Enjoy Some Delicious New Grooves with The Breakfast – Phantasmagoria

I don’t know about you, but there is nothing I like more right now than Breakfast. More specifically, The Breakfast.

The Breakfast started way back in 1998 in East Haven, CT originally as The Psychedelic Breakfast, a play on the Pink Floyd song Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast. They released their first album in 1999. There have been some lineup changes here and there, but the one thing that has always remained consistent when someone talks about the band is how freaking GOOD they are. The Breakfast is comprised of some of the most intensely talented players within and well outside the jam scene. Tim Palmieri, best known for his incredible work with Kung Fu and Z3, is on guitar. Adrian Tramontano, also of Kung Fu as well as about a million other projects and instruments because he’s that good, is on drums. Chris DeAngelis, also of Kung Fu as well as his solo project LoEndFreque , is on bass. Jordan Giangreco, who has played all over as well including in Viral Sound, is on keys. Everyone does vocals on this record. Everyone, and the vocals are amazing. This is a legendary band full of far above average players. It’s been a while since we had new music though, their last release being a self titled release from 2008.

Well, guess what? The Breakfast put out something new and amazing for 2019 called Phantasmagoria, and believe me when I tell you that you need this record in your life.

There is this insanely diverse variety of tastes and sounds comprising the songs on this album, all of which take you in a different direction while sticking to the same excellence that we fully expect from these guys. This album is like a really good buffet. Every song gives the listener the opportunity to sample a different flavor. You don’t have to settle into anything though because the next plate you come to is another sound, another direction, but still the same outstanding writing quality and playing. There are options you didn’t even know you wanted! You can play the album through and taste it all, or easily get stuck on any one of the individual tracks and stay there a while. You can do both. Either way, you walk away satisfied.

The first track, Metropolis, has a heavy hitting but still jam tasty sound. The vocals are straight rock with intense backup harmonies laid over grooves reminiscent of late 70’s funk rock. The solos, and they be many, take you to another world each time they start. Palmieri’s incredible chops show brightly here on guitar with that effortless intensity he is so damn good at. The drums, as usual with anything Adrian touches, are above and beyond normal. He’s one of those drummers that you see play and you stop dead in your tracks just to watch because it’s just not normal to be that good. The bass is other worldly as well. One of the things I like best about Chris DeAngelis and the way he approaches the instrument is that he can make it make sounds that I didn’t know a bass could. There are lots of people out there playing bass. There are few that make it sound like Chris does.

The next track, Shotgun Butterfly, takes a whole new direction from where you were. It’s got a bluesy cool in the vocal and groove. The sound is just enough heavy rock, just enough dirty, but still brings that funk undertone. The keys are cool and laced through the song, brightening up while the bass takes it darker. It’s a cool contrast that adds to that hip swinging cool thing that the song has. Right about the 2:45 mark, the song breaks down into solos that will melt a little bit of your brain. The record then skips over to the track Rush which goes is a completely different direction from the last two songs. This song sounds like someone threw a couple ska punk bands in a blender with Frank Zappa and gave everyone a lot of coffee. The song then goes from a skanking upbeat dance party to a thoughtful, intense and a little bit spacey jam. It’s three different directions in the first three songs. But wait, there’s more!

Another track to check out is Rust, a rock track with a great chugging groove and great vocal. The bass in this song is crazy good and the keys are otherworldly. Jordan Giangreco does this thing with piano in this song where the keys trickle and travel along. You can almost see the notes dotting an imaginary line in your mind that dips and ducks like a rollercoaster. It’s one of my favorite aspects of this song. Another great thing is how everything gathers in this song. All the components and pieces come together and create this incredible collage in your mind as you listen. The Breakfast are just not like other bands. They are not one trick pony songwriters. They don’t put sounds together like other people. This is a mashup of players who look at music like the language it is and they sing it as many ways as they can. You can just sit and listen to each song and dig into one aspect of the track. Then you can start the same song over and dig into a completely different aspect of the track. Each song is a multifaceted work of art that wants you to shake your tush. This record is really freaking great.

Don’t take my word for it, as I am simply your guide on this journey! Get yourself a copy and give it a good, hard listen. You won’t be the same. You can get your listen to Phantasmagoria from The Breakfast right on Spotify, or purchase your copy on their Facebook spot. Better yet, catch them doing their thing live all over the damn place this festival season! They will be hitting Branch Fest 2019  at the end of May and were just announced as part of this year’s Disc Jam 2019 lineup, thanks to intense voting by fans! Get out there and get some Breakfast!

