What was the New Brunswick Music Scene like in the 90’s?

What was the New Brunswick Music Scene like in the 90’s?

New Brunswick Music Scene

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.

Steve Albini's old studio basement

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

BubbleGum Thunder New Brunswick Music Scene bands
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.”

RIP – Songs for Jason Molina – a compilation for your good karma

RIP – Songs for Jason Molina – a compilation for your good karma

GOOD CAUSES: We all go through the exit door at some point in our short journey on earth with the living and sometime that shit just happens too fast for some and we leave some folks behind. Being sensitive to this fact Steven Vineis has put together a compilation benefiting the late and great Mr. Jason Molina formerly of the Magnolia Electric Co which you should just buy now at songsmolina.bandcamp.com

Songs Jason Molina Comp

He recorded under several names at Electrical Audio in Chicago but in essence the output was all his energy and ability to crank out tunes at an amazing pace. Not just any basic singer songwriter stuff but the stuff that can make you cry. Mr. Albini had some very kind words on the news of his passing back in March of this year.

I loved hearing Jason Molina sing. He was a genius at turning a phrase and making it into something more than the words in it. Jason was almost supernaturally prolific, and several times I watched him write an album’s worth of songs in a weekend, recording them on the spot. Much of his recorded output with Magnolia Electric Co is the evidence of him and the band playing his songs for the very first time. It’s amazing, really, that it was any good at all, much less so touching and fully realized.

Jason was a unique talent and I will miss him. My heart goes out to all his friends and family, all of you I’ve met have been good people who did well by Jason.
-Steve Albini

Here is the first song on the compilation by Eastern Anchors.

The compilation is a mixed bag of covers and dedications by 39 bands for a $10 suggested donation. All proceeds go to his family to help them cope.

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More post for people who died

Cheap Trick In Color mix by Steve Albini

Cheap Trick In Color mix by Steve Albini

I’m a late comer to this lost mix sessions by Steve Albini of Cheap’s Tricks record called In Color which has been posted over on the Rock Town Hall blog in it’s entirety for download. I’ll also admit I had no clue that parts of Cheap Trick (Nielson & Carlos)were once hired as session players for John Lennon on the Double Fantasy album then probably fired by Yoko probably. Who knows. What I do know is that Albini respected Cheap Trick and covered them on a split touch & go 7″ I have with “He’s a Whore” b/w Krafwork’s “The Model”. A commercial ploy I think not but damn was it good crap to find and unearth.

Now my dear readers onto the original point of this post. The In Color mix by Albini rocks so hard it’s like a lost treasure in a sea of apathy. 15 Tracks that rock with grittyness it’s going to make you appreciate this band all over again. Dig it.

Southern Girls – Cheap Trick – In Color Mix by Steve Albini
Hello There – Cheap Trick – In Color Mix by Steve Albini
He’s A Whore (Cheap Trick cover) – Big Black 7″ TG23
Bonus – Surrender (Cheap Trick cover) – Big Drill Car 7″ CRZ701