Friday, January 18, 2019

Some More Stuff I Missed in 2018 from The Suncharms and Character Actor

Life Gets in the Way

Slowly but surely, I'm getting to some of the things I intended to mention throughout 2018. And, look at it this way. My being late to the party on some things is just a way to shine a continued, well-deserved (albeit tiny) spotlight on some of these releases. Stuff doesn't stop being worth your time just because it may be a few weeks or months or even years old.


The Suncharms, "Red Dust"

The Suncharms formed in Sheffield back in 1989. Their dreamy, shoegaze-ish sound landed them supporting slots with bands like Catherine Wheel, Television Personalities, The Orchids, Cranes, and Curve. The band released two EPs in 1991 and even did a Peel Session. By 1993, however, bandmembers' lives started moving in different directions; and The Suncharms called it quits by April of that year.

In 1992, The Suncharms had been discussing maybe releasing a single with Slumberland. They sent a DAT; never heard back, so assumed it wasn't meant to be. Fast-forward to 2016. The parties were chatting again, and Slumberland confessed to having never received that DAT two decades earlier. They were interested in new music, however; and the result of all of that was The Suncharms' release of "Red Dust" last year.

The Suncharms' sound maintains the wall of guitar feel of their shoegaze contemporaries but trades out some of the explosive noise for more subdued, pensive pop. It sits pretty squarely in the CoolDad Music wheelhouse.

"Red Dust" b/w "Film Soundtrack" is out now on Slumberland Records.

Character Actor, Character Actor

Speaking of the differing directions that life can take, parenthood is a pretty common one. For the members of Character Actor, fatherhood saw them putting the brakes on some projects; but it brought them together for something new.

Made up of Jeff Schroeck (The Ergs!, Black Wine) on vocals and guitar, Brian Gorsegner (Night Birds) on drums, and Evan Kiel (Full Of Fancy) on bass, Character Actor released their self-titled, four-song, seven-minute EP last spring. It's aggressively bouncy (bouncily aggressive?) power pop on "Out of Hands," "What I Learned from Righteous Cowboys," and "On Rubicon Beach." It's something a little more melodic, complete with vocal harmonies, on "72 Paperbacks." It's a solid set of extremely enjoyable songs that draws from all of the best parts of the members' other bands. It's, by definition, dad rock.

Character Actor the EP is out now on Dirt Cult Records. Character Actor the band play Asbury Park Brewery on February 1st along with Swamp City Rockers and Von Mons.

So, you see? Life can get in the way, but then you can release some new music after a long time or you can get together with some friends who live nearby and start cranking out some songs or you can just start getting back to doing the stuff you've always done.

Pedro The Lion, Phoenix, 2019

Album Review

By Yawn Mower

[When I got my advance copy of Phoenix, the first Pedro The Lion album in 15 years, I turned to our good pals in Yawn Mower. Mike and Biff are both big fans of David Bazan's work, and I thought it would be cool to get their take on the new record.]


Let me start by saying this. If you are a fan of David Bazan and the guitar-driven songs he has written with any outfit, then you will enjoy Phoenix. That being said...

Phoenix is a melancholy, nostalgic trip through the childhood of Bazan or maybe another character, but probably Bazan. I wonder if Bazan wrote the songs on Phoenix in one sitting or if he stockpiled songs over time that would make sense together and bring back the Pedro The Lion moniker. It doesn't matter what name Bazan's songs are filed under, you know it's Bazan as soon as he starts singing, which he alluded to in a recent NPR Tiny Desk session.

When listening to the album on headphones, I got almost a Stranger Things vibe, with a kid cruising through his neighborhood of prefab houses on his yellow BMX bike, fresh off mowing his neighbor's lawn for money to spend on snacks at the local convenience store. There are heavy suburban vibes throughout the record.

The song "Circle K," starts off with the lyrics, "Got a little allowance from doing chores. Saving up for a Santa Cruz skateboard." Whether you grew up in the era of Dogtown, Santa Cruz, Birdhouse, Girl or Krooked, this lyric resonates with being a child and saving up for the things you saw in catalogs. A couple of years ago, I purchased a complete Santa Cruz Screaming Hand skate deck with matching Slimeball wheels and Independent Trucks just because I had the $99 to do it. It hangs proudly in my garage.

The production of this record is reminiscent of the days of Achilles Heel and Strange Negotiations. The telecaster through a great tube amp sound is there as are some weird synth tones. The album also flows a little faster than the slow honey of recent albums Blanco and Care.

