Review: MOM AND DAD – 21st Century Blues and a Quick Word with Ben Sword

The music in this scene never stops surprising me. When I first learned who MOM AND DAD were, my immediate impression was, “Ok…so you have one half of Dopapod, and it’s the rhythm. This is going to be magical!” And, well, I was half right.

MOM AND DAD is absolutely magical – and absolutely nothing like the rhythm of Dopapod. In fact, what I have learned is that to assume that sort of thing is to do these creative writing minds absolutely no justice. This three piece packs a massive punch of their own and it’s worth talking about. The band’s upcoming second album, 21st Century Blues, is a heavy stepping trip through multiple genres, styles, and concepts and reminded me that music can still be so incredibly diverse within one record. And I love that!

The album’s first track, Video Games, comes in hard and electric like a transformer fire. It has a great heavy sonic-rock type of flavor that is exciting and fun. Bonus: it’s super easy to sing along with! The second and title track, 21st Century Blues, is a bluesy (obviously) brooding modern tune about waiting for that return text or that social media “like”,  and it’s absolutely necessary for the world today to hear. It’s hilariously accurate. I can see myself sing-quoting this super fun, electric feeling song for years to come. Don’t miss the fantastic solo at the 3 quarter mark! 

One of my favorite tracks on the record is Caffeine. This song is an accurate audible representation of what my brain feels like on actual caffeine, which I consume in enormous quantities. I can feel each electrode firing with each drum hit, each bend of a guitar string, each electronic key sound. Plus the bass line in this song is creatively laid out and really cool. Another favorite of mine is Help Myself. It has a throw back dirty rock vibe with guitar solo fire and some really great vocals. All in all, this is a stellar record. It’s a super fun trip from a band who quite obviously doesn’t take themselves too seriously. They absolutely could, it would be well deserved seeing as they are incredibly solid musicians and stand out folks in this scene. But they don’t, and that makes me like them so much more. It’s also worth a mention that there was a SIX YEAR GAP between their last record and this one! I am sure there are some folks who have been waiting very patiently for this album, and they will not be let down.

I love to get band perspectives on their cool records when I can, so I threw a few questions at MOM AND DAD guitar guy Ben Sword to see what came out!

APM: How did MOM AND DAD come together initially?


Ben: “Chuck and I have been playing together since we were seventeen.  We both attended Berklee College of Music, where we met Neal. After scraping some songs and sounds together in Neal’s basement, we started playing shows in Boston in 2010.”

APM: What was it like writing the album? Were these songs that came together quickly, or grew slowly since your last release (2014)?


Ben: “Some of the songs on this album were written recently, and a few of them were written some years ago.  Once we chose the songs to start tracking, piecing the album together came naturally. We even have a few tasty leftovers that we did not use for this album.”

APM: Any special recognition for folks who helped out on the album?


Ben: “NO!…….jk.  We tracked drums and a few other things at Mountain Star Studio in Black Hawk, CO.  Our good friend Jocko at More Sound Studio in Syracuse mixed and mastered the album.  Sarah Kirsch gave us some incredible vocals on the song “Video Games.”  Larry Elefante provided the photo that was the inspiration for the album cover.”

APM: What are your plans for 2020?


Ben: “Another album.  Probably of the “consistently loud” variety.”

And there you have it, folks!
21st Century Blues is super creative and fun. Each song is an exciting individual and I love that aspect of it. On a first listen through, you have no idea what is coming next. Despite playing all over the place this past festival season, I have yet to catch these guys live. This record has made that a personal mission for me, so I hope their 2020 plans include a trip to play the tri-state area. If you are in the Denver, CO area, do yourself a favor and head out for the band’s album release show at The Larimer Lounge on November 7! Keep an eye to the band’s page for more shows and goods on what the band has coming up at http://www.momanddad.band . Check out 21st Century Blues as soon as you can! I recommend it highly!

See you out there, friends!

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Review: Elephant Wrecking Ball – Joy Front

Music is life. It’s a living, breathing thing that is ever growing and changing. More than that, music is this amazing blank canvas that we entrust to artists. On it, they create magic that tickles our brains and weaves us into memories, emotions, journeys and stories. This amazing thing happened as I started to write about music in this scene – my mind opened to all these explorations in sounds that I had no idea I loved so much. The most recent one of these that I have had the privilege to explore is Elephant Wrecking Ball. They have a new record out called Joy Front and it’s blowing my mind. So much of what I have always tried to bring to my readers is the vibe – the feeling of the music I am listening to. This record has made me feel things I have a heck of a time putting into words. Honestly, this is one of the hardest reviews I have ever tried to write.

