ALBUM REVIEW: Brian Fallon, frontman for the Gaslight Anthem (GLA), always spoke in interviews of what to musically expect with each new upcoming GLA album. Ironically, every time he declared the band was taking their sound in a bold, new direction, they delivered yet another kick ass collection of familiar “punk-n-roll soul” with gritty, Ness meets Petty vocals.
This time around discussing Get Hurt, their fifth full length release, Fallon spoke about the wonder of some bands that drastically changed their sound and live to talk about it, a very risky move that often doesn’t end pretty for rock bands. Get Hurt is by no means Achtung Baby or Kid A but for GLA it is. Unlike their peers in the National and the Hold Steady, both recently releasing great but “safe” albums, in efforts to reach the next level of rockdom, it seems GLA courageously said “fuck that” and decided to shake things up a bit. The Garden State darlings finally kept their word, grew a pair and took the plunge, interestingly at a time when they too are eyeing that same rockdom and should play it safe. Audacious? Ballsy? Yup…I agree.
Quite simply, Get Hurt is far more rock and far less punk, more Petty and less Ness, full of ambitious, stadium size anthems with the band trying to live up to their very name. Sure you have the traditional punkish ferocity of “Rollin’ And Tumblin” that still packs a similar punch like “1930” does on their 2007 debut album Sink or Swim or “Orphans” on 2012’s American Slang, but is also the closest “typical” GLA song on the entire album and smack right in the middle of the playlist, reminding their fans that they didn’t forget where they come from and still punk as fuck. The intriguing title track sounds like a scrubbed up, leftover Horrible Crowes (Fallon’s side project, check out their excellent debut record, Elsie) number that is just begging for radio play. Other standout tracks include “1,000 Years,” “Helter Skeleton,” “Selected Poems” “Stay Vicious” and “Dark Places” (my favorite track thus far).
But yet again, perhaps both GLA and their fans should have seen it coming since it isn’t like the band didn’t flirt with different ground before . Mixing punk driven rock with 50’s sha la la’s and 60’s R&B groove has been constant in their music since 2008’s The 59 Sound (their second full length release). Or check out the Cure-ish “Old White Lincoln “on the same album. Then try listening to “Get Hurt” and “Here Comes My Man” from 2012’s Handwritten back to back. Pretty complimentary if you ask me. One could even argue that the band has already been mildly indulging in experimentation with 2008’s Senor and the Queen EP since the recording has a much different, almost disjointed feel to it despite decent songs (especially “Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts.”).
Overall Get Hurt is a solid effort and, I will say it again, a ballsy move by a band whose engines have been noticeably sputtering a tad bit on their last 2 releases. If you are looking for the blue collar punk of the past you may be let down but I am kind of relieved GLA sound has pleasantly aged and matured from the first time I saw them at Asbury Park’s Stone Pony on their 59 Sound tour and from the New Brunswick basement scene where they hatched. Will GLA fans get hurt with this new release? If you grow a pair, dive in like the band did maybe you will suffer some scrapes or a bruise at most…and pleasantly so.
Photo: 223 Livingstone Ave – home to BGT, Aviso’Hara & a few basement shows
PART 1: Before todays bustling New Brunswick, NJ basement scene, Screaming Females and Don Giovanni Records there were 6 clubs to play a gig at that were not sequestered or are hard to find in the 1990’s. The times o’ plenty. We had The Melody, The Roxy, Plum St. Pub, Budapest, Bowl-o-drome and the still standing Court Tavern. This might seem like ancient history. For every club there were about a 100 bands that frequented the clubs in rotation. Some of them made broader strokes playing gigs down the shore, Hoboken, Philly, NYC and beyond. If you told somebody you were playing Brooklyn they looked at you strangely because there were really no places to play there. Although a gig at a old mustard factory comes to mind but still blurry. Bands that played basements like Louis St stayed there for the most part unless they were a hardcore outfit of which case we know of the success stories there ranging from lifetime to deadguy then those pesky and annoying emo bands. Now the scene has changed to an extreme 180 degrees in 2014. The balance of “official” live venues that served alcohol slowly have long been eaten up by Johnson and Johnson and UMDNJ to a eradication of mass proportions. New Brunswick is down to one place that we know of. Yea you probably know a guy who blathered this to you. In turn underground places started to have a insulated affect on the scene. It’s totally foreign to us suburban outsider now but we know it exists. we hope it does. Maybe not as publicly as it once did but we feel the force. What is amazing to see is that the caliber of bands has not changed. There’s kooky bands, to downright terrible ones too. They just happen to do things differently with a tremendous output from just one label (that we know of). Plus that whole internet placebo effect. (We will get into this later.)
