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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

The Trenton Children's Chorus (TCC) Hosts a Special Starlight Evening with Metropolitan Opera Star, Ryan Speedo Green on February 22

The Trenton Children's Chorus (TCC) Hosts a Special Starlight Evening with Metropolitan Opera Star, Ryan Speedo Green on February 22

(TRENTON, NJ) -- TheTrenton Children's Chorus (TCC) will host a special Starlight Evening with Metropolitan Opera star, Ryan Speedo Green on Thursday, February 22, 2018. The book Sing for Your Life, by New York Times journalist Daniel Bergner, was written about Mr. Green’s personal and artistic journey from a trailer park in southeastern Virginia and time spent in Virginia’s juvenile facility of last resort, to the Met stage. The event will benefit Trenton Children’s Chorus.

Mayo Presents Eddie Palmieri

Mayo Presents Eddie Palmieri

(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Ten-time Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri, one of the finest jazz pianists of the past 60 years, performs at Mayo Performing Arts Center, Friday, March 23 at 8:00pm. Palmieri is a bandleader, arranger and composer of salsa and Latin jazz. His playing skillfully fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his jazz influences: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner as well as his older brother, Charlie Palmieri.  Tickets range from $29-69.

Wyclef Jean To Perform At Stone Pony During Asbury Park Music and Film Festival

Wyclef Jean To Perform At Stone Pony During Asbury Park Music and Film Festival

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Wyclef Jean has been added to the lineup for the Asbury Park Music & Film Festival (APMFF). Wyclef will perform on Saturday, April 28 at 9:30pm at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. 

State Theatre Presents Golden Oldies Spectacular

State Theatre Presents Golden Oldies Spectacular

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Golden Oldies Spectacular on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 7:00pm. The concert features The Brooklyn Bridge; The Duprees; Shirley Alston Reeves, original lead singer of The Shirelles; The Marcels; The Capris; Cleveland Stills & The Dubs; Lenny Dell & The Demensions; and Frank Pizarro, former leader singer of Herb Reed’s Platters.  Tickets range from $35-$85.

Thursday, Feb 22, 2018

DENTIST @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

NJSO PRESENTS BRAHM’S FIRST SYMPHONY @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:30pm

MNOZIL BRASS @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

World Cinema Series: Reluctant Fundamentalist @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 7:30pm

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