Just Another Starving Artist











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Colorado band Meniskus understands the fundamental nature of music as a platform by which poignant exploration and enhanced consciousness can virtuously stand upon. The expressive musical surge owned by this trio of; Eric Ostberg (lead vocals/violin), Brian Bardusco (guitar/percussion), and Chris Wright (drums/keyboard), continues to exist as powerful , yet tenderly seductive outpourings of ripened individuality and prowess.

The group’s debut album, The Wall of Sound was released in 2005, echoing a revival of early nineties trip-hop stylings through a unique layering of downbeat instrumentals and entrancing vocals. With 2007 sophomore LP, Foreign Beyond, Meniskus further endorsed their experimental nature creating sounds beautifully reminiscent of progressive U.K. bands like Portishead and Coldplay on tracks such as; “Occurred To” and “Letters.” Varying between soothing, ambient rhythms to hypnotic, danceable tempos, the band’s second album intensely reverberates in unhindered vocal depth and textured instrumentals.

Meniskus’ collective grip on genre-fusion ranging from mood to reggae…to every sensibility in between has been amply highlighted by their first two albums and delightfully confirmed once again by new single- “The Partyer.” Adding agreeably to their eclectic repertoire, this new tune is a colorful, upbeat representation of reggaeton off-beats and Caribbean-infused ska. The defining difference in this unassuming contribution is a certain carefree, SoCal sand and surf ease. “The Partyer” is transcendent- an apex of effortless fusion freely taking on a life of its own and rightfully characterizing Meniskus as the calm and storm all in one. Fingers crossed that it just may be the gateway track to a Zenyatta-esque third charm. Dig!



{September 9, 2008}   El Fuego by Taylor DiVico

In a time when musical risks seem less prominent and more fleeting, a generation meekly unfolds, settling into the pop culture horror of nuevo MTV. In the distance, hope emerges in the form of a band full of prowess and inspiration, clearly impervious to being defined or confined within the boundaries that have been set. With that a powerful reverberation emanates, echoing times past and futures unknown all at the hands of Joe “Reno” (Lead Singer and Lead Guitar), Terry Foley (Guitar and Vocals), Stevie Roberts (Keyboard and Vocals), Joe Cummings (Drums), and Will Wright (Bass).

Philly-based band, El Fuego is a group of old souls disguised as twenty-somethings. All School of Rock alumni, this quintet oozes with a certain raw, yet well-trained talent, allowing them to own a sound full of creativity and character well beyond their years. Fully adept with a rockabilly punk open to many possibilities, El Fuego is full of Springsteen-esque energy, yielding a momentum and hopefulness within seconds of a listen. El Fuego’s cleverly written lyrics speak volumes about the idealism of youthful condolences, while cradling you in an attainable honesty that hovers as an oath to live by.

More Ramones and less Sex Pistols, El Fuego embodies a diversion from convoluted, displaced anger stealing the stage in their welcoming of unhindered precision. Leading a new type of fusion that bridges a subtle, quiet rebellion of old-school American punk with a heavy swingin’ All-American rock-and-roll, El Fuego further sprinkles delightful hints of SoCal style ska here and there, as heard in the chorus of “Turn Blue.” Satisfying three-part vocals come together in faultless harmony, gracefully singing above the crescendo of what can only be described as a full-on instrumental orgasm of sick guitar riffs, placidly rhythmic bass undertones, heavy drums and explosive keys that dance between organ-esque intros. and punk-induced sultriness. El Fuego is explosive in their delivery and their contagious joie de vivre!

Tracks to check, to name a couple:

“Bishop” is a gem for its thrusting rhythm throughout, and a fine layering of angsty philosophy and existential meanderings.

“The Guardian” rekindles old school punk with a garage band effect, not shy on lyrics depicting the lust and escapades of stolen love. Edgy lead vocals of Joe “Reno” raspily rise above the instrumentals to be met later in the song by a sweet surprise that is the tranquil, pure voice of keyboardist Stevie Roberts.

