Friday, February 24, 2017

The Jigsaw Seen, The Jigsaw Seen For The Discriminating Completist (Rarities And Singles 1989-2015), 2017

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

How cool are The Jigsaw Seen? Here are a few examples:

The Jigsaw Seen's "My Name Is Tom" was included on the Children Of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era box set.

The Jigsaw Seen's music has been heard in the television series Futurama, Shameless, and Wilfred.

And this one really gets me: Jonathan Lea and Tom Currier of The Jigsaw Seen performed with Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks at their historic reunion in London on Dec. 18, 2015.

The Jigsaw Seen are known for their blend of art rock, psychedelics, garage, and Americana and The Discriminating Completist collection is made up of tracks that were originally released by a variety of labels and were previously unavailable on any of the band's albums.  An earlier version of The Discriminating Completist came out in 2013 on iTunes (it’s the one on Spotify), but this new release has more songs and every track has been remastered.

Whether by design or default (It doesn’t matter; it works), The Discriminating Completist reflects the band’s work in psych-pop and shows their love of classic bands and classic sounds. To coin a phrase, this set is a psych-delight.

In many ways, on this album, The Jigsaw Seen become the American version of The Dukes of Stratosphear, the mid-80s group that was created by XTC to write and perform the psychedelic songs they had grown up with.

Two Jigsaw Seen originals on the album make it sound as if they've spent some time also listening to the non-Dukes XTC. "When You're Pretty" and "Whore Kiss," with their Andy Partridge-like vocals and melodies, could have been on any XTC album from Mummer through to Wasp Star. It's wonderful to hear music that's so similar -- but entirely The Jigsaw Seen's own -- to that made by one of my favorite bands.

On one of the covers, "Luci Baines" by Arthur Lee and his pre-Love band The American Four, the Jigsaws take a soulful '60s single and make it woozy and spacey. Their version of Henry Mancini's extremely cute "Baby Elephant Walk" from the movie "Hatari!" becomes a rockin' drum-heavy run that reminds me of The HooDoo Guru's similarly drum-heavy take (obviously) on "Little Drummer Boy."

My favorite track on the album is their version of The Bee Gees' "Melody Fair." The original was string-laden, harmony-rich, and slightly psychedelic. But The Jigsaw Seen have turned it into a Revolver-era mashup with "She Said, She Said" guitars and a McCartney bass line from "Rain." It's terrific and wouldn't have been out of place on Cotton Mather's Kontiki. It's that good.

The Jigsaw Seen For The Discriminating Completist (Rarities And Singles 1989-2015) is out now on Burger Records. The Jigsaw Seen return to Asbury Park for a show on March 23rd at The Saint.

Black Flamingos Releasing Debut LP on 5/19. "The Gurch" Available Today.

Photo: Magdalena O'Connell

Neon Boneyard

This past summer, we premiered "The Gurch," the first single off of Black Flamingos' upcoming debut LP. That LP, Neon Boneyard, just got a release date (5/19); and "The Gurch" finally hits all of your favorite download / streaming sites today.

Back in July, I said of the single:

"...on "The Gurch," Black Flamingos fill things out with the addition of a horn section. It's another layer that further fleshes out that cinematic image of headlights and chrome hubcaps rolling through the fog on a beachside road."

Black Flamingos recorded all of Neon Boneyard at Retromedia Sound Studios in Red Bank last summer. Everything was done live to analog tape with minimal editing; and, if "The Gurch" is any indication, the band and Adam Vaccarelli were able to capture all the energy and spontaneity of a Black Flamingos live performance.


The release of Neon Boneyard comes right in the middle of a busy spring and summer for Black Flamingos who will be touring around the Northeast in May, heading off to Italy for the Surfer Joe Summer Festival in June, and playing the Asbury Park Surf Music Festival in August.

Neon Boneyard is due on May 19th as a joint release between Hi-Tide Recordings and Little Dickman Records. You can pre-order the album over at Bandcamp, and you can listen to / grab "The Gurch" from iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, etc., etc... You can also check it out (again) right here, and then have a look at what Black Flamingos will be up to for the next few months.



