Jersey Shore-based Avery Mandeville’s full-length debut for Telegraph Hill Records is a force with which to be reckoned! She will celebrate the release of the latest video, “Get Real,” on Aug. 11 at Pearl St. Consignment and Custom Clothes in Red Bank. Photo by Jade McDonnough
You know you’ve arrived when just about everyone in a nationally recognized music scene knows you by your first name. That is the case in Asbury for Avery, who really only needs her last name, Mandeville, to cleverly match that of her backing band, the Man Devils. The all-star outfit includes guitarist Matt “Fern” Fernicola, a principal in Avery’s label, Telegraph Hill Records, who also plays in the label act The Burns with Man Devils bassist Chris Dubrow, as well with their label mates Natalie Farrell and his own band, Foes of Fern. Dubrow also plays with Tara Dente and Rachel Ana Dobken, while drummer Owen Flanagan keeps time for Dan Amato & the Sophisticated Gentlemen.
And so they back the uniquely expressive, exceptionally rich talent of Avery, who makes fun of accepted absurdity like Elvis Costello and sings like an indie-rock Billie Holiday with quivers, smokiness and elongation of vowels. With a more indie-rock sound than the players’ other organic outfits, Avery certainly has come a long way since her skinny days playing solo acoustic, sometimes busking on the streets of Asbury Park. Bruce Springsteen once gave her a $20 tip.
I’d only seen her solo acoustic, so it was treat for me to watch the Man Devils drive “Blood” —one of the two best songs released by a local Jersey act so far this year — into a ritualistic ragefest that had about three dozen women in front of the stage screaming along in an exercise of empowerment at Avery’s July 13 record release party at The Saint. In nearly 40 years of covering music, I’ve never seen a song by a local independent act elicit such a meaningfully passionate response. An anthem that releases the anger women often contain in the face of a world of bullshit, “Blood” is explosive, expressive and sardonically funny. With its Nirvana-like blast of emotion, it is the kind of song that can turn an unknown local act into a national star.
I hope that is the case for Avery because she deserves it, and the way “Blood” empowers women is a sight and sound to behold live, on video and/or on her excellent full-length debut album, “Happy Birthday, Avery Jane,” a follow-up that eclipses last year’s five-song debut with seven new songs and two older ones. The older tracks are:
“Alex Ander,” a sad, atmospheric acoustic-driven tune that looks at a lifelong friendship ended by the title character’s downward spiral into self-destruction, addiction and homelessness. Beautifully haunting keys by former Man Devil Branden Steinagle, who recently departed to Japan, matches the moodiness of the track
“The Woods,” also a haunting song albeit an energetic one that’s a cross between the atmospheric rootsiness of Chris Isaak and the spooky soundtracks of David Lynch.
However, that powerfully cryptic tune deserves better than the pat ending arranged by Fernicola and produced by his Telegraph Hill partner, Joseph “Pom” Pomarico. Fortunately, Fern makes up for it live with a scorching guitar solo.
“Happy Birthday” kicks off with the live opener, “Get Real,” a Brooklyn-tinged indie-rock rap about a musician who just wants to get paid, be recognized and ward off stalkers. Based on the strength of her new nine-song collection, Avery Jane should be able to do the first two at least regionally. I wish her luck with the last one because “Happy Birthday” and the live show in which it is presented will bring her more fans, as may a “Get Real” video, the release of which will be celebrated on Aug. 11 at Pearl St. Consignment and Custom Clothes in Red Bank.
The album also contains the closing “Knockoff,” another crowd-stirrer that, like “Blood,” turns individual angst into group rage. “Walk of Shame” is ‘60s-inspired garagedelica meets ‘80s new wave. The bouncy nugget enacts the title as a new-fangled dance craze in the spirit of Bobby Freeman’s “The Swim.”
On a more serious note, “Predator” skewers society, particularly the criminal justice system, regarding the treatment of rape victims and their cases. What’s interesting is that the in-your-face track starts out with beautiful music that turns angrier until it breaks back down into beauty, as well as sadness.
