New Jersey’s Smooth Operators

Dub Proof lays down sensible, thinking man’s groove that puts them right at the highest rank of performers specializing in soul-flavored reggae and slicked-back funk rock. With a chilled “in the pocket” rhythm section, Dub Proof could make any of the big names today take fast notice. Their melodic sensibilities weave between analog-warm synths, hypnotic drums and bass while up-stroked guitars chop echoed time signatures with clockwork.

And they do this all night long, blowing out island-meets-East Coast vibe all along their watchtower of audio magic. It’s no wonder these guys make an impression everywhere they play. Their recent show in Asbury Park at The Saint was to unveil their latest self-titled EP. While their new EP is short on content, Dub Proof puts all their effort into their numbers with all the fire and grit of a pace-conscience horse out front on a solid track. Engineered by Paul Skye of Skye Lab Studios, the disc is further complimented by mastering whiz kid Roger Quinn of Asbury Media.

The band has been around long enough to know that less is indeed more when it comes to quality over quantity. Two mixes including “NJ Dub (Beer)” and “NJ Dub (Scientist Dub Mix)” address all the key ingredients needed for attracting new listeners. Styled from the old school, groove-oriented icons of Yellowman and the contemporary slant of Gogol Bordello, Dub Proof takes all bold chances as they move fluidly from the traditional into the jazz smooth sounds of Sade and the bluesy darkness of Curtis Mayfield.

Dub Proof is a focal point in my mind because they understand that great songwriting takes discipline. The physical and mental act of construction with purpose and effect is something that has to be learned through experimentation. Taking their time when building a piece of music, Dub Proof rarely misses the mark of positive audience reaction. From great songs such as “I Don’t Wanna,” to the brand new track of “NJ Dub,” Dub Proof layers dynamic instrumentation like a musical architect, adding intricate compositional floors to their skyscraper of sound. While I cannot claim that I am a reggae enthusiast or a consummate fan of all things from the Islands, Dub Proof is the deciding factor in pushing me towards an open-minded position with this musical form.

With their wide-open style and complex sound, Dub Proof definitely stands out with original style and delivery. From horns to spinning organs, Dub Proof breaks every mold that gets thrown in their path.

For more information on this highly underrated Jersey band, check out their music; go to a live show, all on their site reverbnation.com/dubproof.

 

Last Perfect Thing, The Signal Re-Release Party

The Stone Pony

August 4, 2011

ASBURY PARK, NJ—Right away the name tells you that there might be a hierarchy issue concerning this Jersey legend. Are they correct? Are they the “last perfect thing?” Ask their fans to answer that question and you might be fielding quotes all day. MySpace, Facebook and ReverbNation all have Internet geeks gushing over these Jersey kingpins and their music on a daily basis.

But what you have to understand is why they follow and listen to this band. The simple answer is they are one of the best live groups on the circuit and beyond, producing blitzkrieg-tight and melodic-rich rock and roll along the lines of The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Eve 6, Lit and The Atari’s.

Last Perfect Thing did their triumphant reappearance a few weeks back on Aug. 4 at the legendary Stone Pony in Asbury Park. That show told me everything I needed to know about a band that has studied, lived and bled real rock and roll angst in their whirlwind lives. Watching Last Perfect Thing tear up the Pony stage always brings a smile to my face because they understand the reason that they’re really up there. Passion, dynamic skill and audience inclusion puts these guys at the top of my list when thinking about Jersey bands that have survived and mattered to the original music scene.

The Signal was performed note for note at the Stone Pony. LPT not only brought the party to the bar, but kept the people at the stage right until the end of the show. Special guest were Shoreworld pal Rob Blake on bass as well as the phenomenal Eric Safka on Hammond B3 Organ, Mike Smith on bass (the ultimate four-string maniac from the UFO tour), the thunderous Kevin Conroy on drums, Jeff Teeter on guitar and the most consummate drummer I know, Chris Donofrio.

This trench-ridden horde came barreling out of the gates, blazing through 17 songs effortlessly with finesse and dynamic interplay from start to finish. Beginning with classics including, (from The Signal) Charles, Dark Blue, Take Me Away, Wayside, Lie To Me and a few older hits from Hawaii. After a brief interlude, they even gave the audience members a taste of brand new songs from their as-yet-untitled forthcoming album (due out in the fall), much to listeners’ delight.

To keep the crowd on their toes, LPT even threw in a cover (“Animal” by Mike Snow, which will also be on the new record). Always a fan favorite, “Charles” caught the masses that filled the floor and never let them go. Heavy with gritty guitars, candy-coated melodies and vocals; it’s the kind of specific song that leaves listeners wondering who Charles actually is. It’s passionate, angry and in your face, on the most volatile scale. A personal favorite of mine has always been “Dark Blue.” Vivid memories of a mesmerizing girl are brought to life by chugging guitars intertwined with harmonic distortions and distinctive backing vocals.

“Take Me Away (Love To Steal),” has become an anthem for Last Perfect Thing, and they let you know it in every performance of this standout song. The melodies take so many twists and turns, a virgin listener might think he was listening to several different songs. LPT fanatics know better. The lyrics seem to call the crowd to action, taking them along on an epic journey, dealing with the hyperbole of society.

“Wayside,” has perfect, intricate (and at the ending, beautiful a capella) vocals, throughout semi-repetitive lyrics. Don’t let that sentence fool you. The song is powerful, effective and visually stimulating. The guitars pound like a heart that’s racing from a dysfunctional lover while the drums drive straight through the middle of the tune, keeping pace with the chase. The finality of this love affair gone wrong comes through with every new inflection of the words in each chorus.

This is a band that I would love to see get to the next level. That hasn’t been an easy climb. I don’t know how that ever happens in real life but to see this group disintegrate would be a big disappointment for the music scene and music fans in general.

Last Perfect Thing is no stranger to rubbing elbows with greatness, having played with King’s X, Soul Asylum, Gavin DeGraw, Say Anything, The Slackers, Hoobastank, New Found Glory, Nicole Atkins, as well as hundreds of other local and national acts.

For more info on their latest disc, The Signal, as well as what else the boys might be up to, check out lastperfectthing.com.

 

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