Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

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.






NeW bEAT FUNd “SCARE ME” Series Of Horror Movie Parodies On Instagram October 30, 2013

New Beat Fund, the group behind the SiriusXM Alt Nation hit “Scare Me,” is celebrating Halloween by rolling out 14 Instagram video parodies of scenes from some of the most esteemed horror movies of all time at

Check out all of their hilarious spoofs below and be sure to follow New Beat Fund on Instagram here and check back on Halloween for a compilation reel!



Blair Witch:

The Fly:

The Birds:

The Grudge:

The Ring:

The Shining:

Child’s Play:


Night Of The Living Dead:

Friday The 13th

Nightmare On Elm St.:


New Beat Fund Tour Now with 3OH!3, The Summer Set and Wallpaper
Oct. 31                      Minneapolis, MN                    Varsity Theatre
Nov. 1                       Des Moines, IA                        Wooly’s
Nov. 2                       Milwaukee, WI                       The Rave
Nov. 3                       Chicago, IL                                 House of Blues
Nov. 5                       Nashville, TN                            Cannary
Nov. 7                       Orlando, FL                               House of Blues
Nov. 8                       Ft Lauderdale, FL                    Revolution
Nov. 10                     Atlanta, GA                               Buckhead theatre
Nov. 11                     New Orleans, LA                     House of Blues
Nov. 12                     Houston, TX                              House of Blues
Nov. 13                     Dallas, TX                                   House of Blues
Nov. 15                     Albuquerque, NM                   Sunshine Theatre
Nov. 16                     Denver, CO                               Summit Music Hall
Nov. 18                     Boise, ID                                     Knitting factory
Nov. 19                     Spokane, WA                           Knitting factory
Nov. 20                     Seattle, WA                              Showbox at the Market
Nov. 21                     Portland, OR                             Wonder Ballroom
Nov. 23                     Reno, NV                                    Knitting Factory
Nov. 24                     San Francisco, CA                   Fillmore
Nov. 25                     San Diego, CA                          House of Blues
Nov. 26                     Los Angeles, CA                       House of Blues

Watch the official video for “Scare Me” 


Psychic Friend Releases Video for “We Do Not Belong” October 6, 2013

Psychic Friend is a band that should be on everybody’s watch list.  William Schwartz, who also fronts Imperial Teen, called upon an old college buddy to help make a video for the second single off of My Rocks Are Dreams.  That college buddy was Sarah Silverman and the video is “We Do Not Belong.”  Based roughly on a Nova documentary called Secret of the Wild Child, about a young girl who had spent her entire developmental period without societal contact. The young girl, played by Silverman, responds to nothing scientists present for stimulation until music is introduced. “We Do Not Belong” stands as the backdrop of Silverman’s character’s recovery, as she dances throughout the last half of the song, leaving Schwartz’s scientific role feeling both proud and accomplished.  This song and Psychic Friend’s music is infectious with a vintage sound and notes of melodic 70’s songwriting.


FREE 2013 Topshelf Records Digital Sampler! October 1, 2013


Who doesn’t love free music,especially from a great label like Topshelf Records!  Click here to download:

Boston indie Topshelf Records has released a FREE 78 track sampler featuring songs from all the bands on their roster such as: The World Is A Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die, Have Mercy, Tancred, A Great Big Pile of Leaves, Slingshot Dakota, Defeater, Hop Along, The Sidekicks, Lemuria, Owen, Pity Sex, Citizen, Iron Chic, Pentimento and Many more!

Discover and Enjoy!



Who’s Betty Who? September 22, 2013


The next up and coming pop icon, that’s who!  I have been obsessed with her music for a couple of months now.  She reminds me of early Madonna or an 80’s pop diva, mixed with Katy Perry and a touch of Robyn.  Born in Australia, Betty Who (Jessica Newham) moved to the States to attend Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan, followed by Berklee College of Music in Boston where she met producer Peter Thomas.  She now lives in New York City.  You might have already heard one of her songs without even know it.  Have you seen the video of the marriage proposal with the flash mob?  The song they were dancing to was “Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who.  If you haven’t yet seen the video, check it out here (if you’re like me, grab a tissue).  

