Tonight on Friday the fucking 13th, 2015 at Asbury Park Yaht Club, New York’s indie rock band Dead Stars rock the jersey shore with the sneakergazing and well groomed Overlake.
ALBUM REVIEW: Dead Stars – Slumber
Here is a cassette/digital release that is equal parts malt liquor guitar distortion grind alla J-Mascis and melodic rock vocals akin to jets to brazil. So as far as classic rock fans go you could throw in Dave Grohl there as an audible influence too by his long hairs but without the idiocratic persona. Maybe I also like it because it’s a strong 90’s nod to his upstate band called Tugboat Annie or even teenage fanclub. Many good reasons but this record stands on it’s own and is the good shit so you should support them on bandcamp.
Dead Stars ‘Someone Else’ Old Flame Records
OK,enough of my bullshit. Give this some love so your mom can see what you are doing facebook today
What is important to know about this awesome line-up is that it’s ALL AGES. Put together to fill a desperate gap in music. ROCK MATINEE wants Dads & Moms, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles to introduce the kids in their life to music other than what is on the damn Disney Channe! ALL KIDS UNDER 10yr old it’s FREE admission. This organization wants different cities around NJ to host monthly events and help grow the ROCK MATINEE network. There is no hub yet but feel free to email headphonemusic @ gmail.com for advice.
Come see 6 kick ass bands at one kick ass NJ club at a matinee, all ages shows (yes, bring the kiddies)….$8.00 @ Door!
-Rock N Roll High Fives: 1:00 PM
-Galanos: 1:50 PM
-Dollar Store Riot: 2:40 PM
-Sink Tapes: 3:30 PM
-Overlake: 4:20 PM
-Eastern Anchors: 5:10 PM
ROCKNROLL HI-FIVES Joe Centano and family. Joe used to play in local indie rock heroes Plug Spark Sanjay. His family rocks.
My band, Dollar Store Riot, humbly shared the stage with Overlake back in January 2014 @ NYC’s Parkside Lounge. When the show promoter told me we will be playing with a “shoe-gaze band from Jersey City” I was immediately intrigued. A shoe-gaze band in 2014? And from Jersey no less? Fate took the wheel as I was one of many completely blown away by their set and eagerly looking forward to their soon to be released record to validate that what I heard live beautifully transposed to any type of recording.
And boy, were things quickly validated.
Sighs, Overlake’s first full length release on NJ’s own Killing Horse Records, was released yesterday (4/15) , but I have been devouring the pre-release sale free mp3 download of the album for weeks now. Sure band members Tom and Lysa were sweet to buy me a birthday shot at the above said post-show, but that doesn’t influence nor change the fact that Sighs is hands down a consistently solid fucking effort and one of the best releases of 2014. For certain you can hear pinches of I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, dashes of Loveless and touches of You In Reverse. Based on the recent press, a lot of the equally impressed critics do too, claims the band won’t deny, yet somehow pull off their own smorgasbord of familiar sounds with unique freshness.
Sighs is simply a beautiful, whispy, swirly reverby experience (just what you expect from a shoe gaze band in 2014…from Jersey no less) from start to finish with too many good songs to mention (read: ALL of them, my favs being ‘Disappearing” and “Our Sky”). It is a perfect soundtrack for a stroll through lonely, rainy NYC streets or Sunday drive through the sunny, Jersey burbs. If you need further proof, Sighs is probably one of the very, very few records I overheard my 9 year old son whistling along too in the back seat. Get. It. Now.
Fri 4/18 Court Tavern, New Brunswick NJ – Overlake w/ Wreaths, Cicada Radio, TV Sound – 4 Year Anniversary Show for Killing Horse Records
Mon 5/19 Baby’s All Right, Brooklyns – Overlake w/ The Everymen, The Brooklyn What
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: OvernightSensations. 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: BlackClouds, AngularBrothers, AtomDriver (shameless self-promotion) and Overlake to name a few.
Here’s a link to the Black Clouds live performance:
Into Another-their 2015 EP Omens, picks up where 1995’s Seemless left off (You can’t even count 1996’s unreleased album (??) Soul Control…diehard fans will understand). These post NYHC kings continue to perfect their undefined melodic, thumping metallic craft. Judging by the opener ”Crossed’, they could almost be criticized for being too good and just showing off but anyone wise would know better to say/think such silly things.
The Needy Sons– take Mike Gent from the Figgs and Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom/Crown Victoria and you have “just another band from Eastern Massachusetts” that happen to kick ass. They have been releasing numerous singles in 2015 with promises of a full length LP in 2016. Yay!
Paper Streets– This Brooklyn via Jersey quartet released their addicting four song EP, Souvenirs, right smack in the beginning of 2015. Their sound is best defined on their Facebook page as somewhere between Emo and Big Star. I can’t stop listening to the opening song, “Murmur.”
