This week also features Caroline Chambers, Blud Red Roses, JAHK, The Naughty Clouds, The Brothers Union, TUSK. Zack Morrison, The Stone Pony, Ezra Caspi, Pyrenesia, “One Step Back,” and New Jersey Live.
Levy & the Oaksare an Asbury Park band who never rest on their laurels. Check out the premiere of their brand-new video for the pretty, beach-themed breakup song “Sound of the City,” the title-track of their summer EP, below.
Shot on a cold winter’s day on Asbury’s North Beach, “Sound of the City” features lead vocalist “Levy” Okun at the piano for half the track and on a jetty for the rest as the waves mentioned in the song serve as a kind of subtle percussion to the sparse ivory-driven track.
“This song was written in an attic very far away from any body of water,” Okun said on YouTube. “This particular song was very much a self-fulfilling prophecy as everything I had written down in this song came true and happened to me only a few months later. I ended up living by the beach with my old life washed away. This particular video represents the loneliness I suffered transitioning searching once again for my purpose. The sounds of the city kept me hopeful that all would be right in the end.”
The clip was directed by increasingly popular auteur Andrea Morgan, who recently lensed Telegraph Hill label mates The Foes of Fern’s hilarious “Bike Song.” The video — the third from the EP — also follows a tasty single, “On the Run,” which is part of Telegraph’s recent compilation featuring 13 bands. “On the Run” is the first in a series of singles, some of which will appear on a new record by year’s end.
As if that wasn’t busy enough, Levy & the Oaks will return to Asbury Park Yacht Club on Jan. 26, just one week after having played next door at Langosta Lounge for Light of Day Winterfest. They will produce a live concert video that will be posted shortly thereafter. Sharing the bill will be The Vaughns. The show follows Levy & the Oaks being named as one of the 32 must-hear N.J. bands in 2019 by NJ.com.
The Bouncing Souls are celebrating their 30th anniversary with the release of the six-song Crucial Moments EP and accompanying book, a video for the EP’s title track, and a year-long national and European tour that also will feature The Bronx, Strike Anywhere, Off With Their Heads, and The Casualties. The tour kicks off March 16 at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City. The EP and book will be released the day before by Rise Records. The book contains photos, memorabilia, and stories from friends and fans to trace the band’s career and their impact.
“What’s fun is that the creative spark that was happening when we were in high school is still there,” lead singer Greg Attonito said in a statement. “That, to me, is probably one of the most magical things I have in my life, and now that I’ve lived this long, I see how rare that is for anyone — especially in music. We’ve made bonds with people around the world that you’d never imagine or dream of when you’re a 17-year-old kid from New Jersey in the ‘80s. There was no Internet and there was no chance of making money being in a punk band. It’s hard to explain it to people because the world we live in now is so different. It’s hard to remember how extreme it was then. We’re eons away from that, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been through that journey and for what I’ve learned, and what I’ve been able to get for my heart and to give, too. I don’t know how I can imagine my life being more gratifying than that.”
Vendetta Rose, a new band featuring former members of Just 6 Hours, have announced the release of their debut EP on the youth-oriented, educational-based MOTO Records label of Lakehouse Music Academy. A March 30 release party at a venue to be announced soon will be preceded by the release of a single, “Silent Letter.” A video for a track entitled “Over and Under” also will be released soon.In the meantime, the band will play Jan. 27 at a benefit for The Project Matters nonprofit at The Chubby Pickle in Highlands with Dan Amatao & the Sentimental Gentlemen, The Nobodies, and Nick Brodeur; Feb. 2, The Brighton Bar, Long Branch; Feb. 17 at the Stone Pony’s Rock to the Top contest, and Feb. 23 back at the Pickle.
In other MOTO Records news, 17-year-old Brick-based singer-songwriter Caroline Chambers will release her label debut, The 3 Sides, on Feb. 2 at The Saint. An adopted native of Russia, Chambers draws on a sense of self, home and place in the ballad “Pages,” while the upbeat “Best Things” is a celebration of young love. The EP also features “Badass,” a redemptive battle cry against destructive forces. Sharing the bill at the Saint show will be label mates The Fusions and George Owen, plus Ellumment and Killer Strawberries.
