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Converse Rubber Tracks
Converse Rubber Tracks is a worldwide family of community-based professional recording studios providing emerging musicians with free studio time. Artists record at no cost while maintaining the rights to their own music.
Bent Shapes formed in 2009 under the original name Girlfriends and quickly established themselves on the Boston indie scene with their frequent live performances. After a name change in 2012, they released their debut LP Feels Weird, introducing the rest of the country to their brand of blissfully jaded pop rock.
Currently made up of frontman Ben Potrykus, guitarist Luke Brandfon, bassist Jenny Mudarri, and drummer Andy Sadoway, the group has undergone a few lineup changes over the years, but core members Ben and Andy have kept the band together and afloat over choppy waters.
Bent Shapes mix satisfying chord progressions and infectious melodies into a sloppily charming blend of 60’s influenced guitar pop. They play the kind of indie rock that coyly assembles old parts in such a way that you can’t help hearing it as new.
Holliston, MA trio The Young Leaves formed in 2006, but their distortion soaked sound time-warps straight back to the college rock heydey of 1994.
On debut release Big Old Me, lead vocalist/guitarist Christopher Chaisson takes on the best aspects of his musical influences, splitting the difference between sludgy anthems and buzzy pop punk.
After years of touring and a few small lineup changes, The Young Leaves newest record, Alive and Well was released in 2013. The third album shows the band maturing beyond genre college, finding a musical space to call their own on their proud and insistent anthems.
After recording at a Converse Rubber Tracks pop-up studio in late 2014, the Young Leaves were chosen to open for legends Dinosaur Jr. and The Replacements as part of the 5 day Converse Rubber Tracks Live Boston series.
Spend five minutes with rapper Michael Christmas and you’ll find it difficult to resist his open smile and effortless confidence. Take another five to hear his music and it’s easy to understand why he’s so confident: the Boston native’s low key, hook-filled raps are so refreshing and exuberant that you’ll wonder why most other rappers are obsessed with gloomy posturing.
But Michael isn’t exactly the kind of dude who follows the trends of other artists. “E-40 taught me don’t love no hoe/but I love all hoes, thats just how that sh*t go”, he confesses on his 2014 single “Y’all Trippin”.
Earlier releases like the Youtube hit “Michael Cera” are stuffed with the kind of laid-back boasting and casual self-deprecation that make Christmas’ music feel like hanging out with one of your oldest (and funniest) friends. Look for both of these tracks on his debut mixtape Is This Art?, out now for free download.
A cross-continental collective whose members include a part-time actor from Bordeaux and a metalhead from Arkansas, Paris Suit Yourself strip away all genre convention in their pursuit of raw sonic experience.
The group was born as a trio in their eponymous city when bassist Marie Boye took in singer Luvinsky Atche after he was kicked out of his apartment in 2007. Guitarist and keyboardist Victor Tricard joined the group and an early tour with post-punk elder statesmen The Fall brought their striking live show to an international audience.
After moving to Berlin and adding polyrhythmic drum master Joe “Bombastik” Heffernan to the lineup, the group was fully complete. These diverse origins are a perfect match for their anarchic blend of squiggly free jazz, trance breakdowns, and haunted gospel, all of which proved surprisingly appropriate for the dancefloor on their debut release for Big Dada, 2011’s My Main Shitstain.
Psychic slackers Chimes sound like they’ve been soaked overnight in reverb and attitude. Consisting of members from Brooklyn and New Jersey, they’ve been making waves with their dark, shoegaze-inflected psychedelia.
Linda Chen and Jesse Benicaso both provide searing guitar work and vocals, Winston Scarlett’s bass playing functions as a sludgy anchor, and Sarah Peterson plays drums at a chugging, motorik pace.
Their new EP Psychic Slack, recorded in the Converse Rubber Tracks studio, showcases their ability to construct swirling textures, driving rhythms, and ear-catching melodies.
Blending classic heavy metal depth with early 90s punk ferocity, Descender emerged in 2008 as skilled manipulators of the modern post-hardcore sound. The inexhaustible Brooklyn-based group has played countless shows in the local metal scene ever since, putting in dozens of appearances at NYC hardcore temples St. Vitus and The Acheron.
