The Up and Comers: Shooting Stansfield

Photo credit: Craig Robertson

Photo credit: Craig Robertson

Edinburgh based indie-folk band, Shooting Stansfield, came around when Stewart Douglas (vocals, guitar) and Stephen Whipp (backing vocals, lead guitar) were playing at an open mic and wanted to take their talent further. So, in late 2009, the two gathered their friends Craig Robertson (backing vocals, bass) and David Steel (drums and percussion) who had been playing in bands on and off since school and decided to make it happen.

“We wanted to write tunes that had sing-a-long potential without being crass or too overblown,”  Robertson said. “At the same time, we all prefer lyrics that have direction and meaning, and it is important to us to keep that element live in the music.”

Since their inception, the band’s main focus has been on writing and recording music, crafting their sound and trying to perfect playing live. To date, Shooting Stansfield have recorded three EPs, including Human Static in 2010 and Endeavour in 2011, which they feel has helped develop and progress their sound. With plays on the radio worldwide and their title track from Endeavour on an independent film soundtrack, I would have to agree with them.

On June 7, the band will be releasing their third EP We Know Not What We Do.

Photo credit: Craig Robertson

Photo credit: Craig Robertson

I had the opportunity to listen to the album in advance of the release and I must say that I really enjoyed it.

Just over 20 minutes long, We Know Not What We Do is the perfect mix of slightly dancey/upbeat songs with a few slower songs that are easy to sway to (which was what I was doing while listening and working on some arts and crafts). Not to mention that Douglas’s vocals are amazing, and I’m not just saying that because I love accents. But his accent does add something to the album. Sometimes singers have an accent, but you can’t tell when they’re singing, so I really like that Douglas’s Scottish accent is noticeable.

Favorite song: “Blue Turns Black – We Know Not What We Do”, not to be confused with “Sign of the Times – We Know Not What We Do”, is the first song on the EP and insanely catchy, which is probably one reason I love it so much. I could listen to it once and have it stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Not only that, but I also feel inspired by the lyrics:

Stand tall and find the strength to carry on…

…Stand out from the crowd now

Like I described in a recent review, the song just makes me feel like I’m in a movie montage. It’s definitely a song I could put on repeat and listen to over and over again.

Least favorite song: I don’t know if you can call it a song, per say, because it’s only a few seconds long, so I guess I should say that my least favorite part about the EP is the sixth song, “State of Mind”, which is only a few seconds long. Not that it’s a bad song, because it’s not, I just think it is very awkwardly placed on the album. It comes in right after “There Are No Greater Truths” without so much as a pause. It wouldn’t be too bad if both songs were similar, but they aren’t. “There Are No Greater Truths” is a slower song, and then BAM! It ends and immediately goes into a heavier song. Doesn’t turn me off completely, just thought it was awkward.

However, besides that there’s really nothing bad I could say about the EP. So if you’re looking for a a great album to listen to, or even just need something to listen on a short car ride, I highly recommend taking a listen when the EP comes out (and, of course, checking out their other EPs).

With the release of We Know Not What We Do, Shooting Stansfield hopes to start some new ventures and expand their listeners.

“With the EP, we’re hoping to tour more heavily, with plans afoot for venturing out on tour immediately after the launch,” Steel said.

 For aspiring musicians, Steel advises:
Change for the sake of change is a risk we take. The more you put in, the more you get out. And it’s great when it’s going well.

Interested in hearing more Shooting Stansfield? Visit them on facebook, twitter, soundcloud, or on their website! Their EP We Know Not What We Do is available for digital pre-order at

Their next show will be their EP launch on Friday, June 7th, at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh, Scotland, so if you’re in the area go check them out!


If you or someone you know would like to be featured as an Up and Comer, please contact me at murphcas89(at)gmail(dot)com.

