From The Basement: Harpoon Forever and Fugue ~ Michael Del Priore

Finding a basement show in New Brunswick takes some couth. It’s like the line in Swingers “You tell a chick you’ve been some place, it’s like bragging that you know how to find it.” The speakeasy romanticism of the whole local scene is its exclusivity, the delightful feeling you’re getting away with something the outside world wouldn’t understand.  But you don’t need a password to get into underground venues like Funk Palace – just a facebook message with the address and a few bucks for the touring band. The building is typical nondescript off-campus housing. There‘s no indication that a show is happening except for a solitary porch light and a muffled warble coming from the basement.  Inside, the warble becomes a wail. The two guitarists in Harpoon Forever kick up their volume pedals unexpectedly mid-song and the crowd starts to rock a little harder. In the dim glow of dangling Christmas lights, 20 or so longhaired college kids with doo-wop eyeglasses are dancing and playing air guitar along with the band’s heavy, bluesy solos.

Original songs like “Summer Vacation” are what the band does best – a mixture of compelling chords and grungy breakdowns that’s reminiscent of garage rock revival bands like Cage the Elephant. But despite Harpoon Forever’s tendency to keep songs under 3 minutes, the quartet also has enough classic rock influence to dig into longer jams. Case in point: the epic show closer, “Paddle to the Sea”, which starts out with bouncy alt-country strumming but then dissolves into building repetitions of krautrock drumbeats structuring Sonic Youth-style guitar mayhem. Sure, you can’t hear the lyrics over the P.A. but the sweaty exuberance of the singer and his hipster cowboy style say enough.

After the show, I walk a few blocks to another house, Titan’s Rest, where southern Connecticut band Fugue is making a stop on their 2-week tour. Outside, people are sitting on the driveway peering into the basement windows like stray cats. It’s not a packed house but it’s so hot inside that the girl drummer Alexa remarks, “I’m gonna pass out” with a look like she means it.

After a short break and some water, Alexa nods her head and kicks off the next song with an aggressive prog rock beat that sounds like early The Mars Volta. When the three guitars begin to fade in with lyrical melodies and the singer triggers a sample of birdcalls, it’s only to lure the audience into a false sense of security. Songs like “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles” prove that this band is all about contrast: clean tones are juxtaposed with distorted ones, soft sections suddenly burst into raucous thrashing, and the lead lines play tug-of-war with the rhythm section. With a name like Fugue it’s no surprise that most of the band’s catalogue is instrumental, but some songs feature vocals that provide emotional context and sound like tribal yells laced with Portishead-style effects.

When the band finishes their set and I walk back out into the sultry night of late July, it feels like air conditioning compared to the sauna I was just in. Summer basement shows in New Brunswick are not for the faint hearted, but with bands like Fugue and Harpoon Forever on the scene it seems like things are only going to get hotter.

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Waving to Solidarity: An Art Event at coLAB Arts Gallery

This Thursday coLAB Arts is hosting an opening event for the month long show, “Waving to Solidarity,” featuring one of the Johnsonville’s former artist contributors, Dave Peters. Below you will find the Press Release for the event. We hope that you will attend the event, or visit the gallery during the month long showing in support of coLAB and the Johnsonville’s own, Dave Peters.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – coLAB Arts is pleased to present Waving to Solidarity, a one-month exhibition featuring the work of the emerging artists, Dave Peters and John Leschak, curated by Theresa Francisco. Our Opening and Second-Look Reception will take place on Thursday August 18th and September 15th from 7-10 PM at coLAB Arts (49 Bayard Street, 3rd Floor, New Brunswick, NJ 08901). These free receptions will feature complimentary wine, food, and live music. Custom made, interior design elements added by kliasi style.

Waving to Solidarity offers the viewer a glance at both meditative solitude and painful alienation through the artists’ formal conflicts with and emotional connections to, their environment and community. Dave Peters and John Leschak both work in a similar vein but their individual messages are quite opposite.

Dave Peters focuses on serene, biomorphic forms and quiet landscapes that are cerebral, captivating, and dream-like. Peters opens his subconscious and paints what comes naturally. This method often conjures up the repetition of imagery, creating both common, visual elements and narratives in many of his paintings. Even though Peters is very detail oriented, he wishes to keep his paintings ambiguous and open for personal interpretations. Dave Peters graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Spanish Literature. Though colorblind, Peters is a self-taught painter and is working towards a full-time career in the arts.

