Album Review: Static Jacks – In Blue

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New Jersey’s Static Jacks released their debut LP If You’re Young in 2011. Garnering a few solid reviews, it was overall a straightforward garage rock album that was easy to enjoy and acted mostly as a straight blast of adrenaline. Their live show backed it up, and it wasn’t a stretch the call them the best band to come out of the Garden State in quite some time. Unfortunately, the genre itself had been on the commercial decline for a while at that point and is still even now, so it’s no surprise that a great debut from a ‘rock’ band didn’t make the impact it should have.

In 2013, they make a point of growing up a bit with new record In Blue, and their slightly tweaked sound might suit them even better than the indie punk outfit they wore on their debut. For one, this album sounds far fuller then their LP prior, and honestly makes it sound ‘scrappy’ in comparison. That’s likely on account of Andrew Maury (RAC, Tegan and Sara, Ra Ra Riot) handling production duties, as he did on the excellent Spray Tan EP they released last year.

There’s a sonic comparison to be made with Cage the Elephant here, but instead I’ll say that they’ve definitely taken a few Pixies cues in terms of tone and dynamics. “Wallflowers” makes the best use of the loud-soft structure, and was an obvious choice for a lead-off single. The best thing about these songs compared to older tracks is that the band seems more comfortable in slowing down the pace and letting the music breathe a bit. “Home Again” is a nice example of this, keeping a brisk tempo yet still coming off as nothing but relaxed, even during its big (mostly) instrumental chorus.

While If You’re Young had a fair share of British indie rock comparisons, they aren’t really present here. “Ninety Salt” makes good on the opening track’s hook, coming off as the most epic song the band’s recorded and another obvious choice for a single. “Katie Said” is another standout cut, and feels like the 80’s without necessarily sounding like the decade itself. They’ve gone for that reverb-drenched effect before, but this might be the most well-written song they’ve done in the style and really shows off some range in terms of what the Jacks can pull off. Penultimate track “People Don’t Forget” even has some piano laced through it, and another catchy chorus to get stuck in your head before “Greensleeves” closes the record, sounding like a shinier Titus Andronicus with a better sense of melody.

Now it’s time for the big questions. Will this record be commercially noticed in an electropop filled 2014? Will rock and roll be reignited and overtake dubstep? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a great album from a band that deserves to be listened to by far more people. The Static Jacks found their sound a while ago, and they still just keep improving on it. Let’s see where they go next…

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We’re Ghosts Now – “Nothing ‘Bout You”

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We’re Ghosts now are a New Jersey rock band who don’t really fit the image pictured when someone says ‘New Jersey rock band.’ That’s a good thing, because they make music better than most of the Garden State’s current output. Composed of Andrea Scaniello and brothers Jake, Max, and Ben Resnik, the band plays a bouncy rock and roll that sounds slightly classic but also fresh. I mean that in the sense that I’ve seen them rocking a bar, but wouldn’t be surprised to find them on the indie buzz band circuit.

They’ve recently put out the track below, and it’s a pretty good indicator of their style. Sound-wise, they fall pretty close to the Airborne Toxic Event, but bring far more energy and less depressive lyrics to the forefront. The group is currently recording their debut LP, and will hopefully get some more exposure when they have more material out.

Album Review: Saint Motel – Voyeur

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Saint Motel knows how to not overuse a piano, which these days is truly a gift for any newer indie pop band. I just got around to listening to their excellent debut LP Voyeur, and I have to say it’s one of the most consistent releases I’ve heard in quite some time. The entire album is brimming with life and has enough energy to make even the shyest of dinner-party guests start to move. Either as background music or on a purposed playlist, the songs are extremely listenable and it’s obvious that time and consideration was put into each individual track.

‘Puzzle Pieces’ is based around an exuberant, irresistible piano line that just doesn’t quit, and it’s just about one of the easiest things to get stuck in your head ever. ‘Benny Goodman’ is the other track that really blows out their sound to add fiery horns and a bit of sampling, both done in the best way possible. Honestly, listening to these two tracks will make you quite inclined to investigate the rest of their work, and you’ll find every song is satisfying to equal degrees. Saint Motel is consistent, and are smart to have some very diverse songs packed together on Voyeur.

Comparison-wise, I’d say the group could fall in rank with bands like Cheers Elephant and Izabo (an Israeli indie rock band who are equally  incredible and bolster my hipster cred). What’s cool is that Saint Motel isn’t scared to adopt a bit of a 70s pastiche on some songs, combining their signature sound with the past and making the album have a bit of a classic feel despite being so new. Overall, the band is fun, enjoyable, and in need of more fans like yourself. Enjoy!

Album Review: Boxed Wine – Cheap, Fun EP

Seems I haven’t posted on here for a ‘bit.’ I’ve been a tad busy with the real world, but I figured if I liked something enough, then I should probably write about it.

Boxed Wine just put out their second EP last week, as a preview of an album that should be out in the Spring. They describe themselves as ‘indie party pop,’ and this looks to be just that. In a time when so many bands are afraid of the term ‘pop’ on account of it sounding mainstream, the band bats a blind eye and throws their cards in. The results are exactly what one would expect; catchy, simple songs about having a good time.

The first track is “Bones,” and has a bit of a rockier sound than the other two, and might remind fans of their first EP. Still, it’s sonically bigger than what they’ve done before and is more along the lines of Young the Giant than Two Door Cinema Club.

“Boomerang” is next, and that’s where they find a pop groove that could legitimately get people dancing. If you don’t get the damn title stuck in your head, there may just be something wrong with you, with the band coming off a bit like the child of Hot Hot Heat and MGMT. Weird, I know.

It’s on the last track, “Dayglow,” where they start to really stray from their formula. It’s still poppy, but the dance element sticks through more than anything else. The beat sounds like a Pitbull b-side more than an indie rock band from New Jersey, but somehow Boxed Wine makes it work. This might be where they’re going with their sound, but all three tracks could point to a possible direction change.

Overall, the band gets to the point, and maybe that’s what we really need in 2013?  With the indie scene how it is, it’s kind of refreshing to hear a band honestly describe themselves and not come off as pretentious. Hopefully this EP doesn’t have the best songs from their album, but being how different their songs have been up until now, I don’t even know what to expect. All I know is that it might be cool, and will definitely be fun.

Quickies: Poweys – “Here We Stand”

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Simple, catchy, and effective punk from Los Angeles. This came out on Powey’s debut album, released in June. Enjoy!

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This is creepily captivating. It makes you want to keep listening through, which is a quality I don’t often notice. Enjoy.

The Deadline Shakes – “Sweeten the Deal”

 

The Deadline Shakes do not sound like the “Alabama,” nor do they sound like the “Harlem.” They sound like a ballsier version of The Boy Least Likely To. Hailing from Glasow, the band also makes me think of the rootsy folk rock that was super popular here in the US a few years back. Either way, their new single “Sweeten the Deal” is definitely a winner and you can listen to it below. Enjoy.