes Allied Chemical released a killer album, Sword Soup, earlier this year.  Eleven (11) songs oozing of Pixie-ish overdrive pop that are a lot of fun and catchy.  My fav songs are “Sun-Filled Living Room” and the trombone drenched “Joey’s Place.”…Jared Hart and  The Scandals  latest release, Lucky Sevens keeps the punk rock flowing and under heavy listening along with 2010’s The Sound of your Stereo…..I still can’t get enough of The Menzingers and can listen to their songs “Mid -Western States” and “Your Wild Years” (especially the latter with the Polish/Irish shout outs since I am of the same breed) forever and ever, both off their latest release After The Party…….. I just discovered the  NJ punk driven rock of Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, awesome stuff!.….Re-discovered Hot Water Music’s No Division (1999) record.  Songs like “Rooftops” “It’s Hard to Know and “At the End of the Gun” or just a few that I can never get enough of…Been listening to a lot of the Built to Spill Live (2000) record lately, a great collection of some of their earlier, catchiest songs with one of my favorite tunes, “The Plan”, starting things off.  BTS are less “jammy” on this record compared to their live shows now that is subsequently attracting a lot of Phish shirt wearing types…. sigh.  Keep returning to the first Glasvegas record and all its good songs…New Brunswick’s ska-punk sensations The Hub City Stompers recently caught my attention in a major way.  Amazing stuff!  I can listen to the songs “Chatterbox “and I’ve Got a Boot” for hours on repeat.  Rancid’s brand spanking new release, Troublemaker, is very good which also dusted off their classic And Out Comes the Wolves (1995) as well. Too many great songs to list from both.  Cringe all you want but sometimes I get my Grateful Dead on, shamelessly liking and revisiting a few of their songs once every 5 years for oh, 18 minutes.  To make matters more interesting, my favorite Dead song is the one the “heads” hate the most (“Touch of Grey”).  The song is too posi-core lyrically to ignore and too tempting to punk out and just might do so with one of my bands doing a cover one day…. Consistently listening to Joe Strummer and the Mescalero’s’ Streetcore (2003) lately. Enough said.  Breaks my 1/2 Irish heart but just can’t seem to gain traction with The Dropkick Murphys.  Some decent songs alas, but never jumped on the initial DKM wave and then warned repeatedly of many lineup changes since leaving a whisper of the original band so don’t even know where to start so maybe I shouldn’t at all and just stick to what I already know which still isn’t shabby…. the new releases from NYHC legends, Burn (From the Ashes and III Together) aren’t too bad but still can’t touch their self-titled EP debut and Last Great Sea releases.  I finally forgive Syracuse, NY’s Earth Crisis and discovered a song I like (“Firestorm”) on my daily morning run while vacationing in LBI this summer.  Say what you want about Metallica, but their “back to true form” recording, Death Magnetic (2008) just kicks you in the balls and I love it.  No longer the MTV darlings, they come out swinging with such killer tracks like “That Was Just Your Life” and “The End of The Line…”  Can’t get enough of Walter Schreifel’s side project recordings, Surveillance (2016) from the Hardcore super group, Vanishing Life and the 70’s fuzz-wah drenched psych rock of Whatever Witch You Are (2017) from the Dead Heavens (who I saw recently at Garwood, NJ’s Crossroads.  A surprisingly sparse crowd of Wally die-hards catching a killer live set)Missing a ton of good shows as of late.  Due to work and the lack of motivation to do anything on a Friday evening anymore, I sold off my Menzingers, Lucero, Bouncing Souls ticket for the 8/25/17 Asbury Park’s Stone Pony Summer Stage.  I also had to give my 9/30/17 NYC Quicksand show ticket due to hasty ticket purchasing while also having a previous unbreakable engagement.  Missing these kings of Post-Hardcore with a brand-new record coming out soon (first single, “Illuminant,” is very promising) hurts even after seeing them so many times over the years and as early as last year at the House of Vans in Brooklyn.  Finally, I sold tickets to the upcoming Pixies show also at the SPSS later in September.  My wife (who considers Doolittle flawless) and I love the band, but considering it is also our anniversary weekend, a bed and breakfast weekend in Cape May sounds much more appealing….and I picked up two beach books for the trip – Roger Miret’s (Agnostic Front) My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory and Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, OFF!) My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor….and oh, speaking of  the Circle Jerks and great books, a must read is the short and beautifully written The Prodigal Rogerson: The Tragic, Hilarious, and Possibly Apocryphal Story of Circle Jerks Bassist Roger Rogerson in the Golden Age of LA Punk, 1979-1996 by J. Hunter Bennett.  I’m really looking forward to his book reading at the end of month as part of an upcoming kick ass local rock show at the beloved South Orange, NJ’s Elks Lodge (to be announced soon)until that unknown next time….xoxo PJH












Moreso at The Court Tonight!

