Picture, if you can, New England or Pezband crossed with All, the old speedpunk ensemble, and you have this disc's Baby Bear. Then imagine Humble Pie having erupted in the 80s instead of the 70s, with more crunch and quasi-psychedelia, and you have Gravity's Winning. Next dose The Raspberries with ketamine and meth, and Hellbent for Heather eventuates. Stuyvesant is a New Jersey foursome composed of a quartet of big burly guys who look like they just came away from excavating water mains on Central Boulevard, the last gents you'd expect to be a pop ensemble—in this case, definitely power pop—but that's what they are.
The ensemble is named not after the famed Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant but instead a liquor store where guitarist Scott Adams worked in Jersey City. Grant's Tomb could, I suppose, be called 'balladic' but, really, what I hear is the interface between folk and rock. My favorite cut, though, is Sunlight & Shadows, which mashes up The Hollies, Ramones, Stooges, and even a touch of prog in a hard-charging cut. Oatmeal Song is a heavy jangley shouter, not far from metal in many passages—just toss in a Boss pedal or two and we're there. Shhh mixes The Stooges musically and lyrically with pure chaos and then slams straight into Silent Treament. Man, if only the group had carried the stormy section of Shhh on for five more minutes, we'd have a barnburner on our hands!
Shmyvesant is pop for those who don't get enough ground glass, plywood shards, metal slivers, and fire klaxons in their diet, those who can't get behind Piper, Smokie, or the aforementioned Raspberries but still want that weirdly attractive teen-bourgeoisie-next-door element in their music come hell or high water. Stuyvesant doesn't craft pop songs, it chokes out the rock and roll basics hiding within them and then pounds away until you're dazed, reeling, and smiling, beer in one hand, a tab of PCPed DMT in the other, and a copy of the latest 'Teen Romance Heartbreak' comic book lying at your feet. You might not be able to make it back home after the sonic assault, but don't worry: all the howling you'll be doing at the moon, pining for that sweet little tart you knew in high school will attract the cops, and they'll make sure you have a place to sleep for the night.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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