Asbury Park Polar Bear Races 2019

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Asbury Park Polar Bear Races 2019 Live Stream Online

Asbury Park Polar Bear Races
Kids Dash
2019-12-28 – 10:30
North America / USA / Mid-Atlantic / New Jersey / Asbury Park
Shorter than 10 km race Running
Road Solo Kids

Think about what was happening at the end of 1999: Santana’s “Smooth” was the biggest song of the year, NSYNC was an up-and-coming boy band and tech-savvy listeners were just beginning to illegally rip songs off Napster, ushering in the slow decline of the industry’s primary financial format.

But as much as things have changed, there’s thankfully always been brilliant new music being released by dynamic artists from all corners of the world, and New Jersey is no different. While it’s easy to think of our state’s pop-culture contributions as largely 20th Century projects — Sinatra, Springsteen, Whitney Houston — there’s been so much terrific tune-age pumped out since 2000 that I felt compelled to build a new list: the 50 greatest albums by New Jersey artists released in the 21st Century, ranked worst to best.

It’s all here, from major pop and hip-hop releases to all those DIY records that made New Jersey a hotbed for punk, emo and indie bands throughout the last two decades. Check it out, listen to something new and tell me in the comments which Jersey album is your favorite.

Here’s to another 20 years of excellent songs, let’s dive in!

50. “United By Birdcalls,” Hodera, 2015

Hodera, the perpetually devastating folk-rock outfit from Montclair gained instant respect in the Jersey local scene upon its dynamic heart-sleeve debut, 2015’s “United By Birdcalls.” The woefully honest single “Feel Better” went viral online and the rest of the record is just as good, led by singer/guitarist Matt Smith, who was clearly going through some dark stuff when he wrote all these melancholy winners. “Birdcalls” is a great cold-weather album, too, toggling easily between sparse longing and sweeping choruses worthy a brisk walk through the woods.

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49. “Is There Anybody Out There?” A Great Big World, 2014

Led by the pensive piano work of Fair Lawn native Ian Axel, the pop duo A Great Big World struck gold in 2014 when its Top 10 ballad “Say Something” was famously boosted by Christina Aguilera. AGBW’s debut album was less somber, more joyful with sky-high optimism and Broadway flourishes to spare. If you need an anthem pulling you into 2020, definitely dive in on the anthemic tune “This Is The New Year.” The group never exceeded mainstream relevance beyond this album, which hit No. 3 on Billboard, but this was still an exciting and unlikely crossover moment in Jersey music lore.

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48. “Trouble,” Akon, 2004

There was a time, before the dopey sex-soaked singles “Smack That” and “Right Now (Na Na Na),” that Akon was a serious R&B singer with a huge upside — dive back into his debut LP “Trouble” and you’ll find seamless yet troubled tunes about prison (“Locked Up”) and poverty (“Ghetto”). The more effective production is mostly minor chords and piano plinks, and while the club songs like “Bananza (Belly Dancer)” can get a little silly, it’s still a worthy first effort from an artist who’d be all over pop radio through much of the 2000s. Akon was raised in Newark and Jersey City between stints in his family’s native Senegal.

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47. “Aide Memoire,” Val Emmich, 2011

Maybe you know Jersey renaissance man Val Emmich from his acting, on “30 Rock” or HBO’s “Vinyl.” Maybe you know him as the guy who adapted the Broadway hit “Dear Evan Hansen” into a novel. But you really should know the Manalapan native as a consummate rock songwriter and the career his carved on stage over the last 20 years or so. Emmich has released plenty of solid pop and heartland-inspired rock over the years but the best of the bunch is 2011’s underrated “Aide Memoire,” an urgent look at humanity recorded entirely live to tape. The crying chorus of “Expecting” is mesmerizing, as is the cresting full-band finish to “Sour,” the album’s seven-minute opus.

