Friday, May 13, 2016

New Jersey Release Roundup: Pioneer The Eel, Readymade Breakup, Ian Bamberger Trio, John Rafferty

New and Noteworthy

I get and listen to a lot of submissions, many of them from bands hailing from the musically fertile state of New Jersey. In my mix of reviews, listings, photos, current musical events reporting, and "oooooooh, SHINY!" here at the blog, I often don't find the time to call your attention to what's going on right in our backyard in terms of new releases. Every once in a while, I try to remedy that by collecting some stuff all in one place for you.

Here's another one of those.

Pioneer The Eel, Pioneer The Eel

Classifying themselves as "indie / art rock," Bloomfield trio, Pioneer The Eel, made some interesting choices on their self-titled debut. The set contains no cymbals, no bass, and very few barre chords. The result is a swirling and ethereal set of songs combining intertwining guitar lines and vocals.

Opener "Nerve" had me thinking of the opening strains of Interpol's "All the Rage Back Home" (especially before the post-punk bass kicks in on that one), the deliberate and up-front vocals mixing with some delicate guitar work. There's a subtle beauty in tracks like "Last Breath" and "Kaleidoscope" that I think slots nicely into a particular strain of indie rock -- that space populated by bands like The Dodos, Fleet Foxes, The Antlers. It's not quite pop. There aren't really any hooks, but the attention to musicality and arrangement that shows up in the final product engages and draws in the listener just the same.

Pioneer The Eel will have physical copies of the album at their upcoming shows, including tomorrow's Pushing Up The Daisies Fest at the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery. A digital release is planned for summer.

Readymade Breakup, Live With It

Three cooldads from Asbury Park, Readymade Breakup released a short sharp shock of straight-ahead rock n roll earlier this month.

Over the course of its approximately 10-minute running time, Live With It, deals with the past, present, and future with humor (and, yes, cymbals and power chords) -- looking back at being young, accepting adulthood, being resigned to getting old. Living with all of it, basically. There's some thoughtful sequencing -- following "Low Life Creep" with "I Love Myself" and its repeated, affirmative mantra. And there are lyrics that probably hit pretty close to home for *cough* some people: "My song's been sung / My show's been done / My feet hurt bad" on "Everything Is Crumbling."

Live With It is a low-commitment listen that delivers some smiles and some insights over its short running time. It fits right in during those breaks you have between dropping off one kid and picking up the other. It's available over at Readymade Breakup's Bandcamp page.

Ian Bamberger Trio, Satisfied

Another rock trio, Allenhurst's Ian Bamberger Trio combine blues, classic rock, and a definite New Jersey sound on Satisfied.

Bamberger's gravelly vocals combine with some punk-inspired guitar to give a Gaslight Anthem-esque spin to opener "Viral." The band changes gears a bit, going significantly more bluesy on "Love Roulette." Bamberger's guitar and Adam Gerver's bass play off of one another and drive things on the funky "LA 2 DC." There's even a cover of Sam Cooke's "Cupid."

Satisfied is a varied trip through many of the influences that inform the sound of the Ian Bamberger Trio as well as rock music in general. These guys are definitely students of rock music and it shows here.

The band released Satisfied on April 22nd, and you can stream it from wherever you like to do that sort of thing.

John Rafferty, The King Of New York

John Rafferty relocated from Brooklyn to Red Bank about a year ago. On The King of New York, Rafferty employs acoustic instruments like guitar, harmonica, and piano, to tell his stories in the tradition of many New York and New Jersey songwriters.

Opener "Drink Like Religion" is a waltz that, I'm sure, has them swaying right along with the music when Rafferty plays this live. The characters and street scenes on "In The Year of the Dragon" recall Greetings... era Springsteen. Rafferty trades the guitar for piano on "A Drinker's Life" and "Hurry Don't Rush." The title track is an ode to Rafferty's late father, a New York City police officer.

Rafferty mixes the urban storytelling style of Bruce Springsteen with some hints of the traditionalist tendencies of Steve Earle into a style that's both personal and relatable.

You can stream The King of New York from your favorite service. Rafferty's New Jersey release show is next Friday, May 20th, at Val's Tavern in Rumson where you can hit him up for a CD.

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