I have always been fascinated by what music musicians listen to when they aren’t creating their own music. What music inspires them, what albums do they return to again and again—their “desert island” discs. With this in mind I decided to ask some of my favorite New Jersey musicians to name their top 10 favorite albums of all time. Not the albums that they think are “important,” or that have influenced many other artists or ones of technical merit. I wanted to know their very favorite albums that they love just because the records mean the most to them.
It was a few years ago when Dentist was playing The Saint in Asbury Park when I realized just how good, damn good, a guitarist Justin Bornemann is. Dentist is well know for their distinct sound that is often described as surf rock or indie pop with a beach vibe. This is all true and they do this with a expertly crafted and deft touch. What doesn’t get mentioned enough is that Justin can shred with the best. Watch him in concert and you’ll get it. Whether he is in a zone looking intently to the ceiling or head down seemingly in a staring contest with the fretboard he is sweating over the sounds he creates with his guitar are seriously excellent.
The band, currently with Little Dickman Records, have put of two entirely addictive records. Their self-titled LP in 2014 and last year’s amazing Ceilings. The band are currently writing their next record and have a few shows in the area coming up. They will be at The Delancey in New York City on November 17th and at Asbury Park Brewery on the 18th.
Justin’s list is below.
The Beatles – The Beatles for Sale
OK, so I have to include one record by The Beatles even thought it’s the most obvious choice possible, and I might as well start off the list with it. They were my favorite band when I was a child, and probably the only thing I have continually listened to my whole life. I’m trying not to be super obvious, though, and of course I think Revolver and Rubber Soul are the greatest just like everybody else, but on a desert island scenario I’d take The Beatles for Sale with me. It definitely has some rawness to it and all the songs are insanely catchy. “No Reply” is also probably my favorite album opener.
Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven
When this record came out, it was exactly what I wanted to hear. No band has combined pop, surf and punk together better than this record, and I don’t think most bands have lyrics that are as clever. Getting to play with them twice in 2016 was definitely a highlight for me.
Weezer – Pinkerton
I commonly hear about people discovering Pinkerton sometime in their twenties and being blown away by it. I was a little ahead of the curve, because I have an older brother with really good taste in music, and he was a DJ at his college radio station. I still have the promotional copy that I acquired when my brother bought an actual copy. I’ve been listening to this record since my early teens and have loved it ever since. Definitely a record that holds up well and still sounds as good as it always has. It’s also easy to see how influential it is.
Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News
This is the first record for a lot of people that introduced them to Modest Mouse. Well, I’m no exception and wasn’t cool and ahead of the curve in this instance. I do vaguely remember being at a party and there was a group of kids who were really stoked on Modest Mouse. Not sure what record they were listening to. Probably The Lonesome Crowded West or The Moon & Antarctica. I remember not liking it cause I must have been stupid at the time. Anyways, here we are years later, and they are definitely one of my favorite bands, and this record still represents a perfect album to me. Also, another one of my favorite opening tracks.
Wavves – King Of The Beach
This record was an eye opener to me, and definitely a big influence. I really like the variety of it too, and how a few songs are a bit eccentric, but still good. I definitely like every song on the record, and it was my most listened to record in 2010.
The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow
Remember early 2000’s indie rock? I certainly do, and for a period I thought The Shins were the band that was doing that sound the best. I still think their first two records hold up really well, and that they crafted perfect indie pop songs. I’ve drifted more towards the distorted side of indie rock lately, but I can’t deny what a great album this is.
Fountains of Wayne – Self Titled
This is a band some people may find surprising would make my top 10 but their first album is so good. They were trying to write pure pop songs for a major label in 1996 when this album came out, but I guess the music climate was such that their songs from then sound like perfect fuzzy indie pop. This band definitely has lyrics that some would consider a bit goofy (see “Stacy’s Mom”), but they are also capable of being very clever, and can definitely write a strong hook. This album always makes me instantly happy when I put it on.
Green Day – Nimrod
This is another band that I’ve listened to since I was a young teen, that I still love. I mean, I haven’t liked their music since Warning, and even that album is only half good, but they do have 5 really good records under their belt and that’s certainly impressive. I can’t name many bands that have that many good records. Anyways, I really like Kerplunk, Dookie, Insomniac, and might be inclined to pick one of those on a different day, but I feel like Nimrod doesn’t get mentioned enough. It’s really good, and also really eclectic. I feel like it was their creative peak without getting too grandiose like they did on American Idiot.
Ted Leo – The Tyranny of Distance
As a rule, I don’t care much for singer songwriters. There are many many exceptions, however. For example, I absolutely love Bob Dylan, Tom Petty etc, and I have friends that I think are absurdly good that are singer songwriters, but in general, I prefer bands that have a band name even if it’s one person doing all the writing. Since Ted Leo goes by his name as part of the title for the band, I consider him a singer songwriter, and I always tell people he’s my favorite singer songwriter. This album is so good from start to finish. I’m not sure if I was listening right when this came out, but it’s another one that my older brother showed me, so it was definitely pretty close.
Jay Reatard – Matador Singles ’08
I guess this isn’t a proper album necessarily, but it’s my favorite collection of Jay Reatard songs, and he is one of my favorites. Although it probably doesn’t show too much, he’s been a really big influence on me in regards to Dentist. I think a lot about his style of guitar playing in my approach, and he is the reason that I record an acoustic guitar track on most of our songs, even though it’s pretty low in the mix. I love the sound combination of a distorted electric with an acoustic. This album does that a lot, and it’s also a really fun record from start to finish with really catchy songs.
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