Monday, October 23, 2017

Beach Slang, an Old Schoolhouse, and Asbury Park Brewery

Beach Slang

Weekend Recap

This was a busy weekend for me. I'm feeling pretty spent after shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; but it was one of the most fulfilling runs of shows in a while.

On Friday night, I headed to House of Independents for Beach Slang's return to Asbury Park. It was the kickoff for their "Drunk or Lust" tour; and joining the Philly band on Friday were Chicago's Pet Symmetry, Virginia's Positive No, and Neptune City's Smalltalk.


There's an earnestness and melodrama to James Alex and Beach Slang that push right up against that line of being over the top. As far as I'm concerned, they hold back just enough to be great. Friday's show was kind of strange and awkward in places -- long, quiet pauses as James tuned his guitar, a false start on "Noisy Heaven," multiple interludes of Santana's "Smooth" and a few seconds of "Give It Away" by The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In other words, it was vintage Beach Slang; and it was all ok -- kind of great actually -- because the band were among friends in Asbury Park.

Positive No
Pet Symmetry

Speaking of friends, between the crew at House of Independents, Smalltalk, and the people who came out for the show, it felt like a little Asbury Lanes reunion. I also spent a good bit of time with our friend Scotch LaRock; and, as he pointed out at the end of the night, it's really great how we can pick things up without missing a beat even if we haven't seen each other in months. Not something you can say about everyone in your life

The rest of the bands on Friday's bill added to the evening's good vibes. Smalltalk are a favorite around here and absolutely did not disappoint. I've seen them as both a trio and a four-piece in recent months. Both setups work great, but it's always cool to see them at full strength with Pete Steinkopf on guitar. Positive No are a band that our bud Al Crisafulli has been telling me about for a while now. They brought a refreshing level of enthusiasm to their set of noisy pop. Singer Tracy Wilson gave me and several other people in the audience a seriously heartfelt hug as the band wound down their set. Pet Symmetry brought sludgy and doomy bass riffs, nice guy humor, and guitarist Erik Czaja's dad to the stage as main support for Beach Slang.

Beach Slang

In all, it was a beautifully messy show that had a real Asbury Park feel to it.

The Yankees played the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS (brought to you by Camping World) on Saturday night, but I'd been planning for weeks to head to Metuchen's Old Franklin Schoolhouse to catch Lowlight, Roadside Graves, and The RockNRoll HiFives. It was like a bill built especially for me, and I could follow the game on my phone.

The show was one of the best experiences I've had in a long time. Lowlight and Roadside Graves have deep Metuchen connections, and the town -- young, old, human, pet -- really turned out for them. And Metuchen got to take in a great set from The RockNRoll HiFives as part of the bargain.

Roadside Graves

The whole evening just had a friendly, communal feeling that you don't always get at a rock show. The promoters raised $900 for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Roadside Graves' lead singer, John Gleason, brought his daughter up to sing the chorus of Tom Waits's "Fannin Street." We celebrated the birthdays of Graves' guitarist Jeremy Benson, HiFives' bassist and mom Gloree Centeno, and everyone else born in October (including, in my mind, my brother Jason whose birthday is today) with cake and candles. Everyone got a piece of cake. All of the bands, who I've talked about extensively here, were in top top form. The Yankees lost, and I didn't even care. Much.

Sunday night meant a delicious CoolMom-prepared dinner with family followed by a trip down to Asbury Park brewery for a show put on by Little Dickman Records. Wetbrain, Yawn Mower, carb on carb (from New Zealand!), and BLAHA (the solo project of Mike Blaha of The Blind Shake).

I'm really starting to enjoy nights at the brewery. They've been getting some very interesting shows in there, and the feeling is always pretty laid-back and low-stress. Even though there was nothing particularly laid-back about any of last night's bands, the whole place has an easy feeling, whether you're sitting on a pallet in the tasting room / performance space or hanging out between sets among the tuns or on the deck.

