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!

257 total views, no views today

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!

242 total views, no views today

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

200 total views, no views today

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.

169 total views, no views today

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
fingerlakesthaw.com
Multi-Venue, Music

April 25 – April 28
Some Kind of Jam
Schuylkill Haven, PA
www.jibberjazz.com
Music, Camping, Workshops

May 16 – May 19
Froggy Daze Music Festival
Narrowsburg, NY
www.peacepadproductions.com
Music, Camping

May 16 – May 18
Camp Jam In the Pines
Hammonton, NJ
www.cjinthep.com
Music, Camping             

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

www.elementsfest.us

Music, Art, Camping

May 24 – May 27
Strange Creek Campout
Greenfield, MA
www.strangecreekcampout.com
Music, Camping

May 30 – June 2
Branch Fest Music and Arts Festival
Newport, ME
https://branchfest.com/
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

BeardFest
Hammonton, NJ                
Music, Art, Camping

June 13 – June 16
Mountain Jam
Bethel, NY
www.mountainjam.com
Music, Camping

July 4 – July 6
moe.down
Turin, NY
www.moe.org/festival/
Music, Art, Camping,

July 4 – July 7
Yonderville Music and Arts Festival
Remington, VA
www.yondervillemusicfestival.com
Music, Art, Camping

July 12 – July 14
Levitate Music and Arts Festival
Marshfield, MA
www.levitatemusicfestival.com
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
www.organicsmilesmusicfest.com
Music, Camping

July 26 – July 28
Newport Folk Festival
Newport, RI
www.newportfolk.org
Music, Food

July 26 – July 27
Tumble Down
Burlington, VT
highergroundmusic.com
Music

August 5 – August 9
Roots Rock Revival 2019
Big Indian, NY
www.rootsrockrevival.com
Music, Workshops, Lodging

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

August 9 – August 11
Mazzstock Music Festival
Marlboro, NY
www.mazzstock.com
Music, Camping

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

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

August 16 – 18
Bethel Woods Music and Cultural Festival
Bethel, NY
BethelWoodsCenter.org
Music…

August 22 – August 25
LOCKN’
Arrington, VA
www.locknfestival.com
Music, Camping, Food

August 22 – August 24
Night Lights Music Festival
Sherman, NY
www.nightlightsfest.com
Music, Camping, Art

120 total views, no views today

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!

66 total views, no views today

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!

62 total views, 1 views today

“What Is It?” – Exploring The Jam Scene…

What is the Jam Scene exactly?

This is something I have been working to define for a while…pretty much ever since I met my husband. Not because I ever felt like it NEEDED some sort of definition. It doesn’t, and one of the great things about it is that it doesn’t have one. I don’t like to give him credit when he is listening because I don’t want to swell his head, but it’s because of my husband’s influence that I found myself here. It’s not the whole reason because there were a lot of reasons, but those times I refused to listen to a band, check out a festival, or explore that inner flower child that I knew was there (hell, she was bred into me by my parents)…I stopped myself because I already thought I knew what the scene was. I thought I knew everything I needed to and that it was NOT FOR ME. I was extremely closed minded. The real truth is that I had no idea what the Jam Scene really was. The truth is that it’s a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s something uniquely different for everyone that becomes a part of it. It’s probably easier to try and tell you what the scene isn’t than what the scene is, but what fun would that be?


So I set out on a quest to find out from people who call this scene home – WHAT IS THE JAM SCENE TO YOU?

I’ll start with myself. I was looking for something in my music. It was something I could not explain. It was something just under the surface of everything that I was missing. For a long time, I tried to find it. That exploration over the years was rich and wonderful and it took me on incredible journeys and gave me some of my very dearest friends. I just wasn’t finding that THING I was after. What made it harder was that I had no idea what it was I was looking for. Fast forward to meeting my husband in 2012. He was a bassist in a band that was a part of the jam scene. This was a scene I didn’t know much about personally, but WOW did I make a lot of assumptions. I thought because I knew people in the scene that I understood what the scene was. I thought because I heard two Phish songs that I knew who Phish were. Repeat that with moe., Umphreys, the Dead, and then just keep going. I thought I knew everything. What was worse, I assumed I didn’t like it.