Since the video posted on 09/11/2013, the video has 10,066,035 and keeps on growing!  On 09/13/213 she performed a sold-out headlining show at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn with JOYWAVE.  Obviously this was going to grab the attention of some major’s, but RCA made the deal.  Read all the details on here.  Her EP The Movement is still available as a free download on SoundCloud here.  My favorite track fluctuates, but right now it’s “High Society.”  Check out a live performance of the song at NYC’s Pianos last month.  


Music We Can’t Get Enough Of June 9, 2013

John & Brittany is Philadelphia’s latest unique songwriting duo.  Check out their video for hit track “Paper Planes” off their 2013 album Start Sinning.  John & Brittany tell us, ““Paper Planes” is our first music video, and it’s about our inspirations and aspirations. It’s also a pretty accurate portrayal of the dynamic in John & Brittany; we fight a lot but it’s all for the love of rock n’ roll.”

I’ve just started getting into Freak Owls, but can’t seem to get enough of “Optimistic Automatic.”  I woke up the other day with the song in my head and made it my Thursday anthem.

Found another song to add to the ever-growing summer soundtrack, “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor)” by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.  For those of you who are Arrested Development fans – check out  Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s very own Daniel Zott in Episode 13 of the new season out now on Netflix exclusively. Danny leads George Michael’s band in the episode’s opening scene. Here’s what he had to see about the experience:

When I showed up on set Mitchell Hurwitz looked at me and thought I was the wrong guy. It turned out that my hair had just gotten too huge. After taming my mane I got to meet Michael Cera who was playing the piano in between takes. I’m so grateful that I was able to watch a truly talented actor work out his lines and ad-lib in real time. I’m still not sure I was the guy they wanted, but I made the most of my one line and even ad-libbed a blank stare into MC’s eyes.” – Daniel Zott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. 

On the sound and release of their new album “Love and the Human Outreach”… September 22, 2012

Warped Tour 2012 – July 21 – Nassau Coliseum

DF – David Fowler – Keyboards

SF – Stephen Fowler – Lead Vocals

DTK – Dave the Klone

TNT, as herself

One of the amazing highlights of the 2012 Vans’ Warped Tour was getting to catch an awesome set from, and hang out with Echo Movement, the band from the Jersey shore bringing their own brand of sci-fi to their Reggae / Classic Rock fusion sound.  Take 2 parts Bob Marley, 1 part Beatles and 1 part Pink Floyd, and you just start to scratch the surface of what Echo Movement has perfected with their latest album, Love and the Human Outreach.  The guys were super cool and more than happy to go into depth on the finer points of what makes Love and the Human Outreach more than just a mind-blowing album, but a scientific work of art.




TNT:  So it’s already been featured in CNN, MSNBC, Wired Magazine and other media as a scientific work.  Would you explain how this album is a scientific work?

DF:  Yeah, absolutely.  There are two things in there that would qualify as such, three things if you include the subject matter of the lyrics.  The two physical things that are in there, one is…well, actually this is our second album that features binaural beats.  What they are essentially are two sinusoidal frequencies that are ever so slightly out of tune with each other.  And when you pan one of those frequencies hard right, so that it’s only coming out of the right speaker, and you pan the other hard left, so that it’s only coming out of the left speaker, and then put on a set of head phones, your brain goes through a neurological process where it identifies the algorithm between those two frequencies, and it becomes what we call an audible artifact.  It’s something that doesn’t physically exist, but because of a certain exchange among elements, you hear something that may not exactly be there.  To get your brain working that way is always a great thing.

DTK:  Wow, it sounds like you’re creating a certain kind of big bang in someone’s head when they listen to your music.

DF:  Ha. We’d love for that to happen.  If there’s any sort of output of energy, or any sort of transformation of energy, I think that’s a beautiful thing and in this case, it’s a cognitive process that’s responsible.  It’s pretty fascinating because you can use binaural beats, and they have been used for therapeutic reasons.  It’s something we’ve studied for a pretty significant period of time before we used them on the last album.  On this one we used them on the first track, “Rising Sunset,” and a little bit on the second track, “Spaceship Earth.”  I feel like they put you in a nice relaxed state to set you up for the album, and then you proceed from there.

