The New Rags – Take Jennie to Brooklyn EP

Anyone who fashions themselves a fan of independent music lives in the New York City/New Jersey metro area has no doubt heard of WFMU. This freeform radio station, broadcasting out of Jersey City, New Jersey, has become one of the most influential independent stations in the country by not relying on a playlist and putting no restrictions on their DJs. Each listen proves to be an adventure; with obscure New Jersey garage rock from the 80s rubbing up next to and even more obscure jazz piano piece from the 1940s segueing into an obscure Indian techno remix of “She Said She Said.” Most people, after 15 or so musical tangents, will turn the dial and never look back. For the patient though, sometimes, among the piles of stuff you’re not interested in, you will find a little piece of music so odd, yet lovable, it makes the experience worth it. Meet The New Rags- your new favorite ragtime-rock band. Although I have yet to hear the band on WFMU, they would fit perfectly onto the station’s “anything that sounds good” spectrum. Their Rhodes and drums lineup could easily fall into psychedelic territory (see Quasi) or cutesy-pop (Mates of State), but instead, they sound like a guitar band sans guitar; a really good guitar band.

The swagger of “Your Room,” the all-too-brief opening track off their new (and first) EP, Take Jennie to Brooklyn, recalls a slightly jazzy AC/DC of all things. “Surf the Seven Sees” is probably the only true surf-rock song I’ve heard in ages. The album highlight is certainly “It’s Over,” a classic breakup song propelled by mid-tempo bluesy rhythm, and lyrics like, “I’m free from all those stupid names you used to call me.” “Russian March,” is the album’s sole misstep, a track that is little more than song length keyboard solo. All is redeemed by the bouncy “Love of My Life,” the EP’s excellent closer.

The New Rags a band simply too good to be labeled a gimmick. When an album can rock this hard with nary a 6 string in sight, the question needs to be asked- who needs guitar when you’ve got a Rhodes? I’m eagerly waiting the full length.

(Silent Stereo Records)