Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Guest List: Biff is Back!

Biff Swenson of Yawn Mower, Earth Telephone, Grasser

Decade's End (Alphabetical)

By Biff Swenson

[Biff returns with a run-down of his favorite albums of the 2010s.]

This past decade has been a wild one. For me, for you, for this country, for the entire planet. Lots of things have changed and are still changing rapidly. Needing music to be an escape is one thing that will never change. Having art to score the soundtrack of our lives is essential to coping with the hard times, and even more important to elevate the good times. There are a lot changes sonically every decade, so it's fun to look back at how musical shifts happen. The artists that define a generation, the albums that pivot where music is heading, the songs that capture what's essential for the time in which they exist.

I'm not a musician because I chose to be. Being a musician is all-consuming. It's my church, my aggression. It's my best friend, and it can be humbling. There would be no me without music. It defines me. The below list is just a small fraction of what has overtaken my being on a daily basis for the past ten years. I'm aware that I might be missing some key albums from the past decade, but this a list of the shit that I connected with more so than anything. If you happen to read through my list and find something new to you that you dig, I'd love to hear about it. If you read through and find that I missed something that clearly fits into this list, PLEASE send me a link so I can dive in. I appreciate anyone of you who reads this! We are part of a dwindling group of aging people who are constantly on the hunt for new and exciting music, and I'm always grateful for the platform Jim gives to our local scene to continue growing and evolving as listeners and participators of audible art. Happy new year! Happy new decade! Keep up the search

Algernon Cadwallader, Parrot Flies

alt-J, An Awesome Wave

Anderson .Paak, Malibu

Anderson .Paak, Oxnard

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Bad Books, II

Big Sean, Finally Famous

Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe

Blood Orange, Negro Swan

Bon Iver, 22, A Million

Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Bon Iver, i,i

Born Ruffians, Birthmarks


BROCKHAMPTON, iridescence

BROCKHAMPTON, Saturation Trilogy

Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox

Childish Gambino, "Awaken, My Love!"

Childish Gambino, Because the Internet

Daft Punk, Random Access Memory

D’Angelo, Black Messiah

David Bazan, Strange Negotiations

Death Cab For Cutie, Codes and Keys

Death From Above 1979, The Physical World

Dentist, Night Swimming

Dirty Projectors, Dirty Projectors

Dirty Projectors, Lamp Lit Prose

Dogs On Acid, Dogs On Acid

Drake, Nothing Was The Same

Drake, Take Care

Drug Church, Cheer

Father John Misty, Fear Fun

Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear

Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

Foster The People, Torches

Foxing, Nearer My God

Frank Ocean, Blonde

Frank Ocean, channel ORANGE

The Front Bottoms, Back On Top

The Front Bottoms, Talon Of The Hawk

Future Isalnds, Singles

Girls, Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Goldlink, And After That, We Didn’t Talk

Hop Along, Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Hop Along, Get Disowned

Hop Along, Painted Shut

IDLES, Joy as an Act of Resistance.

Jay Som, Everybody Works

Jay Som, Anak Ko

Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience

Kanye West, The Life Of Pablo

Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.

Kendrick Lamar, good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp A Butterfly

LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening

Local Natives, Gorilla Manor

Mac Miller, Swimming

Maps & Atlases, Beware And Be Grateful

Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s, Rot Gut, Domestic

mewithoutYou, Pale Horses

mewithoutYou, Ten Stories

mewithoutYou, [untitled]

Mike Krol, I Hate Jazz

Mike Krol, Power Chords

Modern Baseball, Holy Ghost

Ovens, Ovens

Owen, Ghost Town

Pedro The Lion, Phoenix

Pharrell Williams, G I R L


Real Estate, Atlas

Real Estate, In Mind

Sheer Mag, Compilation (I,II,&III)