Guitarist Eric Palmerlee contrasts his barbed wire melodies with vocalist Angelo Pournaras raw-throated shouting, birthing a sound that makes Scandinavian gloom and DC rebellion feel like natural allies. When combined with the military precision of drummer George Manolis and bassist Jay Morris, the effect is brutal in the best way.
After years in the trenches honing their decade hopping style, they formed their own imprint Aqualamb to release the 2012 EP And So We Marched. Unafraid of mixing abrasive thrash with shout-along melodies, Descender exhilarate every time they take the stage.
Founded in late 2010, the instrumental trio known as Sannhet quickly amassed a diehard audience within Brooklyn’s broad underground hardcore circuit on the strengths of their abundant live performances and searingly bright light shows.
Sannhet’s place in the New York metal canon was cemented by the release of their 2013 debut Known Flood, the first album to appear on veteran Brooklyn metal venue St. Vitus’ Sacrament Records. The sprawling LP features forty-five minutes of electrified post-metal, fueled by the domineering riffs of guitarist John Refano and intense percussive hostilities of drummer Christopher Todd and bassist AJ Annunziatia.
Having conquered the local scene, they now seem destined for world domination: the self-titled lead single from their new album Revision was named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork Media in February 2015, kicking off a wave of critical attention that led to a review in the New York Times and an ever-expanding list of showcase appearances and festival dates.
Listening to A Deer A Horse, you can hear their sense of urgency. They formed in Brooklyn in 2011, and since then they’ve been playing live shows like crazy.
Veteran songwriter Rebecca Satellite spearheaded the project, and her thoughtful lyrics and sharp guitar work are perfectly complemented by Angela Phillips’s driving bass lines and Justin Heaverin’s restrained drumming.
Their gritty indie rock is sometimes dark, sometimes playful, and always captivating. Last year they toured the Northeast and released an EP called Patience. Now they’re recording 7-inch that’s set to come out summer 2015.
If you hear his music, it’s no surprise that Adrian Daniel has been dancing since he was six years old. His songs have the kind of deep R&B grooves that almost force you to move your body.
The Stoners, his six-person backing band, round out his sound, which blends soul and hip hop to devastating effect. His first EP, Memoirs of a Stoner, got love from blogs and local hip hop stations in 2012, and he’s been on the rise ever since.
Since then, he’s released three more EPs, each one tighter and more focused than the last. He’s in the process of finishing up his first LP at Converse Rubber Tracks.
Chicago hip hop duo Leather Corduroys—composed of Kami de Chukwu and Young Purp—aren’t afraid to take risks.
Their genre defying production, nontraditional verses, and quirky sense of humor make them stand out from other rappers. They’re part of the Chicago-based crew SaveMoney, whose members include Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa, but what they do together is completely their own thing.
They’ve been collaborating together for a long time, and in January they finally released their first full-length together, Season. It’s a multi-layered, experimental rollercoaster of a hip hop album that pushes the genre in completely new directions.
Colorful Kid are just getting started: the band played its very first show in April 2014, but the Long Island foursome are already making a name for themselves in the burgeoning emo revival scene. Frontman Joey Puleio asserts his knowingly wounded vocals while guitarists Connor Dineen and Andy Laurino trade off chords and winding arpeggios with surprising maturity, especially for such a young group.
After impressing audiences with their blend of first wave emotional hardcore and indie rock, they secured a spot at the true blue New York punk festival Oneonta Punk in August, exposing them to a statewide audience.
In true DIY style, their self-titled debut EP was tracked down by the “mobile recording setup” of NYC drummer Anthony Corallo’s Chronic Death Recording. The band promises much more is soon to follow.
DAIR is the current alias of New York City-based artist and vocalist Dari Matilsky. She debuted the project in May of 2014 as a venue for displaying her achingly vulnerable take on electronic R&B.
DAIR’s first single “Safehouse” was recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks Brooklyn. Featuring production as expansive and cavernous as the nighttime desert sky, the song makes Dari’s lucid and elaborate vocals feel like a proudly defiant expression of melancholy. Woozy trip-hop instrumentation provided by Adam Neely on bass and Pier Salami on keys lends the track remorseful pathos as Dari sings “You’re safe always…and you don’t even know it.”