DTK:  That sounds incredible. [Referring to the explanation, as I had not heard the album at this point…but before you ask, yes, those binaural beats worked, and it was so fucking cool.]

DF:  It’s a good way of bridging the gap between reality and the world of the album.

TNT:  Could you explain Reggae Bubble?

DF:  Reggae Bubble is essentially a rhythm that is used commonly in our genre of music, and I guess in our case I’ve updated it or textured it with different sounds, but originally it had started to emerge thirty or forty years ago, if not more.  It’s a great rhythm, because the only beat that’s not hit is the first downbeat of each phrase.  That’s something that’s awkward and foreign and, for the lack-of-better-words, uncouth to any sort of western tradition of music, where everything falls on the down-beat rhythm.

DTK:  So is Reggae something that has always been with you guys, or did it come from growing up in the beach culture?  How did you guys wind up in the genre you’re in, which clearly involves a scientific component as well, so I can’t wait to hear how that plays into this to create Echo Movement.

SF:  You know, as far as Reggae, Bob Marley Legend was one of the first albums I got when I was younger.  We listened to a lot of Bob Marley growing up.  We also listened to Michael Jackson, a lot of Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Doors.  Those were the big players as far as the soundtrack at our house between ourselves and our parents.  Dave, you wanna explain the science-side?

DF:  As far as the science, that’s really just something we wanted to do.  We were into doing research in different areas that we’re interested in as far as from a scientific point of view, and then just use the genre as the communicative medium through which we express these things.  We use it as a vehicle.  Regarding the binaural beats, it’s something I discovered two or three years ago, but they’ve been around for something like 70, 80, 90 years, so it’s existed for some time.  It’s been used in the medical community as a treatment for certain neurological disorders.

DTK:  That’s really cool.

DF:  But the real science project on this album comes as a result of spending the last seven years contacting SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence…

DTK:  Whoa, really?!  Can I just tell you, I am so happy that’s the direction this is going, myself probably more than TNT.

TNT:  Haha, yeah.

DTK:  As soon as you said SETI, I was like, ‘Ooooooh!! X-Files!!’  So awesome.  So, you contacted SETI.

DF:  I did.  I was looking for any audio they might have that we could possibly use, and I wound up talking to Edna Davore, the Director of Education at SETI.  She introduced me to the Keppler mission, which is a space telescope that trails Earth, with the primary goal of discovering exo-planets, or planets outside our solar system.  To date, since it’s been launched in 2009, it’s discovered over 2500 planets, as dead-on confirmations.  It does this by observing the apparent magnitude of the star, because planets don’t emit light, it has to observe as the planet transits a small cross-section of sky, passing through our line-of-sight between us and the distant star of the galaxy where the planet is orbiting.  Passing in front of the star over a period of time will create a discernible pattern.  That pattern is charted by an organization called, headed up by a Dr. Debra Fischer at Yale University.  So I reached out to her, at Edna’s suggestion, and she was able to talk to me about how to read and understand their charts.  So over a period of months, I searched through the data points on the charts until I found some that seemed to me to be sinusoidal, and something that I thought would translate well into music.  Then I found a sonification team at Georgia Tech, led by Dr. Bruce Walker, and he put one of his undergrads, O’Riley Winton in charge of putting together a small team of undergrads to help me sonify this data.  And over the course of four or five  months, working with them, I would say diligently…

DTK:  Yeah, I second that, diligently sounds like the right word.

DF:  …they came back with some results, and successfully translated this star-data.  The data we used in this case was actually a binary star-system, but they still create a series of data points that oscillate at the rate we were looking for, it just had a more consistent, more stable pattern that was easier for sonification.  On top of that, we “fitted” the data, which is an idea I borrowed from a Dr. Charles Bailyn, also at Yale University, who was doing a lecture series where he discussed how he would “fit” the data.  He discovered radio velocities of stars…so, you know the planet would go around the star, and it would wobble from its center of mass…and he would take those data points, which weren’t as stable because they were Hubble observations, and they used to just “fit” the data in order to make for cleaner digestion of the information.

