The New Jersey music scene continues to be the top breeding ground for some of the Tri-State’s best bands. Monmouth County’s own Accidental Seabirds is one of the top groups that continue to demonstrate excellence and musical growth that is taking them further and further into their musical stratosphere and the world beyond. Their last record, The Greenpoint Spill, was a highlight of my weekly column and one of the best records of 2014. And now, Jesse Lee Herdman, Jimmy James Cutrera, Anthony Defabritus and Alex Letiziand are back with eight fabulous gems covering a multitude of subjects and feelings on their brand new disc, Metedeconk.
Herdman and crew have gone the extra mile with this latest project, culling new emotions and responses to their music and their message. Recently back from a nationwide tour, Accidental Seabirds have returned to home turf to share both experiences on the road and musical performances with all of us music fans.
Metedeconk starts off with a brief musical interlude called “Circumambulation.” Spatial in nature, the piece is a set up for the second song, “Roadkill And Remorse.” This is a song that embraces the nuance of jazz and progressive rock and folk with the bands own unique slant on all things musical. Herdman’s vocals sync well with Cutrera’s melodic guitar work. Drums and bass anchor this interesting composition with solid accompaniment. The combination of feedback and guitar chords in the later section of the tune adds overall depth and free-form vibe to the overall song.
“Constellations” kicks off with solid guitar work from Cutrera before Herdman comes in with his signature vocal sound. Accidental Seabirds manage to wrangle a heady concoction with “Constellations.” Pushing their dreamy, lo-fi soundscape into the main spotlight, the band mixes folksy alternative-based rock with an almost jazz-tinged feel and I like it a lot. “Constellations” is a fantastic, almost ballad tune that will have you hitting the playback button more than once.
“Paint By Number” is up next. Utilizing the skilled fingerpicking of Cutrera, “Paint By Number” flows like a leaf in a springtime stream. Drums, bass and guitar dance and shimmer across each other as Herdman lays his clean, clear voice over the top. His lyrical delivery is all his own on this one as well. Herdman paints memories and thoughts into one great thematic delivery and it sounds terrific. Cutrera’s Jerry Garcia-like guitar lines in the end of the tune are outstanding.
“Black Horse Blues” is the next song on the disc. The mix of Cutrera’s acoustic and electric guitars make way for Herdman to soar here. Herdman’s subject matter is always fascinating and that’s the same with “Black Horse Blues.” I love the modulating vocal sounds at 3:06 which reverberate until Herdman puts the song to bed.
“Bad River” hits next and features some outstanding backing vocals that fly over the top of Cutrera’s guitar work before Herdman brings everything back to earth. This band doesn’t utilize standard choruses or bridges and it gives their sound its own individual edge. Drum work comes courtesy of Alex Letiziand and focuses the rhythmic foundation along with Defabritus. Progressive in nature, “Bad River” is an open musical interpretation from the minds of some truly amazing musicians.
“Post-Apocalyptic Ghost Story” takes center stage next. This is an off-kilter gem that utilizes choppy, distorted guitars with straight drums and bass underneath the expressive vocal delivery of Herdman. I’m not sure if this is a love story or the end of everything based off of life, but it’s a catchy and cleverly written piece. Herdman is a gifted singer when it comes to delivering a great melody, and this is no exception. His tone is open and full and there are no imperfections that show anywhere on the disc.
The last song on this too short disc is “Go On Blues.” Herdman tackles the age-old conundrum of love and loss. Cutrera’s jagged guitar work sizzles with tube-fueled brilliance as Letiziand and Defabritus switch between smooth and stormy rhythm work under the vocal ministrations of Herdman. Accidental Seabirds all contribute to the sound and each adds their own distinct signature to the overall song. In a situation where you could easily overplay and fill open space, the band remains resolute when it comes to creating true compositional pieces that have something great to say. “Go On Blues” is probably my favorite song on the disc.
Accidental Seabirds continue to demonstrate why they are one of the most creative and explosive bands around. Metedeconk is a great record and will aid an already rising band on their way up the musical ladder.
To find out more about Accidental Seabirds and Metedeconk, head over to their website to get the info. That site is accidentalseabirds.com.
BobFest – Pat Guadagno And Tired Horses – May 26 – Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, NJ
Memorial Day weekend kicks off again on Thursday this year when BobFest makes its annual return to the Count Basie Theatre. The 18-year tradition known as Red Bank’s hippest event will celebrate Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday and the release anniversary of the landmark double-album (the first in rock history) Blonde On Blonde. Recorded in Nashville 50 years ago, Dylan’s seventh studio album is regarded by many critics as his best work. Pat Guadagno, with his legendary band Tired Horses, will take you on a musical journey through the sublime, the surreal and the silly songs of the all-time great record.
This year’s BobFest will include a pre-show concert on the terrace by Los Angeles-born Arlan Feiles. The award-winning musician and songwriter has worked with legends like the late Warren Zevon, Dave Grohl, Joan Baez, Richie Havens and Warren Haynes, and his music is featured in a variety of TV programs and theatrical films, including Dallas Buyers Club and Adam Sandler’s The Cobbler.
The Basie lobby will be adorned with artwork and memorabilia, and the stage will be alive with the music of Bob Dylan, delivered as only master song stylist Pat Guadagno can do. Special guests this year will include The Rock-It Kids from Count Basie Performing Arts Academy, who has prepared a program, especially for this year’s BobFest. Under the direction of Bruce Gallipani, these young musicians, ages 8-18, will absolutely stun you with their musicianship and stage presence.
For more information on this stellar show, head over to countbasietheatre.org.