Fake Flowers Real Dirt Debuts New Track “Upside Your Head” with New Video and a Whole Lot of Groove

Last year at Disc Jam, we happened to catch the guys in Fake Flowers Real Dirt doing their thing on stage and we have been fans ever since. This Baltimore band has a sound that blends funk, hip-hop, and groovy throwback jam vibes with soul infusions that keep feet tapping and bodies moving. Their stage presence was fantastic. I have to admit that I have been chomping at the bit a little bit for some new music from them. Naturally then I was THRILLED when I was asked to give a listen and a watch to the band’s new politically charged track, “Upside Your Head”.

Right out of the gate, this track is fire. It’s got a solid intensity while still maintaining the wicked groove that Fake Flowers Real Dirt does so well. The vibe is awesome and vocal on this track is killer. Listen to the words because it’s important! This song is speaking a whole lot of truth for our current conditions. It’s my personal opinion (obviously, as is this whole blog) but there are not nearly enough protest songs happening right now, and there should be. This is a scene that loves to brag of it’s roots and it’s social stance and activism, but given the opportunity to take a stand, there is a lot of should shrugging and “no comment” happening. There are a lot of very prominent bands who don’t want to go on record as having an opinion in these charged up and turbulent times. I am absolutely LOVING that Fake Flowers Real Dirt have put their foot down and made their voices heard with this track.

The video that accompanies the debut of this song it’s super fun. It is a mashup of presidents and other politicians that seem to be grooving and syncing to the words. It brings a bit of lighthearted fun to a serious matter, and it’s awesome and very well done. Don’t worry, the video is non-partisan (as much as it can be) but the song has an important message about the state of our union that needs your ear. Trust me when I say your body will be moving the whole time, as this song is outstanding. I am hoping this is not the last we hear from Fake Flowers Real Dirt for a while because if this is a taste of what the band has going on, we are in for a damn good time while we work to make changes.

Check out Upside Your Head for yourself right here: UPSIDE YOUR HEAD

The Peach Music Festival is back for 2019 – And Sweeter Than Ever! July 25 – 28

Montage Mountain is about to get a whole lot sweeter this coming July with the return of the Peach Music Festival! This year’s lineup is sure to delight the eyes, the ears, and the soul with its blend of jam, funk, and electronic flavors spread over four days and gorgeous Pennsylvanian grounds. Come and get down at The Peach Music Festival  this year, July 25 to July 28 in Scranton, PA!

The big headliners at Peach are usually amazing, and this year didn’t let anyone down. Phil Lesh and Friends, featuring Warren Haynes, John Scofield, and John Molo have the main headlining spot this year. Attendees can also enjoy two sets of the Trey Anastasio Band and three sets of The String Cheese Incident. I mean – seriously! That right there is enough for a mind blowing festival, but Peach is barely getting started with the headliners. Greensky Bluegrass, moe., Lotus, Blues Traveler, Lettuce, Stephen Marley, The Marcus King Band, Aqueous, Fruition, Big Something…I’m not even halfway done and I am salivating just typing this. Peach this year is absolute FIRE with the lineup! This is a seriously funky, jammy, dance your tush off weekend of music with something for everyone.

Montage Mountain itself is absolutely lovely. Right outside the town of Scranton, PA with its fascinating railroad and mining history and gorgeous mountain views, the area creates a dreamy setting for a music festival. The ski area is beautifully green come summer and spread out with enough room for everyone to camp, rock out, and make wonderful new friends. Be aware campers, it is a mountain! The festival suggests packing light with your camping gear as there will be some terrain to cover to get to your campground. It makes that first ice cold beer all the more worth it though once you are settled in. There are several nearby hotel accommodations as well for those who prefer a bed over sleeping under the stars. 

Tickets are rolling out right now for the festival. You can find all the ticket information needed right HERE on the festivals website including passes for camping, glamping, travel packages, and general admission to the festival.

We hope to see you there!

Desmond Jones is Back! Check Out Their New Song, “Still Creatures”!

