Jersey Beat Music Fanzine


1.) Poster Children – Grand Bargain!

Comeback of the year! Read my review here...

2.) Amy Rigby – The Old Guys

The Old Guys finds singer/songwriter Amy Rigby in top form - witty, insightful, and wistful lyrically, inventive musically. Read my review here...

3.) Superchunk – What A Time To Be Alive

Fed up, pissed off, and ready as always to rock, Superchunk made one of their most exhilarating albums in 2018, an escape valve for the daily pressure the Trump presidency has put on all our psyches.

4.) John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness

One of America's foremost singer/songwriters can do no wrong. Read my review here...

5.) Peter Holsapple – Game Day
The dB's frontman and longtime sideman to the stars returns with his first new album in decades. Read Joe Merklee's review here...

6.)Eleanor Friedberger – Rebound
Written as an ex-pat in Greece after the 2016 election, Rebound finds Eleanor Friedberger trying to make sense of it all while adding a spooky dancefloor vibe to her mellifluous indie-folk sound.

7./8.) TIE: Idles – Joy As An Act of Resistance / Shame – Songs of Praise
Idles and Shame - two UK bands which I discovered at different shows at 2018's SXSW - both owe huge debts to Wire and the Sex Pistols. They're two premier examples of how British punk is evolving into the future, and fantastic listens.

9 .) Jeffrey Lewis & The Deposit Returners - Works By Tuli Kupferberg (1923-2010)
East Village anti-folk icon Jeffrey Lewis pays tribute to his friend Tuli Kupferberg along with a coterie of fellow freak folkers (including, most prominently, Peter Stampfel) on this collection of cracked originals and inspired song parodies. Read my review here...

10.) Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
At a time when so much indie rock takes itself much too seriously, Parquet Courts made an album that's gloriously dumb and fun, a record that allows even the most politically-correct militant-vegan millennials to let loose and jump around the room like idiots. If you need any further explication, just give a listen to "Freebird II."


How many “Top Records” lists have you already seen in the past three months? It seems so many media outlets try to get their lists out earlier and earlier every year, to beat others to the punch, maybe to claim they recognized this record or that as one of the best before anyone else. The problem with this is that bands don’t stop putting out music in October, and so some great releases get missed. That’s why we at Jersey Beat wait until the end of the year, for real, to put out our lists. In my list, watch for the releases marked with an asterisk (*); these came out in the last two months of the year, too late for those other sites.

The following list is not in any particular order, other than roughly being in the order I heard them, but these are the records I liked the best out of the many I’ve listened to this year. You probably have your own list. But I’ll bet my list has some records you haven’t even heard of, and you should definitely check them out.

CANADIAN RIFLE – Peaceful Death (
Peaceful Death is Canadian Rifle’s strongest, most coherent effort to date. Fast, loud, powerful songs cajole you with playful melodies, then punch you in the gut at the same time. That energy, that power – it’s non-stop. Every time you think the band has reached its peak, you get belted again.

HORROR SQUAD – Death Posi (
Horror Squad play some incredible SoCal pop punk mixed with strong garage influence, and some of the songs have a heavy doo-wop dose, as well. Plus, Horror Squad was the “house band” of the late lamented VLHS, one of the best DIY venues ever to grace this country.

K7S – Take 1 (Rum Bar Records)
This record takes all the best parts of 90s pop punk, mixes in a heavy dose of 80s power pop hooks and Ramones sensibilities and the result rocks like crazy.

SARAH MCQUAID – If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (
The diversity in McQuaid’s life experience is reflected in the quiet, contemplative music on this album. The music is deeply rooted in the folk tradition, but there are mixtures of influence and style. And I’ve fallen madly in love with this album.

This is one hell of a record! It is unrelenting in its power and energy, expanding beyond the band’s well-known and well-trod territory of melodic punk. Four years after their last release, The Shell Corporation is back, stronger than ever, and pissed off as hell.

