Black Flamingos – Self-Titled – Little Dickman Records
There are only a handful of successful instrumental bands that I know of in the area. The number one group that comes to mind is Chemtrail. Instrumental music is not an easy undertaking in a scene that produces so many talented alternatives, but success is out there, and if it’s approached correctly you can obtain a high level of status. Black Flamingos are an up-and-coming band who hails from the time-tested field of surf instrumental. And while there are quite a few in the Tri-State who dabble in the field, with the exception of bands such as Los Pocus Locos, The Coffin Daggers and Blue Wave Theory, it’s a tough row to hoe.
I saw the Black Flamingos live at Langosta over the holiday weekend and what I heard put me on board. Out in advance support of their Mischief Night release to be held at The Asbury Yacht Club on Friday, Oct. 30, with the Coffin Daggers, Black Flamingos are comprised of Robbie Butkowski on guitar, Declan O’Connell on bass and Vincent Minervino on drums. The band went through over a dozen songs from their surf-rock genre to the audience’s delight. Little Dickman Records kingpin Chris Yaniak sent me the new disc, and I will attempt to give my best impression on the music.
Starting things off is “Flamingo From The Black Lagoon.” Guitarist Robbie Butkowski supplies the riffage here, and it’s deep in the vein of Man Or Astro-Man? guitarist Brian Causey. Punching through 2:18 of intricate chord and riff work, Butkowski leaves plenty of room for O’Connell and Minervino to do their rhythmic thing.
“Cock Grease” is up next and the band delves deep into groove-oriented surf sound with the gusto of The Trashmen. O’Connell and Minervino nail this 1:31 piece on the proverbial floor as Butkowski runs up and down the fretboard with a combination of single-string riffs and warbling chord patterns.
“Devils Punchbowl” is up next and fires and gritty combination of the Coffin Daggers and The Cramps up the middle. Butkowski growls and groans chord magic throughout each changing sector of sound, and it’s a fairly sonic delivery. The combination of kicked reverb tank chatter and changing speeds is a sonically delivered aspect of their sound. O’Connell and Minervino make all of this sound tight as a tick.
Filling the number four spot is “Shark Repellant.” Listed as a bonus track, “Shark Repellent” wanders through arabesque passages of bands such as The Rip Chords and The Blue Hawaiians. Butkowski delivers precise and interesting chord changes in between the dead on rhythm delivery of O’Connell and Minervino. The song is a great example of surf music at its best.
“La Mirada” is next and is also listed as a bonus track. Melodic and tinged with both country and jazz, “La Mirada” features a great, hook-filled riff as well as a slew of ripping, single string licks and pentatonic salvoes.
The disc concludes with the first single push called “Okinawa.” Another example of fantastic chord combinations and licks, Butkowski moves into overdrive with his guitar gymnastics. The middle eight comes down a bit, allowing O’Connell and Minervino to hold down the low end while Butkowski screams into the stratosphere.
Black Flamingos recorded their debut over at Coffee Haus Studios in Freehold and utilized the talents of Benjamin Feldman as engineer and mixer. My take on this EP is one of appreciation for guitar-based music in a scene that features a more traditional sound. Black Flamingos are a talented band with a unique and honed voice in the genre of instrumental surf sounds, and I think they have a winner on their hands.
For more information on the band, their upcoming EP and their schedule of live shows, check out the band over at blackflamingosnj.com.
The Battery Electric – The Heart And The Thrill
I know I’m coming late to the party on this one, but I wanted to mention the band and their latest record before they move on to the next recorded disc due out later this year. The Battery Electric is a successful touring Jersey band with a lot of fans and a lot more to say. The Battery Electric is an American rock band from Asbury Park, New Jersey. Formed in 2012, the group’s lineup consists of vocalist and drummer Ron Santee, guitarist Brent Bergholm and bassist Alex Rosen. Their loud, energetic style of back-to-basics rock and roll utilizes elements of garage rock, hard rock and blues rock.
I recently attended an Asbury Park Yacht Club show and can report that the band was indeed over the rock and roll top when it comes to both live presentation and songwriting credit. Their March 2015 album, The Heart And The Thrill, came across my desk, and I wanted to go through some of the cuts in preparation of what’s coming next.
Recorded and produced by Pete Steinkopf from The Bouncing Souls at Little Eden Studios, The Heart And The Thrill is a 14-song ride through the ups and downs of life, love, lust and the ecstasies and agonies of our very existence. The record was also released by Little Dickman Records.
Starting things off is “Heathen.” Barreling out of the speakers at a thousand miles per hour, “Heathen” brings me back to the powerful days of bands like Black Sabbath and Black Oak Arkansas. Santee’s powerhouse vocals are clean and concise, blasting out over the top of vamping guitars and anchor heavy bass and drums. The middle-eight guitar work of Bergholm is both frenetic and raw, tearing a wide path for the rest of the band to roar onto. Championing the rise of the societal bad boy, Santee runs like a heathen in the night. Background vocals are original and minimalist icing on a very likeable cake. If you love 1970s rock and roll, you’re gonna love “Heathen.”
Moving around the disc I came to “Key Party.” Done in the succinct style of Grand Funk Railroad, “Key Party” addresses the traditional right of having good old-fashioned fun. Blitzkrieg revelations of bass, drums and guitar surround the powerhouse vocal and lyrical ministrations of Ron Santee. Words fly throughout the song, extolling the virtues of partying hard. His use of huge choruses is effective and features many local musical friends.
I also wanted to mention the disc namesake, “The Heart And The Thrill.” This high-energy song chunks into the mix with hypersonic instrumentation. Bergholm grinds punk-laden grit all over the piece while Santee and Rosen provide the bottom end like no one else I know. Choruses are hooky, and verses are full of emotional and talented capability. Picture The Damned meets The James Gang, and you’d be right on the money.
The Battery Electric is one of the most popular bands in the Tri-State Area and beyond. They are in the studio working on their next release and if it’s anywhere as sonically sound as The Heart And The Thrill, it’s going to be a treat worth waiting for.
For more on The Battery Electric, The Heart And The Thrill and upcoming shows, head over to facebook.com/TheBatteryElectric.