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46. “What To Do When You Are Dead,” Armor For Sleep, 2005

Fair warning: New Jersey was hugely influential in the ‘00s emo/punk/post-hardcore scene and this list reflects what was probably the state’s biggest “moment” in popular music this century. First up is Morris County’s Armor For Sleep and its locally beloved sophomore LP, which gave emo kids the ultimate one-two blast of melancholy and catchy guitar riffs in “Car Underwater” and “The Truth About Heaven.” Lyrically, the album is big ol’ bummer, written from the perspective of a ghost — frontman Ben Jorgensen wrote the lyrics in isolation after a break-up, so emo — but the choruses are some of the best from the era of black fingernails, swoopy hair and jamming hard at Starland Ballroom (where the band celebrated the record’s 10-year anniversary in 2015).

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45. “Voicenotes,” Charlie Puth, 2018

After the record-breaking success of 2015’s “See You Again” collaboration with rapper Wiz Khalifa, it would’ve been easy for Rumson singer-songwriter Charlie Puth to fade back into one-hit-wonder obscurity. Instead, the Jersey piano man bounded toward pop stardom and reached new heights with his hit-loaded second LP, “Voicenotes.” The monster smash single was the pulsing jam “Attention,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 — his best-charting tune yet — but “How Long” had its own radio run and Puth’s creamy duet with R&B songstress Kehlani was a knockout, too. A few too many generic boy-in-and-out-of-love songs here, and the album cover is objectively awful, but self-produced “Voicenotes” sets Puth up for whatever new run of hits he’s got coming next.

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44. “Let It Enfold You,” Senses Fail, 2004

Senses Fail wasn’t the most original band bridging the gaps between post-hardcore, pop-punk and emo in 2004, but damned if the band from Ridgewood wasn’t the catchiest. All the songs talking a whole lot of crap on an ex or soon-to-be ex-lover feel predictably adolescent, sure. But you can’t argue all those stubbornly unbreakable hooks from frontman Buddy Nielsen and pals, which helped Senses Fail quickly ascend near the top of the mid-’00s emo-punk Hot Topic circuit. And recovering emo kids still love these songs; if you could’ve seen the circle pits at Warped Tour 2018.

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43. “Joe Budden,” Joe Budden, 2003

If you were out hitting the club around 2003, chances are you were bumping to Joe Budden, the Jersey City emcee who burst onto the scene in ‘03 with a pair of Just Blaze-produced singles in “Pump It Up” and “Fire (Yes, Yes Y’all).” The lead single “Pump” was everywhere, in films “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “You Got Served,” plus the hit video game “Madden 2004.” But the self-titled debut album housing these singles had plenty more to like, a sharp mix of bravado, insecurity and freestyle-esque verses that made Budden feel, at the time, like a rhymer on the rise. None of Budden’s subsequent albums ever achieved such attention, but we still give it up for the Hudson County kid (note the Jersey City street sign peeking through the background of the album cover).

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42. “City High,” City High, 2001

After the Fugees — Lauryn Hill, “Killing Me Softly,” all that stuff — there was City High, another trio of two men and a woman, this time from Jersey City. The trio signed to Fugee mastermind Wyclef Jean’s Booga Basement label and recorded just one album, an honest and occasionally funky merger of R&B and hip-hop fueled by the mainstream success of its breakout single “What Would You Do?” The candid track detailing a stripper’s harsh reality was a stark departure from the gangster rap dominating the scene at the time and there’s plenty more to groove to: go for the smooth tune “Why” and a bumping revamp of Donny Hathaway’s “Song For You.”

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41. “Cardinal,” Pinegrove, 2016

One could argue Pinegrove’s deeply satisfying alt-folk LP “Cardinal” to be the most significant New Jersey indie release of the 2010s. It’s a heady, idiosyncratic and warm effort from Montclair native Evan Stephens Hall and his group. It earned Pinegrove thousands of fans and top billing at some notable clubs across the U.S. and Europe. But the band was awash in controversy a year later when Hall was accused sexual coercion. After a year-long hiatus the band and lengthy apology was back on the road in 2019, with fans once again singing along to the jangling whimsy of “Old Friends” and “Size of the Moon,” for better or worse.

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40. “Man Overboard,” Man Overboard, 2012

In the early 2010s, South Jersey was a factory for pop-punk: Major League, I Call Fives, Hold Your Own, Count To Four, and the scene’s leading act, Man Overboard — the raging five-piece from Mount Laurel and Williamstown that became a fixture in the genre’s brief yet vibrant revival about a decade ago. The group’s self-titled second LP was its most memorable, leading off with its most popular tune in the caustic headbanger “Rare” and notching one addictive tune after another, peaking on the ultimate pop-punk earworm “Dead End Dreams.” Speedy, fun and unadulterated little anthems for angsty teens jamming in the Philly suburbs.