And the music last night was solid. Wetbrain's Rudy Meier and Nick Kaelblein performed cool, stripped down versions of the band's songs. Yawn Mower blew minds in typical fashion. carb on carb had come a long way to play their pop punk songs in a small brewery tasting room a few blocks from the ocean, and they made it count. BLAHA shook the space with their psych / garage / surf.

I headed home, as I said, spent. But I was happy. I truly live for this stuff, you know.

House of Independents was really the only place where I took pictures. Shots of Beach Slang, Pet Symmetry, Positive No, and Smalltalk are in the Flickr galleries.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Return of the Bloodshot Records Brooklyn BBQ, TOMORROW, 10/21, Union Pool

Bloodshot in Brooklyn

By Matt Chrystal

Bloodshot Records are set to invade Brooklyn this Saturday, October 21st, when the Bloodshot BBQ makes its triumphant return to Union Pool after a nearly ten year hiatus.

The Chicago-based, independent record label was founded in 1994 by Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller, two fans of American roots music turned entrepreneurs. Rob and Nan's tireless DIY work ethic pushed Bloodshot to the frontlines as stalwarts of original music. They ignited a movement that grew from a few compilation albums showcasing local alternative country to a unique institution that boasts an impressive and diverse roster of national artists that somehow encompass all genres while still defying attempts to be pigeonholed.

Performing at Union Pool will be a veritable all-star team of talent from the Bloodshot Records stable including Dex Rombweber, Luke Winslow-King, Al Scorch, Cory Branan and John Langford. Rombweber, Winslow-King, and Scorch respectively each released extraordinary albums last year, Branan put out the notable Adios earlier this year and Langford will utilize the event to serve as his album release show for his latest project, Four Lost Souls.

And the Bloodshot crew aren't coming to the party alone, they are bringing friends along with them in the form of support from fellow Chicago-based brands, Lagunitas beer and FEW Spirits; so expect the soiree to be loose and the music to be tight!

Saturday's BBQ has all the fixings to be a foot stomping, shit-kicking barn burner and a real family affair (The event is 21+ but kids can enter if accompanied by an adult).

Bloodshot Records have been championing, advocating, defending and campaigning for original and sometimes unusual music for nearly a quarter century. In that time, they have become known for forming tight-knit connections to the artists they manage as well as to the music they help to curate.

I asked a few of the artists that are set to get the BSR BBQ fired up to speak about their experiences being on Bloodshot Records and why they think the label has been able to stay alive and thrive for so long, especially now, in a time when many are quick to proclaim that the music industry is either dead or broken…

Luke Winslow-King:  I think longevity is something that's really impressive about Bloodshot Records, and their dedication to keeping vinyl alive is has really been something special. But what really makes them matter is that they form personal relationships with their artists and really care about the music. The folks at Bloodshot Records love music more than they love money and that is a very rare thing when it comes to a record label.

Dex Romweber: Record labels are a wild thing because they have to dig what you are doing too. It is important to me to deliver music that they like, and they haven't shut the door in my face yet.

Cory Branan: Rob Miller made the mistake of signing me to Bloodshot Records, and it has been a great home. They work real hard. There's a reason they are still able to do it after all these years and that's because they flat out hustle.

I also was able to catch up with Rob Miller, co-owner of Bloodshot Records to find out a little more about the storied history of the Bloodshot Brooklyn BBQ and what we can look forward to this Saturday at Union Pool…

Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller by Jacob Boll

CoolMattyC: Bloodshot Records is a Chicago-based redcord label so what made you look into Brooklyn and NYC in the first place to host the BSR BBQ?

Rob Miller: During the mid-90s, when this endeavor was just getting off the ground, when most people scoffed (don't they still?) at our zany notion to mix punk and rock and country together, we made some friends in Brooklyn. Jeremy Tepper (now head honcho at Outlaw Country on SiriusXM) had a cool band, the World Famous Blue Jays, that did hopped-up trucker tunes, and a cool label, Diesel Only, that was scratching out their place in a similar sonic brain space as us.

