Bob Makin (Aquarian Weekly, Upstage Magazine, Courier News)
Jersey indie scene's Top 10 releases of 2003: #4 - ...Water's... ...Dig...
Water, without a doubt, takes the prize for the New Jersey music scene's
most improved band. The New Brunswick-based jam outfit produced its
debut CD a couple of years back, recorded in the able hands of Atomic
Productions' Matt Angus. While brimming with potential, it fell victim
to the band's inexperience and self-indulgence.
With the followup, "Dig," that potential has been surpassed far more
than I thought it would be. And to boot, Water has evolved into one of
New Jersey's best live bands, a fun, funky, far-out experience that can
be enjoyed Saturday during the CD release party for "Dig" at Crossroads
Theatre in New Brunswick.
A nice mix of Dead-like roots music ("Fixin To Flow," "Bob Perry," "6
Long Days," "Mean Old Nathaniel"), funk-adelic fun ("Slippery Rock"),
beautiful ballads ("Stimulate My Mind") and "strange noises" ("Magic
Wand," "Crystal Masks," "Who's Jose"). No matter which approach it takes,
Water is richly entertaining on one of the most rewarding indie
releases to come out of Central Jersey this year.
The 15 original tracks flesh out the capacity of a CD, but unlike the
overlong, spotty debut, "Dig" flies by, empowered by an engine of fun
and chops. Main songwriter-vocalist Mike Montrey has grown into one of
the fiercely fertile New Jersey music scene's most commanding frontmen
and inventive guitarists. After seeing Water many times during the past
two years, I figured Montrey couldn't get any better, but "Dig" is his
The yummy psychedelics of "Magic Wand" are at the centerpiece of the
disc with fantastic harmony vocals, clever wordplay, tasteful layers of
rhythm and hysterical sounds that scream from of Montrey's rack of
effects. On the other end of Water's genre-crossing repertoire is "Mean
Old Nathaniel," a rootsy nugget about a New Brunswick street character.
The acoustic, horn-driven "Fixin' To Flow" also is a standout, one of
several tracks featuring New Blood Revival's horn section. Unfortunately,
the NBR cats couldn't breath enough life into the Latin/hip-hop/trance-tinged
"Who's Jose?" to match its intoxicating live energy, enthusiasm and
Another able guest is fiddler Dan O'Dea of the awesome instrumental
unit Beyond. He appears on the rootsy, Dead-like material, such as "Bob
Perry," "6 Long Days" and bassist Anthony Duca's uplifing romp "The
Ballad of Otis Carmichael."
Duca also gets props for being the main tech man beind the band's
effort to engineer and produce this disc mainly by themselves with a bit
of help from Angus. It's amazing and wonderful what a little talent and
ingenuity can accomplish in a home studio these days. "Dig" is a
What's also interesting is how much more effective uptight drummer
Vance Vann and vocalist Jenny Duca are in the studio, where their lack
of stage presence doesn't mar their performance. Both are fantastic
studio musicians who should rest assured in their onstage talent.
If you dig classic and roots rock that isn't afraid to go off even if
it crashes and burns, you'll dig Water on Saturday night. Equal parts
Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd and Parliament-Funkadelic wrapped in a fresh
but familiar sound, Water could represent rock's past, present and
future if the music industry took a chance. I believe the band is ready
for the opportunity.
Opening at Crossroads will be an acoustic Matt Angus, backed by members
of the Harlem Gospel Choir, whom he met upon booking them into his
Black Potatoe Festival two years ago.
I can't impress upon members of the New Jersey music scene enough how
important it is to attend Saturday's concert at Crossroads. The venue
has the potential to be what the original New Jersey music scene always
has needed, a place where folks can go to really listen to new,
independent music that isn't watered down by drinks and greedy promoters.
With Crossroads, talent can be nurtured, followings can be built and
dreams can begin to come true instead of crumbling beneath the shaky
walls of the nightclub industry.
That doesn't mean drinks won't be served, but the evening will be about
the music -- and the dancing it will inspire. All ages are welcome.