Schmaltz is calmer, more polished, and more nuanced than Spanish Love Songs’ debut LP. But it’s no less emotionally driven. Lead vocalist Dylan Slocum has gained more dynamic range in his singing, and this amps up the passion in his voice. And as strong as the previous album was, the songwriting on this one is up at a whole different level. There’s a maturity to the sound. And lyrically, the songs are devastating.

LA ARMADA – Anti-Colonial Vol. 1 (
This album is an example of the kind of music that I don’t normally go out of my way to acquire and listen to – but La Armada do a great job here, musically and lyrically. This is metallic hardcore with highly political lyrics that are very timely. For me to put something like this in my best records of the year list is pretty unusual, but it’s that good.

HOT SNAKES – Jericho Sirens (
Back with their first new LP in over a decade, this San Diego band is an intense as ever! This record is harder, tighter, more intense, and more powerful than just about anything that came out this year.

THE PENSKE FILE – Salvation (
The album begins with one of my favorite songs of the year, “Kamikaze Kids,” a song that’s an anthem to living in the moment, especially when you’ve maybe forgotten how to do that for awhile and come back to the realization that yesterday is gone, tomorrow isn’t here yet, and now is all we have. The songs on this LP have an expansive sound and lyrics full of big ideas.

THE BROKEDOWNS – Sick of Space (
Chicago’s Brokedowns have got a solid Midwestern punk sound, very workman-like without being too light or poppy, yet not too hardcore and stern. The tracks are edgy and angular while still maintaining a strong sense of fun. Vocals are pounding and powerful. Every track is a satisfying listen.

This is one of the most original records to come out in a long time. ISS use samples and synths to create music that’s more punk than you can ever hope to be, even though it sounds nothing like what most people think of as “punk.”

ROUND EYE – Monstervision (
The gang of Western ex-pats living in Shanghai, China roped late night TV movie host Joe Bob Briggs into collaborating with them on this album that covers the horrors of our modern world in the unique way that only Round Eye can. Fucked up, insane, punk-drenched rock’n’roll.

PITY PARTY – Are You Happy Yet (
Pity Party play sweet melodic music with super loud and buzzy guitars. The songs are high energy and loaded with fun.


ODD ROBOT – Amnesiatic (
The songs on this sophomore LP are all hook-laden, bouncy yet edgy, and they’ll instantly make you want to get up and dance. Blending the sounds of The Alkaline Trio and The Smoking Popes, yet making it their own, Odd Robot are one of the most exciting new bands of the last several years.

EVEN IN BLACKOUTS – The Princess Foretold By Her Henchmen, Even (
A lot of acoustic efforts fall flat, but this one is fantastic. Liz Eldridge’s vocals are sparkling and electrifying, the musicianship is amazing, and the song writing is engaging. Eldridge’s vocals, in particular, blend East Bay pop punk with the power of a Broadway star, creating a wholly unique feel. This is a “greatest hits” collection from the Chicago band founded by Screeching Weasel’s John “Jughead” Pierson.

TV COMA – Body Negativity (
This EP is loaded with sarcasm, depression, hilarity, and irony. The music is fun, the lyrics dark, and the result gets full marks from me.

EXHALANTS – Exhalants (Self Sabotage Records)
This is unrelenting! It’s a throwback to the nineties in the best possible way. Remember the noise bands from back then? Remember the bands playing angular, powerfully intense music? This debut from Austin, Texas’ exhalants is just that. And it’s not just a poor imitation of the greats of the past – this is fucking great stuff on its own!

THE DIRTY NIL – Master Volume (
The Dirty Nil give us a powerful, over-the-top LP loaded with punishing rock’n’roll music. And, as much as I love their early singles and EPs, the songs on this record are bigger, stronger, and more powerful. Their earlier efforts might be said to be like an out of control freight train, flying down the track faster and faster, bits flying off. This record, though, is like a massive diesel locomotive, powering down the track and smashing everything in its path. This is unabashed rock’n’roll, the way it used to be, and the way it was meant to be.

NIGHT BIRDS – Roll Credits (
Night Birds are, perhaps, one of America’s finest current hardcore bands. The eight songs have a good amount of diversity changing things up to keep listeners guessing. And if there’s one thing Night Birds have aplenty, it’s energy. They never let us down.

