Thursday, September 18, 2014

What's Going On: 9/18, 9/19, 9/20, & 9/21, 2014

It's Brent's birthday! Don Giovanni hosts a free show in NB with Screaming Females, Nude Beach, and Shellshag. The Hold Steady open for The Replacements (of whom I have no pics. C'mon! It was 23 years ago.)

Talent Show

I saw The Replacements three times when I was younger. I never saw them at any intimate venues like Maxwell's. By the time I got around to catching The Replacements live, they were on the verge of dissolving for good.

They opened for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers at The Garden State Arts Center in 1989. That tour ended up being kind of a disaster, and I think they ultimately got kicked off by Petty. They were touring for Don't Tell A Soul at the time. The album was their reach for mainstream success, and it probably alienated a lot of their longtime fans. CoolMom can't stand it. It does contain "Achin' To Be" and "I'll Be You," though, so...

I saw two shows within a few months of each other in 1991. That was the All Shook Down tour. That was really Paul Westerberg's first solo record, but I guess he and the label agreed to slap "The Replacements" on it for contractual reasons. They headlined The Beacon in March, I think. I'm not even sure who was still in the band at that point. Then, in June, The Replacements (for sure without Chris Mars this time) opened for Elvis Costello at Madison Square Garden. Less than two weeks later, they were done as a band.

Even though I missed a lot of their punkier, shaggier days as they were happening, I do love those early records. I love The Replacements. I especially love Paul Westerberg. I probably won't go see them this weekend in Queens. But... ...There's plenty of other stuff to do.

Today is the birthday of -- no exaggeration here -- one of the absolute best guitarists on our little local scene here. Brent Ă–var Bergholm plays guitar for The Battery Electric and The Hsu-Nami. He knows just when to hold back and just when to pour it on. You can see him with The Battery Electric and wish him a happy birthday tonight at Red Bank Rehearsal Studio with a whole bunch of other bands including Amy Malkoff and The Moonshines, The Villanelles, Irate Primate, and more.

Also on Thursday, the enterprising young upstarts of The Clef bring Chris Clavin to Village Coffee in Wall along with Those Corn People, Michelle the Rose, and Teenage Halloween.

On Friday night, The Replacements take over Forest Hills Tennis Stadium for their first NYC show in 23 years. Joining them on that bill will be Minnesota paisanos The Hold Steady along with Deer Tick. Some people are gonna complain that these aren't the "real Replacements," but bands shift personnel all the time; and Paul Westerberg fronting a band doing 'Mats songs is OK by me.

Closer to home on Friday, you've got Belfast punk OG's Stiff Little Fingers at The Stone Pony with Huge and Brooklyn's So So Glos. The Shady Street Show Band play for free at APYC, and Dark City has the third edition of Asbury Unplugged with Ed Tang, Chris Brown, Ron Santee, Jamie Coppa, and more at The Wonder Bar.

Don Giovanni brings a free, outdoor showcase to Boyd Park in their hometown of New Brunswick with Screaming Females, Shellshag, Nude Beach, and Mal Blum on Saturday. Miss Ida Blue is at The Saint.

You can see what the kids at Lakehouse Music Academy have been up to with the free Big Gig at The Stone Pony on Sunday.

Nothing's solid for me yet. To paraphrase an episode of Seinfeld, "That Replacements show is a pretty big matzo ball hanging out there." We'll see.

PDF listings


Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Narc Blaster / The Barren Marys / Party Cops / No Comply, 7pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Boardwalk Jazz w/ PJ Rasmussen Ensemble, 7pm, FREE

Red Bank Rehearsal Studios (Red Bank): Brent's Birthday Bash Studio Shit Show Extravaganza w/ Cheap Cigarettes / Villanelles / JNMF / DRGN KING / The Battery Electric / Amy Malkoff and The Moonshines / Irate Primate, 6:30pm, $10 (21+)

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): T.D.C's Ha-Ha's & Ta-Ta's Comedy Burlesque Review, 8pm, $10

The Saint (Asbury): Chris Antonik / Matt O'Ree Band / Danny Petroni Blue Project, 7pm, $13

