New Jersey bands

A R I Z O N A the band, not the state

It’s been two weeks since I last posted, but to be fair I had a show to work and I was sidelined with a sprained ankle (a “sprankle” if you will). I was also out of ideas for new topics. I want to be excited about everything I write here so I didn’t want to just pick something and give you a lackluster effort. The end of last week finally gave me a topic though. I saw that a band I’ve been following for the last year or so released their debut album on May 19th.

A R I Z O N A is an alternative electro-pop band from Glen Rock, New Jersey (no, not Arizona). The band is comprised of members Zach Hannah (vocals), Nathan Esquite (guitar), and David Labuguen (keyboard). The trio all attended college in Boston and initially went their separate ways before reuniting in their home state to form A R I Z O N A. The band’s name stems from a hat Dave was wearing during a random Facetime call with his bandmates.

A R I Z O N A started releasing music on streaming platforms in 2015. They’ve periodically released singles from then on. Their major breakthrough came when German electronic DJ Robin Schulz released a remix of their song “I Was Wrong” last summer. Originally the group thought of releasing an EP first, but then they realized they had enough songs to put out a full length album. Their debut album, Gallery, was released a few days ago. It contains all the music they’ve released so far plus a few new jams. The group is also playing the festival circuit this summer and embarking on their first headlining tour.

Back in November, on the night I saw Tegan and Sara, my friend and I bought tickets to the Hayley Kiyoko show that was happening in another room at the same venue. A R I Z O N A was the opener that night. I didn’t even realize they were the opener until I recognized the second song they played. It was a spontaneously awesome moment of the evening. I first started listening to them the previous winter when I heard the song “Where I Wanna Be” off a twitter recommendation and since that time I followed up with the group any time they released new music.

A R I Z O N A’s music style combines indie/alternative music with electronic music. When I first heard them I was slowly getting into electronic music. I liked an occasional song here and there (Let’s be honest, I still do). “Where I Wanna Be” was one of those songs. During the time I listened to that song frequently, I figured A R I Z O N A was probably the name of some DJ. I don’t think I even fully realized that the group was a band until I saw them perform live. It was good to know that a band like A R I Z O N A existed because most of the time electronic music to me was DJ’s. A R I Z O N A is a band. They have a lead singer (Zach). They have a guitarist (Nate), but they also have someone who plays the keyboard/synth elements of their songs (Dave) that gives their music its electronic feel.

I highly recommend checking these guys out if you’re into indie music, electronic music, or both. Even if you’re not, check this band out anyway because they have a pop element to their music as well. As I mentioned before, you can also catch them this summer. They’re playing a few big festivals (Gov Ball, Firefly, and Lollapalooza) and of course they’re touring all over too. Here’s a few songs that will make you fall for this band as much as I have:

  1. Where I Wanna Be
  2. I Was Wrong
  3. Electric Touch
  4. Cross My Mind
  5. Oceans Away

 

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Streetlight Manifesto

Within the last two years since I started this blog I’ve written about many bands, specifically ones that I find appealing. If you’ve been following for a while, you know my music tastes have changed over the years and you also know the bands that brought about those changes. More often than not though, I write about bands that I currently like with a few old band interests thrown in every once in a while. However I’m surprised I’ve never once written about any ska bands (unless you count Rancid since they have a few ska songs).

Although I had heard ska songs before, I became more interested in that style of music as a junior in high school. A friend of mine made me a mix tape that included several ska songs because he loved ska music. We ended up becoming best friends throughout our senior year (even forming a band) and my love of ska music grew. One of the first ska bands I was ever interested in, dating back to that junior year mix tape, was Streetlight Manifesto.

Streetlight Manifesto out of New Brunswick, New Jersey was formed in 2002. The band came together when Tom Kalnoky of the band Catch 22 decided to recruit other members of Catch 22 and members from the band One Cool Guy to make music together. The band initially recorded an EP under the name Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution before they began releasing music as Streetlight Manifesto. Streetlight’s first album Everything Goes Numb was released on August 26, 2003. The group’s second album was a re-recorded re-release of the Catch 22 album Keasbey Nights. The new Keasbey Nights featured a few musical and lyrical changes from the Catch 22 version. It was released in 2006.

In November 2007, Streetlight Manifesto’s third album Somewhere in the Between was released. The album featured all original tracks by the band much like their first album. The band then released a collaborative project album with Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution (BOTAR had many of the same members as the original Streetlight Manifesto lineup) that included an album consisting entirely of covering songs in 2010. The project was called 99 Songs of Revolution. The band’s most recent album, The Hands That Thieve, came out in 2013. Throughout the years Streetlight Manifesto’s lineup has changed multiple times with founder Tomas Kalnoky being the only original member. Recently the band experienced legal issues with their label Victory Records after a few years of bad relations. In October 2015 it was reported that Victory Records filed a lawsuit against Kalnoky for not fulfilling their record deal of releasing four albums under the label.