ST. LENOX – Ten Fables of Young Ambition and Passionate Love (
Continuing on themes from St. Lenox’s first two LPs, these songs are stories from the life of Andrew Choi, the man behind St. Lenox. What is merely astoundingly good music transforms into a deeply intimate look into the life of another human being. This LP focuses on Choi’s love life and his ambitions (his day job is as a New York City attorney and by night he’s an amazing singer-song-writer). Musically, the album is his most diverse yet, with songs featuring acoustic and electric guitars, saxophone, trumpet, and violin, in addition to piano, synth, and drums. This gives the songs a thicker sound. Choi wonders in the songs on this album whether he’s ever going to “make it” as an artist. I supposed that depends on your definition of making it. To my definition, he already has.

SMOKING POPES – Into The Agony (
The magic is back! The Popes’ previous LP, 2011’s “This Is Only A Test,” was fine, but something was missing. Now, with original drummer Mike Felumlee back in the fold, we see what had been missing. The songs on this record are classic Popes material that sound familiar yet fresh. And The Smoking Popes even get political on this record, with lyrics that address climate change.

* DRUG CHURCH – Cheer (
This album relentlessly pounds out the post-hardcore, but this is way more melodic and poppy than post-hardcore is supposed to be. Drug Church also use a guitar tone that seems to me to be right on the cusp between late 80s rock and 90s emo. It’s a distorted fuzzy jangle with a focus on higher harmonics, and it contrasts really nicely from the crunch of the post-hardcore and gives it a distinct sound unlike anything else out there. The bass lines are strong too, giving these tracks a groove unknown in most hard-edged music.

* JOHNNY MAFIA – Princes De L’Amour (
Blending surf guitar, psychedelic sounds, power pop, and a strong garage punk streak, Johnny Mafia is a revelation. The music is raucous and it’s bright and sunny. You can’t help but get up and jump around when these songs are playing. The instrumentation is somewhat thin – just the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals – but Johnny Mafia fills the empty space with an infectious energy and glow.

* PORCUPINE – What You’ve Heard Isn’t True (
Featuring Hüsker Dü’s Greg Norton on bass (he joined the long-standing band after their relocation from Wisconsin to Minnesota’s Twin Cities), Porcupine play some great indie-rock mixed with bits of dreaminess.

This band from the UK’s West Country plays music that’s light and airy, jangly, intense, garage-like, psychedelic, jazzy, and surfy. I love the lead guitars, the way they play meandering lines, and especially the glorious surf tone. The songs are far from straightforward, with complex structures and beautifully harmonized vocals. It’s almost if there’s some math-rock influence here, as well.


2018 was certainly a dismal year as the country continues to fracture, but at least the following releases provided some relief.

10. Sick Of It All - Waking the Sleeping Dragon (Fat Wreck): It’s always a great year when New York’s heaviest hardcore legends return to lambast a society in peril.

9. Blood Pressure - Surrounded (Beach Impediment Records): Why is this band not huge? One of my favorite releases and all I want in 2019 is to see these guys live.

8. Spit-Take (Bandcamp)- This was loud, weird, and fun, just like the year that was. Except far more fun.

7. Cursive - Vitriola (Bandcamp): At least Tim Kasher returned this year and Cursive sounded as if they had never been away.

6. Daughters - You Won’t Get What You Want (Bandcamp): This Rhode Island outfit remains one of the most effective genre-smashing bands in the world. They will not give people what they want, but you will get what you deserve.

5. Yawn Mower - Could Eat, Would Sleep (Bandcamp) I was instantly hooked by the name; turns out, they are even cooler musically.

4. No Question (Bandcamp) One cannot have that bad of the year when hardcore acts like this still exist.

3. Pig Destroyer - Head Cage (Bandcamp) Raw, vicious, and continuously evolving, I need as much Pig Destroyer as possible in my life.

2. Human Adult Band - Sonic Enlightenment (Bandcamp): This is HAB’s best work thus far and personally, I cannot wait to hear what they do next.