If you are not familiar with Elephant Wrecking Ball, the band is a unique trombone-led trio of outstanding musicians writing a fusion of jazz-heavy art for your ears. Trombonist Scott Flynn, known for his work with bands like John Brown’s Body and Jazz is Phish (to name a few), bassist Dan Africano, also of John Brown’s Body and Ghost Light, and drummer Neal “Fro” Evans, most known for his work in Dopapod, make up this mastery of sound with a brilliant understanding of the way it weaves through the soul. It’s incredibly unfortunate that I am so new to what they are doing because I have become such a fan while just doing this review. I have been missing out.

The album Joy Front is the band’s fourth release and for anyone with a love of sound explorations, this is a must hear record. Within it are electronic elements woven into jazz, groove heavy drums and bass, and something profoundly sensual that is happening throughout the record from start to finish. If ever there was a group of songs to put on, dim the lights, and let your mind explore within itself, this is it. And I can say that from experience because it’s become one of my favorites to do that with. 

On tracks like Practicing Underdog, the band members almost seem to play with one another as tempos change. You can go from a body moving bass groove into a drum solo all beneath the slinky sounds of the trombone as it rises and falls. Escape From Lemuria is a sexy, almost rocksteady feeling with a steady bass groove that moves you and soulful brassiness. I love how the trombone is out front, singing like a vocal. The title track from the record is another favorite of mine, and I love the way that the drums play under the quick bursts of brass before it all comes in strong and hard, and a little spacey for a moment with steady bass feels. The changes are just so cool. Its fun the way this music takes you places in your mind while you just move your body with the flow. There is so much to love going on in Joy Front

The band is on tour through November 2nd and I can’t suggest hard enough that if you are able to, you get out and catch Elephant Wrecking Ball. This is sound explorations that go so many places. This is art for the ears. This is the soundtrack you have been looking for. The album is available on Spotify (if that’s your bag, baby) and other outlets. You can keep up with the band on their website at https://elephantwreckingball.com/

I am hoping they are in the tri-state area in the new year because this is a live music experience I look forward to having as soon as I can. See you out there, friends!

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Show Review: PEAK at Brooklyn Bowl 10/19

Let me start this off by saying that I despise my birthday. I don’t often have a good one, and sometimes they are downright terrible. Now that I have hit my 40’s, it just feels like a reminder that I am spiraling out of control into the great abyss. So this year, when I was asked to cover PEAK at Brooklyn Bowl, I decided this fine evening was going to be my birthday celebration. I had never been to Brooklyn Bowl at all (…I know, right?! How did that happen???) and PEAK shows have become some of my favorite outings. Plus they were there in support of TAUK who I had never seen live, and there would be beer, so why not? Birthday locked and loaded – lets go!

I said in my previous post that the first time I caught PEAK live was last year around this time. I thought then that they were one of the most fun live bands that I had seen in a very long time. Little did I know they would take that evaluation of mine and blow it to the moon this past weekend. Over the last year, through lineup changes and new songs, the band has become a performance powerhouse. Their live show is floor to ceiling energy exploding from start to finish and if you can manage to stand still during it, I just don’t know what to do with you. With masterful songwriting and outstanding stage presence, the band is already standing strong. Factor in how they bring forth exceptional vocals, explosive drums, groove heavy bass, and a guitar and key team that you would think have been working in tandem for decades, and you have one of the most exciting live bands to hit this scene in a long time. If you have not seen PEAK yet, you are missing out.

The show started out tamely and steadily with a trickle of crowd coming into Brooklyn Bowl. Folks were grabbing a quick bite or hovering around the bar for a pint and the music was trickling into their ears. You see, PEAK has these fantastic guitar solos and the stellar vocals. The music pulls you in and before you know what is happening, it starts that quick hip shake. I love reviewing shows because people watching in the crowd is one of my all time favorite pastimes. I stood off to the side and watched as ears perked up and people started to take notice. Slowly they were moving towards the stage.