For the 1995 CMJ Music Conference, he suggested we bring some bands; and, since the festival wasn't hip enough to actually let our bands PLAY the official event, put on an afternoon party. We descended upon Brownie's on Ave A, in the not-yet-at all fashionable Lower East Side with the Waco Brothers, Old 97s, Moonshine Willy, Will Rigby and the Blue Jays. We were quite surprised at the line down the block. We fired up a grill in the back alley and gave away burgers. Beer was had. A tradition was born.

CMC: From what I had heard, it sounded like the annual BSR BBQs were always a big hit with attendees and had become known for raucous good times, so why did the Bloodshot BBQ go away?

Rob Miller: We moved to Union Pool in the not-yet-at all fashionable Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2002 (Brownie's had closed. I’m sure it's a very nice high-end poodle manicure salon now, or some such shit.). The hi-jinx continued there for several years. The party grew, more burgers were grilled and more beer was had. Very late-night pastrami was procured.

However, to your question, a couple of developments you may have heard about conspired to make the BloodShot BBQ disappear.

First, people stopped paying for music. Plain and simple. No more merch sales to defray the ample costs of getting several bands in one place at one time.

Second, Brooklyn went from backwater to backbreaker financially. Gone were the days of lots of friends with huge spaces for all of us to crash at, or affordable hotels, parking and transportation.

We could no longer afford to do it. I mean, we're not afraid of losing a little dough for the sake of a good party, but it just became unsustainable. The drive back home through the monotonies that are Ohio and Indiana was just too bleak with empty, empty pockets.

CMC: Why do you think that now the right time to bring the Bloodshot BBQ back to Brooklyn?

Rob Miller: Is it the right time? Who knows? We'll see if people show up. We'll have some fun, though. We're kind of suckers that way. A lot of fans have been asking for years for us to come back. Lagunitas and FEW are on board to help with some of the prodigious expenses. We suckered the Good Fork and Insa to provide top shelf food; and, with Jon Langford's extra special new album release tour happening, the stars and planets and moons (well, the fewer moons, the better) aligned. It feels right to give it another go.

CMC:  Bloodshot has had a longstanding relationship with both Lagunitas Beer and FEW Spirits, both of whom are also based in Chicago. Can you just speak to the relationship or connection with these brands and what it means to have them in Brooklyn with the Bloodshot Records crew?

Rob Miller: Not only are these folks masters of their respective domains, but they are fans and friends as well. And we have exactly ZERO problems singing their praises to anyone who will listen.

Our relationships with them speak to our belief in building a broader community, collaborating between like-minded people with different talents, and fostering possibilities among craftspeople working to make our respective corners of the world more interesting. I've always hated malls. Big Beer, Big Liquor, and Big Music are essentially bland storefronts of the same bland mega-mall. We'll fight that fight any day.

CMC:  The Bloodshot Brooklyn BBQ scheduled for Union Pool on 10/21/17 has an all-star lineup from the Bloodshot roster. Is there anything you'd like to comment on or add about having these particular artists on the bill?

Rob Miller: We'll have Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls there to perform material from their eponymous release, which was recorded in The Shoals, Alabama in the days following last year's election. Beautiful songwriting and captivating harmonies.

Cory Branan released a new album, Adios, six months ago, and it always feels like watching a brilliant high-wire act when seeing him perform, as he mutates his songs into alternate versions on the spot. And Luke Winslow-King, Dex Romweber, and Al Scorch all bring a craftsman's approach to shredding. Each of them will rile up the crowd in their different ways. We couldn't be more pumped.

The Bloodshot Brooklyn BBQ is THIS SATURDAY October 21st from 2pm-7pm at Union Pool in Brooklyn, NY.

Performances by Dex Romweber, Luke Winslow-King, AL Scorch, Cory Branan and John Langford's Four Lost Souls. Lagunitas beer and FEW Spirits will also be joining the party, and food will be provided by the Good Fork and Insa.

New Videos from Trying, Julian Fulton, and A Giant Dog

A Giant Dog released a new video yesterday.