1. Sharp Violet - “These are the Rules, Boys” (Bandcamp) - This should be played for Harvey Weinstein everywhere he goes for all eternity. This Long Island outfit proves that Riot Grrl is stronger than ever and it has never been more important.








Red Hare – Little Acts of Destruction
Dischord Records

The Hasbros – Cart Before the Horse
The Hasbros

Beach House – 7
Sub Pop Records

Wimps – Garbage People
Kill Rock Stars

Thunder Pussy – Self-Titled

Faz Waltz – Double Decker
Spaghettytwon Racord

Criminal Kids – Self-Titled
Spaghettytown Records

Night Birds – Roll Credits
Fat Wreck Chords

Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens
Sub Pop Records

Screaming Females – All At Once
Don Giovanni Records

Superchunk –What A Time To Be Alive

Bikini Kill – The Singles

Joe Strummer – 001
Joe Stummer Official

The MC5 – Total Assault
Rhino Records

Rise Against – Career Retrospective
Official Band Site

Liz Phair – Girlie Sound to Exit in Guyville
Merge Records


Despair Monkeys and Other Trifles – A memoir by Francoise Hardy

My Riot – Agnostic Front, Guts and Glory by Roger Miret and Jon Wiederham

Beastie Boys – Book by Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz


THE SLITS: Here to be Heard – The story of the Slits (William E. Badgley)
Here to be Heard

The Godfathers of Hardcore – (Ian McFarland)
Godfathers Of

Finding Joseph I: The HR From Bad Brains Documentary (James Lathos)



10. Agar Agar - The Dog And The Future
Old school pop muzak mixed with modern indietronic, and a touch of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score and songs. Remarkable formula done really, really, well.

09. Exmaid - Fair Sex
Deep, dark grunge-punk riffs that hit you in the gut before the ears. It’s all a beautiful dream, but with an Amphetamine Reptile soundtrack.

08. Django Django - Marble Skies
Oh, another album of electro-pop gems, seamlessly meshing manufactured and organic sounds into an easily digestible package? I can only hope this is the future.

07. The Lovely Eggs - This Is Eggland
Swirls of noisy guitars surround weird-rock confection. It’s dazzling and dirty and redefines guilty pleasure.

06. Superchunk - What A Time To Be Alive
Indie punk done right. The songwriting is strong, the message is clear. This band has been around long enough to branch out every now and then. More people should be wandering under the new shade, here.

05. Peach Kelli Pop - Gentle Leader
Sugar-rushed jangle pop, complete with keyboards and sharp twee vocals. The songs are so immediately catchy and compact; this is punk music, but instead of smashing frosting on your head a la Damned Damned Damned you’re just straight up eating that delicious stuff.

04. Frankie Cosmos - Vessel
Coming in at 18 tracks, this album squeezes in the tunes like no other on this list. Luckily everything here is short, breezy, and brilliant indie pop. Cue this up for your next three-towns-over introspective road trip.

03. Cut Worms - Hollow Ground
Yes, this is traditional 60s pop. It’s not reinventing the Everly Brothers wheel. It’s not even reinventing the Dave Edmunds wheel. But it is ace songwriting backed up by excellent execution and the comfort level is cranked to 11.

02. The Beths - Future Me Hates Me
Endearing, bittersweet, and melodic as heck indie rock from New Zealand. This band set out to take a hard look at itself and then write a slew of golden hits. They pulled punches on no one. Instant classic.

01. Alice Bag - Blueprint
We start with a core of straight-ahead punk rock. It doesn’t lean too far into 90s riot grrl or stray too much into alterna-woman territory, but it does pull on some (of my) nostalgia strings. Just solid, no-nonsense punk. But then, there’s a injection of 60s soul. Backing horns, a cool swagger, and this deliberate nod to Stax/Volt. And then, there’s a little Spanish flavor in there as well. I’m hard pressed to think of a recent rock record with such a unique and refreshing style. There are clever lyrics and some neat turns of phrase throughout, but there’s also a lot of protest sign-worthy choruses. Blueprint identifies our flaws, supports our strengths, and empowers us to be better. A new beginning.




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