I have talked about it before in these blogs. My podcast, my blog, my focus was ska and reggae and I thought I knew it all. I was pretentious about it, like a lot of people are. A lot of the arrogance that taught me had become ingrained in me and as such, I refused to listen. I heard things, I just didn’t listen to any of them. It was Twiddle that changed that for me. Now, suspend any sanctimonious Twiddle dislike you have while you are reading this please. It’s irrelevant here and I don’t care. For me, they were the thing. They were the crossover. They were my jam scene gateway drug. I heard Lost in the Cold, felt the vibe, heard the horns, and thought…wow. I dig this. Not only that, I can actually feel this. And it genuinely opened me up. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t immediate. It took about a year for me to open my head up all the way and let it all in, and honestly that process is still taking place. I don’t like everything. Some of it I downright can’t stand. But that is every genre. What left me was the need to be so pretentious.

But that’s not even it. That was just the door cracking open enough for me to smell the air inside. I realized I liked enough music that I wanted to hear more. And then more. And then I wanted to see those bands live. And then there were more bands. The thing I never realized was that the jam scene is not one kind of music. It’s not one genre. It’s not just “this” kind of music or “that” kind of music. It’s NOT, as I long suspected, a whole bunch of bands trying to be the Dead or Phish (though that does exist) or reggae bands all covering Sublime tunes (though that does exist) Not hardly. It’s some of the most killer funk bands I have ever encountered. It’s some incredible folk music. Its wonderful singer/songwriter collaborations. It’s deep and powerful soul music. It’s some of the best dance music I ever heard played not through a computer, but with a live band! (I should not need to say that with such enthusiasm, but seriously) This scene took everything I thought I knew about bluegrass and flipped it upside down. It’s all these different types of music that come together. That play together. That have these massive meet up festivals and all JAM together. I’m often amused now when I see other scenes talk about their shows and festivals and the novelty of one band playing with another band. That is what this entire scene is! That happens at EVERY show! I don’t judge anyone for it because that was me once too, and wow. There was so much I thought I knew.


What I never saw coming though was this community. I never expected to be as embraced as I was not just by the other fans, but by the artists as I began to write about the scene. It’s not like there are not a ton of other blogs and publications on this scene. I struggle as a small independent writer to be noticed among them, but that never dampened the appreciation from the artists and the community for what I strive to do in sharing the music. My first festival was an eye opener for me. The music I saw, the community I met, and as much as I hate camping, I embraced that concept as well and enjoyed being a part of this little compound for a weekend. I never knew what that was. I never experienced that for more than a few hours.

Then I realized what I had been missing.

It was peace.

  

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. For me, it’s chemical. It’s something I have worked just to learn to live along side of as part of my world. In its chaos, I have struggled to find inner peace in my life. As I became more and more immersed in this scene, the more I realized I was slowly starting to find that peace I had been seeking. Depression does this thing to you. It makes you feel isolated no matter how many people you surround yourself with. For most of my life, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. The feeling of not quite fitting in has been reality for me every day as long as I can remember. It’s something I wouldn’t tell my friends, but I didn’t understand why they wanted to be around me. I didn’t feel a part of their world. I was just kind of…there. Never fully being able to relate to them. Never really feeling like they related to me. Naturally I usually felt like I was proved right after a while when my own introverted behavior sent me into hermit mode, and as such, I never lost this sensation that I just don’t fit in.

This year, when we went to Disc Jam, that started to change a little. It’s not a full reversal of those deeply rooted issues, but I realized I was meeting more and more like-minded people. I never felt judged when I met anyone there. None of these people I was meeting were anything like I thought they would be. In fact, they were like me. They were like me in ways I could not really explain. It had nothing to do with our appearances or even music taste. It was inward. It was an understanding. I don’t really ever meet people like me. Maybe it was the euphoria of the music. Maybe it was those damn good bloody marys. Maybe it was the moment I felt my anxiety slip away for the first time in a long time, but there is just something there within the community. It’s a peace.

I think that is how the scene gets you. It’s how it pulls you in. It wraps itself around you with music and friendship and you realize that there are people like you. Maybe that is how every scene gets you. I don’t want to declare that it’s just this one, and that somehow people outside of it are not getting what we have here. That’s ignorant and closed minded. I guess what I am saying is that this is why this scene is great to me. That got me thinking though. Why is this scene great to YOU? Then I decided I would just start asking people.

