Interview with Nahko and Medicine for the People August 10, 2017
The Importance of Physical Music July 14, 2017
By Nicole Seitz
My dad always says to me, “When I was a kid, we spent our money on vinyl records, not whatever you kids do today.” The act of listening to music was a huge part of people’s lives. More often than not, people would make an experience out of listening to a whole 45 minute or so album. Buying and listening to music used to be a big event for music lovers, which made the music more meaningful.
Music was made for the sole purpose of listening and experiencing the music. Now, music seems to be just the background noise in everyone’s lives. Many people only listen to music at parties or when they’re out just to dance or have something playing to fill the space. There’s nothing wrong with dancing to music, but there is so much more to it that younger people today don’t understand.
The world of music is similar today as it was during our parents and grandparents’ generation. There are still boy bands, pop icons, rock stars, etc. The big difference is what is important to fans about these artists. In the 1960s when fan girls swooned over The Beatles members’ long hair and British accents; they weren’t only concerned with the band’s image, they were attached to their music. If you heard a song on the radio that you really liked, you would go find that song on whatever album it was on, then buy the vinyl record for it, and spin it until the record wore out.
Today’s artists are still making music that their fans like, but their fans aren’t overly concerned with how good their album is and are more concerned with how the artists looks.
Dave DePaola, a senior music industry student, said, “Artists used to go on tour to support their new album, now artists make music just so they can tour.” DePaola explains how the focus has really shifted from the music to the image. Some people go to concerts now just to have something to do, not really to listen to the music.
Often times you’ll see on social media feeds friends going to a country concert at PNC Bank Arts Center. They won’t say anything about the music the artist was playing, they’re more concerned with the amount of beer they drank and how dreamy the singer was. That’s fine and dandy, but what happened to the art of music?
The art of music isn’t only just the music (while that is still very important) it is also about the album artwork and the liner notes. You can only really get these little things from buying an album (CD or vinyl). Album covers and liner notes used to be something that an artist or band put a lot of thought into when making the final product of their album; it was part of the experience.
Some of the most iconic album covers are Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane, and The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. All of these album covers told a story that helped paint a picture for the music on the album. When most new artists come out with an album now, the cover is just a picture of them, which shows the focus on artist image rather than art.
DePaola also said, “My dad tells me how when he was younger, he would get a new album and then open up the liner notes and read through them while he was listening to the album.” Liner notes are found inside the album usually. Often times, liner notes include pictures and stories of the making of that album.
The liner notes on Blink-182’s self-titled album that included hits like “I Miss You,” shared stories of how each song was created and what inspired those songs. The notes specifically for the song “Feeling This” talk about how Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge both wrote separate lyrics about their sexual experiences and brought it together to write that song. It’s little stories like those that you wouldn’t know just from listening to these songs on the radio or streaming the music.
Music should be an experience. It should be more than a good-looking guy singing with auto-tune. Music is an art. From the writing of a song, to producing it, all the way to creating the album art for it, musicians write stories that they want people to hear, but people need to listen to the story, not just look at the person.
Tigers Jaw at Union Transfer in Philadelphia June 29, 2017
Review by Joey Affatato
On June 23rd, I had the pleasure of seeing Tigers Jaw along with opening bands Saintseneca and Smidley at one of the coolest venues in Philadelphia – the Union Transfer. As I walked in, Smidley (lead singer of Foxing’s side project) were starting off their set with the only song I knew by them “No One Likes You”. As a first impression, I thought they sounded very tight as a band, but definitely gave off a very awkward vibe – maybe it was the exotic “Napoleon Dynamite” esque dance moves they showed off over the duration of their set. Despite that, they expressed a lot emotion and passion, which makes any performance more engaging, especially for an opening act. Quirky and weird, but full of life. For their last song, Cam Boucher from Sorority Noise joined the band on stage and busted out playing a saxophone. This was pretty awesome, in my opinion, since I wasn’t aware Cam played any instruments besides guitar/vocals and surprisingly meshed very well with the band’s style of music. Good opener and entertaining performers all around.
