Brick + Mortar Fall Victim To Equipment Thievery

Stolen. The very word paints portraits of unsettling shock, gut-punch indignity and incredulity. Stealing is regrettably part of the American reality, flooding our media banks with stories of material seeking criminals that would shake even the most jaded criminologist to his or her center. Thievery affects all cultures, races, classes and peoples. It predates biblical ages and shows no signs of slowing down.

Many I know, including myself, have felt the bite of theft at least once. And throughout the years, I’ve heard the stories of musicians, from locals to the leading bands on the road getting shafted by some reticent night-crawling collection of scumbags appropriating amps, guitars and more under the protection of darkness. It’s the lowest of atrocities and I’m always glad when they get arrested.

But it is a troubling scenario when the act is executed on victims with little or no recourse to bounce back. The latest sufferer of this horrendous act is the New Jersey band Brick + Mortar. The band had been out on the road working their tails off in support of their Bangs EP when calamity struck. Their support site says, “We were stopped on a day off at a hotel in Indianapolis, left to start hitting the road and noticed someone had broken our door lock and stolen virtually all of our electronics, amps and guitars. If you know the band, then you’re aware that the electronics are the main component of the live performance and we can’t possibly play any more shows without them.”

The odd part is that they were not the first band hijacked at the Indianapolis Wyndham hotel. It seems that last week, Raleigh, North Carolina’s American Aquarium had their van and trailer stolen from the very same location. The band was in Indianapolis playing a show with the Turnpike Troubadours at the Old National Centre.

The most senseless act that I heard on that front was that Indianapolis police finally recovered the van, but the group said, “The Indy police found our van ditched on the highway late yesterday evening. The thieves ripped everything inside apart, then took it one step further by pouring water in our gas tank, cutting the brake lines, and taking all the lugs off of the wheels.”

So on top of obstructing shows, stealing gear and causing mayhem, they senselessly damage the vehicle like a retreating Nazi in WWII. I will never understand much of what makes mankind tick.

As of this writing, both bands have come up with alternative solutions to sustain their road travels.

Back here on the Shoreworld home front, in lieu of patchworkable gear, Brick + Mortar fans came together to try to get the boys up and running in the fastest way feasible. What they did was host an emergency fundraising site over at indiegogo.com, and as of this writing, the band has already raised enough to rebuild their live show toolkit.

Being robbed is bad enough, being on the road and having to adapt and clamber to keep engagements is even more stressful and frustrating. I’m floored to see so many music fans kicking in and making things right for the group.

If you feel like helping out or asking how things are going, drop Brick + Mortar a line at their site. This is the most stressful and irritating situation on the planet, and if you’re a fan of the band, or just Facebook friends with the members, it’s the most practical thing you can do to help get them back on track and out of a jam.

For more info on the funding site, check it out at indiegogo.com/projects/brick-and-mortar-got-robbed-help-us.

 

Montgomery – Funking Things Up On The East Coast

I first had the opportunity to see this Shoreworld group during the pre-summertime fun at Jersey Shore Music Fest in Seaside Heights this past May. Hailing from the Aquarian hometown of Little Falls, Montgomery reflects the old school when it comes to laying down their unmistakable brand of sound.

And while funk is their main bread and butter, the group also employs generous quantities of poppy, grunge-laced ska and reggae to their cross-pollinated sound. The foursome features the tightly locked down contributions of Nick Sagnella (guitar/vocals/sax), Alex Sagnella (guitar/vocals), Bill Rose (bass) and Chris Rizzo (drums/percussion). The band can be caught at all the usual places such as The Saint and EJ’s in Seaside Heights, as well as Big Apple scenes at Arlene’s Grocery and the Sage Theater.

Band associate and all-around musical mentor Gerard McKittrick slipped me a CD at the festival and I finally had a chance to throw down some observations and views on a band that stands pretty damn tall in a sparse local domain.

The disc starts off with the heavy kick drum pump of “Waist Deep.” Somewhat flat at the commencement, “Waist Deep” redeems itself promptly, rising out of the usual verse cadence with the tongue-in-cheek acrimony of Sublime as they spit the score of jilted love over immaculate ninth chord slash and burn and some of the strongest bass and drum work since the birth of Flea and Chad Smith.

Moving around the disc, I quickly picked up on “Blonde Boots.” Employing a blazing pentatonic guitar riff that courses from the soul of Curtis Mayfield, the Sagnella siblings push this rogue diamond into the instantly learned arena of radio solid airplay. Compressed verses chirp succinctly as percussive barbs fly through the center of this bouncy composition. Guitars fire over verse end caps into well-constructed bridges that leave the audience questioning where they’re heading next. This is my preferred song so far, combining elements of Steely Dan, 311, Fishbone and the Red Hot Chili Peppers into a pleasantly built tune that doesn’t become superfluous or expected in any way, shape or design.

The minor-tinged piano intro of “Picture Day” invokes trippy, idealized images of The Beatles and The Smiths as the band unwinds, reaching out to the listener and expanding their unparalleled brand of poppy, psychedelic, jam prog to all who will listen. I like the fact that the band steers away from overproduced inducements, opting for simple instrumentation as presented in their live sound. I liked the fine bridge touch which simulated the G-101 combo organ sound that Ray Manzarek used on “Touch Me” with The Doors. Whether it was deliberate or not, it’s a standout extension to an intense section. Backdrop vocals are simple and organic, allowing for lyrics to hold clear and sharp as the finishing touches of grand piano disintegrates gracefully.

Another highlight that I wanted to mention was disc closer “Ocean Tail.” Featuring the horn work of Nick Sagnella, this is where the Tower Of Power influence beams brightest. Backwards guitar riffs shift and slip into the mix as drums pump and bass guitars pop finger-pulled accents throughout the verse. Organs once again make an appearance, hailing from the B3 family as guitars spread single-chord magic throughout the inevitable build and into a sizzling funk break. I love the arrangement for the horns, and listened with inquiring interest as the sound cuts off and shifts over into hyper drum and percussion-based continuity. Trance-like rhythms pump, click and tick in metered sensibilities as the band dips and dives into techno fuck worlds of altered reality before disappearing into the end game.

Montgomery was a surprise left hook and I didn’t see them coming. That’s what this is all about, and it never ceases to amaze me when a band that hasn’t been on my radar appears and becomes something much larger than the usual blip on the screen.

The band is working on their next record as we speak and should have a release for the fall. For more on Montgomery and where they might pop up next, head over to their page at funkmontgomery.com.

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