The point of this pointed post series is to shed some light on the swath of bands we enjoyed watching, much thanks to a couple long threads on the FB’s led by queen-scene bee Amy Saville from Prosolar Mechanics and Jim Testa from the ever present Jersey Beat. Gigs were happening all the time. Actually, when we started doing the zine thing back then; we always wanted to have a local point of view and bring to our readers new bands they have not heard of yet from inside or outside of the scene. All in an effort to make things less insular –you know hippie-dippy punk. Not just for our knowledge but for all. Not much has changed as far as our special purpose in life. You can read our about section if you want. Hopefully we can go as deep with a lot of bands and include friends (jim/amy, etc) doing the writing to give you a different perspective. I’m sure we seem like aliens because in the era where anybody can have their first debut “EP” release in a matter of one weekend is deeply confounding and troubling. There were a lot more hoops to cross to get people to check out your music, record it, etc. Again, we can dive into this trouble in a later post but for let us drag you to the water.
BGT recording in Steve Albini’s old studio basement, Chicago. Turning knobs.
So lets kick this off with BubbleGum Thunder. Here’s a video of a song that was recorded by Steve Albini at his home studio in Chicago. Plus a bunch of tracks that were never released “officially” on any LP or CD. Here is a posthumous video premier. The band had released three 7″ singles before it’s demise. The best official release was Coward b/w Cheater 7″ on Model Rocket Records. Trust me the irony of posting mp3s of the tunes Steve recorded is not lost on me. He mixed the tracks identified below. They were never mastered properly but herein are the best of tracks from my point of view that the band did. What was great about this band is the chord progressions were bit complex but the playing was ballsy. Joseph the guitar player/singer used lots of open chord tunings to make his life simple and stupid. The results were a very unique sound you rarely hear in my humble opinion in bands today. There was songwriting at work.
RIYL: Cows, Hum, Unsane, Helmet
01. Bedwetter MP3(basement recording)
02. Cheater MP3(Albini)
03. Coward MP3 (Albini)
04. Ghost Town MP3 (Albini)
05. Sad Man MP3 (Albini)
06. Safe from Me MP3 (Albini)
07. Acid Gravy MP3 (Albini)
08. Swallowed MP3 – Basement recording. Probably one of meanest sounding bass parts I’ve ever played. This is nasty and will rip you up like the little music whore you are. Wait for it at the :46 second mark to feel what I am talking about. You might want to amp up this up in iTunes a little for playback.
If you never had to pay Mark your entry fee to see a band at The Court Tavern. You really are part of the new generation of bands.
“If you ain’t playing. You are paying.”
CXCW 2013: Bands, solo singer songwriters and performance artists. It’s not too late to think of an idea and perform a tune to participate in the online music festival for us poor grubs who are NOT going to SXSW this year. Three years running there is a much cooler home that you can say is yours and drink and eat whatever you want for Couch by Couch West. Kids as young as 9-10 even have bands that are performing live and getting internet famous. People are blowing up couches and playing on trains. This is a fun happening and here’s just a few of many.
Here is Uncle Leon doing a song called “beer train” on a new york city subway for CXCW 2013. There is one lady on here that does not take her nose out of a book, actually like most folks numb to something fun and different. Typical new yorkers disappoint me. This festival is not for her but perhaps you think you might be able to change the world one song at time.
Next up is a local to us from New Brunswick, New Jersey resident and one man band Keith Kenny doing a really great song called “Filling Holes”. We never heard of him before and thank goodness for CXCW to fill us in on great music happening in our own damn backyard.
The Foresters are the youngest band ages 13-10 with a tune called “Way Up high”.
Every hour from morning until night the crew at CXCW are posting photos and videos. So no matter when you check-in they have plenty for you to check-out.
SHOW PREVIEW: Beware this is celebratory and shameless plug for a bunch bands that used to play The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, New Jersey a whole fuckin’ bunch. Before the Gaslight Anthem & Screaming Females there were these bands who played this juke joint more times than these bands can collectively count. The Court Tavern was our local version of CBGB’s situated in downtown New Brunswick. Forever, this was the venue of choice to see a band live where chromosomes and some DNA floated around freely. Wasn’t too big or too small but basically it was cruel and fair. The sound system was amazing and if you played there often enough the bartenders always bought you a drink or two even when you weren’t playing. That was respect. Anyway, on Saturday May 19th a bunch of the old guard will be playing a show together at The Brook Arts Center in Bound Brooke NJ up against that forsaken Bamboozle fest. So come-out if you live nearby or want to get away from the Assbury crowds. This will be well worth the 10 spot to catch DJ Ed Wong & Lisa Uber spinning songs with some local Art along with music by Aviso’Hara , The Wooden Soldiers, P.E.D, The Blisters, The Stuntcocks and Jigs and The Pigs. Facebook invite is here for directions and details. The doors open at 7:30 and show starts promptly at 8pm sharp.
