ALBUM OF THE YEAR
The Front Bottoms outstanding sophomore release is an infectious album that gets even better with each listen. A step forward both musically and lyrically, Talon of the Hawk is the sound of a band growing up and tackling issues beyond the usual ones that face the generation that singer Brian Sella and drummer Mathew Uychich sing about. Fans that were worried that the band would abandon the quirky originality of their self-titled debut need not have worried with the fuller sound on this record. It is there and stronger than ever.
EP OF THE YEAR
Back in late summer I wrote “There is still almost a full 4 months left in the year, but no matter. Those starting to put together their “Top Ten EPs of 2013″ lists might as well pencil this record by the Asbury Park duo in at number one.” Turns out I was right. Brick + Mortar’s EP Bangs is a tour de force. From the fuzz guitar opener Bangs through to the sing-along fun of Terrible Things there is not a weak track here. We played this one constantly. We can’t wait to see what Brandon Asraf and John Tacon come up with next.
DISCOVERIES OF THE YEAR
When I first came across Boxed Wine I was immediately taken by the band’s modern sound. Imagine Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club but more upbeat and fun. They released their first LP this year, Cheap, Fun and I dare you to listen to it and not want to get moving. Every song is solid. We caught them live back in August and the energy and excitement of their records easily translates live. We can’t wait to see what Boxed Wine has up their sleeve for 2014.
One night we took a stroll through the bands with a New Jersey label in BandCamp. Dads had just released their EP, Pretty Good, so it was high up on the list. Wow! What is it about duos from New Jersey that made such good music this year? It wasn’t just the 2013 EP that caught our ears, either. 2012’s American Radass (this is important) is just as good and we downloaded it at the same time as the current release. We got to see them live when they opened for The Front Bottoms at the Stone Pony in August and our Dads love was sealed with their excellent live performance.
CONCERT OF THE YEAR
The Jersey Shore Music Festival featured the most New Jersey bands in one place for one show ever. Over 50 bands, most from right here, on six stages was an impressive accomplishment. Fans who braved one of the hottest and most humid days of the year were treated to great sets by River City Extension, The Front Bottoms, Brick + Mortar, Xero Gravity, The Porchistas, Quincy Mumford & The Reason Why, Careless Kids, Luna Laval and many, many more.
Bands We Want to Hear More From in 2014
The Wreaths and The Black Jesuses (thanks to the Asbury Music Awards), Killed The Fixtion, Birocratic, Those Mockingbirds and The Antics.
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