Friday, October 24, 2014

NJ EPs from The Off White, ROMP, Blithedale Romance

NJ EP Roundup

Going through the inboxes of my brain and my Gmail account reminded me that there have been a few EP releases from NJ bands in the last month or so that I found pretty interesting. The three I'm listing out here are all different from one another and showcase a few strains of what's going on in New Jersey rock music.

The Off White, The Off White EP

The Off White are a five-piece from Long Beach Island who have been making some incursions northward with recent shows at The Brighton Bar, APYC, and an appearance at CBGB fest. They even have some more local shows coming up on November 26th and December 5th at Red Bank Rehearsal Studios. The Off White recently signed with Asbury Park's Little Dickman Records who released this four-song EP.

The collection consists of four tracks firmly planted in the garage / psych rock of bands like The Black Lips. They range from the surfy and easygoing "Let's All Move to Mexico" to the chugging "Jaguar Jay Shot the DEA." Guitars, reverb, sneeringly snotty vocals, and shambling group singalongs: they're all there, and they make for a fun four-song ride.

ROMP, Sorry, Not Sorry

ROMP caught my attention last week with the early release of "Portrait" from this, their first EP. I felt like they brought kind of a late-80s, early-90s alt pop sound to the table (think The Primitives or The Cranberries), blending it with some more modern and edgy guitar sounds.

Sorry, Not Sorry more than delivers on the promise of that first single. Second track, "If Your Head Gets Any Bigger You'll Float Away," even shows that the band is capable of some fast-paced rocking out. Madison Klarer's powerful yet still conversational vocals are one of ROMP's defining characteristics, but everything works together to produce a sound that I think could take the trio beyond the basements of New Brunswick sooner or later.

The Blithedale Romance, Wanderer

The Blithedale Romance are another New Brunswick band. The quartet comes down on the harder, heavier end of the alt-rock spectrum. I've never seen the band before, but Wanderer makes me feel like they must deliver a pretty wild live show.

Single "State of Fear" is timely given how we're all meant to be cowering in our homes for fear of catching ebola or being beheaded by ISIS. It features a jagged guitar riff that, combined with Rob Graham's vocals, had me thinking of Electric-era Cult. Wanderer gets more melodic and reveals the band's ear for pop on "Treason." It's occasional nods like that which allow Wanderer to sound dark and aggressive while remaining accessible.

That's a pretty diverse trio of releases. I feel like at least one should fall somewhere in your own personal wheelhouse. If not, there are plenty more sounds coming from New Jersey; and you don't even have to search that hard to find them. I may even mention a few more right here every once in a while to make it easy for you. So watch this space, I guess.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's Going On: 10/23, 10/24, 10/25 & 10/26, 2014

Dentist and Doug Zambon are at The Wonder Bar. Ms. America head to Montclair. Hot Blood christen Six Ten Bangs, and gates return to Asbury Lanes.

Happy Birthday, Bro

CoolMom gets back late on Friday, so I'm still outta commission show-wise until Saturday. I'll be heading into the city to see Slowdive and Low for my one CMJ-related show of the year (I don't have to show you any stinking badges!). Oh, and today is CoolUncle's birthday; so happy birthday, brother. Let's get to it.

Asbury Lanes has been going pretty much non-stop of late, and Thursday night is no exception. They've got Boy Sets Fire, Tim Barry, War on Women, Unwed, and -- for the first of two consecutive Thursdays -- New Brunswick's gates. Pat Dinizio continues his free "Confessions of a Rock Star" residency at Langosta Lounge. Two FoCDMs, Dentist and The Vansaders' Doug Zambon, open for Young Buffalo at The Wonder Bar.

Friday sees Asbury Lanes keep it going with Restorations, Self Defense Family, Brian McGee, and Ghost House. Amy Schumer, who is hilarious, is at Count Basie. Ms. America join The Caulfield Cult (all the way from Singapore), Darkwing, and Hot Pink Apocalypse at Montclair's Meat Locker. Streetlight Manifesto play a sold out Starland.

In one of the most interesting developments on Friday, Little Dickman Records host a show at a new venue -- The Theatre at Six Ten Bangs -- featuring Hot Blood, Girl Tears, Burning Palms, and Execütors. Should be fun having a new spot in the area. There's an after-party at Georgie's with The Battery Electric.

On Saturday, I'm heading to NYC for Slowdive / Low at the sold-out torture chamber that is Terminal 5. Chuck Ragan is doing one of those Red Bull shows at the Court Tavern where you have to RSVP and then get there super early if you want to get inside. If you've RSVP'd and you're one of the lucky ones, it's only $3. Matt Pryor, Jared Hart, and Cory Branan are also on that one. Steve Forbert's at The Wonder Bar.

