Joey Affatato, member of The Carousers and working stiff over at Asbury Park’s MOTO records, is also part of The Ramparts Rebel. The Ramparts Rebel is a punk rock band from Trenton, NJ. The group has been throwing itself into great heaps of performing work, playing throughout the tri-state area and logging countless hours in the recording studio. The band currently consists of Joey Affatato (vocals/guitar), Johnny Ott (guitar/backing vocals), Mikey Groch (bass), and D.T. Graves (drums). They draw influence from bands such diverse and heralded groups such as Green Day, Ramones, Jimmy Eat World, The Gaslight Anthem, and many more.
Their debut self-titled album was produced, recorded, and mastered by Sean Glonek (Julianna Hatfield, Frank Black of The Pixies, Matthew Sweet and Trenton’s favorite sons, The Commons) at SRG Studios in Hamilton, NJ. Johnny and Mikey are also current members of Trenton punk rock band The Cryptkeeper Five. D.T. Graves was their drummer for over 15 years. It’s interesting to note that several of these musicians have been covered in their various bands in this publication over the last couple of years and there’s a good reason for that.
The Cryptkeeper 5 and The Carousers have presented substantial efforts for the year and have made it into my “keeper” pile of CDs and into the hearts of thousands of fans. So, it would only make sense to continue that tradition with The Ramparts Rebel, giving them a listen and adding them to the ever-growing Shoreworld family of New Jersey bands, producers, labels, and musicians.
Joey recently sent me the new music to listen to, and I wanted to mention some of that for this week’s column.
First up is a song called “Bitch.” Bass and drums kick things off before the guys all kick into a heavy, Green Day styled vamp. Affatato once again proves his worth as a vocalist as he leads the charge into this wild song. Guitars are provided by Affatato and Ott, and they are hot and tasty. Not overblown or dramatic, just great punk tone over lyrics that lament about the girl that broke his heart. Logging in a 2:50, “Bitch” is the perfect punk vehicle for the radio.
“Faults” pops next and shows more of a commercial sensibility. Great big choruses blend with beautiful bridges and verse work. Ott and Affatato blend perfectly as singers, and the two musicians seem like they have been working together for years. Guitars chug through the verse, highlighting downstrokes and syncopated breaks. Affatato sings of love and courtship while Ott bangs out compelling single line lead breaks. Groch and Graves provide sharp bursts of rhythmic thunder behind the guitars and vocals, and it works like gangbusters.
The band takes a break from blasting with “By Her Side.” Clean guitars blend droning setups with single line note runs as Graves lends a kick for enhancement. The song goes through its paces, building on each passing verse and adding different tastes of rhythmic and guitar work. Affatato sings in a compelling and clean voice, blowing away so many contenders and even outdoing many of his self-confessed idols. At 3:10 into the song the boys turn it up and give it everything they’ve got. Guitars duel chord progressions and riffs as Graves and Groch nail it all to the floor. “By Her Side” is sure to receive lots of airplay throughout the country and perhaps beyond.
“The Rest Of Your Life” is another laid back track that reminds me of The Beatles, especially George Harrison. Acoustic guitars and mandolin work courtesy of Affatato adorn this piece along with percussive elements. Affatato goes from easy going to raw, raspy vocal attack within the course of a few verses and into the catchy chorus. Kudos goes to guest Amy Matlack who provides some fantastic viola work for the track. This is probably the most different song on the disc, and I like the contrast like this that The Ramparts Rebel delivers during the length of these 10-songs.
Moving around the disc a bit, I came to “Honey, What Was Your Name.” This track features some top-notch synthesizer work from special guest Chrissy Isaac. Affatato and the crew plow rich fields of punkish delight mixed with pop sensibilities on this track. Ott provides melodic guitar riffs and lines as Affatato crunches heavy-duty rhythm chords over the top of Graves and Groch, who offer complex and addictive rhythm work. Once again, the band delivers intense and top-shelf songwriting and performance. Affatato sings his heart out, and the band keeps up in style. The chorus is hit radio material and the skill that the group displays as writers and players are amazing. This is yet another song that should do well on radio as well as live.
The last song on the disc is called “Irene.” Amy Matlack is back on piano for this track, and she’s a welcome addition to the group’s effort. The song brings back memories of bands such as Jellyfish and Jimmy Eat World. I especially like the way the band uses minors to come up with such an engaging and catchy tune. Affatato is a rising star in the local scene and his talent, and that of the band is on a level all its own. The lyrics are an ode to that special girl who is pretty much exactly like the hurricane that slammed us back in August of 2011. Joey and Johnny play some great guitar on this track as well. The beginning features some fantastic surf-tinged riffs that mix well with strummed electrics. Once again, the chorus is a winner. It’s almost like Affatato squeezes everything non-essential out of the piece, leaving only the good that makes up much of this song and overall record. His vocal harmonizing with Ott also stands out well here, and of course, Graves and Groch blast the mind with their rhythmic savvy.
If you have the opportunity, make it a point to catch this band live. This is a perfect mix of punk and talent, blending strong songwriting with stellar performance moxy and gritty drive. The Ramparts Rebel can be found on Facebook as well as over at Bandcamp. For more information on the band and their terrific debut disc, head over to therampartsrebel.bandcamp.com.