Have you ever looked at the shape of New Jersey? It sits along the sea, mutated and broken, the north being pushed west by New York City and the south, pushed east into the Atlantic by Philadelphia. It reminds me of a cartoon figure, Wile E. Coyote, or some such, who having been duped yet again, has run off of a high desert cliff and lies at the bottom; SPLAT!, askew on his side, distorted and broken.
New Jersey lies atop a cultural fault line. It’s the space being ground up between two culturally-tectonal plates, New York City, its younger yet overbearing successful brother and Philadelphia, its older sloppier brother, obsessed with past glory and shame.
Don’t misunderstand me, Philly and NYC are great towns who have written volumes in the book of human creativity, but in between these two great historical and cultural hotspots lies NJ, the sub-urban breeding ground for most creative urban immigration.
In NJ, the extreme pressure, exerted from its two talented yet obnoxious brothers, melts down and chews up, the human fodder of the vanishing sub-urban landscape, and spits back pockets of bad breath & beauty, blowing foul clouds on foul winds, yet sometimes revealing lofty spirited heights, in places like Packanack, Oakland and Middlesex.
Noexcuse is one of those craggy peaks, bared and born of suburban bug-bitten boredom and cheap beer, and occasionally revealed by the creaking and tainted wooden blades of lopsided ceiling fans. Let me tell you, I have been given many original works by unpublished musicians and most are good. They’re all competent recordings to be commended for their tight adequate execution. But none save Noexcuse has earned, so far, a three month and growing, rotation in my CD player next to regulars like The Band and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
But while The Band soulfully sings for the beaten and weathered blue collar man, and SRV plays excruciating blues for the lovelorn and homeless, Noexcuse tells tales for the average middle class fool who just can’t get over the rainbow. They side with the struggling band against the unscrupulous promoter. They play for the miserable man in all of us, who’s fallen in love in a Jamaican rainstorm,
These are unglamorous tales to be sure, but told with an inspiring and self-deprecating humor that dances the line between pain and giddiness; insanity and pragmatism; realism and optimism.
Noexcuse is first to attack itself, like a dog that fanatically chews a hole in its own paw, and yet infallibly greets you with a wagging tale and sloppy tongue. This particular flea-bitten happy greeting is no doubt born of the twenty-year musical relationship between Cozin, Holiday and friends who remind me of the early Kinks. Having resigned themselves to unpopularity, they get about the business of playing and song writing, for a moment, and a moment only, concerned with nailing the chord, reaching the high note and grabbing the riff.
Life is tough in this world and miracles just don’t come true. You can’t depend on John Wayne to save you and while good things come to those who wait, who wants to wait that long? “Whatta ya do when the drugs and the booze, don’t help you with your blues?” And yet for Noexcuse, even after death, the sun still shines outside the funeral home, and everything works out for the best.
For Noexcuse, the sun shines late at night in dirty bars and dawn comes only when the pretty girl at the bar smiles.
Somehow, NJ, Wile E. Coyote and Noexcuse, get up again, supremely confident that the next time will be their time. Okay, maybe not so confident that their time willcome, but confident that their time, will coincide with your time.
Noexcuse’s time has come, when all members sync, and when the people start to dance, and when the last members of a waning tired bar crowd, buy the Band a round, request an encore, and lift their glasses between rings of smoke and tall tales in a brief toast to original, tight, and solid Rock n’ Roll.
“If you don’t agree with me than you’re a jerk. And while I may be drunk, tomorrow I’ll be sober and you’ll still be a jerk.”