The Shins, Port Of Marrow

Snowing, I Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted

Spoon, They Want My Soul

The Strokes, Angles

The Strokes, Comedown Machine

St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

Tame Impala, Currents

Tame Impala, Lonerism

Thin Lips, Riff Hard

Thundercat, Drunk

Tierra Whack, Whack World

Tokyo Police Club, Champ

Tony Molina, Dissed and Dismissed

Toro Y Moi, Causers of This

TV On The Radio, Seeds

Tyler, The Creator, Flower Boy

Tyler, The Creator, IGOR

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Multi-Love

Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride

Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City

Warm Soda, Symbolic Dream

The Weeknd, Trilogy

Weezer, Everything Will Be Alright In The End

Weezer, Weezer (White Album)

Well Wisher, This is Fine

Monday, January 20, 2020

Various Artists, Telegraph Hill Records Vol. 02, 2019

Track by Track

By Brian Erickson

In what I hope becomes an annual tradition, Telegraph Records releases a compilation of new music from its current and prospective artists, and I write a track-by-track review. The rules are simple: I listen to the song once, come up with a couple things to say, and wrap it up by the time the song is over. No pauses or repeats. I cheated a little bit. But with a collection this good, it's hard not to want to press "repeat."

Levy & the Oaks , "You'll Fly" -- What a way to kick things off! Levy & the Oaks continue their run with this harmony-soaked ode to self-preservation. Pitch-perfect vocals hover above white-hot guitar lines and a chugging rhythm section to produce one of Levy & the Oaks' most memorable songs; no short order considering their catalogue is fast filling up with them!

Bobby Mahoney & the Seventh Son, "Nothing for Nothing" -- Mahoney & Co produce another rafter-shaking anthem. But this time, they add a contemplative lyrical twist: "When it all falls apart / What will be left in your heart?" It's a question we could all benefit from asking ourselves once in a while and The Seventh Son wrap theirs inside an "arms-around-the-arena" sing along.

Jarod Clemons & the Late Nights, "On the Waves" -- Newcomer Jarod Clemons adds a classic rock feel to the comp with a pummeling guitar riff that sounds like the grandson of "Them Changes" by Jimi Hendrix & the Band of Gypsies. Move past the famous last name; Jarod is both his own man and his own musician. And "On the Waves" proves it right out of the gate. If he keeps this up, Little Big Man will have a big, big future.

The Foes of Fern, "Out of Out Heads Vol. 2" -- The Foes' first new music since the split of The Burns, and it's evident they haven't taken this newfound autonomy lying down. While the lyrics touch on Matt Fernicola's well-worn themes of aging, nostalgia, and relationships, the music is positively uplifting, creating a beautiful contrast of sound and feeling. Pay attention to the 2:49 mark. The song flips, adding a mantra: "There was no reason to leave." Just as Fern's voice gets desperate, powerhouse backing singer Jessie McCormick steps in to take us home…wow!

Malibu, "Never Ending May" -- Malibu sings of their "best heartbreak" over a post-punk beat and pleading lyrics. But it's the small things buried just beneath the surface that make "Never Ending May" worth spinning over again. Small orchestral flourishes in the intro and bridge and the ticking clock as the song ends feel like the band added just a dash of Hans Zimmer to their rock and roll.

Airacuda, "Pals" -- I love this comp for lots of reasons, not least of which being Airacuda gets back together for a new song. Ten years from now, we're going to end up with the most stealthily-released Airacuda full-length. "Pals" adds another highlight to the band's slowly-expanding songbook, this time including a midtempo groove and a sentimental ode to that which brought this band together in the first place -- friendship.

Leah Voysey, "Phoenix" -- If Voysey's last single, "Keep it To Yourself," chronicles a stressed and distressed breakup, the follow up is straight-up redemption. 2017's "Poison" might be Voysey's most popular song. But "Phoenix" is her best.

Keith Egan, "What's Wrong" -- Keith Egan is all about that slow swagger. Keyboards on delay, slow synth swells that evoke The Weeknd, and Egan's desperate vocal turn. The only thing wrong is that Egan doesn't make more than one song a year!

MaYay0, "Stay" -- With a minimalist's production, MaYay0 has offered up a flawless club jam. The single artwork tells you everything you need. Two tasseled ropes in a heart shape over a red background. This is "lights down low" music done really, really well! Oh…and it's pronounced "muh-YAY-oh."