Swirlies –Blonder Tongue Audio Baton (1993)-Shoe gaze, alt-tuning, art noise done right that makes you second guess Sonic Youth at times….expect for Kim….
Velocity Girl-Their 1993 Sub Pop debut, Copacetic still stands and survives the test of time. I was am also pleasantly reminded of my eternal indie boy crush on lead singer Sarah Shannon that never seems to dissipate.
ScottJanovitz– only a complete Buffalo Tom groupie like me would know that front man Bill Janovitz comes from a long line of musically obsessed siblings. His brother, Paul, fronted the incredible Cold Water Flat (RIP) back in the 90s. Then you have another brother, Tom with Sodafrog. You finally have yet another brother and musical sensation otherwise known as Scott who I first learned about though his first band, Dragstrip Courage. Then came the Great Bandini. Then he went on to create the oh so lovely melodic, blissful pop sounds of The Russians. His 2015 three song Fall In EP continues the latter’s infectious Elton Costello-ish 1960-70 rocks meets 1980 new wave. Check It.
Walter Schreifels – just when you thought he couldn’t pull any more bands together, Mr. Schreifels (of NYHC legends Gorilla Biscuits and Youth of Today to post NYHC hardcore legends Quicksand, Rival Schools, Walking Concert etc. etc. etc.) actually created two new bands in 2015. Except for the killer teaser track from the hardcore supergroup, Vanishing Life, (“People Running”), he seems more focused on his other project, Dead Heavens as of late, pumping out singles drenched in 70’s classic rock psychedelia. Me dig it….singles sprouting up like a ear hair but far more enjoyable. Album out soon.
Johnny Marr– Check out the 2015 live record release, Adrenalin Baby, that finely collects tracks off Marr’s two solo releases plus some killer Smith renditions that should have the Moz nervously shitting his briefs….Johnny fucking Marr baby!!
Travis – one of the most underrated Brit-pop band ever. Yes Josh “Soandso” Thomas, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Frightened Rabbit and the Twilight Sad are all worthy contemporary Glasgow/Scottish bands, but Coldplay wouldn’t suck like they do now and Oasis wouldn’t have anyone to sue if it wasn’t for this band that I recently re-discovered. I still remember singing “Why Does It Always Rain On Me?” incessantly in subway tunnels to my now lovely wife, Alyssa, back when I use to visit her/NYC. The Man Who (1999), The Invisible Band (2001), 12 Memories (2003) and The Boy With No Name (2007) are all jam packed with great songs. Testament to front man Fran Healy’s beautiful singing voice can be best found on the track “When We Were Young off of Ode to J. Smith (2008). Keane who?
Matthew Ryan– hat tip to my buddy Rob Galgano at All Over the Place Internet Radio for turning me on to this alt-country PA native and ex- Strays Don’t Sleep. Had the recent pleasure of catching a Ryan acoustic set opening up, for the Gaslight Anthem/Horrible Crowes front man, Brian Fallon (also fan). Give 2014 Boxers a spin and if you don’t like it, then it simply sucks to be you. Good stuff in constant rotation in my life.
Brian Fallon– While NJ darlings, The Gaslight Anthem, has proven to be a great band, many would agree that they were sputtering, especially after 2014 highly ambitious and worthy Get Hurt, and wisely took a long hiatus so members can focus on other projects . Fallon’s largely anticipated solo record, Painkillers, is due out in March 2016 and if the single teasers is a litmus test for what we can expect, we should be some really happy campers.
Bigg Butt– this New Brunswick trio produces and audacious dose of garage, grungy “moron boogie punk” (not sure what that is but sure sounds like some shit to be reckon with). They released a 4 song demo in April 2015 that is one part Nirvana bleachy and one part Mudhoney sludgy and deserves your attention. Find their self-titled demo on Bandcamp…..
Galanos – Vacation Cannons (2015) – who knew an upstate NY town like Kingston could give birth to “silver tongued devils?” Yup, neither did I. Fueled in his basement studio, Gregory Jaw, and the rest of the gang (including Joe Pugsley of The 65’s on the bass) simultaneously go for the jugular and balls, producing nine songs of intriguing dark, fuzzed out surf rock. For those fans of the Cramps, Lords of the New Church and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds take note, this is your cup of tea.
Overlake –Travelogue/Winter Why EP (2015) – another dose of toe-tapping, knee-bouncing, head-bopping piece of shoe gaze drenched perfection from these Jersey City gods, not missing a beat from their 2014 full LP release, Sighs. Check it!
C.R. Gennone– Going Vertical (2015) A primary founder of such Jersey bands as Tribal Days and Winnebago, C.R. Gennone released this 4 song EP back in December 2015 that has caught my attention in a major way. An eclectic collection of jangly indie pop that’s steering wheel tapping delicious and gas pedal throbbing. Check out one of my favorite tracks off the release also found on Bandcamp where you will find a plethora of EP releases in 2015.
