Search Results for "Rock"

Scorpion Vs. Tarantula Release Video For “Female Agitator”

Photo by Jeff Schaer-Moses Photography
L. Hotshot of Scorpion Vs. Tarantula performing at Tempe’s Yucca Tap Room

Phoenix’s Scorpion Vs. Tarantula just dropped an incendiary new video for the Trump era called “Female Agitator” off their upcoming fifth L.P. When All The Girls Are Gone due for release in 2018.

The song is about a woman wild-card and it’s the sort of tune we need right now as many of our heroes musical and otherwise are falling to sexual assault allegations. Instead of decrying the men for their wicked ways Scorpion Vs. Tarantula and their out-of-control frontwoman L. Hotshot are putting the spotlight on the strong women who aren’t going to take it. “How do you spell revolutionary? ME! ME! ME! ME! ME! ME! ME!”

Brass Against the Machine: the cover band you didn’t know you needed

Brass Against the Machine is a brass band that covers Rage Against the Machine, Jane’s Addiction, Gil Scott Heron, A Tribe Called Quest, and Led Zeppelin. Below is a video of their cover of Rage’s “Killing in the Name.”

I have nothing clever to say. You’re either on board the train to FUCK YES, or you’re probably into Amy Grant or some shit. I don’t know what to say to you. You are dead to me. I’m sorry.

Eat Your Heart Out stream new track “Better Late Than Never”

Newcastle, Australia based alt-rock/punk-rock band Eat Your Heart Out are currently streaming their latest track “Better Late Than Never.” You can listen to it below.

“Better Late Than Never” is taken from the band’s upcoming EP release titled Mind Games, which is set to be released on December 1st via Fearless Records. You can find the cover art and tracklist below the track.

Hollow Suns release music video for track “Longest Night”

Tokyo, Japan based punk-rockers Hollow Suns have premiered a creative music video made for viewing on phones, using camera footage and images/videos from the band’s Instagram. Check it out below.

“Longest Night” is taken from the band’s most recent EP release, titled Hollow Suns II, which was released on June 7 in Japan. The album follows their self-titled debut release. You can find all the band’s music videos on their site here.

The Bronx announce reissue(s) of their albums I, II, and III

California punks, The Bronx, have announced that they will be reissuing their albums I, II, and III but this time on Vinyl. This is following the release of their recent album V, which came out in September off ATO Records

You can catch them at a show this December, dates can be found below.

Story Of The Year stream new track “Miracle”

Story Of The Year are streaming “Miracle”, a track from their upcoming album “Wolves”, out on December 8th. The album is being released as a result of the band’s PledgeMusic campaign, which is still active.

You can have a listen to the track below.

The Dollyrots release video for “Just Because I’m Blonde”

LA based pop punk duo The Dollyrots have released a video for “Just Because I’m Blonde”. The track is from the band’s recent full length, “Whiplash Splash”, which came out in March this year.

You can watch the video below.

Blacklist Royals premiere lyric video for “Evelyn”

Today we’re happy to premiere the newest lyric video from Nashville punk ‘n rollers Blacklist Royals. It’s for their new track “Evelyn” off their new album Model Citizen released through Paper + Plastick Records. 

Check it out here.

Album Review: Joy Opposites – “Find Hell”

When the legendary Japanese post-hardcore band FACT disbanded at the end of 2015, the members split into two amazing groups, on one end there’s SHADOWS continuing on a similar sound to FACT, and the other is the more rock oriented Joy Opposites. From their debut album SWIM in 2016, Joy Opposites have found comfort and a sound of their own, and now in their second album Find Hell the band has solidified that sound, whilst exploring out even further.

Find Hell‘s opening track “Blind Dogs” starts with the sound of a tuning radio, before the guitar comes crashing in, a heavy drum beat in the background, before washing into Adam Graham (vocals & guitar) singing softly. The track is an amazing place to start, and forms into a dark base for the rest of the album. Lines such as “… and we wait too long, until we notice that there’s something wrong, with everything and anything” set up an environment of uncertainty, a state where everything isn’t as it should be, which is what the album focuses in on.