Black Flamingos Dates
May 2-14 - Northeast US dates with Surfer Joe Lorenzo Valdambrini & Band

June 19-27 - Italy dates, including a headlining performance at the Surfer Joe Summer Festival in
Livorno - the World's #1 Surf Music Event

July 14-16 - Viva East Rockabilly Weekender

August 26 - Asbury Park Surf Music Festival supporting Los Straitjackets, The Fathoms & Aqualads

October 13-22 - West Coast US dates

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Interview: Matt Chrystal Speaks to Robert Ellis Who Plays Montclair on Saturday, 2/25.

Photo: Jackie Lee Photography

Friends and Transients

by Matt Chrystal

2016 was a year to celebrate for Robert Ellis. Not only did he survive a divorce and an Indian stomach parasite that nearly killed him, but he also released a self-titled album which garnered much critical acclaim including ranking on both Rolling Stone Country’s Top 40 and NPR’s Top 100 lists of 2016. The video for his song "California" was listed as one of Rolling Stone Country’s Top 10 videos of 2016 and was also recently accepted into this year’s SXSW film festival.

2017 finds Ellis both reflective about his past and optimistic about the future as he crisscrosses the U.S. and Europe playing his brand of alt-country / Americana roots rock that he hopes will connect with like-minded "weirdos" in the same way that he connected with the music of John Prine when he was growing up.

I spent Valentine's Day afternoon having a pretty intimate conversation with Mr. Ellis about his connection to music, the joys of being a "transient," his love for being on the road with musicians he considers friends, and his fondness for ridiculous clothing. We also get to discussing his feelings toward award shows and the current government regime (hint: He's not a fan) .

Oh, and despite nearly dying there, he recently discovered he has a fondness for traveling to India.

CoolMattyC: Hey, Happy Valentine's Day! Shall we start with talking about your recently released, self-titled break-up album?

Robert Ellis: Yeah, um Happy Valentine's Day to you too. Sure, let's go…

CMC: Being that this was such a deeply personal record, has this experience been cathartic for you? Has it provided a sense of closure on your marriage, and does it ever get painful to perform these songs and relive the heartache night after night?

RE: No. It's not painful at all. Overall, it has been something positive for me to do with all my energy and I think that is why I started doing this record to begin with. While some of the songs are pretty personal, I approach everything as a writer. While most of these songs do start out coming from a personal place, they go on to take on a life of their own. Some of these characters in the songs do things that I would not have done and they feel things that I can only speculate on. It's been sort of like therapy in a way. I start writing and feel one way but then maybe the character starts feeling a different way… It's a way to explore things that are going on in my head.


CMC: A recent reviewer of your video for the song "California" proposed that your character is the villain of the story. You issued a heartfelt response where you basically suggested it takes two to tango in a relationship and no one in the video is really the villain.

My question is probably more for the reviewer but I'm wondering how you could possibly be seen as the villain when your love interest smacked your sunglasses off your face while you were driving, yet you kept your cool and continued on down the road. She actually gets physical with your character several times and yet you show restraint and you even still allow her son to play your guitar.

How could this be interpreted as villainy? Seems to me that you're like a goddamned hero!

RE: The whole point of that video was to show the extreme ups and downs. To show the extreme romantic side of a relationship and the extreme falling apart of a relationship. In a real relationship, there are those things; but there is so much in the middle that happens during day to day life. That story is sort of my story. It is also sort of everyone's story, but it is really more about the experience of the woman and the idea of opportunity and starting over. A lot of people perceive it as a heartbreak song, but I think of that song as a positive song. This person is imaging where their life is going to go now that their dreams have been dashed. I felt that when I was getting divorced. It was like, "Oh man, this whole world has just opened up to me. I can move anywhere I want and do anything I want." It was a sense of freedom, but it was also a bittersweet feeling.

CMC: You mentioned being able to move anywhere you want… I caught your show at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ back in 2014; and, after the show, you mentioned to me that you just moved to NYC and to expect more appearances in the area… Then, next thing I hear about you is that you moved to Austin, TX… Was it something I said?