The next group was Saintseneca – only reason I knew them was that members of the band were in established punk groups The Sidekicks and All Dogs. As predicted, the band impressed me immediately with rich, blending four-part harmonies and intricate lead guitar riffs. They also were very noisy and created a lot of obscure sounds through various pedals and feedback from amps. It was almost as if you mixed Pinegrove’s southern rock feel with the noisy chaos from Nirvana. Definitely enough to convince me they were worth checking out afterwards.
Last but not least, local heroes Tigers Jaw were great as always. They jumped right into playing “Follows,” the first track off their new record Spin which immediately brought the uptempo feel needed to get their sea of fans rocking back and forth. The driving synth leads, breathy vocals, and cut through guitar tones gave me chills just after hearing a few songs. I saw the Scranton duo a couple years back at the same venue, but it was obvious that they matured a lot in their sound and songwriting. Being signed to indie label Run For Cover for some years, they most recently signed a major record deal with Black Cement Records, a subsidiary label of Roadrunner Records. Not only was I super happy for this band that I’ve been listening to since high school, but I knew that this sequence of events only meant that a great new album was yet to come, causing myself to be crazy impatient over these last few months. Throughout their set, Tigers Jaw, of course, also played some favorites such as “The Sun,” “Planes, Tanks, and Submarines,” “Test Patterns,” and “Distress Signal” in order to keep the majority of the crowd interested since a lot of fans were still unfamiliar with their newer material. Well played, guys. Well played.
All together, definitely a great show with some new bands to get hyped about. If you haven’t had the chance, check out all these bands on Spotify if you’re in need of something fresh. I know I’ll be blasting the ‘Spin’ vinyl I picked up.
Lost in Society & Face to Face – 5/13/17 May 16, 2017
Review by Joey Affatato
I had the opportunity to see both Lost In Society and Face To Face at House of Independents in Asbury Park and was more than happy I went. To start off the night, Lost In Society dove into their set with a burst of energy and were literally ‘bouncing off the walls’ as they played. Already being a fan of the band, I was jamming out to their newest record Modern Illusions (produced by Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls) in the car driving to the show and have to say that the punk trio did not fail to impress. The combination of punchy drums, raspy vocals, and catchy melodies was enough to get the whole room dancing – even people who may have just came for the headlining act. Just watching Lost in Society perform, they were so intense and I could feel every bit of what they were expressing through their music. Some of my favorite songs from them have to be “Generation Why” and “I Want To Know”, which are both off Modern Illusions. As a surprise, Jared Hart from The Scandals made an appearance on stage to play guitar for the last few songs of their set. Needless to say, Lost In Society was the upbeat powerhouse necessary to start off a show like this one and I would highly recommend checking them out.
As for Face To Face, it’s amazing how I never really listened to them before, but they instantly blew me away with an electrifying performance. For their entire set, I was on the balls off my feet – their music was a vicious stampede of sound and you didn’t really have time to take a break. It was just one hit after another. Definitely reminded me a lot of early Bouncing Souls, but if you also mixed in some Descendents from all the power driven bass licks and complex drumming at times. The punk band from Southern California has been in existence for over 25 years and has released 10 full-length records, including their latest Protection via Fat Wreck Chords. Being the veterans they are, it was pretty rad to see so many people singing along and rushing the stage to crowd surf. Being that there were no barricades either, it was an instant go ahead for any fans that dreamed of singing some songs with their punk heroes. Overall, both Lost In Society and Face To Face killed it and if you have never heard of either, you have some serious homework to do.
Thanks to Anthony for these great shots!
Tenth Annual Record Store Day April 22, 2017
By Nicole Seitz
Record stores are not as popular and hoppin’ as they used to be with the introduction of music streaming and less of a need for physical copies of music. However, Record Store Day is keeping the music alive. This year is going to be the 10th Record Store Day across the nation. Every April, record shops get special releases of some your favorite artists and they get their staff ready for the biggest day of the year.
This year, Record Store Day is Saturday, April 22. Some special releases for this year include newer artists such as All Time Low, Dave Matthews Band, and The Lumineers. There will also be special releases of live performances, unreleased music, and remastered music from legends like David Bowie, Prince, and The Beatles.