Michigan’s own funktactular groove band Desmond Jones is back with a brand new single called “Still Creatures” off their upcoming release “Hello, Helou”, due out this summer. One of my favorite reviews of the last few years, these guys have an incredible funky movement coated in jazz flavors and laced with jam tones . There is a freshness to their sound that catches and sticks with you. Their last release, 2017’s self-titled album, was a fantastic blend of their signature sound and wonderful lighthearted take on the world. Their new stuff is looking like a fantastic and exploratory evolution for the band, and I couldn’t be more excited for that new stuff to hit. The seven song album consists of songs written by four different band members and recorded with live strings, added percussion, and all sorts of studio experimentation. 
This new track, “Still Creatures”,  is a fantastic example of what the band has been creating. It starts right in all jazzy and smooth with their brand of funky kick. The sax intro is pure cool and the groove that follows with its plucky flavors is infectious. It’s really good! The vocals are on point, and the drum/bass/guitar combo is on fire. These guys have perfected their own brand of familiar sound and it’s intricately put together. It’s got that funk jam fusion fun factor down, and creates a very danceable sound that will prevent any effort you might put forth in standing still. Don’t fight it. Just go with that groove. If this song is any indication of where Desmond Jones is going with their sound, I think everyone should be eagerly awaiting this release this summer.
You can check out “Still Creatures” in your own ears right HERE! Don’t take my word for it. Go groove for yourself. You can grab your copy of “Hello, Helou” this summer, with a vinyl presale that is already in effect.
I’m seeing their name popping up on shows all over the place and honestly, I can’t think of a lot of young bands that I am as excited to see hit the scene this season. I think I’ll be at the Bitter End show in NYC (4/23!) and they have a ton of cool dates coming up all over. I think you need to get out and see Desmond Jones do their thing. You can check out their upcoming dates on their website right HERE!

I hope to see you out there! Check out the new track, and grab your copy of “Hello, Helou” this summer!

Something Refreshingly Different with Muscle Tough – Modern Romance!

Philadelphia is a lovely city full of delightful people, wonderful history, a big statue of Rocky, and this incredible Italian pork sandwich that beats out any cheese steak I ever had. Don’t take my word for it, go eat one. Beyond all that though is an inventive and lively music scene comprised of great venues and some massive talent. Always in the mood for something new, I was recently introduced to the dreamy space jam sounds of Muscle Tough. These guys have a new record out called Modern Romance and if you dig those space-heavy jams like I do, this might just be your bag right here.
This is the third record for the trio, following up their 2016 EP release, “Greasin’ Up The Mediocrity Wheel” and 2017’s full length, “Magical Achievements”. The band has had some great guest appearances and played with some heavy hitters on stage, and has been reviewed as a delightful and hilarious band to catch. They are obviously good at what they do musically and have some incredibly inventive concepts. The fact that this is clearly not a band that takes themselves too seriously, and thank God for that, is what cemented them for me. There are more than enough of those on the scene so coming across what these guys are putting out there, front and center, was an incredible relief. Immediately upon seeing that, I was in.
This record is imaginative. Muscle Tough is not a band that is out to carbon copy scenesters and heavy hitters and pass it off as their own. These guys want to make their own mark, and they have. What a shit ton of fun this record is! I am loving the track Down To Clown. First off – what? Where are these titles coming from and why are they so perfect? Second, what? Where are these sounds coming from? There is this very 80’s video game inspired guitar thing happening in this song over these groove heavy bass lines and kicking drums. They get straight up weird but I can’t imagine that dancing to this live is anything but a good freaking time.
Move on along to the track Waiting for Bae. It starts off sweet and gentle, maybe a little seductive? Kind of a, “Hey baby. Come sit down here next to me.” kind of vibe. Don’t get too comfortable though, because the song progresses with some fantastic guitar work. The groove is steady straight through. We Met On Chat Roulette is another great track, with a skipping tempo and a really cool groove. The bass does this really cool almost walking drop behind the guitar at times. I like the way these songs move. Right about halfway through, this song kicks wide open AND RIPS before dropping back into the groove a little harder. Very well done. There is nothing stagnant in what they are doing at all. They never get too spacey before they kick back in. There is just constant movement.
My favorite song on this album is Say Yes To The Mess. Aside from the obvious parallels to my blog (I mean, hello!), this song is an incredibly fun roll through musical chaos. It’s speedy tempo and twirly guitar sounds make one think of spinning in circles on the merry go round on the playground. That one they banned because you could seriously hurt yourself flying off of it at high speeds, which was half the fun. This song is incredibly fun. The ‘get up out of your chair and dance with no form and arms flailing around the room’ kind of fun. Before long though, this track gets into a super trippy groove. These guys must be party to see live, and honestly, I can’t wait.
I really dig this record. There is so much out there that sounds so much alike that there is something so refreshing when you come across a band determined to be skilled and yet so different. I love the references to the complete nonsense of dating in the song titles, and I especially love how the music finds its way to interlace in those concepts and ideas. It’s awesome when an instrumental band can paint pictures with their music, and this is a band that can do it with their humor as much as their talent. This record is just great, and I am highly recommending it. 
I was delighted to see that they will be on the 2019 Disc Jam lineup for the festival in Stephentown, NY this June. The Disc Jam folks have put so much amazing music in our laps the last two years that we have gone, so it’s really no surprise to see these guys on there. The festival is a good damn time every year. I hope they like tacos.
These guys have some really cool shows all over the place leading up to Disc Jam, including a Road To Disc Jam show with the amazing Rob Compa Trio at Electric Haze in Worcester, MA on May 10th! If I were you, I would get my booty to that show and give it a good shaking! You can check out all their dates and get more information at their website HERE. Get out there and get some great live music, and pick up the new release from Muscle Tough!

