Jersey Beat Music Fanzine


GINGERLYS – “Summer Cramps” EP (
Is it too late for another chillwave band of Brooklyn kids? Not when they’re this talented, when the melodies glide like swans across the sky, when the jittery percussion literally forces your head to bob along happily. Maria’s gossamer vocals shimmer above new-wavey plucked guitars and swaddling synths. Pure ear candy. A

Tribute albums can be a trick proposition. Stay to faithful to the originals and you’re doing karaoke; stray too far and you’re desecrating the memory of a beloved classic. And when you’re talking about a near-perfect career high like Pet Sounds, the idea of improving on the original seems absurd. Seven acts from the Mint 400 Records roster (Fairmont, the One And Nines, the Ashes, Cropduster, Multi-Purpose Solution, Michael Ambrose, and The Duke of Norfolk) each take a swing at these iconic songs, emphasizing the psychedelic weirdness beneath those candy-cotton harmonies, and it works. Mint 400’s flagship band Fairmont reimagines “You Still Believe In Me” as a power pop Christmas carol, the Duke of Norfolk brings Jonathan Richman geekiness to the sheen of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Caroline No,” the Multi-Purpose Solution rocks out “Sloop John B” as Springsteen might have played it, the One & Nines bring their Motown swing to “I’m Waiting For The Day” and “Here Today,” and Cropduster ‘s Tom Gerke croons “That’s Not Me” backed by a miasma of lo-fit guitar fuzz. A-

A Last Hurrah For The Glory Of Drinking Alone (

All dirty guitars, caustic vocals, and garage thump one minute, Dr. Skinnybones (which, for the purposes of this album, consists of singer/multi-instrumentalist Jake Williams and drummer Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) can turn on a dime and put over a schmaltzy yet non-ironic piano ballad the next. The duo’s irrepressible fuck-you attitude ties it all together (nowhere better than on the anthemic “Fuck Everyone,”) whether Jake’s telling an ex-date to drop dead or telling us what to do with his possessions after he drops dead. And despite being overdubbed up the wazoo (with Jake handling vocals, guitar, bass, and piano,) the DIY production has an organic, live energy. Neutral Milk Hotel’s Julian Koster drops by to add theramin-like pulsations on singing saw, while Amanda Palmer contributes not only vocals but the inspiration for a turn towards baroque cabaret-folk. Listen carefully and you might even catch all the in-jokes. A-

BATTLEME – “Weight On The Brain” EP (El Camino Media)
Matt Drenik’s solo acoustic-y emo project morphs here into a choogling rock’n’roll dynamo with a heavy Seventies vibe and thick, psychedelic guitars. Drenik’s sensitive high-pitched vocals recall Flaming Lips at their Pink Floydiest; extra points for the surf ‘n’ spy guitar chug on “Shotgun Song.” B-

THE CREEPSHOW - Life After Death (Sailor's Grave)
Whoa-oh punk in the style of Bad Religion of Bouncing Souls, only with a (very good) female singer and lyrics that focus on the macabre. Happily the band's ghoulish proclivities come across as far less silly than the Misfits (or even the Lillingtons.) Dress like a goth and sing along. B+

DISMEMBERMENT PLAN – Uncanney Valley (Partisan Records)
Welcome to the Kobayashi Maru, the unwinnable scenario: Make an album that reflects your age (40-ish,) infused with wit, insight, humor, regret, and enjoyable tunes, and you’re accused of making “dad rock.” Yet had DPlan screamed and jived and spazzed out like a 20 year olds, they’d have been told to act their age. Say I: Leave the next “Ice Of Boston” to some college kid in Bushwick to write; I’m fine with the pithy rock of “No One’s Saying Nothing,” the funky rhyme schemes of “White Collar, White Trash,” the way adolescent angst gives way to adult regret on “Daddy Was A Real Good Dancer.” Recommended. A-

EZRA FURMAN – Day Of The Dog (Bar-None)

We already knew the guy could write from his tenure with the Harpoons and his first solo album, The Year Of No Returning. Now he’s showing us he can rock out too, with a mastery of Sixties idioms, a skronking sax player, and some joyously gonzo Nilsson-esque vocals. Way more fun than anything he’s done before, and everything he’s done before has been okay. A-

KARYN KUHL - Songs For The Dead (

Songs For The Dead alternately recalls the fiery Zeppelin blues wail of Kulh's 90's band Sexpod and the innovative indie-pop of the college-rock era Gutbank, with forays into sensuous bossa nova, jazz, and torch songs, all spotlighting one of the most distinctive female voices of modern rock. B+

LOS CAMPESINOS! – No Blues (Wichita Records)
The LC!s sound more and more like the Gareth Campesino show, with the other individual voices in the band (vocally and musically) melding into harmonic choruses and symphonic orchestrations. That said, few bands can do twee and miserable simultaneously, and none do it this well. Inspirational verse: “I feel like I'm the host of a terrible game-show and the guests on today's quiz are celebrities/Won't respond to any clues, they're just cracking jokes for views, but the answers to these questions mean everything.” B+

LOVERS - A Friend In The World (Badman Records)
The seventh album (and second with this lineup) from feminist/LGBT-friendly folk rock trio Lovers strips away much of the electronic embellishment of earlier work for sparse production, clattery percussion, percolating synths, and warm harmony vocals. Dancey tracks like "Modern Art Museum Of The Modern Kiss Goodbye" and "Oh Yeah" suggest Bananarama cross-pollinated with the sexy urban grooves of the Bush Tetras. A-

MARC & SHANE - "New Things Come" EP (
Two part harmony never gets old; Jersey teens Marc Ambrosia and Shane Rojas know that, and keep things simple on their debut EP, focusing on exquisitly matched voices and Rojas' nimble acoustic guitar. Sadly the songwriting rarely rises above easy-listening platitutdes, but at only 16 and 18, they have plenty of time to learn. More Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, guys, and leave the Phillip Phillips and John Mayer at the open mic. C+

PATCHES & GRETCHEN - Who The Hell Is Richard Manual? (
Gretchen Seichrist blurs the lines between folk and jazz, cabaret and rock, Patti Smith and Amanda Palmer, with a spoken/sung/cat shriek delivery that's as distinctive as Lou Reed's. So uncompromising as to be off-putting at first, Seichrist imbues every track with emotions, from the panicky "Paramedic" to the mournful "Grandma" to the sardonic "Rollypolly." A

THE SWELLERS - The Light Under Closed Doors (No Sleep Records)
Flint, Michigan's hard-luck lifers return with an impressive and walloping declaration of intent: "Give me something I can finally believe in, give me something I can finally sink my teeth in," wails frontman Nick Diener, and it's pretty clear that this crew believes in the redemptive power of rock 'n' roll. Ten concise, no-filler tracks deliver powerful melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and the power of those whoa-oh-oh gang vocals to transport even the most jaded old fuck back into the pit. Docked a few points for Diener's occasional lapses into Pinkerton-esque emo, but overall a solid listen. B+

UPSET – She’s Gone (Don Giovanni)
Two twenty-something riot grrls and a fortyish Alt-Rock survivor combine forces to turn back the clock to Lookout Records Girl-Pop Circa 2000 or so. It’s light, it’s airy, it’s fun; but I already own Cub records, and I can’t help thinking these women might have a little more to say in 2013. Tweest Song Title of the Year: “Don’t Lose Your Dinosaur” C+ is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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