Sunday features a memorial show for David "Pockets" Gresham at The Stone Pony with Colton Kayser, Rick Barry, Tony Tedesco, Karmic Juggernaut, and more.

I should be back in action, getting out there again, starting next week. In the meantime, try to stay dry.

PDF Listings

THURSDAY (10/23)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Boy Sets Fire / Tim Barry / War On Women / gates / Unwed, 7pm, $16 adv, $18 door (ALL AGES)

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Dale Lakata Band / Ziggy Shock, 7pm, $6 (18+)

Clash Bar (Clifton): Strength Approach / Nebraska Bricks / Hell Mary / Before the End, 8pm, $5

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Hounds / Surviving Gaia / Weird and Wonderful Words / Hot Fang / Dirty Dishes, 9pm, $6

DC's Tavern (Hoboken): Life Eaters / The Battery Electric, 8pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Pat DiNizio's Confessions of a Rock Star w/ Dan Dazzo & Billy Siegel, 8pm, FREE

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Shattered Sanctity / Midnight Eternal / A Sound Of Thunder / Mindmaze, 6:30pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Breaking Benjamin Unplugged, 7pm, $30 adv, $35 door (ALL AGES)

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Young Buffalo / Dentist / Doug Zambon, 7pm, $8 adv, $10 door

FRIDAY (10/24)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Restorations / Self Defense Family / Brian McGee / Ghost House, 7:30pm, $10 adv, $12 door (ALL AGES)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Daniel Loveless / Jenna Fields, FREE, 10pm

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Eddie and The Hot Rods / Jon Caspi and The First Gun / The Trash Mavericks / The Droogettes, 8pm, $11 adv, $14 door (18+)

Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank): Amy Schumer, 7:30pm, $29.50-79.50

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Cicada Radio / County Drop / Gifts / Saving Lives / Ex Wife / Nghtcrwlrs, 9pm

Georgie's (Asbury): The Battery Electric, Midnight

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): The Legendary Doughboys, FREE, 10pm

Lot 13 Longbar (Bayonne): Through Thorn and Brier / Make Them Remember / Xenophile / Dark Matter, 8pm, $5

The Meatlocker (Montclair): The Caulfield Cult (Singapore!) / Ms. America / Darkwing / Hot Pink Apocalypse, 8:30pm

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): The Amazing Travelling Circus Sideshow, 9pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): Through The Roof / The Supervillains / The Steppas / Waylaid, 7:30pm, $14 adv, $16 door

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Streetlight Manifesto, 7pm SOLD OUT!

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

The Theatre at Six Ten Bangs: Hot Blood / Burning Palms / Execütors / Girl Tears, 8pm, $5

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Eddie Testa Band, 7pm, $5

SATURDAY (10/25)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Sex Toy BINGO, 8pm, $15 (18+)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): The Howler Weary, 10pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Onslaught / Artillery / Striker / Maximum Oversatan, 6:30pm, $15 adv, $18 door (ALL AGES)

Christ Church (Shrewsbury): Maudlin Cove / Devil's Kiss / The Greatest Virtue / Reborn Divided / Stranglehold / Secret Keeper, 5pm

Clash Bar (Clifton): Control (acoustic) / Rothenbeck / Papa Reese / (D)TDA / Jefferson / Minus 3 / Andrew Lange / Seiichi Daimo, 8pm, $8

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Red Bull Sound Select presents: Chuck Ragan / Matt Pryor / Jared Hart / Cory Branan, 9pm, $3 (w/ RSVP. NO GUARANTEE)

The Meatlocker (Montclair): Old Lines / Dutchguts / Wastelands, 9pm (ALL AGES)

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen):  NJ Burlesque Showcase: TRICK or TREAT!!, 9pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): Steven Briggs and The Panty Droppers / Autumn City / Paris Under Fire / After The Burn / 18th & Addison, 7:00pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Misfits, 7pm, $20 adv, $25 door (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): CSNSongs, 7pm, $18 adv, $20 door (ALL AGES)

Termina 5 (NYC): CMJ: Slowdive / Low, 7pm, SOLD OUT

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Steve Forbert, 7pm, $21.50 adv, $26 door

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Not The Bees! / City Limits Split 7". Playing Asbury Lanes TONIGHT.