The objectively rad and fully jammin’ “Try Your Hardest,” defies linear structure, rightfully ripping directly into a solid chorus of strong vocals and owning every second of it. Add that to the guitar solo at the bridge and “Try Your Hardest” easily becomes a fan favorite jam. Top it off with a lyric that should go down in infamy for its unfettered idealism, “I realize my whole life’s a joke, but at least it’s a funny one,” and this song promises to delight without hindrance.

Their sound indicative of the very name they adorn, El Fuego reignites a musical fury that’s lay dormant for too long. They quickly become the disk you won’t leave the house without, the voice you desire on your worst and best days because with just one listen you get it back- that feeling once again- change is near. El Fuego speaks to the soul through an encouragement so pure and engaging. Resembling “Try Your Hardest” lyric “There’s still good times to be had,” El Fuego reaches out and pulls you in, forcing you to see the world as a better place, goals attainable, air breathable, music listenable. Dig!



Down Home Southernaires Dig!



A fiery sunset begins the weekend off, as travelers from the north cross paths with the conchs of Key West to share in the groove of The Heavy Pets. Yes, The Green Parrot is certainly Pets Paradise with the perfect mixture of locals and fans ready to spin up a weekend of intrigue and utmost delight. It just may be the sanctuary of summer, refreshing and exciting both the band and the crowd to no end, bringing forth a togetherness and communal sort of happiness that is so very indicative of The Heavy Pets’ scene.

The Parrot began to fill in the late afternoon with curious locals and friends of the band welcoming Friday’s sound check. Any skepticism that was in the air by the locals, who see many an interesting act pass through their four-by-two mile refuge, was quickly expelled as The Pets ignited the stage with a full-on rockin’ set only to announce they would be back…in three hours. As I surveyed the crowd of both familiar and unknown faces, one fact was increasingly evident- nobody wanted the music to stop and there was no amount of popcorn in the back of The Green Parrot that could subdue the needs of the people. Luckily, the relief came when The Heavy Pets took the stage again later that evening, this time to a full house, packed to the brim with excited smiles and gyrating bodies. Clearly the news had spread quickly- The Heavy Pets were in town and ready to boogie on!

Fueled by an enigmatic gig at Fort Lauderdale’s Dive Bar the previous night (6/12/08), The Pets bunkered into their island oasis, vibing off their tropical haven with heavy jams, reggae-infused rhythms and omniscient lyrics that speak to the soul and bring out the child in you that forever wants to dance and spin and party the night away. Saturday night’s “Fraggle Rock” was every bit as telling and stands as proof that The Heavy Pets love what they do to the core. By putting goodness and fun out there, they gain an infinite following of devoted fans looking to join in the much anticipated youthfulness that culminates in the breezy, musical journey of one band with a whole lotta’ heart and the talent to back their exploits up.

The Pets’ quirky, yet deeply engrossing onstage presence combines with bold fusion to create a stature of wonderment no matter the venue, the fans, the song, but I have to admit- there’s something in that postcard, aqua blue water of The Keys that floats an unsuspecting mind to a tranquil place. The Heavy Pets, a protective raft brushing against the shore in the twilight of the moon, making sense out of life, calming your inhibitions and bringing the forces of serenity to the forefront so your mind can expand in an unhindered existence for one solid weekend, if not forever. That’s what good music is all about and the craving for it begins and ends with The Heavy Pets. Dig!



What is the chance of a band enveloping your every thought as a quasi-medium into the self? Pretty good if it’s Asheville, North Carolina’s Toubab Krewe. If you were at High Sierra last year for the RV set especially, you know exactly what I’m referring to when I express the obvious truth about Toubab Krewe- a mind-expansive, genre-altering, sick band with everything to gain through an obvious originality, loads of unfettered talent, and pure musicianship! They’ve bridged the gap between more genres than I can even name without this becoming a run-on sentence.