RE: I spent the last couple of years just bouncing around because I had been so grounded for so long. I think it was healthy for me to just be a transient. I spent some time in New York and also spent most of my time touring. When the tour ended, I was like, "Ok, where do I want to go now?" I would just point at a map and buy a ticket. It was really nice; but, after about two years of that, I got a little stir crazy and wanted to have all my shit in one place and have a comfortable nest to return to when I get done with a tour. So then I moved to Austin and have been very happy being there. Not that I have actually spent much time at my place, but I have a little time between shows coming up and I am very excited to sleep in my own bed and see my friends.

CMC: Hey, speaking of friends… I recently interviewed your pal, Jonny Fritz; and he told me about how you and he made a pilgrimage to India to record music. He stated that the trip was a disaster, and things got even worse when you got deathly ill from a stomach parasite from swimming in the Ganges River. The perils of the trip have been well documented in videos, and you and Jonny have spoken much about the many things that went wrong… But I'm wondering if there were any highlights of the voyage or any fond memories at all?

RE: I have softened a lot on that trip in retrospect. There were things when we were there that were just so monumentally frustrating that now, when we look back on them, we just can't help but to laugh. When we left India, we agreed that we would never ever go back; but I was just talking with Jonny recently, and we were both thinking that we are about due for a return.

We tour and travel all over the world but there was just something about India that was so different. We did not have a sense of security or have any sense of familiarity with anything there. I think we are people that crave adventure and danger and crave taking a risk. So maybe it's time for another trip there. But I don't know when we will go. The next place I want to take a trip to will be somewhere in the Amazon. I'd like to see parts of that before it's all completely gone.

CMC: You just returned from a European tour with Jenny O. opening for you. Were you able to avoid death on that trip? And if so, what were some other high points from that experience?

RE: I did avoid death! The trip was actually a lot of fun but Europe is a tough nut to crack. We definitely do a lot better in the states and in Australia than we did in Europe, but the trip did have some highlights. I really liked the Netherlands and Scandinavia. And Italy is somewhere I really loved, and I actually want to go there and stay there forever. I will be announcing another European tour soon that will start up in June, and I have half a mind just to stay in Italy when that tour ends and never come back.

CMC: In addition to traveling with Jenny O., you also have dates with Courtney Hartman and Nikki Lane on upcoming tours. Did you choose your tour mates? And, if so, what did you see in them and what do you look forward to when working with them?

RE: I love all of them! I’m in a really cool place right now where I get to tour with people that I actually like! The music is definitely a big part of it. When you are touring with someone every night and you don't like what they are doing, it can really just put a dark cloud over everything. But I like everything they do a whole lot. I have been fortunate to be friends with all three of them for a while; and, when you like each other, it makes things so much easier like when you are driving eight hours a day and staying at shitty hotels.

CMC: Speaking of working with other artists, you recently shared that you would be bringing back the alt-country supergroup, Traveler, which partners you with Jonny Fritz and Cory Chisel. Will Traveler be getting together for just a few select shows like the last go-round or are you planning to make a record?

RE: We have been writing some stuff. I would just say that you will have to patiently wait because eventually we will put out something that will be really fun. It's just that we are all so busy.  Jonny is on a world tour with Margo Price and Cory is like neck deep in his own Wisconsin stuff right now.

Everyone is involved in so much right now, but we try to get together anytime we can. The other night, I drove an extra three hours just to see Cory play and hang with him for the night. We are just really close and it's so nice to have friends like that out there.

Photo: Charlie Mars
CMC: You will be joining Cory Chisel on the bill for Neil Fest which is happening in Austin on 2/18 and Dallas on 2/19. What are some of your favorite Neil Young tunes?

RE: I just talked to Cory earlier today about it, and we are gonna jam together and have us a nice little weekend down in Texas! I have actually never been a real big Neil Young fan. He is just someone I never got super obsessed with. I mean, naturally, I like all his big songs; and I'm sure everyone wants to hear all his hits, but the song I picked to do for the show is one from his Zuma record. There are a lot of artists performing at these shows, so I tried to pick one song that was not a hit. It's my own way of self-sabotaging my set. I picked the song because I thought it was rocking and had a cool vibe. I still have a lot more homework to do on Neil Young.

