This has been an extra special summer, folks. Great people in my life and so much going on in our humble Hudson River homestead has made for some very memorable times of late. Kingston punkers Fort Street (featuring Mike Cashen on vocals, Todd Jansen on guitar and Jon Hambright on the drums) electrified The Anchor the other night with melodic yet dissonant sounds. Their new stuff has a cool almost post-punk direction as well and Todd’s new Charvel axe was a beauty to behold. Todd is sure to be the Richie Sambora of the Kingston punk scene in no time (though they sound more like TSOL meets Alkaline Trio)! Earworms from Brooklyn opened the show and had a great No Use For A Name-meets-Faith No More freaky combination of influences that fueled my fire. Their conviction really sold the already powerful music, like Obi-Wan telling the stormtroopers, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” You just had to believe. Great band and you can check them out on www.moneyfirerecords.com. Thanks for the sweet vinyl, dudes!
Speaking of conviction, our main focus this week, Adrien Reju, is one of my regional favorites. The charismatic Reju just did a Joni Mitchell tribute at Bearsville Theater and has been busy working on a new record of love songs, among other things. Her voice is a comfort, a melodic balm of soothing-yet-quirky charm that carries her tunes to very human heights.
“So, I’m putting together a concept album of sorts, which will be a collection of unconventional love songs,” Reju tells me. “The idea came to me when I was asked to play a show on Valentine’s Day earlier this year at a club called The Fire in Philadelphia where I spent many of my formative years as a songwriter. That place has always attracted characters, like The Rev. Leroy Montana who had wild eyes and this convulsive energy and funny political songs like ‘You Gotta Think Like One Planet’ or ‘I’m a Sex Machine’ — ‘I’m a sex machine. I’m a sex machine. It’s in my genes, it’s in my jeeeeans.’ I just couldn’t see myself singing songs like ‘My Heart Will Go On’ in that place. I wanted to fit in with the characters. So, I began my set with Sonny Bono’s ‘Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’ and ended with Bryant Oden’s ‘If Our Love Was an Outhouse’ and that sort of set the stage for the rest.
“This album will be an extension of that show, with original songs added,” she continued. “Maybe not as tongue-in-cheek, but these will basically be out-of-the-ordinary love songs.”
Adrien has also made a video with Fredo Viola for a song called “Last Call.” Was it fun?
“Fredo is a really creative guy who not only works with video but is a very interesting songwriter as well. He makes what he calls ‘cluster videos,’ which is much like what a loop pedal can do, except with video,” Reju explains. “So in the ‘Last Call’ video there’s me singing and playing the song on guitar, and then there’s a mirror image of another me vocalizing the bass line and playing percussion along with the song. It was very fun. There’s one part where I attempt to make a percussion sound at the end of the instrumental break and I miss, and you see me giggle to myself a little. We left that all in, but Fredo worked his magic with it so it all sounds and looks the way it was intended to.
You can watch a sneak peak of the video here – https://youtu.be/9yuzlcRMZkU.
I saw Adrien posted on her Facebook about Gypsy Wolf in Bearsville as a place she loves to eat and asked her about the classic local spot. I used to drink margaritas there with my mom!
“I love that you drank margaritas with your mom,” Reju laughs. “This place feels like Frida Kahlo’s wedding party adorned with folk art and wolf masks. The margaritas are strong and good! And the decor transports you. It’s a cool vibe and a fun place to go with friends who are visiting. The portions are huge, so it’s good to share or go hungry. My fave dish is the ‘Why Did the Magician’s Chicken Cross Route 212’ Chicken Almond Mole.”
Would she say this imminent release is as dreamy as past stuff or more “song-booky” and formal? Adrien mentions that “song-booky” makes her think of a choir of cute little elderly ladies singing out of a book of old folk songs.
“If a recording of that exists, I’d definitely buy it,” she laughs. “I don’t know how dreamy the album will be, as these songs will explore the many sides of love, even the darker ones. But it won’t be like a break-up record or anything. Maybe sonically it will be dreamy and I do intend to include some uplifting material on there. It certainly won’t be formal or like a slick classic love songs record. That’s been done many times over. Charming, maybe. Versatile, yes. But mostly it will be very me.
“The Pledge Music platform we’re doing is a great way to connect with my fans in a way that invites them into the behind-the-scenes process of making the album,” she continues. “They can pre-order the album or get other exclusive items like a signed set list, a private concert in their home, a home recording of an ‘Unconventional Love Song’ of their choice, or the Album Demos recorded straight into my iPhone. They can also give me feedback and suggestions about all the little choices and decisions I have to make throughout the project. More info on how to get involved here: https://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/adrienrejulovesongs.”
Until next week, make it, don’t fake it.