Friday, March 27, 2015

Big Quiet, Big Quiet, 2015

Album Review

As you might imagine, CoolDad Music gets a good deal of email. Definitely a lot less than lots of music-related websites; but, sometimes, too much for me to deal with all by myself. I ultimately read everything, but I have to prioritize. The first things I always click on immediately are emails that look like they were sent to me personally and not obviously as part of some bulk PR blitz.

A while back, I got one that said simply:

"You are cordially invited to listen to a preview of our new album, Big Quiet."

OK. So maybe not hugely personal, but it came from Big Quiet directly. I clicked through to the album and saw "All songs produced & mixed by Mitch Easter and Big Quiet." Um... ...What?

Mitch Easter? Like Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning Mitch Easter? Like Game Theory Mitch Easter? Like Boylan Heights Mitch Easter? Like engineer on Brighten The Corners Mitch Easter? Well, ok then.

I listened to the record. And I listened to the record again. This is a good record. Big Quiet are a Brooklyn-based trio who possess an obvious affinity for the southern gothic, jangly, post-punk sounds of my youth. I guess you'd probably call it "dream pop" in 2015, but the songs retain some of the jagged edges that make those first three R.E.M. records some of my favorites of all time.

The album opens with "You're Gonna Find Out;" and, right away, things sound big and spacious. "You're gonna find out how this ends," sings Cerio; and there is this kind of theme on the record that she's going to be the person she wants which may or may not be exactly what you expected.

It's one of the songs on the album that I'd put into the (made-up for the purposes of this piece) southern-fried shoegaze category as the band holds off on the serious jangle pop for a little later. Cerio's guitar is distorted and Chris Matheson provides a post-punk style bassline. Cerio's vocals are also way more out front than either typical shoegaze or early R.E.M., and her delivery reminds me a bit of Belinda Carlisle.

"Ghost" is built around a familiar-sounding but can't-quite-place-it poppy riff. The doubled vocals and harmonies along with Stephen Perry's rolling drums make for another big indie pop gem.

It's on third track "Why Do We Bother?" that we get our first real references to the sounds of something like Reckoning as Cerio's Rickenbacker jangles its way throughout the song. It's not a delicate nostalgia piece, though, as things get a lot noisier for the chorus. Similarly, the guitar work on "Say Yes" and "Nervous" had me thinking back to early Peter Buck; but there's something in the power of the rhythm section and the guitar solo on "Nervous" that make things sound more modern.

"Punk Floyd" kicks of with a noisy, shoegazy intro before things get much poppier, Cerio singing a catalog of things "I'm not." "Never Smile" is the album's longest song at just over four minutes. It's got a fantastically jangly intro, lots of "ah ah ohs," and lines like "I'll never smile as you walk me down the aisle."

On "Clay Pigeon," we get a guitar solo whose tone had me writing "Mascis" in my notes. There's the wide-open space feel again on "Another One for the Record Books," which even brings in some strings. "Maura & Dana" opens with an infectious riff and keeps up a hyperactive intensity through to the close of the album.

It's funny. I may not have even gotten to Big Quiet's email yet if it had come from some PR firm. If I had, I may not have listened to the album yet if I'd never noticed that it was produced by the man who's made some of the most meaningful records of my entire life. I did find my way to Big Quiet, though. Wouldn't you know it? It's one of my favorite records of 2015 so far.

Big Quiet release their self-titled debut tomorrow, March 28th. They'll be celebrating with a release show at Brooklyn's Pet Rescue that also features Scupper, Journalism, and Hamish Kilgour of The Clean.



Thursday, March 26, 2015

What's Going On: 3/26, 3/27, 3/28 & 3/29, 2015

Hot Blood hold a dual release party on Friday night.

Overcome Pt. 1

You can go over here to see what surplus military weaponry and equipment your municipality has acquired under the DoD's Program 1033. Then, on Friday, you can head out to The Brighton to hear Hot Blood perform "Cop in a Tank."

But first...

On Thursday night, New Brunswick's Court Tavern hosts Steve Burks, Tex and The Girls, and more. The Sky Shelter (Ask a punk.) has the relocated show featuring Fossil Youth, Sleep In., Eagle Daddy, Debt League, and Old Hands. Pennywise are at Starland. Trigger Happy -- a blues rock supergroup featuring Steve Gorman, Joan Osborne, Jackie Greene, Tim Bukovac, and Nick Govrik -- play The Pony. Deal Casino venture to Boot & Saddle in Philly to support Vérité along with Moon Bounce.