 Will Hanza – Guitarist for Escaper 

“What the jam scene means to me… First of all, I think the scene has grown a whole bunch the past ten years. While some fest have come and gone, I feel the scene- people whom are in it and you see and hang out with often, has grown and become closer and closer as time has gone on. I feel I only got into going to fests about 5-6 years ago and Escaper has been around for just 2 and a half years. I have to say that here is a lot of love in this scene. Love for live music- to the point of addiction (glorious addiction), love for each other. Especially those that champion it, help propagate it. There is a genuineness to most people in this scene and a real sense of community. It takes village to raise a jam band. The amount of love I have felt from people for Escaper, as well as me as a person, has been almost overwhelming at times. I can’t say enough- I have met so many people through this music and I have come to sincerely love so many of them. When I was younger, I was much more in the rock ‘scene’. There definitely was not the same sense of community. If anything, fellow bands often were more competitive than seeing each other as family that could help each other. Maybe the jam scene has grown, even, to be more familial. Music is a composition, not a competition, right? We all have so much wealth of soul and sweat in us. Why not share it and boost each other? Rising tides raise all ships and all that. The more we believe and live that way, the better we all are. I believe this to the core, as do my best friends in this scene. Aaaaand we get to play highly improvisational, exploratory, heartfelt music? What? Yes, please.”

 David Loss – Guitar/Keys/Vocals for Aqueous

“Being a part of the Jam Scene is like being a part of a large family. Especially at the summer festivals, you get the feeling of being at a family reunion. Seeing people you haven’t seen in awhile and meeting up with friends and musicians alike. Beyond that, I think the scene offers a little something for everyone. There’s so many talented musicians out there and so many dedicated fans. Overall, I feel, the scene just provides a kind atmosphere and one that I’m happy to be a part of!”

  

Alzie Sisco – Drums for Newton Crosby

“To me the scene is an ever evolving thing. Its about acceptance, growing and meeting many different people that will have an impact on your life forever. Being involved in it for so long, I’ve gotten to discover so much about what I like and even question it sometimes and relearn what you thought was “the way to do things”. I’ve gotten to meet so many talented artists and learn from them. It also represents family because the people you meet in this scene are just that…and they shape your experience…not to mention, its FUCKING FUN!!!”

  

Vincent Ventriglia – Guitar/Vocals for Wig Party

“The jam scene to me is a place where people can go see music made by musicians for people who like music. There are multiple sides to that as far as styles of music are considered. It like the best buffet you have ever been at. But instead of it being egg rolls or some type of chicken or a meat dish, its Jazz, Blues, Rock, folk, Hard Rock, Rap, R&B, EDM, Funk etc. Literally ever style of music. “

What does this scene mean to YOU? I would love to hear your answers for a follow up! Send me a message! Tell me your story!

70 total views, 1 views today

Smooth Dance Vibes with BoomBox – Western Voodoo

Electronic music is not something I really ever saw myself getting into because for some stupid reason, I didn’t think I would find anything of myself in it. I was so incredibly wrong. Over the last couple years, I have discovered amazing artists like Lotus and Escaper who truly changed my perceptions about what electronic music actually could be. I remember Disc Jam this year and standing near the hospitality tent while Lotus played. Me and four or five other people who had never met found ourselves, mid-conversation, just slowly morphing into a giggling impromptu dance party. It was one of those magical moments where you have to stop and enjoy being alive really consciously for a minute because in that minute, it was pure joy brought on by a shared love of music. I’ll never forget that moment.

Since discovering those artists, my playlists on Spotify have been being dotted with other artists that the machines there think I might like. One of those mind changing tracks was a song called Dungeons by BoomBox. It just showed up in my suggested playlist one day and from one listen, I was hooked. The song had a deep soul that was undeniable while still being danceable. I dabbled a bit into the rest of the BoomBox catalog, but I have been simply addicted to this song ever since. The other day, I decided to delve deeper. Coincidently, I decided to do this the day their new record, Western Voodoo, was released. Sometimes the universe gives you what you need right when you need it. I have been stuck on this record since then.

The first track, Castles, immediately pulled me in. It has that same deep bass infused soul that hooked me with Dungeons months ago. The vocals come in smooth sleek and add to that overall sexiness that the track has. It’s that body moving, graceful psychedelia that hypnotizes you while it slowly pulls you deep into another world. I absolutely love this song. I think what I like the most about the music that BoomBox is creating is that while electronic, it still has really lovely vocal work. I love vocals. Pull me in with vocals, and you have me forever. What BoomBox has created is a deeper kind of electronic music that you can sing while you dance. I’m curious as hell now to see them live.

The track Selling Fun is more of that deep bass groove but picks up that tempo a bit with a cantering beat and slick vocals. I dig where this song goes. Restless Too is another great track with a rainy feel and calming presence with some light guitar sound and steady beat. There is something so incredibly peaceful in the sound and the vibe that BoomBox creates with this album. It’s like low dose Xanax for your ears that makes you want to dance.  That’s the best way I can put it. I’m in love with the sound. It takes your hand gently and leads you to soft colors and the smoothest feels but you can’t stop your body from moving so you dance your way there.  Easy Operator is another track I dig with its slow jam feel and synthesized backdrop. I don’t know how anyone could listen to this album and stay still because I am in a constant sway. I’m in love. I Trouble is another favorite of mine. The overall vibe so incredibly sensual with vocals that seem to almost lick over the beat with soft echo effects and slight changes.