Keeping it Hot with the Cool Sounds of The Prizefighters – Firewalk

The Prizefighters are a Midwest rocksteady force to be reckoned with, and I have no problem saying they are leaders in their genre right now as a still fairly young band. I first heard them in the infancy of this blog when I reviewed their record Follow My Sound back in 2012. Not long after that, this blog went on a hiatus for a couple years while this band continued to build their mastery of the ska and rocksteady sound. This is no exaggeration.
The Prizefighters have been a backing band for respected legends like Derrick Morgan, Stranger Cole and Patsy Todd, Roy Panton and Yvonne Harrison, just to name a few. They have teamed up with legendary harmonica player and vocalist Charlie Organaire on a trio of 45rpm singles (released on Jump Up! Records) and a European tour. When it comes to an American band injecting real authenticity into a Jamaican sound, the Prizefighters have done more than their share of homework. They present this respectfully and as authentically as possible. This is clearly evident when you hear their new album, Firewalk.

The love and deep respect for the ska and rocksteady sounds is loud and clear through this record. In fact, the album was recorded in a 100% analog environment to preserve that sound and energy and it truly has the feel of something straight out of the 1960’s. I was immediately impressed by this. In a modern recording world with so many artists relying on technology to polish their sound, I respect deeply how much care went into the preservation of that vibe that we all know and love. It was perfectly captured. The groove of the record itself from start to finish is purely classic while still highlighting the modern chops of this band.
Right out of the gate, the record is a hitter. The opening track, Just Let The Music Play, has a steady bass groove, great smooth horns, and a gentle but hitting vocal. The next track, You’ll Never Know, kicks the energy right up with a sound that sends you straight back to the 60’s with the beat and the vocal energy. This is a fun song, and the horn and drum work is great, capturing that energy and sending it upwards and outwards. I would look forward to seeing this one done live, it’s a LOT of fun.
As much as I dig the Prizefighters’ vocals, they do a fantastic job with the traditional rocksteady sound as an instrumental as well. The third track on the album, The Accolade, is a great example of what they can do without vocal. Spectacular brass work and that steady chugging groove keeps feet tapping through to the end. Bebop Rocksteady is another one. It kicks right in with those horns to grab you and then holds on tight with a steady drum and bass groove. The thing about these folks is the way they make the music sing without having to say a word. They bring all the energy of an enormous crowd and funnel it through horns and bass to come out steady and smooth.
Skip on over to Burnt Toast and Black Coffee next and feel the energy immediately. That cool sound, great backup vocals, a great modern yet traditional sound. The vocals on this one are probably my favorite on the whole record. The title track, Firewalk, is another one worth mentioning. It’s got a sexy, creeping groove and these quick and shadowy vocals woven in that get right to the heart of the matter, “If the ground gets too hot, you must do the fire walk…” The sax work is really catchy and this track is the kind that will stick with you while keeping you moving. This is not a record to stand still listening to at all. 

All in all, this record is a must have. There is a lot of big talk out there about capturing a traditional sound and vibe in a recording. Usually instead, you get something concocted and over produced. The Prizefighters took their love for that sound and brought it way back. It rings bells in the soul to listen to their work on this record. It’s really, really well done.

Firewalk will be available on CD, cassette (yes!), and digital on February 15th. There will also be a vinyl release on Jump Up! Records later on in 2019, if you want to add some Prizefighters goodness to your library. The band’s record release show will be happening at the Turf Club in St. Paul, MN on February 15th, presented by Ska Brewing. For those of us on the East Coast, we can expect the band for a tour later on this year as well so we can get our own booty’s shaking.