Des & the Swagmatics, "This MoFo Right Here" -- This skittering, electric piano-driven call-out is a compilation highlight. Des Spinks's voice is among the most powerful in the entire New Jersey scene and "This MoFo" puts it (and her band's brilliant interplay) on full, glorious display!

Taylor Tote, "One Night" -- Tote's voice snakes its way around the song's question of "will they/won't they," with a dark, almost-sinister tone. And "One Night" rides a slow build that ends quicker than you can flip the light switch from on to off. Question answered?

Luke Dowler, "Get the Job Done" -- Overdriven guitar, and Hammond organ adorn this riff-propelled slice of apple-sweet Americana. Meanwhile, Dowler's voice is grittier than the dirt under your fingernails. And because of all this, "Get the Job Done" never feels like it's trying too hard. It just does what it's got do to -- well -- you know.

Marc Tappan & the Dirty Shine, "Love on Trial" -- Tappan, a scene veteran, has a beautiful story that saw him come back from homelessness earlier in his life. But "Love on Trial" is no 'just happy to be here' tune. It's an impassioned, horn-drenched lover's plea that showcases all that Tappan & Co have to offer: memorable songwriting, expert performance, and a whole lot of heart.

Natalie Farrell, "Glowing" -- This is the perfect windows-down singalong! Featuring lilting strings, a tight weave of acoustic-and-electric guitar, and of course, Farrell's mighty alto, "Glowing" is both a standout on the compilation as well as in Natalie's impressive, ever-growing catalogue.

Lowlight, "NYE" -- Capturing the sweet sadness of the holiday season, Lowlight has imbued "NYE" with the insightful sentimentality that's always sat just below the band's surface. And in singing of string lights, empty glasses, and fireworks out on the lawn, Lowlight hasn't slapped together some holiday novelty, they've built themselves a stone-classic!

Ashley McKinley, "The Truth Is" -- Countrypolitan singer Ashley McKinley's voice sits front-and-center on this lonesome piano ballad. "Believe me, I tried to keep it together / Truth is that we don't belong / The truth is, we always felt wrong." As red and raw as those conversations can be, rare is the song that captures them so well. On "The Truth Is," McKinley succeeds.

Patty C, "Hey Mama" -- Patty C serves up a beer-soaked, gospel-tinged apology to yet another flamed-out relationship. The heartbreak is strong with this one and it hurts to hit the ground so hard. But goddamn it we don't just keep coming back for more!

Abbey Road All Stars, "Come Together" -- This is what happens when the scene collaborates! Members of Levy & the Oaks, The Extensions, The Viewers Like You, Des & the Swagmatics, The Foes of Fern, Dave & Tom, and Handsome Looks all took the stage on September 28, 2019 for an Asbury Park Music Foundation benefit and a tribute to the Abbey Road album. This live take on a Beatles classic is the triumphant result!

Telegraph Hill Records Vol. 02 is available to stream now.

Friday, January 17, 2020

New Video from Fascinations Grand Chorus. They're Playing a CoolDad Music Show on 3/6.

"Can't Let Go"

Jersey City duo, Fascinations Grand Chorus, released their debut full-length, Presentations of Electrical Confectionery, in November of last year. That album's charming combination of nostalgia and straight-up excellent pop songcraft made it one of my favorites from 2019.

Yesterday, Fascinations Grand Chorus released the video for single "Can't Let Go." Co-directed by the band and Bob Sweeney, the clip doubles down on the nostalgic vibes. It follows Stephanie Cupo (vocals, keys) and Andrew Pierce (drums) as they dash along the boards and through the retro streets of Wildwood, NJ.

This seems like as good a place as any to announce that, after a couple years' worth of back and forth and checking of schedules, I've finally been able to book Fascinations Grand Chorus for a show in Asbury Park. The duo will be coming down to play The Asbury Hotel on March 6th along with Natalie Newbold (Well Wisher) and Deaglan Howlett (Beauty, The Vansaders).

Check out the video for "Can't Let Go" below. Go stream / buy Presentations of Electrical Confectionery. Come to our show at The Asbury on March 6th (It's FREE.).