There’s some fantastic imagery used in the lyrics throughout Find Hell, from “Your halo has lost it’s shine” in “Head Full of Tongues” to “Cut off my feet my friend, I won’t be running when the sleep comes calling” in “Sleep.” To perfectly compliment Adam’s (and occasionally backing from Imran) vocals flowing from soft words to yelling out, the instruments dip and crest in time, the band all able to accentuate their own individuality on the tracks. The tracks on Find Hell use some interesting sound design and combine different elements to sound complicated at times, but always flowing smoothly, all the pieces falling into place.

“Either/Or” is certainly a standout track which highlights the growth coming into Find Hell, being a much calmer and more melancholic song. “I still believe, I hear them say, what’s done is done, it doesn’t matter anyway,” The track comes as a calm in the center of the album, a contemplative midpoint that feels like the sort of thing you’d lay down and stare at the sky listening to. The track transitions into “Cinnamon,” which starts out at the same level but kicks things back up a bit as it goes on. Then there are tracks such as “Acid Kiss” and “Head Full of Tongues” that place themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum to “Either/Or,” up tempo tracks with an anger and determination behind them. “Acid Kiss” is another one of those standout tracks that I’m sure I’ll be singing along to in my head for weeks, from that opening riff to when the chorus crashes in, to the powerful wind down at the end. A beautiful balance can be found on the final track, the one to see us out, “Good Luck.” Gravity lets us go as the track fades out, capping off a phenomenal album.

Eiji Matsumoto’s creative drumming combined with Tomohiro Takayasu’s always impressive bass provide the perfect base to each track on the album, complimented with both Adam Graham and Imran Siddiqi on guitar pounding out the beats that range from spacey and atmospheric to fast, hard, and loud. Whilst SWIM found their footing and built a base for the Joy Opposites sound, Find Hell shows their very capable range as the band plays with some unique elements and effects. Find Hell shines out in the dark night it places the listener in, with tracks from “Sleep” to “Acid Kiss” soaring to the best the band has put out.

Find Hell is set to drop on November 8th via Hostess Entertainment, but you can listen to “Head Full of Tongues” and “Good Luck” now below.

Hit The Lights stream new single “Believe In Me”

Ohio pop punk veterans Hit The Lights are currently streaming a brand new track titled “Believe In Me,” the first new music since “Anthem” earlier this year. You can listen to it below.

There is no mention as of yet of the track being a part of a full length, however the band has stated there will be another new track next month: We hope you guys like the track, we can’t wait to play it live and in the flesh! Pass it on and prepare yourselves for another new HTL song next month!

Brand New: Science Fiction

Regrets, I’ve had a few. Like back in 2005 when I went to see Dashboard Confessional in Washington DC. I remember people going nuts about the tour and stating that the openers could not be missed. People that have seen a lot of shows usually try to catch the openers because you never know when you might stumble upon the next… Brand New. Well, obvi I wanted to see D/C. Don’t judge! I also really wanted to catch Rooney, for some reason. When we arrived at the venue, I had to get my gameface on, they weren’t allowing beer in the auditorium. You had to drink outside. As I sat there sipping my Heineken, sounds leaked out from under the door; sounds being made by Brand New. All the kids were milling about in their bright red “Brand Nizzle” T-shirts. I thought about buying one. Haven’t seen one like it since, couldn’t even find it today on a Google image search. I think that some of those sounds leaking from under the door made it into my ears, and into my brain. When I finally broke down and bought Deja Entendu, the first listen was like being reunited with an old friend. I had DE on 24/7 for a few months and then I had to ration it out a bit. I grabbed a copy of Your Favorite Weapon which helped to scratch the itch. Then came TDAGARIM, Daisy. I’ve seen them quite a few times since then and they always bring the house down. I wish I could go to that auditorium in 2005, see them play their new stuff off of Deja Entendu. Unfortunately, sometimes you just don’t get a second chance.

