New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: The Brixton Riot’s ‘Close Counts’

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: The Brixton Riot’s ‘Close Counts’

Pictured from left to right in The Brixton Riot are Mark Wright, Steve Hass, Matt Horutz, and Jerry Lardieri on Sept. 23 at The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival co-presented by the band’s label, Mint 400 Records.  Photo by Bob Makin.

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: The Brixton Riot’s ‘Close Counts’


 The veteran ragged power-pop band The Brixton Riot will celebrate “Close Counts,” their third release, second full-length, and label debut for Mint 400 Records, on Nov. 3 at a show to be presented by CoolDad Music at Asbury Park Yacht Club with Dentist and RocknRoll HiFives.


While not the most dangerous-sounding act on the planet, The Brixton Riot are extremely passionate about their ragged power pop, as well as music in general. The band are named after the 1981 altercation between police and residents of the South London neighborhood whose tensions were depicted a little more than a year before in the classic Clash song “The Guns of Brixton.” 

Although there aren’t any riotous tracks on The Brixton Riot’s 11-song sophomore LP and Mint 400 Records debut, “Close Counts,” there are two exceptional nuggets. The Jam-like, tongue-in-cheek “The Ballad of Pete Best” honors the original Beatles drummer, while also having a spot of fun with him, as well as the listener. I woke up this morning with the catchy tune in my head, which to me, means it’s a great song.  

My other favorite, “Little Spark,” is a love song for vinyl junkies in the spirit of “Left of the Dial,” The Replacements’ salute to college and public radio. Boasting a Jam/Style Council-like Motown-inspired bassline from the effortlessly talented Steve Hass, the tune also sports one of the best verses this year by a local band: “And the needle came down. We were ‘Sighting in the Sound.’ Black vinyl spinnin’ on the turntable. And the sound that we heard at 33 and a third, till the arm was resting up against the label.” In that verse, the band also give a nod to The Bats, a New Zealand alt-rock band who are one of vocalist-guitarist Jerry Lardieri’s faves. 

Throughout “Close Counts,” The Brixton Riot often reference The Jam and The Replacements, two of their biggest influences. From the opening swagger and blade of “Can’t Stop Now” and the Alex Chilton tradition of “Hector Quasar” to the Westerberg wordplay of “Caroline” and the “Answering Machine”-like “Talk about Nothing,” the Mats matter mightily in the minds of The Brixton Riot, who include tasteful lead guitarist Mark Wright and stylized drummer Matt Horutz. Meanwhile, The Jam also factor in “Slow Evolution,” a delicious ditty that is the record’s only political statement about starts and stops of racial, economic and environmental progress.  

What’s fascinating about The Brixton Riot is that they successfully fuse their American and British influences, often on the same song and from disparate places. For instance, while clocking in under 4 minutes, “Caroline” opens with a long Who-like drum-driven intro before it replaces that with a Replacements vibe. And on “Talk about Nothing,” the breaks in the otherwise punk-fueled rant recall the perfect pop of XTC. 

Elvis Costello (“Slow Evolution,” “Easier Said than Done”) and Nirvana and The Pixies (“Surrender to the Void”) also inform the band’s strong songwriting. Damn they have good taste! 

I just wish with a name like The Brixton Riot, “Close Counts” offered more of the explosiveness, tension, reggae and ska that were the sounds of the actual riots. I was hoping that there would be more of the Clash influence heard on “Keep It like a Secret” from the 2012 full-length debut, “Palace Amusements.” While I have no complaints from a performance standpoint – these guys can play their arses off -- from a songwriting standpoint, I could do without the lyrical repetitiveness on “Slow Evolution,” “Easier Said than Done” and “Caroline.” More fully developed lyrics would have made those tracks even stronger and matched their magnificent melodies, as well as their execution.

Together nearly 11 years and known as the band who inspired the name of the popular WFDU indie-rock radio show, “Signal to Noise,” another tasty track from “Palace Amusements,” The Brixton Riot also have the love of CoolDad Music. The cherished music site will present their release party on Nov. 3 at Asbury Park Yacht Club with Dentist and RocknRoll HiFives. The Brixton Riot also will participate in Asbury Underground with an acoustic show Oct. 14 at Heaven Gallery. 

I’ll leave you with this show suggestion: The Brixton Riot, The Cryptkeeper Five, The Vansaders, and Mr. Payday. All four are sitting squarely in my Top 10 of local releases. Sounds like it could be a helluva bash at Pet Shop Bar, Millhill or Bond Street. Who’s down?   


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

originally published: 2017-10-04 23:57:44

Upcoming Events

Blue Curtain Returns To Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater

Blue Curtain Returns To Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater

(PRINCETON, NJ) -- After 14 years of bringing world-class musicians from around the globe, Blue Curtain returns to Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater (Route 206 and Mountain Ave.) on Saturdays, July 14 (Pradhanica & Leonardo Suarez Paz's Cuartetango)  and July 21 (Iberi & Lakou Mizik). Each concert starts at 7:00pm. This live entertainment is free and open to all to attend. 

TOTO To Perform At Tropicana AC

TOTO To Perform At Tropicana AC

(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- TOTO is touring North America in support of the band’s 40th Anniversary and will bring its 40 Trips Around The Sun Tour to Tropicana Atlantic City on Friday, November 9 at 9:00pm. Tickets are available for purchase now via and at the Tropicana Box Office.

Jared Dylan Returns From Ireland To Celebrate New Single At The Cutting Room

Jared Dylan Returns From Ireland To Celebrate New Single At The Cutting Room

New Jersey native Jared Dylan has returned from Ireland where he has been working with Irish musicians and producers, writing new music, touring, and garnering critical acclaim and radio airplay. To celebrate his return and his brand new single, Jared will be performing to a hometown crowd at The Cutting Room on Wednesday, July 18th before heading back to Ireland once again.

Bruce Springsteen Jams At The Official Reopening Of Asbury Lanes

Bruce Springsteen Jams At The Official Reopening Of Asbury Lanes

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- It's often been said that venues in Asbury Park do not truly exist until Bruce Springsteen drops by.  Having him spotted at a venue puts it on one level and having him play there puts it on an even higher level.  The newly renovated Asbury Lanes wasted no time to reach the higher echelon by inviting him to be a special guest at the venue's offical reopening on June 18th.  The night's lineup was already stacked with Portugal. The Man and Tangiers Blues Band.  But, as many expected, Springsteen wasn't listed as a special guest just to make an appearance - he was there to play.

Event calendar
Saturday, Jun 23, 2018


White Denim @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

WICKED HOLLOW @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Parsonsfield @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 8:00pm

Under the Streetlamp @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Memories: A Tribute to Barbra @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Princeton Festival Baroque Chamber Ensemble @ The Princeton Abbey, Princeton - 5:00pm

Rockland Bergen Music Festival @ German Masonic Park, Tappan - 11:00am

Big Jon Atkinson and Dean Shot @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


DLT Presents Leading Ladies @ Dover Little Theatre, Dover - 8:00pm

The Last 5 Years @ Eagle Theatre, Hammonton - 3:00pm and 8:00pm

Half Time @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 8:00pm

DIRTY DANCING @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Wizard of Oz Auditions @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 12:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: In the Heights @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 9:30pm


Anthony DeVito, Greg Stone, James Mattern @ Tropicana Casino and Resort, Atlantic City - 9:00pm


WE ARE FAMILY: Celebrating InSpira's 16th Anniversary @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 12:00pm and 5:00pm

Inspirational Dance: Great Times in NYC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 1:00pm and 5:00pm

View all events


For more on our awards, click here

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.