Friday brings The Get Up Kids, PUP, and Restorations to a sold out Pony. You can hit the after-party at Asbury Lanes featuring Banquets and Timeshares. The Von Mons play for free at APYC. Ipswitch Down, Centennials, and more are at The Court. Hey Anna play Mercury Lounge with Dorsia and Kiwi. The Pigeon Pad hosts Weird And Wonderful Words, Debt League, Killer Waves, and more. Hurricane Season, Lilith Velkor, Bigbutt, and The Dark Matters are at The PussyPad. The Rail House has got Jesse Elliot, Bobby Mahoney and The Seventh Son, Beautiful Ivory, and Gravity Calls. It's another edition of Asbury Unplugged at Wonder Bar with Brian McGee, Renee Maskin, Jamie Coppa, Jeff Luke, Dan Waszay, and more.

As I mentioned up top, Hot Blood celebrate the release of their new Little Dickman EP, Overcome Pt. 1, at The Brighton on Friday. It's also a release for their split single with Pure 13 who share the bill along with The Extras Inc. and Irate Primate.

It's ska at The Brighton on Saturday with Mephiskapheles and Hub City Stompers. JohnFest, a benefit for musician / teacher John Schneider, takes place at the Highlands VFW with a whole bunch of bands including The Uncommonly Good, Teenage Halloween, where is my spaceship, The Off White, Psychiatric Metaphors, the wish-they-were-world-famous GPP, and many more. Wreaths, gods, Siverbird, and Roy Orbitron play Wonder Bar.

Sunday brings Yukon Blonde, The Drive Home, Paper Streets, and Dollys to Asbury Lanes. Jesse Malin does a free in-store at Jack's. Night Birds headline another Nate Gluck benefit -- this time at Brooklyn's Archeron -- with No Problem, Sonic Poison, and Nuclear Santa Claust. They'll be at Asbury Lanes on Tuesday 3/31 for a show that promises to be crazy.

Vacation is getting closer for us over here, but it's not here yet. I'll be packing in what I can before I go. If you see me around, come say, "Buon viaggio;" and I'll buy you a beverage. 

THURSDAY (3/26)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Dr. Sketchy, 7pm, $12

Boot & Saddle (Philadelphia): Vérité / Moon Bounce / Deal Casino, 8pm, $10

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): End Of An Era Listening Party for "Fetish", 8pm, FREE

Clash Bar (Clifton): Toxicology / Deadmen / Hounds / Ubasute / Wastelands, 8pm

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Steve Burks / Tex and The Girls / The Barren Marys / Corey Clark / The Cryptkeeper Five + Art Show, 9pm, $6

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Pat DiNizio, 8pm, FREE

The Meatlocker (Montclair): Disinterest / Dilate / Polyphony / Stinger / Facility, 9pm, $5-10

The Saint (Asbury): Indigo Wild, 7:30pm, $10 (18+)

Sky Shelter (New Brunswick): Fossil Youth / Sleep In. / Eagle Daddy / Debt League / Old Hands, 7:30pm, $5

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Pennywise / A Wilhelm Scream / Teenage Bottlerocket, 6:30pm, $16 adv, $19 door (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Trigger Hippy, 7pm, $25 adv, $30 door (ALL AGES)

FRIDAY (3/27)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Timeshares / Banquets, 10pm, $5 (ALL AGES)

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): The Von Mons / Hurricane In Mink, 9pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Hot Blood / Pure 13 (Joint Record Release) / The Extras Inc. / Irate Primate, 8pm, $8 (21+), $10 (ALL AGES)

Clash Bar (Clifton): One Man Bandit / Carey Goldberg / Citizen Blast Kane, 8pm

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Ipswitch Down / Centennials / Casino Sundae / Septembers Ghost / Diego Alessandro / Lot 25, 9pm

Krogh's Brewpub (Sparta): Hidden Cabins / Brian Rothenbeck / T. Gunn / Secret Photos, 8pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Steve Reilly, 9pm, FREE

The Meatlocker (Montclair): Archie Alone / The Great Depression / Use Big Words / Hot Pink Apocalypse, 9pm, Donation

Mercury Lounge (NYC): Dorsia, Hey Anna, Kiwi, 7:30pm, $10

Montclair Methodist Church (Montclair):  Pretty Sick / The Space Monkeys / nil / Boosegumps / The Frontiers, 7pm, $2

Pigeon Pad (New Brunswick): Weird And Wonderful Words / Heavy Flow / Crash The Bear / Debt League / Jean Pool / Subtitles / Killer Waves, 6:30pm, $5

