GayGuy/StraightGuy by GayGuy/StraightGuy
As time marches on, the grandiosity of musical compositions have become increasingly less elaborate, with an emphasis on the provocation of the most primitive emotions rather than the expansion of the listeners mind through intricate layers of instrumentals. Maybe it’s economical? Have the effects of a faltering economy infiltrated the music world with the players coming to an all to real epiphany that meager post show sums can be stretched further over fewer bodies? Or maybe it can simply be chalked up to the mega successes of such dynamic duos as The Black Keys, Sleigh Bells, and The White Stripes? But, for whatever reason, local artists have figured it out, have gotten to the heart of it all, have discovered what music is truly about: expressing relatable sentiments from their personal condition and using it to tear a sensation from the soul of the listener…and it’s become crystalline that you don’t need more than two artists to construct that wall of sound.
And with that, Asbury’s own GayGuy/StraightGuy has joined the ranks of the deconstructed, begging the question: are we as an artistic community prepared to chip away at the term “Supergroup” and start to recognize such qualifying outfits as a “Super Duo?” This venture featuring Bob Paulos (Give Me Static) and Nick Cucci (River City Extension) may start the trend.
The story goes, a few months back a gay guy and a straight t guy entered a room, a guitar racked to the left, a drum set up to the right, and wrote a song they loved so much that the process was repeated until four more compositions were added to the catalogue. What emits from my speakers as I pen this piece is a finished product birthed from two minds slathered in a ‘90s Alternative-Rock marinade; an eclectic collection of Hard-Rock (1000 Suns), soaring and distorted Grunge (Turner), a gracefully meandering Bluesified number (Everyone Is Trying To Sell You Something) and a recklessly heavy trudge through the landscape of a character who sucks makes sure to suck the life from everyday he spends above ground (Dustbuster). However, it’s The Black Keys-esque piece, “This + That x Those = Yeah,” that stands above the rest.
Is GayGuy/StraightGuy blazing a new musical trail with its self-titled debut? Not at all. But maybe that isn’t what we need? Maybe this experienced and overtly talented pairing has figured it out? What the public wants, what it requires, is to feel something real at its core, because in a world so fake, where truth is rarely lifted from behind heavy coats of deceit, survival is based on the basic human need to be part of something bigger than yourself…and you need an artistic collective to carry you there. –Chris Rotolo
Sounds Like Ghosts by Chemtrail
When a band comes together, one of the first things they usually do is set out to put words to chords and fit monologues into melodies that will appeal to the masses. But what if a band chooses to forge on without the use of any words? What if a band decides to be solely instrumental and let the melodies speak for themselves? In this case, a band must craft said melodies in the hopes that they will evoke specific emotions. Not all stories have words, but they all rely on emotional connections with the listener. Asbury Park-based five-piece Chemtrail have hit that nail on the head with their latest EP, Sounds Like Ghosts.
The EP is a five song collection of songs that never made it onto any of Chemtrail’s full-length albums – hence the title. The tone for the EP is set with the opening track, “Like All Earthlings.” Slowly and gradually, the sound becomes greater and greater, rising from a quiet din and transitioning into sparse, harmonic plucks of strings. It is fitting music for an EP that has “Ghosts” in the title – it evokes melancholy and just a touch of spookiness. Batting in the two-hole, “Prove You’re Not a Robot” starts off soft and slow, but fills out the rest of its sound with each passing measure until finally it explodes into a powerfully cathartic outburst of “Paranoid Android”-like tremolo picking. Chemtrail succeeds at taking the listener on a winding emotional path in each song – when it is up to the listener to fill in the space where the lyrics should be with images and thoughts, the songs can take on deeply personal and profound meanings.
I have heard it argued that a song without lyrics is, in fact, not a song. I would have to strongly disagree with those who hold this sentiment, and I challenge people who feel like that to give this EP a listen. If you honestly can not feel a connection to the music, can not feel your mind soar as the next soundscape washes over your imagination, then perhaps instrumental music isn’t for you after all. –Matt Ascone
Pretty American by Cold Fronts
Pretty American, the debut EP output from Philly-based rockers Cold Fronts, is worthy of some imaginary award for “most aptly titled album concurrent to sound.” Stateside heavy hitters like The Strokes, Weezer, and Spoon certainly find their way into the influences side of Cold Fronts’ by the books garage rock sound. That’s not to say Cold Fronts are operating in some kind of red, white, and blue colored box. EP opener “Heart Attack” is hauntingly reminiscent of East Sussex’s Keane and their runaway hit “Is It Any Wonder?” In spite of the occasional wince inducing lyric such as, “you’re always making like a tree, ready to leave,” the unnamed nostalgia and disillusionment of advancing adulthood subject matter occasionally approaches Cuomo or Casablancas territory. Cold Fronts aren’t breaking any new ground here, but they are certainly a serviceable entry into post-aughts canonical rock and a band to watch going forward. –Mike Mehalick
Beaut by Lady In The Radiator
Based out of central New Jersey and describing their style of music as “psychedelic punk,” five-piece Lady in the Radiator brings a complex and multi-layered sound to the table. This band can take you down any number of musical roads not only from song to song, but within any song itself. Take, for example, the opening number on their newest EP Beaut, entitled “Culture Shock Treatment:” The song opens with some feedback and subtle guitar picking, then transitions into a fuller-sounding psychedelic rock explosion, only to then slowly drip into ambient waves of synthesizer and droning vocals.
Beaut is the follow-up to their successful debut album Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend. Don’t let the somewhat disturbing cover image deter you from the musicianship contained within the EP, however. Lady in the Radiator seems to be a group that enjoys the deranged and outlandish; they are unconventional in a world that rewards perennial political correctness (example: The “About” section of their Facebook page states “we piss rainbow juice.” An impressive feat indeed.) This is what gives LitR their charm – they are very much a “take us or leave us” band. They don’t conform to any one sound or style. Each song on the EP takes on a life of its own. Whereas the opening track featured hard riffs and fuzzy strands of psychedelia, “Horus” features rapping and a punk-shout chorus. –Matt Ascone
There Will Be No Miracles Here by The Mayor
There Will Be No Miracles Here (Switchbitch Records) is The Mayor’s Metal to the core debut musical venture of a terrifying nature, featuring five ferocious compositions that send the listener careening down a brutal path of earth, scorched to the crust by the flame-licked fret work of James “Bond” Ryan on such savage selections as “There Will Be Blood” and “Fuck Like You Mean It,” driven forth by the double kick-drum and sinister stick wielding of Kevin “Bacon” Otto (“Leather Punch,” “Make Your Old Man Proud”), and brought to frightening fruition by the demonic vocal styling of Mike “Tyson” Abiuso (Kiss Kiss, The Venetia Fair, The Gay Blades). Much like the tunes of Abiuso’s Massachusetts-based traveling Rock carnival to hell, The Venetia Fair, this collection is also a musical descent into madness summed up in one moment of menacing expression captured at the completion of the compilation’s opening salvo “Last Sunrise,” where a cackle in the face of lunacy is released into the ether. Like a maniacal scientist thoroughly enjoying his mayhem he entices listeners into this sonic slaughterhouse with a ghastly grin…put on a plastic cloak, take a seat, and enjoy the show. –Chris Rotolo