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Commentary and photos by Jeff Rey
Copyright 2003 NEON, blue door productions
RIDE THE MOLE is a four piece out of Astoria that delivers basic rhythm-heavy rock tunes that feature strong pop melodies. The guitar duo of Marc Scarano and John Filion trade off on lead vocal duties which made for an interesting set when I saw them at the Luna Lounge. Bassist Ken Kersten and drummer Peter Walsh kept everything nice and tight with that rock-steady beat so the twin guitars could get rambunctious. This is music the crowd was either bopping their heads or tapping their toes to. Not that easy to achieve in this town.

Ride the Mole has issued two releases in their six year history – an early cassette, All Nude, and a self-titled, full length CD. There’s been (surprise, surprise) some personnel changes over that time with the exception of Scarano and Filion who have carried the torch by combining rousing pop songs with rather serious (and sometimes dark) lyrics throughout.
Ride the Mole's John Filion above, Marc Scarano and Ken Kersten (left)

Live photos: Jeff Rey
New York City SEEN
And where exactly does that unusual name come from? Well, I know that in Stoichiometry one mole is equal to the number of atoms in exactly 12 g of the (pure) isotope carbon-12; and to ride the mole train (the CD features a photo of a train passing through a Queens rail yard) is to formulate the ratio of – hey, you made your parents spend all that bread on your fancy-ass education – you figure it out. Me, I’m a rocker and I gotta go see a man about a mole.
When I first saw Wendell, I somehow couldn’t get Buddy Holly out of my head. And it wasn’t just that lead singer Jason Wendell (left) had on those retro 50s black rimmed specs or that he was going through those contortions with his Fender. Close your eyes and you could almost hear the Crickets getting ready to segue into “Peggy Sue” or “Rave On” at any moment. But then they did a bit of a turnaround and started sounding more aggressive. More
like Social Distortion at their bad-ass best.
But in the end, I guess what they really sounded like was Wendell, a driving rock band with more than a little touch of their tongues planted in their cheeks.

Richard Egan's guitar (right) was alternately sensually subtle or blatantly blunt setting the mood for the song of the moment. The rest of the band - Nam on bass, drummer Andrew Fleming and Jared White on keys - held it all solidly together. A heads up: As of press time, Wendell was in the process of changing the band's name to The Weekender.
don’t know much about VPN (which perhaps stands for very pleasant neighbor, per their website) except that they have a recording history of albums, EPs and singles dating back to 1992, with the most recent release being 2001’s For Nearby Stars. Band members are Antonia Cerney, Eugene Penkava, Charles Bendernagel and Madeline Jacobs. But, the night I saw VPN they had several guests including the woman at left who joined them for a sorrowful, cry-in-your-beer, country-flavored ballad that was impressive. So was the rest of VPN’s energetic yet melodic set. They are currently working on their third full-length album.
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Show reviews of Ride the Mole, Wendell, VPN, Earlymay, 21 Against and the Ben Carroll Band