You can check out more tour dates and release info on the band’s website, theprizefighters.bandzoogle.com

SHOW REVIEW: Kung Fu at The Stanhope House, January 31 2019

I love a good local show. Local shows are a treat for me where I live in NJ. You see, usually we have to trek into New York City for shows and that requires an astronomical toll, parking which can also be pricy, and a commute that from where we live is a good 40 minutes WITHOUT traffic. Traffic is a way of life. This is New Jersey, after all. To make matters even more complicated though, I live in rural NJ – Sussex County, to be exact. We don’t have too many venues in my corner, so when we actually get a great band to come through, it’s a must that you get your booty there for some shaking. This is especially true if that band is Kung Fu. The last time the guys blessed us with their funky presence was on their Fez tour and I had to miss it. Balls.
So there was really just no way in hell that was happening this time. I would have paid all my dollars and probably an internal organ to be there. Thankfully neither was necessary on this random winter Thursday, and we made our way to the historic old blues club, The Stanhope House. It was time for some epic booty shaking with masters of funk and all that is awesome, Kung Fu.
There were a few openers – Mythology, Funkadelic Astronaut, and local favorites Fish House Road, who brought a lot of jam energy to the venue that night and got the place good and warm by the time the guys in Kung Fu took the stage. I was excited. Side note: I had already peeped a look at the set list, thanks to expert keyboardist and A Perfect Mess taco friend Beau Sasser, and I was chomping at the bit for this set. Here’s why:
I got into Kung Fu a bit later than most with their album Joyride, and it’s a personal favorite among all albums by bands in this scene in general for me. Of all the times I have seen Kung Fu, the song I have been chasing has been Chin Music because of the fantastic way the sax and guitar blend throughout, and the wicked solos in the second half. Specifically? The bass work of Chris DeAngelis. When I first heard it, I hit up my bassist husband because I needed to know exactly what I was hearing. I said, “Dude…I was kind of unaware a bass could sound like that”. When I saw that was on there, I was stoked.
So here come the guys in Kung Fu to blow my mind in their usual way, and they did not disappoint. They kicked off the set with a couple of tracks from their 2017 Ninja Cuts series, Scorpion, one of my favorites and a bad ass song all around, and Caught Up. Now Caught Up has these GREAT vocals that they still pull off live as well as they did recorded. That’s freaking amazing. After that we got a super awesome instrumental called The Lurker which really had the room moving. There was so much going on between Tim Palmieri’s ripping guitar work, Adrian Tramontano’s just simply superhuman drumming, Rob Somerville’s mastery of the saxophone, Beau Sasser just killing it on the keys, and Chris DeAngelis playing bass in ways I didn’t really think possible. These guys are not your typical small club jam act.

I wrote in another review recently that Kung Fu is a difficult band to review because when you review a normal band, you can make special mention of things like outstanding solos. A Kung Fu show is ALL outstanding solos. This is a band of five people who play their instrument at beyond expert levels and do it with more flare and fun than almost anyone. They are an uncommon collective of extraordinary musicians. You know those conversations that pop up on social media about “Who Plays XXXX instrument With The Most Flare and Skill” and blah blah blah? Yeah, my answer is usually someone in this band. They are, at times, mesmerizing to watch. 

The next song we were treated to was Joyride track The Get Down, and good golly, get down we did. They played it significantly faster than the album version which was in itself fun to watch because they still pulled it off perfectly. That song is another favorite of mine and they take it to new levels when they play it live. The majority of the song is instrumental but the last part has a great singalong and dance thing that goes on. Every time I have seen them do this song live, the audience just loses it. It’s a lot of fun. Next they did a super trippy song called Dirty Power that was a lot of fun, and that brought us into another Joyride song, Daddy D. This was just an epic set that just didn’t quit!
Then I got Chin Music, complete with some intense solo efforts from DeAngelis. Good god, dude. No one plays like that. For the record, no one plays like anyone in Kung Fu. You see, Kung Fu is a band that has five guys who are all, simultaneously, the best player in the band and all pulling an insane solo at the same time. You don’t know where to look when watching them play live because every one of them is doing something fucking amazing. So you just dance! You dance while saying “holy shit” to yourself over and over again because are these guys even human? Not while they are playing, they aren’t. It’s not all seriousness though. It’s a stage full of people who genuinely enjoy making music together, and it shows. Seriously, if you haven’t seen a Kung Fushow, you are missing out on something special. Get your ass out there, man.
The show was getting towards the end, and then the band just kicked all our asses. They pulled out a song from funk-soul bass virtuoso Thundercat called Oh Sheit, It’s X. They went just nuts on this song and blew our collective minds while making us dance so feverishly that I think I might have broken something. I’m just not young anymore. (or in shape) I love getting into a groove at a great show and looking next to you on both sides and seeing that everyone else is too. That’s the magic, right there. That’s what it’s all about. Just when we didn’t think the energy in the room could get any higher though, the band closed out the night with their amazingly groove heavy song Samurai and we all went crazy to the spacey jams. I don’t think I have danced that hard in a long damn time. I have seen Kung Fuclose with this song before, but this was probably the most intense I have seen it done so far and it was so much damn fun. Not surprisingly, the crowd was not ready to say goodbye and there were a few shouts asking for one more. That was it though. It was back to the cold winter night for us. I am sure I am not alone when I say I can’t wait for them to make a return trip to NJ.