So where are we? 2017? In 2005, Donald Trump was in his third season of the Apprentice, “You’re Fired” reverberated through the country as the catchphrase of the day. Now Donald Trump is President of the United States. Back in 2005 it seemed we were on the upswing. Having made it through Y2K and 9/11, the future looked bright. Today, although unemployment is at an all-time low and the stock market is at an all-time high, a lot of people are angry, the hatred and anger flowing out into the streets. This country has evolved, some might say devolved, and we need voices that can provide sanity and consolation to the disaffected masses. Back in 2005, Jesse Lacey was touring on a record that had just begun to scratch the surface of the deeper thoughts in his head. What does he have to say in 2017? Can he and his mates in Brand New provide some solace in these maddening times?

I guess I’m not the only one looking for comfort right now as Science Fiction debuted at number one on the Billboard Chart, Brand New’s first number one record; proving the masses have not completely gone mad. I’ve had the album on heavy rotation for the last month. My quick thoughts are that it’s eminently listenable. The 60 or so minutes just seem to fly by. I remember an interview in which Lacey said that this record will go in a direction Brand New could have gone in rather than the one that led them to Daisy. Science Fiction certainly eschews the trademark screams and call-and-response choruses for more introspective and mature deliveries. Mike Sapone, long time Brand New collaborator, does an exceptional job manning the boards. Brand New just sounds fuller on this record; every track on the board has something going on. Science Fiction rewards the repeat listener with new subtle nuances. I really get the feeling that Brand New and Sapone spent time crafting this record, they use discordant noises, overdubbed soundbites (a la Lacey’s BAE The Smiths), Keys, and even background singers. It’s almost as if BN had gone back to the 70s and created a record like Kansas or Pink Floyd.

The album opens with a bizarre recording of a woman in psychotherapy. She’s discussing a dream where she’s at a convention feeling out of place. She concludes, “While I don’t mind having all this going on inside of me, it’s sort of–I think I’m going to be relieved when it’s over, when I can sort of settle back down.” Brand New spends the rest of the album echoing these sentiments in one form or another. Lit Me Up almost sounds like it could have been on TDAGARIM. It reminds me of Sowing Season a bit. When Lacey drops the line “You lit me up like a witch in a puritan town,” he demonstrates that he hasn’t lost his penchant for turning a clever phrase. Track two, Can’t get it out, opens with a strummed acoustic guitar, another recurring theme on Science Fiction. In fact, I think there is an acoustic guitar somewhere on every track. This song will definitely please the Brand New purists and represents the most traditional Brand New-sounding song on the record. Waste comes next, and I’m getting the Kansas vibes here as Lacey drones over acoustic and feedback, “Every night you were tripping out. In the morning you were coming down. If it’s breaking your heart, if nothing is fun. Don’t lose hope, my son. This is the last one.” Is he talking about life on the road as a musician? Is he foreshadowing the end of Brand New? I’m catching a lot of Smiths on Could Never be Heaven, it reminds me of Back to the Old House, although CNBH is a beautiful tune in its own right. Same Logic/Teeth will also please the purists, and we even get some screams here too!! But there is something untraditional about the Sergeant Peppers-esque goofy line “At the bottom of the ocean fish won’t judge you by your faults.” Beautiful and powerful encapsulate my thoughts of Science Fiction and the next song 137. “Let’s all go play Nagasaki, we can all get vaporized.” Lacey sounds defeated, as if he is resigned to the fact that the system can’t be changed and he’s embraced his fate of turning to ash. This song resonates with me in our current political climate where the system seems to have failed us and the only thing we can hope for is a quick and painless end. It could also be construed as an odd allegory on the end of Brand New.

Did I mention the 70s vibe? Out of Mana brings some serious funk feels by using a wah pedal and some kind of synthesized chorus inspired by Boston. In the Water sticks with the 70s mojo, this could be America or the Eagles. Stripped down acoustic, slide acoustic, electric piano, harmonica, it’s a trip! Desert throws some blues in there with a riff that would make Keith Richards jealous, they also stole the Stones backup singers!!! “Don’t come running to me, when they’re coming for you.” Remember Neil Young singing “Tin Soldiers and Nixon’s coming…” No Control brings the nostalgia trip to an abrupt halt. The booming reverbed-out bass hearkening back to the traditional Brand New. 451 does a great job melding the whole blues-come-Brand New sound into one song. The record closes with Batter Up, fans might think Tautou, this tune does conjure up thoughts of the sounds and themes of Deja Entendu. If this is how Brand New closes out it’s career, it’s fitting, “It’s never going to stop. Batter up. Give me your best shot. Batter up.”