“Facebook” is a jangly, country-flavored romp set within social media and centered around unanswered messages and untagged photos. Avery’s wavery vox is put to particularly good use as she sings, “Every day begins with a text I’m not answering from Chris Dubrow. You know last night, I didn’t give a fuck. The music was blasting, but no one was listening ... Every day begins with a song I’m not finishing. I know nobody’s listening.”
A set closer if there ever was one, “Encore” should elicit just that. Another one of Avery‘s best, the song equates in a bizarre but beautiful way wrongdoing to an artist receiving an encore. A moody cello by Jen Fantaccione (River City Extension) makes a great track even better, as does the second verse: “Running late to the gig because I’m trying to do my hair; that perfect in between of ‘I care and I don’t care.’ I’ve got new stuff coming out soon. Yeah, I’ve got new stuff I’m trying to say. All this truth I am writing won’t ever see the light of day.”
Well, thankfully, that’s not true, but everything else Avery says is within a honest patch of songwriting that is that perfect in between of cute and warped. The fact that Avery holds her own in an indie-rock band with three of the best players in the Asbury scene, yet easily can play these songs on the folkie solo acoustic tip, is a testament to her as a songwriter and performer. And that those busy players have a fresh, original sound apart from their many other projects is a testament not only to them, but also Fern as arranger and Pom as producer of “Facebook,” “Blood,” and “Predator,” along with the skills of additional producer Mike Constaney, who helmed “Alexander” and “Encore.” Props also go to Joshua Perna, who co-wrote and performed all accompaniments on “Get Real,” “Walk of Shame,” and “Knockoff.”
Set to tour in the fall with Virginia folk-punk Mike Frazier, Avery first will play Aug. 10 at The Windjammer, Brooklyn, with The Hell Yeah Babies, Jay Ackley & the Huge Mechanical Failure, and Darien Rectangle; The Vaughns’ End of Summer Splash, Aug. 30, House of Independents, Asbury Park, also with Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, and The Morgan Freemasons, and Oct. 11, The Working Artist, Belmar, with Jake McKelvie, Brook Pridemore, and Program.
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers To Return To Lizzie Rose Music Room (TUCKERTON, NJ) -- Tommy Castro & the Painkillers return to the Lizzie Rose Music Room on Wednesday, April 17 at 7:30pm. Whether he’s squeezing out the deepest blues or playing the funkiest soul grooves, legendary blues and soul giant Tommy Castro knows how to ignite a crowd. Tickets are $38.00 Advance and $45.00 day of show.Experience Hendrix at NJPAC on March 29th (NEWARK, NJ) -- Celebrate the music and legacy of Jimi Hendrix as Experience Hendrix comes to Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Centeron Friday, March 29 at 8:00pm. This critically acclaimed multi-artist tribute to Hendrix features performances by Billy Cox, Joe Satriani, Dave Mustaine, Jonny Lang, Dweezil Zappa, Eric Johnson, Doug Pinnick, Chris Layton, Mato Nanji, Kenny Aronoff, The Slide Brothers, Henri Brown, Kevin McCormick and special guest Taj Mahal. World Famous Bachata Artists To Take The Stage for Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 At Prudential Center on Saturday, March 16 (NEWARK, NJ) -- Uforia Bachata Fest 2019 at Prudential Center will bring together the world’s best Bachata artists including, Frank Reyes “The Prince of Bachata”, Hector Acosta “El Torito”, Zacarias Ferreira, Luis Vargas and Raulin Rodriguez "El Cacique”. Uforia Bachata Fest 2019, presented by Zamora Live, Euforia Radio (Univision) and Corona Extra, will be held on Saturday, March 16 at 8:00pm. The contagious Caribbean rhythm known as "Bachata" will have its gala night, marking the first time in history these world-renowned artists will perform on the same stage. Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra To Perform at Princeton University January 27 (PRINCETON, NJ) -- The New Jersey Youth Symphony (NJYS) continues its 40th Anniversary with a concert featuring the NJYS Youth Symphony and Youth Orchestra on Sunday, January 27 at 4:00pm at Richardson Auditorium at Princeton University located at 68 Nassau Street in Princeton. Youth Symphony will open the concert with Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major followed by Youth Orchestra performing Dvořák Symphony No. 8 in G major, Op. 88. Rickie Lee Jones To Perform At Grunin Center (TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Two-time Grammy winner Rickie Lee Jones exploded onto the pop scene in 1978 and has made a career of fearlessly experimenting with her sound and persona on more than 15 critically acclaimed albums. She brings her show “An Intimate Evening with Rickie Lee Jones” to the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts on Friday, February 22 at 8:00pm.