Thursday, January 16, 2020

What's Going On: 1/16, 1/17, 1/18 & 1/19, 2020

Light of Day Winterfest returns for its 20th year.

Light of Day 20

It's the 20th anniversary of the annual Light of Day Winterfest this weekend. That means there's also another Asbury Underground Music Crawl on Saturday. Both cooldaughters have a swim meet at Princeton all weekend, and it's just busy, busy. But, hopefully, you've got yourself a long weekend.

Lots of stuff this weekend including shows from Lowlight, Dramarama, The Weeklings, Willie Nile, Remember Jones, and maaaaybe...

Have fun. Don't Drink and drive.


Asbury Lanes (Asbury): The Almost / All Get Out / Ghost Atlas / Rowdy, 7pm

Bond St. Basement (Asbury): Threat2Society / Roseblood / Bleed / Dread / Divided Life, 8:30pm

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Unfriended: A Comedy Show ft. (10pm) En Delirium / Sleep Monster, 8pm

The Clubhouse (Toms River): Ben Piper / Batting A Thousand / Fencesitter / Hannah Burke, 7pm, $5

House of Independents (Asbury): Light Of Day: Mark Ribler (Rolling Stones covers), 6pm, $22.50-$30

In The West (New Brunswick): Glazer / Them Airs / Resounding No / MMMM, 7:30pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Light Of Day: Blue Hawk Records & Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez, 7pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): Jack and The Me Offs / Public Serpents / Archaic 3 / Wombat In Combat, 9pm

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Johnny Ott / Tim Hoh / DIM / Skelly, 9pm, $5

Muchmore's (Brooklyn): Sharkmuffin Art Show ft. solo sets by Shilpa Ray / Haley Dahl / Miss Eaves / Lydia Gammill / Sylvea Suydam / Eliza Black / Tine Hill, 6pm, $10

Pet Shop JC (Jersey City): Black Wail / Change√∂rder, 8:30pm

The Saint (Asbury Park): Light Of Day: Foes Of Fern / Smooch / Natalie Farrell / New Narratives / 8 Break Plans, 7pm, $8-$12

TV Eye NYC (Ridgewood, Queens): Barrence Whitfield & The Savages / The Gotham Rockets / Todd-O-Phonic Todd, 8:30pm, $15

Wonder Bar (Asbury): Light Of Day Wonder Jam, 7pm, $15

FRIDAY (1/17)

ALPHAVILLE. (Brooklyn): Big Bliss / Parlor Walls / Painted Zeros / Free Money, 8pm

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Light Of Day: Lowlight / Brother Andrew / O, Ellis, 9pm

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Son Little, 8pm

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Light Of Day: Stringbean & The Boardwalk Social Club, 9:30pm

The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (Asbury): Light Of Day: Songwriters Night, 7pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Richard Lloyd / The Red Room / Random Hubiak, 7pm, $12

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Honey Wild / Black Fort / Quinton Smith & Company / Roy G Biv, 9pm

The Clubhouse (Toms River): Mint Green / Baby Grill / Haven / Paper Native, 7pm, $5

FM Jersey City (Jersey City): 90s Night w/ The Boyfriends / DJ Phil Nastie, 9pm

House of Independents (Asbury): Light Of Day: Dramarama / The Bongos, 6:30pm, $22.50-$30

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Light Of Day: Acoustic Carousel, 8pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): Schotzi / Bayht Lahm / Unhinge / Vasoconstriction / Charcuterie, 9pm, $10

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Tuff Turf / Night Court / Meganow! / Data Wolf / Tangela, 8pm

Paramount Theatre (Asbury): Remember Jones performs "Tommy," 6:30pm, $40

Red Tank Brewing (Red Bank): The Well Wish / Dave Mooney & Viewers Like You / The Clydes, 8pm

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): SixToEight Mathematics / Tight Lipped / The Vigilante Cowboys / Jeff Jirout, 7pm

The Saint (Asbury): Light Of Day: Pierced / The J.A.C.K.S. / Tonal Crush / Blood Red Roses, 7pm, $8-$12

Silverball Museum (Asbury): Kenny K & The Way / Kevin Mulvany / Joe D'Urso / White Lightning, 7pm