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39. “Crush,” Bon Jovi, 2000

“Crush” was probably the last defensibly top-to-bottom solid Bon Jovi album (don’t email me), famously led by the platinum-selling single “It’s My Life.” Gotta love that Richie Sambora voice-box guitar. “Thank You For Loving Me” is an epic power ballad and as far as mainstream rock goes, “Crush” is a real crowd-pleaser with minimal vapidity. Fun fact: “Crush” was the first Bon Jovi album to be nominated for a Grammy Award (for Best Rock Album, lost to Foo Fighters’ “There Is Nothing Left To Lose”).

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38. “If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do,” Roadside Graves, 2002

There are plenty of big, glossy releases on this list, but few possess as much heart as Metuchen folk-rockers the Roadside Graves and the sharp eight-piece’s self-released debut, “If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do.” There’s loads of pensive, twangy songwriting here led by singer John Gleason and bolstered by a legion of vibrant players from around the state. Fans of The Avett Brothers and Josh Ritter take notice!

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37. “Ire Works,” The Dillinger Escape Plan, 2007

Morris Plains’ incendiary four-piece Dillinger Escape Plan were the mad scientists of the mid-to-late ‘00s metalcore boom, deftly merging brutal passages with all fashion of uber-technical quirks. Mathcore is perhaps the more accurate subgenre but whatever you want to call it, “Ire Works” — which set metal blogs aflame with gushing reviews in 2007 — is a banner release from an era often bogged down with middling wanna-be ragers. But frontman Greg Puciato and the gang were the real deal; jazz and electronic elements somehow fill the gaps between speedy riffs and endless rhythm changes. It’s a challenging listen, sure, but it’s for a deep dive even more than a decade later.

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36. “Glitter,” 070 Shake, 2018

If there’s any New Jersey artist you really, really need to pay attention to in 2020, 070 Shake, the 22-year-old North Bergen emcee whose debut full-length album “Modus Vivendi” drops Jan. 17. The artist born Danielle Balbuena has a ton of hype behind her after her appearances of several Kanye West-driven projects in 2018, plus her dazzling debut EP “Glitter”: an electro-hip-hop winner that tackles depression and addiction while showing off Balbuena’s range as both an impassioned rhymer and singer. “I Laugh When I’m With Friends But Sad When I’m Alone” is a great curtain-raising track revealing the woman with the face tattoo might not be as tough as we think.

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35. “The Room’s Too Cold,” The Early November, 2003

More emo, more life. “Can’t you see this wall you built for me / We’re not special / I’m not special,” frontman Ace Enders wails on “Ever So Sweet,” the sweeping opener off The Early November’s heart-sleeve debut LP, “The Room’s Too Cold.” For a band signed to then-pop-punk tastemaker Drive-Thru Records, Enders and Co. were given exceeding space to unfurl their angsty poems into grander orchestrations with cello sounds and daring ambiance to match all that depression and longing. It’s a dynamic record from the Hammonton band beloved by Jersey alternative fans of a certain age, who still happily cry-sing to “Something That Produces Results” and “Baby Blue,” and dream of simpler days.

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34. “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,” Halsey, 2017

There was a heap of pressure thrust upon Halsey (born Ashley Frangipane) following the success of 2016’s electro-earworm single “Closer” with DJ duo The Chainsmokers. What could the Warren County pop star possibly do on her sophomore album to achieve similar fanfare? The short answer: whatever she wanted. “Hopeless,” was a meticulously penned project detailing love gone wrong and an emotional triumph for the songstress, who underscored her value as a solo star with this record. With an all-star cast of producers and co-writers at her side, she was at once sincere, vulnerable, fierce and conflicted through pulsing hits “Now or Never” and “Bad at Love.”

