There were also other groups; many of them. Yo La Tengo cast a shadow over adventurous music in the Garden State and beyond. The Cucumbers were eccentric, the Wygals were mighty and the Bongos filled Mile Square with glam rock colors. But the story of Hudson County’s 1980s rock revival begins – and perhaps ends – with The Feelies.
Which is funny, because the Feelies aren’t from Hudson County. They come to us from quiet Haledon, just across the Passaic from downtown Paterson. But their gigs at Maxwell’s on Washington Street in Hoboken were, and still are, legendary, and the music they made in that back room was wild, manic, snappy and danceable, even to anxious beats that would make speed metal. drummer pants for breath. The Feelies were North Jersey suburban eccentrics, boys and girls next door who surprised the underground with a particular minimalist aesthetic that was uniquely theirs, though often imitated. Famous, when making their debut crazy rhythms, they plugged their guitars directly into the mixer, preserving a super dry, no-frills tone that made every frantic six-string strum and percussive jolt distinct. Perpetual nervousness: that’s how they diagnosed it from the first track on the set. Suburban paranoia never looked so sensational.
Since crazy rhythms, they revamped the staff and refined the sound. There was a long hiatus that – and I really don’t think I’m being hyperbolic here – depressed all New Jersey indie rockers. But no one has ever put themselves in their shoes. Now they’re back, as beloved and laconic as ever, and on November 18, we have them at White Eagle Hall. Expect to vibe, twirl, vibe and ride that crazy undertow late into the night.
“Of course, they won’t be the only ones singing and scratching in Jersey City this November.” There is also:
Gypsy Tears @ Pet Shop (November 3)
The Look At My Records based on JC! podcast is now on its two hundred and eighteenth episode. It’s dedication. Not everyone is defended by Look At My Records! hails from Hudson County or even the Garden State, but the aficionados who run this site have gone to great lengths to spotlight local talent. They have exciting shows on their schedule, including a date (November 10) at Finnegan’s in Hoboken headlining the melodious and reliable CR and the Nonesand a concert in the basement of Desire Decir in Bergen-Lafayette whose address they don’t give (ask a punk, the website advises.) But I’m mostly interested in the trio they lured to Pet Shop on Thursday night. gypsy tears plays sleazy, grungy pop-rock with big hooks and a can-do attitude. They’re led by a singing bassist with a great voice – and a great look – for that sort of thing. Look at my files! flanked Gypsy Tears with a few other worthy bands: the winner Brewerwho play narrative country-rock like a slacker, and Quality of life, the harmoniously singing Jersey thugs responsible for the earworm “These Days”. (Pet Shop, 193 Newark Ave., 7 p.m., free, visit lookatmyrecords.com/events or petshopjc.com.)
Tom Barrett, Sean Kiely and James Calleo at the Brennan Courthouse (November 3)
Generally, it’s a bad sign when a Jersey City show promoter places a portable PA system in a space that doesn’t typically host musicians. The Brennan Courthouse is a notable exception. The rotunda is a lovely place to relax, and the marble walls and high dome create unique acoustics. That would probably be too much for a band, but it provides acoustic singer-songwriters with a nice, if very contentious, reverb unit. The county executive is a not-so-secret fan of folk music — he’s got every ’60s Greenwich Village classic in his collection — and he’s always been serious about making Brennan sound and feel like a speakeasy. On Thursday, three very different songwriters will continue that legacy. There is intelligence, adventurous composition Sean Kiely, whose performances showcase his talent for unusual melodies and his keen sense of irony. There are James Calleo from the Widely Grown dreamer, possessor of a powerful, woody voice and a magician of beautiful guitar textures. So there is Tom Barrette, whose current music is hushed and mysterious, but whose tenure in a few loud and influential Jersey City rock bands continues to influence his approach. They all complement each other perfectly and they will make music that matches the mood of the most majestic and beautiful building in the county. (The historic William J. Brennan Courthouse, 583 Newark Ave., doors 6 p.m., $20 advance tickets, $25 at the door, visit liveatbrennans.eventbrite.com.)