Snapcase – the co-kings (Zero Tolerance is the other…RIP!) of the Buffalo hardcore scene broke up in 2005, but have periodically played anniversary shows in past and festival shows as of late, their 25th later this month on their home turf. A band that always sought to raise the bar on the genre, they never seem to disappoint.
The 65’s–New Fun Hell (2015) – This new 3 song EP from this Rutherford, NJ band picks up right where 2013’s “I Got You” EP left off and that is why it is in heavy rotation in my life. “Punk -n- Roll” at its finest, the 65’s have the guts and grit to continually make some kick butt music.
The High – Somewhere Soon (1990) – first heard this record back in the 1990s when my friends and I were eating, sleeping and wearing the “Madchester” scene to the hilt. They definitely had the scene sound down, It also doesn’t hurt to have a cool ass name and a guitarist that was an original member of the legendary Stone Roses. The tape went lost for years, then I stumbled upon a used copy in a 5th Ave, Brooklyn record shop a few years ago. Check out the opening track, “Box Set Go” below. 100% Britpop perfection.
Scott Weiland (RIP) – I’ve been semi-closeted Stone Temple Pilots fan for years (their killer third album, Tiny Gifts…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop….”perfectly blends punk and glam” says the Pumpkin’s Corgan and I agree) and been exploring other Weiland fronted acts long before his [un]timely demise. Despite some unevenness, his Walkabouts boasts some decent tunes and I finally slowed down to actually listened to Velvet Revolver (been debating Axl vs. Scott ever since doing so). All good shit.
R.E.M.– It seemed like over the years, many R.E.M. fans just woke up one day simply “over” the band, including me. My own interest started waning around the release of New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996). MTV favs, they just got too big and too commercial too fast. Kind of bizarre when they were once kings of the alt-music mountain that could do no wrong. I remember declaring to my high school peers who saw my cassette copies of Under A Blood Red Sky and Murmur mysteriously “stacked and glued” to my top locker shelf (most likely due to a Coke spill), that both U2 and R.E.M. will be the most famous bands in the universe one day (and voila). Personally, I think the combination of Stipe’s smug onstage political rants and the “Shiny Happy People” video (sans the cute B-52’s brunette dancing chick) commenced their downward slide. Fast forward to 2015, and I found myself rediscovering the band and realizing they are probably one of the best American bands ever. Sure they released a lot of easily overlooked material since Hi-Fi, but buried deep are a number of gems. Just check out 2008’s Accelerate. Next to”Begin the Begin” off one of my favorite releases, Life’s Rich Pageant (1986), the song “Living Well is the Best Revenge” is arguably one of the best songs they ever wrote and “Horse to Water” just knocks it out of the park for me like “Talk About the Passion”, “Seven Chinese Brothers” or even “Disturbance at the Heron House.” I gravitate towards 2009’s Live at the Olympia that compiles great songs old and new. I forgive you Michael ,just bite your tongue…xo
I always look forward to annual “best of” music list that begin popping up every year when the cold weather arrives. It is fascinating who thinks what is the hottest fucking music out there each year. Two thousand fourteen is no different.
And since I am kneeling in the musical confessional booth, I must fess up I am constantly stuck somewhere between 1982-1999 when it comes to my musical listening, but somehow, in some miraculous way I do manage to stumble across “new bands” worth listening to, though few and far between.
Some 2014 results make sense (the new Hold Steady and Tom Petty) while others don’t (am I the only one who doesn’t understand the big deal behind The War Against Drugs or Sun Kil Moon?). And some are just plain fucking bullshit (the new U2 #1 Rolling Stone? How much is the band paying you to make such a claim??). And don’t even get me started on the Foo Fighter’s, Sonic Highways…except that is basically a bunch of medicore, over-produced shit….see what you made me did now??
Anyways, fuck it…here it goes…my best of 2014 (in no particular order)….ta da!!
1. The Temples – Sun Structures : some of the best psych-pop out of the UK in years per Johnny Marr, Noel Gallagher and now me. If the opening tracks “Shelter Song” or “Sun Structures” doesn’t make your booty move then you are just lame. They are also, importantly, one of the coolest look bands on the planet.
2. Interpol – El Pintor: after 2010’s disastrously forgettable self-titled album, the NYC post-punk darlings are back in full form. While Kessler’s guitar playing gets a little tedious at times, El Pintor is still a great bunch of tunes that blend in well with earlier material. They too are one of the coolest looking (and best dressed bands) on the planet. Yes, I like cool looking bands.
3. Overlake – Sighs: said it all right heremonths back. Still in super heavy rotation in my life. The track “Our Sky” is one of the best songs ever written with a breakdown bridge starting at the 2:05 mark that will knock you on your ass.
