Rich Howells

NEPA MUSIC NOTES: Brian Langan, Ed Cuozzo, Tisburys, Kali Ma, JT & the Blue Mountain Stone, and more

NEPA MUSIC NOTES: Brian Langan, Ed Cuozzo, Tisburys, Kali Ma, JT & the Blue Mountain Stone, and more
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I can’t say that I’ve ever watched a band perform inside a building while standing outside and looking in through a window before, but these are strange times we’re living in. Thankfully, you don’t have to do the same to support local music, but you can get an idea of what I saw at the Scranton Ice Festival last weekend below (and at the end of this column). Enjoy this week’s roundup in a warmer environment!

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๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ The hell that was 2020 inspired quite a bit of music (such as the James Barrett single “Love Song in 2020”), and this year will likely do the same. On Feb. 2, Scranton singer/songwriter Ed Cuozzo self-recorded a new single simply titled โ€œ2021โ€ that he describes as both “weird” and “free,” so go give it a download.

While Cuozzo has always experimented in the music he created as a solo artist and as the vocalist/guitarist of alternative rock bands Melded, A Social State, and most recently University Drive, this track plays with more haunting, moody soundscapes like he did on last year’s “Oracles” EP but with thumping intensity and the addition of distorted vocals drowning in electronic waves:

๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ Mixing Americana, roots rock, folk, and blues, JT & the Blue Mountain Stone is a band that “produces soul-felt vintage sounds which would be at home in juke joints, alt-country radio, or the streets of New Orleans,” in their own words. On Feb. 2, they released their forth album, “Gone Wrong Songs,” after a long time in development.

Singer/songwriter Joe Tosolt, a Scranton native now living in Lewisburg, said the six-song collection was “tracked over the past few years, with great contributions from Joe Cigan (many tasty guitar leads), Marty Straub (that melodic bass), Duane Martis (drums). Songs, vocals, many instruments, and production by me,” with final mastering by Paul Smith at 8 Days a Week in Northumberland:

๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ Between growing up in Scranton and living in Philadelphia for about a decade now, singer/songwriter Brian Langan has made music under many names – The SW!MS, Kock107, Langor, Needle Points, and Sweatheart, to name a few. These days, though, he’s using his own name, blending “pop, psych, glam, bubble gum, garage, and folk into one big rare and catchy experience” and releasing singles like “Truffleberry Lake” on Dec. 11 and “The Sight I Seek” on Feb. 5 on Australian record label Goldstar Recordings. The latter features fellow NEPA natives turned Philly residents Justin Mazer (guitar), Pat Finnerty (guitar), and Mike Quinn (bass) as well as Claire Quaranta (drums) and Zach Miller (keys), a “ripping hot band” that appears in the music video while never leaving home. As it turns out, they recorded the entire song that way too.

โ€œHad the pleasure of adding guitar to my roommate and dear friend Brian Langan’s new single ‘The Sight I Seek,'” Mazer said in a Facebook post.

“Brian also created the music video, which shares a glimpse into the ‘remote’ style of recording songs during the pandemic, as well as the magical funhouse that we call our apartment, which is often difficult to describe to folks who have never been here.”

“Brian Langan wrote this awesome catchy song and I got to play drums to a click track for it in my basement, and then our other friends did the same thing with their instruments and we all sent Brian our parts and here’s the result!” Quaranta added.

“I love the video he produced, which gives an inside look into our pandemic worlds (i.e. houses and apartments 24/7).”

๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ Wilkes-Barre psychedelic dream pop band Kali Ma and the Garland of Arms, who was noted just two weeks ago for their contribution to a compilation of Flaming Lips covers that is raising money for the National Independent Venue Association, is back in this entry with an original single called “Pretend” that was accompanied by a music video on Feb. 9. For those who love old black-and-white and silent films as much as I do, you’ll likely recognize some of the footage used here.

“This music video was a fun one to piece together,” the group said. “[It] tells a tale of the shenanigans of the human brain.”

๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ Formed in Scranton and now based in Philadelphia, indie rock band The Tisburys released their latest album, “Sun Goes Down,” on Oct. 23, which we previewed when NEPA Scene premiered the first single, “Fading Light,” last May. They created a quirky quarantine video for another single, “Walk Away,” in July, and since they can’t tour like they planned, they’ve continued producing new videos like this funny green screen trip for the single “Back to California” that shows just how much fun they’re having despite the state of the world and live music these days.

โ€œWe’ve definitely found our people when it comes to the music scene here, and there are so many different scenes that intertwine, which makes it all the more interesting. It’s very similar to Scranton – you’ve got the punk kids, you’ve got the folkies, and you’ve got the hippies. And they all seem to know each other!โ€ frontman and Clarks Summit native Tyler Asay told me in an interview last year.

โ€œOur last record, โ€˜Wax Nostalgic,โ€™ was all about reflecting on the past. When I started writing songs for a follow-up, the recurring theme I kept founding was moving on from the past, which was a logical next step in the Tisburys story. The concept of โ€˜fadingโ€™ kept coming up, about moving into the next stages of life, with my younger years fading further and further from memory. It’s become more about focusing on the future realistically for the first time in my life. Changing tides!โ€

๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ The Scranton Ice Festival was a big success, and it was great seeing people out and about again (in a safe way) – I walked throughout downtown on Saturday afternoon and it was as busy as a summer First Friday. We just published some great pictures from the weekend, and NEPA Scene was able to live stream all the bands thanks to Endeavor Audio and Ionic Development. I enjoyed going back later and catching the acts I missed, so if you didn’t tune in or only caught bits and pieces of the performances, you catch watch around 15 hours of local music covering many different genres on our Facebook page or embedded below:

Day 1 with Tim Zieger & Zach Sprowls, Lightweight Duo, and The Boastfuls:

Day 2 with Michael Stec, Jacob Cole Trio, Modern Ties, Joe Burke & Co, Indigo Moon, Young Lion, Dave Brown & the Dishonest Fiddlers, and Dustin Douglas & the Electric Gentlemen:

Day 3 with the Wade Preston Band, Merchants of Groove, Erin Malloy & Friends, and Gabby Borges:

NEPA Music Notes is a regular column that highlights new and noteworthy music news and concerts in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Now you have one less excuse to not support local music.