Is this the end of Brand New? I think the cryptic messages coming from Lacey and Crew suggested 2018 as their last year. The songs on Science Fiction certainly have a somber tone and there are many allusions to the end, be it “this is the last one” or “Let’s all go play Nagasaki.” If they do call it quits after SN, they will certainly be going out on a high note. For all fans of Brand New, I assume you already have this record on heavy rotation. It is most definitely in my ten best of 2017. With sabers rattling around the world and a demagogue with his finger on the button, might as well float off into oblivion to the sweet sounds of Brand New’s Science Fiction.

5/5 Stars

The Young Hearts (alternative) release lyric music video for “Bloom”

The Young Hearts have released a lyric music video for their song “Bloom” which you can watch below. The track is taken from their new EP “Honestly, I’m Just Thinking” which was released on September 29th via Primordial Records.

The band are currently in the middle of their UK tour, here are the remaining dates:

28 Oct – Bournemouth, Blue Line Studios
09 Nov – Canterbury, The Ballroom
10 Nov – Luton, Harvey’s
11 Nov – Torquay, The Attic
12 Nov – Bristol, Crofters Rights

Kindling stream two tracks from upcoming album “Hush”

Easthampton, Massachusetts’ rock/shoegaze exports Kindling are to release new album “Hush” via 6131 Records on November 10th. Physical pre-orders up now – and the label has put two tracks from the album on Spotify.

You can listen to “Hush – Singles” on Spotify now

DS Exclusive: Curt Weiss on “Stranded In The Jungle,” his wild ode to Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers)

There’s a moment in the afterword of Curt Weiss’s fascinating debut book, Stranded In The Jungle: Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride, in which the author spots his eventual subject walking into pharmacy on a crowded New York City street. It’s the early 1990s, and Weiss hadn’t seen Nolan for the close to the duration of the preceding decade. The passage is written in truly cinematic fashion and proves instantly relatable to anybody that’s fancied themselves an interviewer, or even just been a fan of another human being at some fundamental level. In it, Weiss explains how he’d played that very situation out seemingly countless ways, projecting what might have become a deep friendship between seemingly kindred spirits separated by the better part of a generation. However, he lets the moment pass, opting to let Nolan go on about his daily business. Weiss would move to Seattle literally the following day and Nolan would sadly pass away in January 1992, so the two unfortunately would not reconnect in person after that incident.

In a perfectly poetic world, the inspiration for Stranded In The Jungle would have started right then and there, on that New York City sidewalk. Reality maybe not always be poetic, but it is nevertheless fascinating. As would be revealed in our hour-plus-long conversation with Weiss in advance of the book’s release, the groundwork would come more than a decade later, but the inspiration and the connection came far, far earlier. When he was perhaps better known by his stage name of Lewis King, Curt Weiss ran in overlapping New York City circles with Jerry Nolan, albeit at opposite ends of a generation (Nolan was born in 1946, Weiss roughly a decade-and-a-half later). Years after Nolan’s career glory days as drummer of both the New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers, Weiss would end up inheriting not only an apartment that Nolan and one of his many girlfriends lived in, but eventually his role as drummer in the then-NYC-based rockabilly band The Rockats (formerly Levi and the Rockats) as well.

Weiss would eventually tire of the NYC music scene, turn thirty, and move to the Pacific Northwest. After years of working in the TV industry, Weiss got the bug to put together a project of his own. “I had a few aborted failures; a documentary that I didn’t get full funding for, and another thing I wanted to do with EMP, the Experience Music Project, that sort of fell through,” says Weiss. “Carla DeSantis, who used to have ROCKRGRL Magazine, said “you should write a book! Once you write a book, you’ll get on all those panels! South by Southwest will call!” So I said “alright, what the hell.”