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33. “Steel Train,” Steel Train, 2010

Before writing hits with Taylor Swift and Lorde, even before his career-launching time in the pop trio Fun, Jack Antonoff was leading the Bergen County indie outfit Steel Train and delivering heartfelt and relentlessly catchy jams to whoever would listen. Ironically, the buoyant group’s best record was its last one, released after the band has nearly called it quits to start families and, for Antonoff, tour in what was quickly becoming a far more lucrative project in Fun (of “We Are Young” fame). Regardless, the towering lead single “Bullet” is the best song Steel Train ever wrote and kitschy bangers “Turnpike Ghost” and “Children of the 90s (I’m Not the Same),” which alluded to the big-hook, sample-laden style Antonoff still uses with A-list pop stars as well as his current band, Bleachers.

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32. “Welcome Interstate Managers,” Fountains of Wayne, 2003

Depending on your age, you know Fountains of Wayne either as the now-closed lawn ornament store in North Jersey or the pop-rock band named after it, which scored a gigantic crossover hit with “Stacy’s Mom” in 2003. The album housing that Grammy-nominated tune — which Montclair native Adam Scheslinger says was a tribute to The Cars — was “Welcome Interstate Managers,” a highly acclaimed LP that was so much more than infatuation about older women. There’s some Beach Boys ‘60s pop in there, flying high and sugary over the major riffs and drum booms. And who doesn’t love a song about Hackensack, aptly titled “Hackensack,” which Katy Perry inexplicably covered at an “Unplugged” performance in 2009. Weird times.

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31. “Everything Goes Numb,” Streetlight Manifesto, 2003

Jersey ska fiends will recall the apprehension surrounding Catch 22 frontman Tomas Kalnoky’s decision to leave “Keasbey Nights” behind and start a new group out of New Brunswick called Streetlight Manifesto. Nerves were calmed, however, when Streetlight’s debut “Everything Goes Numb” finally hit in 2003, unleashing more of the same speedfreak horns and vocal explosions with newfound polish and maturity. The run of the albums first three songs, from “Everything Went Numb” to “Point/Counterpoint” is electrifying and set the tone for a group that still sells out Garden State clubs every time it hits the stage.

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30. “The Unmistakable Man,” River City Extension, 2010

The seemingly boundless folk-pop of River City Extension, the Toms River eight-piece that earned piles of national acclaim before it’s 2015 disbanding, was never more pointed or effervescent than on “The Unmistakable Man,” a joyful romp through the worlds of Dirty Projectors and Tom Waits-adjacent bohemia. Frontman Joe Michelini did wonders arranging the controlled chaos knocking out a list of energizing, earnest jams worth revisitation, from the syncopated fun of “Our New Intelligence” to the sweeping introspection of “Friends and Family.” Of all the bands to cut their teeth in the revitalized Asbury Park local scene over the last decade, few if any were better than River City in these years.

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29, “Faithfully,” Faith Evans, 2001

Whenever Bad Boy Records comes up, we talk about Diddy, Biggie and Mase but there’s never enough chatter about Faith Evans, the terrific Newark R&B songstress who delivered a list of banner upbeat bangers and slow jams across her first few albums. “Faithfully,” her third LP, was arguably the singer’s best work, led by the rap-influenced “You Gets No Love” (featuring Diddy) and sultry “I Love You,” but the real gems come later, on the neo-disco cut “Back To Love” and bumping lounger “Do Your Time.”

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28. “Save The World, Lose The Girl,” Midtown, 2000

Pop-punk was huge in the early ‘00s and New Jersey was smack in the center of it all (as is becoming clear through this ranking). Midtown, formed in New Brunswick and led by the easily charismatic and soon-to-be Cobra Starship dance-pop star Gabe Saporta, was one of the era’s best and while all three of the group’s albums are solid, none hit with catchy riffs and polished harmonies like Midtown’s turn-of-the-century debut. The best tunes here — chunky energizers “Just Rock and Roll,” “Let Go” and “Direction” — can all go toe-to-toe with much of the best pop-punk of the era. Bring this band back!