The guys in Kung Fu have a bunch of dates coming up, which you can check out HERE. Get your booty out there for a good Kung Fu shaking ASAP. I’m not being dramatic here, but it might just change your life.

A Perfect Mess 2019 Northeast US Festival Guide – Continuously Updating!

Festival dates are slowly stacking up solid on the web and A Perfect Mess is here to keep them neatly in one place for you! As we get word of dates and information, we will keep this list running and updated.
If YOU have dates, please send them over to us so we can keep the list updated and growing. Have a new festival? Want it listed? Want it promoted? Send us the info! Do you want your festival covered by the folks at A Perfect Mess? We can be there! Send us the info!

Scroll down past these sillies for the most current list:

2019 Festival Season Cheat Sheet   Sorted by date  – Northeast     

March 22 – March 23
The Finger Lakes Thaw
Ithaca, NY
Multi-Venue, Music

April 25 – April 28
Some Kind of Jam
Schuylkill Haven, PA
Music, Camping, Workshops

May 16 – May 19
Froggy Daze Music Festival
Narrowsburg, NY
Music, Camping

May 16 – May 18
Camp Jam In the Pines
Hammonton, NJ
Music, Camping             

May 24 – May 27
Elements Music and Arts Festival
Lakewood, PA


Music, Art, Camping

May 24 – May 27
Strange Creek Campout
Greenfield, MA
Music, Camping

May 30 – June 2
Branch Fest Music and Arts Festival
Newport, ME
Music, Camping, Art

May 31 – June 2
Crawfish Fest
Augusta, NJ
Food, Music, Camping
June 6 – June 9
Disc Jam Music and Arts Festival
Stephentown, NY
Music, Disc Golf, Art, Food, Camping

June 13 – June 15

Hammonton, NJ                
Music, Art, Camping

June 13 – June 16
Mountain Jam
Bethel, NY
Music, Camping

July 4 – July 6
Turin, NY
Music, Art, Camping,

July 4 – July 7
Yonderville Music and Arts Festival
Remington, VA
Music, Art, Camping

July 12 – July 14
Levitate Music and Arts Festival
Marshfield, MA
Music, Art, Food, 

July 25 – July 26
Peach Music Festival
Montage Mountain, PA
Music, Camping, Food

July 25 – July 28
3rd Annual Organic Smiles Music Fest
Voluntown, CT
Music, Camping

July 26 – July 28
Newport Folk Festival
Newport, RI
Music, Food

July 26 – July 27
Tumble Down
Burlington, VT

August 5 – August 9
Roots Rock Revival 2019
Big Indian, NY
Music, Workshops, Lodging

August 8 – August 11
3rd Annual Organic Smiles Music Fest
Newport, ME

August 9 – August 11
Mazzstock Music Festival
Marlboro, NY
Music, Camping

August 9 – August 11
North Country River Jam
Champlain, NY
Music, Camping, Veteran Support Event

August 16 – August 18
Woodstock 50th Anniversary (Michael Lang)
Watkins Glen, NY
(no website yet – coming soon)

August 16 – 18
Bethel Woods Music and Cultural Festival
Bethel, NY

August 22 – August 25
Arrington, VA
Music, Camping, Food

August 22 – August 24
Night Lights Music Festival
Sherman, NY
Music, Camping, Art

So Much To Enjoy With PEAK – Electric Bouquet

Earlier this year, I was in a lull with material to write about and I put a call out for new and exciting stuff to not only write about, but just digest and bring me out of a funk. Our friend Cat hit me up with some gems that I put into my rotation to ponder and delve into deeper. One of those recommendations was a new track from Brooklyn based band PEAK called Imaginary Lines. It was good. It was really good and something fresh but it was the only track that had yet been released so I just devoured it for a while. It was on my Spotify playlists that I used when driving myself and clients. It was in my ears when I started commuting to the city over the summer on those long ass bus rides. It became part of my background soundtrack for months. This last week, I found myself on assignment from The Jamwich to do a review of PEAK’s show at Arlene’s Grocery and all of a sudden I was reminded there is a whole album I need to devour and review from this band who did this song I have been in love with for months! So here I am.

This is PEAK’s new album Electric Bouquet.

PEAK’s founder, Jeremy Hilliard, was in a band called Turbine. They had four releases over about a decade and played a ton of great shows with great bands. Now has created a whole new era of awesome with PEAK. When I went to see them last week, I got the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy at a nearby pizza spot and pick his brain a bit before they took the stage at Lower East Side institution, Arlene’s Grocery. I was immediately impressed by how chill of a dude he is. A humble but energetic and kind presence, he has a genuine appreciation for the music and the scene.