As the show progressed, the beats got steadier and quicker and this magic started to spread through the room. People were coming closer to the band, bodies were swaying, and even the bowlers had taken notice and had started to migrate towards the stage from the side. By the three quarter mark, I was in the crowd dancing with everyone and watching as people remarked to those standing near them, “Who is this??? This is great!” It was a true delight to watch people taking notice of this band I had been enjoying watching the progress of for the last year. I was more than happy on numerous occasions to exclaim, “THIS IS PEAK!” (caps for yelling over music-effect)

By the end, I was more or less spilling my beer all over the place due to high intensity dancing fits. I would imagine it was NOT pretty, but the energy of the night was just infectious. Is this what a GOOD birthday is supposed to feel like? This was the best I have ever seen them play. They were so very on that night and the smiles between them showed it. My legs are still sore two days later from the dancing. Guitarist, vocalist, and founder Jeremy Hilliard and keyboardist and vocalist Johnny Young brought out some killer harmonies and seriously nasty solos. New to the band extraordinary bassist Josh T. Carter knocked it out of the park with his grooves and really displayed what an exceptional player he is. Drummer Kito Bovenshulte absolutely blasted the energy in the room with his steady dance beats and effortless style. He is just one of the greatest drummers on the scene right now. Think I’m lying? Go see PEAK.

Honestly, if I don’t see PEAK all over the late night festival scene this summer, there is something profoundly wrong with all of you promoters out there and you need to find new work. I know much of that crowd was there for the exceptionally awesome TAUK (who blew my mind with that Hendrix set…good god, dude…) but they were stoked with what PEAK put in their souls that night and their explosion of applause at the end of their set was evidence to that. I hope you were there to feel that energy in the room but if not, don’t you worry! They have more dates coming up and you can be there. Check the list below and follow the band on their website at http://www.peaktheband.com.

See you out there!

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Catching up with PEAK on New Lineup, Fall Tour, and Hot Clips Vol. 1

It’s easy to sing the praises of bands you like, but when you get to sing the praises of bands who are genuinely doing exciting things and creating a super fun vibe out on the venue floors, it makes having a blog all the more fun. Truly one of my favorite live bands right now is New York City’s PEAK. Last year I was sent on assignment for a show review over to Arlene’s Grocery to cover their show, knowing little about the band except that they had put out a song earlier in the year that I was mildly obsessed with. I showed up, did a quick and dirty interview, and hung back for the show not really knowing what to expect. Let me tell you honestly, that show was the first in quite a while that really lit me up! I was floored by the live experience the band put out that night and super excited to put that down into words. I have been following their progress ever since.

The band’s 2018 release, Electric Bouquet, was a fantastic introduction into the unique style they project. There is a blending of flavors that creates a very fluid and energetic vibe with enough groove and progressive concepts that you never get bored listening. Pair that with an exceptional live show, and you have a super fun recipe for success. You don’t have to take my word for it though, as the band has released the first chapter in their HOT CLIPS series, with Volume 1. Recorded at BRYAC in Bridgeport, CT on July 27, 2019, it features seven tracks that do well to highlight the band’s style. You can check out songs like Wronged Man, Funk and Tonic, and personal favorite Path Paved with Roses. Give a listen below on Soundcloud and see for yourself what PEAK live is all about.

Since I caught PEAK for the first time at Arlene’s last year, the already very capable and talented guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Hilliard and keyboardist/vocalist Johnny Young have ramped up their live footprint with the additions of bassist Josh T. Carter (Haley Jane and the Primates/SunDub) and drummer Kito Bovenschulte (Particle/Fikus). I always dug what the Primates were putting out and Josh is a stellar bassist (and I’m married to one so I am a bit biased). Kito is easily one of the best drummers I have seen, hands down. We caught them a couple months back at Sarah Street Grill in Stroudsburg, PA playing with Crow’s Wine and their live show absolutely crushed. Adding these two very accomplished musicians to an already stellar base of great songs and talent has built what will surely be a live force to be reckoned with on the scene. This is a band that truly meshes extremely well on stage and the result is an incredibly fun and exciting groove to find yourself caught up in. Standing still is just not an option. This Saturday, you will be able to see that for yourself if you find yourself in the NYC area as PEAK will be at Brooklyn Bowl supporting TAUK. We will be there, so I fully expect to see you all out there shaking it as well. (details at the end of this article)

