Shoreworld: Creeptones – Making Toms River A Little Creepier; Joe Michelini Heads To The Langosta Lounge

Creeptones – Toms River Just Got A Little Bit…Creepier

Toms River has been no sluggard when it comes to cranking out talented folks. The drowsy tiny Twilight Zone borough has remained a never-ending origin for gifted performers, writers, and even sports idols. Highly visible recording artists such as Rachel Bolan from Skid Row and the immensely successful River City Extension, to pro ball players such as former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Andy Messersmith and New York Yankees pitcher Al Leiter, as well as models and actors like Leigh Lezark and Brian Geraghty (Hurt Locker), all hail from the odd little city by the river. I’m not sure if it’s something in the water or perhaps some of the good ol’ left over Ciba-Geigy substance leakage in that gooey, gritty loam, but Toms River is continually driving something interesting out of the woodlands and into the limelight.

I had recently stopped at the Asbury Lanes to see a band that had been examined here (Accidental Seabirds), and I had a chance to catch this little outfit named Creeptones. This is a composite, melodic unit that rises from the dark, reverb-drenched world of bands such as Todd Rundgren, The Beatles, Radiohead, Sugar Ray and Weezer. Comprised of Carmine Stoppiello on guitar and vocals, Will Hernandez on bass and vocals, Johnny Vines on lead guitar and Tommy Cirillo on drums, the band additionally credits the expert live aid of newer band members Anthony Hildebrandt and Chris Clauss on keyboard and supplementary guitars.

The band serves up astounding cross sections of alternative-based pop while refraining from typical embellishments and cons of that genre. Melodically arched and harmony-driven, the group focuses on composing music that leaves impassioned impressions instead of scanning for what fits in today’s universal pile of industry expectations.

Blending ancestral rock and roll timbres with textured keyboard panels, Creeptones imprint their very own sound all over the current music scene, and it’s a mark that’s growing bigger by the day. Creeptones evolved from the traditional seed of the Jersey garage, starting as a duo two active years ago before developing into their current five-piece continuum. In that short volume of time, the group has been acknowledged as “Top Indie Group” via Elephant Talk Music, as well as being incorporated on the 2012 “Top Fifty Best Albums” list.

Some of the band’s newer ventures in writing quickly caught my ear, and I wanted to mention a few that definitely stand out as potential contenders from this “Next Generation” of Toms River musical raconteurs.

“Soul Fire” brings me back to the days of John, Paul, George and Ringo and their 1963 debut disc, Please Please Me. Guitars ring and chime carillon-toned riffs as Stoppiello croons in eerie Lennon-esque style like no one else I’ve witnessed in many years. Bass and drums tap staccato clean rhythms as various vocal pairs veer into seamlessly stacked layers and limitless symphonious stratospheres. Johnny Vine’s guitar work is perfect in its response-like call to Carmine’s complex vocalized spin. Upstroked rhythm guitars crank Harrison ghosts all over the piece as the band kicks into the back chorus and close, leaving synthesizers to warble and bubble into that finishing crescendo.

“Day By Day” has an awesome sound reminiscent of Paul Carrack’s Ace performed 1975 tune, “How Long Has This Been Going On?” Drums high hat into the intro as Johnny Vine spits ice-picked trills of single note melody into the vocal accompaniments. Stoppiello shows a powerful ability to be much more than a one-trick-pony here. His ease at melding unique tone with the spot on vocal harmonies of his bandmates is a powerful and addictive blend.

The choruses join instrumentation and voice to sprinkle summertime jazz pop all over the rhythm section. Supernal keys zoom into the middle-eight frays, powering consciousness-expanding visions into the skirmish of reverberated guitars as the band turns back into the wind of the catchiest of choruses. I probably played this song more times than I can recollect and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

Another unusual and completely non-commercial work is the song “Minimalism.” This is a distinct song that brings back unforgettable specters of the past. Pure Prairie League, Bad Company and Band Of Horses surged in my head as I listen to this compositional cornucopia of living. Creeptones have a proficient habit of going far out on a bough and being capable to find their way back to positions of sheltered harbor. Guitars spider walk melodic pings of palatable intertwinement with vocalist Stoppiello and the unstoppable rhythm fabrication of Cirillo and Hernandez. The synths play well here, never stepping on finger-picked electrics or pulled bass notes. Dynamic is a word I love to use, and this band is a master at controlled organization of sections that open the way for a vocalist with something to say.

Another song that caught my consideration at the Lanes was a fuzz-fueled number called “Xanxabar Man.” Vociferous rock and roll power blitzes the crowd with bar chord mayhem, minor scaled leads and snarling coarse vocals. Speculate about what The Beatles must have exploded like around 1968 on The White Album and that sums up the enthusiasm on “Xanxabar Man.”

Every once in a while I run across a group that I truly enjoy on a personal level. Creeptones are one of those groups. Highly innovative and skillful at guiding a plethora of many distinctive sounds together to make one big joyous noise, it doesn’t get any creepier than this, and I admire it.

Creeptones will be playing on March 22 at the Holy Cross Church in Toms River. This is an all-day show featuring over 15 bands. Creeptones go on at 5:30 p.m. sharp. The band will also be returning to The Wonder Bar for “Happy Mondays” on April 14 along with special guests The Places You’ve Been.

For more information on Creeptones shows, music and generally spooky information, head over to

Langosta Lounge Presents: An Evening With Joe Michelini Debuting New Songs From The Upcoming River City Extension Record – March 8

Speaking of all matters Toms River, Joe Michelini from the previously mentioned River City Extension will be performing up on the Asbury boardwalk at one of my favorite watering holes of all time. Pete Mantis continues to crank out quality shows at both Langosta Lounge and the Asbury Yacht Club for the most liberal of prices. That charge is always free.

No cover charge and loads of great local and national bands put Mantis and his crew way up on my list of things to do in town.

Langosta Lounge is open throughout the day, and Joe takes the stage around 10 p.m. that night. River City Extension have had a full and varied career so far, and Michelini will be heading to town to test the waters with brand new material from the band’s forthcoming and yet untitled record.

This is a great opportunity to catch an informal evening with one of New Jersey’s premier Americana visionaries. For more information, go to