Archive for the ‘Music’ category

Movie Review: Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!

January 17, 2015

Almost two years ago, I took one for the team and watched – and reviewed – the craptacular movie known as Eddie and the Cruisers, the 1983 film about a fictitious Jersey Shore band that was a complete rip-off of Mr. Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. Though I was less than impressed with the movie and its dumb plot, it did capture the spirit of the Jersey Shore pretty well. And though I swore back then that I’d never watch it again, I did feel compelled to watch its sequel, 1989’s Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! – admittedly for no other reason than to have something to blog about.

To understand this film, I’ll first give a brief recap of its predecessor. Back in 1963, we’re introduced to singer/guitarist Eddie Wilson and his band, the Cruisers. They play the Jersey Shore bar scene, make an album, and get popular. Then they make a second album, but the record label didn’t like it, so the overly sensitive Eddie freaks out and steals the tapes, hides them, and kills himself. After an excessively long and drawn out plot, which hints that Eddie could have possibly faked his own death, his former bandmates find the lost tapes and sell them to the record label.

Fast-forward 20 years to when Eddie and the Cruisers II: Cruise Control takes place, and the band’s music is more popular than ever. That makes things weird for a particular construction worker in Canada who – spoiler alert – is really Eddie! Turns out he didn’t kill himself and just wanted to escape the spotlight by taking a blue-collar job in some alternate version of Montreal where no one speaks French and everyone has an American accent. To blend in, all Eddie has to do is grow out a pornstache and change his name to Joe West, and no one has a clue about his former identity.

Eddie looking just like a porn star...or gym teacher

Eddie looking just like a porn star…or gym teacher

However, his little secret is getting harder to keep. Not only did the record label release the album that they originally hated, but they also released the super secret tapes that Eddie recorded without his Cruisers. So, now that his music is all over the radio (and discussed on TV by special guest stars Martha Quinn of MTV fame and a rather spry 1989 version of Larry King), Eddie’s tough exterior is starting to crack. He even confides in his new love interest, Diane, about his real self. (more…)

5 More Songs about New Jersey

February 2, 2014

As everyone knows, the Super Bowl is being held in New Jersey tonight. For some reason, though, New York is getting all the credit as the host city, and New Jersey gets the shaft once again. Although I wish I could provide a more in-depth analysis of the big game and its repercussions on the Armpit of America, my knowledge of football and interstate economics are pretty limited. So, I’ve decided to write about something I’m only slightly less ignorant about: music.

One of the most viewed posts on this blog was this one: Top 5 Songs About New Jersey, where I shared my thoughts on some songs about the Armpit of America. (In a total coincidence, that post appeared exactly four years ago today!). I figured it was time to highlight some more songs about New Jersey. Just as in the first list, this one will not contain any Bruce Springsteen songs – those were included in a separate post, which I may revisit as well.

Enough with the introductory banter; here are five more songs about New Jersey. If you don’t like them or think there’s something I missed, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

1. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” by Bon Jovi.

Wow – despite my total indifference to this guy, he sure shows up a lot on this blog. Anyway, say what you want about the guy, I do respect his loyalty to New Jersey, emphasized by this bittersweet anthem to the state. Sure, he lacks the more finessed and less obvious songwriting approach that his compatriot Bruce has mastered; just consider the first verse of the song:

“I spent 20 years trying to get out of this place
I was looking for something I couldn’t replace
I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known
Like a blind dog without a bone
I was a gypsy lost in the twilight zone
I hijacked a rainbow and crashed into a pot of gold
I been there, done thatand I ain’t lookin’ back on the seeds I’ve sown,
Saving dimes, spending too much time on the telephone”

What takes Bon Jovi a whole flowery, metaphor-strewn paragraph to convey, Bruce can sum up in a simple, three-word phrase: born to run.

Despite my grievances, the song does fully capture the experience of longing to get out of New Jersey – and then the longing to return once you finally leave. As a recent dropout of New Jersey who still comes back home like every other weekend, I fully understand both sides of the coin.