“Record store day reminds us that music is an art form – it can be listened as a single song or as I prefer, in an entire album of material from an artist.” said Communication Department Chair and Associate Professor Aaron Furgason at Monmouth University. “What makes this day special is that a trip to a record store means that you leave with tangible evidence of the artist, instead of simple download or stream of the music. A record allows you to admire the album cover art, read the lyrics, credits and thank you’s by the artist – elements you don’t necessarily have access to through streaming or downloading a song.”
“In the past, I’ve been excited to get exclusive content that was only available on Record Store Day,” said senior music industry student, Joey Affatato. “In 2015, I bought a special 10th anniversary release of Brand New’s Deja Entendu, and last year I got a special acoustic version of Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange.”
To pick up some cool tunes, you can either stop at your favorite local record store or make a whole day trip out of it. Senior music industry student Dave DePaola mapped out a whole days’ worth of NJ record stores to visit a few years ago and has been doing that with his friends since 2015.
DePaola said, “I love Record Store Day because I love being able to just explore with my friends. Not only is it exciting every time I find an album I’ve been looking for or discover a new album while searching through all the stores, I love being able to explore all the different towns we stop in and see all different areas in New Jersey.”
If you start your day around 10 a.m., it should be easy to get through all the stores and stop wherever you want for lunch and dinner along the way in one of the various towns.
The route starts locally at Hold Fast in Asbury Park, right on Cookman Ave. This a cool little store with a pretty good collection of new releases and old ones alike. They also have some cool music memorabilia for collectors.
The next stop is everyone’s favorite, Jack’s Music Shoppe, in Red Bank. Red Bank is always a good time and Jack’s has not only CD’s, vinyl, and tapes, but also an extensive collection of posters, sheet music and even movies (if you’re not into music).
The next stop on the list is Vintage Vinyl about 40 minutes north in Fords. Vintage Vinyl is probably the largest record store on the list and has a huge selection of music on various mediums. The store is even a venue for local and bigger acts from time to time with their stage in the back of the place.
Next stop is New Brunswick. There are two pretty cool record stores here and obviously lots of other cool places to check out around town. Spina Records is a tiny little hipster record store in the basement of a building. They have $1 records outside and you can walk down the stairs to a solid collection of CD’s and records for a fairly small space.
The next one in New Brunswick is Revilla Grooves and Gear, which is just outside of the main town area in New Brunswick. It was here that we found some rare finds like Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie and The Wall by Pink Floyd both on vinyl for a great price.
Next up, Princeton Record Exchange (PREX). If you’ve ever been to Princeton to just walk around and get dinner, you’ve probably wandered into PREX. This is probably the most organized, considering it’s not that big of a place. There is always something new to find and you can always find at least one album that you’ve been looking for for a while there.
The last stop on our list is Randy Now’s Man Cave in the heart of Historic Bordentown. The Man Cave is a tiny shop with music knick-knacks and various mediums of music. There is also a whole room of movie/TV show memorabilia for those interested in that.
Overall, Record Store Day is a great day to explore and find new music. It’s also a good chance for up and coming musicians to give their music to various record stores. Affatato has copies of his album The Ramparts Rebel available at Randy Now’s.
DePaola said, “I have always loved collecting CDs and records. Record Store Day allows me to dedicate a whole day to collecting and listening to music and it’s the coolest thing ever.”
EDITORS NOTE: If you venture to North NJ, you must check out Merchant Music in Westwood!
The Ramparts Rebel Album Review February 22, 2017
Review by Nicole Seitz
Joey Affatato, senior music industry student and vice president of Blue Hawk Records, has been a part of the Monmouth University music scene since the beginning of his freshman year in the Fall of 2013. Now he has some amazing music to share with us on his album. Affatato’s first band in college was The Ramparts Rebel, which included himself and his uncle’s band, Crypt Keeper Five.
This album is self-titled The Ramparts Rebel, and if you have ever had a chance to see Joey Affatato play live, you will really be blown away about how some of your favorite hits are re-created on this album. As a frequent goer of Affatato’s shows and a friend, I was honestly surprised and super pumped by the artistic magic that I heard in the songs that I often hear live at his shows.
