Friday, April 21, The Skullers will take the altar at Cathedral Hall in Jersey City as part of the Undercroft Concert Series along with The One and Nines, Don Kincaid & The Wait, Underlined Passages, and Young Legs. Frontman Jack Skuller is one of the true local indie wunderkinds, having released his first single at age 13 on the locally famous Bar/None Records and followed that up with a series of solo releases on Mint 400 Records. Now, at the ripe age of 21, Skuller has joined forces with bassist Luigi Sardi and drummer Gabriel Scholis-Fernandez to record a new EP set to be released later this year on Mint 400 Records.
This coming Friday, April 21, Hear Me Roar Women Artists (HMRWA) will present their April Showcase at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ. HMRWA is a feminist, activist performance series founded by Jennifer Santa Maria and April Centrone in summer of 2016, featuring female musicians and spoken word artists, with vision to create a community of female artists across the country uniting in performances nationwide. This is a group I have been a big fan of since catching their November showcase last year. The event was incredibly passionate and full of such a positive energy, and I’m sure we can expect more of the same to keep coming our way.
In the past few weeks, I was fortunate enough to be able to drop in with Jennifer Santa Maria, HMRWA co-founder and Bone & Marrow bassist, Daimon Santa Maria, Bone & Marrow guitarist, and Jenna Murphy of PRIM, who will also be performing at the April Showcase. They were generous enough to take some time to speak on why they feel these showcases are so important both personally and for the community as a whole and also deliver a message to women artists everywhere.
On Saturday, April 8, New York native singer/songwriter Shlomo Franklin headlined at the iconic Bitter End. “It’s quite exciting for me,” Franklin said, “When I started out two years ago, I had no band, a few songs, and not much experience and they gave me a 6pm slot on a Tuesday. To get the prime slot is a special milestone for me.” Franklin now plays with a full band, has a complete repertoire of original music, and has grown as a musician and performer beyond any doubt that he deserves to be headlining shows where he performs.
Last year, the punk duo of Ryan O’Leary and Bob Osowski came together to create Sally Draper, described in their own words as Against Me! if they had gotten into Weezer. A few weeks ago, the band released DOES TOO, their first full length album fresh on the heels of two EP releases last fall.
DOES TOO shows off the full range of the duo. The first track, “The Air I Breathe,” begins with soft, acoustic finger-picking juxtaposed by raw, guttural vocals before unleashing the breakdown thirty seconds before the end of the song. “New York City is a Fucking Headache” is more of a traditional punk anthem that will have running in circles and swinging your arms right from the first cord, with only short pauses to shout along with the chorus, “New York City is a fucking headache!” The album also manages to pack in a tremendous amount of heart beneath all the head banging and screaming. “Too Young To Be Too Old” features personal, yet universally relatable lyrical themes (at least to those around Ryan, Bob, and my age range), “For once all my dreams are within reach/ Just close enough to watch them all slip away.”
This past week, I got to talk with Sally Draper guitarist and vocalist Ryan O’Leary about their new release, their old releases, their “Bigly Benefit” show series, the local scene, and how all of this manages to fit into their already ridiculously hectic lives.
This week, Travis Love Benson will be wrapping up their “Lil’ Love Tour 2017” with shows on Wednesday April 5, at The Meatlocker in Montclair, and Thursday April 6, at Clifton’s Clash Bar NPR Benefit show, giving you two, count ‘em, two chances to check them out. The anti-folk, folk-punk Travis Love Benson released the EP From Butterflies to Moths (FBtM) on March 25, featuring a mix of original recordings as well as covers of Yo! The Moon! and Girlpool.
Guys! Rosey Bengal is back! At last! Two years after their eponymous EP came out and months after their most recent single, they have released the eagerly-awaited, full-length Junk Mail with Sniffling Indie Kids and Mint 400. It’s kind of the Chinese Democracy of NJ indie rock. But now it’s here! And Junk Mail is well worth the wait.
This album achieves a full, complex sound without coming off as crowded. Featuring two songs off their EP as well as their 2016 single, “Freedom in the Air” (which we premiered back in December!), it’s both driving and languid, polished and tight with just the right amount of distortion, measured but reserving plenty of space for solos. I was hooked from the first seconds of pedal-heavy picking and distortion on “Black Sedan,” and the rest of the album definitely holds up.