CMC: I would be remiss if I did not bring up how you have emerged as the fashion-plate of the alt-country scene. Jonny Fritz told me about the sweet suits that you two had made in India and your custom made suit by Union Western has pretty much become your calling card. Do you have any more surprises in store, perhaps launching your own clothing line for the those who are looking for a style that's a little bit country and a little bit outer space?

RE: No clothing line coming, but I did venture down to Indianapolis to visit my guy at Union Western and he is making me a new suit that I am very excited about. I do not want to say too much but I should have some more ridiculous looking clothing before you know it.

CMC: Speaking of fashion shows… Did you happen to watch the Grammy Awards the other night?

RE: No. I had no interest. The whole idea of music being a competition is pretty revolting to me. I am all for recognizing when someone does something great; and, by all means, if there is a foundation that wants to give someone an award then give them a fuckin' award. But what I do not get, is the sports mentality around the whole thing. It's like six people get invited there, and they all sit and wait and it's like a competition to find out who is going to be the winner. It just seems counter-intuitive to everything that art is about. It has a sporty vibe and that's enough of a thing that makes me thankful to not be a part of it.

CMC: I ask that because you have masterfully crafted songs such as "Friends Like Those," "What’s In It for Me," "Driving," and "Amanda Jane," which in my opinion can stand up against anything as well written or downright catchy as James Taylor or Willie Nelson have ever put out; and I was wondering if it ever frustrates you that those songs are not universally celebrated yet so many poorly written pop songs that are put together by a team of 10 to 20 producers are winning awards and being played ad nauseum all around the country? 

RE: Thank you for saying that; but, no, it does not frustrate me at all. I have no illusions about what I do. My music is not for everybody, and that is kinda a reason why I make it. When I was kid, I gravitated to the weirder stuff by John Prine, Doc Watson, and Paul Simon. John Prine sounded so unlike any person I had ever heard in my little town. The way he thought about the world and the way he talked about it was so different from anyone I knew and that was huge for me. I felt that I had a friend in him in that I didn't have in my community. And that is what I want to do. Pop music is based on one dimensional emotions and meant to connect with millions of people immediately. That is not what I do. My goal is to find the other weirdos who might think about things that way that I do and develop a sense of community around that.

It would be cool if my song "Driving" connected with everyone, but hey that is just not the world we live in.

CMC: As for the world we live in… I have asked this of everyone I have talked to this year and I’d also be interested to hear your thoughts on the current political climate here in the U.S. and what your hopes are for the future?

RE: It is a total disaster. Things are really terrible right now; but, gosh, things are so damn funny too. Things are so appallingly funny. Every day, something happens and it's like I cannot believe it. It's like we are living in an alternate reality where facts don't exist. The whole thing is just so crazy.

But I am still trying to be optimistic. I'm hoping that, if anything, this is a wake-up call and a rallying cry. Things are going to swing back the other way and swing even further and more progressively.

The album, Robert Ellis, is available now on New West Records.

Robert Ellis will be performing at Outpost in the Burbs in Montclair, NJ on Feb 25th and at City Winery in NYC on Feb. 26th.

For more info please go to www.robertelllismusic.com

What's Going On: 2/23, 2/24, 2/25 & 2/26, 2017


Springing?

I don't think we're out of the winter woods yet, but Mother Nature sure is teasing us with little tastes of spring. Pre-season baseball games start this Friday, and it looks like it's going to be a mostly warm weekend. That means we should have some pretty nice evenings to head out for some shows.

You can test my theory starting on Thursday night. The Vansaders head up to NYC's Berlin to play a sold-out show with Dave Hause and The Mermaid along with The Vapers. The Turnbucklers are at Brighton Bar with Genki Genki Panic. Acitve Bird Community and Good Luck Spaceman play The Saint.

