Original scene veterans Jack Brag are back with another intricate look into the creative minds of their collective. Featuring Jack Brag regulars Tony Donato on bass, pianist Jim Robertazzi and cellist Jay Varga, the band also introduces the talents of new guitarist Dave Falcone. Falcone was debuted on “Walking On Thin Ice” off of the Cut Pieces CD project of last year. Clint Gascoyne handles drums throughout. Jack Brag also utilizes the vocal prowess of Donna Deady throughout the CD.
Add guest performances by The Brass Tacks horn section on “Someone To Kiss At Midnight” and guitarist Carolyn Marosy on “Nothing Is Real,” and you have quite a pool of talent to choose from. Kiss At Midnight is Jack Brag’s third release since their 2008 self-released debut and subsequent 2012 release of Unbroken White. Featuring 13 songs, Kiss At Midnight is by far the deepest look into the band and their specific form of ’80s-driven musical magic.
Songwriter Tony Donato produced Kiss At Midnight and Scott Anthony over at Storybook Sound did the mastering duties. This marks Donato’s third time as a producer, and he handles all duties like the pro he is. Clint Gascoyne handled the cover design for Somewhat Nifty Graphics. All of the elements come together nicely on Kiss At Midnight. The band also throws in Beatles favorite “A Day In The Life” off of the famous 1967 record, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Jack Brag has graced this page in the past, and I’m more than happy to continue that tradition with the review of Kiss At Midnight.
The disc opens with “Everything Ends.” Blending clean and chimey electrics with bass, drums and piano, Jack Brag jumps into their 1980s-tinged pop-rock sound with gusto. The vocals to Jim Robertazzi are reminiscent of Doors frontman Jim Morrison in both texture and tone. Guitarist Dave Falcone’s space-aged breaks of echo-covered lead work in the bridges add both tie-in continuity and hook assistance.
“Someone To Kiss At Midnight” features the horn arrangement work of Danny Lipsitz and his Brass Tacks. The flavor here is 1960s pop-progressive and is assisted greatly by the dark vocal sounds of Robertazzi. The slide work of Falcone is Harrison-flavored goodness and once again lends airs of a hook-laden directive to a very lively tune. Donato and Gascoyne keep the meter even and full, allowing Robertazzi and Deady plenty of space to vocalize throughout.
Jack Brags’ version of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” features the vocal magic of Deana Deady. Deady was also featured on the Cut Pieces CD on the song “Midsummer New York.” Robertazzi’s keyboard work mixes well with the guitar magic of Falcone, twirling and dancing into the Robertazzi vocal-dominated bridge. Robertazzi and Deady then work together in the back end, melding vocal styles as the band downshifts into the song’s final stages of rhythm-powered magnetism. This is a great example of covering a song in an original manner, and it works extremely well.
Moving around the disc, “I Hear A Song (And It Sounds Like Rain)” is another mentionable disc highlight. Featuring the late 1970s sounds of Joy Division, “I Hear A Song (And It Sounds Like Rain)” utilizes the keyboard magic of Robertazzi and the guitar work of Falcone in between vocal duets of Deady and Robertazzi. Donato and Gascoyne nail this flavored pop rocker to the floor like no one else can. Falcone is back and is once again a focal point on this strange and progressive number.
“Life And The Living” is up next and is a disc favorite. Featuring the plaintive and dark vocal sound of Robertazzi, the band explores the darker side of rock on this song. Falcone’s melancholy guitar work soars over bass and drums as Robertazzi supplies otherworldly keyboard magic.
“EWR” is up next and reminds me of great 1980s bands such as The Records and The Knack. Instrumental in nature, “EWR” flies fast and furious over complex bass and drums before making way for the Allman-flavored lead work of Falcone and the spacey keyboard work of Robertazzi.
“Nothing Is Real” flies into play next. Featuring Deanna Deady on vocals, “Nothing Is Real” rolls into the listeners mind with urgency and rock and roll feel. The song also features guest guitarist Carolyn Marosy. Marosy uses her echo-laden lead work to carry this vehicle over the finish line in style. The riffs remind me of Paul Revere & The Raiders.
Another great song is “Breathe Deeply.” Utilizing Robertazzi’s unique piano work and the toned six-string work of Falcone, “Breathe Deeply” inhales everything learned from the annals of pop music. Deady’s vocal performance is both moving and well placed. Once again, Donato and Gascoyne move this poppy number along with fiery feel.
“Winter Dreams” is up next and is the ballad on the disc. Written by and featuring the piano work of Robertazzi, “Winter Dreams” is a dark and progressive look into the changing of both season and emotion. Robertazzi’s vocal is stark, beautiful and ominous here. His lyrical outpouring is both melancholy and dark, and it’s an endearing addition to a very listenable disc.
Space prohibits more time on Kiss At Midnight, but the overall take is one of engaging fascination. Jack Brag is yet another Shoreworld band that continues to churn out listenable and curious music on their terms, and it’s a continued success here on Kiss At Midnight.
Jack Brag will be officially releasing Kiss At Midnight on 9/11/15, and the CD is available at cdbaby.com. For more information on Jack Brag and Kiss At Midnight, head over to jackbrag.com.
THE RISING 9/11 TRIBUTE CONCERT Sept. 11, 2015 – The Stone Pony – The Alliance Singers – Backup Vocalists for Springsteen and The Daily Show Gospel Choir – As a Tribute to 9/11 Will Perform Songs from The Rising. The Stone Pony in Asbury Park Special Guest Host: Big Joe Henry from NJ 101.5 to Benefit the WTC 9/11 Tribute Center
Joined by fate, The Alliance Singers came into being from the aftermath of September 11, 2001. 48 hours after that tragic day, residents gathered and formed The Alliance of Neighbors, an-all volunteer organization to establish emotional and financial support for the families and the community, and the organization of a benefit concert began.
Music icons Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi were the first to sign up, followed by Felix Cavalieri, John Eddy, Joan Jett, and Kevin Smith—to name a few. While scrambling to cover all the details, co-producer Corinda Carfora was faced with another last-minute challenge when music director Gary Tallent urged: “We need backup singers for these acts. I know you can sing so pull some people for rehearsal—for the day after tomorrow.” Slightly panicked, Carfora ran to a local Baptist Church, where she pleaded with musical director Jesse Moorer to “gather some voices and be at my house tomorrow night at 7:00.” This was to be the first meeting of many.
On September 11, 2015, The Alliance Singers will be performing at The Stone Pony: THE RISING 9/11 TRIBUTE CONCERT to benefit the WTC9/11 Tribute Center—a museum dedicated to sharing the stories of the 9/11 community—survivors, family members who lost loved ones, first responders, civilian volunteers, neighborhood residents. tributewtc.org
Tickets on sale now through ticketmaster.com, and the Stone Pony Box Office. Alliance Singers – show time 10 p.m. with special guest: Bob Polding Band. Doors are at 7 p.m. This is an all ages event. $17 in advance – $20 at the door.