Friday Round-Up

Here are a few videos for your Friday.

Trying, "Marathon of Fright"

Back in July, we premiered "21" from Trying, the mostly solo project of Cameron Carr. The song struck a chord with me both for its subject matter (being the introverted wallflower at a party) and its slightly twee, indie pop sound. Since then, Trying have relocated from Columbus, OH to Brooklyn; and, today, they're releasing a Halloween-themed double A-side single, "Marathon of Fright" / "Nobody Loves Halloween Like You Do."

In a video, the one-minute "Marathon of Fright" scores the 1950s horror trailer that inspired it. Carr almost whispers over some spooky organ on the song which he calls "Halloween for the ordinary folks that don't want to be scared out of their pants."

"Nobody Loves Halloween Like You Do" is more familiar territory for Trying, indie pop in the vein of Belle and Sebastian or The Smiths (As a matter of fact, the title feels like it could have come from a lost Smiths track).

"Marathon of Fright" / "Nobody Loves Halloween Like You Do" is available today over at Trying's Bandcamp page. You can also watch the short "Marathon of Fright" video.

Julian Fulton, "Howl"

Julian Fulton released his solo EP, Battered Receptions, in the spring. One of the standout tracks from that set is the bluesy "Howl." Well, there's quite a bit more to the song than simply being "bluesy." Fulton shows a great deal of range on the EP, and much of that is on display in "Howl."

Last week, the song got a video directed by Sergio Casal. Casal elevates the simple performance video through the use of color and silhouette. The combination of sound and visuals on this one is pretty powerful.

Battered Receptions is out now.

A Giant Dog, "Lucky Ponderosa"

For my money, A Giant Dog are the finest rock and roll band in America right now. They will always hold a special place in my heart as one of the first bands I saw live during the toughest time in my life. That night of screaming and sweating along with the band was like an outstretched hand I could grab onto to keep from drowning.


They released a video yesterday for Toy track "Lucky Ponderosa." The Sean Daigle-directed clip does its best to capture the life-affirming energy of A Giant Dog's live performance as it follows the band on their way to what must have been an insane release show in their hometown of Austin.

I'm assuming (hoping) that A Giant Dog will be in Austin during SXSW 2018, and I can't think of anything I'd enjoy more than catching a set from them every day for a week.

Toy is out now on Merge Records.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What's Going On: 10/19, 10/20, 10/21 & 10/22, 2017

Beach Slang are back in AP on Friday.

Swim Season Starting

The cooldaughters have their first swim meets of the new season this weekend. That means lots of sitting in super-hot natatoriums for hours on end inhaling bromine fumes. Fun. I think I've got carpools and coverage squared away, so I should be able to see some shows.

Things kick off on Thursday night when Third Eye Blind play Asbury's Convention Hall. Ben Folds is in Red Bank at Count Basie. Joe P and Frank Lombardi remain in residence at APYC. Radiator Hospital, Snakeskin, and Outer Spaces make up a great bill at Brooklyn's Silent Barn. 

On Friday night Beach Slang return to Asbury Park with a show at House of Independents that also features Pet Symmetry, Positive No, and Smalltalk. Dentist are over at APYC with Looms and Parrot Dream. Wreaths, Tide Bends, and Brother Andrew are in the basement at Bond St. MakeWar, Good Friend, Erotic Novels, and The Carousers take over Asbury Park Brewery. Flat Duo Jets come back to Wonder Bar with Lieder and Goat Rope. Crossroads in Garwood hosts Racquet Club, Jared Hart Band, Caeyetana, and Chris Batten. The Electric Halloween Music and Camping Festival kicks off at Southwind Vineyard in Millville.