Affatato explains how he composes his music, “When writing an album, I usually start off by writing songs stripped down on my acoustic then eventually, I’ll come up with a cool hook or catchy melody and I’ll go off that,” Affatato states. “Then, I’ll demo the songs out until they sound good enough to bring to the studio to record.” This album definitely sounds like it was carefully put together and well-practiced.
The opening track begins with a Green Day-esque bass riff that just brings you back to 2005 and makes you feel so angsty in the best way possible. This whole track is just angry and honest which is very refreshing compared to the many happy-go-lucky love songs that some people may be used to now a days.
The second track on the album, “Faults,” is a go to song for Affatato when he plays out. The perfect example of a hooky, fun, but still angsty song. Sometimes you can’t help but scream the chorus at the top of your lungs and pronounce it ” MY FAAA-AA-WALT!”
The next few tracks have a much more serious vibe. You can tell from the feel of the songs and the lyrics that these are real stories and real life lessons put together into 3 minute ballads. When I first listened to the lyrics of “By My Side,” the third track on the album, I began to tear up because I felt like I could feel every emotion that was put into the song and it was just so relatable.
By track five, “Emily,” we get back into the classic Punk Rock feel with gang vocals screaming “Hey Emily!” and the imperfect guitar tone with upbeat drums and overall punk vibes.
Track six is the only acoustic song on the album. “Brings Me Down” was actually a song that Joey Affatato had recorded with Blue Hawk Records as a part of their fourth compilation album. On Blue Hawk Records he recorded this song full band with The Crypt Keeper Five. However, on this album, the acoustic rendition allows Affatato to really showcase some of his amazing vocal skills. During one of the last choruses, he decides to sing acapella and the tone of his voice is really beautiful and adds a great dynamic to the whole song.
The intro to track seven, “Honey, What Was Your Name?” is very reminiscent of a Blink-182 song later in their career. The vocals and over all vibes of the song remind me a little bit of John O’Callaghan, the lead singer of The Maine, and something off their album Pioneer.
Track eight, “Breakdown,” is one of the most powerful songs on the album, in sound and lyrics. This is a track I had never heard before from going to Joey Affatato’s shows, so it was a shock to hear something that just made me feel so much emotion and tension, in a good way. The song is mostly this blurred-sounding guitar and very clear vocals. This style really allows the listener to hear every word and really hear the story.
The last track is titled “Irene,” cleverly named after the hurricane back in August of 2011. The intro bass riff sounds just like you’re in a movie where a big storm is about to come, like the eerie calm before the storm. “Irene” is another crowd favorite at Affatato’s shows and the recreation of it on the record certainly does not disappoint.
Over all the album is AMAZING! Although Joey Affatato is primarily labeled as a “Punk Rock” artists, this album still finds a way to give you all types of sounds and feelings. From really edgy and angsty, to deep and meaningful.
The lyrics really tell a story. Affatato states “I’ll write lyrics and keep changing them until they’re the exact words I want people to hear when they listen to my music.” The words really do speak to you when you listen to the album. Every line has meaning and every song is another lesson learned. The greatest part about music is that it is a way to express ourselves creatively and Joey Affatato certainly does that.
The Ramparts Rebel is not Affatato’s only project. His new band The Carousers, who are signed to Blue Hawk Records, have been in the studio and are looking forward to dropping their new EP for us soon.
2016 Says Good-Bye, 2017 Says Hello December 31, 2016
- Cake Shop on Ludlow Street will be closing after their New Year’s Eve bash. This one is hard to stomach as I’ve seen a lot of incredible sets downstairs at this crowded, heat-trapped stage since 2005. When their neighbors The Living Room closed their doors to re-open up in Brooklyn on Metropolitan Avenue, I was saddened to see three music venues in a row on Ludlow knocked down to two. But now just one? If anything happens to Pianos there’s going to be hell to pay!
- Oi vey…now to talk about the closing of (many) music venues due to hosting NYC Oi Fest.