The Empire Strikes Back in Concert with the NJSO LIVE! at the State Theatre Some of our favorite childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore involved going to our town’s grand old movie palace, The Community Theater, in Toms River. Built with colonial architecture and featuring large white columns in the front, paned glass windows in the lobby, a circular brick walk from the sidewalk to the box office, and a white picket fence which enclosed a lawn and a flower bed, this local gem presented the latest Hollywood films. For kids like us back in the 1960’s, that meant pictures like Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Love Bug, and Flipper.Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes At Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme This coming Sunday, January 20, Scott Wolfson and his band will be serving up their unique blend of Americana at the Riverside Rhythm & Rhyme series at Investors Bank Theater in Succasunna, New Jersey. The band – Scott Wolfson and Other Heroes – formed in Jersey City in 2011, and, even though the members have migrated in various directions since then, they still consider themselves to be a Jersey City band."He Totally Wowed Us!" John Oates LIVE! at SOPAC It’s brisk for an evening walk on South Orange Ave. in South Orange, NJ, this Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 evening, but it’s a good road to follow as it leads us directly to the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) for a special performance by singer, songwriter, and guitarist John Oates and his backup group, The Good Road Band.“Tons of Fun!” The Glenn Miller Orchestra LIVE! at the Grunin Center Although Friday, December 21, 2018 is the shortest day of the year, the audience of big band music lovers here at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts is hoping for a long evening of classic swing and holiday tunes performed by the incomparable Glenn Miller Orchestra!Mike Davis and The New Wonders Mike Davis traces his love for the trumpet back to a Disney movie.
He grew up in a musical family, with both his parents playing strings in the Seattle Symphony. But Davis wanted an instrument of his own.
Then, at age 9, he saw “The Aristocats,” the animated film about a bunch of French felines — including a group of jazz-playing alley cats.
From Our Magazine
John Oates Returns To His Roots
What began as a tribute to the music of blues great Mississippi John Hurt became a much wider portrait of American music for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Oates. On the album, Arkansas, Oates goes back to the music which inspired him to pick up a guitar. He describes the music as being “like Dixieland, dipped in bluegrass, and salted with Delta blues.” It’s the record he says he always wanted to make, and one which may never have been created if he had not moved to Nashville a few decades ago.
Featured Music Video: "One Guitar" by Mardi Gras
This month's Featured Music Video is a special one. It's a cover of Willie Nile's "One Guitar" by Mardi Gras, a band from Rome, Italy. That song has become the anthem for Light of Day shows which raise money to fund a cure for Parkinson's. Mardi Gras recorded the song and made this video to help raise money for the Light of Day Foundation. The band told us how the song and video came about.
A Look At Light of Day Winterfest 2019
Recently back from shows in Europe, Light of Day Winterfest 2019 is just around the corner. In addition to shows throughout Asbury Park, shows will also take place in North Jersey, Philadelphia, New York City and Rockland County. Light of Day, now in its 19th year, not only raise money for the Parkinson’s Foundation, but does much more.
Dr. Demento Covered In Punk
Do you remember Dr. Demento radio shows from back in the day? The show featuring music and comedy was nationally syndicated for decades and is still available weekly online. Many of the legendary songs from the show’s history are celebrated in the compilation album Dr. Demento Covered In Punk, which was released in January 2018.
Event calendar Monday, Jan 21, 2019
I’m Not Running @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm and 7:00pm