Here’s a couple by what we consider the band known as The Blisters. This is punk rock version that Nirvana once invited to open for them in Ohio. There’s a bunch of bands with the same name but these guys are the originals. Used to be bands could call each other out on having put out a release first to claim the name. I suppose we have alternate realities. If you dig the replacements and pop-punk then should be right in the neighborhood of your like meter. Most make-up wearing bands are not worth the recycled beer can their music is made of. This is pure New Jersey rock-n-roll. I’m gonna take b/w Leaving you MP3s by The Blisters
Next up is P.E.D (post ejaculation depression). Cute acronym right? This is a infamous New Brunswick band that was fronted by Samuel Shiffman from Complex Records who personally turned me onto the Chicago band The Poster Children. He’s also notorious and infamous for the running of the mouth or the lack there of living among us but not seen. He’s a lurker and somehow he’s coming out (not ghey) hole to make some noise with the rest of the rock geezer.
I can say with pure unadulterated glee what a motherfucking miserable sod I was for so long. I can’t say that I was really look back with anything but horror… actually I have to say that I really don’t look back at all…” – Sam 2010
Here’s a whole diatribe from Sam where the quote above was ripped from on Jim Testa’s Jersey Beat.com.
Johnny & J.J. Stuntcock Melody w/ Chris Pierce on Drums!
Also sharing the stage will be The Stuntcocks which have had as many rotating members as any of the above bands.
Johnny Stuntcock has been the steady anchor all this while. The Stuntcocks are New Brunswick institution all their own.
The first band and real reason to get there early is seeing Greg Di Gesu’s band The Wooden Soldiers. His music has gone by different names but has been the corner stone of roots rock meets Nick Lowe on the pot run you just made up from the Everglades. He’s street poet who stories weave in and out of the groovy grooves. Enjoy! Commercial Ave MP3 by The Wooden Soldiers from hippies, punks and rubber men (1987) A Thousand Miles Away MP3 from Lazy Man’s Load (1989)
Here’s a video by Jigs & The Pigs who are headlining the event. They were a real early band that played the Court. Sort The Who meets, New Wave meets Iggy Pop. You decide. It’s going to be an amazing night.
Some sounds like these sounds: Can’t Hardly Wait(live) MP3 by The Replacements from Shit, Shower & Shave It’s A Long Way Back To Germany B-side MP3 by The Ramones from Rocket To Russia Dynamite Chair MP3 by Poster Children from Tool Of The Man The Diamond Church Street Choir MP3 by The Gaslight Anthem from American Slang Embrace The Sound MP3 by Drag The River from Closed Birthday Boy (Ween cover) MP3 by Chris Harford from Band of Changes. This is one of my favorite songs in the world. The first time I heard this covered was at the court tavern around 1996 and it was a version like this by Chris. Cool eh?
Jack Endino is one of the godfathers of the Seattle grunge scene. Mainly because he recorded bands cheap and fast for a bunch of Sub Pop bands. He also was pretty good head banging guitar player and Skin Yard was his band which literally influenced Screaming Trees, The Melvins and Green River. Matt Cameron was the original drummer before going over to play with Soundgarden. Skin Yard had releases on Toxic Shock, C/Z and Cruz Records. I got to see them on the 1,000 Smiling Knuckles tour at Maxwells. In fact I still have the T-shirt! Somehow it’s made it through several moves and girlsfriends. Sort of a hat trick if you ask me to still have the relic. They eventually broke-up shortly after recording Inside the Eye which was one of the cool 10″ records they put on C/Z. Which was in fact their last official active release. The other notable 10″ had a cover of “Hey Bulldog!”(Beatles cover). Anyway. Dig it.
Here’s The Sirs from the New Brunswick, NJ punk creep scene on Psychic Volt & Devildance records. This is a rip right from the 7″ so go ahead and buy the rest of the 4 songs on this record. Pretty good stuff paying homage to sing-alongs akin to Pegboy or Social D in certain spots. This song should not be confused by The Stuntcock’s song “She gets her pets high“.
ALBUM REVIEW: Good and hearty tunes from Brian Fallon and the boys on American Slang. No doubt about The Gaslights Anthem’s 4th release is a winner. Could be it’s own reality show taking place in the suburbs of Jersey and spilling out across America. RXP is going to be playing the crap out of them no doubt. Classic diddling guitar riffs backed up by a solid rhythm section. Jersey bar bands needs to take lesson from these guys and they need to take some more risks too in my humble opinion but then again I always say that. A few too many rebel Clash punk cliches but ready made they are for mass consumption at your local Cheesecake Factory bar. I think I know “The Queen of Lower Chelsea”, she works at Bis.Co.Latte perhaps? The lyrics are the meat of this New Brunswick band, like a well planned tattoo, with a voice which is straight from the souls of rebellious youths who really don’t stand a chance. The bar is really high especially when you’re one of them kicking it up in the air.
