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, Milwaukees.com, 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.

Overnight Sensations:  The Best (local) Music Program You’ve Probably Never Heard

Overnight Sensations: The Best (local) Music Program You’ve Probably Never Heard

Overnight Sensations

It would be pretty hard to overstate the demise of the New Brunswick club scene over the last 5 to 10 years. Just about every venue that once offered a weekly rotation of local artists, peppered with the occasional touring national, has gone the way of the dodo. While the “basement” scene still holds firm in the Hub City, these venues and shows tend to be, at best, inconsistent. Shows are usually only available to bands the proprietor (rightfully so) likes and would want to have in their place. So, what’s a band to do?

Enter in Frank Bridges and his weekly radio show and podcast: Overnight Sensations. Overnight Sensations has been a fixture on the FM dial for years. The show has passed through many hands. Frank Bridges, however, has reinvigorated the program as a conduit for new, local artists to present their wares. As the program has always done, he spins releases from local artists. What really makes the show special, though, is Frank has local bands come to the studio to do a live set almost religiously every Friday. Bands usually play seven songs; a good swath of material for the listener to enjoy at home. Frank, through his mastery of witty banter, makes the musicians at ease and gets artists talking. The resulting conversations alone are enough to make for a really enjoyable and entertaining listening experience.

If that weren’t enough, Frank records all the live shows and posts them to the Overnight Sensations podcast. So, if you miss a live broadcast (Friday’s from 10PM-midnight), you can always check it out there. I heard some amazing bands that I, honestly, would have missed completely if it weren’t for the podcasts: Black Clouds, Angular Brothers, Atom Driver (shameless self-promotion) and Overlake to name a few.

Here’s a link to the Black Clouds live performance:

https://player.fm/series/overnight-sensations-live/ep-033-the-black-clouds

Please, do yourself a favor and check out the show and/or podcast!

ATOM DRIVER – SLACKJAW EP and cover of “JOHNNY” by X.

ATOM DRIVER – SLACKJAW EP and cover of “JOHNNY” by X.

This past weekend Atom Driver celebrated the release of their throttle punk EP Slackjaw on Powerbunny 4×4 Records at Pino’s in Highland Park, NJ. On the bill with them was Amy & Alex from Prosolar Mechanics as Bear Claw making their noise duo debut and as well as Couch and Commando cooking up some of their down home music before Atom Driver blasted everybody at Pino’s with songs from their release and a bunch of new tunes.

ATOM DRIVER AND FRIENDS COVERING “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” By X

Towards, the end of their set Amy and Anthony from Bionic Rhoda made their way to the stage to help hammer home an ode to Chuck Berry with a cover by X from their 1980 album Los Angeles. This is a feel good rock song and proof positive that even though the performances was taking place on the other side of Raritan River, rock is very much alive in the Hub City.

SLACKJAW EP REVIEW – Powerbunny 4×4
Now, we highly recommend Atom Driver’s debut EP Slackjaw, and not just because we’ve known Mike from Buzzkill who plays drums, or Mark Segal from Boss Jim Gettys’s on Guitar and Vocals for more years than we care to admit but because this band has molded perfect parts big noise and melodic metalcore. All tracks will blow the windows out of those soon to come self-driving cars that millenials will be driving around aimlessly and getting lost when the GPS goes out. These rock songs are powerful maps to what fresh rock stank and what ear bleeding hooks should be like. Justin Ingstrup on bass is also my new favorite bass player now as he really holds-up the wall of sound in this band. Recorded and mastered by Jesse Cannon Found Soundation, Union City, NJ, and mixed by the bands long time friend and engineer Steve Evetts.

ATOM DRIVER: FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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