Maria’s Local Radar: Monterey

There is something about the summertime that just speaks local music. You don’t feel as guilty staying out a little later on a work night to catch your favorite act, and you don’t mind trying out new venues because you don’t have to tread in the snow to get there. Overall, it’s just a way better experience. Drinks are flowing, bands are louder, and people come out of hibernation. I am lucky enough to live on the Jersey Shore—the real Jersey Shore, of course—where the talent pool is bottomless. Week after week I get to sit here and chat local music with you all, providing recommendations on what you all should give a try. That being said, let’s spotlight some talent that is noteworthy and deserving of the attention!

I want to chat about a band called Monterey that has been on my backburner for a while now. I must say, Nikki Black, who recently took over Jersey Rock on The Rat for me, had them on last week, and I absolutely loved hearing their tunes on the radio. These guys have that “it” factor, with strong staying power, talent, and tightness. They hail from New Brunswick, NJ with members Michael O’Reilly on guitar/vocals, Carter Henry on guitar/vocals, Chris Beninato on bass and Matt Debenedetti on drums. I don’t know too much about them personally, yet, other than the fact I love their tunes and want to go into this a little further.

Monterey’s EP, The King’s Head, is available now, and it has a little something in there for everyone. It was just released this past April, and has been getting a ton of buzz in the past few months. They classify themselves as a deadly combination of classic rock, reggae and punk styles, all blended into one. You may seem confused as to how all of these styles would work together, but trust me, they do.

The album leadoff, “Brainfreeze,” is the perfect way to get things started. It’s filled with high energy and really makes you want to put on your dancing shoes. The guitar riffs are simply awesome, and this track really showcases the talent of every member in the band. “Come Back Down” may be my favorite track on the EP because it’s fun and lively. Something about this band just makes me want to see them on a beach with a bonfire, shoes off, with not a care in the world. To go back to my point about summertime, this is a band that belongs on a summer playlist. I really listened to the lyrics on “Come Back Down” and for some reason, I can never get bored of it. If you’re a fan of good music that is effortless, there isn’t a bad song on this record. Ultimately, there are no self-indulgent egotistical traits about this group, for you can tell by their image and socials that they are very interactive with their fans, always posting positive vibes.

Of course, we can’t forget about the other tracks on the EP, including “More Alive.” This album is really killer, and it’s crazy how it can set four different moods, literally changing on every tune. Just to show how diverse their style really is, they cite influences from bands such as Sublime, U2, The Gaslight Anthem and Brand New. Those are four bands that couldn’t be more different from one another, which can give you a sense on how broad their sound really is. Not that they are trying to mimic these acts, but it’s cool to see where they pull inspiration from on a musical note. I highly recommend you purchase their EP, though you can also check it out on their Bandcamp page or on their official website at I have yet to see their live set, and I am looking forward to them posting some tour dates for the summer, for I can guarantee I will be in the front row.

To learn more about this band, you can visit their official Facebook page at Over there you will see what I mean when I say they are super interactive, giving away copies of their album, posting pictures of gigs, and really understanding the importance of marketing themselves. I once heard someone call these guys a “jam band,” and I think that is, contrary to what they may think, an amazing compliment. Reason being, because they make me want to do nothing more than jam the hell out of a venue. What makes them so cool? Well, it’s their ability to mix and blend genres flawlessly, while also transcending it to fans on all fronts. I guess you could say they are pushing musical boundaries without deconstructing them. I always have to give props where they are due, and I feel this is a perfect example. It’s catchy enough to remain original yet trendy enough to receive airplay, which makes for the best combination around.

I will be back next week with another awesome local band to throw into the spotlight. In the meantime, you know the deal: Email your submissions to so that I can check out your tunes! I never want to go a day without new music, so I promise I will listen. Keep rocking everyone, get out and enjoy that warm weather, and hit up a show or two! I hope to see you there!