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.
Lighting Seeds-“Pure” – love this song and thank the God’s I remembered to start listening to this gem again…
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
This year is not starting off well obviously. We can’t chase time but we can enjoy it and appreciate every where Mr. David Bowie appears in our psyche for as long as we last. A reminder of our mortality.
Born David Robert Jones was/is the definition of a true musical enigma like no other that not only crossed generations, style, movies and technology; he actually connects magic and reality like a rainbow. The devoted fans of his genius and the people he affected can’t even be explained either. Let alone him. This effort is futile like the cancer that ate him. So even what I say here is meaningless honestly. He was that ether you feel when you encounter something you don’t have words for. A feeling. A love letter. A first kiss. A man who knew know boundaries. That is where the start is.
He showed Mick Jagger and Lou Reed how to be a rock stars and always be relevant birthing countless other amazing musicians alike that also are the sound track to your life. Changes One is a perfect example and just the gateway into a man who not so much tried to sell the world but change it one amazing song at a time and I’m sure 1,000’s we have not heard yet. A real artist where even his least successful albums would be impossible for the fucking bullshit mind numbing crap that gets fed as music to come-up with. The general population is enduring some of the worse music in recorded history this past decade and a half and it’s not ok. Not at all.
Bowie taught us that a real original artist should always be unsatisfied and never settle for the status quo. Actually create trends not follow them. The smallest nuances and care for your art is sometimes not perceived at first and most will stop at their first pass. 99% of what passes as music today is an embarrassment with only one goal in mind – greed. Bowie pushed the envelope of creativity making anything after him an obvious cliches to those who actually listen. That is what great art does. That is meaningful and by definition legacy.
Rest in piece David Bowie we love you.
FREE HOLIDAY SINGLE: Every year around this time of year our Hoboken friend Saint Brian Musikoff; who is the bass player in Stuyvesant, a cartoonist, and a bartender releases a track for the world to hum and sing. This year’s tune was recorded as part of the New Jersey classic and 27th annual Jon Solomon 25HR Holiday Marathon Show on WPRB in Princeton. Listen live to the program Christmas Eve at 5:00 pm ET until Christmas day at 6:00 pm EST.
“A Can of Simoniz” is a great swirling thistly tune complete with slay bells, some polished indie-tude mistletoe sung by Renée LoBue and backed by Daniel Darragh( Risk/Reward) on Drums, Tom Beaujour(True Love) on the guitar and the bass playing of Saint MusiKoff. Far from that recycled holiday fruit-cake but just as tasty looking to our ear holes.
As a bonus to inspire some holiday high stepping cheer, if you contribute any amount for the track, Mr. Musikoff will help Saint John Houlihan of Queen’s feed those in need via his Let’s Start With A Sandwich go fund me campaign which has been running for the past 2 years. Yes that is right, delicious sandwiches will be delivered to the homeless as he travels in New York to feed some hungry unsuspecting folks. $6,300 has been raised to date from donations which is 100% pure sandwich money for this actionable cause at gofundme.com/startwithasandwich
Singles: Here’s the latest melancholy pop single from NJ’s NADA SURF hitting us just right on the heartstrings with “Believe You’re Mine” from their coming record called You Know Who You Are to be released March 2016. The lyrics are right out of twitter crush timeline romance and fall right in line in that spot you love and care about in the better parts of alternative rock makers. Co-produced by our good vibes pal and squirrel master knob twister Mr. Tom Beaujour at his studio the Nuthouse Recording in Hoboken NJ. This is Mathew Caws’s 7th Nada Surf record with the boys and includes the additional guitar strumming of Mr. Doug Gillard who has been touring with them for the past few years.
Ira Elliot their drummer described including Doug as as a full fledged member as fulfilling their destiny to become The Pretenders of their generation.
He went on to mention:
It also features the legendary Joe McGinty (Psychedelic Furs, Ramones, Ronnie Spector, Losers Lounge, Sid Gold’s Request Room) on keyboards, the equally legendary Ken Stringfellow (Posies, Big Star) gave us some angelic walls of sighing harmonies (as on the single below) to say nothing of the incredible Martin Wenk (Calexico) who supplied some of his signature horn arrangements. We’re very lucky to have such talented friends at our disposal
It’s pretty safe to say that the 90’s were one of the best decades for music in the last century. It’s the decade that just won’t die. From the endlessstream of reunion tours to the pop culture references in movies and television, the hits just keep on coming. Need more proof? I’ve got two words for you – cassette revival. I don’t know anyone who lived through it the first time that longs for the days of tangled tapes jamming matchbooks into the car stereo, so it must be the music that draws everyone back.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all perfect. There were plenty of crimes committed against our auditory wills. Those dreadful line dance songs that your aunt always requested at weddings. Nu-Metal. Auto-Tune. That horrendous Barbie song – a turd polished so brightly it could have blinded a mole from space. But there was a period of time in the early part of the decade where the pop confections of the day sat awkwardly on major radio playlists right along side some wonderful, fuzzy guitar drenched bliss, dished out by the great unwashed, proudly bashing away in their Chuck Taylors and flannel shirts. Can you imagine The Breeder’s “Cannonball” airing on top 40 radio stations today? I certainly cannot.
As we drift further and further away from this unusual time, it’s only normal that musicians and fans alike begin to look back on it fondly and revisit these sounds. But it’s not the kids (or rather than generalize, I should say it’s not MOST of the kids. As you were, Rock N’ Roll Hi Fives). Things have changed and there’s no going back. While my neighbors had to deal with the pounding of drums and squealing guitar amps in the garage, I live in relative peace and quiet in modern suburbia. Still, tranquil and utterly boring peace and quiet. Kids don’t want to “play guitar” any more; they want to “play” guitar.