EP Review / Show Preview

Tonight, Asbury Lanes will be hosting an evening of pop punk headlined by Oklahoma City's Red City Radio and Milwaukee's DIRECT HIT! Also on the bill are a couple of New Jersey bands who recently released a split 7".

Union County's Not The Bees! and New Brunswick's City Limits digitally released a 4-song 7" over the summer via Death To False Hopes Records. The pairing is a good one as both bands pair aggressive vocals and big guitar riffs with a pop sensibility that makes for some definite "sing along songs" (h/t Scotch LaRock).

Not The Bees! get things started with "Robert Jordan" and its big, melodic Fucked Up-like guitars. The second Not The Bees! entry, "The Future Ain't What It Used to Be," is a frenetic rocker peppered with "whoa-ohhs" and a fist-pumping refrain of "If you ever need me, I'll be there for you!"

The tracks from City Limits, a little more aggressive from the vocal standpoint, form kind of a mini concept album. "Murder Diner" deals with the struggles of succeeding as a band, repeating "Goddammit! I can't do it on my own!" "Writing Fiction" gives us the other side of that coin with "I'm going nowhere. I'll do it on my own."

You can download the split for free over at the Death To False Hopes website. Physical copies will be available, for the first time, at tonight's show at Asbury Lanes. Doors for tonight's show, which also features New Brunswick's Feeny, open at 7pm. Tickets are 15 bucks at the door.

Monday, October 20, 2014

gates, Bloom & Breathe, 2014

Album Review

I’ve been living in my head. Grinding out that commute becomes such a mind-numbing experience of road rage and, well, road rage. I’m looking at you Staten Island, you wasteland of endless lane repairs, spray tans, and fist pumps. I’ve been trying to sort through different pieces of my past, and I’ve been down a few rabbit holes on the summers of the mid 80s, essentialiy my high school years. They aren’t exactly stories I’d tell here but cue up a John Hughes montage! And this all happens to sync up very nicely with Bloom & Breathe. gates. I’ve sung their praises here before. Super fan. Fan boy. Whatever you want to call it, they’ve been on an infinite loop for the last two years, no matter what the weather or John Hughes movie. We open with the instrumental "Everything That Has Been." It just sort of happens, bleeding into "Bloom," and it changes from subtle to intense in the blink of an eye. I’m still rolling through memories of the summer of 1986, and the first notions of a summer love where there is no promise of forever. "Persist In Delusion" hits home perfectly right at this moment. We sing along to “everything you love falls apart." Ah, the memories are just as intense as this LP. The video for "Not My Blood" is terrific; and this, for now, is still my jam. The first three songs build to this in what I am thinking of as the first act. And now we breathe with "Light The Next Page" and begin the climb again to "That Thing That Would Save You." I can see the band now, backlit, slowly bringing us back and then letting us down gently right into "Nothing You’ll Miss." Harmonies abound as we fade into the pounding drums of "At Last The Loneliest," which is becoming my second goto track. At about the 4 minute mark, I start wanting to flip furniture as we’ve ramped the intensity up to 11. "Born Dead" is a straight up rocker and a return to the gang vocals: “longing to feel alive." We’ve ended this section in complete despair as we prepare for Act Three. We return to the delicate with "Marrow" driving home the central theme of Bloom & Breathe using just voice and acoustic guitar: “All I need is everything I’ll never be.” Haunting. "Low" is the second tune released in advance of the LP, and it's solid. We continue our downward path. Again, "At The Beginning" hits all of my favorite parts of gates -- the layers of guitars and vocals, the rises and falls, the intensity. They’re all here as we drift into "Everything That WIll Always Be," the bookend instrumental that closes out the album. gates have created a truly personal and intense record littered with heartbreak and regret, misunderstanding and frustration, and a sense of rebirth. This rebirth is played out only to suffer the same fate as we churn through the routine that is sometimes, or maybe just is, our lives. As we come into fall, I looked back at a summer that was filled with hope and ended in despair. I’ve wondered before if that person can still see those moments in time or is this just a memory that only lives in my world. It would be easy to reach out for that answer but I don’t think it’s one that I want. I don’t mourn this piece of my past, but I don’t exactly celebrate it either. Maybe I should; but, for now, it’s part of what feels like a secret self. gates’ Bloom & Breathe soundtracked this series of memories, and the timing could not have been more in tune with my time and place. This layered sonic journey with a three guitar attack is, by far, one of my favorite records of the year. Bloom & Breathe is out October 21st on Pure Noise Records.

You've got a chance to see gates on consecutive Thursdays when they come to Asbury Lanes on October 23rd and October 30th.

Bundle up. Fall is upon us.