Telegraph Hill Compilation Vol. 3 Shows Asbury Talent Still Riding Strong

By Kenny Bieber

January 15, 2021

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year and for fans of local music that statement couldn’t ring anymore true with the recent release of the third annual Telegraph Hill Records Compilation. The comp features 17 songs all varying in sound, style and genre all while offering an exhilarating and diverse showcase of some of Asbury’s most prominent and rising talent. The album hosts both returning and up-and-coming artists including local favorites such as Des and The Swagmatics and The Foes of Fern, along with rising hopefuls such as Malibu and Alexander Simone and Whodat; and it manages to be a remarkably cohesive listening experience throughout. Breaking it down track by track, Vol. 3 may well prove to be Telegraph’s most accomplished and well-rounded effort thus far. Read on for a deep dive into the collection!

1.) "Change The World" - Marc A. Tappan: The opening track here starts off with a sultry and bluesy bang courtesy of veteran rock and soul musician Marc A. Tappan of The Dirty Shine. The track contains his signature riffs while offering some vital commentary on the inequalities of today’s modern society. Vocally and lyrically, Tappan is in fine form here and the track has a rich musicality and sonic scope that allows it to feel intimate and epic all at once. In terms of subject matter, Tappan delivers his message with a raw yet organic sense of honesty and soul making for a truly impactful number. An engrossing and layered opener to the comp and further proof of Tappan’s enduring musicianship and artistry as a songwriter and performer.

2.) "Ramblewood Parkway" -Jarod Clemons: If you were wondering if the spirit of old school rockers such as Southside Johnny and Springsteen were still present in Asbury, then you’ll be delighted to find it’s alive and well in Jarod Clemon’s latest single “Ramblewood Parkway.” The single builds off the brassy rock of earlier single “On The Waves” and finds Jarod and company emerge as a tighter, sleeker and more uniformed unit than ever before. Clemon’s presence as a frontman shows considerable growth and the band’s blend of classic and contemporary reaches a seamless foundation here. With this latest single, Clemons and The Late Nights have proven themselves to be a dynamic, energetic and electrifying new talent that are bound to win over listeners new and old. This is one parkway we actually wouldn’t mind taking a ride on for sure!

3.) "Time Management" - Foes of Fern: Asbury Park supergroup The Foes of Fern led by virtuoso Matt Fernicola have had quite a year despite the circumstances and they top it successfully with latest single “Time Management.” The single contains more of the rich orchestral flourishes found on latest release Carpe Diem and it's packed with hilariously self-aware lyrics and a delightfully infectious hook. “Time Management” is one of the group’s most energetic and vibrant singles released so far and Fern’s sophisticated arrangements and lyricism shine through to tremendous effect here. In terms of production and songwriting, “Time Management” establishes itself as another deeply accomplished cut in the Foe’s already rich catalog and an instant triumph. Suffice it to say this one listen that’s time well managed.

4.) "Quarter Life Crisis" - Taylor Tote: Speaking of another artist with a strong track record this year, NJ singer-songwriter Taylor Tote delivers another standout single here with the bouncy yet self-reflective “Quarter Life Crisis.” Produced by fellow singer-songwriter Nick Ryan, “Quarter Life Crisis” finds Tote navigating the confusion and anxieties of adulthood with some of her richest production and layered songwriting yet. Vocally, Tote is in commanding form here and lyrically the single manages to be both self-aware and uplifting while still managing to be an infectious earworm. Coming off this and her latest singles “Never Have I Ever”and “Evergreen,” Tote is establishing herself as a unique and organic talent with true artistry and depth. A genuine highlight for sure.

5.) "Think 2 Much" - Malibu: Rising alt-rock group Malibu hailing from Monmouth University have been establishing themselves as a dynamic new talent for some time now and that ascent continues with their thrilling new single “Think 2 Much.” Delving into a more sophisticated indie-rock approach from their more ALT-pop inspired roots, the track is an engaging and emotionally rich number that showcases the band’s growing maturity as songwriter and performers. Each member is given time to shine here with vocalists Scott Buksbaum, Ray Laux and Eric Schwartz all delivering powerful and distinct performances and drummer James Spavelko anchors the track with tight yet textured instrumentation. As an indicator for their upcoming musical direction, “Think 2 Much” showcases the band’s notable artistic progression and further proves Malibu as a promising talent. Keep your eyes and ears open for them!