As I was listening to "Piano Bench," I could see a young kid admiring his mom on the church organ; and it brought back memories of the church I went to as a kid. I was in a church choir as a kid and remember the impact the great sound of the organ makes through those big pipes on the wall. But, as you get older, the pipes aren't as big as they seemed to be back then.

The idea of God is not as at the forefront on this record as it had been in previous records. It's there, though, watching in the sky as Bazan cruises down the hills of his hometown.

"Leaving the Valley" is a great way to end the album. I believe it's a song about Bazan growing up and leaving his town to play shows in far-off towns. Then, the last words of the record are words from his Curse Your Branches asking, "IF I swung my tassel to the left side of my cap, after graduation would there be no turning back?" a prequel to the question he asks on Curse Your Branches. It's like you could listen to Phoenix at the beginning of Bazan's catalog, and it would make total sense; but it almost makes more sense at this point in his career. 


When I was 17, I went on a two-week mission trip to Lima, Peru. Ahead of our trip, they had told us we could only bring Christian CDs to listen to. My mother brought me to the closest music shop to browse the Christian section for anything worthy of my time. I was aware of MXPX, Reliant K, and Five Iron Frenzy; but nothing all that serious or profound. I spotted a black and white album cover featuring a minimalistic drum kit. Most of the person behind the kit was cropped out and blurry. It seemed like such an underwhelming image to use to represent an album, but that was enough to intrigue me. Then I saw that it was on Jade Tree Records, so I felt like I was cheating the Christian-music-only rule at first glance. It's Hard to Find a Friend is a bold proclamation to make in general, never mind calling your album that. It all just seemed so spot on for me at the moment. I left for that trip unaware of anything Pedro-related, but I came home two weeks later with (still to this day) one of my all-time favorite albums. I have been a die-hard David Bazan fan ever since.

Phoenix makes mentions of religion in a positive enough light throughout to call this a Pedro album, but it doesn't take the side of religion like you'd come to expect from this project. Rather, it recalls it as a plot-point in life. The hurt and wear on Bazan's voice is still present like any of his solo releases, but the delivery is something familiar and nostalgic worthy of the old moniker. Dave on bass helps solidify the line-up of newcomers who accurately give us that old Pedro feel. Guitars are very sparse with a lot of bass counter melodies slipped in tastefully throughout the album. There are also plenty of points that feel minimalistic for these delicate moments, which is always a nice plate to serve some thoughtful lyrics on.

Dave had to get to this point in life to be able to look back at the past in such a way. Phoenix feels like a period piece but from a new lens. His entire catalog coincides with some point of any former churchgoer's journey. This is the reflective old soul who is finally able to see the value in his upbringing. It's led him here. Wherever he lands it's because of the path he started at. The details aren't important; the moments / memories are. We aren't all thankful for the hateful things associated with religion, but we're thankful for the parables that these fables draw to our own lives AND for the knowledge gained from being around to witness, firsthand, the ignorance a church can breed. That is what helps us as we grow up and grow apart from that mentality. Now, we're able to look back on a childhood long ago with a fresh pallet that makes it all easier to swallow, taking away these informative moments we hang onto and cherish. "Piano Bench" feels like we leave the album to listen in on a service with the Bazan family. The progression is straight from any church song. The Headphones-esque synth setting reminiscent of any 80s / 90s keyboard the music committee sprung for with some Sunday's offerings.

Lines like "first freedom, second life" in "Yellow Bike" or "got a little allowance for doing chores" in "Circle K" take us back to these moments of our youth where we couldn't grasp much outside our little worlds. The emotions we have but can't describe. The desires we have that turn out to be menial and pointless within a few years. These are all the things that define our little perspectives at that age, and it was a nice treat to be reminded of it all over again through one of my favorite musical vehicles. I lived the story of "Model Homes" as a kid. When times were tough, we'd go look at model homes for an outing post-church. He perfectly captures the feeling of a child hating the town they lived in or the block they lived on. Being excited at the prospect of a major life change. "I wanna not be lonely" is truly chilling coming from this man's voice. "When will the wait be over" feels more like "When will the weight be over" in context.