Larry Crack @ MONIRA on Fridays (November 4)
” Are you there ? Ten minutes to the west, there is a spoken word competitor: Jersey City reads poems, an ongoing literary showcase series, is holding its latest event at MANA Contemporary. It may seem like a lot of verses at once, but Jersey City has a long tradition of public poetry reading. Those who remember the open-mic nights of the Waterbug Hotel at the Keyhole know that the line between a spoken word performance and a rap set is frighteningly permeable. After the poetry set, the Monira Foundation at MANA will pass the microphone to a trio of musicians, including the rapper Larry Crack, who could probably skip straight to the spoken word segment of the evening if he wanted to. He’s the kind of energetic rhymer who makes sure you understand every word, even if the music gets murky. On “Layers,” his most recent single, he energetically raps over the kind of concise, artfully dark beat that’s been in vogue ever since Earl Sweatshirt rocked underground hip-hop with some rap songs. It is very good. Even better is “Fritz,” his searing collaboration with the frighteningly smooth Kyle Blvd. Without a doubt, he is a local emcee to watch. (Monira Fridays Emerge Artist Showcase @ MANA, 888 Newark Ave., doors 6 p.m., deejay showcase 6:30 p.m., poetry showcase 7:45 p.m., music 9 p.m.; $10; visit monirafoundation.org.)
El Prodigio @ The Factory (November 6) and Amenazzy @ The Factory (November 18)
What the hell is going on at The Factory? Over the past few months, bookings have been incredibly good: excellent performers of reggaeton, merengue, salsa, bachata and other forms of urban Latin music have found refuge at Communipaw’s restaurant and club, just north of Berry Lane Park. Dominican artist El Prodigiofamous for his skillful accordion tracks, has long been one of the greatest artists to bridge merengue
and Latin jazz. He is also known for his playful interpretations in Spanish of famous English songs. A week and a change after his appearance at brunch, The Factory welcomes a young Dominican (this time at night): budding star José Betances, who records as Amenazzy. Although his take on reggaeton is influenced by pop and R&B, that hasn’t stopped him from collaborating with some of the genre’s most uncompromising bands, including Don Omar, De La Ghetto and Yandel. “Baby”, his single with Nicky Jam and Farruko, is certified double platinum; specifically, it was all over the internet in 2018. Oh, and while I’m writing about Dominican American singers, I draw your attention to the little Bandolera Bar in Union City (418 43rd St.), where the famous merengue singer Rubby Perez will take the stage with his orchestra on November 12. Call it a good month for sweet Quisqueya in cold Hudson County. (The Factory Bar & Lounge, 451 Communipaw Ave., 9 p.m. for Amenazzy’s appearance; $50, visit boletosexpress.com, visit facebook.com/factory451.)
The Porchistas @ Fox & Crow (November 12)
It’s a little too easy to call The Porchistas the Feelies of Montclair. For one, the Feelies are almost motorized in their rhythmic precision, and the Porchistas…well, let’s just say they can be a bit more laid-back. Their commitment to the expressive power of electric rhythm guitar, however, may sound familiar to Feelies fans. The sound recipe – an amalgamation of frenetic folk, killer garage music and more than a little classic rock too – isn’t all that different. Like the Feelies, the Porchistas will travel far and wide if they have to, but their music makes more sense if you hear it on Jersey soil. Their concerts are joyful and dancing like alternative rock music rarely is. Above all, the Porchistas, like the Feelies, have become deeply associated with outsider Garden State music through persistence, love, and a stubborn refusal to let commercial considerations get in the way of artistry, expression, or good times. from anyone. Most recently, Principal Porchista Alan Smith took to the airwaves on that bastion of independence: WFMU. It’s a perfect fit. (Live in the living room of Fox & Crow, 594 Palisade Ave., 8 p.m., visit foxandcrowjc.com.)
The Feelies @ White Eagle Hall (November 18)
Has their reputation as Garden State homebodies always been exaggerated? The members of The Feelies were notoriously reluctant to hit the college rock circuit and play the industry game, but even at the height of their most hermetic period, they left town to perform. Since reuniting, many of their legendary shows have taken place across the Hudson. Wherever they went, the deep identification with New Jersey powerfully added to their mystique: here was the rare band that demanded they weren’t going to chase your approval or even your attention. You had to come to them. It means stepping into the musical universe of Feelies – one with a bewildering array of overlapping outfits, all of which share members, intentions and gigs. For example, there’s Yung Wu, which is basically the Feelies with percussionist Dave Weckerman writing the songs and providing lead vocals. There’s the Trypes, which featured members of the Feelies alongside musicians who would eventually form the excellent folk rock band Speed The Plow. The Willies, who are on the White Eagle Hall undercard, are the Feelies in covers mode, and many Feelies covers have been in the repertoire since the 1980s. Yes, that means the Feelies are opening up for themselves . Crazy?, maybe. But it all makes sense when they plug in, and start scratching, shaking and banging, and everyone in the house gets lost in that inimitable crazy beat. Long may it remain uninterrupted. (White Eagle Hall, 337 Newark Ave., 8 p.m.; $30; visit whiteeaglehalljc.com.)