New Jersey is somewhat a musical paradox. Outsiders predictably only know about “The Boss” or Bon Jovi being from the Garden State, unless you grew up on Hardcore, then it the same two plus Turning Point, Vision, Bouncing Souls and Lifetime. Then the Gaslight Anthem eventually exploded onto the scene that even made this transplant proud of his new home state, where insiders never seem to talk about Real Estate, another NJ band that are both hugely popular and play everywhere else.
But after sniffing over the years, I have pleasantly discovered that New Jersey is chuck full of great bands with many indie labels supporting them. Pyrrhic Victory Recordings is one of those labels and the wonderful 65’s, GALANOS and Miss Ohio are some of those bands.
The 65’sI’ve Got You EP (2013) picks up right up where 2011’s kick ass Strike Hard! left off. A solid 4 song onslaught that starts with the punk ‘n’ roll steam roller “Have you Been Saved?”, continues with the darkly beautiful album title track and ending with is pretty acoustic twang of “Safety Net,” each song heavily complimented by the unique, husky Lucero-ish growl of front man/guitarist Joseph O. Pugsley. I Got You is never too far from my weekly listening pleasure, with the 3rd track,”Holes Dug Deep” being one of my personal favorites (“breathe in…breathe out…keep breathing she said“).
THE 65’s “I’ve Got You”
Next up is GALANOS‘ 2 song offering, La Loca, a dark and dreamy, surfy and heavy, beautifully droning offering of slowed down and fuzzed up songs of Velvet Underground-ish proportions. I could see either song (the title track or “Go Home Rose”) being on the soundtrack to the next Quentin Tarantino flick with a return of Uma Thurman dancing to either. Indeed a welcoming sight in my humble opinion! If this is just a the hors d’ourves of what GALANOS is offering, I am looking forward to a full meal and hopefully soon.
Miss Ohio’s latest EP, Whippoorwill Road, was officially released last week, 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. Oddly, the opening killer track of the same name always brings “Boys of Summer” (either Henley or the Atari’s cover will do) to mind, but in a good way. Tracks “Bobby Fischer” and “Lights” keep the momentum going (with the latter boasting interesting sounds from a vintage phaser pedal) while I find myself mentally humming the coquettish“Day Job” at least once a day while reconciling my own rock ambitions while working for the man. Finally I was one happy camper that they (re)recorded “KGB” one of my favorite tracks off of 2005’s underrated Another Wasted Summer. Homerun, boys.
COVERS: Today in the covers bin is a whole concept. A whole album in fact from front to back of the famous Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. Mint 400 Records presents bands like The Duke of Norfolk, Fairmont, Cropduster, Michael Ambrose, The One & Nines, The Ashes and The Multi-Purpose Solution doing different variations on some wonderful music. Which arguably are all one long song because the production uses similar tricks and vocals approaches it has this amazing sound all on it’s own. So it’s cool to see some bands attempting to repurpose and reconstruct the otherwise brilliant recording. Oh and the best part this shit is it’s free. So here’s a few choice tracks but let that stop you from enjoying the whole thing because the label is just making the whole thing completely free. nice right?
ALBUM REVIEW: Little did these two bands know that their last performance would leave behind rubble and a set of burnt out souls. I’m of course talking about the fire that destroyed the Sound Station in Westfield where above video was shot a week before that tragic Sunday on Jan 22nd, 2012. This was not their intent only metaphorically of course. Bob Larsen the owner loves to celebrate all sorts of music and these guys were part of that musical entertainment. So, if your a fan of noise, as he is, and copious guitar notes then you’re gonna love A FUCKING ELEPHANT and EL DRUGSTORE on Nefarious Industries. Besides the fact we love capitalization. We sincerely dig these two bands and are rooting for the Sound Station to come back stronger in a badly needed music scene where culture is slowly disapearing. Fortunately for us bands like these two have put out split LP that is as much gut spilling as it is ear bending. Taking the art of noise to places that need exploring. Disfigured in the anti matter of rock something great will rise again. Your spine will bend a little when El Drugstore goes off the rails in what’s best described as a cacophony of uprooted trees being torn down by a bulldozer where Live at Pompei once stood. These jams bend the sequence of time. Those Arm Rests are Fire MP3 by El Drugstore
The opening track are by AFE make you feel right off the bat that bands like Neurosis and Melvin have had impact. Two of my favorites combined with the anti-Rush. Now for the avid listener it obvious why these two bands put out a split release together. Their line in “Football with Ukrainians” describes the music best. “They scream heart attack”. I mean shit this is a beating. When I was chatting with Matty Keys the guitarist he was we have to be totally sober to place this music. A listen and you’ll realize this music is about precision. Well at least as much as you can have accuracy if your scalpel is buzzsaw carving through sheets of metal and earth. Lots of guitar taping on few numbers and juggling of said notes in furious numbing beating like a boxer on punching bag. Football With Ukrainians MP3 by A Fucking Elephant
All towns have stories. Sometimes it’s just nice historical folklore or a tale about some out of the ordinary or weird thing somebody did. These are songs that remind me of the suburban town Westfield NJ. This could be your town.