"Tracing The Grid," referencing the memorizing of directions around town or verses of songs you'd be listening to while driving, all conjure up a sensations in my chest that make my eyes well up. The second half of "Yellow Bike" calling back to times of "leaving early, packing light" and being "in love with every stretch of road" at a time when you're first able to explore the world independently. You don't forget the first song you chose to listen to on your first solo drive home from the DMV (At The Drive In's cover of The Smiths' "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" live on BBC). I still take wrong turns sometimes to finish whatever track comes on shuffle before eventually ending up someplace where my tunes won't be crankin'. This album is the coming-of-age period where you meet new types of people you haven't normally been exposed to living in these sheltered scenarios. Lines like "some folks are loners and you learn from them" parallel the suicide on "Black Canyon." Being able to tell a side story about such a mangled body beneath an 18-wheeler within the context of an album mostly about growing up is artful.

The panned delayed guitar intro of "All Seeing Eye" bringing back the feeling of being removed from the album similar to "Piano Bench." Gets choppy, some fake drums pop in making it feel more like Blanco. Nice tonal call back to previous work like Headphones with the bass synth on the chorus kicking it up a sonic notch. Swelling out, the track is a  good pallet cleanse before the 6-minute closing track, "Leaving The Valley." This song (and many on the album) feels like Tom Petty all day. Moving is a tough thing. Long stretches of road while  "wipers wave a long goodbye," "how will you know you're finally home?" with the Frank-Ocean-like beat switch. It feels uncomfortable. Like moving does. Like leaving does. Like saying goodbye does. This feels full of tension. Takes a minute to find our footing as listeners. The bass and drums are the floorboards that finally rise to our feet, letting us stop floundering with our necks barely above the surface. "After graduation, there'll be no going back" with a staggering of guitars slowly falling off time and out of sync. More open strings rattling than previous parts. Not the musical resolve I was expecting, much like life doesn't always go as planned.

I'm thankful for every track that surfaces with Bazan's name attached to it, but the joy of hearing Pedro The Lion again is uncanny. Phoenix did everything I needed it to for it to be worthy of the former title. It feels like he didn't miss a beat from where Achilles Heel left us off in Pedro's journey. I was made aware of memories I forgot all about throughout this album. It was like catching up with an old friend now that we're both older and wiser. The grooves throughout the album reminded me a lot of Strange Negotiations, which, up until this point, has been my favorite of Bazan's catalog. Phoenix is a a perfect partner to the complexity of that album. I'm happy Dave is finally getting the well-earned, and long-overdue attention we die-hards have been waiting for. Thank the universe for the gift that is David Bazan and his band Pedro The Lion. Thanks for adding another chapter into our life's soundtrack. (A N D thanks for getting meta at the end of "Quietest Friend!" Nerds love that shit on that Dan Harmon tip).

Phoenix is out now on Polyvinyl.

Yawn Mower's Could Eat, Would Sleep is out now on Mint 400 Records.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What's Going On: 1/17, 1/18, 1/19 & 1/20, 2019

Light Of Day / Asbury Underground

It's January, so that means it's time for another Light Of Day Weekend in Asbury Park. That means lots of shows, lots of will he or won't he, and lots of money raised for the fight against Parkinson's disease. There's also another edition of Asbury Underground, the free downtown music crawl that features local artists playing in local galleries and businesses all day on Saturday.

The CoolFamily has a swim meet in Princeton this weekend, so we'll see how that all works out with shows and stuff. Hopefully, you can check out some things.

Whatever you do, have fun and don't drink and drive.


1984 (Wilmington, DE): Grace Vonderkuhn / Dentist / M. Bullette / Foxymoron, 8pm, $5

The Anchor's Bend (Asbury): So You Wanna Be A Comedian?, 8pm

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

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Open Mic ft. Jarod Clemons, 6pm, $5

Brooklyn Steel (Brooklyn): Japanese Breakfast / Palehound / Hand Habits, 7pm, SOLD OUT

Creative Space (Ask): Safety Scissors / NPK / A Boy And His Rats / K•P•G, 7:30pm, $3

Everybody Hits (Philly): Sleep In / Have A Good Season / Bonsai Trees / Ready Now, 9pm

FM (Jersey City): Seamstress (single release) / Charlie Sztyk / Matt Sucich, 7pm

Gold Sounds (Brooklyn): Mora Tau / I Am The Polish Army / Castle Black / Molten, 7pm, $8-$10

House of Independents (Asbury): LOD Kick-Off: Remember Jones / Marc Ribler's Who Tribute / Williams Honor / Johnny Pisano's RockNRoll Pizzeria, 7pm, $28