Moreso at The Court Tonight!

I know this is very last minute, but I wanted to get this out while there’s still time.  The band, Moreso will be playing the Court Tavern in New Brunswick tonight (September 2nd).  They have just released a 6-song EP (review is forthcoming) that is crazy good.

If you like to have your brain scrambled like when you listen to the bands  Fall of Troy or Animals As Leaders, this should be right up your alley.

Should be a good night!

Still not sure, check out their Bandcamp page.



The Milwaukees Tell Us To Get The Vasectomies!

The Milwaukees Tell Us To Get The Vasectomies!

The Milwaukees has bestowed us a gift. The band has recently offered a 7-song EP, titled The Vasectomies, for FREE to anyone willing to sign up to their mailing list. Hardly what I would call a bad deal!

The Vasectomies EP

The seven songs are ones they have deemed a collection of b-sides and near misses from their prior releases. I think most bands would be very pleased to have so many strong songs in their circular file.

If you are not familiar with the Milwaukees, they have been around the block. This is a seasoned group of veterans with five full length releases under their belt spanning the last 17 years. As they have aged, their sound has become more honed and listener-friendly. This is not to say that their songs are weak. They are lean, tight, and well-crafted. While all members shine in their respective roles, Dylan (lead singer) has a voice that will get into your ears. It’s hard to miss his mixture of angst and emotion in his delivery.

The EP starts with the demolishing Rock and Roll Part 3 (Gary Glitter laid claim to parts 1 and 2). Part anthem, part sinister riff rock, this is such a great lead off track. Jeff Nordstedt’s tasty guitar playing really shines.

Tracks 2 and 4, One Night Stand and Record Deal, are solid rockers. One Night Stand has a twinge of Tom Petty in there. The chorus is really catchy and the bridge has a little bit of that great Rocket From the Crypt feel. Record Deal is a cautionary tale on the industry, with another super strong chorus.

Tracks 3 and 5, Won’t Let You Down and Story of Our Love are solid ballads. They are sweet without being saccharin. Dylan’s voice makes these songs work well.

The last tracks, Jersey Style and Wasted Uptown, leave you ready for more. Jersey Style has a killer verse riff that reminds me, believe it or not, of a really good old Kiss song. Then they bring in the chorus. Damn! Another great chorus! Wasted Uptown has some great lyrics, reminiscent of something I would expect to hear from Bruce Springsteen. Love the line “Irish boys….should be polishing the marble under their feet”.

So, if you haven’t heard anything from the Milwaukees, their music is easy enough to find. Google them! All their releases are on Spotify. They’re on Facebook. On their site,, you can find the link to sign up on their mailing list and get the Vasectomies EP. Go check them out September, 9th at the Ringside in Caldwell. They put on one hell of a show.

Out Like Lambs: Fingers Crossed

Out Like Lambs: Fingers Crossed

Out Like Lambs: Dream Pop, Indie Rock? One thing that can be said about their new release, Fingers Crossed, it is beautiful. It’s the music to drink up while you take in your morning coffee. It’s the soundtrack to a rainy day. There’s music is lush without being overdone. Simultaneously, the parts can seem sparse, but never empty.

Out Like Lambs dabble in the familiar. The bands that come to mind fall into the dreamy: Luna, The Sea and The Cake, Galaxie 500. The vocals are plaintive and somber. The guitars are warm. The drums push the songs without driving too hard. Behind the foundation can be heard strings and other various instrumentation to accentuate and augment, raising the songs from simple to sublime.

Every song’s a winner, but my faves are:
· Terms & Conditions – The song has a wonderful, dark feel and then, midway through, changes feel to an anthemic and uplifting end.
· Game On – The song reminds me of Echo and the Bunnymen, whom I love! Great guitar work.