- Black Bear Bar (which was right next to Music Hall of Williamsburg and formally Public Assembly and Galapagos Art Space) closed their doors in early September. They hosted the first night of the controversial Oi Fest! over Memorial Day weekend and cancelled the event in progress due to pressure by promoters. Black Bear Bar posted this statement on Facebook: “This past Saturday night it came to our attention that our venue room was booked for a two-day festival which featured reprehensible displays of hate and intolerance. We immediately took action that night to cancel the remainder of the event as soon as we confirmed what had taken place. The booking was made by a third-party booking agent and not by Black Bear. That booker also used our social media accounts to make posts that neither I nor any owner of Black Bear condoned or approved. We have fired the booking agent. The owners of Black Bear apologize to our fellow New Yorkers for this disgusting event. Hate and intolerance are not welcome at our bar and have no place in our great city.” Not long after hosting this mistake of an event the skate bowl/motorcycle bar was forced to closed.
- Santo’s Party House in Chinatown closed immediately after hosting the second night of NYC’s Oi Fest on May 29th. I’ve had so many great nights at this place and for years wanted to host my own party here. This place will be deeply missed and I have no beef against Andrew W.K. who was part owner of the venue. People make mistakes, and clearly deciding to have anything to do with Oi Fest is one of them.
- That being said, The Acheron also closed their doors in July “As a result of numerous factors that are completely out of our control, the space can no longer be used for shows,” said in a statement from the owners. The adjacent bar, The Anchored Inn, will remain open. The Ancheron hosted NYC’s Oi Fest back in 2013 and apologized to their regulars who felt the need to leave.
- The Grand Victory, another grungy dive bar gem on Grand Street in Brooklyn, closed their doors on July 31st. The Trash Bar used to be across the street, and closed back in 2015. Long live the grungy dive bars, lost but never forgotten.
- It’s with a very heavy heart I say that Rebel Rebel Records on Bleeker Street closed this past June. Sure, there’s Rough Trade in Brooklyn, but it will never hold as much history as Rebel Rebel did. Due to rising rent prices, they were forced to close their doors forever after being in business for 28 years.
- Peanut Butter & Co. on Sullivan Street closed at the end of February. Luckily you can still buy their delicious peanut butter, but you’ll be responsible for your own sandwich creations. They were in business at this location for 17 years and one of the first single-ingredient sandwich shops in the area.
- Carnegie Deli on 7th closed their doors yesterday, 12/30. You can still get tasty pastrami sandwiches at their other locations, although I’ve always preferred Katz.
Okay, that’s enough sad reminiscing. Let’s get positive and review what has opened up this year, and what will open up in 2017:
- Brooklyn Steel (a The Bowery Presents venue) is set to open in the spring of 2017 at 319 Frost Street. They are already booking shows, opening with 3 days of The Decemberists.
- The Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk officially opened June 25th and has already hosted many great acts.
Brooklyn Bazaar closed in 2015 but has now reopened as of September 9th at 150 Greenpoint Avenue. So many great things to do here; if you’re bored, this is where you should be. Live music, market place with the most unique vendors, karaoke/arcade/ping pong/mini-golf, and The Brooklyn Star food and bar (serving brunch on Sundays)
- The Lucky Bee – 252 Broome Street – opened towards the end of January this year. They serve seasonal Thai curries, Southeast Asian street snacks and cocktails in a colorful space. The cocktail menu features drinks made with honey, and a dollar of every drink sold is donated to the New York City Beekeepers Association. The owners hope to raise bees on the roof in the future.
- Pet Shop opened up in Jersey City this past August. They host occasional live music and have a wine bar in the basement, not to mention a menu of original vegetarian plates.
- Park and Orchard in Rutherford, NJ closed in July 2015 and re-opened under new ownership on April 1st 2016. This restaurant has always been about healthy, organic vegetarian options and the new menu still seems to carry that torch. They also say they’ve kept a few classics on the menu, but I do not see the famous Crawfish Enchiladas so I have been hesitant to try it out. Hopefully they still make the best French martini known to man.
Hope everyone has a happy new year!