I was digging in the archives a few months ago looking up video footage to lend to the Cruel but Fair movie [CBF on Facebook] and i cam across half a set by Ex Models from a Aviso’Hara Record release show for Made From Scratch. Anyway. The banter is funny and if you dig these guys you should enjoy these live nuggets which are not available anywhere else.
Family, Once again I am in the position of writing an extremely difficult letter. We have 24 hours to raise $20,000 or we may be forced to close. I know that times are tough and it is the holiday season but it’s not impossible, 4 people to lend us $5,000 ea. – 10 people/$2000 ea. – 20 people/$1,000ea – 40 people/$500 … See Moreea. and so forth. Here’s why: We owe @ $26,000 in back property tax and water and sewer to the city of New Brunswick. A friend of ours knew we needed help and offered it based on the fact that he was selling his house and asked how much we needed. Bobby told him $20,000 or so. He said he could help us out provided his closing went through on Friday, which it did. Today he came in with $5,000, apparently all he could do. Bobby was under the impression that he could lend us the bulk of it. Now we are really screwed. We must pay the entire amount by 4:00 tomorrow ( Tues. 12/15 ) or it will go to tax sale. If it goes to tax sale the mortgage company will start foreclosure proceedings. Commercial mortgages are different that residential and the only way to stop it would be to file bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court will take over the business and liquidate it. The end of the Court Tavern. Bobby and I and Cassius have sacrificed so much of our family time and money over the years just trying to stay afloat. Everytime we are ready to throw in the towel , someone will come along and tell them how much the Court means to them so we keep on going. Tony Shanahan is in the process of organizing a benefit concert for us at the state theater in March. We thought we had it covered, borrow the money from our friend, pay the taxes, in March pay him back and have some extra cash to get caught up on some other stuff. Not going to happen. If you can help at all please call my cell phone at 732-887-1612 ASAP. All loans will be repaid in March with interest. We only have 24 hours. You can also text me if it’s late tonight although I don’t know how I’ll sleep. Sincerely,… Eileen Albert” IF 200 people give $100 dollars this should do it. Come on WFMU people.
If you know anyone in a financial position to help save the Court, PLEASE pass this along to them! The Court could go under….TODAY!
Well the first show in support of Stuart Wexler’s ambitious documentary on the 90’s New Brunswick Music scene was a huge success. I never saw so many gadgets and die-hard fans all in once place. The “Scene within the scene” to quote Bryan Bruden the old Mad Daddy’s manager. Was really awesome to see so many oldish faces in one place and sad that I could not talk to everybody. Hadn’t seen some of these characters in 5-8 years or so and glad to most are still alive.
So what does this all mean? Who cares right? it was so 90’s ago? Well first off the music was vibrant like the first time you self discovered. All the colors were represented and none sounded like the other. For quick view go ahead and download or listen to DJSPORK SHOW #29 No Frills Rock podcast. I play a few select tracks mixed in with current talent out there. it’s all about the rock. Cruel But Fair movie page on Facebook or on YouTube. NEXT SHOW: Sat 12.126.09 Court Tavern w/ Horsey, 3 to 6 inches, Prosolar Mechanics, Buzzkill and The Stuntcocks.
Based out of New Brunswick, NJ in the early 90’s there was prog funk alternative rock metalish band called Mr. Thumb. The group had two singers and a running gaggle of drummers. Above is the cover for a 3 song ep called “This time it’s gonna fuckin’ Hurt” on Hub city label Well Primed Records. The track we are featuring in this post was supposed to appear on a follow-up 7″ and self titled album on Behemoth Records but it never was released due to financial issues at the time(isn’t this always the case?). The band recorded its full length at Trax East in South River New jersey with Eric Rachel and Steve Evetts. Drumming on said record was Dave Rosenberg (AKA Dave Crayola from Deadguy). The original singer Karl Munzel only appears on the Well Primed released. For the rest of the duration of the band the torch was carried by D.Buzz operating the bassness, Bil Weis vox and Jhon Thumb as the nutty jazz rock professor on guitar. You can still catch the Jhon Thumb band or something very close to it. If you ever get the opportunity to see him play it comes as a highly recommended live experience. The kind of thing you should see before you die in lieu of seeing Frank Zappa, Hendrix or a wasted John Frustrante. D.Buzz went on to form Aviso’Hara.