We chatted a bit about the scene and I was impressed that he actually had read my Jam Scene piece and knew my views on it (after 8 years, I’m still surprised anyone reads anything I write). I find it interesting to discuss with a band where they see their sound within the scene. Jeremy calmly explained that PEAK is still finding their sound, as is evidenced by their very multifaceted new album. It goes from smooth trippy jams like Ride Through the Night to smooth 70’s AM infused grooves like Idyllwild Flower before heading over to upbeat and funky tunes like Funk and Tonic. They have a little bit of everything on this record, and I love that. They are not a band you can put in a box. They are not a band you can slap a jam scene label on and call it a day. Yes, they do reside within the scene and they have some sick jams, but their sound remains nameless and free. I like that.
Arlene’s Grocery – November 2, 2018
As a live band, PEAK is stellar. Their sound is perfectly clean on stage. It’s not often that you can go see a band who you only know from their recorded material and actually have it sound as good as their recorded material, but that is PEAK. There was not a lot of fuss. While there were jams, the show was fluid and didn’t stop or lose energy. I had a laugh that they did have a moment to mention their new and especially soft new shirts (which I did not grab on my way out as I bolted to catch my train and bus) and thank the audience and support acts. Other than that though, there was a constant stream of well executed live music on that stage that had the same energy and genuine feel as their album. I was very impressed and I think PEAK just found a devout new fan in this writer. They even dropped in a Mac DeMarco cover and also included new songs in the set. After that, I was really excited to get a review out for this album because if you have not heard it yet, you need to.

So let’s get down to it, shall we?

There is a lot of love about this album. We can start with Imaginary Lines because this song was my crack all summer. I love the keys. The bass line is steady groove that doesn’t let up. The vocals are catchy as hell. The drums are perfectly placed to keep that upbeat but still light pace. I love this song and While yes, Imaginary Lines is the first song to pull me in, there is so much going on that its impossible to even pick a favorite track on this album. I know because I tried. On the Grind is a great straight rock track that anyone would dig. It’s got a great chugging groove with guitar and vocal that pair really well together and work steady with the bass, key, and drums. It’s a completely different sound that the song prior to it and you could probably pass it off as another band. I love that about this record. You cannot get bored of the sound. It’s impossible. The sound itself is fluid.

Barometric Pressure (Here Comes The Rain) actually kicks off the record with it’s cool vocal effects, spacey synth sounds and really funky bass. The thing I like about this song the most are the vocals. They are sing-along-able (is that a thing? It is now) and cool, and lace through those funky bass grooves so that they still stand out prominent. I like those use of layers in PEAK’s sound on this album. Moving on to Win Some, Lose Some and there is that completely different sound again! While there is still that funky groove, this song is in another, different direction. It has a bluesy feel interwoven with a really tight guitar solo, steady keys, and really smoky backup vocals to balance it all out.

Feel Like Moving is pure dance energy with funk flavor and a decades old formula of synth and guitar to get the body moving, and it works perfectly. Listen to this song and see if your feet stay still because mine don’t – this song is fun as hell! It takes an occasional slow groove break before it picks back up and even though it’s ten thirty in the morning right now, I want a cocktail and a dance floor. This one might actually be my favorite. Falling Backwards Through Time is a slower, sweeter track. I love the pace change with this song and the 90’s alt-rock flavor. It reminds me of something between The Church and Mazzy Star. I’m a total nerd for music of that era so I pick it out of everything. Jeremy Hilliard also let me in on Falling Backwards Through Time also being set to become the band’s first music video very soon, so keep your eyeballs peeled for that. 

Jeremy Hilliard, Arlene’s Grocery – November 2, 2018
All in all, you have a bit of anything and everything on Electric Bouquet, and that is fantastic and incredibly refreshing. PEAK is not a band you are going to be able to pin down with a bunch of descriptives about sound and genre. It’s an ever-changing mastery of ideas that keep you interested from song to song. Nothing drones, nothing gets sleepy or too far into trippy territory for the sake of being in trippy territory. This is a very stimulated and creatively wide open record and I love it from start to finish. To see that PEAK gives as good of a performance of this ability live as they do in a studio is just all the more respect from me to them. It’s really easy for a band to fall into a dull and lifeless rut and I think some do it and don’t even realize it. That sound gets tired. I love the fact that PEAK never gets tired. It keeps you on your toes waiting to hear what the next song will sound like.