Her debut release, an EP tentatively titled The Last Sign, is currently in the works with a planned release in the Spring.
Even though Hammer Fight were “spawned from a New Jersey scene saturated with death metal and hardcore,” they decided to carve out their own space by doing their own thing and making a more classic form of metal. Because they know what they’re doing, they don’t need any gimmicks, just pure noise.
Underneath the layers of chaos and aggression, there’s a lot of craftsmanship. They’ve also got enough range to play shows with the other bands in their community, from extreme death metal acts to classic hard rock bands.
They’ve released two full-length albums since 2011, and now they’re gearing up to make more recordings and take their sound to the next level.
Suzi Analogue’s brand of experimental electronic soul is cutting edge without forgetting where it came from. Born in Baltimore and raised in central Virginia, she’s closely connected to the roots of soul, hip hop, club music, and Southern hip hop that inspire her as a singer and producer.
She started making her own cassette mixtapes with dubbed vocals when she was 10, and now she heads up Never Normal, a genre-bending cassette label. Suzi dropped Love Affairz V.1 with Swarvy in late 2014, and it features her stylish takes on love songs. When it comes to genre-bending urban music, she’s an artist to watch.
Bay Area rapper and producer Iamsu!, born Sudan Ahmeer Williams, likes to call himself a nerd. Listen to his music, and you’ll get why: his ability to bounce back and forth between fresh jokes and introspection indicates he’s been doing his homework. He pays homage to to the classic Bay Area sound while also offering his own chilled out blend of heavy bass and sparse instrumentation.
It’s no surprise he’s the unofficial ringleader of his diverse squad, The HBK Gang, a crew of equally nerdy friends who found each other because they didn’t fit quite fit into the gangster of skater archetypes the world had to offer them.
Iamsu! initially caught everyone’s attention with an onslaught of mixtapes released between 2010 and 2013, and his 2014 debut studio album Sincerely Yours and subsequent touring won him a loyal following. He just dropped a new mixtape called Eyes On Me that pushes his minimal but playful sound to confident new heights.
Reckless Serenade take their angst and make it fun. All of the members of the four-piece went to high school together in Mahopac, New York, and connected over a shared interest in pop punk and indie rock sounds, and they’ve been honing their craft together ever since.
Last year they released their debut full-length Chasing Lights, showing off their ability to construct soaring but aggressive anthems. After some East Coast touring and college radio play, they’re ready to keep charging full speed ahead with plans for a new release in 2015.
Best Behavior’s garage rock sound is as crunchy as it is melodic. The Brooklyn four-piece rep the jangliest sounds of the ‘60s, but the punk spirit flowing through the project can’t be denied either. It’s an exciting combo that they pull off with driving beats, noisy guitars, and satisfyingly reverbed out vocals.
The demos they’ve recorded so far have a raw quality that hints at great things to come. With the quality of their hooks and textures, they’ve proven themselves capable of injecting new life into psychedelia.
Jamaican-born songwriter, MC, and DJ Ryan O’Neil makes music under an array of varying handles, the most recent of which is Ryan O’Neil and the Bandits. After his acceptance to the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art as a vocal major in 1988, O’Neil went on to receive a degree in music at Hobart and William Smith colleges.
He released his first album The Adventures of the One Hand Bandit and The Slum Computer Wizard with his longtime collaborator and friend 100dBs in 2006. The thoughtful production and eloquent MCing displayed on the record gained O’Neil a notable amount of appreciation in New York’s conscious rap scene and he’s continued to rap and produce ever since, releasing six projects between then and now, including a self-titled LP in March 2014.
O’Neil currently lives, performs, and teaches guitar in Brooklyn, NY.
Karl Wenninger is a seasoned sound designer who works with all kinds of artists, whether they’re making rock, hip hop, jazz, or metal. He’s also passing his knowledge on to the next generation as an instructor, and he runs a blog for aspiring engineers and producers.
He recently came to the Rubber Tracks studios to spend the day sampling Moog synthesizers with fellow genre-spanning producer Nick Hook.