Friday looks like the best day of the weekend weather-wise, which will make it a perfect night to head out to the boards and catch Smalltalk and Exmaid for free at APYC. That one is brought to you by CoolDad Music and promises to be both fun- and friend-filled.

Elsewhere on Friday, you've also got We're Ghosts Now, Phoebe Nix, and Justin Roberts at The Asbury. Our friend Al C from Signal To Noise NJ is hosting the first of two nights of fundraisers for WFDU at Mercury Lounge in NYC. This one has Monsterland, SAVAK, and Fruit & Flowers. Cranston Dean, Big Bam Boo, Shady Street Show Band, and Of Tomorrow are at The Saint. David Duchovny brings his band to The Stone Pony. Mint 400 hosts another showcase at Stosh's in Fair Lawn. This one features The Big Drops, Of Love, Underlined Passages, Fairmont, and Pixl-Visionary. Death By Unga Bunga are at Wonder Bar with gods and Wreaths. Dentist and Yawn Mower kick off their weekend tour with a show at Mad House in Philly with Last Full Measure and DUCK.

Saturday is jam-packed. Bone & Marrow headline another edition of Hear Me Roar highlighting female artists at APYC. Hub City Stompers return to Brighton Bar with Broken Heroes, Turnpike Wrecks, and Chris Skel. Dave Hause and The Mermaid play another sold-out show, this time at Crossroads in Garwood, with Jared Hart and The Vapers. Smalltalk and The Vansaders are at Gold Sounds in Brooklyn with The Superweaks, No Thank You, Old Monk, and Grundle Thunder. Spowder (who blew me away at Monty Hall last week) play with Eagle Daddy, CoolShark, and The Great Depression at New Brunswick's J House. The Normal Living celebrate their latest release at Maxwell's Tavern in Hoboken. NGHTCRWLRS, The Subcultures, Lunch Ladies, Roswell Debacle, and Garage Sale are at The Meatlocker in Montclair. It's the second night of WFDU fundraising at Mercury Lounge with Antietam, Honey Radar, and Big Bliss. The Milwaukees, The RockNRoll HiFives, and Adam Streicher and The Hellship Mutiny are at Caldwell's Ringside Pub. The Gin Blossoms are at The Wellmont in Montclair. Lowlight and Rick Barry open for Leopold and His Fiction at Wonder Bar. dollys are at Creep Records in Philly with Shannen Moser, Grayling, Vivian K., and My Brother My Sister.

Whew...

Tommy Stinson plays his rescheduled Jack's In-Store in Red Bank on Sunday afternoon. ManDancing, Jean Pool, pioneer the eel, Use Big Words, and Basement Beers are at Scarlet Pub in the evening. Little Dickman Records host The Off White, The LeMats, The Tide Bends, and Psychiatric Metaphors for a Jersey-centric evening at Sunnyvale.

Take advantage of the nice weather this weekend. Hopefully that involves coming out to say hi at APYC on Friday night; but, whatever you get up to, think spring.

THURSDAY (2/23)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Open Mic, 8pm, FREE

BerlinNYC (NYC): Dave Hause and The Mermaid / The Vapers / The Vansaders, 8pm, SOLD OUT

Bond St. Complex (Asbury): DJ Jay Insult, 8pm

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): The Turnbucklers / Genki Genki Panic, 7pm, $6

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): JoeP of Deal Casino, 8:30pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): Noot / DRKBXT / Gabe Marquez / ЧAYU / Weird Wonderful Words, 8:30pm

The Saint (Asbury): Active Bird Community / Good Luck Spaceman, 7:30pm, $10

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): The Steppin Stones / The Morgan Freemasons, $12 adv, $15 door

FRIDAY (2/24)


The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): We're Ghosts Now / Phoebe Nix / Justin Roberts, 8pm, FREE

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Smalltalk / Exmaid, 9pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Mind Riot / Enigma Machine / Dab Negula / Replicant / Kalopsi, 6pm