Washington Township hard rockers Blud Red Rosesare busy behind their six-song EP, A Tempest Descends, featuring the rad single and video for “Writing on the Wall.” They’ll play Feb. 23 at Dingbatz, Clifton; March 22, at the Metal on Metal Part 2 show at The Jersey Theater, Montclair; March 29 opening for Jake E. Lee’s new band Red Dragon Cartel at Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck, and April 13, Binghamton Shelter Slam, Endwell Event Center, Endwell, N.Y.
JAHK, the music project of Freehold-based Jennifer Ashley, is playing in support of her new debut EP, eleven23. She will perform Feb. 8 at Saige Café, Jackson; Feb. 20 at The Asbury hotel, and Feb. 27 at Downtown in Red Bank. Recorded at Eight Sixteen Trax East Recording Studio, eleven23 features two singles, the upbeat ‘80s-influenced love song, “Round,” and the indie pop nugget “Into You,” which is featured on the I Love Asbury Spotify playlist. The EP also includes the empowering indie-rock anthem “Torpedo” and “Soak You Up,” an adult contemporary ballad about love, loss and hope featured on the “We Are Independent” Spotify playlist. Named in honor of JAHK’s birthday, eleven23 also has been featured on WDHA 105.5-FM and WRAT 95.9 the Rat. JAHK by the way are Ashley’s initials.
In support of their debut LP, Everything’s Hard, the Hillsborough two-piece Naughty Cloudshave a bunch of hot shows coming up, including Feb. 11 at Muldoon’s Picnic at Irish Arts Center in New York City. The event is organized by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, whose band, Rouge Oliphant, will perform. Rouge Oliphant features Ray Kubian, the drummer of Naughty Clouds, who will open, along with Stephanie Burt, Amit Chaudhuri and Wesley Stace.
Other upcoming Naughty Clouds gigs include Jan. 31, The Barn at Egremont Inn, South Egremont, Mass., with Amy Ryan Band; Feb. 2, John and Peters, New Hope, with The Fletchers and ZFC; Feb. 9, The Gutter, Brooklyn, with The Deadeyes and Graham Brice, and Feb. 16 at Pino’s, Highland Park, with The Fletchers.
Based out of a blue bedroom in Tinton Falls, a pair of brothers, Mike and Sean O’Reilly & Jon and Alec Wagstaff, found their chemistry after about a year of jamming and playing some local shows. In 2018, The Brothers Unionreleased two EPs, Little Blue Room and Paper Hearts, both of which were recorded by Tim Pannella at Cedarsound in Oceanport. A video of a track off the second EP is expected soon. But first, The Brothers Union will be play Feb.1 at the Brighton Bar with Bryan Hansen Band and Matt Cook.
Scott McDonald, guitarist of the Hunterdon County-based Fleetwood Mac tribute band TUSK, is pictured with his inspiration, former Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham at a recent New York stop on the tour in support of “The Best of Lindsey Buckingham: Solo Anthology.” It’s not every day that a musician’s dreams come true, but that’s just what’s happening for McDonald not only by meeting Buckingham but also with TUSK, who have been touring nationally. Their next Jersey gig is Jan. 25 at Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown with Eaglemania. They’ll also play Jan. 29 at City Winery in New York City. In between shows in Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New York, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Connecticut, Colorado and Indiana, TUSK will play March 16 at Levoy Theatre in Millville; March 22 at bergenPAC, Englewood, also with Eaglemania, and Sept. 20 at Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank. In the meantime, TUSK’s video for “The Chain” is closing in on 400,000 views.
East Brunswick filmmaker Zack Morrisonwill return to his alma mater, Rutgers University, with a master’s degree in screenwriting & directing from Columbia University and a final thesis film in hand. He will screen “Everything’s Fine: A Panic Attack in D Major” on Jan. 27 at New Jersey Film Festival. Having made music videos for Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, Morrison turns to music with this short film. Not only did he write, edit and direct the film, but he also co-wrote the lyrics and music with New Brunswick-based “The Eleventh Hour” composer David Seamon. Several of their songs are sung by the film’s star Carly Blane, who recently starred in her own film, “Joni and the Banker with Nice Eyes.” Morrison’s film also will screen at the Fort Meyers Beach Film Festival at the end of April. Back in November, it was shown at the St. Louis Film Festival. For more about NJFF, visit www.njfilmfest.com.
