The Maravines may call the decidedly unbeachy town of Union City home, but the indie-rock duo?loves the Jersey Shore.
The team of Evan Pope and Chris Lee titled their 2018 album “Belmar”?and followed it with their latest, “Avon-By-The-Sea.”
Pope and Lee take turns on lead vocals, switch instruments and share songwriting, production and mixing duties on “Avon-By-The-Sea,” which sailed under the radar following its release in early May by NJ’s Mint 400 Records.?
Don’t let the title fool you, though. This is no summery beach blanket bingo pop fest.
The Maravines formed in 2010 and this is their eighth album (not counting a 2019 covers collection) of moody, harmony-laden threnodies, sad or contemplative or sullen songs played at slow tempos.?While some of the titles here suggest a nautical theme (“Anemone,” “Beneath the Seas,” “Pearl”), a closer examination reveals that for the Maravines, the ocean is more metaphor than vacation spot.
Poetry flows from the Maravines; it is part of who they are.
“And I wonder if this virgin air’s safe to hold this savage prayer?/ Get it started then, I was told you’d never love me/ I’ve been sleeping in the Sun’s maze, sifting through the soft haze,” Lee sings on “Anemone.”
Play your old? Beach Boys records to soundtrack that joyous ride to the shore this summer. But once you’re there, at dawn or twilight, lost in thought, that’s when it’s time for the Maravines.
“Avon-By-The-Sea” is available from themaravines.bandcamp.com and on all major streaming services.
”Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” by Commons 2
John Gallagher released his excellent first solo album, “Silent Under the Grove,” as Commons almost exactly year ago, but changed? the name to Commons 2 due to a trademark dispute.?He had hoped to form a full band and tour behind that excellent work; when the pandemic made that impossible, he honed his skills as a one-man band and floated several promising singles this past spring.
Now he’s self-releasing “Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” Commons 2′s sophomore album.
“It’s still all me but I feel like this one sounds a lot more like a full band. I definitely learned quite a few things since starting on my first album last year,” Gallagher reported. “I was hoping I could wait long enough to get a live show ready … but I honestly feel I have more than enough new material (and not enough band members) to just release this album and get the music out.”
Fans will be glad he did.?
The new album eschews the snarky hipster vibe of much of the debut for sinewy, sincere songs?that hew to textures and tempos from indie-rock’s pantheon: Lou Reed, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement.?
The album opens with “Picture Yourself,” a post-COVID song about grounding yourself in tough times, with the message that we’ll all get through even the toughest times. Like much of the album, the track proceeds at a modest pace, with a swelling harmonic chorus.?
Guitarrs and keyboards intertwine to create a lush and comforting bed of sound. It certainly doesn’t sound like one person recording in a home studio!
Other highlights include “Three Strings,” with its spoken-sung verse and catchy chorus, the romantic and supportive? “Number One,” the synth-heavy “Hands” with its sweet falsetto vocal,? and the grunge-lite of “(Midnight) Gospel,” with churning distorted guitars under a melodic vocal.?
The uptempo, Lou-Reed-y “Don’t Think I Wouldn’t” could have been a song your favorite indie band played at Maxwell’s on a Saturday night back in the ‘80s.
Commons 2′s “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” will be released on Friday, June 25 at listentothecommons.bandcamp.com.
NEW & NOTED
Sadly, Weehawken’s The Skullers didn’t survive the pandemic, but frontman Jack Skuller (who released his solo debut at age 13) continues unabashed with “Anyhow,” his new single with the hopeful message: “There ain’t nothin’ to do now, we will get to where we’re goin’ anyhow.”?
”Anyhow,” by Jack Skuller
Inspired by a near-fatal car accident while on tour, the song eschews the blues and rockabilly vibe of the Skullers for a charged indie-rock sound, with Jack’s warm, engaging vocal over a catchy refrain.
Expect more when Jack releases his new EP on Aug. 6.
“Anyhow” is available from jackskuller.bandcamp.com.
Not to be outdone, Jack’s dad Eddie Skuller has a new single, too.?
Eddie Skuller has released a cover of Madonna’s “Music.”
After releasing several reggae tracks recorded with legendary Jersey producer Jim the Boss, Eddie has recorded a cover of Madonna’s “Music” that’s now streaming on all major platforms.?
Eddie and Jim the Boss replace the thumping disco bass of the original with a sinuous reggae beat underscored by a peppery horn section. Eddie’s supple voice embraces Madonna’s feel-good lyrics, making it a perfect summer single.
It’s streaming on all major platforms.