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): LOD: Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez / Ricky Byrd / Dan Amato & The Sentimental Gentlemen / Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son / more, 7pm

Meatlocker (Montclair): Dizzy Bats / Pheller / John Cozz / Wyndup Kid, 9pm

The Saint (Asbury): LOD: Brother Andrew / Rob Connolly / Sahara Moon / Tony Tedesco / more, 7pm, $8-$12

Wonder Bar (Asbury): LOD Wonder Jam, 7pm, $15

FRIDAY (1/18)

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): LOD: The Burns / Sam Sims Band / Jackson Pines, 9pm

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): LOD: Bobby Mahoney, 12midnight

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Toy Cars / ManDancing / Prim / Carpool / Lily Grave, 7pm, $10

Asbury Park Music Foundation (Asbury): Back and Forth (Reunion) / Threat 2 Society / Bleed / Grievance / Life Itself, 7pm, $10

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): LOD: Little Vicious / Rachel Ana Dobken / Molly Rhythm / Erotic Novels, 9pm, FREE

BoonTunes (Boonton): Airspace / Wasting Yesterday, 7:30pm

Bowery Ballroom (NYC): Big Ups (last show!) / Guerilla Toss / Washer / Bethlehem Steel, 7pm, $15-$17

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Puppyboy / Fangers / Rough Spring / Brother & The Apostles, 7pm, $8

Brooklyn Steel (Brooklyn): Japanese Breakfast / WHY? / Hand Habits, 7pm

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Cranston Dean Band / We're Ghosts Now / Joe Coonan, 9pm

Debonair Music Hall (Teaneck): Sponge / The Fuzz / The Mercury Brothers, 8pm, $20-$25

Gold Sounds (Brooklyn): Dentist / Mutual Interest / Grim All Day / Nude Shoes, 7pm, $8-$10

House of Independents (Asbury): LOD: Willie Nile / The Grip Weeds, 7pm, $20

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): LOD: Acoustic Carousel, 9:30

Market Hotel (Brooklyn): Acid Dad / Big Bliss / Poppies, 8pm, $12

Millhill Basement (Trenton): World Sucks / Dab Nebula / Spermasaurus Rex / Watercolor Nightmare / Suspect, 8pm

New Lanes (Asbury): Mineral / Tancred, 8pm

Northside Lounge (Manville): Acid Cactus / Sophistipunx / Dig A Revel, 8pm

Rubulad (Brooklyn, Ask): Parrot Dream / Color Tongue / No Swoon / Looms / What Cheer?

The Saint (Asbury): LOD: Steve Conte / Colossal Street Jam / Kenny K, 7pm, $8-$12

Silverball Museum (Asbury): LOD Night Of Covers, 7pm

Stone Pony (Asbury): LOD: Asbury Angels ft. The Ventures / The Weeklings / more, 7pm, $28

Stosh's (Fair Lawn): pioneer the eel / aBIRD / This Bliss / Ultra Major / Black Wail / The Components, 7:30pm, FREE

Wonder Bar (Asbury): LOD Open Mic, 7pm, $16


ALPHAVILLE. (Brooklyn): Bodega / Public Practice / Grim Streaker / secret guest, 7:30pm, $10

The Asbury Hotel, Soundbooth (Asbury): LOD: Pamela Flores Band / Virago / Hideaway, 9pm

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Wall Breaker / Drowse / Tough Shit / Stinger / Axxe Crazy, 7pm, $10

Asbury Park Yacht Club (Asbury): Avery Mandeville & The Man Devils / American Trappist / Nalani & Sarina, 9:45pm, FREE

Bond St. Basement (Asbury): Asbury Underground Comedy, 3pm-6pm

BoonTunes (Boonton): Machines Never Forget / Feeny / Future Reflection / Sonoa, 6:30pm

Brighton Bar (Long Branch): Brighton Bar Benefit ft. Baelfire / Tight Lipped / Metal Life Crisis / Spider Rockets / more, 5:30pm, $10-$15

Chubby Pickle (Highlands): Robert Ender / Lessick & Lincoln & Cohen / Let Them Eat Cake, 9pm

Cianfano's Bar (Elizabeth): Fence / Gray Haven / Back From Nothing / Freedom Town / Nothing Like Tomorrow / Deviant Youth, 6pm, $5

Downtown Asbury (Asbury): Asbury Underground LOD Edition ft. lots of artists at lots of local businesses, 12noon