DTK:  So, it used to be inaccurate and they’d fill in the gaps?

DF:  Well, it was more accurate eventually, but they were able to draw more conclusions and extrapolate more information from the data they had at the time.  Using that information applied to the binary star-system sample we were using, they came up with these sounds.  So when I got them back, I composed them into a five-part harmony and put it on the album, and then we dedicated it to Carl Sagan.

DTK:  Oh my God, that’s so awesome.  So now how many songs is this going to be happening in?  I mean people are going to be hearing these star sounds and not even be realizing that this is part of the music, right?

DF:  That’s fine.  If they don’t understand, that’s absolutely fine.  And those who do, more power to them.  It’s no problem.  At the end of the day, someone made a comment that they could’ve made these same sounds on their CASIO.  And I thought to myself, ‘Yeah, so could I have.  But what you can’t do, is make those sounds from a binary star-system on the other side of the galaxy.

DTK:  I love that you guys are hiding all of these little…I like to call them clues.  These would be kinda like, for people like me who watched the show LOST, these would be the Easter Eggs that are being left to explain what’s really going on.  I mean, the fact that scientists are actually figuring out where other planets are, and if they’d be able to support human life, and all while we’re sitting here drinking lemonade and listening to music, this is what the universe is throwing around, all around you.  I think it’s awesome you guys are incorporating that into your music.

DF:  Those scientists make very easy idols.  I idolize them, we idolize them, and they’re just fantastic human beings who are looking out for knowledge and the welfare and the progress of humanity.  We honor them through our music when we do things like this.

DTK:  Congratulations, guys.  That is definitely a lot of work, and I can’t wait to hear this for myself.

TNT:  What are some of the other bands you guys have seen on the Warped Tour that you’ve liked?

DF:  The top of that list is Streetlight Manifesto.

TNT:  How about the band name?  Can you tell us, does it have any meaning, where did it come from?

SF:  We are part of the echo generation.  The echo generation are the sons and daughters of the baby boomer generation.  Dave thought of the name.  He came up to me one day and was like, I thought of this…how about Echo Movement, like the movement of our generation, the momentum that is going to bring about big changes.

DTK:  Have you been seeing any of these big changes happening yet?

DF:  They happen at the pace of life.

SF:  I’ll tell you what, technologically we are moving at such an exponential rate, it’s noteworthy.

DTK:  Scary even.

SF:  If you think about it, hundreds of years ago, a father would teach his son a skill, I don’t know, how to make an ax or something.  And then the son would teach his son, who would teach his son, and so on, and so on.  It would always be the same exact method to make the ax; they’d heat the metal to the same temperature, they’d use the same materials, they’d live their whole lives in the same small town.  Now, every year we get new cell phones, with completely new applications and completely new technologies and peripherals that we hook up.  I mean, it’s like Ray Kurtzweil says, do you know Ray Kurtzweil?

DTK:  Of course, the singularity.

SF:  Yup, the singularity.  Some of the predictions he’s making are just awesome.  We’re going to have the human brain mapped out, in another two decades or so he’s estimating, and he’s been right about a lot of things.

DTK:  I think I had read that he thinks by 2025 we’ll have the human brain reverse engineered.

SF:  I mean, think about that.  We’re on the cusp of being able to digitize what a human brain is, and if you can do that, well then what defines a human, what is a human being?  Is it a collection of thoughts and memories, are we tissue, are we spiritual or what are we?

DTK:  I suggest you check out Battlestar Galactica if you have free time after the tour.

TNT:  Oh, God.  It’s so not for me.  Are you guys’ fans?

SF:  No.

DF:  No.  I think Noles is a fan though.

SF:  The only reason I know about it is through friends and now that you mention it, yes I believe that Noles is somehow a fan.

TNT:  Anyway, so did you guys catch Streetlight Manifesto today?

DF:  Not today, but we try to catch them as often as we can.  They’re pretty good friends of ours.

