There’s a ton of great music coming out of the New Jersey indie scene these days from a ton of talented artists, but there are certain intangible qualities beyond sheer talent which are responsible for a piece of music being able to truly resonate with people on a level that exists deeper than enjoyable listening. Such an album was given to us by Hodera and Take This to Heart Records in First Things First.
On November 3, Hodera celebrated the release with a show at The Brighton Bar in Long Branch along with Save Face, Secret Stuff, and Halogens. The venue was packed with an enthusiastic and attentive crowd. To have followed these guys’ work and to see them receive the feedback and support First Things First has brought them has been nothing short of remarkable.
There was a pretty special show hosted at The Edge Mansion in New Brunswick on January 19. I’ve been meaning to write about it for over a week now, but since January 20 I keep feeling overcome by fear, hopelessness, and impending doom, but so is life following the inauguration of the small-handed Tangerine Tyrant. I didn’t intend to ever get political on this site, but it’s been vaguely unavoidable in the past ten or so days. Still, few things can inspire such feelings of freedom and strength as good, honest music. Just like Woody Guthrie taught us, “This Machine Kills Fascists.”
The Edge Mansion has the perfect setup for a basement venue. The main stage area is pretty large and wide open, dimly lit with rows of Christmas lights. There’s the long hallway when you first go down the stairs which gives the artists a great space to set up their merch. You can pack in right up front and dance around face to face with your favorite bands, or hang back if you’re trying to have a more chill night. Sure, occasionally a monitor might cut out during a set, but that’s part of the D.I.Y. charm that you grow to love when you start indulging in this scene.
Last Sunday, Hodera headlined the Studio at Webster Hall for The Front Bottoms’ Champagne Jams. In the days following the show, we got the opportunity to ask Hodera front man Matthew Smith some questions. Smith talks with us about where the band came from, where it’s going, and his plans for getting it there. He also opens up about some of the personal origins of his songs, what its like to perform them on stage for audiences that know every word, and how he keeps his head through the bands continuing success.
We are pleased to share these few tracks from our last few weeks, having added even more great local artists to our coverage. You’ll probably love them all…
Toy Cars organized the show in a New Brunswick basement to celebrate the release of their new EP, Sleeping Patterns, which I reviewed last week. They assembled a lineup of three other incredibly talented and diverse bands to play the show with them: ManDancing, dollys, and Hodera. I had been looking forward to this show since I saw Toy Cars and dollys perform at the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival, so I decided to roll deep and brought two photographers with me (how many friends do you have?) to best capture every second of the action.