As anyone — present company included — who’s ever toyed with the idea of writing a book will tell you, getting from the “alright, what the hell” stage to the “put pen to paper stage” is perhaps the most quantum of imaginable leaps. Just the idea incubation stage itself can be all-consuming. As Weiss explains, I was talking to my wife, she said “well, you can’t shut up about Dylan or the Beatles, why don’t you write about them?” And I said “oh Jesus, there’s enough Dylan and the Beatles books out there by people who know way more than me.” So I just thought about it and said, “Jerry Nolan!” Many of Nolan’s contemporaries, most notably his frequent collaborator in music and other, less reputable endeavors, Johnny Thunders, had received their due in both print and film over the years. Nolan had been an influential member in two of the more influential bands of a sound and a scene and a decade, and yet, like his bands, had been largely overlooked in more ways than one. And this, as it turns out, becomes one of the more recurring themes threaded throughout Stranded In The Jungle.

In or around 2006, Weiss set out to lay the groundwork for what would become his debut book. The original goal was to compile an oral history with Weiss, in typical drummer fashion, serving as the backbone of the project, tying it all together. In the years that followed, the project would evolve, taking on a life of its own. “I would put it down for weeks, if not months, at a time, and as you get further and further into it, I think there’s some old saying that “every branch of knowledge leads to another twig” or something much pithier than I can remember now. “The tree of knowledge has many branches,” or something like that. One thing leads to another leads to another leads to another, and you have to at least make the effort to talk to people.” The list of people contacted for the project is exhaustive; the rundown provided in the afterword contains easily a hundred names of all shapes and sizes. Names like Clem Burke and Chris Stein and Deborah Harry of Blondie, Richard Hell, Tommy Ramone, Suzi Quatro, Billy Squier, Mick Jones of The Clash and Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols. “I had eight years or nine years of gathering up material, but you start writing narratives and you realize there’s a little piece missing. You have to hunt for that piece, and if you can find it in a previous book or magazine or documentary, that’s great. Sometimes you have to call someone.

By 2013, an initial draft weighing in at approximately 700 pages had taken shape. From there, the whittling started, as did the hunt for agents and publishers. An initial contract was signed, calling for submission of a 75,000 word manuscript. (*Editor’s Note: For comparison’s sake, the story you’re reading now clocks in around 2200 words, or 10320 if you count the Q&A below.*) Weiss, due to his exhaustive research on the life and times of one of the New York scene’s most overlooked figures, would initially submit close to 135,000 words. Mike Edison, a writer and drummer himself (Edison had been a collaborator of GG Allin’s, for example) was brought in, and eventually the manuscript was whittled to just under 100,000 words. Stranded In The Jungle finally hit bookshelves this month, more than a decade after the wheels started turning. “It’s hard to believe that it’s just all-of-a-sudden there, after struggling for really eleven years.

The result of Weiss’s years of hard work, Stranded In The Jungle paints a compelling picture of a man who was arguably one of the few most underrated drummers in American rock music and who was, at the same time, a deeply depressingly flawed human being who saw many of his friends and peers pass him by. Childhood friends like Kiss’ founding drummer Peter Criss. Old flames like the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler. Even former bandmates and seemingly musical blood-brothers like Johnny Thunders would become more household names than Nolan, and that all says nothing about the seemingly endless list of bands that were directly influenced by the Dolls and the Heartbreakers: Sex Pistols, The Clash, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, The Replacements, Black Flag, and on and on on. “The Dolls, they were the great catalyst. All of those early (New York City punk) bands — Television, Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie — all of them had members who were deep New York Dolls fans, and they were just motivated by the idea that “if the Dolls can do it, we can do it.” If you can play three chords, maybe not play like Keith Emerson or Jimmy Page and talk about what you want to talk about, than I could to it too.

Sadly, Nolan’s history of having been left behind by abandoned dated back well before his music career began. “Not to sound to pompous,” Weiss says, “but I believe he saw himself as a ‘stigmatized other.’ He was abandoned by a first father-figure. The second father figure abandoned him. There was a lot of moving around, he was always the new kid in town. As cliched as that sounds, his life was saved by rock and roll!” Nolan and his mother eventually settled in New York City, where his career as a drummer would start to take off, albeit in small doses. Influenced by jazz and big band leaders like Gene Krupa before him, Nolan developed an identity that went beyond simply playing drums. “He had a full view of music, not just as a drummer, but what the band would sound like, how you should arrange your songs, what type of music you should play, what order the set should be in, the clothing you should wear. It was fully encompassing; he was not just the guy that kept the beat in the back.