The F-16s hail from Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India, a region with a touring scene that makes getting live exposure more difficult than for most bands. Keyboard Harshan Radakrishnan explained to Rubber Tracks that “…in Chennai it’s very different. We don’t have that many venues and going on tour means taking 10 hour train rides with all of our gear.”
That didn’t stop the foursome from trying. After a year of performing live in whatever venues around the city they could find, they turned their live chops into the 2013 self-released EP Kaleidoscope. That record got them noticed by Rolling Stone India, who praised the band’s psychedelic approach to electro-indie.
The band won the Road to Rubber Tracks contest in 2014, giving them the opportunity to fly from India to Brooklyn for a three day recording session. Once in the states, they caught the ear of Makeout Club’s Robert Granata, which led to a set at CMJ and exposure to an audience of international fans. The band is currently at work on their debut album, set for release in 2015.
Listening to Brooklyn’s Boy Girl Party, you can’t help but be charmed by their endearing nerdiness. (Seriously, they have a whole song about Star Trek: Next Generation.) Their nerdiness also extends to their omnivorous listening habits.
They’re influenced by everything from piano-based pop to post-punk to contemporary praise music. If there’s one thing all of their songs have in common, it’s their infectious hooks that will get stuck in your head for days.
They just released their debut EP, Dear Dear, which showcases lead singer Melissa Lusk’s confident voice and witty lyrics.
Marco Gomez, a.k.a. False Witness, has established himself as a DJ and producer to watch in New York City’s DIY dance circuit. An affiliate of Lit City Trax and a member of progressive, queer-oriented collective KUNQ, he produces manic, futuristic tracks that defy categorization.
His flurry of EPs and mixtapes have also shown the influence of everything from harsh industrial music to Latin and Caribbean sounds. His multicultural collages are greater than the sum of their parts. He has plans to release two EPs, World Star and Island Industrial, in 2015.
Brooklyn throwback pop rockers Journalism revel so unabashedly in youthful nostalgia that you can’t help but go with them. Looking back on what they refer to as “the glory days of ‘80s and ‘90s rock,” they contain truly satisfying strains of post-punk, pop, and grunge.
Their songs contain traces of melancholy, but they’re ultimately triumphant in the face of their own pessimism. The perfection of their dreamy guitar melodies and lush vocal harmonies set them apart from the indie rock pack. As we speak, they’re in the process of recording their debut full length album.
Philly four-piece Likers may have a sense of humor, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dead serious about crafting satisfying punk ballads.
They take the good vibes and chord progressions from power pop and throw a little barbed wire into the mix. Layering organ on top of crisp guitars and addictive drum beats, they’ve found a voice that channels their tremendous energy.
Last year they released Men Of Honor via Suicide Bong Tapes, which showed a surprising maturity despite being their first album.
Riot punkers Mannequin Pussy began as a duo between childhood friends, and the fearless energy of youth continues to animate guitarist Thanasi Paul and vocalist/guitarist Marisa Dabice’s confrontational garage swagger. The group formed in 2011 and almost immediately began releasing cassettes and playing regular shows at Brooklyn’s sorely missed DIY venue Death by Audio, building a dedicated following with their fast-forward post punk riffs.
The group expanded to a three piece with the addition of drummer Kaleen Reading for 2014’s Gypsy Pervert, their debut release on rising emo-revivalist label Tiny Engines. The full length shows off their expanded grasp of punk dynamics as the group switches between spiky guitar stabs and dreamy melodic drifts without wasting a second of the the album’s 20 minute run time.
Now based in Philadelphia, the band tours the Northeast regularly, bringing their tuneful aggression to sweaty basements packed full of eager fans.
New York’s OxenFree do biting indie rock right. Jeff Doyle and Emily Olson create swirling harmonies with their shared vocals, backed by Sam Ghitelman’s searing guitar work, Christopher Burns’s pounding drums, and Sean Padden’s deft bass work.
Don’t be fooled by all the ramshackle energy you hear in their songs—what they’re doing is tightly controlled and perfectly structured.
Unabashedly poppy but jagged enough to be interesting, their first EP Fire If We’re Anything shows what they’re capable of. Their debut full length album is set to come out summer 2015.