On Saturday, Porchfest takes over Asbury Park. A whole bunch of Asbury acts will be playing on porches. Chris Dubrow, Tara Dente, and Dentist play an afterparty at Transparent Clinch. Exmaid, Notches, Headlines, Nervous Triggers, and My Heart and The Real World are at the Brewery. The reunited Wolf Parade hit Brooklyn Steel with Charly Bliss. Our friends at SIMGE celebrates their 24-Hour Songwriting Challenge at John & Peter's in New Hope, PA. That one has GoldenOak, Dave Mooney, Meeko Brando, Ashley McKinley, and A Bird. Roadside Graves, Lowlight, and The RockNRoll HiFives play a benefit show for Puerto Rico at Metuchen's Old Franklin Schoolhouse. It's the last-ever Makin Waves Rock Circus at Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse in Dunellen. We're Ghosts Now, Fun While You Wait, Ruby Bones, and Centennials have a Halloween Bash at The Saint. The Front Bottoms bring their tour to a sold-out Starland. Toadies are at The Stone Pony with Local H and The Black Clouds.

Sunday brings Blaha (Mike Blaha of The Blind Shake), New Zealand's Carb On Carb, Yawn Mower, and Wetbrain to Asbury Park Brewery. Puppy Grease, Steady Sun, Acqui, and The Big Drops play Brighton Bar in Long Branch. Ray LaMontagne plays a sold-out Basie.

Plenty to do while keeping an eye on the Yankees score. Have fun. Be safe. Don't drink and drive.

THURSDAY (10/19)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Open Mic, 7:30pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Sugar Babylon Masquerade Ball / Fashion Show ft. Miss Savannah Georgia / DJ Jack The Ripper / TV Tramps Video Release, 7pm, $5

Convention Hall (Asbury): Third Eye Blind, 7pm, $37.50+

Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank): Ben Folds, 8pm, $35-$65

Crossroads (Garwood): The Waffle Stompers / Joker's Republic / Talay / Joe Billy, 7pm, $10

First Unitarian Church (Philly): Japanese Breakfast / Mannequin Pussy / the spirit of the beehive, 8pm, SOLD OUT

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Joe P / Frank Lombardi, 8pm, FREE

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Yomi / BeebeSunny / Moron Girls / Stampy Goblyn / Raymond Strife x III-Omega, 9pm, $6

Porchistas Home Studio (Montclair): GoldenOak / Sourland / The Porchistas, 7pm, $5

The Saint (Asbury): Johnny A. / Keith Kenny, 7pm, $20

Silent Barn (Brooklyn): Radiator Hospital / Snakeskin / Outer Spaces, 8pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): I Prevail / We Came As Romans / The World Alive / Escape The Fate, 6pm, $24 adv, $27 door

Union Transfer (Philly): Wolf Parade / Charly Bliss, 7:30pm, $35

FRIDAY (10/20)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Dave Mooney and The Aztec Gypsy (Release Show), 9pm

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): MakeWar / Good Friend / Erotic Novels / The Carousers, 7pm, $5

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Dentist / Looms / Parrot Dream, 9:30pm, FREE

Bond St. Basement (Asbury): Wreaths / Tide Bends / Brother Andrew, 10pm, FREE

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Flat Duo Jets / Lieder / Goat Rope, 8pm, $10

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Pepperwine / Waiting On Mongo, 9pm

Clash Bar (Clifton): Offensive Threat / Sun & Flesh / Babe Patrol / Greese Guns

Crossroads (Garwood): Racquet Club / Jared Hart Band / Cayetana / Chris Batten, 8pm, $15

House of Independents (Asbury): Beach Slang / Pet Symmetry / Postitive No / Smalltalk, 8pm, $17 adv, $20 door

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Dark City Strings, 9:30pm, FREE

Meatlocker (Montclair): Olive / Alpha Buddha / The Rose Monarch / Flamingo Chicks / Merger, 9pm

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Hip-Hop 'tober Fest, 10pm

Monty Hall (Jersey City): Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls, 7:30pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): The Black Suburbia Music Show, 7:30pm, $10

Southwind Vineyard (Millville): Electric Halloween Festival ft. Thank You Scientist / Conveyer / Your Persona / Catallus / more, 12pm, Weekend Pass $50 adv, $60 day, Day Pass $30

