Maria Mar’s Local Radar: Ardvark Smile

My local rock stars, we meet once again. I’ve been noticing a big difference at the attendance of shows lately, which means you are getting off your butts and supporting the scene! Whether it’s my constant demanding of your presence (which I am not sorry for) or you guys are just opening your ears a little more, keep it up! The momentum is going strong. I recently had the opportunity of participating in a showcase that allowed me to discover at least seven bands that I hadn’t heard of yet, which is always appetizing to my senses. Some that stood out were GNGR and The Shadows. Of course, I also got to hear some of my local favorites like Xero Gravity and Political Party Crashers, for they never disappoint! I will be spotlighting a lot of them in the near future, so bands, stay tuned! This week, I am going to talk about an act that is large in size, sound, and personality, in the best way possible. Hey, like I say, the more the merrier, right? I am so glad that I was given the opportunity to learn more about this fresh young act! Please allow me to bring to the spotlight, Ardvark Smile.

Ardvark Smile are fairly new to the scene, so if you haven’t heard of them yet, don’t worry. I am not quite sure what the name means and I find it somewhat puzzling, so hopefully I can have them in the studio soon to learn a little bit more! I was recently introduced to their sound a few weeks back at The Stone Pony’s Rock To The Top competition, where they were crowned the winners. First, let me tell you a little bit more about them. They are a six-piece from Monmouth County, NJ, combining all style elements in music, including originals, covers, and ballads. Members include Taylor, Kyle, James, Dillon, Glen and Adam. You may be thinking, “Is it really necessary to have that many people up on stage? Why does this group have so many members, and does it benefit them at all?” The answer is totally yes, especially in their situation, for each member brings something unique and edgy to the drawing board.

Okay, now it’s time to get a little more in-depth and break some important elements down. We have to talk about Taylor, the lead vocalist. When I say girl can belt any note thrown at her, I mean that with the most sincerity. So what are some perfect adjectives to describe her as a performer? Well, just to name a few, she is dominating, empowering, strong, soft, sexy, and insanely fun. While sitting at The Stone Pony soaking the whole set in, I found that I almost had to peel my eyes away from her. Don’t get it twisted, there is no “I” in team, but there is a T, and man, is it for Taylor. What I mean by this is that the band backs her completely, letting her own the crowd. Her attitude and stage presence is smooth, sweet, and controlled. However, it can be flipped like a switch to a rock and roll, hell-stomping diva. Her range is one of a rock ‘n’ roll vixen that will send your music senses on the ride of your life. It’s impressive to see a young woman like Taylor belt out classic rock songs that her parents most likely listened to. Judging by the covers these guys choose, it shows their influences are all very broad, pulling inspiration from timeless musicians.

Getting back to my point about the group she plays with, musicians know how to play their weapon of choice. Their live set is filled with tons of energy that would make fans of any genre want to pull up a chair. However, they wouldn’t be sitting for too long, because they would soon be on their feet. You will feel a permanent grin plastered on your face in no time, and I double-dog dare you to not stomp your feet or attempt to sing along. I enjoyed their cover choices just as much as their originals, which in my opinion is very rare. They attract a lot of younger fans, and this is completely understandable given that they are indeed young themselves, though if you look to the other side of the room, you’ll see a 50-year-old woman who’s just as hooked on their sound as any other 20-something in attendance. It’s crowd-pleasing music with catchy hooks and great musicianship all around. They posted on Facebook that they are working on their EP that should be out in the near future, so be sure to pick one up and see what they are all about. I see a bright future for Ardvark Smile and feel that if they continue to embrace the maturing of their sound, they will broaden their fanbase significantly as they grow.

Be sure to check out Ardvark Smile’s social media sites to find out when they are playing a venue near you. From what I can see, this band loves to get involved with charitable events and fundraising performances, which soars them to the top of my list even more. If you want to get some catchy original tunes stuck in your head, this is the group for you. If you also want to dance along to some of your all-time favorite rock tunes, this is also the band for you. Looking to see an act that will bring a warm smile to your face? Then this is 100 percent, no doubt the group for you! I look forward to seeing them again when it’s not at a contest and there aren’t 10 other bands to fall in love with as well!

So there we have it folks, another week of awesome local music in the books! I will be back next week with another fresh band or solo act that has my gears grinding and ears screaming for more. Keep sending me your submissions and suggestions, for there can never be enough bands to indulge into! We have to keep venues open, bands playing, and recordings produced! In the meantime, as I said before, keep up the local show momentum. Jersey Strong!