To celebrate 45 years since opening its doors and becoming one of the world’s best-known music venues, Asbury Park’s legendary The Stone Ponywill launch of The Stone Pony Forty-Five, a limited-release lager custom crafted by Asbury Park Brewery. Stone Pony Forty-Five will debut at Asbury Park Beerfest on Jan. 26 and 27 at Convention Hall with a percentage of proceeds going to WhyHunger, a nonprofit founded by the late, great Harry Chapin that the Pony and its sound company, Jason Dermer’s Asbury Audio, have supported for years. Featuring a complex malt body complimented by a hop profile offering notes of citrus and pine, traditional American Lager is dry hopped to add a pronounced fruit aroma and subtle bitterness, creating a finished product as unique as the Stone Pony. With a lower ABV level of 4.5 percent, Stone Pony Forty-Five is a designed to comfortably enjoy throughout a concert.A bold black and white can features the iconic Stone Pony logo along with the Asbury Park Brewery’s signature tag line, “Founded by Local Musicians and Beer Freaks” around the top of the can. In addition to Convention Hall, the beer also can be enjoyed during its launch weekend at the Brewery. Cans then will be available for sale at all Asbury Park Boardwalk properties starting on Feb. 15 to celebrate the Pony’s 45th anniversary concert with Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. The beer only will be available until December.
Young singer-songwriter Ezra Caspiwill celebrate the release of his debut full-length, The Best Is Yet to Come, Jan. 26 at Espresso Joe’s, Keyport. Only 17 years old, Caspi follows a four-song EP, Summer Girl, which he released two years ago. Impressively echoing Brian Wilson, Gram Parsons, Jeff Buckley and Uncle Tupelo, the LP’s title track is the first single and video. The tune demonstrates a great deal of musical maturity and progression. The rest of the album also is influenced by a mix of the classic rock of The Beatles and Crosby, Stills & Nash and ‘90s alt-rock, such as Jellyfish. I particularly like the Jack Johnsonesque “Say Whatever.” The son of veteran Jersey Shore rocker Jon Caspi, this kid is gonna rule the scene in a few years, so keep an eye on him. The Caspis sometimes perform together, so be on the lookout for that too.
Do you like the gypsy jazz of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, then you’re going to love Lambertville-based Pyrenesia, who have followed a self-titled EP with the new 12-track album, Off-Beat Symphony, a feast of eclectic, evocative arrangements and energetic, inspring improvisations that nod to the Quintette du Hot Club de France in reverence and respect, while forging a delicious path of their own with eight original tunes, two jazz standards and two traditional numbers. The talented band will celebrate the release on Feb. 2 at 1867 Sanctuary in Ewing. Other upcoming shows include Jan. 25 at Birdhouse Center for the Arts in Lambertville and Feb. 3 at Flemington DIY.
The music documentary “One Step Back: The Rock & Roll Odyssey of Splooge”will be screened Feb. 2 at the Rialto Theatre in Westfield, and the band featured in the film will perform Feb. 1 at Crossroads in Garwood. “One Step Back” is a story about an original Jersey bar band who have been putting their lives on hold waiting for their breakthrough, said director Peter Ventrella. The director followed them as the band mates all were turning 40. The film is about the struggle to achieve one’s dreams and the compromises that must be made to keep them alive or let them go, Ventrella said. Just about everyone in any music or artistic scene can relate to that, no?
Hip-hop curator Rodney Coursey returns with “Jersey Live Vol. 3” on Feb. 22 at House of Independents in Asbury Park with a super-stacked lineup of local hip-hop and rap stars, including Poca, Chris Rockwell, DBM, Kidz from the Burbz, King Ramses, Mic Jackson, Mike Sav, Mista Encore, Most Dope, Mula O, Pounds Da Great, Shoreshot, Solo for Dolo, Trapbang, Black Suburbia Music Group, Offtop, DJ Ronny Razy and Ramseysaidwhat. Gonna be lit. Don’t miss it.
Bob Makin is the reporter for www.MyCentralJersey.com/entertainmentand a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at email@example.com. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.