TNT:  Have you played together live or on albums?

SF:  Dave has.

DF:  We played a 5-show run with them in late 2009, and we’ve played with them on a couple isolated dates since then.

SF:  When I said, ‘Dave has,’ I meant he’s played on albums with them.

DF:  I played on their album 99 Songs of Revolution: Vol. 1, I played the organ solo on “Skyscraper,” which is a cover of a Bad Religion song.

DTK:  Nice.

TNT:  So, do you think sponsorships are the best way to tour and get around?  How did you guys start getting sponsors?  Is there a process?

DF:  It’s enabling.  Any sort of capital is enabling in a capitalist society.

SF:  It’s unfortunate that artists have to worry about such things.  But the sponsors that we’ve been lucky enough to hook up with are really, really cool.  Like Silver Surfer Vaporizors.  We hung out with them when we were in Denver.  They were awesome.


Don’t forget to order your copy of Love and the Human Outreach, out now!  If you hurry, you might be able to catch the limited edition version, which includes a piece of art from Brothers With Glass featuring the album cover-art!  Go my friends, be awesome and spread the word and music of Echo Movement.  Nevermind the Posers shares new music with you so that you can share new music you discover here with the world.


The Beer Burglars, DIY Punk Rock At Its Finest April 25, 2012

Filed under: Concert Reviews,Music You've Been Missing — NVMP @ 7:46 PM

Show Review by Angela Blasi

March 30th, 2012 at Seven Days Bar in Union Beach, NJ

Ride bikes, drink beer, get awesome.  That’s the running motto of hardcore punk band The Beer Burglars.  I had the pleasure of watching this group perform at the Seven Days Bar in Union Beach, New Jersey a few weeks ago.  I had no idea what to expect, except lots of songs about beer.  I have to tell you, no truer a statement has been uttered.  Releasing their debut album entitled The Punks , the band maintains its identity and refuses to play large-scale venues.  Ready to play anywhere, anytime, the bands persona is confident and carefree.  But does this translate on a stage?  Absolutely.  The night I saw the Beer Burglars, lead singer Steel English donned a full face mask that was part skull part ski mask and was a perfect replica of Satan meets V for Vendetta.  Although I never saw his face, he kept me entertained all night long with hardcore vocals, screaming incessantly about beer as he shot gunned cans and provided loyal fans with refreshment.  Now, I didn’t think it was possible to come up with so many songs about beer let alone like that many songs about the same topic, but it is and I did.  I think my favorite track of the night was “Beeranator;” a short but intense track where the only word I could make out was “Beerinator!” but I thought it was great regardless.  Besides the brutal in-your-face vocals with a sense of humor, I really loved the way guitarist Henry Scardaville lent his energy to the stage.  Fun to watch, he added the right amount of intensity and personality to his nimble technique and colorful vocals.  Granted, the vocals were a lot of screaming but it wasn’t annoying or overdone.  Rounding out the rhythm section was Kat Scardaville pounding away with effortless precision on drums and Hurricane Luke holding it down, locking in with the fat sounds that filled out the musical line up.

Overall I like what the Beer Burglars have started here.  No matter what show you go to, you’re bound to have a good time regardless of how many songs you may or may not know.  Just crack open your favorite beer, raise it to the sky and scream along like any of the regulars.  Everyone’s invited.


Local Bands You Should Know About September 2, 2011

By Jake Woodbury Davis

Connecticut.  When you think of good music, slowly infiltrating the ears of desperate high-schoolers, you may think of bands coming out of New York City or LA.  But no, as hard as it is to believe, the nirvana of underground music comes from this small, stupidly wealthy state.  Not only here but also from Massachusetts, and even New Jersey.  This semi New England collective generally falls under the Red Rash Collective,  a group started by the local bands in and around Southington, CT (which, fortunately, is my hometown).  These groups of musicians are no ordinary collection of garage bands but an intense brotherhood of sweet, sweet musical happiness.  The extensive list is as follows:
The Guru (CT)

Dads (NJ)

FigureHead (CT)

Robin Hood (NY)