Mals Totem are a force to be reckoned with. Think of the aggression and energy of metal with a backbone of technical jazz craft, then overlay it with Dave Vives’s jaw-dropping, acrobatic vocals, and you’ll have some idea of what they’re up to.
When you hear them play, you can tell they’re trained, but that doesn’t interfere with the revelatory chaos unleashed in their sound. They cut their teeth in the Boston underground scene in 2013 by playing house shows, and then gained even more notoriety with extensive tours of the Northeast.
Now they’ve settled in Brooklyn and are hard at work on their second EP, set for release in 2015.
Alternative metal cult legends Quicksand are true veterans of the scene. Having played in various projects in the late ‘80s hardcore community in New York City, singer/guitarist Walter Schreifels, guitarist Tom Capone, bassist Sergio Vega, and drummer Alan Cage came together to create their own version of the searing noise that was popular among their friends.
Their sound became hugely influential to generations of post-hardcore and alternative metal bands that came after them. They’re the kind of band that has endless cred among true fans of the genre.
After breaking up and reuniting a couple of times, they’re back in the game, playing shows in New York City and recording new material.
Dominican rapper Radamiz was born and raised in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, where he constantly heard Hot 97 blasting out of every radio. He started writing his own verses after buying a bootleg Jadakiss album and a Biggie mixtape when he was a kid, and he’s been honing his craft ever since.
Deeply informed by the golden age of Brooklyn hip hop he was immersed in when he was growing up, he pays respect to his elders without imitating them completely. He may be working with tradition, but his sound is all his own.
Right now he’s hard at work on new material to be released in 2015.
Is it a coincidence that Sovereign formed in the winter? Maybe not—their metal-infused hardcore is as dark and cold as it comes.
Guitarist Jeremy Lorenzon, bassist Ross Cohen, drummer Trevor Machina, and vocalist Danny Katz came together in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, to develop a sound that’s as aggressive as it is perfectly controlled. Their first album, The World Takes, came out with guns blazing in 2014.
They’ve just released a searing new EP recorded in record time at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio.
The Mad Doctors are a garage rock band that started literally in a garage in Somerset, Massachusetts, and eventually migrated to a railroad apartment in Bed Stuy Brooklyn. Their sound is an onslaught of fuzzed out guitar with the kind of driving beats and energetic vocals that could easily start a dance party.
Even though their sound relies heavily on spooky horror movie vibes, they say their best songs come out of Kenny Loggins listening sessions. You might say they’re the aural equivalent of a sunburn.
They released their debut Snake Oil Superscience on their own label King Pizza Records in late 2014, and now they’re working on new recordings.
New York City psychedelia aficionados Whitewash have a knack for working within constraints. The project began in 2012 when Jon (bass) and Sam (guitar) met at NYU and started playing along to Ween songs together.
When Jon met Evan (drums) in jazz auditions, he convinced him to join them, and they started playing around with their sound with covers of Led Zeppelin, Mac Demarco, and Thee Oh Sees. Then Evan’s roommate Aram joined them, adding rhythm guitar to round out their sound, and they started composing and making demos as their sound matured into complex bedroom psych inflected with everything from bossa nova to noise rock.
These experimentations eventually became their debut EP Fraud in Lisbon, a masterful piece of bedroom psych whose whole is greater than the sum of its minimal parts. Their project took a pause when three members scattered to different corners of the world for study abroad, but then came back in full force. After returning, they started working on their first studio LP, Shibboleth, which will be released on May 19th.
In the meantime, they’ll be playing shows in New York and embarking on a tour in March.
New York four-piece Crazy & The Brains make the most of their raw punk energy with a heavy dose of positive vibes. When Chris Urban and Jeff Rubin were left with only a guitar and a xylophone after their previous band broke up, they decided to get weird and make do with what they had, creating the anti-folk core of their sound.
They were eventually completed by brothers Lawrence Miller (drums) and Brett Miller (bass). Wherever they go, they bring the party—go to one of their shows, and you’ll see them surrounded by cult-like fans doing semi-choreographed dance routines and going generally ballistic.
Their new album Good Lord, released at the end of 2014, is as indefinable and genre-bending as it is just plain fun.