PussyPad (New Brunswick): Hurricane Season / Lilith Velkor / Bigbutt / The Dark Matters, 7pm, $5

The Rail House (Rahway): Jesse Elliot / Bobby Mahoney and The Seventh Son / Beautiful Ivory / Gravity Calls, 9pm, $3

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Big Mamou / Joan Caddell & The Midnight Choir / The Blue Plate Specials, 9pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): The David Mayfield Parade / Tony Tedesco & Full Fathom 5 / goodnightgoodmorning, 8pm, $12 adv, $14 door

The Stone Pony (Asbury): The Get Up Kids / PUP / Restorations, 7pm, SOLD OUT

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Asbury Unplugged: Brian McGee / Renee Maskin / Jamie Coppa / Jeff Luke / Dan Waszay / more, 7:30pm, $5

SATURDAY (3/28)

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Gay Bowling, 7pm, $15

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): John Francis / A Real Dinosaur, 9:30pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Mephiskapheles / Hub City Stompers / Graveyard School / Legion 76, 8pm, $12 adv, $15 door

Clash Bar (Clifton): Answer Infinity / Ignatius Popowski & The Mood Swingers / The Nuclears / Mindstream / Starbolt 9

Court Tavern (New Brunswick): Ever So Noble / Amigos Amigos / The Vaughns / Dollar Store Riot / Flammable Animals / Night on the Sun, 9pm

The Dopeness (Jersey City): Solid Goold / Rest Ashore / The Gray Company / Cachabacha, 7pm, $10 BYOB (ALL AGES)

Highlands VFW (Highlands): JohnFest w/ The Boring Twenties / The Engine Of A Film / Ever So Noble / Dutch Boys / GPP / Teenage Halloween / The Uncommonly Good / Jewel Eye / Community Service / levelhead. / where is my spaceship / The Off White / Psychiatric Metaphors, 2:30pm, $7

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Slim Chance & The Gamblers, 9pm, FREE

The Meatlocker (Montclair): Illearth / Party Cops / Walking Distance / Balloon Boy / Teenage Halloween / Jerry Fels and The Jerry Fels / Apexxx & Tyri 88, 8:30pm, Donation

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Big Nancy's BIG Benefit!, 2pm

The Saint (Asbury): Soule Monde / Newton Crosby / Patchen & Roberts, 7:30pm, $12 adv, $15 door

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): New Found Glory / Turnstile / This Wild Life / The Moms, 6:30pm, $22adv, $26 door (ALL AGES)

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Bob Polding Band, 7pm, $10 adv, $12 door (ALL AGES)

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Wreaths / gods / Silverbird / Roy Orbitron, 7:30pm, $10 adv, $12 door


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Single from Sink Tapes

"Plastic Lover"

Have I mentioned how much I like Sink Tapes? Probably.

It's been barely two months since the release of the 25-song Creases, and the prolific Sink Tapes are back with another single available for the low low price of Name Your Price (aka, free).

"I'm poorly read and ignorant," sings Gabe Chiarello as the title song begins. I have trouble believing that. Anyone who writes so much has to have some book learnin' under his belt. The song comes down on the quieter side of the Sink Tapes catalog and switches over to a waltz as the outro kicks in.

"Home's a Chore" --  the b-side, to the extent that there are any "sides" to a digital-only release -- is a little more electric, a little more psychedelic. It's still pretty easygoing and calls to mind Guided By Voices at their most Beatle-y. Lots of lyrics about language and writing and communication.

It seems like no Sink Tapes release would be complete without a demo or alternate track; and here we get "Few Things (demo)." It's a jangly, reverby idea that comes in at just under a minute and a half. It sounds beautiful as it is which makes me wonder what the band will do with it going forward, if anything.

You can head over to Sink Tapes' Bandcamp page to grab "Plastic Lover." Why wouldn't you?

The band will be in Sea Bright next Friday at Aidan's Garage with Teenage Halloween, Corrina Corrina, All People, Loser Year, and Admissible Arsonist.



Bands Who Are Always in the Listings: Debt League, Weird And Wonderful Words, American Lions, Books.


EP Roundup

I feel a little bit like I've been dropping the ball lately. So much stuff comes into my various inboxes. Stuff goes by on Twitter and Facebook. Shows happen. Life happens. I'm lazy. I can't really get to it all, and I feel lousy about it.

Through it all, though, my one point of pride has been that I've been able to keep up with my weekly listings without interruption since they began last year. Vacations. Business trips. Procrastination. I've managed to get them out there every week.