The Up and Comers: Speak Easy

Speak Easy

About 2 years ago, Mike Cipriano, Steve Anderson, Mark Woodbridge, and John Castaldo were fresh out of band break-ups and looking for a new relationship. Being all friends, the four decided to pull their talents together: Cipriano on drums, Anderson and Woodbridge on guitar and vocals, and Castaldo on bass with some vocals mixed in.

“The concept for this band was, and still is, just to have fun and see what happens. To play music we actually like and would

Speak Easy

listen to ourselves,” Cipriano, who also goes by the nickname of Monkey, said. “We all came from bands that were signed, toured and did the whole “professional musician” thing. It was great while it lasted but it definitely took away from the “fun” of being in a band. Everyone these days is so concerned with the “look” of the band and selling records and making money and that really takes a lot of the focus off of making music you actually enjoy.”

Although the band doesn’t admit to any huge accomplishments (a modest statement in my book), Cipriano believes that their biggest accomplishment is the positive response to their music from their friends and fans.

“Playing shows with bands that we respect and admire in front of people that appreciate us for what we are and not because

they think we are “hot” — which we aren’t! — is definitely our biggest accomplishment,” he said.

To anyone starting a band, Cipriano advises:

No matter what you do always have fun. When it stops being fun it’s time to move on. Don’t let a band ruin friendships and relationships. It’s not worth it. Also, it’s A LOT

of work to make it in the music industry, so be prepared if that’s what you hope to accomplish. But never expect success. If you’re doing it for money, you’re in the wrong line of work. Don’t ever get cocky, ever. You may be someone today, but you could be nothing tomorrow. Finally….PRACTICE! Even if I don’t find a style of music appealing, I can still recognize and respect talent and the work and thought that went in to it.

After taking a short hiatus for personal reasons, Speak Easy is ready to get back on stage! Visit Speak Easy on their Facebook or on BandCamp  and keep your eyes out for upcoming shows.

If you or someone you know is a musician, artist, dancer, writer, etc. and would like to participate in The Up and Comers, please email me at murphcas89(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you!

The Up and Comers: The Ugly Club

The Ugly Club

The Ugly Club was formed as many other bands form: Ryan Egan (rhythm guitar/lead singer), Joe Stasio (lead guitar/vocalist/producer), Taylor Mandel (keys/backup singer), Rick Sue-Poi (bass) and Ryan Mcnulty (drums) were all friends jamming and recording song for fun after the breakups of their previous bands. But just hanging out and jamming didn’t stop the itch to play live and operate as a band.

“We put together our original lineup and it took about a year and half to put together our current group which has proven to be the right players,” Egan said. “We’ve been writing and evolving the sound for a little while now and are excited to see where the next album goes.”

To date, The Ugly Club has self released/produced two Eps and one full length album. They also independently toured the east coast to SXSW 2012 and played in this years’ CMJ festival in New York. Even after having a big and busy year, Egan says that they plan on continuing on moving upward and making 2013 even bigger both for them and their music.

The Ugly Club

“After releasing our first full album we’ve been able to reflect and listen to ourselves from the outside and become much more aware of our sound,” Egan said. “That said, we also are able to move forward from the sound and always progress in a positive way.”

For aspiring bands, Egan advises:

Be patient and only play for honesty and fun.  It takes years of hard work and practice to really master your craft and if you’re in it for the wrong reasons, in most cases you won’t succeed.  Or if you do succeed in some way you may not be satisfied because your goals may have been unrealistic.  Do it for love just like R. Kelly.

The Ugly Club’s latest album — You Belong to the Minutes — can be purchased at their website, iTunes and Spotify. A limited edition 7” vinyl through Company Ink Records and a free live/acoustic EP titled “Songs from a 10th Street Apartment” have also recently been released. Please visit them online through Facebook , Twitter, YouTube, SoundCloud and Bandcamp to learn more, or see them in their upcoming shows!

