Greetings locals! What’s shaking? I’m Maria Mar, host of “Jersey Rock,” the longest-running local music show in Monmouth and Ocean County every Tuesday through Thursday night at 11:30 p.m. on 95.9 The Rat. Upon taking this show over last year, I had a crystal clear vision; a vision that we could explode the local music scene and bring it back to life again by pumping fresh air into its lungs and bringing it back to where it should be—front and center! I made it my priority to change the situation and from my actions, I wanted reactions. Let’s just say that with all of the talent out there these days, mission complete. Music is everything to me and almost serves as a bridge between my normal world and dream world. Without it, there would be a massive black hole somewhere in my existence. Well, that is why I am so excited to be here to tell you about some tunes and artists I am digging each week. Hopefully my insight will help you discover some fresh, new original talent. We can plant various musical seeds together and watch some local artists grow! I also enjoy the Yankees, sunglasses, tailgating, Dr. Pepper, and fantasy football (just saying). Okay okay, yes, I digress, let’s get back on topic—music music music!
Now, you might be asking yourself, “Okay, Maria, what music are you listening to right at this very moment?” Well, if you could see my iPod shuffle, you might be embarrassed for me and even somewhat confused, for some of my guilty pleasures are, well, guilty as ever (no judging here people, everyone listens to a little Britney once in a while). Basically, I want to keep you all up to date on some bands you need to know about! I push the local scene hard, for your sake and mine! New Jersey has one of the strongest scenes in the country I am convinced. After all, witness bands like The Parlor Mob and The Gaslight Anthem, whom I never get sick of. I live and breathe it every day! Shouting out this band, shouting out that band, shouting out all bands! A few in particular that have been on my radar as of late include Set It Free, Breathing Blue, and Kid Felix. Intrigued? Please continue.
First and foremost, please allow me to introduce to you, Kid Felix. Kid Felix are a six-piece rock band from Laurel Springs, NJ. I discovered them while reviving my youth at The Break Contest for Bamboozle, where they blew me away with an Incubus “Anna Molly” cover. I literally almost bum rushed the stage, taking out anyone in my path (by the way, sorry Kid Felix fans). A few weeks later in the competition, they then whipped out their secret “cover” weapon, doing serious justice to a little band called Muse. I immediately purchased their EP entitled Head Above Water and it honestly has not come off repeat in three months. And yes, I’m aware that my co-workers are ready to snap the disc in half. Lead singer Jake has that Chris Cornell influence that is so dominant but original in its own right. They ended up playing Saturday night at The Bamboozle Festival and they honestly fit in the lineup like a sardine in a can. Climbing the rafters while the bouncers were pulling their jeans begging for them to come down? That’s a show if you ask me. Hitting random people in the face in the crowd with beach balls all while playing new music and not missing a beat? That also makes for an entertaining show. Check these dudes out as soon as you can—you will never look back.
In the words of Jay-Z, on to the next one! Breathing Blue, another six-piece rock band (local bands are rollin’ deep these days), are from Brick, NJ. They are honestly a “breath” of fresh air in the music scene. Rock is musical freedom; it’s saying, doing, and playing what you want. In this case, the guys write about things fans can relate to—love, the industry, and more. They just released their first full-length entitled Inner Animal, and it has a little something for music lovers of any genre. Some of my favorite tracks include “Guerilla,” “Creatures” and “This Isn’t About You.” And, of course, the title-track and lead single, “Inner Animal,” is straight nasty. To sum them up in a nutshell, they have learned to step outside the pre-dominant rhythms that exist in most of the music we listen too. I am sure they are going to be the next giant thing. They just got back from a mini tour, hitting states including Massachusetts, Maine, and more. They also have a big summer lined up so try to keep an eye out as to where they are headed next.
Last but certainly not least, one of the coolest groups I have ever worked with, Set It Free. Also hailing from Brick, the five-piece (Joey, Mike, Victor, Pat, and Andrew) have so much to offer. They’ve only been a band for almost two years but have accomplished more than most local bands ever do, having shared the stage with acts such as Saves The Day, Trapt, Godsmack, and many more. As you can see with their track record, they fit into many genres. They have also had their music heard on MTV, ESPN, and more. Pretty dope, huh? Set It Free’s new record, Don’t Stand Alone, is bound to make people move. Feature tracks include, “Lungs Bleed,” “Count The Blessings,” and “Til The Moonlight.” No matter what they do, they always try to be as unique as possible. Music should be fun and they certainly leave you with a pleasant aftertaste. Positive attitudes and high energy lead to success, and these guys prove that time and time again. It’s out there for you to grab, so get ready for it. For now, check them out on Facebook and Twitter, for social media is the new black.
So there you go people. Three scorching hot bands you should get to know about and brag to your friends that you discovered them first! Listen to what Maria Mar tells you! I have hundreds of bands on my radar and I’m always seeking new talent as well. I am looking forward to chatting music with all of you every week, for the local discography will never run dry. Cheers!