West Of The Fields MP3 by R.E.M. from Murmur I always considered this my hometown’s theme song but always at the same time I wondered where the fields were? Since we only have sports fields and no wheat or corn anywhere. It’s freaking suburbia where the MILF’s run wild in their black suburbans and kids jockey for overpriced educations. It’s mostly a young republican mill except for small subculture that makes it bearable.
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) MP3 By Simon & Garfunkel. Ok So speaking of class systems. Us alternative kids referred to the preppy 80’s rich kids in our high school or wanna bes with the upturned polo collars as “Groovies”. I think it was Susan Fried who repurposed the term in 85′ or so (or at least I heard her say it first) and it caught on pretty quick and they started calling themselves Groovies themselves. oh “the irony my snossages” as my HS English teacher Mr. Barner would say. We were making fun of them since they were all John Hughes characters. We would hear shit in the halls like “Did you hear about the [insert groovie name here] party this weekend? or did you hear about such and such groovie chick gave groovie jock a BJ last night” etc, etc. We phrased it sarcastically like it sounds in this song all spacey and shit and created a pretty obvious line between the alternative punk kids and them. For Whom The Bell Tolls MP3 by Metallica slowed down to 33 1/3. Hilarious. Sound totally what the black psyche metal kids are into these days.
Quick Chek Baby MP3 by the band DUH. DUH were a punk band of which half were from Westfield and New Brunswick NJ. This is a track from their album/cassette demo which I called Trout I even made an album cover because of the last track of the same name and first song called “Fish House Row”. This tune directly references and describes Maulers which was the term we used for the heavy metal kids who hung out at the 7-11 type quick stops and malls and drove down the shore a lot, smoked Marlboro Lights and went to LaMours or at least as described in this song. Sort of derogatory since it’s slang and means not upper class or brass knuckles. These were the long hairs who wore tight white washed jeans and drove Cameros. Now it’s all fucked up because of that other Jersey Shore show but whatever that element is not worthy of a song. The music they like was awesome because it resembled some of thrash the skater kids liked so we invited them to our outcast parties and wrote songs about them.
Devil Town MP3 by Daniel Johnston from 1990 All towns have their demons. My town had the famous John List murders where he offed his family and resettled down south only to be found after the debut of America’s Most Wanted. The day of the show back in 1989 we all got together and watched from a house right around the corner where the gruesome scene took place some 18 years before where he shot his wife and three children with .22 caliber gun. A year after the murders the house mysteriously burned down. Crazy Train (cover) MP3 by Pat Boone from In A Metal Mood.
Come Home MP3 by The Dismemberment Plan from their record Change. This band’s music always reminds me of vacant streets at night. DC in particular where there is barely anybody milling about. Concrete.
Suburbia MP3 from the 1984 movie soundtrack composed by Alex Gibson. This is some lonely shit. In highschool we must had watched this movie and Repo Man 100 times each. Sometimes just looping them again and again back to back. We were white advantaged punks trying to get a clue. You could not make a movie like this today. The TR (or The Rejected) gave us a framework as we didn’t have it even 1/10 as bad mostly. Got a burn man?
This was fun. We’ll probably work on a Part II. There is always a story to tell.
Quickie Music Review: Seventeen(17) Maine Songs is music performed by Jersey indie rocker and multi-instrumentalists Ben Ross. He has a bunch of other projects of which this is the “pop” music. Reminds us of Matt Pond PA band and guitar jargon by Seam to give you the quick tour. Here’s a strong track ironically and subtly could actually cause somebody to give birth of some very strong offspring.
Record Collecting: Another journey to the Sound Station in Westfield another batch of scores all in one fell swoop!
Man I heart Truth and Soul records. Fallin’ Off The Reel III is a great archeological compilation with groovy space jams by Cosmic Force, the wah wah love of Timothy McNealy, and some truly great bass playing by Black Velvet. This shit is hotter than lava. Also on here is soul-tastic Lee Fields & Explorers. All the tracks are great if you want some funk/soul tasters. You should take a bite out of this one.
If your a fan of this re-insurgence of psychedelic rock music of the Black Angels variety then you should pay attention to these Bay Area mystics and check out the space-outs music of Lumerians. All their jams occur on the far away planet of Transmalinnia which is like distorted pompeii keyboard trip that will make your eardrums vibrate. Except is one or two notches louder and could easily knock down any arena.
