Maria Mar’s Local Radar: Sink Tapes & GayGay/StraightGuy

Hello my local friends! It feels good to be back—these seven days apart definitely make my musical heart grow fonder. My radar has been booming this year, and 2012 was compacted with various new records, band lineup changes, insane live sets, and tons of smash singles for me to review. Overall, I would say 2012 was one of the finest years that the local music scene has ever seen. On the national front, not so much, but that is a whole other column! Anyway, I cannot wait to see what 2013 will bring for new talent in the scene. I’m already getting tons of submissions for review and invites to shows for many bands that I have not even heard of, so the future is looking quite bright. This week I am going to be focusing on bands that I am just becoming familiar with. They are not necessarily new to the scene, but they are just getting on my radar. I have a feeling they are going to remain there for quite some time.

First and foremost, I am dabbling into a band from New Brunswick that goes by the name of Sink Tapes. Yes, Sink Tapes. I don’t have a clue where the name originated from, but it’s catchy and stands out. A good friend of mine who is very active in the local scene actually reached out to me asking if I had heard about this band, and surprisingly enough, I hadn’t. I find it amazing that sometimes I think I’ve heard or seen almost every group out there these days, and then the next day my mind will be completely blown with new talent. However, I owe her a million thanks for introducing us, for they are awesome. Gabe, Rick, Alex, and Tom compile this alternative four-piece with solid talent. Their debut was released back in 2010, where I read that they did all of the work themselves, including everything from writing to producing. That’s pretty impressive for a band’s first project. They recently finished their second full-length entitled Please Touch, which I have been streaming and jamming out to tunes from. Although they are on the indie side, even straight-laced pop fans will likely enjoy this specific album and, as such, it’s the perfect place for the uninitiated to begin a journey into The Velvet Underground. Everything about it is beautifully done, and it’s a welcome twist to the band’s earlier, much edgier sound. Strongly recommended, especially for first-timers. One of the main attributes of this group is Ricky’s vocals. He’s a pretty creative vocal stylist: sometimes dark, sometimes sweet, sometimes full-throttle gonzo, always entertaining. I have yet to see these guys live on the road, so I am basing this solely on what I am hearing via recordings, though I don’t feel my opinion would change. I thoroughly love the opening track, “The Soul Is In the Kitchen.” “Inward Bed” is also popular in my rotation, with a medium tempo rock groove that is way catchier than you expect. Before you know it, you will be hooked on the hook. I also strongly suggest you check “Lou Is Cooler Than You,” for it will immediately lift up your mood. These guys have a solid U.S. tour ready to go for 2013, and hopefully I, or one of you, can catch them at their live set. There is no debate here; Sink Tapes are on the rise, and should be on your radar sooner than later.

Next, let us chat about an amazing little duo that is only little in number of members, GayGuy/StraightGuy. I cannot believe I went as long as I did without knowing them, shame on me. Bob and Nick are from Asbury Park, and formed a duo based on, in their own words, “long-standing friendship and love for music.” There is unquestionably purity in this coupling. I have found that some of my favorite music these days comes from duos, including The Black Keys and Japandroids. Currently they have released an EP called 3 Songs. Yes, this is the title, and I completely adore it. It’s straight to the point, with a pinpoint description of what it contains. While the songs are great, the even cooler thing about this EP is that all of the proceeds they receive from purchase are going directly to The FoodBank Of Monmouth And Ocean Counties. Pretty dope if you ask me, musicians giving back to a good cause. Now, if I had to place this duo into a genre, I don’t think I could. They are more on the indie side, but have that natural rock and roll vibe that my ears are always yearning for. Bob and Nick are both mutually talented not only on the vocal end, but they play their drums and guitar like veterans. Sorry bass players, I do love you, but GayGuy/StraightGuy has given the music industry some money-saving food for thought. There should be no point in time where in some small corner of your brain you should think, “duo is a lounge act,” because the sound coming from this group could fill an arena. Their live set is extremely entertaining, and will have you leaving the show with a newfound appreciation for real musicians; musicians who actually know how to play instruments, and could outplay many of the signed acts out there today, with just two people, a guitar, a microphone, and a drum set.

These are two groups that I am so completely infatuated with, even after knowing them for just a short time. Hopefully I am either enlightening your brain or reinforcing why you should listen to these two bands. 2013 is going to be an insane year for new music, for I have already been scoping some out for my radar. Musically, physically, and performance wise, these bands are not trying to remain genuine to any explicit genre by any means; they’re staying true to whatever inspires them, and puts them in that moment to make hits. They sing about whatever they are feeling, and ignore trying to fit the norm. New music enhances my glossier side of life, and there are no words to describe that feeling you get when you discover something fresh in your headphones. It’s almost as if you want to tell all of your friends and share it with the world while making them your best kept secret at the same time. However, at The Aquarian Weekly and in Maria Mar’s Local Radar, we are all here for the same cause: to support music. Keep pumping out the new talent New Jersey, for there is nothing stopping this local music scene!