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

originally published: 10/04/2017

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

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State Theatre Presents Diana Krall: Turn Up the Quiet Tour
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Diana Krall live in concert as part of her Turn Up The Quiet World Tour on Friday, October 12 at 8:00pm. Tickets range from $43-$153.50.  This concert will feature songs from Diana Krall’s stunning new album, Turn Up The Quiet, out now on Verve Records as well as a mix of some fan favorites. 
Kean Stage Presents The Manhattan Transfer
(UNION, NJ) -- Going strong after more than 45 years, Grammy Award winner The Manhattan Transfer, with tenor vocals from Kean University alumnus Alan Paul '71, will captivate Kean Stage audiences with their distinctive four-part harmonies at Enlow Recital Hall on Sunday, September 30 at 3:00pm.
3rd Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The North Jersey Indie Rock Festival returns to Jersey City on October 6. Presented by Mint 400 Records and Sniffling Indie Kids, the festival includes acts from those labels and Little Dickman Records, Rhyme and Reason Records, and State Champion Records.  The festival takes place at White Eagle Hall. Doors are at 4:00pm and the music starts at 4:30pm. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Bobby McFerrin To Kick Off the 125th Season Of Princeton University Concerts
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- On Friday, September 21, 2018 at 7:30pm, 10-time GRAMMY award-winning artist Bobby McFerrin launches Princeton University Concerts’ (“PUC”) 125th Anniversary Season in a special event performance at Richardson Auditorium in Alexander Hall. The concert will feature McFerrin alongside members of his a cappella group Gimme5 in a program titled “ Circlesongs ” -- an evening of spontaneous music-making through shared improvised sound, in a language growing out of tribal chant and sacred music. 
The Dryden Ensemble Presents Bach Cantata Fest
(PRINCETON, NJ) -- The Dryden Ensemble will present a Bach Cantata Fest on Saturday, October 20 at 7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6587 Upper York Road, Solebury, Pennsylvania, and on Sunday, October 21 at 3:00pm at Miller Chapel, located on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer Street, Princeton, New Jersey. Tickets are $25 for general admission and free to students with an ID. They may be purchased at the door or online at

“Here’s Lucie!” Lucie Arnaz LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center
Even though the weather outside Holmdel, NJ’s PNC Bank Arts Center is cloudy with some light intermittent drizzle this Wednesday, September 12, 2018 afternoon, the venue’s stage is still shining brightly with talent thanks to a live performance by television, film, and stage actress/singer Lucie Arnaz!
Mike Aiken Talks About Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch At RVCC
(BRANCHBURG, NJ) -- Raritan Valley Community College presents Aiken & Friends Fest, North Branch on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22.  The three-day event will feature a number of different musical shows by Mike Aiken, as well as other solo artists and groups.  
Virtuoso Jazz Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty LIVE! at the Newton Theatre
It’s a warm but lovely Aug. 23, 2018 evening here in Newton, NJ. After enjoying some hand-dipped Cliff’s ice cream from the window at Hayek Market, we march up Spring Street looking forward to hearing some world-class jazz at one of the Garden State’s favorite concert venues, The Newton Theatre.
An Interview with Bernie Williams
Four-time World Series Champion and Latin Grammy-Nominated guitarist and composer Bernie Williams will perform with his All-Star Band at the Jersey Shore this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 at The Grunin Center of the Arts in Toms River, NJ!
“Unleash the Love” The Beach Boys LIVE! at The Great Auditorium
So what were you doing at 8:18 pm on 8/18/18? Well, we’re not sure what you were up to, but we know that on that hot August night, we were listening to “America’s Band” — The Beach Boys — and watching them “Unleash the Love” while performing their incredible catalog of hits at Ocean Grove NJ’s Great Auditorium!

Event calendar
Friday, Sep 21, 2018


Talib Kweli @ Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park - 9:00pm

JESSIE’S GIRL @ The Wellmont Theater, Montclair - 8:00pm

Bill Staines at the Minstrel @ Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, , Morristown - 7:30pm

FELIX CAVALIERE AND GENE CORNISH’S RASCALS @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm

MICHAEL MCDONALD @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Up Close & Personal 2 with "Them Lean On Me Boys"...RIFF @ Hamilton Stage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm

The Marshall Tucker Band with special guest The Outlaws @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm

The Jeff Jensen Band @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 1 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 8:00pm

OPEN auditions for Sondheim on Sondheim @ Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, Maplewood - 7:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Harlem Quartet" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College , Princeton - 7:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Portrait de Ludmilla en Nina Simone " @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 9:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 8:00pm


Big Apple Comedy Club @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 8:00pm


Monty Python and the Holy Grail Quote-A-Long @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 7:00pm

New Jersey Film Festival @ Voorhees Hall #105, New Brunswick - 7:00pm


AN EVENING WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA, MD @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:30pm

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