Matty Carlock follows several hip-hop singles with a return to his punk and singer-songwriter roots on his debut full-length, “The Jailbirds.” In his debut full-length, Carlock captures the Jersey Sound of anthemic punk rock and rootsy songwriting. PHOTO BY ROB SELLIG
My two favorite things about the New Jersey music scene are the mix of rap ‘n’ rock by boundary-crossing bands, as well as artists who combine their styles in collaboration, AND what my friend Jeff Maschi calls the Jersey Sound, a blending of the singer-songwriter styles of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash with anthemic punk, such as The Clash, Social Distortion and The Bouncing Souls. Matty Carlock is part of both scenes, having produced and collaborated with rappers, such as Bulletproof Belv, Albee Al, and Cage, yet also shared the stage with similar-sounding punk-rooted songwriters, such as Jesse Malin, Jared Hart of The Scandals and Mercy Union, Sammy Kay, Doug Zambon of The Vansaders and more.
On Carlock’s long-awaited debut full-length, “The Jailbirds,” the latter style is the focus in the wake of several recent hip-hop singles and the 2016 EP, “Loveless.” Some tracks are one or the other, but some, such as the first two singles, “Young & Fucked Up” and “The Punks That Had Enough,” combine both styles, much like respectively featured artists Jesse Malin and Jared Hart. Carlock also ably blends his roots on the horn-driven Springsteen-like “Felon,” which flirts with punk-pop as it chronicles the lack of freedom within a toxic but inescapable relationship. The same is slightly true of the more acoustic and prettier “Summer Rain,” especially in the punk-inspired vocal bridge.
Respectful nods to Springsteen include the outstanding lament about the death of a friend, “Bepa,” featuring a classic-rockin’ guitar solo followed by a soulful sax solo that recall such Bruce Juice as “The Promised Land.” Also, Springsteen photographer pal Danny Clinch lays down some bluesy harmonica and vocals on the rootsy “Jeralyn,” which sounds very “Wrecking Ball”-inspired.
One of the best tracks, the closing epic, “Meet Me in December,” will appeal to fans of Springsteen’s “New York City Serenade” and “Jungleland.” The quasi title track is about younger lovers entrapped by their passions and their memories of them.
Then there’s “Naveskink River Road,” one of several songs that reference Carlock’s Jersey Shore upbringing and love for the Garden State with a plucky Springsteen-like melody and exuberant horn line. More on the balls-out punk tip are the opening blast of “17,” and “Teenage Runaway,” a youthful tale of angst and perseverance. Both tunes mix things up nicely, giving the album much of its edge.
I especially love the opening line of “Young and Fucked Up” – sitting on the steps of the Asbury Lanes – because Carlock will be performing there on Feb. 16 on two of the songs he wrote, performed and produced with Bulletproof Belv: 2017’s local smash “Dark City Lights” and last year’s club anthem, “F Being Friends.” Also playing that funky Valentine’s Weekend show will be Experiment 34, Des & the Swagmatics, P-Funk North and Flourish.
Expect Carlock, who operates his own label, 115 Collective, to announce spring and summer tours soon, including a spot opening for Malin in Asbury Park.