2. “Never Going Back to Jersey” by Less Than Jake

Speaking of songs that hit me personally, this one again sums up my own (and many other New Jersey residents’) love-hate relationship with the state. Up until recently, I would have been happy to spend the rest of my days in Monmouth County. But when the opportunity to relocate out of the state arose nearly a year ago, I wasn’t too unhappy to leave – maybe even excited to finally get out. And though I can’t say I never go back to Jersey, there are times – like when the traffic on the Long Island Expressway is particularly bad – when I wish I never had to go back! (more…)

Movie Review: Eddie and the Cruisers

February 10, 2013

eddieWow it’s been a while.  Between long days at work, a hurricane, and more long days at work, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d like.  But last night I saw a movie that got my bloggy juices flowing again: 1983’s Eddie and the Cruisers.

Let me start by saying this isn’t the greatest movie, not by a long shot. It moves incredibly slow, it’s impossible to identify or sympathize with the characters, and the plot is kinda dumb.  So why blog about it?  Because the movie takes place in New Jersey!

Starring a young and fresh-faced Ellen Barkin (before she became an old yet still oddly fresh-faced Ellen Barkin), and a bunch of no-name character actors from the 80s, the film tells the story of Jersey Shore bar band, Eddie and the Cruisers.  Though briefly successful in 1963, the band disbanded when lead singer Eddie Wilson seemingly committed suicide after the record label refused to release their second album, because it sucked.  Eighteen years later, with the re-release of the band’s premier album, Eddie and the Cruisers are more popular than ever.

(more…)

Winter in New Jersey Still Sucks!

January 17, 2011

...except during the winter.

About a year ago, I wrote this entry about the rough winter we were having in the Armpit of America. Well, last year’s winter was pretty balmy compared to this year. In that entry, I bitched about us getting two feet of snow last year. That might has well have been two inches compared to the three feet we got a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, three feet of snow. None of which has really melted yet. Almost every single day since that major snowfall on December 26 has been at or below freezing. And the little amount that actually does melt or evaporate just gets replaced by a new snowfall, such as the one going on right now. Luckily for me, I work from home. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the millions of New Jerseyans who have to drive to work on already shitty roads made shittier by this horrible weather.

Despite the weather, I’ve still been having fun here at the Jersey Shore. One of the good things about this winter weather is that it keeps all the guidos from North Jersey and New York up where they belong. For instance, I had quite a pleasant, guido-less night at the Boathouse on Saturday. As nice as it is when it’s less crowded, it was weird seeing the bar as empty as it was. Either way, it was a fun night. The live music was provided by Daddy Pop, one of the regular cover bands that populate the Shore and the band that played at my sister’s wedding. They were pretty good, and I commend them for only playing one of these overplayed cover band songs. It was American Girl for those interested. (more…)

The Wild, The Inebriated, and The E Street Shuffle

October 5, 2010

 

One of my souveniers from the night...the other was a hangover.

 

I’ve never been one to make a big deal out of my birthday.  Well, aside from my epic 21st birthday weekend (My birthday was on a Friday that year, so we went to the bars at midnight on Thursday, went to the Breakfast Club Friday, and had a house party Saturday), that’s mostly true.

This year, things were a little different.  Now that I have a beautiful apartment in Belmar, along with plenty of bars within walking distance, why not go all out?  So I invited a bunch of people over to check out the place and then hang out at a bar.  Even though my birthday was once again on a Friday this year, I limited the celebrating to only one night.

After the guests started arriving, I tried to order a couple monster pizzas from 3 Brothers.  Alas, they never answered the phone.  After calling a dozen times, and after a few other people tried to no avail, I ordered pizza from some other place.  Though perfectly adequate, this regular pizza is nothing compared to giant 3 Brothers pizza.