If you are in Asbury Park on August 31st, join Out Like Lambs at the Porta for their CD release party. If you’re not, maybe you should be.

Find Out Like Lambs on Facebook for more information about the upcoming show.

The Royal They:  Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret…for now

The Royal They: Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret…for now

The Royal They self-titled release

I have a confession to make. I have rarely heard a band without a bass player I really loved. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s first release was close. Well, I now have my first bass-less true love. That band is Brooklyn’s The Royal They.

After passing on the recent Atom Driver release to Greg from The Mad Doctors, he told me to check out, as he put it, “Brooklyn’s best kept secret”, The Royal They. I popped on their self-titled release, which came out in September, 2016. Within 30 seconds, I was sold. In fact, I had to literally stop everything else I was doing and just listen. Michelle (gtr/vox) made sure she got my attention when she softly sung “insufferable cunt” in the beginning of the first song, Truncheon.

This band is a trio: two guitars and drums. Besides Michelle, Darrell plays guitar and Rick is on drums. As I listened through, I was floored by the musicianship. This dog can hunt! The interplay between the two guitars is beautiful, with great tension and dissonance. The band excels in leveraging dynamics as they use soft refrains leading into blistering fuzz-drenched passages. And then there’s the drummer. This guy can play! Listen to the drums on the track, Laurels, and you will want to put down your sticks. That leaves the vox. Michelle’s voice is stunning… part saint, part whore. It floats above the songs perfectly. Michelle’s voice commands attention over raging guitars and floats beautifully over soft passages.

So, what do they sound like, you ask? They’ve got a lot going on. One could compare them to the Screaming Females, but I don’t think that’s really a fair comparison. The guitars do some things that remind me of Fugazi, but they’re not Fugazi. The vocals may have some Kim Deal (Pixies), but Michelle’s voice is much better. Some of their tunes have the grit and energy of Stuyedeyed or Charly Bliss. Maybe The Royal They is in a class by themselves. You’ll just have to listen and decide for yourself.

I highly recommend every song, but my top choices are:
1. Understate – really great dynamics and rhythms going on. So much fun.
2. Laurels – Drums! Drums! Drums!
3. Kamikaze – This may be the most delicious and “accessible” tune of the bunch. The vocal melody is a blast. A part of the melody over the verse reminds me of the theme from The Banana Splits. That alone makes me smile. The song’s groove and temp is perfect!

Check The Royal They out at your earliest convenience on Bandcamp or Spotify. They are playing August 26th at Liz’s Basement in Brooklyn. They may not be Brooklyn’s “best kept secret” for long.

The Mad Doctors: All Bark… All Bite!

The Mad Doctors: All Bark… All Bite!

The Mad Doctors

The Brooklyn-based trio, The Mad Doctors, are going to beat the hell out of your ear holes with their latest release, No Waves, Just Sharks. The 10-song release is soaked in fuzz, with the springs from their reverb getting stretched straight.

I asked Greg, the drummer, how he would describe his sound. He described it as “Dudes who hang out in caves and arcades on the boardwalk with Motorhead t-shirts”. I completely agree. The Doctors have the trashy surf riffs of Link Wray on a very bad day. However, to say that they are a surf-punk band wouldn’t do them justice. These tracks truly bring the meat! Their sound conjures up images of Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Lemmy (Motorhead) unleashing their own impressions of Dick Dale through alcohol-imbued glasses.

The Mad Doctors stick with the surf theme, much the way that Man or Astro-Man sticks with outer space. Some of the tunes start with kitschy vignettes. The songs may start with surfy riffs or snazzy chords. However, once the tunes get going, there’s blood on the beach. The tunes are blistering riff storms, with solid changes, great twists and turns. Top that off with a perfectly distorted, gritty vocal delivery. Everything fits very nicely.

While all the songs are great, my faves are:

The Ballad of Jort Dad: I love the intro. They give you fair warning right from the start of what you are getting into. The riffs and time changes are deliciously fierce.
Shit Hawks At Blood Beach: Very cool groovy tune with the great Matt Witte on vox. A nice, surprising departure from Coach n Commando.
Dial M (for Sultry): It’s as if the MC5 went sideways. I know that doesn’t make much sense. When you hear it, then you’ll know. Sooooo good!