The earthy vibe of Toubab Krewe is revolutionary in its authenticity, combining a sort of Southern California surf rock with tribal meanderings, making their unique groove a definite portal to lose yourself and find yourself within simultaneously. This highly acclaimed quintet of instrumentalists are well adept in West African rhythms and tradition, their sound heightened further by Caribbean-influenced jam sessions. The innovative sound that resonates when Toubab infuses their various genres is produced by a mixture of plucking patterns of traditional West African instruments, such as the 6-stringed kamelengoni and the 21-stringed kora, both giving off a harp-like tone that sort of flies above the electric melody, while a funk prevails as the rhythmic backdrop, setting the stage for wonderment and reggae swagger. Toubab Krewe has seemingly perfected their own vision of what fusion is within their genres of expertise, much in part due to their proclivity to be students of music, traveling to Mali, Guinea, and the Ivory Coast to gain insight into the culture and music that drives their exceptional sound.

Toubab Krewe’s latest endeavor, their self-titled album, explores the roots of traditional West African tribal sounds and rhythms, bringing forth a sense of nature through a prevailing maturity and exploitation of craftsmanship. While the album is transcendental and pure magic, their dimensionality as a band is explicitly apparent during live performances, as most recently experienced at Fort Lauderdale’s Dive Bar 6/17/08 show where they breathed life and soul into South Florida fans. Toubab’s onstage presence is representative of a band with lots of energy and talent, fueled by and alive with a certain spirit that emanates through the crowd, feeding off them while giving them exactly what they came for. Their live performance reaches way past mellow, heady vibes to a soul-satisfying sound that piques interest in the duality of rock and tradition sharing a stage. Dig!



A recent Miami New Times article depicted one of South Florida’s jam bands as an obscure group of pithy stoners. Be that as it may, the reviewer seemed to miss the point of music reviewing…the music. With one, and only one innuendo to the Heavy Pets’ style of music throughout the entire article, Eric Saeger claims that comparing The Heavy Pets to Phish is “super-obscure,” when in fact, it is super-lame and beyond overdone, especially when he mentions the band specifically asked him to, “Give his own take.”

Rather than ask a series of questions regarding favorite toys as a child and such, which gives no insight into the enormity of talent found amongst this group, Saeger might assume that Mike Garulli’s toy of choice was his plastic, play guitar and move on to what really matters…the fact that Garulli is insanely good at what he does with an unfettered passion on stage and feverish fingering that makes the neck of his guitar melt in his hands like butta,’ baby. The truth of the Pets’ goes far past bong hits and Monty Python-esque portrayals to a band right in our backyard sitting on the brink of greatness. Wake up and smell the reefer! (That’s for you, Saeger, seeing as your obsession with a weed-smoking band far out-trumps your ability to write about the profundity that surrounds them. It’s just weed, man…everybody’s doin’ it.)

Getting to what really counts, Saturday night, May 24, 2008 found Tobacco Road brimming with a delighted, curious crowd invoked by the intrigue that is South Florida’s, The Heavy Pets. Most prevalent was the Pets distinct ability to channel wonderment throughout the crowd of smiling faces, old and young alike, hip and not so hip. Their enigmatic stage presence speaks for itself, but when combined with musical risks that defy simplicity, what’s left is a very satisfied audience and a band that instinctively feeds off the talent of one another.

As the hazy lighting creates an ethereal blanket, sort of cradling The Heavy Pets in its beams, most apparent is that there are seemingly no egos, no selfish tendencies on that stage, but moreover a group of guys who just love jammin’ out together. This is what separates them from the rest, as there is no fight for center stage, but an equal display of charisma, talent, and respect, not to mention a stronghold over a funk-infused sound. The vibe that is created brings people together and showcases The Heavy Pets as a band that has arrived, and one that quintessentially delivers soul-satisfying jams through genre exploration and musical risks. For without risks, a band is nothing but a bleak copycat of their predecessors-a far cry from what the Pets’ represent.