4. The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt: Read this. Probably their weakest album, but that is what is what makes it so endearingly intriguing. The song “Dark Places” shatters my heart every time, especially after a couple of glasses of wine.
5. Life Eaters – Self Titled: Confession? I only heard this debut record from this Jersey City group for the first time mere days ago, but it has been kicking me in the nuts ever since. An extremely strong effort from start to finish. The track “Man Pain”, is just absolutely killer. If you don’t like it then guess what…yup, you lame.
6. The Hold Steady – Dream Teeth: A “typical” and “safe” Hold Steady album, but if you dip beneath the surface you will find a solid effort with all the stories, drugs, hardcore matinees and Jesus Christ references still intact. At first listen, I was disappointed but the tracks grew on me tremendously to the point of becoming one of the year’s best. I must admit I find the overall recording very weak (lacking ball crushing “umph” of 2008’s Stay Positive…so much guitar punch)but just listen beyond that….songs “Spinners” and “Big Cig” are two of many standout tracks.
I always enjoyed this short trailer for Dream Teeth , it captures the full essence of the album….
7. Miss Ohio – Whippoorwill Road:“delivering a perfect blend of power pop melody and guitar rock grit, with 5 songs that will no doubt make my personal best of 2014 release list” as I previously stated here and here and here! and guess what, it did! Besides they re-recorded my favorite song from them (“KGB”) so that is all that fucking matters…well unless they re-record “Picture Show…” (hint hint)….here is a funny video for another great gem off the record, “Bobby Fischer…”
8. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye: Tom and his heartbreaking team started a bar brawl, kicking everyone’s ass with this garage punk instant classic.
9. Big Ups – Eighteen Hours of Static: This Brooklyn-based band plays punk/noise rock that torpedoes Fucked Up right out of the tub. I hear me some Fugazi…Descendants? Maybe even some Slint….may I dare mention later Black Flag or even Flipper? Their sounds is something so familiar that I still can’t define it and that is why they fucking rock and can’t stop listening to this album. If you don’t like the 2 opening tracks (“Body Parts” and “Goes Black”) then you are….guess?
10. Johnny Marr – Playland : Because it’s Johnny FUCKING Marr, yo……duh.
11. Real Estate – Atlas: A hearty blend of hypnotic, mellow, reverby poppy rock from Brooklyn, Atlas picks up where 2011’s Days paused. A perfect background soundtrack for those long drives, house cleanings or annual best of writings.
12. Thurston Moore – The Best Day: Back to his true form from 2013’s quasi-metal project, Chelsea Light Moving, The Best Day is his 4th solo effort and 1st since his highly visible divorce from Kim Gordon. This album is very East Village, very “safe” (read: Sonic Youth) and very wonderful. Moore continues to rock out in his own alternately tuned, droning , cool cat, hipster, subdued Neil Young kind of way. “Forevermore” and album title track are just 2 of many treats found here. Besides, its Thurston fucking Moore…duh.
13. We Were Promised Jetpacks- Unravelling: These Scots quickly remind us why 2009’s These Four Walls and 2011’s In The Pit of the Stomach are constantly listened to over and over as they continue to carry the post punk meets indie pop torch with this latest release. Saw these cats live at NYC’s Webster Hall a few weeks back and they blew everyone away. Tracks “Safety in Numbers” and “Peaks and Troughs” are just two of many great songs.
14. Eastern Anchors-Dragging Your Axe Behind: I know I said a random list, but I also did save the best news for last. Set to be released later this month, if 2012’s Drunken Arts And Pure Science have you begging for more and if you thought the first single “Above Your Station” off their latest EP kicked ass, wait until you hear the other 6 songs. Oh boy……strap on in and wear a cup kiddies….
ALBUM REVIEW: I am starting to wonder what is in the water now that all global warming is melting all the snow in Canada because the rock-n-roll that is starting to come down by the likes of Champion Lover is getting meaner and darker. The Toronto based noise punks have their scopes set on getting you fucked-up a lot which we’re totally fine with being that we’re in New Jersey and our home state’s super hero is The Toxic Avenger. This is a monster sized caliber release with jagged distortion episodes that manage to get inside your worst dreams. At other times pretty trippy power psyche(yea we said this) where the bassiness will make your bad day get worse. Pounding you with the opener “Read my Mind” and wipe off the blood with “She Likes Wu-Tang”; these are the real champions on this debut. The last track “Vacant Heart (Spring Break)” is what we can only imagine is a bad trip gone completely sour. So put your head in the barrel on their bandcamp to dose yourself. You might not need drugs listening to them because they are drug rock and will make you scrape your face-off.
RIYL: Weekend, Sonic Youth, Place to Burry Strangers