These guys have some shows coming up in the Northeast this month and and you can keep tabs on that tour page HERE. They have shows coming up in Philadelphia, Manchester, CT and New Paltz, NY. I suggest highly that you get yourself out to see PEAK and shake what you’re working with because it’s a fantastic live show. I see a lot happening for PEAK in 2019. Honestly if the festival scene is not peppered with their name come spring time, I will be really disappointed in every promoter out there…but I know better. You can expect to see a lot more of PEAK. 
Get yourself a copy of Electric Bouquet, and I’ll see you on the floor!

Digging Hard on the Smooth Grooves of The Elovators – Defy Gravity

There is just something that happens to my entire soul when I am listening to good record. It’s like the bugs of negativity that have been infesting me for days, weeks, months seem to rise and leave my entire being and these gold and rose colored droplets of positive deposit in their place. Is there no better feeling that a good uplifting batch of sounds for your soul? I ask, but I know the answer. Boston’s The Elovators know the answer too, and that’s why they have given us all their new record, Defy Gravity. It’s everything we need right now.

I stumbled on these guys a while back and did a piece on their last record, The Cornerstone. (you can check that out HERE) I thought it was outstanding and really captured a vibe of pure love and peace, and goodness knows we can’t have enough of that these days. I really didn’t think they could up that game, but here I am with these sounds in my ears and I’m completely floored. This vibe is complete fire. The beat is silky and the vocals are harmonious and sweet while still hitting deep and hard. There is a perfect mix of really groove heavy bass, soaring guitar work, funk and soul keys, expertly done percussions, and incredibly beautiful vocals that set The Elovators apart from their contemporaries. These guys have really tapped into that pure sweet gold vibe in music. It’s a perfect mix of sway, dance, and smile and it comes through in every track.

The first track, Live By The Day, is just so sexy and tight. It’s got that dip and pulse vibe that seems to pull at your body when you listen so much that you find yourself moving with it’s waves. The vocals are gorgeous, as usual. I love the way the Elovators write vocals into their songs. They are like a swaying batch of sea grass –  all bits of the song come together and wave back and forth, yet still split apart with the changing of the breezes. The bass line in this song is really sensual and I love that element. Skipping on over to Gonna Shine for some real chilled standard reggae beat and vibe rounded out with that positive charge that we all love about these guys. Then it picks up tempo and it’s like the sun just came out in the late morning and showed us another gorgeous day. I love this band’s uplifting soul and how it shines through their songs.

People Go starts off with some steady percussion and kicks in with some guitar and sweet bass, a bit of clap, keys, and a whole lot of sweet soul. It’s more of that sunshine through the rain and kicking vocals in this track. Great guitar work. Outstanding groove that gets in you and keeps you moving. This is the kind of song that pulls at your smile at the corners of your mouth as the dancing starts. This one is going to be a whole lot of fun live. So much room for jams, already a really funky cool solo in the mix. My Baby takes that smooth jam down a few notches into something sensual and cool. Very clearly a love song, it’s got that sexy smoothness while still holding the uplift and body moving vibe. Great lyrics, lovely vocals.

The Ladder is one of my favorite tracks on this record. The percussion is stellar. The groove has several changes through the song. The vocals are strong, powerful, and uplifting. The lyrics are just what I needed today. This song is getting deep into all the cracks in me right now and I loving it. This is one of those songs that lights up a crowd with positive, jumping energy bursts and I want to be there to experience it because it will be amazing. Well done, guys. The last track, Shaking off the Wolves, takes it all down a notch with some earthy acoustic guitar and light vibe. The vocals go deep and strong. About halfway through, the tempo kicks up a bit and the song carries you high with a message of hope, peace, and strength. That message is conveyed not just in words, but the overall vibe of the song. It’s a skill I love about this band. Another example of fantastic writing by The Elovators.

Defy Gravity was recorded and mixed by Danny Kalb, who is known for his work with artists like The Movement and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, at White Star Studios in Virginia. It’s a sophisticated and groove heavy piece of awesome and I am incredibly impressed with where these guys went with their writing this time around. The Cornerstone was a fantastic display of their style, but Defy Gravity proves how polished that style can be. It’s a elegant and chill record and I’m here to tell you that you need it in your life. The world is constantly pelting us all with boulder-size orbs of negative energy lately, and we need all the sweet peace and uplifting groove we can find. I can’t think of a single record right now that would be better suited to fight all that ugly than this gorgeous piece of splendid right here.

You can get your copy of Defy Gravity HERE.

Check back with the band’s website for tour info. As soon as these guys hit NJ/NYC, I’ll be out there, and I hope to see you grooving with us!