7 NORTHEAST FLORIDA BANDS TO WATCH IN 2015

THE JOHN CARVER BAND

soundcloud.com/the-john-carver-band

Self-described as “Hobo-Core,” the boys from The John Carver Band are really something else entirely. TJCB (Dan McLintock on guitar/vocals, Eric Denton on guitar/vocals, Casey Teate on bass/vocals, Tim Grisnik on drums/vocals, and no one named John Carver) could more accurately be described as Jacksonville’s best contribution to folk-pop. Their latest release, Everywhere Is Home, is a collection of beautiful and precise harmonies, quirky chord changes and acoustic bliss. Everywhere Is Home is about, well, home, hope and idiots. Highlights include the harmonies on “Half to Death,” the lilting piano intro to “Idiots” and the twee title track. McLintock and crew are as Garfunkian as they can be with their harmony work, and they bring the same care to their stage work as they do to their albums. Though you can usually find them rocking softly under the bridge at Riverside Arts Market, you can also catch them at the upcoming Natural Life Music Festival at Metropolitan Park on March 15. — Danny Kelly

HOT SAUCE SANDWICH

hotsaucesandwich.bandcamp.com

They originate from Ocean City, Maryland, so one might get the impression that the band Hot Sauce Sandwich would comprise a handful of spray-tanned, spiked-haired, bodybuilder 20-somethings looking to make it big. Not so. Hot Sauce Sandwich boasts its own unique style and sound, dabbling in jazz, funk, and psychedelic rock ’n’ roll. Aj Fox and Zach Engh provide lead vocal and guitar skills, and are joined by bass player Jesse Harman and drummer Cory Chavis. Hot Sauce Sandwich has expanded its reach from their hometown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to create a local following in St. Augustine. In 2014, they released their three-song Treehouse Demo, which highlight the group’s strength of merging a retro, psychedelic sound with more progressive, modern beats. Fox and Engh provide unmistakably strong and weathered vocals for each track, laid over complex and haunting guitar riffs that demand the listener’s attention. — Darby Jane Moore

THE DEWARS

dewars.bandcamp.com

It’s hard to say when The Dewars formed. Maybe it was in the womb. Or it could have been as toddlers, beating pots and pans in the kitchen. But for the sake of argument, twin brothers Anthony and Zachary Dewar officially became The Dewars in 2009. “Everybody called us the Dewars growing up partly because they couldn’t tell the difference between us,” Anthony says. West Palm Beach-bred, The Dewars describe their music as “unfamiliar yet nostalgic, slightly dream-like and corky.” Living in St. Augustine for three years — sadly, the band just headed back to South Florida, and will eventually go to Atlanta, but we still claim them — The Dewars have gigged everywhere in the area. They released a 2010 album, Songs from the Neverglades, and have a brand-spankin’ new album set to drop this month, All a Part of the Show. “It’s time to really take this thing seriously,” Anthony says. “We’re moving to Atlanta to make films, art and music. I have a good feeling about this year.” – Kara Pound

AL MONTE

al-monte.net

Labeling Al Monte a guitarist/singer/songwriter does the man no justice. I had Al pegged mostly as a jazzman from the start, but his self-titled CD is a showcase for gifts above and beyond the fray of today. Al Monte’s gifts lie in superb jazz chops and an eerie songwriting style that sees him penning tunes that wind up sounding as if Sinatra or Bennett had him on retainer. Songs like “A New Day is Coming” and “Forever” (backed by a Gary Starling-led ensemble of JU and UNF players) serve as vehicles for Al’s own silky-rich-intoned voice, with a romance right out of the Great American Songbook. But there’s a lot more than meets the ears … just when you’re ready for more swing, he shifts gears into folk mode, with his antiwar ode “Going To Get Hot” a tune with an ominous modal feel that sounds like a “Midnight Rider” rewrite. Warmth of inspiration is out front as well. — Arvid Smith

DREDGER

dredger904.bandcamp.com

A semi-regular fixture at Shanghai Nobby’s in St. Augustine, Dredger is a punk-hardcore quintet made up of mostly dads who wear a lot of black and have some quite impressive day jobs (e.g., director of marketing sciences at a global market research company). Oh, and these guys know how to kick some ass, too. Formed in 2013, Dredger’s current lineup consists of Jason Holloway (bass), Mike Carpenter (vocals), Jake Brown (drums), and Jeremy Rogers and Ryan Murphy on guitar. Over the past year-plus, the five-piece has gigged at Fest 13 and The Atlantic in Gainesville and The Space in Orlando. They’ve also released a five-song demo cassette, Steady State, released at Nobby’s Holiday Cheer Fest on drummer Brown’s label, Computer Club. Asked how he’d describe the band’s sound, Rogers says simply, “Short. Loud. Fast.” So what does 2015 hold for this band of hardcore dads with white-collar jobs? For one, a split 7-inch with hardcore trio False Flag is in the works. And “more shows. More play dates. More amplifiers. We like loud,” Rogers says. — Kara Pound

BURNT HAIR

burnthair.bandcamp.com

Local lovers of dark synth music — and who isn’t? — need look no further than Burnt Hair. The duo, comprising the mononymously named Matthew and Trenton Tarpits, formed in 2013 and became an instant presence on the local scene. “I had recorded some songs with my first synthesizer and immediately received an invitation to play a noise show,” says Matthew of the band’s beginnings. “I asked Trenton Tarpits to join because he’s my favorite vocalist in this city, and I like the duo dynamic in groups.” In a short time, the band has gigged heavily, sharing bills with national acts like Mr. Quintron & Miss Pussycat as well as local “fellow travelers” such as Koas and Severed+Said at more than a half-dozen local venues ranging from CoRK to Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library. Matthew acknowledges that the band performs “out of personal boredom if nothing else,” with a crowd response that runs the gamut from appreciation to alienation. “People sometimes approach us after shows and say nice things, and then sometimes they say weird things like we remind them of the song that Buffalo Bill dances to in Silence of the Lambs” — the song he’s looking for is “Goodbye Horses” by Q Lazzarus — “or asking why we don’t have a drummer.” — Daniel A. Brown

SOUTHERN ALABAMA PIE COOKOFF (SAPCO)

facebook.com/SouthernAlabama PieCookoff

No band in Northeast Florida does it harder, faster, louder, stronger and with more love (and a longer name) than Southern Alabama Pie Cookoff. The catalyst of their powerful sound is drummer Allen Dixon, who drives the high-octane chaos that skillfully transitions into and out of funk interludes. Singer John “Navy Jay” Bridges’ lyrics and the band’s spirit are inspired by the philosophies of Karl Marx and Noam Chomsky, but informed by their own experience. Guitarist Lucas Buttner and bassist Mike “Woody” Brannon complete the crew. Jacksonville residents and their parents probably hoped these genetic hellraisers would be tamed by their military service. But what these guys experienced there hardened their conviction that the United States’ role in the world is a disaster. And their musical anger is not solely directed at U.S. foreign policy, but also cops, fake people, and, of course, grape soda. But don’t think they’re all brains and no dick. In their lighter moments, they admit to being “over the hill punk rockers living in denial.” The best news is that SAPC is not based in Alabama and does not engage in pie competitions. They make camp in Northeast Florida and crank out some of the best music in the area. — J. Scott Gaillard

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