Music is a universally known second language. It exists for some as a way to escape, but most often, for the very opposite—to connect with something. Whatever the reason, for whomever the person, it’s this connectedness that gives music its power. And it’s always been up to the communities, the people within those communities, to foster that power.
Not many small cities have kept that momentum quite like Asbury Park. The town, for years, has nourished a strong music scene, not only because a few famous musicians started here, but also because the people, the community, allowed it to live.
Asbury Park’s commitment to this doesn’t go unnoticed. It is commonplace to be able to attend some kind of music event nearly every night of the week. This Friday, June 16th, Convention Hall will hold its weekly Night Bazaar in the Grand Arcade. Local artists and DJ’s will be showcasing their talent; while the popular Anchor’s Bend will host live music. Two, newer, notable bands, performing at Anchor’s Bend, have become beautiful real life examples of how local musicians provide sustenance for Asbury’s infamous musical reputation.
Lyons, a refreshing, women-led dreamy rock band, promoting their record release, will be headlining. Performing with their good friends, The Cold Seas, a darker electro-rock group. Both bands have not only experienced the power of music in their personal lives, but what it means to share that power, on the same stage, with their friends, in a community practically built for it.
The chemistry within a band becomes a key ingredient in any successful ensemble. Chemistry within a community is less recognized, but equally important. What plays out literally in a band, and what we experience in the day to day within our communities, is actually quite similar. Each has a certain flow, or at they very least, either flows, or doesn’t. If we’re not connected to any of our neighbors, friends, band mates, hell, bartenders, it’s easy to feel isolated in even the most crowded of spaces. Asbury Park makes that difficult, though, especially for musicians. With such a colorful musical history, it’s no wonder why Lyons came together almost as smoothly as their sound did.
The members of Lyons initially wanted to play covers. When their original lead singer moved away, the girls looked to Asbury Park’s scene to find someone who clicked. Jenny Chyb, (drums), Lisa English, (bass), Sharon McDonaugh, (guitar), and Charleen Cucci, (keys), found Amy Malkoff, a fellow local musician who had been playing in the area for years. They decided to send Amy a few original songs, and invited her to band practice. Amy suggested also playing guitar, alongside Sharon. Together, all of them added new parts, changed some old ones, and effectively began shaping their dancey, dream-like sound.
The girls describe their chemistry as something intuitive. The truth of that is not only apparent in their music, how moving it is, but, for me, stresses the importance of chemistry in maintaining the strong music community Asbury is known for.
Without this chemistry, without this little community they built within each other, the greater music community of Asbury Park, would become disconnected and potentially disappear.
Asbury Park, a physical place with metaphorical open arms, continuously invites and fosters these, almost whimsical moments—a kind of symbiotic relationship. The town provides a space for Lyons’ chemistry to live, to strengthen, and explode into something much bigger than the band itself.
The members of Lyons recognize Asbury Park’s value—that not every town provides this many opportunities to play, let alone play alongside their friends. One member mentioned, “It’s like a party, that everyone is invited to.” While the band likes exploring new territory, playing shows outside of Asbury, there is a sense of home here. Having such a strong support system, and watching their friends evolve right alongside them “is something special not every town has.” Lead vocalist, Amy Malkoff, expresses this sentiment as well as through the booking of her good friends from The Cold Seas, to play at Lyons’ record release show. Amy was previously in a band with Cold Seas’ guitarist, Erik Rudic, and bassist, Matt Castoral.
Before The Cold Seas came together, they all had been playing music for years. Nash Breen, (drummer), known for his success in the emo-hardcore band, Armor for Sleep, had played with Chad Sabo (lead vocalist/guitarist), previously, as well as with Erik Rudic (lead guitarist), in a separate band altogether. When Chad started sending Nash some demos, particularly, ‘Paralysis,’ an unreleased, hauntingly beautiful acoustic, Nash instantly knew there was something special there. “Chad started writing his own songs, something he had never done before. I told him I knew of two people living in Asbury Park who would be down to do this with us.” Nash recruited Erik, and knew of a strong bassist also living in Asbury Park, Matt Castoral, to start listening to some of Chad’s songs. By 2014, Nash and Chad moved to the beachfront town, and formed The Cold Seas.
The band began building on Chad’s acoustic tracks. In the first year, much of their music was mostly guitar driven. After some collaboration, and working with various producers, electronic elements found their place, giving each song a new burst of energy. The transformation from acoustic demos to a darker electro pop rock sound, highlights their growth as a band, but also as Chad explains, their ability to “keep [their] roots in tact, while exploring uncharted territory.”
Chemistry, experimentation, and innovation in music go a long way. While the band formed through community connections, the evolution of their sound as it relates to the larger community, becomes most interesting. Communities can only grow and change if the people in them are doing the same. If the music scene here were simply a replica of the 1970’s, it probably would’ve faded away by now. Their transformation doesn’t just have an effect on the community; it’s literally the breath of it. Being fearless with experimentation, while maintaining their truth, riddles each and every song, and it’s no wonder why they’ve gained such a large following, in such a short period of time.
A community can be defined as a group of people in a particular place, sharing the same set of values and goals, but rarely do we see a sort of symbiotic relationship between the effect that place has on a group, and the group’s effect on that place, quite like the music community in Asbury Park.
Asbury provides a space for these bands to come together, but it was their chemistry, the little community they had developed within each other, and their ability to evolve, that sustains and strengthens Asbury’s infamous music scene. The importance of these relationships goes well beyond music taste; it’s what helps a community grow and change into something much greater.
So if you’re interested in an experience, check out their music below, or, an even better solution…go to the show.
You can find more music by The Cold Seas searching on YouTube or visiting www.thecoldseas.com
Available on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, and SoundCloud
Sunday, 7/2 Asbury Park Yacht Club
Friday, 7/21 Stone Pony w/ Deal Casino (Record Release Show) and Born Cages
You can pre-order Lyons’ debut album on vinyl at the link below. Also available on Spotify and iTunes
Written By: Alyssa Maio