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.