Village Coffee (Wall): The Clef Presents: Chris Clavin (Ghost Mice, Plan-It-X Records) w/ Those Corn People / Michelle The Rose / Eric Funn / Teenage Halloween, 5pm, $6

FRIDAY (9/19)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Shady Street Show Band, FREE, 10pm

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): The Drive Home / Marvin Sunk / Dark Mirrors / Vinyl Tigers, 8pm, $7 (18+)

Clash Bar (Clifton): Skuz / Thera Roya / Sunrot / Huldra / Ubasute / Wastelands

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): DRGN KING / Dollys / The Strangers / Lito and The Shepherds / The Mischief Kids, 9pm

Forest Hills Tennis Stadium (Queens): The Replacements / The Hold Steady / Deer Tick, 6:30pm, various relatively high price points

Lamp Post (Jersey City): Forget the Whale, 10pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Sonny Kenn Band, 10pm, FREE

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Michael Patrick's RING of FIRE Band: A Tribute to the Man in Black, 9:30pm, $10

The Saint (Asbury): Uni V Soul / Milk Bone / Underground Logic / Big Redd, 7pm, $10

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Stiff Little Fingers / Huge / The So So Glos, 7pm, $20 adv, $25 door (ALL AGES)

Uva's (Bradley Beach): Juan O'Grady Band, 8:30pm

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Dark City Entertainment Presents: Asbury Unplugged w/ Ed Tang / Chris Brown / Ron Santee / Doug Zambon / Jimmy Farkas / Renee Maskin / Jamie Coppa / Bud Plate / Dan Matlack / Frank Lombardi, 7pm, $5


Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Secret Sound, 10pm, FREE

Boyd Park (New Brunswick): Don Giovanni Records Presents: Screaming Females / Shellshag / Nude Beach / Mal Blum / more, 12pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Mass Punishment / Negative Sky / Beyond Visible / Gomohra / Silent Future, 6pm, $10 adv, $12 door (ALL AGES)

Clash Bar (Clifton): KDC / Cop Problem / Choke / Through Thorn & Brier / Before The End

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): The Fletchers Record Release Show / All Era Melody Bar Reunion, 7pm, $5

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Billy Hector's Electric Explosion, 10pm, FREE

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Dead Cowboys, 9:30pm, $8

The Saint (Asbury): Miss Ida Blue, 6pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): Spelling Bee hosted by Taylor Allen music by Trans Charger Metropolis, 10pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Senses Fail: Let It Enfold You 10 Year Anniversary Tour w/ No Bragging Rights / Knucklepuck / Suburban Scum / To The Wind, 7pm, $17 adv, $20 door (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): The Jody Joseph Band, 7pm, $10 adv, $15 door (ALL AGES)

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Lakehouse Music Academy's Big Gig (Adults), 5pm, FREE

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mumblr, Full of Snakes, 2014

Album Review

A friend was lamenting the current state of pop / rock to me the other night, asking, "What happened to all of the rebel songs? What do any of these bands have to say?"

It was a good point, I thought. In both Top 40 pop and big, mainstream indie (and the intersection on that Venn diagram is getting bigger every day), there's a definite lack of edge to a good portion of the music. It's true that no band owes us "rebel songs." Maybe they're just kids who really like to play. But I also sense an element of calculation. If you want to move a lot of product, you need to be careful that you're not offending a whole bunch of people or making them uncomfortable.

Sometimes, though, art or music makes you uncomfortable. I'm going to admit to feeling a bit uncomfortable during a few moments on the latest release from Philly's Mumblr. Full of Snakes manages to capture a lot of those uncomfortable feelings that accompany the shift from adolescence to full-on adulthood. I'm not sure if it's quite accurate to say that it's rebellious to make people squirm a little bit, but it's definitely rare in the current pop / rock / indie universe.

The chunky guitar chords and Nick Morrison's up-front vocals on "Got It" recall Weezer. Morrison sings, "I'm finding where I fit. I think I'm post-race, unless I'm just an idiot." It's an appropriate introductory verse for the record as, over the course of the album, Morrison's narrator spends a lot of time finding where he fits in the post-adolescent world. His efforts even include some well-intentioned, if clumsy, attempts to prove his post-race-ness.