Highlights of the Tobacco Road show include; a full-on, funky “Travel” jam, a jazz-infused courtship between Jim Wuest and his keys on “John Galt” and “Played Again,” kicking both songs into overdrive and producing nothing less than pure magic. “Operation of Flight” reigned as an assertion of the band’s solid blend of reggae and funk, while “Eleanor B. Roosevelt” culminated in diverse ska/rock blends, reminiscent of SoCal sounds. Latest addition, drummer Jamie Newitt, and bassist Joe Dupell, with a sick bass intro in “Rise” held down the rhythm and brought forth a resurgence in the second set, which had to be tough because it was like 3:00 a.m.

Notable tracks on The Pet’s 2-disc album, “Whale,” include…all of them, but for further inspection into their diversity, check out “Dimitry’s Fire,” a sort of bluegrass ballad, (Think: Ripple), “Iceburg Blues,” (As you may guess, a blues-infused rock with quirky lyrics and heavy guitar), “So Thank You Music,” which rips into Carribean-inspired reggae, and “Sleep” which remains an objectively beautiful song that will get you swaying back and forth, thinking about all things good.

So ya, The Pets smoke some weed, much like many other bands, but in lieu of their immense talent and stealthily growing fanbase, what does that really have to do with anything? It certainly doesn’t separate them from the masses, what does, however is their skilled musicianship. Substantiality should prevail over substances in a music review. Dig on that!

The Heavy Pets are:
Jeff Lloyd- guitar/vocals
Jim Wuest- keys/vocals
Mike Garulli- guitar/vocals
Joe Dupell- bass/vocals
Jamie Newitt- drums/vocals

Visit The Heavy Pets for upcoming shows

Find more on: Music Reviewer, Taylor DiVico

Visit Writer, Taylor DiVico’s Official Site



Colorado-based band, Meniskus delivers a unique sound that closes the gap between acoustic jam and alternative rock. The result is a refreshing culmination of varying genres. It’s clear that while echoing certain influences, most impressive is this trios pristine mesh of classical training, brought to the forefront by an obvious attention to technique.

Meniskus epitomizes the payoff of taking musical risks with their latest endeavor, new album, “Foreign Beyond.” It reigns as a showcase of their keen ability to play up the contrast between meditative vocals and a full-on jam. Lead singer Eric Ostberg’s unwavering voice is reminiscent of the likes of Jeff Buckley and Chris Cornell, singing above the music dynamically, while melodically conforming to the harmony and beat of the instrumentals, which are consistently earthy, playing on bluegrass vibes, comparable to Dave Matthews Band jam sessions

Tracks to check out:

“Trial” is certainly a testament to British-style vocals that pull against a more upbeat rhythmic undertone. The percussion-led intro combines with a subtle, Latin guitar throughout the verse, as the vocal tone and rhythmic pattern follow that of the instrumentals. The ultimate high of this song is a sick chorus, aesthetically pleasing and vast in its delivery. “Trial” holds back a little bit compared to some of the other Meniskus tunes that are more evolved, yet sultry bridge lyrics, “I want to tango tonight,” heighten the experience, leading to an overall satisfying listen.

“Letters,” is beyond beautiful in all of its’ splendor, especially if you harbor an affinity for the violin. While the notes and bowing are not intricate, it’s the simplistic precision of the vibrato that makes the tone of the violin stand out. The lyrics in both the verse and chorus are perfectly complimented by this strong vibrato that sort of commiserates with the overall message of the song. Noteworthy, is the flamenco-style guitar riff in the beginning of the song that acts as the foundation for a mysterious vibe. Not to mention a sick instrumental, heady jam which allows the violin to take on characteristics of a fiddle, proving again that Meniskus has a stronghold over the notion of versatility and ingenuity in song-writing. “Letters” is enigmatic!