Upcoming shows:
11/10 – Spike Hill – Brooklyn, NY – 10pm – Free – 21+ w/ Elliot & the Ghost
11/23 – Maxwell’s – Hoboken, NJ – 9pm – 18+ – w/ The Embracers
12/8 – Pianos – New York, NY – 9pm – 21+ w/ Joanna Erdos

If you or someone you know is interested in being included in an upcoming ‘The Up and Comers’, please email murphcas89(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

The Up and Comers: The Agony Family

The Agony Family
Photo Credit: Jeff Crespi

Let me introduce to you The Agony Family: Greg Scalera (lead vocals/keyboard), Fred Ilac (bass/vocals), Steve Scalera (guitar/vocals), Shawna Grabowski (drums), Jakub Gac (guitar), and Tony Mowatt (acoustic guitar/keyboards/vocals).

The Agony Family began as a solo project by Greg Scalera. Originally the keyboardist for the NJ pop/rock band, Moraine, Greg came up with the idea for the band after Moraine split up while he continued his education at Kean University.

“When the group split, I decided to complete my education before taking another swing at the music industry,” he said. “Halfway through my four-year stay at Kean University, I caved. I had to get back to music. So I wrote, recorded, and independently released the project’s first album, “Yourself United”, during my junior year.”

Knowing he wouldn’t have the time to play live shows at the time, Greg worked

Greg Scalera
Photo Credit: John Posada

with graphic artist, Amber Adeline, to present the project as a comic book style animated band with real music similar to how the band, the Gorillaz, was done. It wasn’t until after he graduated that Greg was able to get a group of his friends from Kean together to play the music live. Eventually, the group departed from the animated angle to become a full band, still working closely with Amber for merchandise designs and concept art with shades of the project’s original comic book style history worked in.

“At its core, The Agony Family is a group of artists with a variety of interests

including music, graphics, cinematography,  live theatre, and much more,” Greg said. “We continually strive to find innovative new ways to blend the different kinds of art and music that we love in order to provide unique, exciting experiences for our fans and the NJ music community.”

On May 19, The Agony Family headlined the YuuZoo/Break Stage at The Bamboozle Festival and they most recently won the Danimal Records/Jersey Shows Real Deal contest for a $10,000 recording contract. They have also been

The Agony Family
Photo Credit: Ashley Grabowski

nominated for “Top Young Band” in this year’s Asbury Music Awards. On November 9, the band will be releasing a double-disc album titled “Earth!”. There will be a release show/party that night at 10th Street Live in Kenilworth, NJ, also featuring The New Royalty, A Balance Between, Driving Lights, Sensory Hoverload, and Archis Emerge. Their full length album, “Yourself United”, is available for digital purchase in any major online music store.

To all aspiring musicians and bands out there, Greg says:

Everything you’ve ever heard anyone say about being in a band is totally true, unless they said it’s not hard work. Yes, it’s difficult. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it’s exhausting and frustrating and often extremely discouraging. And yes, if you truly love writing and playing, it’s the most rewarding passion in the world.

Understand what you want from your music and for yourself as an artist. Set specific goals and don’t lose sight of them. Aim ridiculously high. Pay your dues, network, don’t burn any bridges, listen to your fans and never take them or their opinions for granted. It’s very rare that success “finds” anyone. You truly have to grab it by the face and make it see you. And, most importantly, never hesitate to ask for help! There is a wealth of information and resources out there in the form of people who have done all of this before, many right there in your community alone! The internet is your best friend. Do some research, find some contact info, reach out and ask questions. More often than not, folks in the industry will be happy to tell you what you need to know. Everybody was new sometime, and nobody forgets what it was like.

To learn more about The Agony Family, feel free to visit their facebook or twitter (@Theagonyfamily) page, as well as their website when it is launched on November 9 along with their album.

If you are in or know a band, artist, writer, etc. who would be interested in being interviewed for an upcoming ‘The Up and Comers’, please email murphcas89 (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks!