Rest Ashore’s lineup on their recent EP: Erica Butts (second from right) with — left to right — Seby Martinez, Isabelle Baker, and Gabriel Bond—photo courtesy Rest Ashore
Have your coffee, walk the dog, then get yourself down to the Observer Highway stage of the Spring Arts & Music Festival by 11:40 a.m. this Sunday. That is, if you want to experience one of the most exciting musical acts to emerge from Hoboken in decades. Rest Ashore is sometimes a four-piece, occasionally a duo, and often a solo act—but always the brainchild of singer/guitarist Erica Butts.
The band formed back in 2011, but gained greater recognition last year in the wake of their terrific second album, Pornoviolence. Live, the group recalls the off-kilter, jazz-tinged rock of 80s indie heroes the Minutemen. Their music fits in the genre known as “math rock”—complex rhythms, angular melodies, sudden stops and starts. However, you certainly don’t need an advanced degree to appreciate Rest Ashore, as their songs are joyous and rocking.
“Joyous” might seem an odd word to describe their latest EP, Annihilation, inspired by some heavy modern topics. Erica lays it out accordingly: “This is a short album about the decline of the earth. Soon the world will flood, people will mass migrate, democracy will crash, economic fitness will mean life or death. Yet our minds are becoming as numb and useless as ever. Have you conditioned yourself to exist only in the virtual landscape?”
Fear not: Rest Ashore definitely puts their music where their manifesto is. The song “Last Afternoon on Earth” begins with Erica’s bright guitar, joined by Isabelle Baker’s steady drums, before the group on the EP (with Gabriel Bond on bass and Seby Martinez on second guitar) kicks into another gear… then slows down… next shifting into rollicking punk…later getting pretty… rinse and repeat. “MK SUPER ULTRA” musically spirals upward as it surges ahead. “New American Fascism” is the most straight-forward song here—for half its length anyway—before turning itself inside-out, upside-down, and coming in for a landing. (At the Festival, Erica will be joined by the band’s new second guitarist, Andrew Wholf.)
Throughout, Erica’s guitar mastery provides thrills while her clear, commanding vocals guide us through the musical maelstrom. Rest assured, Rest Ashore is an excellent soundtrack for our troubled times, as you can find out for yourself this Sunday.
Follow Rest Ashore on Facebook and Instagram. For a full schedule of the performers—on all three stages—at the Hoboken Spring Arts & Music Festival, held this Sunday, May 19, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., click here.