Week after week, I see several bands that keep popping up in the listings; and I say to myself, "I've got to check them out." They work hard. Constantly book shows. Play out week after week. I've featured a few of those bands here along the way: ROMP, The Blithedale Romance, Maeby Funk, The Great Depression, and more. Today, I thought I'd do a mini roundup of a few more of those bands. This way you'll know what you're looking at when you go through the listings... ...crap... ...tomorrow, and I can cross a few things off of my backlog.

Debt League, Debt League, 2014

This Woodbridge Township trio released their self-titled, four-song EP at the end of last year. Recorded at Red Bank's Retromedia Sound Studios, Debt League features the frenetic guitar-playing of Brian Chesney paired with the staccato, bouncing rhythm section of Zachary Nocciolo and Joshua Spielman.

The songs fit somewhere in that space between rock and pop-punk covering subjects like what relationships can do to your brain ("Toxoplasmic Schizophrenia") and sitting around wondering what you're gonna do with your life ("Beer and Coffee). I got kind of an 80s Clash-type punk feel during a few moments, though the arrangements and musicianship are a little more complex than that.

You'll see Debt League twice in tomorrow's listings as they play New Brunswick's Banana Stand on Thursday and The Pigeon Pad on Friday.

You can purchase or stream the EP over at Debt League's Bandcamp page.



Weird And Wonderful Words, The Right People Will Get This, 2015

Weird And Wonderful Words is the solo acoustic project of New Brunswick's Andy Marc. Andy released The Right People Will Get This on St. Patrick's Day. Unfortunately, the (hopefully) last snowstorm of winter 2014/15 blew out his record release show last week. But you can catch Weird And Wonderful Words this Friday at that Pigeon Pad show with Debt League.

Marc's debut EP is a mostly acoustic version of post-rock emo, and the record does a nice job of creating that big instrumental sound with some relatively sparse instrumentation. The recorded versions of the songs feature piano, percussion, electric guitar and strings along with acoustic guitar. Standout track "Disconsolate" features plenty of soul-baring lines like "give me your love and security" and "I would die for you if it would save your life" and closes with some shout-alongable vocals. "Canoodle" gives the outline, especially in its chorus, of what WWWs would sound like as a multi-guitared emo act. I've seen Andy play totally solo before, though, and the emotions in his lyrics come through just as strongly when he's alone as they do when he has a little help like he does here.

The Right People Will Get This is available as a Name Your Price download at Weird And Wonderful Words' Bandcamp page with cassettes due via Girls Cartel Records in the near future.



American Lions, Peru, 2014

So I'm lying in bed last night reading about how some scientist just transplanted wooly mammoth DNA into the cell of a living elephant. The article went on to wonder about the ethics of spending resources to bring back extinct species while so many extant species teeter on the brink. Should we even be trying to bring back animals like mammoths, mastodons, and American lions? "Wait, there was an American lion? Cool!"

That reminded me of New Brunswick's American Lions who I'd seen play with Casual, ROMP, and California X a while back. At that show, the band went kind of bananas in the small space, kicking out cables and rolling around on the floor at Paradise Lost. You can hear that energy on 2014's Peru. It's pop punk. All of the songs feature plenty of power chords and shouted vocals, but "Drifter" and "Rose" each feature some brief and ethereal breaks. Closer "Novril" is a good example of how American Lions keep the adrenaline pumping without losing focus on crafting a tight pop song.

They'll be in next week's listings as they've got a show at New Brunswick's In The West on April 3rd.

You can purchase or stream Peru at American Lions' Bandcamp page.



Books., Orchard Drive, 2014

Vernon, NJ's Books. are the acoustic alter ego of Brian Paris, frontman of punk act Bomb Paris. Books. released Orchard Drive last spring. The collection really does showcase Paris's skill on acoustic guitar. Each song is over five minutes long and provides some space in which to get lost.

"Maypoles" and "Black, White, Red All Over" pair guitar with some softer, Elliott Smith-style vocals; while "Capo 7th Fret" goes for something a little more forceful as Paris sings over some almost proggy acoustic guitar. Epic closer "Fly Past The Sun" adds a lot more electric instrumentation, Paris repeating, "You're on your own" as things steadily build.

Brian Paris is a busy guy. His other band, Hidden Cabins, will be in tomorrow's listings for their show on Friday at Krogh's Brewpub in Sparta.

Orchard Drive is out on Oak Apple Records and available from their Bandcamp page.