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May 192014
 
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by Bruce Zimmerman
PAMusicScene.com
May 2014

The Jellybricks are back bigger than ever… When we last heard from The Jellybricks in 2012, they had released the very stong EP “Suckers” and their song Rock and Roll Suicide was named by Little Steven Van Zant as Underground Garage’s “Coolest Song in the World.” Their newest full length album is called “Youngstown Tune-Up.” Two singles have been culled from the album so far, About the Weekend and Hate Speaker. About the Weekend was personally selected by Little Steven to play on his Underground Garage Satellite Radio program. This song was subsequently named the “Coolest Song in the World” in the beginning of February coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Hate Speaker was added into rotation on Underground Garage and 20 other rock stations in the US and Europe (Manchester UK and Marseilles FR).

Firstly “Youngstown Tune-Up” is a Power Pop Tour de Force. Secondly it is damn good. This record has more hooks than my uncle’s tackle box on opening day. The first single About the Weekend is about as close to a perfect Pop Tune as you can get. With a wink and a nod to Elvis Costello and the Attractions, it is just over 3 minutes of sweetness. Hate Speaker is truly a song written about the world of social media. We all have had “friends” on Facebook and Twitter who have tried our patience with their opinions on everything under the sun. This song actually comes out and says what we have all wanted to say from time to time. “No one wants to hear you now, you are on your own, you are all alone.”This is done in such a way that you can’t help but tap your foot and say yes please.

The album as a whole is well crafted and has influences far and wide. The production is not heavy handed. The vocals are up front and the harmonies are well placed in the mix. The musicianship and guitar work by Larry Kennedy and Bryce Connor is on whole solid. Garrick Chow and Tommy Kristich are a well oiled rhythm section with the bass lines purposeful and the drumming authoritative. There are 14 total tracks on the release with no filler front to back. The opener Not Too Old hits home with this reviewer as a mantra for living life to the fullest or a wake up call to those who do not. Probably Me is song about one sided relationships and a chorus that will stick with you long after the song is over and the album has been put to bed. You may find yourself humming this sucker in the shower the next morning. I’ll Go Mine is a Tommy Kristich original that proves the drummer can in fact sing! The closing track Call It a Day is a Garrick Chow song that is change of pace ballad. This is a really finely executed collection of songs. Hey Timothy Leary said Turn On, Tune Up, and Drop Out…right?…Well maybe not, but you can still turn on “Youngstown Tune-Up” you will not be disappointed.

The Jellybricks are Larry Kennedy Guitar, Vox, Bryce Connor Guitar, Vox, Garrick Chow Bass, Vox, and Tommy Kristich on Drums and Vox. The songs were crafted primarily by Kennedy and Connor with Kristich writing one song and Chow co-writing three tunes.

 

Find The Jellybricks on the worldwide web: www.thejellybricks.com

Find The Jellybricks on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thejellybricks

Buy Youngstown Tune-Up:
iTunes
Amazon
Google Play


Jun 072013
 

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(photo submitted)

by Z Squared (Bruce & Dana Zimmerman)
PAMusicScene.com
June 2013

Trojan Heart is the new release by central PA native Rebecca Marie Miller. Miller, a former member of local favorites Brave the Day and most recently a member of The Mynabirds, has put together very solid set of songs on this release. Her songs are well-executed, with each song giving the listener an atmospheric experience. The songwriting is superb and the production is solid.

Early on are the strong tracks ‘If I Were’ and ‘Beggars Can’t Be Choosers’. The vocals are out in front of the mix allowing Miller’s voice to do the heavy lifting. This is a wise maneuver as her voice is as good an instrument as any other on the album.

The album itself has a decidedly Alt-Country feel to it, with more than nod to the classic Country and Western sound of Patsy Cline. On songs like ‘Mexico’ and ‘In a Blanket’ the production, instrumentation and subject matter ooze a sound that is definitely not “new” country. ‘In a Blanket’ has banjo and harmonica as the main accompaniment, to stunning effect. The album has measured use of textured sounds yet does not sound over-produced. As guitars drift in and out of the mix, the listener is treated to the feeling of a live music experience.

