27. Hot Blood – The EP
26. Dollys – EP1
25. Broken Edge Records Split – Reasons Why I Left Home
24. Farewell Ember – Poet Season
23. Amy Malkoff & The Moonshines – S/T
22. Ether Sunday – S/T
21. Sharkmuffin – She Gods Of Champagne Valley
20. Lake Effect – Genuine Bonds
19. Underwater Country Club – EP
18. Waking Lights – Weeknights
17. Paper Streets – A Reoccurring Dream
16. Harper’s Fellow – Thanks For Tonight
15. The Blind Tellers – Portrait In Blue
14. Bog Iron Bloom – Welcome To Bears
13. Paul Rosevear – Strange, Vol. 1
12. Holy City Zoo – Everybody Sells For More
11. Sink Tapes – Mattress Cowboys
10. Only Living Boy – Cool Collected Headcase
If this were the ’90s, or any type of artistic era where talent translated into recognition like we all hoped it would, Hackettstown, NJ’s Only Living Boy would be an internationally renowned monster of Rock. However, that just isn’t the reality. Instead marketability trumps actual ability, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber don the cover of Rolling Stone, and Only Living Boy has to settle for SIMGE’s distinctions. That said, the power trio unveiled yet another wrecking ball of riff-rock in Cool Collected Headcase, which acts as proof that this collective doesn’t do it for the magazine covers but for an adrenaline rush brought on by writing the next ferocious anthem…and if it keeps up, I can’t imagine the accolades are too far off.
9. Thanks – The Age Of Missing Information
When John Muccino isn’t grasping a six string and taking flight to properly vacate the exuberant emotion that accompanies playing to sold out crowds with River City Extension, the multi-instrumentalist can be seen and/or heard tickling the ivories alongside RCE stick wielder Mike Costaney as Thanks. The duo dropped their debut EP, The Age Of Missing Information, this past year that saw Muccino play the piano-man poet, distributing tales of tortured lovers separated by time zones and climates (“His Colder Side”) and attacking a technology-addicted society who would rather send a text messaged friend-request than converse (“The Age Of Missing Information).
8. Deal Casino – The Runaways EP
“…when I hear the songs on The Runaways,” wrote SIMGE columnist Jim “CoolDad” Appio, “it’s not that hard for me to imagine a crowd of fans at some huge summer festival or The Barclays Center swaying along in time with the music.” That evaluation of Deal Casino’s latest EP is far from an aggrandization of the collection, but rather an all too accurate depiction of the accessibility this Sparta, NJ outfit offers. Meshing a set of Pop-Rock tendencies that recall Kings Of Leon and Cold Play (pre-pigeon poop incident and theft of Joe Satriani), Deal Casino is harboring a huge sound that could lead to big things in 2014.
7. Modern Chemistry – We’ll Grow Out Of This
Steeped in jagged breakneck Punk-Rock, it’s always refreshing to see a group emerge from the basements of New Brunswick that’s chosen to alter the mold…and Modern Chemistry has done just that. Unveiling a debut EP titled We’ll Grow Out Of This, the six track collection of swirling melodic Rock strikes like the brainchild of a group whose roots are firmly entrenched in Emo-dominated past, taking cues from the snarling flourishes and calculated instrumental arrangements of genre-mates Brand New. Modern Chemistry quickly followed the release of We’ll Grow Out Of This with an explosive single titled “Never Scared” ensuring the band still hasn’t shown us all the tricks in their songbook…I can’t wait to see the next one.
6. Silent Lions – The Parliaments
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year since the bass and drum duo of Dean Tartaglia (bass, vocals) and Matt Klein emerged from a chilly Toledo, OH basement with a new project named Silent Lions and a four-track debut The Parliaments…namely because they’ve been through Asbury Park twice on separate massive U.S. tours with a return-trip to the area planned for early 2014. A stylistic concoction that bonds the soulful Rock styling of The Black Keys and the sultry low-end murmur of Death From Above 1979, Silent Lions are on the prowl, stalking a big break all about the states with The Parliaments as their seductive lure.
5. Sun Club – Beauty Meat/Language Juice 7″
The Baltimore based Sun Club blew SIMGE’s collective mind in 2012 with a self-titled debut LP that successfully bridged the intellectual, experimental and melodious gap between fellow Maryland-ians (if that’s a thing) Animal Collective and their Cape Cod-Pop contemporaries from Columbia University Vampire Weekend. With the outfit’s latest “Beauty Meat/Language Juice” single, it appears Sun Club still has some infectious tricks up their sleaves…and with more to come.
4. Feudalism – Form/Function
Form/Function is the byproduct of a Clifton, NJ collective named Feudalism with an affinity for the squeeze box, Neutral Milk Hotel, and whose members have been adopted and indoctrinated by New Brunswick’s underground Punk community…in other words Feudalism’s Form/Function is a ferocious and fascinating bit of Punk with experimental Folk undertones for which I can’t wait to hear the follow up.
3. Son of Dov – Gone To Seed
Mount Olive, NJ’s Dennis King emerged from his humble Post-Punk beginnings in 2013 as a soloist under the moniker Son of Dov to deliver one of most captivating short-form releases of the year in Gone To Seed, a four track collection which saw the singer/songwriter spout vivid imagery over sparse guitar picking in a style similar to Folk’s revered poets of yesteryear.
2. Rick Barry – This Postdiluvian World
Asbury Park’s residential wielder of all melancholy emotion, Rick Barry, returned in 2013 with This Postdiluvian World, the anticipated follow up to 2009’s This Antediluvian World, and continued to work masterfully in the somber songwriting realm he’s inhabited since 2006’s Declaration Of Codependence. With this latest collection Barry finally provided a proper release for such haunting singles as “A Cautionary Tale”, “Annie In Stereo”, “Our Mutual Friend”, and “Leave It Up To Luck”, which have been teased live since 2010.
1. Brick+Mortar – Bangs
Asbury Park’s own Brick+Mortar spent the summer signing record deals with Island Def Jam and Photo Finish, sharing Made In America (Jay-Z) and Lollapalooza (Perry Farrell) Festival bills with the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Phoenix, and heading out on major national tours alongside Anthony Green of Circa Survive fame.
Brick+Mortar also dropped Bangs, the long awaited follow up to 2010’s 7 Years In The Mystic Room, which saw the Electronic-Rock duo evolve as songwriters, musicians, and showmen while embracing the Pop tendencies of genre-mates Imagine Dragons.
Utilizing the bass-blasting flourishes and gang-vocal inducing refrains of “Locked In A Cage”, “Old Boy”, and the record’s title track, Brick+Mortar caught the ears of fist-pumping club dwellers and the hippest of Indie-Rock enthusiasts alike, making Bangs our top EP of 2013.