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27. “Neptune City,” Nicole Atkins, 2007

To outsiders, Neptune City sounds like a fantastical sort of place — vaguely celestial? vaguely aquatic? But to Atkins, a native of Shark River Hills, Neptune City was just a neighboring Monmouth County town. The Jersey Shore songstress framed the burg as the setting for her soaring escape, back into the Brill Building era with dazzling vocals and dreamy soundscapes. Her major label debut “Neptune City” was too a harbinger of Asbury Park and its shore town tributaries’ return to the Jersey music spotlight.

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26. “Talon of the Hawk,” The Front Bottoms, 2013

All things being equal, The Front Bottoms and their cravable blend of folk, rock and punk are the most popular New Jersey indie outfit of the last half-decade, if not longer. While the group led by perpetually irreverent and locally iconic frontman Brian Sella entered the alternative ranks with its self-titled LP a few years earlier, 2013’s “Talon” — the band’s fourth album — was when the group really hit its stride, laying bare an ex-lover’s wish for revenge in “Twin Size Mattress,” a snippy tri-lingual argument on “Au Revoir (Adios)” and an electrifying night of inebriation on “Skeleton.” The band has jumped around over the years, calling Woodcliff Lake, Jersey City then Asbury Park home, but wherever they roam, fans go freaking wild for these vibrant tunes.

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25. “Atlas” Real Estate, 2014

Real Estate, the critic-beloved indie-rockers from Ridgewood, have always been subtle in their traipsing, summery sounds. There’s an easy beauty to the melodies, as well as in singer Martin Courtney’s creamy delivery. Those elements clicked best on “Atlas,” a forlorn yet undeniably listenable album. Oh, and how about that album cover, which features a mural painted inside an old Alexander’s department store in Paramus — it’s Jersey through and through.

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24. “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” The Bouncing Souls, 2001

An album for all raucous occasions, the Souls’ anthemic “Summer Vacation” was just a little too unpolished to fully cash in on the pop-punk boom of the early ‘00s. But it still unleashed a list of fan favorites including the ultimate chest-pounder “True Believers,” and the punchy vocals of Greg Attonito mix just right with Pete Steinkopf’s galvanizing riffs.

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23. “Stay What You Are,” Saves The Day, 2001

Here’s a bit of pop-punk blasphemy: “Stay What You Are” is a better album than Saves The Day’s seminal predecessor “Through Being Cool.” The post-punk and emo elements brushing alongside the crunchy riffs here are dynamite and the lamenting opener “At Your Funeral” is one of the era’s most enduring cuts. Go down the track list and it just gets better, with singer Chris Conley nailing the increased maturity and inherent bleakness of “See You,” “Jukebox Breakdown” and “Freakish.” It’s all brilliantly broken and stands up almost two decades later.

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22. “Still Ghetto,” Jaheim, 2002

“Still Ghetto” is still smooth as ice. Jaheim Hoagland’s soulful crooning was a beacon of early ‘00s R&B and the New Brunswick native’s sophomore LP was a joyous and soulful outing, laden with rich vocal work and old-school sampling that made Jaheim sound much older than he was at the time (just 24 in 2002). Jaheim has steadily released music ever since, but nothing has matched the creamy jam “Put That Woman First” and the thankful “Everything I Am,” dedicated to his deceased parents.

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21. “All at Once,” Screaming Females, 2018

From the depths of the New Brunswick basement scene they came, more than a decade ago touting a meld of garage-punk, alt-rock and heavy metal that could not be contained by the Hub City there for long. And 2018 brought the raucous trio’s greatest work yet: a far-reaching, deeply addictive album called “All At Once.” The band has always enjoyed the propulsive shreds and howling voice of frontwoman Marissa Paternoster, but here they seemed to truly understand the power they possess. Blistering new tracks “Black Moon” and the band’s pop-punk entree “I’m Make You Sorry” are worthy plays for any day when you just need to, well, scream.

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20. “Malpractice,” Redman, 2001

While “Malpractice” isn’t Redman’s finest album (look to the early ‘90s), it’s still a big, fun record that reminds us what makes the Brick City emcee one of the best Jersey rappers of all time: fearlessness, irreverence, humor and hard-hitting funky tunes like “Diggy Doc” and “Let’s Get Dirty.” If you’re one for silly hip-hop skits, there’s a whole mess of that here — too much, probably — but with a load of features including Missy Elliott, George Clinton Jr. and DMX, it’s a worthy addition to any throwback East Coast rap playlist.

