Years ago, back around the time I was first just starting to scratch the surface of the local scene, I caught a random Friday night show at New Brunswick’s Court Tavern that included a young band called Monterey. Later that night I got caught up talking with the band’s drummer, Matt DeBenedetti and he invited my buddy and I to what would be the first real New Brunswick basement show I ever went to, at a place called the Bomb Shelter, where they were playing with other locals American Lions and The Blithedale Romance.
There really are a ton of really exciting things happening in the New Jersey music scene. There are so many great bands and labels doing so many kick ass things, and now the scene has gotten even more crowded. MOTO Records has popped up in Asbury Park as part of the Artist Program of the Lakehouse Music Academy. But despite a roster of such young musicians, make no mistake that these kids are for real. Case in point, Sonic Blume, fresh off the release of their debut, self-titled EP.
I’ve covered Will Wood several times on this page in the last year or so. With each performance, each release, and each interview I leave more confused and more awestruck by this artist and his band. To quote Will Wood, quoting me on his website, “His creativity is boundless, his charisma unmatched, his intensity intimidating, his philosophies confounding. A Will Wood performance is more stimulating than an 8-ball straight to the dome… when faced with the question “Who is the real Will Wood?” the answer is still elusive. …powerful well beyond anything else I had seen or experienced on a stage.” I can’t remember when I said that. Everything’s a blur when it comes to Wood, but the sentiment still rings true.
Now, coming up on February 3rd, Wood will (Will Wood will?) celebrate the release of The Real, a massive live album recorded during two sold-out 2017 shows. The show will also feature performances by Super Snake, Electric Sensei, and Bobby Mahoney & The Seventh Son. Of course, I have no capacity to understand, let alone explain anything that Will Wood does, so (to attempt) to give you the best idea, here’s Will Wood in his own words.
I’ve been told not to post shit at 1am on Sunday morning and that it’s better to have a consistent schedule, post regularly either at the beginning of the day or at lunch time on a week day. Those are great tips if you’re measuring your success in terms of Facebook likes and follows. Honestly, I don’t really give a shit and I’m assuming that everyone else that saw Spowder tonight at In The West is also probably still up.
The saying goes, “I can’t define melody, per se, but I know it when I hear it.” Okay, so that isn’t at all a thing that people actually say, but it is exactly how I felt when I first heard “View From the Bleachers,” the first single from Subtitles’ fourth EP (fifth counting a 2015 split release with Cranes Are Flying) titled Modicum, out Friday, January 12 on Sniffling Indie Kids.
Subtitles is a three-piece indie alt-rock band out of Newark, NJ consisting of Russell Payan, Brian Roy, and Ben Petty (also of ManDancing), formed back in 2014. Over the past few years, the band has refined their songwriting to further evolve the storytelling that is so prevalent in their music. This is accompanied by light guitar riffs that create a soft and sweet vibe to songs that are thematically, at times, much darker than they initially seem.
You can always tell when a band genuinely loves making music, and The Hannas are definitely one of those bands. Their new EP, Cut Loose, is energetic, creative, and so cool that it made me way friggin cooler just by listening to it. Not that it takes a lot.
“Porcelain Hugs” starts things off hard with pounding drums, raging guitars, and Joey J.’s tongue-trippingly fast vocals. The Hannas keep the energy up the whole way through with tracks like “Agree/Disagree,” which really lets Ryan Yobs and Will Freeman go nuts on guitar and bass, while “Goin’ Out Tonight” adds a more rockabilly-punk sound, with a manic tempo from drummer Nick Marinelli and cheery backup vocals that make it impossible to sit still during this song.