BoomBox is the mastery of multi-instrumentalist Zion Rock Godchaux. He refers to his special blend as “Dirty Disco Blues” and I don’t think anyone could have come up with a better explanation of his unique sound. It’s based in dance beats but goes so much deeper. I think what turned me off from a lot of very commercial dance music for so many years was how shallow and thin it felt. I never felt like I could find a place within its sound to connect. What has been created in BoomBox is something very different. It’s a sound that has so many places that I found I could connect. It’s a dance vibe that goes deep within you. It has layers and complexities. It finds you in a vulnerable moment and lifts your soul with soft hands while moving your hips. There is something incredibly special in what is created here.

All in all, there is so much to love in Western Voodoo. I recommend strongly checking it out, even if you think it might not be your exact flavor. What I can assure you is that it’s nothing you think, I can promise you that. Listen and feel it pulse through you. You can get your greedy little paws on these awesome sounds right HERE and I implore you to do so ASAP.
BoomBox has tour dates posted into January on their website which you can check out right HERE. I’m a bit bummed because there is nothing posted for the NY/NJ area so it looks like I’ll be hoping for some local dates come late winter/early spring. (hint hint!) I really want to experience this live. As soon as there is a local date, I will be hoping to see you there! We will have an impromptu dance party!

63 total views, no views today

Wig Party is Back with that Groove and Their New EP, 99th Birthday

It’s tough to have a talented spouse and a blog about music. Eventually, the two are going to cross and you are going to have to sit there and wonder if nepotism is a thing in music journalism. Is it? I have no idea. But here is the scoop… my hubs joined this pretty neato band called Wig Party and now Wig Party has this pretty neato EP that I want to talk about and I don’t know if I can, but I am going to anyway so when you see me gushing in run on sentences, you know this is me trying to determine if I am being a bad blogger. Am I?

Fuck it.

So here is Wig Party. A band of merry fellows from Northern New Jersey who have come to knock the socks clear off your feet. I actually did a piece on their Phish pre-party at American beauty a while back. You can read about that right HERE. It was a super good time! I’m glad to now be a part of this Wig Party family. But more on that later.

The band has been around a while. They found some notoriety with their first release, Glass Girls,  and even found themselves charted for three months straight on Relix’s Jambands radio chart, including holding at places 5 and 6. Not too shabby, guys! They played pre-parties and afterparties for Phish and the Bob Weir/Phil Lesh duo at BB King’s and American Beauty in New York City, as well as the Raven Room in NJ. The band was young and promising but as often happens, the promise seemed to stop short. Tragedy struck hard, and the band lost keyboardist and dear friend Hank Rosenthal to a battle with addiction. While some bands might never recover from such a blow, Wig Party found the strength.



With that strength came new life and a new three song EP.

99th birthday was recorded at Mixolydian Studios in lovely Water Gap, PA under the masterful producer eye of Railroad Earth’s own Tim Carbone. Because one legend having their hands on your music is not enough, the band also brought in Don Sternecker to engineer the EP and 9 time Grammy winner Gene Paul to master it. The album also features a guest spot from the late wonderful Andy Goesling of Railroad Earth on both tenor and baritone sax which added a touch of deep soul to the fun and danceable track. While the album highlights the great songwriting that is Wig Party, the real experience with the band is to see them live.



2018 saw the addition of new members, drummer Tom DiCianni and bassist Eric Marcazo, as well as keyboardist Joe Biglin. In addition to original member John Cisco moving to guitar and vocalist/guitarist Vincent Ventriglia hanging out where he’s always been, the band is poised for a super exciting 2019. The guys have been out warming up the stage with their particular brand of “Slacker Jam” and sophisticated groove fun. The live show is where it’s at. The guys are master of improvisation on the stage and have a fantastic chemistry that they more or less stumbled upon just having a good time and playing music among friends. They debuted this new groove opening for Kung Fu’s Chris DeAngelis and his side project, LoEndFreque a couple months ago and have not looked back. 

You can get your grubby little hands on the music in all the usual places, but here is a link to the website to have a tasty look: MUSIC

Keep an eye to the website HERE for upcoming shows and other goodness from the band. Check out 99th Birthday. This is not an obligated post. It’s really freaking good!

67 total views, 1 views today