Harlem producer $1 Bin’s range knows no limits. He’s dabbled in house, electro, hip hop, R&B, and more. His catalogue is as deep as his influences—he’s gained a following based on his prolific output of EPs and mixtapes.
Working with collectives like SFE & The Villa has given him the chance to tour and collaborate with like-minded producers. His remix of Riff Raff’s “Terror Wrist” with Ryan Hemsworth is legendary. Don’t expect him to stop there—there’s more where that came from in 2015.
The Atlanta scene veterans that make up shimmering dream pop foursome Del Vennici all began in distinctly independent projects, but you wouldn’t know it from the seamless elegance of their sound.
Guitarist Ross Polliti and singer Grace Bellury met in late 2012 with the intention of only recording a single track, but they soon bonded over their shared national and artistic heritage: both of their grandmothers were born in Italy, and both performed as opera singers. Tyler Walters (drums) and Jonathan Merenivitch (bass) were recruited to round out the duo’s sound for live performance and the band quickly grew into a truly collaborative project, drawing inspiration from film and performance art as well as music.
Songs like “Teenage Swingers” are full of seductively mournful vocals layered against Polliti’s shoegaze, a perfect soundtrack for driving down humid southern freeways at midnight. Their new Haunted Hall EP was released last February on Prima Satisfaction.
DJ, producer, and all-around creative Ezrakh creates lush soundscapes that draw from house, R&B, hip hop, and the array of progressive micro-genres coming out of the burgeoning SoundCloud scenes he chills with on the internet.
That’s not to say he doesn’t know where he comes from IRL—he reps his New Jersey club roots as a member of Brick Bandits, and he’s also built his own community as the co-founder of Newark collective THREAD.
2014 saw him releasing his mixtape Fourword To Infinity via progressive audio-visual label Never Normal, and he’s kept the vibes going in 2015 with his new track “Go Deep Medi,” which shows off his nouveau house bonafides. Expect to hear so much more from this quickly budding talent.
Grand Rapids trio Heaters make the most of psychedelia’s fifty year musical history, picking and choosing select elements from surf rock and jangle pop to form their own distinct take on the flower power sound.
High school buds Nolan Krebs and Andrew Taymlyn moved in together in 2013 intending to make music, but it was only after bonding with next door neighbor Joshua Korf that the band truly started to take form. Now Krebs and Taymlyn share duties as dual frontmen, trading unusually hooky and dynamic vocal lines back and forth while Krebs keeps things grounded on drums.
The result is a breezy lysergic groove that never gets bogged down in hazy plodding. It’s no surprise then that people are starting to take notice: after getting their feet wet with a string of early EPs, their 2014 10” Solstice led to a partnership with Brooklyn psych label Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records, who will release the “Mean Green” single on April 28, 2015. A debut full length is soon to follow.
College friends Jon Bonilla (guitar) and Mike Montali (vocals/guitar) formed the sixties-influenced rock outfit Hollis Brown in Queens while writing dozens of songs together in 2009. After adding Dillon Devito on bass, Andrew Zehnal on drums, and Adam Bok on keys, the band soon tempered its classic rock revivalism with moody nuggets of country and blues.
An early self-released demo led to a signing by Alive Natural Sound, who released first album Ride on the Train in March of 2013. Major publications soon took notice and the band’s songs were featured in Rolling Stone and Spin.
Hollis Brown soon had a chance to compare their modern take on the classic sound with the original when they toured with psych-garage legends The Zombies in 2014. Their rock hero worship was in full swing on their most recent release, the 2014 Record Store Day EP Hollis Brown Gets Loaded, a track-for-track remake of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded.
The members of Brooklyn-based Little Anchor all began as classically trained musicians before uniting to form the indie pop quartet in 2009, and the poised confidence and thoughtful composition that informs classical music is well represented in the group’s technique.
“Don’t Be Scared to Move”, their debut single from 2011 EP Yellow Lights, delicately enfolds frontwoman Alexa Cabellon’s intricately sweet vocals between guitarist Kendrick Lo’s nimble guitar lines. while bassist Thomas White and drummer Ian Chang bounce their poppy rhythms off a cheerful organ riff. Following the EP’s successful reception, the band stayed active in the local scene, releasing a number of singles and playing frequent shows in NY venues like Glasslands.