Lyrically Trojan Heart is a strong statement. In the middle of the piece there are a trio of interpersonal relationship songs. ‘Wrecking Ball’ is about people who know each other perhaps too well: “I got the message you left, where you say you are doing well. You seem a bit out of sorts, but I am a hard sell. You have a lot up your sleeve and you swear you’ll never tell.” The song explores emotional baggage and missed opportunities. The second song in this area ‘Venom’ is a standout: “I always wanna believe it, The pretty things that you speak… You are the master deceiver… The king of your loose schemes…” Through all the condemnation and chaos, one gets the message that the situation has finally come to a boil. ‘Dead Flowers’ seems to symbolize a relationship destined for collapse, with the flowers as a metaphor for the end of the line.

The album mission statement is the opening track ‘Wild White’. “Into the wild, wild white… Into the black, black night… We’ve got a right to go…” It sets the tone for songs about relationships, loneliness, and personal discovery. And that sometimes loneliness IS the road to personal discovery. At clocking in at under a minute this song is designed to give the listener an taste of what is to come next without spoiling the appetite.

This is a very fine debut from a talented singer/songwriter. She has a solid foundation upon which to build. Pick up Trojan Heart and prepare yourself for the surprise inside.

Recently Rebecca Marie Miller played a CD release Party at a packed Abbey Bar in Harrisburg, PA with a reunion show by Brave the Day.

 

May 162013
 

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by Paul Smith
PAMusicScene.com
May 16,2013

On first glance, Ajay Shughart might be indistinguishable from most 15-year-olds. His clothing sense and apparent focus on the moment would lead one to believe that his priorities in life are like those of his peers. However, a few words with Ajay open up a vast knowledge of all aspects of music.

His love of music started at home with his Mom’s favorite blues musicians like BB King, and rockin’ blues from the likes of Eric Clapton. In fact, the 2000 King/Clapton collaboration was a major early influence in his musical tastes—though at the time, his parents figured that his interest was a passing fad.

“When I was about nine, my brother was probably 13. He was at a friend’s…who knew how to play guitar and the friend started to play Smoke on the water by Deep Purple… My brother taught me how to play it on ukulele. Then my Dad’s…<saying> ‘Take guitar lessons.’ Ajay’s Mom and Dad purchased a cheap Fender guitar to accommodate his “passing fad.” “There were some kids in my neighborhood… One played base… one had like a fake cardboard drum set….and we’d just fool around …None of us sang…but they were in like punk rock…and at the time, I was into skateboarding and stuff and I liked punk rock too and we’d play a bunch of <that>”

“When I started playing, I just did it as a hobby. After like two years of playing guitar, I realized that I was actually really into it. And I was starting to play a lot of the songs I heard. At the time, I wasn’t singing so I wasn’t writing lyrics. But I was writing some riffs…fiddling around and creating songs that sounded kind of cool so I was trying to find people to play with and it just kind of escalated from there.”

“I started taking music theory from Beth Trez. We saw an ad for her jazz workshop. She was impressed with my guitar playing. ‘You are really good at guitar and you should learn how to do all of that stuff and then you’ll be good at that too.’ And so that’s when I started taking theory with her… It kind of drove me more into it.”

Escorted by his parents, Ajay began appearing at local open mics, blues jams, and live music venues. But he wasn’t initially taken seriously by older blues musicians who assumed that his youth did not give him adequate exposure to the usual topics of blues music. But Ajay soon encountered his own source of the blues. Over the course of a few weeks, the 13-year-old experienced the loss of his beloved dog in a fire followed, shortly thereafter, by the loss of his grandfather and uncle—both to cancer. Two of his songs, “Leave It All Behind” and “Grim Reaper Knockin”—both included in his solo set “Tied Down”—share the feelings he experienced during that time.

