Tag Archives: Hoboken

The best time for Speed the Plough is ‘Now’

Now slice.jpg

Mark your calendar now: Speed the Plough is ready to party.

The North Jersey chamber rockers have been playing the songs from their splendid new album, aptly titled “Now,” for awhile. But now they’re ready to make it official with a record release party.

STP will jam the tiny stage of The HiFi Bar (formerly Brownie’s) in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday night, Feb. 25, to celebrate its release.

nowcover “Now” is Speed the Plough’s eighth album, and is notable for its fresh-but-familiar sound and the fact that it’s the first release by the newly revived Coyote Records.

Coyote was responsible for some of the early releases by Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, Beat Rodeo, Chris Stamey,and other leading lights of the Hoboken indie rock scene that centered on Maxwell’s. It was co-founded by Steve Fallon, who also ran Maxwell’s before giving it all up and moving to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he opened a collectibles shop called Gidget’s Gadgets.

It’s fitting in so many ways that “Now” is Coyote’s first release in years. Speed the Plough  started playing in 1984, during the golden age of the Hoboken scene, and has persevered — with an evolving membership always anchored by stalwarts Toni and John Baumgartner — through so many changes.

“Now” is a perfect example of Speed the Plough’s ability to ability to adapt.

The album preserves the feel of the band’s earlier work without  sounding dated. This disc embraces the talents of the new members — vocalist/guitaristsEd Seifert and Michael Baumgartner, bassist Cindi Merklee, and drummer John Demeski.

Seven of the album’s 12 tracks are John Baumgartner compositions featuring vocals by him or Toni, along with Toni’s traditional wind instruments. They’re every bit as good as anything they’ve done before. The haunting “Midnight in the World” — with its refrain of “Calling you ’cause I don’t know what to do” — is a particular earworm.

Their son, Michael, comes on strong with three contributions: “Garden,” a rocker that is probably the first of the gravel-voiced songwriter’s that I ever heard live, “Hey, Blue,” a gentle love song, and a brief (1:47), driving, Hüsker Dü-ish rocker, “Ed’s Song.”  that closes the disc.

Seifert contributes “Be With You,” a delightful, loping folk-rocker with spare, repeated lyrics.

Merklee steps forward in a way that I’ve been waiting to hear, offering a beautiful, plaintive homage to novelist Carson McCullers wiht “Miss Amelia.”

IF YOU GO

What: Speed the Plough record release party

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25

Where: The HiFi Bar, 169 Avenue A, Manhattan

Tickets: Free, donations accepted, with all proceeds going to the artists. Shows in this small venue tend to fill up, but if you arrive early, you’ll likely have no problem getting in. Making a donation in advance online guarantees entry.

 

‘Surface Noise’: A self-effacing title for Jennifer O’Connor’s brilliant new album

The cover of Jennifer O'Connor's album "Surface Noise" (March 4, 2016, Kiam Records) features an ambitious abstract painting, "There 48," by Brooklyn artist Joan LeMay.

The cover of Jennifer O’Connor’s album “Surface Noise” (March 4, 2016, Kiam Records) features an ambitious abstract painting, “There 48,” by Brooklyn artist Joan LeMay.

I’ve never been one to make best-of lists when it comes to music. I enjoy so much of what I hear that it’s difficult to pick favorites.

So I won’t say that Jennifer O’Connor‘s forthcoming album, “Surface Noise,” out March 4, 2016, on Kiam Records, is a sure-fire pick for my best of 2016 list, since I’m not likely to compile one.

I can say it’s the best new album I’ve heard so far in this still-young year — and I fully expect to feel that way about it when this year is winding down.

“Surface Noise” is packed with 12 songs that explore love, loss, and the challenges of life with a casual brilliance about this album that makes it the best work this talented artist has produced so far.

ORDER JENNIFER O’CONNOR’S “SURFACE NOISE” VIA KIAM RECORDS NOW — GO HERE

Continue reading

Don’t miss Condo Fucks (you know who they are), Antietam and Speed the Plough at Cake Shop – with ticket link

11262126_10152742169286218_725668403335708432_n

Don’t risk missing this show: Read through to the jump for a link to advance-sale tickets

Cake Shop is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month by hosting shows featuring artists who have played the tiny but influential underground (literally and figuratively) Lower East Side club during that decade.

While most Cake Shop shows, including the #CS10 anniversary specials, are pay-at-the-door affairs, it seems that management made a wise choice to provide advance sale tickets for the gig on Friday, May 22, featuring Condo Fucks, a “Connecticut” band whose fictional bio offers clues for the uninitiated:

Eschewing such Condo Fucks originals as ‘Fuckin’ Gary Sandy’ and ‘Let’s Get Rid Of New Haven’, the trio – Georgia Condo (drums), Kid Condo (guitar), and James McNew (bass) – instead tear through covers of The Small Faces, Richard Hell, Beach Boys, Electric Eels, Troggs, Flaming Groovies and Slade classics in the style that previously won them so much acclaim from the Nutmeg State’s music journalists and radio programmers all those years ago.

