Monday, May 15, 2006

No Boss? No Problem!

(A quick note: thanks to great new technology by Napster, i can put links to full mp3s of songs on the Rant! Each user {that's you!} can listen to each song up to 5 times, so enjoy! Just click on the links)

So being from New Jersey, i have to at least somewhat respect Bruce Springsteen. He has done a lot of things in the music industry that he should be proud of, most of all launching the career of one Max Weinberg. Above that, he was the voice of a generation of Garden Staters, who still blast "Rosalita" with pride at every barbeque until they stop breathing.

Today's New Jersey doesn't have such a unified voice, but it still has a host of great musicians who call the Garden State home. But with the way popular music has been lately, there hasn't been on person stepping up to becoming the unifying voice of the region. And let us not forget that for a long time, Bruce became the voice of the USA. Which goes along with what i've always said - win over NJ, win over the world.

So who will be our generation's Springsteen? We don't have one, and frankly, we don't need one. There are three bands currently working in NJ who will do just fine for a Boss replacement, and each covers a unique piece of the Springsteen mythos.

Part 1 : The Hard Working, Socially Conscious, Prolific Bandleader

New Springsteen #1: Ted Leo/Pharmacists

The coincidences are almost too beautiful. Charmismatic lead singer with a dedicated and rock solid backing band. But beyond the easy comparison, we see a much clearer picture.

Leo, a strict Vegan, a Democrat who back in 2003 was wearing a "No War" guitar strap on Conan O'Brien, a man who argues the ethics of every business decision he makes (and some hypotheticals - he took a lot of shit from his fans for saying he'd buy a Hybrid SUV, despite detailing very good reasons why it made sense for him - lots of room for the band and equipment, no emissions, etc) on his website, is a working man's rock and roller. His songs are simple, anthemic and could be described as working class in terms of their bare-bones arrangements.

The Pharmacists' 5th album in 7 years is due later this year, making them as prolific as the Boss/E Street combo. Plus, the Pharms are road warriors, who i will FINALLY get to see in a few months at the Pitchfork Music Festival. Enjoy my favorite track by Teddy and Co, "Tell Balgeary, Balgury is Dead"

Tell Balgeary, Balgury Is Dead

Part 2: Captivating Live Audiences Everywhere

New Springsteen #2 - The Danielson Famile

Or Danielson, whatever they are going by today. In the E Street heyday, the shows were unique in the fact that they went on forever and featured an intense, energetic show that no one in the audience was likely to forget anytime soon.

Some Danielson live shows have featured leader Daniel Smith in an eight foot tall tree costume. All "Famile" shows have the band in matching uniforms with "hearts on their sleeves and names on their chests" and have at times meant nurse costumes for all.

No one going to a Danielson show is going to forget the show either. The bizare, unique and awesomely high vocals, the gang mentality, the pure showmanship and love of performing the Famile exhibit, even on a video taped live performance, send goosebumps and make you take notice. Part of Springsteen's charm was his insistance on making the live show matter as much as the record. Few artists can say the same today, but the Danielson Famile are one of them. Here's a taste of their unique sound.

Good News for the Pus Pickers

Part 3: Everyman

New Springsteen #3 - The Wrens

What made Bruce so easy to relate to was he was like you: not a beauty but not hideous, wears blue jeans, has a sometimes tumultuos relationship with his country after Republicans misusing his shit - you know, the typical American.

Well, the Wrens are more like you than you know. They all have day jobs. That doesn't stop them from playing all over - hell, they tour Europe over WEEKENDS so they don't get fired. Their songs are nothing that will instantly blow your mind like Radiohead, but they will consistently provide you with great pieces of indie rock.

Don't you hate it when your boss is a dick to you? Well, so do the Wrens. Their first few albums have been hanging around in limbo for years after their label screwed them out of the master recordings. They have tried for years to get them re-released but thus far, nada.

Don't you wish you had a little more scratch to make ends meet? So do the Wrens. They've been limited to only one new album this decade because they aren't so sound financially. Does that stop them, no!

The Wrens, like Bruce, refuse to take this shit lying down. They will continue to make records when they can, play when they can, and keep their dream alive. This is a Sprinsteenian message that could've come off of any of the Boss's classic albums. Doesn't "Can't Get Out of Secaucus" sound like the title of a BORN TO RUN outtake?

Faster Gun

So when someone says Jersey music is dead, throw these names in their face. There are plenty more great Jersey bands, but for now, try these three on for size. You won't be disappointed. We may not have a Boss, but i'm happy with what we've got.

PS - Peep their websites:

Ted Leo/Pharmacists
The Wrens


At 8:30 PM, Blogger Erin said...

Hello! Bon Jovi!

At 12:31 AM, Blogger BVS said...

To qualify you need either a) talent b) good songs or c) not wear spandex, so BJ doesn't apply.

At 1:37 AM, Blogger Eileen said...

Bon Jovi does not wear spandex anymore ok? And you can't tell me that Living on a Prayer is not an awesome Jersey song. You can rock your way down the smelly turnpike to that song!


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