Stone Pony (Asbury): Light Of Day: The Weeklings / John Eddie / Hollis Brown / James Maddock / The Anderson Council / Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son, 7pm,

Triumph Brewing (Red Bank): Tara Dente & The Blind Pilots / Frank Lombardi, 9pm

White Eagle Hall (Jersey City): The Budos Band, 8:30pm, $20

Wonder Bar (Asbury Park): Light Of Day Open Mic, 7pm, $12


ALPHAVILLE. (Brooklyn): The Wants / Grim Streaker / ESSi, 8pm, $10

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Light Of Day: Cat London / Kat Quintana / Moonwater, 9pm

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Light Of Day: Cranston Dean Band / Frank Lombardi, 9:30pm

The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (Asbury): Light Of Day: Rock Afternoon, 2pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): The Ones You Forgot / Painted Young / Green Knuckle Material / Drive Kid, 7pm, $8

Chamber 43 (Highland Park): Juniper Ramona / clown, baby / Gina Royale, 7:30pm

Christ Church (Shrewsbury): Little Hag / Beauty / James Barrett / Christian Sparacio, 6:30pm, $5

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): The Deplorables, 7:30pm

The Clubhouse (Toms River): Tula Vera / Lionties / June's Landing / Cheyenne Dan, 7pm, $5

Downtown Asbury Park (Asbury): Asbury Underground Light Of Day Music Crawl, 12noon

FM Jersey City (Jersey City): Party 4 Peace ft. Ratas En Zelo / Crazy & The Brains, 7pm

House of Independents (Asbury): 90s Dance Party, 10pm

John & Peter's (New Hope, PA): Lowlight / Brian Molnar / The Adventuring Party / Dano, 8pm

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Light Of Day: MamaDrama / Bottled Blonde / Spinning Jenny, 9:30pm

Paramount Theatre (Asbury): Light Of Day: Joe Grushecky / Willie Nile / Williams Honor / The Weeklings / John Eddie / ??? / more, 6pm, $47-$407

The Saint (Asbury): Light Of Day: Women Of Song, 12noon, $10

The Saint (Asbury): Light Of Day: That's How They Get Ya / The Morgan Freemasons / Tedesco's Bittersweet 8-Ball / Lou Montesano & Jeremy Korpas, 7pm, $8-$12

Stone Pony (Asbury): Exothermic Reaction / Sinopoli / Zing!, 7pm, $15

Wonder Bar (Asbury): Light Of Day: Asbury Blues, 12noon, $17

Wonder Bar (Asbury): Light Of Day: Full Tilt Boogie, 7pm, $17

SUNDAY (1/19)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): Mack Sunday Jam, 4pm

Asbury Lanes (Asbury): Light Of Day: Best of The Eagles, 12:30pm

The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (Asbury): Light Of Day: Sunday Afternoon at The Blue Bar, 12noon

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Rainville / Mikita / Learning / OK Friends / Uncle Dan, 6pm

Crossroads (Garwood): Ben Nichols / Jared Hart / Chris Batten, 8pm, SOLD OUT

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): Light Of Day: Songwriters by the Sea, 3pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): Radar & Satellite / The Disposables / Caveart / Hogarth, 8:30pm, $10

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Escuela Grind / Ground / Bayht Lahm / Coffin Void / Dab Nebula, 8pm

Our Wicked Lady (Brooklyn): Haybaby / Darkwing / Smock / Sharkmuffin / Shadow Monster / Lackadazies / Splundr, 6:30pm, $10

Paramount Theatre (Asbury): Light Of Day: Remembering Harry Chapin, 12noon, $22-$52

The Saint (Asbury): Light Of Day: Musicians On A Mission, 12noon, $10

The Saint (Asbury): The Shady Street Show Band / Billy Walton Band / The Inflatable Head, 7:30pm

Stone Pony (Asbury): Light Of Day: Kids Rock, 12noon, $15

Transparent Clinch (Asbury): Renee Maskin / Shaune Pony Heath / Sarah Keany, 1pm

White Eagle Hall (Jersey City): The Devil Makes Three, 8pm, $29.50