Looking for the New New Jersey

Two of New Jersey’s new generation punk/rock bands invaded Nottingham last week with the Gaslight Anthem playing Rock City and Titus Andronicus being hosted at Bodega.

Tuesday’s night gig at Rock City was possibly the loudest, most unrelenting gig I have been to. There is barely enough time for a guitar solo. Apart from a cover of Winston Pickett’s Midnight Hour and some near-nonsensical story about a barbecue, the pace never dropped. Gaslight play blue-collar, Springsteen adoring rock. The checked shirted, nice guys of New Jersey. Stories related to a school of honest rock. Nothing emo or feeling sorry for themselves. Feel bad? Just listen to some Bruce and get back on the horse. Enough to make The Boss proud. The crowd, a mix of all ages, loved it. They rounded out with a long enough encore and crowd surfing. Nothing ground-breaking but admirable stuff.

It’s some way to start a show by screaming out ‘You ain’t never been no virgin, kid, you were fucked from the start.’ Titus Andronicus come from a more cerebral, darker school of New Jersey rock. The Monitor, their second album is the name of a fictional battleship in the US Civil War and the album is an analogy of darker view in New Jersey than pumped out by Gaslight Anthem. A concept album might be a stretch maybe but the album is a do-or-die affair with chanting choruses, violins, military drumming, distorted guitars and even bagpipes. Springsteen gets a mention naturally but the spittingly-intense frontman Patrick Stickles changes a classic Springsteen line to reflect his angry views “no, I never wanted to change the world, but I’m looking for a new New Jersey because tramps like us, baby, we were born to die”. The gig was small but packed, intense and joyous.

The breath-taking anger and wretchedness of The Battle of Hampton Roads finale is phenomenal. Stickles rants about New Jersey, asking whether ‘there’s a human alive who can look himself in the face without winking,’ later telling us how ‘he’ll drink to excess’ and ‘smoke till it outs holes in his chest,’ apologising to his father saying ‘no, Dad I’m not making this up.’ before the final lament, asking her ‘please don’t ever leave.’ Such breadth, so young. This band is destined for greatness.

I would like to quickly mention seeing Rue Royale at the Jam Cafe last Friday. A married two-piece from the US and the Midlands, their harmonies reminded me of Beach House or The Decemberists and definitely worth checking out if you can. http://www.myspace.com/rueroyale



Funny what a weekend can do for you. Maybe it was the weekend, the new people I met or maybe something else.

So I have a new jacket. Its cool. It rocks and is undoubtedly the harbinger of good times. On Saturday, I had lunch with my little sister for the first time in too, too long. Maybe 4 or 5 years. I took her to a Japanese restaurant that served okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese pancake/omelette that is surprisingly hard to find outside Japan. I really don’t know why.

I went to an awesome party on the Saturday night, the kind that Alex can only create. When i returned to Nottingham, I went to the library and wrote my essay! Amazing. Monday night I took time out from writing to watch a film called Burma VJ about the undercover reporters in the Monk’s revolt of 2007. Truly brave souls.

I returned home and watched the end of a bizarre French film with Basia and found without touching anything, the wifi was now working with my laptop. Ha. It hadn’t for 6 weeks and the next morning it continued to work.

I had a text message the previous week from T which frankly annoyed me by being suggestive of a lot but in reality was backed up by nothing. Quoting a lyric is not enough even if the sentiment was warming. But I now decide to look on it as a nice gesture which I won’t be following up.

Today I write again and write lucidly. Tonight its Gaslight Anthem, the American rock band. This weekend, Pedro arrives from Barcelona for some beers, perfectly timed as my essays are due Friday. Next week, I am off to Manchester to see The Tallest Man on Earth on Friday and The National on Saturday. Some weekend. My future wife 😉 Mirella is coming to visit the week after I hope and finally the week after, the week university finishes for the semester, Basia, Linden and I will head down to Cardiff to see The Arcade Fire rip it up.

Thats some month. Some activity and something to genuinely look forward to. I blame the jacket!