Maria Mar’s Local Radar: The Amboys & Rope Tree

What’s up all my friends? Welcome back to another week of Maria Mar’s Local Radar, embedding your brain with what is on my playlist, one week at a time! I’m writing this week about some dominant bands in the scene that may not be brand new to it, but have remained relevant throughout their time on the local front. Maybe this will be your introduction, or you reunion, if you will. Staying applicable in current music is tougher today than it ever has been, in large part because music’s course is more difficult. So many talents that we love are somewhat selling out, and the “popular” sound is, well, very dissimilar. Some bands feel as if they need to change their sound in order to stay with the trends, and I get that, but don’t necessarily agree with it. I find that nowadays people are no longer looking for the “next big thing”; they look for, “Hey, that sounds just like what is selling now, so that must be good.” However, I always respect people who are doing what they love, so no knocking here. Anyway, I wouldn’t call these bands I am about to talk about “veterans,” for it’s not like they have been around since the dinosaurs or the Stone Age, but they have gained the respect of the scene, from the venues, fans, and hip kids. New and aspiring musicians should look up to bands like this in every way, from sound to live performances and even fanbase. On that note, please allow me to introduce to you The Amboys and Rope Tree.

First on the list, I am going to dabble into a band that you might already know, going by the name of The Amboys. They have been dominating and spread all over the local music scene since 2008, and have managed to remain relevant the whole way through. They are a dynamite indie folk rock band from Asbury Park, with members C.M., Manny, Connor, and Daniel. Initially, it was their inquisitive type of musicality that engrossed me, for I will listen to anything, once, but if you manage to “sound” different than anything else out there, you will remain on my radar. In my opinion, the reasons for their success are modest: massive songs that combine the folky with the epic and instantaneously infectious choruses. They come along with an extensive, wide variety of instruments and sound filling any of the gaps left by the stellar vocal harmonies. This is a band that has a live set that will make you become an instant fan, then direct you to buy their records. However, I must admit, having heard them for the first time about a year ago, I didn’t even bother to wait; this is a CD I wanted right then and now. That doesn’t happen very often for me, and admittedly I have eclectic taste, but I was, and still am, stunned with every aspect of The Amboys. Every voice, both vocal and instrumental when on that stage, is given its chance to shine and when they’re needed, reverb and delay effects never grow to a point of distraction. Their album Led Into The Woods is truly a work of art. I am very picky when it comes to music and I listen to a lot of it. I can count the number of albums of which I like every song on one hand. This is definitely one of those albums. Even the album’s slowest moments have aspects that move the music forward and keep it from ever feeling tired. There is also a confident musical understanding between the members of the band that finds its way into the recording. Some of my favorite tracks are “Ashley Meets The Wolf” and “One Of Those Nights.” However, they have at least three other discs for you to check out, so be sure not to pass by those. Do something great for yourself today and download one of their records, and maybe it will be Harvest, or Mary Celeste, but it will be one of them that makes you just stop and think, “Oh my god, what a delight!”

Next, I want to talk about a band that has also been around for a bit, Rope Tree. This rock band from Toms River knows how to bring it. They’ve been around the local scene for quite some time, and know the ins and outs—along with the ups and downs—of the business. Each time I have seen them live, it’s to a packed crowd. They have really done something right to gain such a solid following and fanbase, who are truly supportive in everything that they do. Rope Tree has a huge sound that could make a closet sound like a stadium. One can also see their passion shine through their music, for they hit every note like it’s their last. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them a few times on air and during battles of the bands, and they have never disappointed me. In fact, I become a bigger fan each and every time. Every ounce of respect and praise that they get is earned; they have done it all on their own, with the help of no one but their natural talent. There is no glitz and glam here, as they lose themselves in the music, drenched in desire, and nothing comes between the band and their audience. Their CD quality is just as good as their live set, producing anthemic hits that can be blasted in your car, at the gym, or just jamming out in your own home. They really would fit well in the active rock scene of radio, for many of their songs have that mainstream appeal. However, they have originality of their own, separating their sound from many other acts. After all, we should always keep in mind that music is the priority. These guys are the real deal, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they never went away. In fact, it would please me.

So, you may have already heard of some of these bands, but hopefully you can refresh your memory with their current material or by catching a show, or even interacting with their fans to remind you of just how good they really are. It takes a certain talent and style to continue to have a solid fanbase follow you around after a few years in the game. I hope that both of these bands continue to remain relevant and consistent in the local scene, and I wish they branch out to bigger things as well. Therefore, be sure to support these bands, and every band in the scene, for they may be here today and gone tomorrow, or even stick around for a while and branch out to national fronts. Either way, you have to start somewhere, and for now, we are keeping it local! Until next week, my friends!