6.) "Slow Kiss" - Des and The Swagmatics: If anybody could give us reason to celebrate the dismal year that was 2020, funk and soul supergroup Des and The Swagmatics more than provided us with reason with their new single “Slow Kiss.” Influenced by 90’s R&B and soul, “Slow Kiss” finds vocalist Desiree Spinks and company in top form exuding a swagger and style that’s undeniably infectious and rich with soul and style to spare. Musically, the track demonstrates the band’s versatility and the commanding musicianship each member brings to the table. Full of delightfully slinky and witty lyricism and a showstopping hook, “Slow Kiss” is pure musical pleasure and proves itself an instant highlight. Overall, “Slow Kiss” is a triumph and another reason why Des and The Swagmatics are one of the scene’s most accomplished and vibrant talents.

7.) "Push On" -Alexander Simone and Whodat: Keeping the soul momentum going, upcoming artist Alexander Simone and Whodat keep things rolling with the exhilarating “Push On.” A soulful number full of topical commentary and hopeful lyricism, “Push On” features vocalist Alexander Simone in captivating form with a rich and lively backing band all delivering a powerful and timely message. The track features some truly sophisticated arrangements and delivers a sound with vintage influences while still maintaining a thrillingly contemporary edge. As an introduction to this emerging talent, “Push On” is an electrifying number that more than establishes Alexander Simone and Whodat as a singular and promising talent.

8.) "Keep Me Close" - Natalie Farrell: Singer-songwriter Natalie Farrell returns with one of her most powerful and soulful singles yet with “Keep Me Close.” Farrell showcases her tremendous growth as a vocalist and performer and her songwriting reveals emotional layers while presenting her most vulnerable and honest material yet. Musically, the track honors Farrell’s singer-songwriter roots and features one of her most commanding vocal performances yet. With “Keep Me Close” Farrell once again demonstrates why she is one of the most dynamic and refreshing talents in the scene. This is one talent everybody should be keeping close.

9.) "Come and Go ( Demo)" - The Burns: Despite finishing their tenure as a band over a year ago, The Burns legacy continues to spark influence and this freshly discovered demo is further proof of their organic and gleefully absurd charm. The track illustrates the band at their best with their breezy charm, organic chemistry and delightfully rowdy energy and humor. The track offers a fitting companion to their steady body of work and lead vocalist Joey Henderson once again demonstrates his off-kilter charisma and is matched perfectly by Matt Fernicola’s kinetic energy and Chris Dubrow’s consistent yet steady style. As an unreleased gem, “Come and Go” is a welcome tribute to one of the scene’s most endearing acts and a welcome reminder of their enduring appeal.

10.) "Mexican Coke" - The Hell Yeah Babies: The most exciting thing about Telegraph Hill’s compilations is how they not only represent Asbury’s diverse talent, but regions elsewhere as well. NYC power-pop sensation The Hell Yeah Babies make it on here with their latest single “Mexican Coke” an infectious yet slyly melancholy ode to heartbreak complete with the band’s signature humor and hooks. The track finds the band in a more contemplative mood but time showcases their knack for memorable choruses, relatable and honest songwriting and effortlessly energetic performances all around. What allows “Mexican Coke” to be noteworthy is how it manages to feel arena-ready yet perfectly intimate as well, and it’s packed with some truly sweet riffs to match. Much like the drink of its title “Mexican Coke” is a tune that goes down easy with the listener.

11.) "Leave Me Alone" - Lake Champagne: What’s truly exciting about compilation releases is the discovery of brand new or rising talent. Up and coming Indie-rock band Lake Champagne led by local singer-songwriter Alix Gagliastro make their debut here with the breezy and exuberant single “Leave Me Alone.” The song manages to meld together an organic folk sensibility with elements of indie and alternative all while delivering a fresh sound all its own. Lead vocalist Alix Gagliastro turns in a vocal performance that’s commanding, soulful and manages to maintain an organic laid-back delivery as well. Her backing band support her with equally organic and vibrant arrangements that instill the track with a thrilling sense of momentum. As a lead single and addition to the compilation, “Leave Me Alone” is a satisfying addition and a strong showcase for this rising talent’s genuine potential.

12.) "Dancing In The Snow" - Patty C: A good acoustic act can be hard to come by but is always well-appreciated and thankfully this compilation features one with “Dancing In The Snow” by veteran local singer-songwriter Patty C. The track has an understated yet alluring atmosphere and offers a strong backdrop for Patty C’s intimate and soulful vocal performance and endearingly personal songwriting. The track’s arrangements are sophisticated and organic and contain some of Patty C’s richest and well-crafted hooks and melodies making for an engaging listen. As a single, “Dancing In The Snow” showcases Patty C’s songwriting and craft at its strongest with some of his most passionate and sincere work yet. Overall, a deeply balanced and accessible effort from Patty C and a worthy addition to the compilation!