Glocca Morra (PA)

Jack Tomascak + Segunda Etapa (CT)

Pachangacha (MA)

The Front Bottoms (NY)

Chalk Talk (MA)

High Pop (CT)

Toasted Plastic (NJ)

Hot Mess (MA)

Spook Houses (NJ)

Manners (CT)

Band Name (PA)

Beach Sleepers (NH)

Holiday City (NJ)

Barefeet (CT)

The Helveticas (CT)

Deer Leap (NH)

Old Gray (NH)

NunCunt (CT)

Two Humans (CT)

Braeburn (CT)

The Ferns (CT)

Dix (CT)

The Greek Favourites (PA)

Inflatable Best Friend (MI)

Brown Cow (MI)

Old Yeller (CT)

Young Mountain (NH)

The Worthies (CT)

Empty Houses (NJ)

Babytown Frolics (CT)

Make Wave (MA)

Mer De Blanc (SC)

Centennial (MA)

Maintain Radio Silence (NH)

While I can’t promise that you’ll fall in love with every band on this list, I can almost guarantee that the following bands you read about will cause you to believe that good music isn’t dead, it’s merely hiding in the suburbs of the north-east.  The bands I enjoy the most, and have had the pleasure to attend the shows of, are Two Humans, The Helveticas, Nuncunt and The Guru.  Two Humans, while actually having three members, is a high energy, mildly depressed, indie meets punk meets folk, ear explosion of goodness.  The raspy vocalist Jason Rule can be heard singing of all the wonderful angst, drug abuse and lost love that joyfully accompanies the final years of school.  He is matched by bassist Justin Dubree (also bassist of The Helveticas) and Lucas who is the drummer of this wonderful trio.

The Helveticas, a jazz/dance/punk trio matches the badassery of Two Humans, but in a totally different way.  If you love to dance to songs that have serious rhythm, but are like me and physically incapable of forming dance moves recognizable to humans so you just bounce around awkwardly, this is the band for you.  Nick Charlton, the drummer, has created the only beats in my musical knowledge that are simultaneously jazzy, danceable and punk-ready.  Justin Dubree lays down a groove to be reckoned with.  Finally, guitarist and lead singer Oscar Godoy manages to sound reminiscent of Julian Casablancas while having a truly unique voice all his own.  He lays down a jazz guitar also punk in styling that I’ve never heard before.

Nuncunt, apart from having a truly offensive name, commands attention.  This female duo, one-part piano and one-part drums, is a sucker punch to the face, consisting of piano riot girl punk.  Don’t be fooled by the piano-filled melodies you hear; the words sung are full of venom.  The music you find online has no drums, but in live performances this essential piece gives the band more kick than they already possess in copious amounts.  Standing in front of pianist/vocalist Alex Saraceno I was embarrassed to have a Y chromosome.

Last but surely not least, The Guru.  This is a sound you never knew you wanted, but once heard takes a hold of you like no other drug.  This infectiously upbeat funk and disco-experimentalism pop supernova of music is like nothing you’ve ever heard, with a bizarre lead singer leading the way.  The band’s unusual vocal styling’s and oddball lyrics only make them exude double the charm the instruments provide.  I implore anyone who has ears to buy their album.  Also, they start each show with copious screaming and shouting and they tend to break their instruments at the end.  It doesn’t get any cooler than that.

This was your dose of local underground goodness.  Thanks for reading!


REPUBLIC OF LETTERS: The Band that Broke this Camel’s Back May 1, 2011

By Orin Louis

Ohhhh dammit.  After Wiki-ing “indie rock,” I can say that, from this genre, I enjoy and regularly listen to Elliott Smith, Interpol, Arcade Fire, and MGMT – but have only heard pieces of others, including The Killers, Modest Mouse, and The Get Up Kids.  Yes, I am one pathetic loser, because these bands are huge.  They sell out shows to tens of thousands of screaming little bastards; they are crucial links in our musical zeitgeist – indelible landmarks on our cultural landscape…blah blah…I know, and am hesitant to reveal this ignorance to you.  But I suck at lying.