Streetlight Manifesto plays a ska punk style of ska music. Ska music originated in Jamaica in the 1950’s. Reggae, which is typically associated with Jamaica, was derived from ska music. The style combines elements of Jamaican folk music, known as mento, and Afro-Caribbean calypso with American jazz and R&B. A distinguishing factor of ska is a walking bass line with accented rhythms on the upbeat. Another distinguishable trait of ska is the use of horns like trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. Streetlight’s style combines ska with fast-paced punk rock similar to the style of bands like Rancid, Goldfinger, The Suicide Machines, Less Than Jake, and Reel Big Fish.

Aside from the legal dealings, Streetlight Manifesto has been non-existent in the music scene for the past few years. They’ve also been sort of non-existent from my life for the last 5 years or so. By the end of high school and through college, I listened to Streetlight Manifesto and plenty of ska bands. Then indie music happened and my ska punk days faded away. Even though I don’t listen to Streetlight Manifesto regularly anymore, I still appreciate them and the fact that they are a part of my music history. As I wrote this post, I listened to several of my favorite old Streetlight songs. I sang along like I used to 6-9 years ago and almost had the desire to get up and skank (a style of dance used when dancing to ska music). Here’s a few of the songs I listened to and some you need to check out because Streetlight Manifesto is one of the best ska bands around:

  1. Keasbey Nights
  2. Point/Counterpoint
  3. On & On & On
  4. We Are the Few
  5. The Big Sleep
  6. The Three of Us
  7. Dear Sergio
  8. We Will Fall Together
  9. Somewhere in the Between
  10. Everything Went Numb

 

The Early November

I know I’ve only had this blog for a little over a year now, but I’m still not sure why I didn’t make a post about this band at this time last year. Yesterday it occurred to me when I was trying to think of a blog topic for the week that it would be the perfect time to write about the band The Early November because ironically it is early November (obviously intentional). I used to listen them back in high school. I wouldn’t say they were one of my favorite bands, but I had quite a few of their songs downloaded.

I first heard of The Early November sometime between mid 2004-late 2005. I can’t exactly pinpoint the moment like I often times do with many of the bands I write about. I’m guessing it was some time after I purchased the 2003 Vans Warped Tour Compilation, which was in the summer of 2004 (“Every Night’s Another Story” is listed on my iTunes as being from that album). They came into existence a few years before I first listened to them though.

The Hammonton, New Jersey band was founded in 1999 by guitarist and front man Arthur “Ace” Enders, along with former member Jim Sacco (later replaced by Joseph Marro), Sergio Anello, and Jeff Kummer. The band signed with Drive-Thru records in 2002 releasing two EP’s that year, For All of This and The Acoustic EP (acoustic versions of all the songs on For All of This), with the label. The Early November played dates on the Vans Warped Tour and the Skate and Surf Fest the same year. While still touring, the band debuted their first full length album, The Room’s Too Cold, in the fall of 2003.

In 2006 the band released their sophomore record, a triple disc album, The Mother, The Mechanic, The Path. The album debuted at #31 on the Billboard Top 200, which was their highest charting album to date. It was around the release of the second album that guitarist Bill Lugg was added to the ensemble. In 2007 the band announced an indefinite hiatus and played their final show at Bamboozle on May 6th. At the time, the future of the group was uncertain, but they did not rule out a possible reformation, which is exactly what happened four years later.

The band reunited in the fall of 2011 to play several shows on the east coast. At one of the shows (Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ), it was confirmed that Ace was working on a new album for the group. The Early November’s third album and first album in 6 years, In Currents, was released in July of 2012. Since then, the band has toured and released a fourth album, Imbue,  which came out in May of this past year.

When I was in high school and college, I never had the opportunity to see The Early November live. I did see Ace Enders perform an acoustic show once though in early 2012 along with Anthony Raneri of Bayside, Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids, Chris Conley of Saves the Day, and Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. on the Where’s The Band? Tour. I’m pretty sure I remember Ace playing a few Early November songs along with songs from his side project band I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business. It was a fantastic acoustic show. I highly recommend seeing any of your favorite bands play acoustic if you ever have the opportunity.

Truth be told though, I haven’t listened to The Early November in a very long time. It’s been so long that I haven’t even heard any of the music they released post-hiatus. The last time might have been at that acoustic show almost 4 years ago and even then I wasn’t listening to them like I had in the past. Even now as I played their songs while writing this post, it occurred to me that things are so much different for me than they were back in high school. Their music falls under the emo, alternative, indie, punk rock genres. I can’t listen to their music and relate to it in the same way. I’m a much different person. I have more confidence, more hope, and an overall more positive outlook than I did as a teenager. Although my life is currently nowhere near where I’d like it to be and I’m still trying to achieve my goals, it does get better. For nostalgia’s sake though here are some of my former favorite songs by The Early November:

  1. Ever So Sweet
  2. Come Back
  3. All We Ever Needed
  4. Hair
  5. Sesame, Smeshame
  6. I Want To Hear You Sad
  7. Sunday Drive
  8. For All of This