Most cop cars are Crown Vics. Any kid could tell you this. You don’t drive unmarked one’s in bad neighborhoods without locking them up and driving one will give you a certain amount of highway respect – even if you are not a cop. Which makes it perfect fodder for a song title. That’s an easy bet. Here’a new song by Eastern Anchors which is every bit Chavez as it is HUM sounding. All good things for consumerists of the noisy rock variety. This Anchors song is stealth though like most cruisers with tinted windows and weird guitar tunings disguising itself as a good pop song once its intension are revealed. Check it out. Various other such musical crimes will be committed live this forth coming Friday night but you’ll need to attend in person to be a witness. Because the kids won’t say shit unless you put the cuffs on them.
The Project Matters Benefit w/ Charles Bissell + music by Green Arrows
BENEFIT SHOW: From what I can gather the Project Matters Organization will help fund and give good advise to young musicians under 21 who aspire to play music. Sort of a PAL for kids who maybe went to School of Rock but maybe just need some good legal advise. Which I think is great. I wish this sort resource was available to guide me as I figured out the music scene landscape.
“TPM’S goal is to empower and encourage these young musicians to reach their creative potential.“
TPM sounds benevolent enough and they are looking for young bands and mentors so get in touch. Back in the day at Westfield, Highschool in Jersey we had the Radical Rock Reactionaries where we took matter into our own hands with a actual club designed to put on shows. Was also a place where some misfits happened to gather and rally around music. The jocks had their sports we had R.R.R. This organization honors a kid named Ben High who was recording a record for his band Green Arrows and Cymbols Eat Guitar with Charles Bissell from the Wrens when he passed away. This show is in effect postumous record release as he and Cymbals Eat Guitars, Escape Directors, and singer Carah Faye Charnow of the band Versant will be playing a song from the record at Maxwells, Jan 23rd,2011 (TOMORROW!). The interesting thing about Charles Bissell solo is that it’s pretty dynamic sounding and trilly at times. The sounds go right up your spine. Meaning if you check out the couple live solo tracks below he’s full electric as if the wrens were behind him filling the space with guitar squealing effects and a subtle groove all around you. We’ll see what he does for this coming show. Lord knows the fans are starving for some new wrens music so maybe he’ll play one (that is if they’ve written any) I’m not sure the 10 years are up since the meadowlands was released. Other than that never heard of these other groups but here’s a couple track reviews. There’s a pretty good backstory on the wrens site for his benefit and that goes into the Cymbals Eat Guitars connection.
DOWNLOAD AND LISTEN:
1. Heartbeats by Versant s/t features Carah Faye Charnow. Think a modern rock version of ABBA with some keyboards whipping around your ears. [BUY]
2. Car Crash by Escape Directors from their release Ladders. There’s a nice balled on her called “Take Me on Home” alla goo goo dolls. The hit “Chicago” is lyrically up there with Gaslight Anthem in it’s narrative form but a little bit more modern rock mid-western. Over-all really good stuff for such young band. One to watch for sure! [ GET THEIR RECORD FREE ]
3. Indiana by Cymbals Eat Guitars from Why There Are Mountains. This is outstanding rock guitar record and totally makes sense the wrens were involved somehow. This track is spooky and spacey which actually sounds like a happy drive through the state of Indiana. [BUY]
4. Everyone Choose SidesCharles Bissell Live at Maxwells 09/26/2004
5. This Boy Is Exhausted Live at Schubas 08/19/2004
Hundreds of bands have sprung from the very ripe boon-dock known as the New Brunswick N.J. Hub City/Rock City scene, even though some of is straight-up emo basement level variety hardcore. ExVegas was one of the more promising urban alternative legends that morphed into another band called Prosolar Mechanics. EV had a double guitar storm featuring Alex(Saville) the sonic reducer and T.Sands on the V2 Rocket which were more Chicago sounding than anything from Chicagoland(you know jesus lizard, rapeman, etc) Their guitar combo was as serious as a trailer truck on biodiesel fuel injected with amphetamines with a starfire voice led by Amy (now married with children to the sonic reducer). This 7″ cover artwork was illustrated by the very talented and sorely missed E.Gun Aka Eric Gundry (RIP) who used to book The Court Tavern in New Brunswick NJ after Tom Crow for awhile in the early 90’s. This music was recorded at Trax East by Steve Evetts (Supultura, deadguy, Nudeswirl, buzzkill) and was pretty damn close to what they sounded like live. Everything is thick and messy sometimes like rock should be.