The Mad Doctors

While the release is great, I can only imagine what they are like on stage. I envision a pummeling like no other. If you haven’t seen the Mad Doctors, you will get a chance very soon. They are playing Rough Trade in Brooklyn on September 12th with A Giant Dog and Simon Doom.

Go to The Mad Doctors Bandcamp page and check it out!

The many flavors Mr. Payday:  Welcome to the Modern World

The many flavors Mr. Payday: Welcome to the Modern World

Welcome to the Modern World

Know thyself! When speaking with Doug Vizthum, the guitarist and lead singer of Mr. Payday, he described the band as power-pop with punk rock sensibilities. I have to say, I can offer no better description. The band’s latest release, Welcome to the Modern World, is a 10-song compendium in line with the best American power-pop acts from the 80’s. However, there are also wonderful streaks and strains from the punk bands you all know and love. It’s as if Rhino records had released a power-pop compilation where every song is a gem, but then threw in a couple Sugar/Husker Du, Devo, and even Mudhoney tunes for good measure!
One of the things that jumps out when listening to the release is that the mix is spot-on. The songs were lovingly recorded and mixed by Mike Moebius at Moonlight Mile in Hoboken, NJ. The vocals are solidly in key, the instruments all are in the right place. The feel of the mix is great! That may seem silly to mention, but without this, the songs would lose their power, charm, and luster. These are songs meant for a wider audience than just the jaded hipster. So, solid vocals and proper balance in the instrumentation is integral in making this release a success.
The other thing that really caught my attention was the flow of the release. There is a lot of job-sharing in this band. Everybody in the band sings lead. Tom DiEllo (bass) tackles Sun Shine Down, Nick D’Amore (drums) handles Set To Automatic, and Caroline Feinman (keys) sings Written in Stone and Welcome to the Modern World. Doug belts out the remaining six tunes. One would think that with all those voices, the songs could seem disjointed or foreign from each other. Far from it! There is a great consistency in the music and the variety of voices only widens the spectrum.
OK… so let’s get to the songs!
The first three: The band starts the CD by getting their ya ya’s out on Club Test. Full of energy, and a slight tip-o’-the-hat to Mony Mony. The song jumps in and then, in the blink of an eye, jumps right back out. Remember… punk rock sensibilities. Payday then dives in to two mid-tempo power-pop numbers: Now and Forever and Broken Wing. These two songs have the structure and sensibility one would expect from power-pop greats like the Beat, Plimsouls, or the Nerves. Broken Wing has a vocal quality that is reminiscent of Bob Mould a-la Sugar. Both songs are a blast, with strong choruses and a lot of drive.
The next four: At first blush, Set To Automatic seems to be an homage to Devo, with its Moog infusion and staccato riffs. That is, until the chorus kicks in. It’s as if Mudhoney showed up to kick Devo off the stage and take over for the chorus. Fantastic! Track five is the most “accessible” track, Written In Stone. I was struck by the vocals. They are vulnerable, but by no means weak. The guitar line has a little of a Latin vibe and is very tasty. Track six, Sun Shine Down, is classic rock-a-rolla with a slinky slide guitar and tasty chorus. The next track, End of the Day, swings us back in to power-pop territory with another mid-tempo winner. The chorus is really strong and is a lot of fun.
The last three: Tracks eight and nine infuse more of the aforementioned punk sensibilities. Tongue was placed firmly in cheek for Nazi Beer. Great lyrics, with appropriate country twang applied. A lot of saucy slide guitar as well. Track nine, Double Barrel, feels sooooo good. Anybody who has ever had the misfortune of driving the Garden State will know how these lyrics came to be. This song could have been sabotaged by keys, but they are mixed to add meat to the riff. Well done, Mike Moebius! The last track, Welcome to the Modern World is a nice coda to the release, a great song with an appropriately-timed political bend.
Mr. Payday set out to present a CD that shows their skills, strength, humor, and versatility. I would say they succeeded on all fronts. Do yourself a favor and go to their Bandcamp page and check it out. The release date is August 25th.
To celebrate the release, Mr. Payday is playing Pino’s in Highland Park, NJ on August 26th. Helping them celebrate the release are the bands Dentist, Atom Driver, and Sux. Should be one hell of a show! The show is free and all ages as well. So…. No excuses.