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19. “Handwritten,” The Gaslight Anthem, 2012

Following the release of “The ‘59 Sound” in 2008 — which has essentially become a holiday for millennial rock fans across the country — it felt inevitable that Gaslight would soon ascend to arena-rock status. The band’s fourth LP, the imposing chest-beater “Handwritten,” is about as close as Brian Fallon and Co. ever got, with gigantic songs bridging the gap between the New Brunswick greaser punk image and the kind of band that could play festival main stages for thousands of people. The title track and “45” are the two biggies here, full of post-Springsteen conviction, but dig deeper and you’ll find more tender tunes like fan favorites “Here Comes My Man” and “Mae.” On this album alone the band could play to adoring Jersey crowds in perpetuity.

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18. “Strange Desire,” Bleachers, 2014

While his Grammy-winning band Fun was on its first monster world tour, Jack Antonoff spent every extra moment in his hotel room, writing his next chapter: the sensational electro-rock outfit Bleachers. The group led by the Bergen County native dropped its retro-tinged and endlessly blastable debut in 2014, fueled by the bounding self-help anthem “I Wanna Get Better” and windows-down banger “Rollercoaster.” There’s a heap of longing here too, in “Wild Heart” and “You’re Still A Mystery,” all wrapped in an aesthetic akin to new-wave winners New Order and Human League.

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17. “Colorblind,” Robert Randolph and the Family Band, 2006

For all the banner New Jersey artists who have emerged in this young century, none have delivered more consistently virtuosic performances than pedal steel titan Robert Randolph and his Family Band. The group’s debut “Colorblind” was an apt introduction to their mix of rock, funk, blues and gospel — an impressive blend that eventually led to collaborations with Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton and Dave Matthews. If you’re a rock purist, you’ll find most corners of the album — “Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That,” “Angels,” and “Homecoming” among the best — mightily satisfying.

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16. “The Tyranny of Distance,” Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, 2001

There are pockets of aging indie kids around New Jersey who still don’t understand how Ted Leo never properly blew up, especially following the release of “Tyranny,” a terrific record that bridges polar extremes. Leo’s wild-boy delivery and driving guitar work are kept cohesive by his mastery of pop hooks and structure. His lyrics feel intimate and relatable while jamming a Cliff Notes worth of literary references into a dozen tracks. He also keeps his Jersey roots close; the delicate ballad “The Gold Finch and the Red Oak Tree” is named for the state bird and tree, respectively.

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15. “Full Collapse,” Thursday, 2001

Back in the early 2000s, there were Jersey emo kids whose entire identity was shaped around the deep, dark psyche of post-hardcore nobles Thursday and the seething blasts of “Full Collapse,” the New Brunswick group’s sophomore breakthrough. The record plays like a gray dreamscape — poetic, ambitious and atmospheric from the headbanging highlights “Understanding in a Car Crash” and “Cross Out The Eyes” to the more measured “Standing on the Edge of Summer.” With this highly touted album, frontman Geoff Rickly planted his flag as an angsty demigod of the genre and led the band to a major-label signing with Island Records a year later.

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14. “The Meadowlands,” The Wrens, 2003

Though The Wrens are probably remembered more clearly as darlings of the ‘90s East Coast indie scene, their ‘03 swan song of sorts — we’re still waiting on a follow-up — was the band’s finest moment, a devastating album of pain and failure laid over crunching guitars and the moroseness of a band that returned after seven years to tell you how horrible a time they had in the interim. Charles Bissell’s pensive vocal is gorgeous here — I forgot how much I loved “She Sends Kisses.”

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13. “Magic,” Bruce Springsteen, 2007

It’s right there in the name: this was the last Springsteen album to properly capture on record the power of The Boss and his E Street Band — Roy Bittan’s pin-perfect piano, Clarence Clemons’ propulsive saxophone, Steven Van Zandt’s crunching garage-rock guitar. And of course, Bruce himself sounds energized and rejuvenated on jams like “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” and “You’ll Be Comin’ Down.” Better yet is “Livin’ In The Future,” which is downright gleeful — a stark shift away from the folksy gloom of the album’s predecessor “Devils And Dust.” Along with “Tunnel Of Love,” “Magic” is certainly one of the most inexplicably overlooked projects in Springsteen’s catalog.