So why is my opinion here worth a turd?  I’m rational, skeptical, and most importantly: fucking hard to please musically.  There’s a solid reason I’ve avoided this style so long – it’s often sappily two-dimensional.  I can’t ever tolerate country music because my dog hasn’t screwed my wife in the old Chevy pickup on the farm; likewise, I simply don’t relate to most indie.  It just doesn’t speak to me.  I was raised on classical, classic rock and a tinge of electronic.  Truth be told, I rarely enjoy music with any words at all, especially anything current.  High quality instrumentals plus meaningful prose is as common as hetero unicorns.  Lo, WTF – suddenly, my car’s been blasting an indie rock album on repeat for weeks?!  Republic of Letters’ new EP, Painted Hour, packs the emotion of Arcade Fire, the wisdom of E. Smith and the punchy pulse of MGMT.  The resulting sound floats past those less desirable, but all too familiar, indie rock traits, while staying true to the genre.  Artists of any medium who consciously work toward stretching a cluttered style in new directions – and are successful at it – are the only ones worth experiencing.  ROL’s music addresses common themes – love, hope, loss, desire, frustration, but from new angles.  Profound lyrics over meaty, hungry instrumentals take me somewhere else, somewhere I want to be.

In my favorite track, “Running From,” a reverby piano accompanies lead singer Chris Venti’s mellifluous voice so perfectly.  Picture “November Rain” vs anything Radiohead.  “Running From” never loses energy as it effortlessly builds and breaks, hitting me deep in the gut.  Lyrics like, “Cause the writing on the walls today / yeah I don’t know just what they say / was stolen from a haunted past,” do not entirely make sense to me, but jeez, I don’t want to understand immediately.  Robert Frost said: “Poetry is what gets lost in translation.”  I say the most valuable art is not that which is immediately accessible, but that which reveals clear intention, while leaving room for discovery.  Every track on Painted Hour has this effect.  The music is intelligent; it holds back the right amount to keep me engaged yet, with each play, I hear something new.

I meet the band at The Red Fox Room in North Park, CA.  I’d expected lanky, drugged-out assholes; yet, to my relief, they are sharp-witted and genuinely personable (but still lanky).  They’re also snappy dressers.  I ask them to start at the beginning.  Guitarist Adrian tells of when he was a kid, watching his parents’ band: “She dressed up in cheetah print…they played so loudly, I’d go up the stairs and try to play along with them on keyboard.  But I really wanted to be a drummer, and began by playing bells.”  I asked if that was a helpful experience.  “Hell no!” He retorts.  “Carrying around a bell kit, you’re a target.  I got beat up a couple times.  But I used the bells on the last record for one tiny part.  Nick gave me shit, but it worked, ya know?  Now I practice guitar usually around eight hours each day.”  An aspiring, yet busy, guitarist myself, I can’t help but envy the guy – perks of being a professional.

Bassist Martin began on the recorder “‘Hot Cross Buns,’ dude,” he tells me (now regretfully).  “I played trumpet, then got good at baritone horn.  Even got to play in a Charger halftime show.  One day, my dad told me, ‘Get good at bass and you can be in any band you want.’  I started going to shows, even if I didn’t know which bands were playing.  I spent all my money on CDs.”  I ask if playing for a pro football stadium was difficult.  “It’s much scarier playing for friends intimately.  That’s the nice thing about touring—you can be whatever you want in front of people you don’t know.”  I imagine meeting ROL in a few years to see if they’re still pretending, or if they will have become these alter egos.
 The Venti brothers’ (singer and drummer) mother is a classically trained pianist and vocalist.  Nick recalls, “Music was always around.  We were always in a creative environment.”  I ask about how/when he knew he wanted to be a musician.  He tells me of a night in his teen years, at a Bad Religion show: “Riding the mosh pit, I got thrown into that space between the stage and the crowd.  Security was walking me out when they became distracted by two punks climbing the rafters.  Everyone rushed over there and I had a moment to decide…I jumped up on stage while they were playing.  My friends were like, what the fuuuu?!  Was just one of those moments.”  He reminisces on ROL’s early days: “We were a piece for a year, until Adrian came in to raise up the musicianship, and we finally found that sound. All our music now is about creating a mood. If we all like that mood, we’ll continue with it.”

