April showers bring May flowers … and, this year, a torrent of new music, as Hudson musicians react to the pandemic and dearth of live music with an outpouring of creative energy, mostly in home studios.
Jersey City’s Supermutt might have started as a covers band, but two recent singles display the group’s growth as both songwriters and performers. The latest, “Show Them Fangs,” returns to the blues-rock template that characterizes much of their self-described “crunchy” repertoire, updating Soundgarden’s updating of Led Zeppelin as part of that endless continuum that sees classic elements recycled into exciting new sounds. That’s especially true of the giddy, yipping chorus that brings the track to an exuberant finale.
“No Shame,” released in February, adds the skittering syncopation of ska and the Gutless Worms horn section to the mix. This fun track comes alive in a hilarious video, in which our intrepid quartet of rock ‘n’ roll heroes defeats a nefarious supervillain. For more info, streams, and downloads, visit supermutt.bandcamp.com.
Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes, also from Jersey City, strike a distinctly different vibe with their latest single, “Pounding the Ceiling.” The Americana quintet dresses in vintage vests and hats, and favors acoustic instrumentation, establishing themselves as a force in the Northeast within that chosen genre.
But the band doesn’t stop at simple folkie arrangements, far from it; there’s a touch of Broadway drama in the way Wolfson and his band approach a song. While not specifically COVID-related, “Pounding the Ceiling” describes the frustration of watching the world fall to pieces without the power to stop it. It features a beautiful countermelody from cellist Michael J. Ronstadt augmenting Wolfson’s passionate vocal.
“We reach out to everyone who feels like they’re giving it their all and are surrounded by apathy,” the band states on Bandcamp. “We don’t have forever to turn this thing around — socially, environmentally, healthfully — before we reach disasters we can’t come back from.”
This track and others are available at scottwolfsonandotherheroes.bandcamp.com.
When Jersey City favorites Miss Ohio had to cancel a gig a few years ago, frontman David Wilson decided to play it anyway, with a catch: He’d form a new group but play all original music written and rehearsed in the month preceding the show.
Wilson recruited Miss Ohio bassist Ed Roessler and drummer Paul Sherrad to form David Wilson & The Summer Husbands, and now Jersey label Pyrrhic Victory Recordings has released their self-titled debut EP. In his liner notes, Wilson writes that these four tracks obsess over the passage of time: they look back to where we came from and wonder how we ended up where we are. Occasionally they wonder where we may be going.
Nostalgia washes warmly over “1983,” remembering a youthful night of romantic hi-jinks.
“Do you remember what you said to me?” asks the lyric, to a sultry, romantic melody with a twangy lead guitar. “The last time we heard that song was 1983.”
“Evangeline,” brightened by sax and trumpet, recalls The Band with a simple, rustic melody, while “Austin” adds a country vibe: “I got drunk in Austin, woke up on your bathroom floor,” it begins. “Spent my whole life searchin’, don’t know what I’m searchin’ for.”
John Prine wrote songs like this, songs with humanity and a sense of humor. Honky-tonk piano adds a nice dimension, conjuring comforting images of slow dances in roadside taverns.
The slow, sad, reflective “My Friends” functions as the EP’s hangover, pondering what remains after a few too many whiskey-soaked nights.
“David Wilson & the Summer Husbands” doesn’t sound like a stopgap or an afterthought; far from it. It’s exquisitely produced and impeccably performed, and should inspire revisiting Miss Ohio’s catalog to see how many other gems might be lurking there. The EP is available at dwandthesummerhusbands.bandcamp.com.
After Jersey City singer/songwriter John Gallagher released his debut album “Silent on the Grove,” in the summer of 2020 as The Commons, he discovered that the name was in use by an Asbury Park musician. So Gallagher rechristened himself Commons2 and, unable to convene his band during the pandemic, has since released two singles as a solo artist.
The album featured a classic rock sound with improvisational jams, but while his latest single “Don’t Think I Wouldn’t” starts out similarly, the track detonates with an infectious groove, punk rock energy, and a spoke/sung vocal a la Lou Reed. It’s a big departure but a terrific one, jumping and danceable and the perfect antidote for pandemic funk.
“Hands,” released earlier, goes electronic, with new-wave synthesizer riffs, an ethereal melody, and a funky falsetto vocal.
There’s nothing “common” about either track, both available at listentothecommons.bandcamp.com.