Got songs? Got harmonies? Got fun and unbridled enthusiasm? Then you’ve got The Wag! Hailing from the Bayshore area of New Jersey, this four-piece unit has been entertaining and moving audiences for over 20 years but still sounds as fresh as it did on day one! With four alternating lead vocalists, catchy melodies, and sophisticated harmonies, they will take you on a journey of pop-rock delight! I especially love the Star Trek: The Next Generation castmate take on the band. “If the Beatles and the Cowsills got it on backstage at Ed Sullivan, The Wag would totally be their love child,” actor and author, Wil Wheaton. The evolution of The Wag’s songwriting is evident on their latest recording, We Carry On. This full-length release shows emotional maturity from a band that has several releases to their credit.
This four members of this upbeat high energy band are seasoned professionals. Whether performing in local establishments or opening for national acts such as Rick Springfield, Gavin DeGraw, Phillip Phillips, John Cafferty, Peter Tork of The Monkees, Almost Queen, and Jefferson Starship, you’re always guaranteed a Class A performance filled with catchy melodies, beautiful harmonies, and exciting showmanship. The Wag has a monthly residence at Espresso Joe’s in Keyport, NJ, and within the last few years, they have ventured out of their homeland to take part in two California tours and three international tours including Canada, Europe, and Japan!
The Wag has also added an acoustic set to their repertoire, further diversifying their sound and allowing them to reach a broader audience. All in all, the Wag has quite a summer planned for their fans and new listeners alike. From Lincroft to Matawan and everywhere in between, the Wag tends to be everywhere this year, and that’s a good thing for you.
The Wag is Brian Ostering on bass and vocals, Alicia Van Sant on keyboards, vocals, percussion, flute, and occasional guitar, Don Lee on guitar and vocals, and Joshua van Ness on drums, percussion, vocals, and guitar. The band recently sent me their new record, and as usual, I thought it pertinent to describe some of it here in the Shoreworld for our readers and fans of the band. So, let’s take a listen to the latest music from New Jersey’s The Wag….
First up on the disc is a song called “Believe.” The song spits thick and toned guitar and bass riffs to get things going. Bass and drums nail everything to the floor as vocals churn through the center of the piece. Ostering’s vocal preens are both powerful and centered as the band cranks into their theme: blending ‘60s Monkees styled-pop with a more modern presentation of bands such as the Romantics or the Records. Their unique talent at mixing addictive choruses with down and dirty verse work is impeccable, and the song literally flies through its 3:26 time frame. The Wag blends the best of the past with a modern day feel to deliver a solid disc opener and, to date, one of the better songs of the year.
Another interesting song is called “Coat of Arms.” The band rips straight into the meat of the matter, delivering a blistering attack of ‘80s styled pop not seen in recent times. Guitars are broad washes of chordal work and voicings as Ostering and company eat through a veritable smorgasbord of sound and texture. Lee’s guitar work reminds me of Brian Alterman of the Records, as he seethes throughout the tunes 3:10 soundscape. Ostering and Van Ness churn the low end and anchor everything to the tarmac. Very melodic and in the vein of Elvis Costello or Joe Jackson, “Coat of Arms” is another fantastic song on an album of 10 superior songs by the band.
Another outstanding song is called “We Believe” featuring the sweet vocal assist of Alicia Van Sant. The guitars are clean and jangly as hell. The melodic delivery is reminiscent of Quarterflash’s own Rindy Ross. Ostering and the rest of the band harmonize extremely well behind Van Sant, and the result is a catchy and beautiful song that pays homage to the past while delivering modern sounds for fans and new listeners alike. I think what I honestly like about this song is the combination of melodic perfection, passion, and evident proof that this band truly cares about what they’re saying to their public. The middle-eight comes up smooth and complex, showcasing Alicia’s voice while guitars sweep singing sweet melodies through a quick but effective 4-bar sequence. Great song!
And of course, the disc namesake can’t be left off the list. “We Carry On” once again features Alicia Van Sant on vocals and centers on the mid-tempo-style ballad. The song features acoustic and electric guitars humming in unison as bass and drums lead the pack down into a steady groove, not unlike something you might hear by a band such as The Lemonheads. Succinct guitars riff into each intricate part as the group digs deep inside itself and comes up with a catchy sing-along song that should see this band rise in the ranks of radioland. I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of contributors on this project, but it’s safe to say that We Carry On contains a great combination of musical workmanship and superior songwriting ability. And while space doesn’t permit me to cover each and every song on the new disc, I must say that everything I’ve heard leads me to believe that We Carry On is a vital and well-done record that fans, and new listeners, as well, should want to grab for their own listening pleasure.
The Wag performs some of the catchiest original songs around and has an extensive list of cover songs, and are available for any type of situation, whether it be a coffee house, private parties, house concerts, or theater shows. Whatever the event, if you want a fun, exciting, family-friendly band, then you want The Wag!