House of Independents (Asbury): Strike a Pose screening, 8pm, $20 adv, $25 door

House of Independents (Asbury): 80s Dance Party, 10pm, FREE

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

Mad House (Philly): Last Full Measure / Dentist / Yawn Mower / DUCK, 7pm, $7

Meatlocker (Montclair): Electric Sensei / Black Plains / Jean Pool / Quantum Peruvian (EP release), 8pm

Mercury Lounge (NYC): WFDU Fundraiser ft. Monsterland / SAVAK / Fruit & Flowers, 9:30pm, $12

Molly Maguire's (Clark): Audible Soul, 10pm

Roxy & Duke's Roadhouse (Dunellen): Road Machine / Zigman Bird / After The Burn / Dicks Electric, 9pm, $10

The Saint (Asbury): Cranston Dean / Big Bam Boo / Shady Street Show Band / Of Tomorrow, 7:30pm, $10

The Stone Pony (Asbury): David Duchovny / Jackson Pines / Colin Lee, 7pm, $34.50 adv, $37 door

Stosh's (Fair Lawn): The Big Drops / Of Love / Underlined Passages / Fairmont / Pixl-Visionary, 7:30pm, FREE

Vintage Vinyl (Fords): Robert Randolph In-Store, 7pm

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Death By Unga Bunga / gods / Wreaths, $10 adv, $15 door

SATURDAY (2/25)

10th Ave. Burrito (Belmar): Jet Weston & His Atomic Ranch Hands, 9pm

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Regina Sayles, 8pm, FREE

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Bone & Marrow / Maude Gun / Bi Tyrant / Julie Murtha / A Guy and A Girl, 9pm, FREE

The Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Hub City Stompers / Broken Heroes / Turnpike Wrecks / Chris Skel, 8pm, $8

Creep Records (Philly): Shannen Moser / Grayling / Vivian K. / dollys / My Brother My Sister, 7pm, $7

Crossroads (Garwood): Dave Hause & The Mermaid / Jared Hart / The Vapers, 8pm, SOLD OUT

Decicco's Tavern (Raritan): DogParc / The Blurry Minds / Animal Masks / Atom Driver, 8pm, FREE

Flemington DIY (Flemington): C.R. and The Degenerates / Secretary Legs / Ghost Camp / Whiner, 6pm, $5

Gold Sounds (Brooklyn): The Superweaks / No Thank You / Smalltalk / The Vansaders / Old Monk / Grundle Thunder, 7pm, $8 adv, $10 door

House of Independents (Asbury): Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball, 8pm, $20 adv, $25 door

J House (New Brunswick): Spowder / Eagle Daddy / Coolshark / The Great Depression, 7:30pm, $5

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Quincy Mumford and The Reason Why, 9pm, FREE

Maxwell's Tavern (Hoboken): The Normal Living (record release) / Rob Jennings / Josh Yavneh & The Culprits, 7:30pm, $8

Meatlocker (Montclair): NGHTCRWLRS / The Subcultures / Lunch Ladies / Roswell Debacle / Garage Sale, 8pm

Mercury Lounge (NYC): WFDU Fundraiser ft. Antietam / Honey Radar / Big Bliss, 9:30pm, $10

Outpost In The Burbs (Montclair): Robert Ellis / Courtney Hartman, 8pm, $25

Ringside Pub (Caldwell): The Milwaukees / The RockNRoll HiFives / Adam Streicher and The Hellship Mutiny, 9pm

Roxy & Duke's Roadhouse (Dunellen): Strange Eclipse / The Dead Flowers / Lily Vakili / Eric Sommer, 9pm, $15

The Saint (Asbury): TrapBang / Depreciator / Korey Costa / Shoobies, 7:30pm, $10

Starland Ballroom (Sayreville): Freestyle Explosion Winter Edition, 8pm, $25 adv, $50 door

The Stone Pony (Asbury): Swift Technique / Secret Sound, 7pm, $14 adv, $16 door

Wellmont Theater (Montclair): Gin Blossoms / Thing One, 8pm, $26-$71

The Wonder Bar (Asbury): Leopold and His Fiction / Lowlight / Rick Barry, 7pm, $10 adv, $12 door