The matured group reentered the studio in late 2013 with a more aggressive sound to record their sophomore album, the dusky Floating Bridges, self-released in 2014.
Listen to the stone-age dancepunk grooves of New Jersey’s Professor Caveman and its not hard to see why the band has developed a loyal (if sweaty) following at its frequent New Brunswick basement shows.
Frontman and current Rutgers printmaking major Rob Romano brings warm gusts of energy to the oft-frozen college town with his nimble guitar and charming lead vocals, backed up by fellow students Shawn Fitzgerald on bass and Shannon Moore on drums. The proggy indie-psych of tracks like “Coconut Cove 64” and “Puffin Down the Dart” bring out a spontaneously visceral response in even the most jaded crowd, turning their live performances into unrestrained dance parties.
After forming in 2013, the band self-recorded its first release, the Grape EP. They recorded their first studio EP, 2014’s Prof. Caveman Vol. 2 at Converse Rubber Tracks.
The shifting Brooklyn collective Space Captain has only been around since 2013, but their take on electro-soul already possesses a distinct voice. Maybe that’s because its members are all affiliates of the Anomaly Konglomerate, a loose group of producers, rappers, and vocalists associated with the New York neo-soul scene.
In their 2014 single “Summer Burning”, twinkly arpeggios evoke memories of nostalgic computers booting up their emotional hard drives, while vocalist Marilisa Simmons-Cook complicates the traditional soul vibe with cut-and-paste cadence changes.
Despise these technological associations, Space Captain’s instrumentation is all physical – the vocals are backed up by the smooth live trumpet of Lessie Vonner and the confident drums of Donnie Spackman, as well as an array of guitarists including Gray Hall and Mike Haldeman. The large instrumental presence of the band gives their live show a haunting and romantic tangibility that is unmistakably organic.
In an age of ubiquitous genre fusion, it’s refreshing to hear The VeeVees describe themselves as pure rock and roll. The Brooklyn power trio began as a chance meeting in 2011 when wandering guitarist Garrett Cillo met Italian drummer Andrea Bellafiore at a Halloween masquerade in NYC’s Chinatown.
These theatrical origins made their mark on the band: a VeeVees live show features vocalist and former Detroit cabaret singer Sophia Urista performing in all black leather, bouncing on six-inch stilettos and stage diving into the crowd. She described her taste in performance succinctly in a 2014 interview: “I like female vocalists that kick ass and put it out all onstage.”
After building a following playing live shows all over New England, the band was invited by producer Roy Hendrickson to session at the storied Studio A in New York’s Avatar Studios. They recorded their most recent single, the hairspray glam anthem “Gold Blooded”, at Converse Rubber Tracks.
Terrible Terrible have only been together since early 2014, but their willingness to toss yearning emo guitar swirls up against boardwalk-ready funk bounce is proof they possess the bravery of a much more seasoned group.
Made up of members Jack Browning, Mike Tarnofsky, Greg Salmon, Mark Bucci, and Danny Vargas, the New Jersey band quickly released the “Pulling Teeth” single ahead of their five track debut EP “Fail Better”, recorded at Farnwood NJ’s Fort Blanket Studios in July 2014.
The genre hopping progressive EP jumps from soulful doo-wop vocals layered over chunky synthesizer to smooth prog funk to slick indie rock, all in the same track. Songs like “Call Him Soon” jump from head nodding bass grooves to a heart-on-sleeve breakdown so fast it feels like a chilly wave crashing on the hot shore. Their first year as a band got even better when the quartet were offered the chance to perform at CMJ in October 2014.
Screamo supergroup United Nations knows how to bring the carnage. They were formed by Thursday’s Geoff Rickly in the wake of a rough year including a hospital stay and a robbing at gunpoint. Many members of their rotating cast, including Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw and Ben Koller of Converge, have had to work on the project in semi-secrecy due to other contracts, but that hasn’t gotten in the way of the intensity of their output.
Though a lot of groups have now jumped on the power-violence and post-hardcore bandwagon, they are the real deal. After establishing themselves with a debut album featuring a no-fux-given cover that lifted from the iconic Beatles Abbey Road image, they’ve kept up the good work with 2014’s searing The Next Four Years.