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Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Green Knuckle Material’s ‘Renaissance’

originally published: 12/07/2017

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Green Knuckle Material’s ‘Renaissance’

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Green Knuckle Material’s ‘Renaissance’


Bergen County-based Green Knuckle Material will celebrate the release of their sophomore EP, “Renaissance,” on Dec. 9 at Sticks & Stones in Hawthorne with Pixel Face, Jean Pool, Offkey Lifestyle and The Dead Flowers.


Like The Beastie Boys, The Roots, Arrested development, 311, Black Eyed Peas, Rage Against the Machine and Lincoln Park, Bergen County-based Green Knuckle Material successively fuse rock and rap in a provocative and entertaining way. Yet, they don’t sound like any of those bands, which is a good thing because it means they have their own thing going on “Renaissance,” their sophomore EP and debut on Hillsborough indie Bad Cat Records.  

It’s the nuances that make a record great, especially when they’re unexpected, and that is the case on all five of the EP’s tracks:

  • intricate drumming on the opening quasi-love song “Lullaby”

  • tasty bass intro, delicious horn lines and meaty sax solo of “Soon As”

  • piano runs at the end of “Hole,” and the la la la’s throughout that sound nothing like The Beatles, but more like Geronimo with a hatchet in his hand

  • quirky organ track on the anthemic “For the First Time”

  • jazz and drum flourishes on the closing “Pictures.” 

Right from the get-go, Green Knuckle Material stay true to their acoustic take on rap music but go far beyond that this time out, especially with a fantastic use of horns that sometimes flirt with jazz. The whole record shines with varied, energetic musicianship; clever, bright arrangements; inspired, intricate vocal interplay, and rich, captivating lyrics, but I particularly love “For the First Time” because of its strong sense of hope in the face of great global despair. The insane fun of “Holes” also stands out. 

Throughout “Renaissance,” Green Knuckle Material wax philosophic about life and issues in a way that is very entertaining with a diversity of music styles and approaches weaved together seamlessly by Michael Ravenda and Josh Gustin, co-producers and engineers. This is the way a local band should release a record: hire an experienced producer to lay down five great tracks that leave listeners thirsty for more. You can get a good taste of Green Knuckle Material, as well as some pretty decent food, at the release party for “Renaissance” on Dec. 9 at Sticks & Stones in Hawthorne with Pixel Face, Jean Pool, Offkey Lifestyle, and The Dead Flowers. The band also will play Bad Cat’s Not Half Bad Fest 2018 on Jan. 6 at Blackburn Hall in Watchung also with Jean Pool and Offkey Lifestyle, as well as Hodera, WATERMEDOWN, Will Wood and the Tapeworms, Your Persona, Callout, Modern Chemistry, Coping Skills, Perennial, Goalkeepr, Fernway, Better Machines, half full, Greg Mendez, Jesse Barki, Calm Down, Paper Mache and Special Lady. 

Bob Makin is the reporter for and a former managing editor and still a contributor to The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at Like Makin Waves at

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Pioneer Productions Presents Wendy-Lane Bailey Women's Work
(DENVILLE, NJ) -- Pioneer Productions kicks off its new Living Room Series with Women’s Work - an evening of songs by female songwriters on September 16 at 6:00pm at the Arthur Murray Studios in Denville. Conceived and performed by singer/storyteller Wendy-Lane Bailey & composer/pianist Michele Brourman it has a funny, sometimes challenging but always defiantly feminine viewpoint that brings the worlds of Broadway, pop, and country together in one show.
Stone Pony To Honor Butch Pielka
(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- A special day of music to honor the legacy of the original Stone Pony co-owner and manager, Robert “Butch” Pielka, will be held Sunday, October 7, from 2:00 to 9:00pm at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. The lineup includes reunions of Cats on a Smooth Surface and The Shakes, and Lance Larson.  More names are expected to be added.
Victor Wainwright & The Train To Perform At Lizzie Rose Music Room
(TUCKERTON, NJ) -- The Lizzie Rose Music Room presents Victor Wainwright and the Train on Wednesday, August 22 at 7:30pm. A 3 time BMA Piano Award winner,  BB KING Entertainer of the Year Award Winner, and Band of the Year Award winner, Victor Wainwright is at the top of his game right now.  The band is touring in support of their latest record, The Train, on Ruf Records. Tickets are 30 in advance and $35 at the door.
State Theatre presents Lost 80's Live
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Lost 80’s Live on Saturday, September 20, 2018 at 8:00pm. The Lost 80’s line-up features some of the most iconic bands from the 1980s including A Flock of Seagulls; Wang Chung; Bow Wow Wow; Farrington and Mann, Original Vocalists of When in Rome UK; Naked Eyes; and Animotion. Tickets range from $48-$98.
White Eagle Hall Presents Sloan
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- White Eagle Hall presents Sloan, one of Canada's best power-pop bands, on Friday, September 7 at 8:00pm. The band recently released their first album in four years, 12, which has become their highest-charting album in their long career.  Tickets are $25.

Let’s Hang On’s Tribute to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons LIVE! at The Strand
Q: So what do four guys from Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Massachusetts — and all currently based out of Florida — have in common with four guys from “Joisey” this summery August 3, 2018 evening at the Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ?
80's Tribute Band Almost Journey Rocks iPlay America
I never in a million years would have thought about iPlay America in Freehold as being an event venue. To me, it's a place to ride bumper cars, have kids' birthday parties and play video games. Never been there.
The Great Rock N Roll Time Machine LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
As we make our way inside the Grunin Center of the Arts located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ, this Saturday, July 28, 2018, we see music lovers of all ages. Some of them are wearing street clothes but some are decked out in outfits from the 1970s and ’80s for tonight’s concert by the ’70s and ’80s tribute band, The Great Rock N Roll Time Machine.
Classical Guitarists Alex and Wesley Park LIVE! at The Great Auditorium
The bucolic seashore town of Ocean Grove, NJ is a place designed for quiet reflection and spiritual renewal. An artist sketches in the lush green park off Pilgrim Pathway. Still others read or meditate in the heart of this picturesque village which features gingerbread houses and colorful gardens, all just steps away from the fresh salt air wafting off the blue Atlantic Ocean.
“Rock and Roll Icons!” Hippiefest LIVE! at BergenPAC
A light summer rain is falling outside Englewood, NJ’s BergenPAC this Wednesday July 25, 2018, as music lovers decked out in peace signs, tie-dyed shirts, and bell-bottomed jeans arrive for tonight’s Hippiefest concert event starring Vanilla Fudge, Rick Derringer, Mitch Ryder, and Badfingers’ Joey Molland.

Event calendar
Monday, Aug 20, 2018


Asbury Park Industry Ball 2018 @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

FINDING FEEBAS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

Alex Laurenzi Quartet @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm


Eighth Grade @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 7:00pm

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