New Jersey gets a bad wrap, though sometimes it’s for good reason.
I was born and raised in the Garden State, and, having spent the better part of 25 or 26 years there, I have witnessed its ills and its charms – musically speaking – first-hand. I’ve crowded into shows at Maxwell’s, dive bars akin to The Saint or, yes, Springsteen aficionados, institutions like The Stone Pony, and I trekked across the state to catch grander bills in NYC and Philly. I chronicled the state’s love of Bon Jovi cover bands at Jersey Shore clubs, and I lamented that others never got the spotlight.
New Jersey, though, for all the Turnpike references and jokes about its accents aside, has produced its fair share of great underground bands. 18th & Addison, which recently released a single/video, “Leeches,” advancing its new LP, doesn’t appear to be one of them.
The band isn’t all that bad. What it does, it does pretty well. There’s lot of power-pop and borderline pop-punk hookishness to “Leeches,” and the thing takes a stab at the anthemic. But it stops a little short of the truly engaging. The choruses, all rousing guitars and boy/girl vocal interplay, are too obvious, the occasional crunchiness of the guitar falling short of the wonder of, say, New Jersey’s old Vital Cog roster.
The closing of the roughly four-minute-long “Leeches” hints at a deeper love of melody and the listener might wish the band lingered here for a few more measures, rather than just cooling down and dropping the curtain. The fact that the single’s finest moment is incidental is not a good sign.
Now, there are some people, and I’m looking at fans of 90s alt-rock, who might dig this. It’s a little formulaic but it gets the formula largely right. Not for the adventurous among us, though. After gifting us artists like Tris McCall, The Bouncing Souls and The Ergs – not to mention Springsteen and Sinatra – I know New Jersey can do better.