As rock and roll giveth, unfortunately, so rock and roll taketh away, for as talented and influential a drummer as Nolan was, there’s a reason that we’re reading his first biography a quarter-century after his passing. Stranded In The Jungle could have been a fluff piece, particularly since author and subject shared a lot of mutual experiences. Weiss, to his credit, left a great many of the warts available for all to see. Nolan was not, as you have probably surmised by now, without more than his share of demons that held him back personally and professionally. Chief among those demons, as may be expected given that this is a New York City, Lower East Side, early 1970s story we’re talking about, was heroin. As Weiss explains, “every band has people like that who just stepped on people to be successful. (Nolan) became a drug addict, so he used people to meet the needs of his addiction. He used women all the time. He took advantage of people. He lied. He stole. He cheated. And people were enablers.” 

While Jerry Nolan was no stranger to the company of female companions, most of whom he’d use for his own personal gain, the two loves that would compete for Jerry’s affections the most for the remainder of his life would, of course, be the yin and yang that are music and heroin. “Other people, their careers are ascending and his isn’t and I think it was so painful for him,” says Weiss. “It was so painful to be left behind. Heroin made him happy. And that’s what people that use heroin say.” Heroin would take Nolan’s pain away while creating infinitely more pain in the process. “It’s sad that he didn’t have the skills to get through it in another way, and that our society wasn’t able to help him. All we did is stigmatize him more, and that just made him want to use more heroin.” And there we have effectively the entire cyclical nature of addiction in a nutshell.

As the years would go by, Weiss explains, Nolan would almost never find himself free of one chemical or another, especially once he got on methadone. Leee Black Childers would tour manage The Heartbreakers around a tour of the UK and find himself in possession of a quart-sized bottle of the stuff so that Nolan and his bandmates wouldn’t abuse it. “They were waiting for Leee to come by with their methadone and at 7:02 they’d be on the phone going “where’s Leee? Where’s Leee?” The came a later US tour as a member of The Rockats in a way that Nolan could get to a methadone clinic every morning, and idea that is sadly, heartbreakingly comical in some ways.

In his later years and with his health starting to fail, Nolan would become the subject of a lengthy write-up in the legendary New York newspaper, The Village Voice. In many ways, it would service as the first time that Nolan would start getting something resembling his “due.” “I think he wanted his due. It irked him so much that all these other bands, be it the hair metal bands of the ’80s or the British punk bands, got credit for so much that he and Johnny and the Dolls or the Heartbreakers really spearheaded. That drove him insane.” Talking to Weiss, it’s very apparent that Jerry Nolan himself wasn’t the only one who felt Jerry Nolan deserved his due. “The Dolls’ influence is so deep in all those New York bands and (Malcolm) McLaren. McLaren took it to England and all those bands. Really, the fact that the Dolls are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the crime of the century to me!“And then, of course, there’s The Heartbreakers, who just posthumously celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of their debut album, L.A.M.F. “Think about (it) — The Replacements, Black Flag and The Smiths, the core of ’80s indie rock, outside of R.E.M. and The Cure” were all publicly, directly influenced by that album. “The Heartbreakers as one of the most important influences in ’80s indie rock, and people don’t do that. But it’s a fact. You think about the Dolls and the Heartbreakers, Johnny and Jerry, who in the last forty years have been as influential as those two? Very few!

Stranded In The Jungle was released this month via Backbeat Books; you can pick it up at your local book retailer or, if you’re so inclined, at Amazon. Weiss is in the early stages of a book tour that finds him covering both coasts; head here for dates. Then, head below to check out our extensive interview with Curt Weiss himself!