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Lee Brice, 7pm, $39.50

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Rocking For Relief, 7pm, $10 adv, $12 door

White Eagle Hall (Jersey City): The Early November / gates / Owel, 7pm, $18-$23.39

Wonder Bar (Asbury): SiriusXM Highway Finds Tour, 7pm, $17 adv, $20 door

SATURDAY (10/21)

Asbury Park (Asbury): Porchfest, a whole buncha bands playing on porches around Asbury, 1pm

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Audra Mariel Jazz Quartet, 9pm

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Exmaid / Notches / Headlines / Nervous Triggers / My Heart and The Real World, 7pm, $10

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Cranston Dean, 9:30pm, FREE

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Contra / Hollow Bones / Baelfire / Reefer Madness / Tim Iaria, 7pm, $10 adv, $12 door

Brooklyn Steel (Brooklyn): Wolf Parade / Charly Bliss, 7pm, $30 adv, $35 door

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Jack Russell & Bethany Miranda, 7pm

Clash Bar (Clifton): presents a Blenefit for Spondylatis Assoc. of America ft. Retroglyphs / The 65's / Miss Ohio / Match Party

Crossroads (Garwood): The Rolling Tones, 7pm

Deciccos Tavern (Raritan): The Moms / American Lions / Don't Lose Your Dinosaur, 8pm

House of Independents (Asbury): Haunted House of Independents, 9pm, FREE

John & Peter's (New Hope, PA): SIMGE 24-Hour Songwriting Challenge Party ft. GoldenOak / Dave Mooney / Meeko Brando / A Bird / Ashley McKinley, 7pm, FREE

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Sandy Mack, 9:30pm, FREE

Meatlocker (Montclair): DEFCON-1, 9pm, $10

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market After-Party ft. Crazy & The Brains / Dusters / Thorazine / The Dirty Merlins, 9pm, $8

Muchmore's (Brooklyn): Anni Rossi / King Pussy Face / Blaha / Lily Lake, 9pm, $5

National Sawdust (Brooklyn): Chandanie / Looms / Shareef Keyes & The Groove, 10pm, $15 adv, $20 door

Old Franklin Schoolhouse (Metuchen): Roadside Graves / Lowlight / RockNRoll HiFives, $10 to benefit Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Makin Waves Rock Circus ft The Silver Hounds / Coach N Commando / Mass Folk Commons / Anthony Carrera, 8pm, $15 adv, $20 door

The Saint (Asbury): We're Ghosts Now / Fun While You Wait / Ruby Bones / Centennials, 7:30pm, $10

Southwind Vineyard (Millville): Electric Halloween Festival ft. Thank You Scientist / Conveyer / Your Persona / Catallus / more, 12pm, Weekend Pass $50 adv, $60 day, Day Pass $30

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): The Front Bottoms / Basement / Bad Bad Hats, 7pm, SOLD OUT

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Toadies / Local H / The Black Clouds, 7pm, $22 adv, $25 door

Transparent Clinch (Asbury): Chris Dubrow / Tara Dente / Dentist, 5pm, FREE

Wonder Bar (Asbury): Noah Gunderson, 7pm, $15 adv, $18 door

SUNDAY (10/22)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Sandy Mack, 4pm, FREE

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Sunday Triva With Gentleman Jim, 7pm, FREE

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Blaha / Carb On Carb / Yawn Mower / Wetbrain, 7pm, $5

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Puppy Grease / Acqui / Steady Sun / The Big Drops, 7pm, $7

Count Basie Theatre (Red Bank): Ray LaMontagne, 7pm, SOLD OUT

Crossroads (Garwood): Blues Benefit for Gulf Coast Relief, 3pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): ManDancing / Toy Cars / The Planet You / Banana, 9pm, $10

The Saint (Asbury): Todd Sheaffer (Railroad Earth), 6:30pm

Scarlet Pub (New Brunswick): Candystripers / Matt Pless / Stillwells / Matt Morgan, 8pm, $5

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Il NiƱo, 2:30pm, $20-$55