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12. “From Filthy Tongue of Gods and Griots,” Dalek, 2002

The sprawling, experimental and deeply arresting hip-hop of Newark’s Dalek is criminally underrated as a portion of New Jersey’s musical history. The use of off-the-wall sampling woven with shoegaze instrumentals and left to brood beneath the razor-edged rhymes of MC Dalek (Will Brooks) is genuinely brilliant — there is no Kanye West “Yeezus” album without the noise-hop Dalek has been cultivating for two decades. The group’s sophomore LP “Gods and Griots” is a true trip into a spiritual psyche you’ll spend the rest of the week trying to understand. It’s avant-garde, yes, but there’s so much life to this record — gods and death, race and frustration — that a 12-minute mad scientist’s opus like “Black Smoke Rises” is worth the time away from Instagram.

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11. “Greater Than (Live),” Tye Tribbett, 2013

If you ever needed an entry point into New Jersey gospel, look no further than Camden band leader Tye Tribbett, and his electrifying, Grammy Award-winning live album “Greater Than.” This record is a beast — it’s all power —fueled by the glory of God and a propulsive live band. It’s a booming blend of traditional, organ-heavy gospel and more contemporary R&B and hip-hop elements. Listen to “He Turned It” and “If He Did It Before … Same God” and try not to dance. We dare you.

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10. “Remind Me Tomorrow,” Sharon Van Etten, 2019

One of the most critically worshipped albums this year, Sharon Van Etten’s “Remind Me Tomorrow” is a dauntless follow-up from the Belleville native teeming with distinctly satisfying brilliance. It’s at times contended and understated, part and parcel of a late-30s songstress knowing her sound, but then it proceeds to explode with grit and lamentation, encapsulated in the beaming single “Seventeen” — one of the year’s most hypnotic rock songs, crooning “I used to be free, I used to be 17.” The retro keys, the drum loop, the guitar tone, it all just fits. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another five years for Van Etten to write her next chapter.

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9. “The Monitor,” Titus Andronicus, 2010

New Jersey’s greatest punk album of the 2010s is centered on … the Civil War? Named after the first Ironclad ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy, “The Monitor” is a rousing shout-along loaded with classic punk and rock elements fused into a classic, wildly acclaimed album in its own right. The lengthy table-setter “A More Perfect Union” is just about the most New Jersey song ever, name-dropping the Newark Bears and Route 17 before unleashing the fan-favored lyric “tramps like us, baby we were born to die.” Howling frontman Patrick Stickles is personal and fierce throughout the record that tackles depression and general suburban petulance before finishing on “The Battle of Hampton Roads,” which commemorates the U.S.S. Monitor’s big moment in 1862.

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8. “Live At The Village Vanguard,” Christian McBride, 2015

Jazz in New Jersey lives on perhaps most notably through Christian McBride, the phenomenal bassist from Montclair who headlines the town’s annual Jazz Festival and is the jazz advisor for NJPAC in Newark. His latest live album, cut at the famed Village Vanguard club in New York, is sensational recording of McBride’s trio (bass, piano and drums), with dynamite musicianship throughout: check out the fleet-fingered “Cherokee,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo in 2016.

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7. “War All The Time,” Thursday, 2003

While Thursday’s breakthrough LP “Full Collapse” rakes in the most nostalgia, the band’s most complete outing was its major-label debut “War All The Time,” an impassioned imprint on the national emo scene that produced the pounding anti-office anthem “For the Workforce, Drowning” — still a mainstay on my gym playlist — and a gloomy view of post-9/11 America through gray-scaled Jersey eyes. Diehards will surely fight me on this one, but I’ll take it to the grave that the songwriting and production top-to-bottom are stronger here than on the ‘01 record, particularly on “Signals Over The Air” and “Division St,” the latter being a nod to the group’s Hub City roots.