From start to finish, “Occurred To” gives off a soft, intimate vibe that’s pensive and close to the heart. This song speaks directly to the listener through a coffeehouse type of warmth and honesty. The vocals flow in perfect harmony with the instrumentals of drummer, Chris Wright and guitarist, Bryan Bardusco, allowing lead singer, Eric Ostberg’s vocal range to shine through. There is a modesty surrounding “Occurred To” that shows a certain vulnerability, which is perfectly delightful and remains an indicator of this band’s cohesiveness and intrigue. Dig!

Reviewed By: Taylor DiVico



Within the Miami scene on Saturday, 4/26/08, a prominent sub-scene grew, as crowds breathed in entrancement by what can only be described as- “The flow of the Pets.” Like a continuous wave of goodness, The Heavy Pets spread their musical ingenuity to phans and strangers alike at Jazid with one heady, subtle jam after another. Met by an overall calm, a sort of mellow, funk set the mood for curiosity and experimentation, while a certain musical promiscuity prevailed as the ordained backdrop to the evening.

The Pets’ new addition, drummer, Jamie Newitt, has brought a much-anticipated beat to the forefront, as he attacks the rhythm with unhindered precision and musicality. The result- a clean tone and groovin’ swing. Most noteworthy is his ability to represent the dichotomy of being a force without overpowering the dynamics of the group. During the second set of the Jazid show, a summoning pulse feverishly resonated as a building rhythmic escalation for each and every heart beat in the room, connecting people and bringing forth that familiar swagger known to those who live the hip life, the good life, and to those who just wanna dance, man! Newitt seems to be just what the Pets’ needed to kick them into overdrive.

The Heavy Pets have a sick lineup of festies coming up, beginning with the New Orleans JazzFest (5/2/08), and ending with High Sierra (7/3/08-7/4/08). What’s in between? Wakarusa (6/5/08), of course, and for we lucky Floridians it’s “Festivus for the Restivus,” with a whole lotta’ Dive Bar, a bit of summer Miami heat at Tobacco Road and Jazid, and a trip down the Keys (6/13/08-6/14/08), where the Pets’ island groove is sure to reign over The Green Parrot. Dig!



An unsuspecting twist of fate landed me in South Florida’s Bamboo Room last weekend on what had been an uninspirational day as a whole. The cynical and bored side of me ached to be a critic, but was quickly overridden by an inevitable fervor for a new talent belting out the lyrics to “Happy” one second, and raging a harmonica solo the next.

While I had once before heard her sound at the Dive Bar in Fort Lauderdale, the tour snob in me had to make sure it was true to form, and no fluke, that I hadn’t been convoluted by substances, idealism, and whatever else can tango its way into a false pretense. How to say it? I was lured up the stairs by that same sultry, sweet voice as the first time, a true muse for a writer.

Reminiscent of the great female songtresses who have been a part of my eclectic musical journey for many years, Laura Reed symbolizes all that is female and close to the earth. She brings forth a contagious vibe that speaks volumes about a certain strength in humanity through music. Her lively demeanor and larger-than-life command of the stage echo a line from her song “Don’t Go,” as she truly represents “sugar and spice” in one soul-infusing package.

Laura Reed embraces a serious musicianship with the heart of a true performer, paying tribute to obvious influences, Erykah Badu and being a southern child herself, I have to assume there’s a whole lotta’ Janis in every raspy, soul-clenching verse. I have no doubt that Laura Reed and Deep Pocket will be a sensation beyond that of the hippie subcultures, where they seem to exist presently. All being delivered through an unpretentious energy that is Laura Reed, their sound transcends genre and reaches out to the masses as a funky, blues anomaly. Doing exactly what amazing music should do, Laura Reed and Deep Pocket set a soundtrack for a better, hipper journey through your days, giving a reason to listen while putting an extra hop in your step. Dig!



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