"Sober" does a pretty good job of getting at that uncomfortable feeling of understanding that jealousy and insecurity aren't doing you any good even as you recognize that you don't yet have the tools to contain them. "I'm freaking out. I'm freaking out, outside of your house." "Mr. Softee" could be a companion piece. This time, as the narrator "can see you inside calling me," he's a "weak and gentle older me;" and some of his youthful rage is already gone.

"Black Chicks" is a sprawling, again kind of Weezer-y, track in which Morrison sings of hating himself for his feelings and for his "whiteness," an obstacle to some of his narrator's post-race ambitions. "White Devil" (moving into a little Modest Mouse territory here) makes mention of the desire to see past race while not ever really being able to see past it. "Greyhound Station" dispenses with hooks to go a little post-rocky. With lyrics like "outside any race" and "my god is raceless with Wiccan style," it touches on some of the same themes of the other two songs. It contains the split-second use of a word that is pretty jarring. All three songs sound great. Morrison, guitarist Ian Amidon, bassist Sean Reilly, and drummer Scott Stitzer show their versatility. All three songs also kind of made me uncomfortable. Maybe that's the intent.

The album closes with Morrison's narrator worrying about the person he is. On single "Roach," he fears passing all of his worst traits along ("Our spirits don't fit in the ground. They just get carried around until I pass my sins down"). On album-closer "The Grave," he sings, "Only the devil doesn't know he's the devil, so it must be me."

Songs don't have to be about overthrowing the government or the status quo to be rebel songs. Sometimes they can just dare to poke and prod at some of the things that are uncomfortable to talk about. The world confronts people with a lot of stuff to deal with as they grow to become functioning members of society: romantic and social relationships, issues about race, learning to live with yourself or to forgive yourself for some of the fumbling ways you may have dealt with those things. On Full of Snakes, Mumblr poke and prod at all of that. It may make you a little bit uncomfortable, but I think you can take it.

Full of Snakes is out now on Fleeting Youth Records.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Mini Dad Rant

Yeah. So stuff like this isn't cool.

So something has kind of been bothering me a little bit lately. It's been going on for a while, but the advent of football season in general and the whole Ray Rice thing specifically have kind of brought it to the top of my mind.

This should be obvious; but, quite simply, it is not cool to insult somebody by comparing them to a girl or a woman.

I've seen the Internet memes about Tony Romo being "the first girl to play quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys" or the photoshopped picture of Eli Manning, his pants ripped to reveal that he's actually female below the waist. They aggravate me.

I, of course, am the father of two girls. They're still young, and they love to play with their dolls and play dress-up and everything else. But they are two hard working, competitive, and -- yeah -- tough little people. They're harder working, more competitive, tougher than I ever was or could hope to be. They get that from their mom.

If you're appalled by the way some NFL players -- or any men in our society -- are treating their wives, girlfriends, or kids, then you can start to do something about it by not perpetuating the idea that women are the lesser or weaker of the two sexes. It makes it much easier to treat someone like crap if the idea is out there that they are somehow "less" -- less strong, less valuable, less human -- than others. Take a look at history if you don't believe me.

CoolMom and I work hard to make sure that the cooldaughters understand that they can try to do or to be anything they want to in this world. I can't imagine that it's good for their self-esteem or self-confidence when they see stuff indicating that just being a girl is a handicap.

So stop.


New Video from Gates

New Brunswick, NJ's Gates played Asbury Lanes back in July.

"Not My Blood"

While I was busy not combing the Interwebs for the last few weeks, New Brunswick's Gates released this new video for "Not My Blood" from their forthcoming LP Bloom and Breathe.

I am stoked.

I saw Gates back in July and, you know, fawned and stuff. I dig the complete presentation -- the aural, the visual, the intensity, the attention to detail within their art. Total package.

I'm expecting some new next level from this LP. You have my attention. Bloom and Breathe is out on October 21st via Pure Noise. This is on repeat until then.