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6. “CTRL,” SZA, 2017

The ascendance of Maplewood R&B singer SZA (born Solana Rowe) from genre ingenue to go-to featured artist among the pop and hip-hop elite has been one of the best Jersey music stories in recent memory. All that hype stemmed from “CTRL,” a delightfully rich, mesmerizing re-telling of relationship problems that notches the most exciting album any New Jersey woman has released since “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” It’s a terrific, vulnerable outing from the sultry singer: come for the hits “Love Galore” and “The Weekend,” stay for indie-rock-infused deeper cuts like “Prom” and “Broken Clocks.”

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5. “The ’59 Sound,” The Gaslight Anthem, 2008

What “Born to Run” was to Jersey Baby Boomers, “The ‘59 Sound” is to the state’s rock-lovin’ millennial generation. The gritty New Brunswick alt-rockers doubled down on greaser nostalgia, weaving lines about old hot-rods and radios with tales of love’s trials over buzzy riffs. Virtually every track off this driving album is a fan favorite from the biggest Jersey rock band of the last 10 years. The title track, which Springsteen himself has performed with the band, is best-known, plus the retro crowd-pleasers “Great Expectations” and “Old White Lincoln.” My personal favorite? The punky banger “The Patient Ferris Wheel.”

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4. “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge,” My Chemical Romance, 2004

Talk about a splash record. “Three Cheers” is an incendiary horror-glam adventure that launched My Chemical Romance as one of the premiere acts in the black-fingernail emo boom of the mid-’00s. There are no true duds here, just one utterly bombastic blood-stained outside anthem after another, with sneering leader Gerard Way and his gang of misfits channeling a sound that lands somewhere between Smashing Pumpkins, Queen and Thursday, the band’s anguished predecessor. The gothy opener “Helena” was an MTV smash, as was “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” which holds up as perhaps the era’s most notable ballad of kids who got stuffed in lockers and didn’t know what to do with all their feelings. Major kudos due here, too, to the dueling axes of leading shredder Ray Toro and rhythm guitarist Frank Iero — the band’s pure punk heart.

50 albums
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3. “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out,” Yo La Tengo, 2000

The buzzy majestic noise-pop of Hoboken indie titans Yo La Tengo was never more arresting than around the turn of the century, namely with 2000’s “Then Nothing,” a shimmering dreamscape overflowing with emotion and understated complexity. The merger of easy vocals from husband and wife Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley are alluring and rich throughout, but if you’re looking for an entre into this dense listen, go for the hypnotizing “Our Way To Fall” or “Tears Are In Your Eyes.” Though the best tune on the record just might be the band’s ethereal cover of soul singer George McCrae’s “You Can Have It All.” There’s a level of pretension that seems to envelope Yo La Tengo in the eyes of unknowing music fans, but once you give the music a chance, it seeps deep within you — and makes you better for listening.

50 albums
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2. “The Rising,” Bruce Springsteen, 2002

“The Rising” is recognized most often as The Boss’s reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, but there’s so much more to this galvanizing album that simple reflection. It’s a spiritual project about relationships and existential crises, not so thematically removed from “Tunnel Of Love” or “Human Touch,” bolstered by the first appearance of the vaunted E Street Band on a Springsteen record in nearly two decades. The propulsive title track, plus fellow highlights “Lonesome Day” and “Waitin’ On A Sunny Day” speak of hope and resilience, but diehards latched onto the closing track more so than any other tune on the album: “My City of Ruins,” which was originally written to portray the plight of Asbury Park but then took on new meaning once downtown Manhattan was coated in dust and rubble in 2001.

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1. “The Black Parade,” My Chemical Romance, 2006

Never has the afterlife sounded quite so appealing. My Chem’s expansive “Black Parade” — a tentpole concept album that will almost certainly earn a stage adaptation someday — is as tightly woven and masterfully penned as any mainstream rock album written this century. The glam-punks bred in Belleville, Kearny and Newark honed their own death-obsessed aesthetic universe and much like its “Three Cheers” predecessor, “Parade” refuses to let up, from the Broadway-inspired opening suite “The End” and “Dead!” into the meatier movements of “This Is How I Disappear” and the seminal centerpiece single “Welcome To The Black Parade.” The endlessly re-listenable record has developed a cultish following this year and as the band has recently reformed, emo, pop and rock fans the world over clamor with the idea

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