After hanging out at the apartment for a while and getting sauced up, we headed out for the Boathouse.  As luck would have it, there was a live band there that night.  Even luckier, it was The E Street Shuffle, a Bruce Springsteen tribute band!  Though I never heard of them before that night, I was impressed.  They did a great job, playing both the hits and the lesser known songs. (more…)

Top 5 Overplayed Jersey Shore Cover Band Songs

July 7, 2010

Jon Bon Jovi or Jersey girl? I'm still not sure.

If you hang out at bars at the Jersey Shore, you’re bound to come across at least one of many bands making their living off of other people’s songs. While they may have their own musical aspirations, no record company is knocking at the door with a big advance. So, they settle for cover gigs at the shore, where they play inferior versions of popular songs to indifferent audiences.

Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy the Jersey Shore cover bands, which are primarily made up of a bunch of 20-or-30-something year-old guys, usually along with one heavy-set, middle-aged man on bass. They make for a fun evening, no matter which shore bar, from Atlantic Highlands all the way down to Cape May, you might find yourself in. Who wouldn’t want to hear a band play a bunch of classics that everyone knows, rather than a crappy band that plays their own stuff?

Despite my fondness for Jersey Shore cover bands, I do have one point of contention with them. THEY ALL PLAY THE SAME SONGS! No matter which band you see, you’re more than likely to hear all of the five songs below. While not necessarily bad songs, you easily get sick of hearing them all summer long.

So, if any member, manager, or groupie (ha, yeah right!) of a Jersey Shore cover band is reading this, please get your band to stop playing these songs:

1. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard

Maybe it’s just me, but this song, more than the rest on the list, just seems so dated. Whenever I hear it, I can’t help but think of some trashy 80s Jersey mall girls bopping their hairspray-hardened coifs around to this song. See? “Pour Some Sugar on Me” even makes this crusader against the negative Jersey stereotype actually buy into it.

2. “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi

“Living on a Prayer” has now made its second appearance on one of my Top 5 lists. Though not a bad song by any means, it is definitely overplayed. Overplayed on the radio, and overplayed by Jersey Shore cover bands. Sure, it’s pretty much the Armpit of America’s unofficial anthem. But, for these bands to play it every single night is just plain overkill. (more…)

The Best of NJ: WPRB 103.3 FM

April 15, 2010

That stands for "We Play Reallygoodmusic, Bitch!"

A few years ago, I got a job in Princeton, NJ and spent about two and a half years working there.  One of the highlights of that job was my hour-long commute.  For reals.  You see, though I was by myself in the car, I wasn’t alone.  I had the radio to keep me company.  And I kept that radio tuned to WPRB 103.3 FM – the radio station of Princeton University.

Though I would originally listen to Q104.3, the classic rock station based in New York, it would often break up as I traveled west towards Princeton.  Each day, I would do my usual search for a new station; every time the seek button brought me to a new one, I would either hear a commercial or static.  One day, though, I landed at 103.3.  I heard this really weird song that sounded like it was being sung by Lisa Simpson, and I was hooked.  (I would later find out that the song was Only Skin by Joanna Newsom.)

I kept the radio on 103.3 for the rest of my commute, and I kept hearing all these unusual songs.  They were like nothing I had ever heard.  Upon getting home, I looked up 103.3 to find out what it was all about.  I learned that it is the student-run radio station of Princeton University, known as WPRB.  As I had been so accustomed to conventional radio, where I would often hear the same songs over and over, this new (to me) station was a real awakening.

For the remainder of my time working in Princeton, I would listen to WPRB whenever possible.  I was exposed to all different kinds of music, as delivered by the station’s many different deejays.  You see, they have a different set of deejays and different programming each day.  On top of that, every deejay is only on for like two hours.  Although I was only able to listen to the station from 8 AM to 9 AM and from 5 PM to 6 PM (meaning I would hear the same shows each week), I still got a good sampling of music I had never heard before. (more…)