DS Photo Galley: Racquet Club and Mercy Union, Cambridge, MA (10/16/17)


For those that were paying attention, a fun bit of punk scene history took place just under the radar upstairs at the legendary Middle East nightclub in Cambridge, MA, a couple of nights ago. The centerpiece of the evening’s festivities was the East Coast debut of Racquet Club, the latest brainchild of Blair Shahan and Sergie Loobkoff, the latter obviously of Samiam fame. Racquet Club became a thing only recently after the reunion shows that Shahan and Loobkoff’s previous band, Knapsack, played a handful of years ago after what had been a decade-and-a-half absence. After the demise of Knapsack, Shahan went on to front The Jealous Sound for a number of years, and recruited that band’s last drummer, Bob Penn, to join him when the new, post-Knapsack project with Loobkoff started. The rhythm section on the new project would be rounded out by Ian Smith, who previously played bass in a band called Mercy Beat with Sam from The Bravery (remember them, kids??). Put ’em all together and what’ve you got? Racquet Club!

The foursome put out their self-titled full-length debut album three weeks ago via Rise Records and headed out on their first headlining tour this week, stopping in Chicago before making their way down the East Coast. Cambridge marked only their third headlining show, though you wouldn’t necessarily know that by watching them. Penn and Smith were a thunderously tight anchor, keeping the low end rocking hard and heavy to drumstick-shattering results. Their dynamic playing provided reliable foundation for Shehan and Loobkoff to build and soar off. Given the songwriting parts involved, there is an element of familiarity to the melodies, though Shahan’s tone is a bit more hopeful than from the Jealous Sound/Knapsack days. Loobkoff’s trademark SG-divebombs are as angular and textured as ever, even if he snapped his high E string halfway through the set and forged ahead as a five-string player for the duration of the set, that included the band’s entire album in reordered fashion. The crowd was a tad thinner than some (read as: me) had hoped, though it was a Monday night for sure. Still, those in attendance were legit fans, many singing along for the duration of the set.

Opening this week-long stretch of the Racquet Sound East Coast trek is four-piece New Jersey band Mercy Union, whom you probably think you’ve not heard of and yet whom you’ve most definitely heard of. I’ll explain. A handful of years ago, Jared Hart, frontman for Bayonne, New Jersey street punk band The Scandals, started performing solo acoustic-style during Scandals downtime. With the help of a few local friends, he put out a full-length solo album, Past Lives and Pass Lines, a couple years ago on Say-10 Records and continued to alternate between solo shows and Scandals shows (as well as a stint in Brian Fallon’s backing band, The Crowes). Hart put together a full backing band for a few shows earlier this year, and used them to record what was slated to be the second Jared Hart solo album but what in actuality turned out to be its own thing, and for good reason. The aforementioned “backing band” includes Nick Jorgensen on bass, Rocky Catanese of Let Me Run (one of the first bands I discovered and subsequently fell in love with through Dying Scene) on guitar/backing vocals, and Benny Horowitz of The Gaslight Anthem on drums. They decided on a name — Mercy Union — only a few days before this run with Racquet Club (they had previously been billed as Jared Hart – Full Band shows), and since Cambridge was the first night of tour, that meant it was also their first show as a unified item.

The band’s set consisted of a mix of reworked songs from Past Lives & Pass Lines interspersed with new tracks from their upcoming full-length debut (more on that in the coming months). Hart’s projects, whether solo or The Scandals, have always been well received in Boston, which has become a bit of an adopted home-away-from-home for him, and that was certainly true on this night as well, if a bit more subdued than in previous shows (Boston…seriously…if you like a set of musicians enough to pay money to go to their shows and sing along and enjoy yourself in the process, what’s with the invisible semi-circular perimeter in front of the stage that people dare not tred in. Particularly upstairs at the Middle East, it’s a phenomenon I’ve never been able to explain. But I digress.) The sound, particularly on the new songs, is very much rock-and-roll (not surprising given their so so Jersey pedigree) but doesn’t quite sound exactly like the sum of the aforementioned parts would. There’s a really cool upbeat groove to a couple of the tracks (I won’t pretend to have written the names down). Even though the band collectively have several decades in the game as touring musicians, there’s a bit of unfamiliarity as they learn to play with each other. That said, the rhythm was pretty tight, Catanese provided noticeably solid harmonies to Hart’s trademark rask, and the added guitar tone provided plenty of depth to Hart’s pre-existing body of work; all clear signs that this was only night one of what should be — and deserves to be — many more to come. And don’t worry Scandals fans; both projects will co-exist!

Check out our full photo gallery below, and stay tuned for more on these pages from Racquet Club and Mercy Union going forward!