Every year this gets harder and harder to do. There is so much talent coming from the musicians of New Jersey that it is quite difficult to pick just a handful that really made an impression on us. There is also the factor that I am sure there is a ton of great music we missed as we just do not have enough time or people to listen to everything. Here are the best of the best for 2015.
dollys – Oh, Please
This album is such an achievement, I knew back in June when I first heard it that it would be here. The breezy melodies, wonderful harmonies, intelligent lyrics and the amazing musicianship of Natalie Newbold, Erik Romero and Jeff Lane all add up to an instant classic. I am still listening to it regularly. I said in my review earlier this year “This is excellently crafted indie pop and at a level that many bands aspire to yet never quite achieve, let alone with their first long player.” That’s right this is their first LP. You Don’t Know Jersey turned five in 2015. When I make my decade list of favorite albums when we turn ten don’t be surprised if this is on there.
Hodera – United by Birdcalls
This was the second album of the year that we fell in love with upon first listen. As with most reviews, we loaded the album onto Alice’s phone and listened to it in the car on the way to an event. And, we listened. And, listened. And, listened. It’s not an exaggeration to say that United By Birdcalls played on repeat every second we were in the car for at least a week. Every song is nuanced and ripe for picking apart with every new listen. The lyrics are poignant and the instrumentation is skilled and easy to connect with. A masterpiece.
YJY – Couch Surfin USA
This brilliant EP was a coming-out-party of sorts. And the party is a fun, witty, edgy, rocking affair with lots of hugs. I can think of no band that generated the kind of buzz in 2015 that YJY has. Deservedly. The songs are fuzz pop, pop punk, shoegaze and dream pop. All with a wink and a smile. I cannot wait to see what the band has up its sleeve. Acquaint yourself with this band now. That way you can say you knew them when they were playing the smaller clubs and conducting interviews in vans.
The Front Bottoms – Back on Top
Wow were fans nervous when The Front Bottoms signed to Fueled by Ramen. “They won’t sound the same!” “Is that an electric guitar??” “This is the end!” Not so fast. One of the caveats the band required before signing was that they would get to do pretty much what they wanted to do. At the same time bands are allowed to grow, change, experiment. Back on Top still has the witty, playful lyrics, heartfelt playing and it rocks.
Other favorites from 2015:
Thomas Wesley Stern – Never Leaving
Noun – Throw Your Body on the Gears and Stop the Machine with Your Blood
The Battery Electric – The Heart and the Thrill
Darkwing – Lameonia
The Deafening Colors – Carousel Season
Paper Streets – Souvenirs
Roy Orbitron – Elston Allen Gunnn
Wreaths – Mr. Fang
The Vaughns – tomfoolery
Julian Fulton – Reverie
Rob Jennings – The Boulevard Gone
Support local music in 2016!!
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