Scene Swap: Post-Boss Asbury Park
Scene Swap is an exciting new feature in which we partner with artists and fans across the country to exchange musical recommendations in order to shine the spotlight on those bands who haven’t yet broken out beyond the confines of their own local scene. In this installment Nicole Atkins (who hails from Springsteen haunt Asbury Park, New Jersey) tells us a bit about who is currently keeping the city’s musical legacy alive. Atkins will be performing at the Turf Club on February 25th.
You can stream Atkins new single “Girl You Look Amazing” off of her recent album Slow Phaser here.
I live in Asbury Park NJ. A little rock n roll beachtown right in-between New York City and Philadelphia. Asbury Park, as you probably know, is famous for being the springboard town for one of the biggest and best rock legends, Mr. Bruce Springsteen. A big part of me believes that he’s a big reason there are so many bands in this area. Growing up, it seemed perfectly normal to most of our parents that being a rockstar was a perfectly cool and normal aspiration. They saw many people from the area attain that. So music was always supported, nurtured and respected around these parts. Damn sushi places even have “the Bruce Springroll” on their menus. But before and well after Bruce, Asbury has always been a hotbed of surf bands, metal, garage and progressive rock. Prog and Garage rock were the cornerstones of the “Asbury Sound.”
The last couple of years Asbury has seen a really nice revival in its heavier Psychedelic, Blues and Garage genres with a crop of new bands. The scene here was overridden with a lot of generic blues and 80’s rock for a while but thankfully that’s died down. With the artist revolution happening in town, the youngins are moving in and they are making some good shit. Here are some of my current favorites. Wreaths is a soulful psych drone band that are always great to see live, sometimes there’s 5 members, sometimes 10. They also throw really great happenings and pop up shows in town usually making for the best nights out. They create a lot of space in their songs which is something to strive for.
The Glycerine Queens are four ultra badass teenage shredders that play awesome Stoner Bummer Punk. Ranging in ages 17-19, they’ve been a band for a few years now and are really finding their sound. I’m actually producing a full length for them and here’s one of the tracks. They also cover Tame Impala’s “Elephant,” which is a doozy. I can’t wait to see what these girls shows are gonna be like when they get legal. haha
Ruby the Hatchet is a powerful dark and heavy Psych Metal band led by a Cosmic Goddess, Jillian Taylor. Part time in Philly and part time in Asbury, they’re one of us. They remind me of a mix of the Melvins, Black Sabbath and a forest sex witch fairy howling into a tidal wave. They’re working on a new record now. And apparently they are breeding snakes. gross.
I head local Garage rockers Ba Babes when I first moved back here after a long hiatus. They played on the boardwalk with the Growlers and it was definitely the spark of a new generation of cool music happening in Asbury. James Ba Babes is a total character. He commands the stage like a crazed psycho with spitfire riffs and rants. Sweet Joey, our local silver toothed sweetheart and owner of the coolest clothing shop in town, aptly named “sweet joey’s,” rounds it out on drums, usually standing up and on the verge of a total madman breakdown. Their shows, along with so many others around here make me really proud to live here. Stream BaBa Babes’ Hate the Beach
Once again, Nicole Atkins will be performing next Tues (2/25) at the Turf Club. Tickets are available in advance here
Stream: Chambermaids “Whatever Happened Tomorrow” (Release Show TONIGHT at Turf)
It isn’t surprising with the established players who makes up the band that the new Chambermaids record is as lush and full sounding as it is, but it shouldn’t undercut what a sonically mesmerizing record Whatever Happened Tomorrow turned out to be. Mixing woozy pysch-pop with shoegazing undercurrents, it is a record that is both pretty and commanding. From the gentle waves of the instrumental track “I Always Knew” to the echo-laden, jangly fuzz-pop of “Scraped Away,” it is a record that is heavy as a ton of bricks, but light as a feather. This is a record that will hit you your first listen and offer nuances and surprises each time you give it a spin. They don’t play often anymore, so that makes tonight’s release show even more of a big deal. Celebrate this great record at the Turf Club this evening as Chambermaids are joined by Is/Is and Erros Magicos, along with DJ Soft Abuse for what should be a great show. Stream and buy the record below, otherwise pick up a limited edition 12″ from the group tonight at the Turf Club.
Live Thoughts: Billy Bragg at the Cedar + Burgerama at Turf Club
Two shows. Back to back nights. Both wildly entertaining, with each scratching a distinctly different itch.
Thursday night was Billy Bragg, who put on a two-plus hour show at the Cedar Cultural Center that was singer-songwriter nirvana. His political barbs and well-manicured stories had the sold-out, standing room only audience wrapped around his fingers. From his broadsides against the idiocy of our guns laws and healthcare system to his barbs about his home country giving him grief for “going country,” his banter provided some brevity between the amazing set he put together. From newer alt-country material (the beautiful “No One Knows Nothing,” the sweet “Handyman Blues”) to classic Woody covers (the fired up “All You Fascists Are Bound to Lose” and the mournful “I Ain’t got No Home”), Bragg and the four piece backing him up sounded fantastic. The end of the set was anchored by his “hits” “A New England ” and “Waiting for the Great Leap Forward,” with a stirring “Help Save the Youth of America” to close the show on a high note. It was a moving, poignant and powerful evening from one of the best songwriters of our time.
The next night, after being moved by the power of Billy Bragg, I was ready for something a bit lighter and decidedly more visceral, and the Burger Records Burgerama 2013 Caravan tour provided just that experience. Bringing about 38 bands that are connected to Burger Records in some regards to the Turf Club (OK, maybe more like 7), the show was a quick hit, fast paced journey through the various Burger-infused iterations of garage rock. From the jangly opening of Collen Green to the Velvet Underground/spaceman 3 noise-garage of The Cosmonauts, it was a jam packed evening that, like the releases on the label, showed the versatility and depth of a genre most known for its brutally simple structure. Memories and Together Pangea brought the more pop leaning, goofy side of the equation while Gap Dream got heady and heavy with their organ-guitar interplay, which lead perfectly into the spaced out Cosmonauts set that was the highlight of the evening. None of these bands were looking to reinvent the wheel, with each focusing in on simple grooves and power chords.
The two shows seemed to play off each other in a way that I hadn’t expected. Billy Bragg left me emotionally exhausted and spiritually uplifted, a legend who not only writes and performs amazing songs but is a powerful advocate for social change. I don’t think experiencing anything like that two straight nights would be good for me. But some loud three chord rock performed with various tweaks, with quick turnarounds between bands? That hit the spot. The gathered masses on Friday weren’t looking to change the world, they just wanted to get drunk, have some fun and hear some scrappy music, which when you are 22 may actually be a how you imagine you will change the world. Both shows proved uplifting and inspiring, their differences playing off each other to highlight how many different ways that music can really make an impact on peoples lives. Long live rock and roll.