Left to Right: Drummer Kito Bovenschulte, Keyboardist Johnny Young, Guitarist/Vocalist Jeremy Hilliard, Bassist Josh T. Carter

I caught up with band founder and scene veteran (formerly of Turbine) and super swell guy Jeremy Hilliard to get a quick word about the recent lineup changes and what the band has in the hopper for us:

“The band has been in flux line-up wise since I started it three years ago, and finally it feels like the right lineup. The band has really come together and I’m humbled to be playing with these musicians. I kind of woke up one day and it had all come together, which is a great feeling. That all said, it’s very new and although the chemistry is right, we have to get a tour or two under our belt and put in the time to really find out what we’re capable of. But we couldn’t be more excited to do that.” As for what’s coming down the pike for PEAK: “We have enough songs and have an idea for the next album (or TWO) and we are currently renovating Johnny (Young)’s studio and plan to self produce – which is very exciting. I’ve never done that before. We have a huge renovation task ahead that is starting next week, and hope to finish that and be ready to record by early 2020. “

This Saturday, October 19th, you can catch PEAK with TAUK at Brooklyn Bowl. The band hits at 8:00pm so be sure to get their early! You can find more info on the show and get your tickets right here: http://bkbwl.co/QVm?fbclid=IwAR0qDcfYYNqpkZPegAKwbd3VDZN0DbOg6mp0GaMc13DiGwY_zgTnKmOzCAo

Check out HOT CLIPS: VOL 1 and get yourself out to catch PEAK on their fall tour!

As always, see you out there!


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New Song from Mihali – Stubborn Smile

My love for Twiddle is well known on this blog. It was them who built me the bridge that I guardedly walked across into the jam scene from my high walled little world in ska, rocksteady, and reggae – leading me to everything I discovered after that. (which this blog has been a log of along the way) They and their live shows helped me into a whole new world. Friends met, lessons learned, eyes opened. I admit that I get a bit offended by critics of the band because of how much they helped me find that part of myself. As a collective, the band is a masterful batch of songwriters. You don’t have to like them. In fact, you can downright loath them. But if you deny their abilities, I’m sorry – you simply aren’t listening because you don’t want to. And you’re missing it.

One quarter of that songwriting master team is Mihali


As a solo performer, he is much more than his role in Twiddle. I saw him perform as half of Gubbilidis (with fellow Twiddle alum Zdenek Gubb) a couple years back and was brought to tears when they did Counting Crow’s very 90’s tune, Round Here. (a personal favorite for a million reasons that I am sure no one wants to hear) I was super impressed with half of the band. I am floored by just Mihali on his own. He is able to capture something very deeply soulful and earthy in his style of composition that I have a hard time finding words for. I was super excited when his song Fading State hit last year and I was eagerly awaiting for an album to drop. Based on the online chatter, I am not alone. Unfortunately, it hasn’t yet. However, we have been blessed with another track to groove on. You don’t have to love Twiddle to be able to get down with what Mihali does as a solo artist. His flavor is uplifting and groove heavy, and this new track, Stubborn Smile, is no exception. This track is delicious.

Stubborn Smile has a mild reggae feel but a soul gripping clutch with it’s vibe. If the melody doesn’t grab you, the lyrics absolutely will. We live in some tumultuous times right now and I know I am not the only one walking life’s road with a lot of uncertainty. This song strums those chords deep – how we know what we have to offer, but maybe we don’t know where to lay it down. We know we are imperfect beings, but we know we have something for this world. We might not have found the way out of the rut we ride in this road yet. Mihlai has a great way of verbalizing things in the heart. He did it again with Stubborn Smile, and it’s just really lovely. There is a delicateness to strong words and thoughts in his delivery, both musically and verbally. I think that is where his magic lies as a performer and a songwriter. All in all, this is just a really great track and has bolstered my desire for a full length solo album. I really hope something hits soon!

I encourage you to head over to Spotify or your spot of choice and give Stubborn Smile a good, hard listen. I have it on repeat today and recommend it highly. 


Mihali will be out on the road soon for his fall tour. Get on out and check him out! You can find some more information on dates and tickets on his website, http://www.MihaliMusic.com

See you out there!

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