El Cortez (Brooklyn): Shilpa Ray / The Mary Vision / Kyle Avallone, 7pm, $10

Flemington DIY (Flemington): Doc Rotten / Hot Blood / The Lot / Houston & The Dirty Rats / Over Everything / Vengents, 6pm, $8

House Of Independents (Asbury): LOD: Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why / Colossal Street Jam, 7pm, $18-$25

John & Peter's (New Hope, PA): The Extensions / aBIRD / Fairmont / This Bliss / Ruby Bones / Wax Wav, 8pm, FREE

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): LOD: Lowlight / Levy & The Oaks, 9pm, FREE

Meatlocker (Montclair): World Sucks / Chained To The Dead / Crippled Earn / Worn Thin / Abrupt, 9pm

Paramount Theatre (Asbury): LOD: Bob's Birthday Bash, 7pm, SOLD OUT

Pino's Gift Basket (Highland Park): Spirit Pilots / Zero For Conduct / The Nowhere / Hair Magic, 8pm

Randy Now's Man Cave (Bordentown): APB, 8pm, $20

Roxy & Dukes Roadhouse (Dunellen): Reality Suite / Orbynot / Uncrated / High Violet, 7pm

The Saint (Asbury): LOD: Women of Song, 12noon

The Saint (Asbury): LOD: The Morgan Freemasons / The Vansaders / Geena & Dragster / The Board Lords, 7pm, $8-$12

Stone Pony (Asbury): LOD: The Weight Band, 7pm, $25

Wonder Bar (Asbury): LOD: Asbury Blues, 12noon

Wonder Bar (Asbury): LOD: Full Tilt Boogie, 7pm

SUNDAY (1/20)

The Asbury Hotel, Asbury Hall (Asbury): LOD: Shady Street Show Band / Des & The Swagmatics / Wild Americans, 2pm

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

Asbury Park Brewery (Asbury): Anti Flag / The Scandals, 7pm, SOLD OUT

Crossroads (Garwood): The Moms (last show ever!) / America Party Two / Milkmen / Beauty, 7pm, $10-$12

Debonair Music Hall (Teaneck): The World/Inferno Friendship Society / Old Currents / Don't Upset The Bear / The Angry Pirates / Frankly Lost, 7pm

House Of Independents (Asbury): Concert Crave Artist Showcase, 4pm, $15-$20

Langosta Lounge (Asbury): LOD Special Guest, 1pm

Millhill Basement (Trenton): Heavensake / Dig Two Graves / Uncle Dan / Mikita / Loyalty To Me / It Makes Sounds, 7pm

The Saint (Asbury): LOD w/ Musicians on a Mission, 12pm, $10

The Saint (Asbury): LOD: Predator Dub Assassins / The Flow / Des & The Swagmatics, 7:30pm, $8-$12

Scarlet Pub (New Brunswick): Fence / Lawnchairs / johnnycola, 8pm, $5

Stone Pony (Asbury): LOD: Kids Rock, 12pm, $15-$20

Tim McCloone's Supper Club (Asbury): LOD: Songwriters By The Sea, 7pm

White Eagle Hall (Jersey City): MXM, 7pm, $69-$199

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Henry Lipput -- 2009 / 2019


By Henry Lipput

Last week, CoolDad posted a playlist of music he was listening to in 2009. So I thought it would be fun for me to take a look at what I was listening to and enjoying ten years ago.

I start this playlist with a brief reading from Joe Pernice's soundtrack to his 2009 novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop, that I've sometimes used to begin mix CDs and let listeners know that I may also not always know what I'm talking about but I'm willing to learn. There's also a song from the soundtrack on this playlist. I was surprised to find that a few of the albums I wanted to put on this list aren't on Spotify, especially Robert Forster's The Evangelist, Elvis Perkins's Elvis Perkins In Dreamland, and Music from Prefab Sprout.

Because it's only the beginning of 2019, I've taken the opportunity to include albums that came out in 2008 that I knew that I continued listening to the following year like Nada Surf's Lucky and Electric Arguments by The Fireman (a project of Paul McCartney and producer, Youth).

Two of the biggest musical events for me in 2009 were discovering the debut album from The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and The Beatles Mono Box. Spotify doesn't have the mono recordings (which I prefer), only the stereo remasters that came out the same year; so I've picked one of those from Revolver. Giles Martin has hinted that the next Beatles remix might very well be Revolver, and that would be awesome.