Fast forward the time continuum and put the date below in your rock calendar in advance because I’m emailing your from the future. Their next show is gonna be spacey if their latest tune that I have “Primer” is any indication of your coming future. Prosolar Mechanics Live March 12, 2011 Maxwells! BONUS MP3’s: The Future of Sex from Kitra Vol 2 Impact Primer from the web release Last song of the Month – Orchestra of distorted noise meets angry mountain of insects yelling and crawling on your skin like a jungle of mites on your scalp is the best way I could describe it with a electronic infusion of something ecstasy like.
DAISYCUTTER SHITHAMMER 45 Rockville
It’s not a secret around these parts were big on the grunge psychedelic scene. In particular when it about the home grown NJ Variety. So here’s Daisycutter from the Jersey Shore noise scene from back in the day when drug references were still cool on the Rockville label. These folks were more big black tribal jam rock. So if your’re a Monster Magnet fan you’ll like it but more than likely if your a Jersey MM fan you know this schwagg already since at one time it featured Ed Mundel on guitar and of course Reg Hogan on drums and Jim Hogan on the slithering bass. Drop in, dope out & do some crimes with the Shithammer. Download MP3s: Pull Glutton (5 mg) Glutton (10 mg)
Continuing, overall this year was a bountiful one musically with our best of list deserving 13 great albums. Yeah! Shit I cut a bunch just because they would have only eeked in based on the merits of previous releases but in fairness we all have our internal logic (See part I for our Best 2010 Album guidelines) which makes these lists so much fun. So please share yours. We’ll have a separate year in review post about the things that sucked and rocked in the music industry and only go into a few reasons why the music on these records is worthy of your time and money. What I would like to see is a Web Blog equivalent of a Grammy but that whole scene is more splintered. The VMA’s are a joke. So who knows. Might be too many disparate choices. I am interested to know what’s on your list though. Without further ado here’s 2K10 year’s best of albums!
6) Elvis Costello – National Ransom
Some of my favorite pop songs have been written by Costello from This Year’s Model and his whole 70’s era. This one is good old Americana rock and roll with just enough roots and blues to make it a tasty album all the way through and he’s a Brit! Great playing on here making it a great dinner party record to sip some whiskey to with a blaring fire with friends. I can hear the smoke and smell the cinder burning.
Listen: Download MP3: National Ransom [Buy]
5) The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
This is Jersey pride stinging you in the face. These are the rock stories of youths gone wild in the suburban and urban streets. The ability to tell the tales and paint pictures is what catapults this band’s scenes in the tradition of Springsteen and Dylan. Yup close as classic rock as you’ll get without sounding too melancholy for the 60’s. Much respect.
4) Ted Leo & The Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
It’s about time that Jersey’s native son is on a New York label again like Matador. Hopefully there will be many more releases like this one. He heaves his voice and modish riffs like he has a millions songs to give and no concern for the future. The record has a nice live feel minus all the emo hand clapping so lets hope that he see’s some bucks so he can keep making music like this for us.
Listen: Download MP3: Gimme The Wire MP3 [Buy]
3) Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
This is one of those bands that came out of the blue for me. Ripped it up in all sorts of interesting ways. They sort of remind me of British Sea Power in their big rock compositions but more Revolveresque vocally with these interesting dream groove space jams. Big Bonham drums that just power you into the future with flanger effects, phasers and small stones. This is near perfect psychedelic rock.
Listen: Download MP3: Desire Be Desire Go [Buy]
2) Male Bonding – Nothig Hurts via Subpop The right mix of trashy bass, Melody and sing-song guitardness is up in this English bands tunage produced by John Agnello. At their heart they remind me of fIREHOSE but sound nothing like them. They use reverb like any proper British group of record geeks should. I don’t know… try it in case you haven’t already. This band has heart.
Listen: Download MP3:All Things This Way [Buy]
1) True Love – ¡Pas Net! via Mainman Records
Besides the fact I’ve known these guys since forever and the various groups they were each in before. They have never faltered to deliver quality rock-and-roll that nods to just the right amount of genres and musical stock. Any lame metaphor would not be perfect enough. They put a lot of care in their pop-rock which is alla The Creation, Nada Surf, Sweet, Bowie,gbv and feel free to insert any weird 70’s references. All three in this trio can sing and play an instrument which makes for better bubblegum chewing for us all at the risk of biting our lips in sobering retarded awe. This is fantastic marathon beer drinking rock music without breaking a swet. A sobering experience for critics and in my humble opinion this is what albums should be like from a start to finish. When it’s over you want more and you don’t know why. This one reaches the finish line breathlessly.
Listen: Download MP3:Bitter Wine [Buy]
Download Bonus: Here’s a track from their first self titled LP. If you don’t like this something is seriously wrong with you and I don’t think we can be friends.
Listen: DOWNLOAD MP3: Over The Rainbow [Buy]