Still not sure who these musicians are? You haven’t been paying attention. So shame on you. Continue reading

Yo La Tengo getting ‘Extra ‘Painful’ at The Town Hall this week

Yo La Tengo: Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, James McNew (Photo by Carlie Armstrong)

Yo La Tengo: Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, James McNew (Photo by Carlie Armstrong)

You can never be sure which Yo La Tengo you’ll see when you go to a show.

The cult-favorite indie rock band is a chameleonic act whose sound can careen from gentle, rhythmic folk rock to noisy guitar freakout to cover-band-style garage rock and back again — sometimes all in the same set.

YLT co-founder Ira Kaplan sat down with me the other day for an interview in advance of the band’s shows at The Town Hall in Manhattan this week — on Wednesday, with Antietam opening, and Thursday with The Feelies.) Tickets to the shows are $32.50 and $42.50, plus fees, and are available by going here to visit Ticketmaster.

We covered a wide range of topics, and Kaplan even dropped a surprising hint about the band’s unique Hannukah shows (eight shows, with multiple guests, over the eight nights of the Festival of Lights) that seemed to come to a screeching halt when Maxwell’s, the revered Hoboken, N.J., rock club that hosted them for more than a decade, closed in 2013.

Read the full interview online now by going here now, or see it in all its print glory by picking up a copy of The Journal News on Tuesday.

A foretaste of New Jersey rock without Maxwell’s: Speed the Plough, East of Venus play Mexicali Live

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

We know what it’s going to be like without Maxwell’s. We learned it pretty clearly at Mexcali Live in Teaneck, N.J., on Thursday, July 18.

Speed the Plough, a very Maxwell’s-identified band, ripped through an excellent headlining set after warmups by Lianne Smith and East of Venus.

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough.  (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Nobody in the audience crowded the edge of the stage, which is tradition at Maxwell’s. Not there’s anything wrong with that. It just seemed a little alien. But you had the distinct feeling that if you tried to stand in front of the stage, you’d be shouted away by the audience or escorted away by management. So it seemed better to keep a bit of distance.

Only one person in the crowd stood near the front of a rather cavernous room filled with tables, chairs and stools — and he was far, far from his usual front-and-center spot.

Never mind that the sound at Mexicali is crisp and the raised stage provides sight lines that are, to say the least, more audience-friendly than Maxwell’s. Continue reading

Mission of Burma shows added in Maxwell’s final days

Mission of Burma at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Mission of Burma at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

UPDATE: second, Early show added; ticket links on the jump

Seminal Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma is a late addition to the schedule of shows during the final days of Maxwell’s in Hoboken.

MoB, which comprises founding members Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott, plus Bob Weston who long ago replaced original tape manipulator/sound engineer Martin Swope, has been added in two time slots — 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. — on Sunday, July 28, just days before the club’s last show on July 31.

20130719-123546.jpgWhile bands from Sonic Youth to R.E.M. have cited Mission of Burma as an influence, the band’s strongest Maxwell’s connection is with Yo La Tengo. But don’t expect to see YLT’s Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley or James McNew in the crowd or onstage for this one. YLT is playing the Fuji Rock Festival in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, that day.

With a little luck, they’ll be back to New Jersey in time to take part in Maxwell’s closing ceremonies.

Tickets for the 6 p.m. early show (doors at 5 p.m.) are $25 and available by clicking or tapping here. (http://ticketf.ly/18vaHSl)

Tickets for the 9 p.m. late show (doors at 8 p.m.), also $25, are available by clicking or tapping here. (http://ticketf.ly/12P2zYl)

Maxwell’s adds Bern & The Brights, Val Emmich to final schedule

428377_10151399711550382_380153067_n

Bern and The Brights and Val Emmich are the latest acts to join the schedule in Maxwell’s final days.

They’re playing Monday, July 29.

Bern & The Brights is a Montclair-based nerd-rock trio made up of Bernadette Malavarca, Catherine McGowan and Shawn Fafara. It’s a independent band that Tris McCall of The Star-Ledger recently called “the sort of act that is likely to be hurt by the closing” of Maxwell’s.

You may know Emmich best from his acting on “30 Rock” or “Ugly Betty.” But he’s also a Manalapan, N.J., native who has had an extensive career as a singer-songwriter.

For more information about the acts, click or tap here (http://ticketf.ly/12LqzXz).

Click or tap here (http://ticketf.ly/1bpawrN) for tickets. which are $10. Door time is 8 p.m., with the music scheduled to start at 8:30.