13.) "Cigarettes and Perfume" - Morningside Lane: Local NJ rockers Morningside Lane are riding the momentum off an already strong year for them musically and add a fine cut here with “Cigarettes and Perfume.” The track contains more of the band’s signature stomping energy and grit but with plenty of the soul and energy lead vocalist Marc Del Giudice consistently delivers. The band demonstrates their strong and seamless chemistry here with visceral arrangements that soar and feature equally strong hooks as well. As a band this year, Morningside Lane have more than perfected their brand for gritty yet exuberant old school-inspired "Jersey rock" and “Cigarettes and Perfume” is another satisfying addition to their impressive catalog.

14.) "Look To The Future" - Levy & The Oaks: With a title that’s both ironic and fitting, Levy & The Oaks craft an elegant and heartfelt farewell number that offers optimism and hope while effectively closing the chapter on a successful tenure. The track features an emotional and soulful performance for lead vocalist and songwriter Levy Okun and contains some of their most elegant and rich arrangements thus far. The songwriting here is some of the group’s most insightful and honest songwriting yet and their seamless chemistry and harmonies are represented to tremendous effect here. As a final statement for one of Asbury’s most endearing acts, “Look To The Future” is a heartfelt and captivating achievement and a beacon of hope for the music scene and beyond.

15.) "Exit Left (Live From Asbury Park The Saint)" - Airacuda: Despite this comp’s release in 2020, Vol.3 manages to pack some throwback surprises to delightful effect such as this live track from former Asbury Park band Airacuda which featured Telegraph’s own Matt Fernicola and Joe Pomarico in the lineup. The track’s live energy perfectly captures Airacuda’s exuberant and vibrant performing style as led by vocalist and producer Matthew Stephens. The sound and engineering seamlessly capture the essence of a night at the Saint and highlight the boisterous and exhilarating nature of the track. As both a live recording and showcase for Airacuda’s energizing tenure, “Exit Left” is a more than successful statement.

16.) "Honey Hair (Live From What a Wonderful Year 2019)" -Cranston Dean Band: Throwing it back once again to simpler times, this live recording of the eclectic and sprawling Cranston Dean Band performing at last year’s WAWY is a vibrant time capsule of the scene’s community and energy. The recording also highlights Cranston Dean’s memorable single “Honey Hair,” a stirring bluesy folk number that represents the band’s organic strengths at their best. The recording and engineering perfectly capture both the atmosphere and energy of Cranston’s performance while also offering a welcome nod to Wonderful Year's past. Overall, another fine addition to the compilation’s segment of live tracks and another reminder of how rich, vital and unique a talent Cranston Dean and company are.

17.) "Roaring Twenties ( Live from Wonderful Year 2019)" -Bobby Mahoney and The Seventh Son: The final track on Compilation Vol.3 ties everything back full circle with a third live track that harkens back to a time long before 2020 brought live music to a pause. “Roaring Twenties” is an electrifying and hopeful track from local scene veterans Bobby Mahoney and The Seventh Son that celebrates the promise of a new decade performed with the band’s usual go-for-broke energy and commitment. The song delivers a message of embracing new possibilities and given our current situation is a tremendously relevant and vital statement filled with a soaring anthemic presentation only the Seventh Son could deliver. As a single, “Roaring Twenties” is both epic and intimate and showcases some of Mahoney and company’s most accomplished songwriting and performances thus far, all enhanced by the raw and immediate live recording of the track. As a closer to the compilation, “Roaring Twenties” is a triumphant way to end the comp on a high note while also simultaneously offering a glimmer of hope and optimism in these uncertain times.A  genuine achievement for both the compilation and the band.

Overall, Telegraph Hill once again creates a compilation that serves as an accomplished and well-rounded showcase for Asbury’s flourishing and dynamic music scene. Thanks to its mix of genres, styles and artists, Vol.3 stands as Telegraph’s most satisfying and unified collection of songs yet. For fans and listeners of local music, this comp is highly recommended and is bound hold over those craving live music these days. For more information regarding future Telegraph Hill releases and artists, be sure to follow them on all social media platforms and is available on all streaming services!

Telegraph Hill Records, Vol. 3 Playlist

Click here for our coverage of "What A Wonderful Year 2020" where many of these artists performed!

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Kenny Bieber is a local music journalist and photographer who also highly values a good pun, quality milkshake and swears he doesn’t have too many records. He’s generally just happy to be here.

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