I know, I sound like some crusty old codger complaining about “these kids today”. Excuse me while I chase a few of them off my lawn.
Where was I? Right, the 90’s…
DOLLAR STORE RIOT – “WHAT’S IT TO YOU?”
SINGLE REVIEW: Luckily, all is not lost. There are still plenty of musicians like the affable and capable Dollar Store Riot, who have found that making music purely for the joy of it can be its own reward. Their new single “What’s It To You?” attacks with the familiar abandon of those long lost gems of the Clinton presidency. Thea Kearney’s direct and forceful vocal delivery echoes Joan Jett at times (in all the best ways) and there’s a clear hint of Sleepyhead in the songwriting and delivery. Brian Boehm, Paul Haley and Will Kramer propel the song forward with pleasing abandaon. It hits like a late summer wave, pushing you back on your knees a bit until you can steady yourself and sway in its swirling flow – until another time shift hits like the breaker you didn’t see coming.
Just like it’s loud and proud retro sound, the video shot at Maplewood’s Woodland Hall immediately recalls late nights on the couch waiting for 120 minutes to start. Shot as a live performance with a bit of comic relief added, it’s a reminder that you can be serious without taking yourself too seriously.
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
VIDEOS OF THE DAY: From the guys in Mache have a web series called cabin tapes with band and singer song writer performances by Victoria Reed, Christopher Watson, Wil Farr (Hurrah A Bolt Of Light) and Sarah Aili. All good stuff. I’m out of steam or I would write more about this but you should know the artists are all really talented and I’m happy they shared this project with RS. Enjoy, sit-back and chill, spark a joint and pass it around.
Chris Watson – “Something about the dark that gives you light”
Fuck music. Fuck writing. Fuck caring. Fuck this shit. There I feel better.
The last record I purchased recently was the new Publicist UK album and it really is a fine piece of vinyl. Also I noticed a post by @michaelazerrad that Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt’s is making a site/app called www.8stem.com that allows everyone to remix music. This might be the future and they are seeking beta-testers. Since I am a super geek at heart I am now awaiting my access info to be able to peer into the future for at least a minute. It’s a fleeting effort but I’m gonna try.
I recently I let my eMusic credit card lapse after 15 years supporting them and not really feeling inspired to re-up due to some austerity like cut-backs (about $2,100 in downloads at least) that mostly went to labels and bands. I love some of the varied music I have discovered there old and new but a lot of new music is not very inspired. Has the same old non melody, canned sounds and devoid of hooks. It’s a lot of work to make original music – a constant complaint around here. Don’t just publish and release the first song you write. The labor part is gone. Although I am all for inspired song making like Daniel Johnston he is anomaly. Which was/is one of the review stalker number one missions still I think is to help point out and find these nuggets.
1) Listen and bubble up the good stuff
2) Talk about it nicely except for a couple instances like when we let a crappy review of Vomitface spatter on our pages. Can’t apologize to those guys enough. Even though I try to be diplomatic. Sometimes we fail even when we think something is derivative even if it has heart then it’s good. It’s a hard balance because everytime my random players kicks on one of their songs. I’m like this – fuck! Their new one rocks weird and bendy C tuned to make your stomach rumble, its jacked as if Mike Patten puked in his workout cloths wrangling out the beast of melody. You are welcome.
3) Point out music that has passion, artful, weird and or political.
4) Highlight the killer stuff in the nj music scene in particular. Which is was/is a huge aspirational task unto itself. There is so much to cover and if you feel you want to write just let me know. Give me a reason to believe again. I rarely get takers and I think it’s because it’s a “ME” generation thing and I give huge kudos to James at CoolDad Music for digging in so well and caring about so many musicians.
5) If it’s a hit and we hear it. We feature when bandwith allows. Which brings me to my last point. I have not had a lot of time. Life has been a roller coaster of my own design. So give me a reason to believe and it shall be. Post your best song that presents your band in the comments. Let’s see what others think go take a chance and click a link. I ignore about 95% of the emails i get because it’s just email nightmare. Don’t be offended. Send me a CD or piece of vinyl and let me know in the subject line. Getting back to touching and feeling your art and music in my hands is something I will appreciate and it will help you stand out in giant fucking fat glut of mediocre.
VIDEOS: First-up is a new video from Kurt Vile Directed by Daniel Henry via Matador Records on his coming album b’lieve i’m goin down”. This long hair really reminds me of my old friend Dizzy from Nude Swirl.
KURT VILE – “PRETTY PIMPING”
KITTY FINER – GIRLS IN THE GARAGE
Please meet Kitty Finer, who is the daughter of Jem Finer, founding member of The Pogues. This video ‘Girls in the Garage’ was directed by The Raincoat’s Gina Birch from Kitty’s EP Lobby Star. This tune has a nice Ethiopian feel in the beat and mariachi brass with a bunch of ladies getting jiggy in jumpers in a garage. The lead track on the EP is classic alt rock and really good song writing if you dig the feelies and solo Joe Strummer you will like her guitar and banjo jangle. Same campfire style of song writing and story telling. Follow her on TwitterBandcamp
Introducing multi-instrumentalist Ray Goren talking about his new EP ‘Songs For You’ – out 8/21 via Jay Vee Records and produced by the Grammy Award-winning producer Steve Jordan who does a nice introduction of this new blues guy. Did we mention he is only 15 years old and has already performed with B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Bonnie Raitt? No ok. He’s smooth man.