While taking lessons at Trez Music, Ajay was invited to the Trez Music’s All Star Jazz Band, followed by the Dickinson College Jazz Band. Then came Minor 4, a homegrown jazz band with Ajay leading with vocals and guitar, Greg Gavazzi on base, T.J. Hummel on drums, and Kevin Carlsen on trumpet. “It was…straight up jazz and standards and…but then I guess I kind of got out of that.”

To accommodate Ajay’s interest in rock and blues, the band evolved into Rhythm on Main. ROM’s blend of original music and covers has landed them in many local venues. But Ajay’s interests go beyond Jazz and Blues. His recent foray into country, with The Oddbaws, is one more stop on his whirlwind tour of music.

Lately, he’s been playing old funk jazz and 1990’s hip-hop. “Really meaningful stuff… It doesn’t sound so processed… Mainly, I’m into old school hip hop because the popular stuff was pretty much all good because it was a new style of music… They were still trying to keep it real and stuff… Now they’re just like trying to buy into what people want to hear and it’s just all about money and women and Lamborghinis and drugs…”

Jimmy Hendrix is also a major inspiration. “…After he died, everyone started like trying to copy what he did…and when Stevie Ray Vaughn came out and did like a new thing he was very heavy, like Hendrix… After the 80’s…<many> blues guitarists were just SRV clones”

One exception to that group is Johnny Lang, a guy with similarities to Ajay. “His first album, he was a 15 year old white kid but sounded like a 50 year old black guy… I love Curtis Mayfield… All that music connects to each other… You look at BB King and you sing the straight up blues but like he’s got that… soul element… like obviously somehow that relates to… Otis Redding… but that gets into…funk, and funk leads to hip-hop. All of that stuff just really runs together.”

Ajay’s path has undoubtedly been steered by his meeting BB King at age 13, “There was a line of people to get at on this bus and the doors were closing before we got on but there was this one band guy looked out and he saw that there was a kid and I who wanted to see BB and so we got on and had a sit-down and it was like 10 minutes and I was telling BB how much I like blues and such and <BB said> ‘well don’t just get stuck on Blues…play other kinds of stuff’ And that’s how I am but now it’s like two years later and I’m seeing that and it’s like, yeah… don’t get stuck in that rut.“

That sentiment has led to more recent influences include Frank Ocean, John Mayer, and Corrine Bailey Rae. “l love her… Her sound is like a bridge between modern <and classic> R&B and it still has real instrumentation and has a lot of soul to it also has a kind of beat that younger kids can get into. It doesn’t sound too old school.”

Ajay has shared local stages with Mark Focazio, Erica Everest, Jeff Calvin, Gary Brown, and Madmen. A recent endeavor is his jamming with Jason Smith, basest with Madmen, who’s music he describes as “a bluezy, hip-hoppy kind of groove… kind of jazz funky… a little more like that R&B John Mayer kind of sound. Madmen has an in-house rapper named Jamar Tyler, and… a soul singer… hip-hop meets funk meets jazz”.

He might collaborate with Madmen on his next album, in which he hopes to incorporate “…a lot more jazz funky hip-hop … One of my songs have I’ve written <has> like a reggae influence … Some others are more like John Mayer…not the pop but more like what would he did at the Crossroads festival…, John Scofield meets The Roots…, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest … They’re like really all jazzed influenced and keepin’ it real.

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Keepin’ it real…that’s a pretty good description of Ajay’s mindset. “At this point, a lot of people know who I am…certain places…lf I go to like Harrisburg and bigger venues, ‘Oh there’s some kid here’ and then when I play, they go, ‘oh, that was really cool.’ But…like Carlisle, at Market Cross Pub…it’s just people sitting at the bar and they go ‘What’s up Ajay?’…’Nothing much man’…you know just like hanging out.”

Ajay is advancing his formal music studies at The Perfect 5th Musical Arts Center located at 6240 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg. He is pursuing private lessons with Eric Wirsing and Rod Goelz.  He is also consulting with Terry Selders on music business and marketing. Ajay has been selected to play in The Perfect 5th Student All Star Band.