I ask Chris from where he gets his lyrics. He explains: “I go through notebooks of crap to pick out a few winners. I’ll build a song after that. I’m always trying different writing methods to grow, like maybe starting with the idea in a chorus and then going to verses. Although, I’m not totally bound to that because there are songs I love that I have no idea what the words are about, but they’re my favorite songs.” I ask why. “Probably because you can attach your own meaning, and then start to build a story around it. You connect the dots in your own way. The interaction between music and listeners…I always thought that was cool.” His brother adds: “For our sound, the song is the most important part of the song, if that makes sense. The music around it should be tasteful and interesting, but if you were to strip down one of our songs and play it on the acoustic, that’d be the most important thing.”  ROL is not an acoustic band; they play electric guitars, basses, and keyboards.  I am still digesting this idea, that the song is the most important part of the song.  Something profound here.

Nick tells me, “It’s not real methodical.  We all look at it like, how can we write a better song?”  I ask, “What’s a better song?”  “Cliché, but one that pulls on the heart-strings.  It’s a never-ending process.  If you feel it…the song will create an emotion in you.  It’ll make sense.  I mean we don’t wanna make people cry, but hopefully the song connects and make sense.  There are rules, but it’s cool to break ’em if you can do it.”  Chris adds, “It’s enjoyable when things click with four people.  You don’t have control of the other people but, from nowhere, you all tap into something and it just starts to work.  You might have heard that from other artists.”  Adrian interjects, passionately: “What was burning behind all of it was this feeling, this energy, this basic drive from the beginning.  We didn’t know how to write a song…we just kept putting one foot in front of the next and here we are.”

I ask their thoughts on the San Diego music scene.  Nick says: “It’s great.  Small, everybody knows each other, real supportive.  SD’s missing real industry though—labels to help bands move from here to there.  LA has all that, but it’s not real inviting.  You come to LA to play, just to do your thing.  SD’s more communal…supportive radio and people.  In the 90’s there were a few labels here…but there’s just not a lot of good deals anywhere out there anymore.  People who that think the music industry is dying are wrong.  It just needs to evolve.  It’s in that middle period.  I know groups who’ve signed to labels and it works for them…but the label takes a cut of everything…which is fine if they’re making you a lot of money, but often it’s not like that.  A band now gets momentum on its own.”  I ask him, “Advice for those trying to break into it?”  “Don’t quit,” he says.  “Every band that started when we started is not around anymore, at least on the local level.”  I can’t help but marvel at their determination.  Although, it doesn’t hurt that they rip and, should they ever forget, they will be quickly reminded by their massive local following.  They invite me to a rehearsal.

The following week, we meet at their studio, a room in a building made specifically for bands.  Walking down the hallway, I hear and see musicians all over, smoking and jamming out.  To my surprise, Republic of Letters sounds exactly the same or better than they do recorded.  I try hard not to lip-sync, though by now I know most of the words.  I enjoy a private show for myself and two photographers.  I don’t intend to stay long, since I’ve other assignments beckoning, but I end up staying the couple of hours through their entire set.  Each musician is focused, professional and deliberate.  It is clear in their expressions and through their playing.  I leave feeling extra special, having experienced this young band, no doubt soon to be a household name.  Imagine seeing the Stones before they were the Stones.  Yeah.  Feels like that.

Sigh.  Guess I’m into indie rock now.  Not ready for the tight jeans yet (I’m not lanky), but I am eager to check out some of the band’s other musical recommendations, including Louis XIV and Transfer.  At the bar earlier this week, Nick described Republic of Letters’ songs as “new kids, which we get to see grow and grow.”  Pick up their new album ASAP, catch them live and witness their talent and notoriety grow and grow.  Hendrix said: “Music doesn’t lie.  If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.”  This band has something to say and the skill with which to say it.  If their music doesn’t change this world, at worst, it is guaranteed to alter the entire indie rock genre forever.