Friday, April 8, 2016

Friday, Post-Travel, Notable NJ Round Up

Recent NJ Releases

With all of my recent physical meandering and all of the meandering that's been going on in my head, I've fallen a little behind in terms of informing you about new and notable releases from some of our New Jersey paisanos. We're mostly a one-person operation here (with the notable exceptions of excellent contributions from the likes of Henry Lipput and Allyson Dwyer), so it's easy for me to get distracted. Enough excuse-making. Let's get to it.

Jim Testa, American Spirits and Artisinal Cheese

Back in February, Jersey Beat founder and editor, Jim Testa, put out an EP of folky, punky, satirical songs produced and engineered by Oliver Ignatius over at Mama Coco's Funky Kitchen. One can't talk about New Jersey independent music without mentioning Testa, and on American Spirits and Artisinal Cheese, he calls upon his vast (and still growing) reservoir of experiences with music and New Jersey to put forth a collection that's, at times, both humorous and heartfelt.

Testa details the inauthentic pursuit of authenticity on "No Punk in Bushwick." He addresses our current political climate on "I'd Like to Be a Christian," Chris Christie takedown "Here's to the State of New Jersey," and "(Mr. Trump) You're Fired!" But Testa also gets nostalgic on tracks "St. Mark's Place" and "Sinatra on the Stereo." I can identify with the latter in particular with its images of Sunday dinner preparations that include both a "Sunday gravy" and a roast.

Throughout, the songs are delivered in Jim Testa's straightforward and unique style.

American Spirits and Artisinal Cheese is available via Testa's Bandcamp.

Experiment 34, Charismanic

New Brunswick quartet Experiment 34 characterize themselves as something spacey, stoneresque, and psychedelic. Three-song EP Charismanic makes the case for something a little more, well, manic than those words would imply as the band mix hard rock, prog, and funk into something reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers or a maybe less confrontational Rage Against The Machine.

Vocalist Matthew Makin reveals those influences, recalling Anthony Kiedis on opener "Check Up" or throwing in a little Zach de la Rocha fire on the closing jam to "144 Evergreen Place." The rest of the band -- Kevin Nenchka (guitar), Johnny Zabe (bass), Jack LaMonica (drums) -- have the chops to jam with anyone.

Experiment 34 come to Brighton Bar next Friday, April 15th, and Charismanic is available via their Bandcamp.

Altered Cross, Forced Shock Humor

From the ashes of Jewel Eye, The Uncommonly Good, and GPP comes Altered Cross. Hot Blood bassist and Word of Mouth Studios guru, Charlie Schafer, worked his magic for the guys; and the product is Forced Shock Humor.

The album doesn't owe that much to the sounds of the bands that spawned Altered Cross. Instead, it's an experiment in sound and noise ranging from the seven-minute spoken-word noise jam of "Heron Jam" to the short metal-esque "Pat Pollution" (featuring The Battery Electric's Brent Bergholm) to the digital weirdness of "3DS Underway."

I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that Forced Shock Humor is a record for everybody, but Altered Cross are trying some things for which they deserve credit and a listen. Got that, Danny DeVito?

You can check out Forced Shock Humor over at the Altered Cross Bandcamp.

Check all those if you feel so inclined. I'm sure I'll have more for you soon. I'm almost getting myself organized.

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