John Leschak uses heavy symbolism to make a direct commentary on modern society. He contextualizes human passions, vices, and fears to illustrate their effects on relationships and the community at large. Though often depicting scenes of individual despair and powerlessness, Leschak believes his images can bring about a need for action and empowerment. John Leschak is a practicing labor law attorney at Weissman & Mintz and immigrant rights activist.

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CoLAB Arts is a non-profit organization located in New Brunswick, NJ, dedicated to the development and presentation of emerging local artists. coLAB Arts’ mission is to cultivate a hip, mindful, and inclusive Hub City community of artists, audiences, and critics, empowered to create inspired and inspiring art.

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ALBA: EVE’S CONFESSION ~ Danny Cassidy

As when you wake, slowly
with tender simplicity:

a yawn, a stretch
of sinew and bone.

Every inch of the body’s
violin straining to play

a memorable chord. A man
away from his labor:

the Finch dancing dew
off its feathers;

two Robins as light,
blending in and out of dawn.

Let your waking settle
into this, a caress

to cage your quiet
sparrow breathing—

the mud not yet shed
from your lung’s unending

chambers; my own eyes still
heavy red, ripe with dreaming.

Wings too flutter within me,
Adam, like morning

Birds—which you have so
utterly named—after they

have gathered down
and devoured the seeds.

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But it isn’t, so we aren’t ~ Matthew Kosinski

Drinking cold fruit juice out of tall, thin glasses – we bought them (the glasses) at the thrift store in Elizabeth – sweet mango flesh on her face and hands and wrists – the kitchen thick with burnt-butter smoke and the box fan whirlingwhirlingwhirling on the trashcan near the open window – Chuck’s silvery, hot blister bubbling on the back of his hand – a cast-iron skillet mishap – lovingly rounded slabs of vegan country fried steak on paper Christmas plates – in March, no less – a steady and sustained mist hissing against the window screen – Nicole on the floor and infatuated with a Nepalese revolution she heard about five years too late – that same half-assed singsong of regret: “If only I could…” – the wine-stained, cigarette-singed coffee table pilfered from the side of the street on garbage day, one too-short leg bolstered by a New American Bible – the lanky kid with the canyon-wide smile on the dining hall steps, “God bless you, Sir,” when I took his free scripture without removing my headphones – a moon so full it’s about to burst wide open ascending ever upward until it disappears – when George is home, we hide the ashtrays and claim we don’t smell tobacco – brown bottles sanitizing in bleachwater bath in a large plastic tub on the counter – Nathan, bluntfucked from solo hotboxing the broken-down car in the drive way with Mel’s blown glass pipe – an old flannel shirt turned dish rag flagging from a nail driven into the wall above the sink – Rosemary describing lucid sex dreams she’s had in a phone call from Italy – the washing machine’s heavy hum rising like rippling heat phantoms from distant summer asphalt – and if it were warmer, we’d be drunk on the porch –

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But it isn’t, so we aren’t ~ Matthew Kosinski

Drinking cold fruit juice out of tall, thin glasses – we bought them (the glasses) at the thrift store in Elizabeth – sweet mango flesh on her face and hands and wrists – the kitchen thick with burnt-butter smoke and the box fan whirlingwhirlingwhirling on the trashcan near the open window – Chuck’s silvery, hot blister bubbling on the back of his hand – a cast-iron skillet mishap – lovingly rounded slabs of vegan country fried steak on paper Christmas plates – in March, no less – a steady and sustained mist hissing against the window screen – Nicole on the floor and infatuated with a Nepalese revolution she heard about five years too late – that same half-assed singsong of regret: “If only I could…” – the wine-stained, cigarette-singed coffee table pilfered from the side of the street on garbage day, one too-short leg bolstered by a New American Bible – the lanky kid with the canyon-wide smile on the dining hall steps, “God bless you, Sir,” when I took his free scripture without removing my headphones – a moon so full it’s about to burst wide open ascending ever upward until it disappears – when George is home, we hide the ashtrays and claim we don’t smell tobacco – brown bottles sanitizing in bleachwater bath in a large plastic tub on the counter – Nathan, bluntfucked from solo hotboxing the broken-down car in the drive way with Mel’s blown glass pipe – an old flannel shirt turned dish rag flagging from a nail driven into the wall above the sink – Rosemary describing lucid sex dreams she’s had in a phone call from Italy – the washing machine’s heavy hum rising like rippling heat phantoms from distant summer asphalt – and if it were warmer, we’d be drunk on the porch –

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