Jersey Beat Music Fanzine


After sifting through umpteen "best of" lists (which start appearing around Thanksgiving these days,) I realized that nobody really cares whether I liked the new Weezer album more than Taylor Swift's 1989. So my "Best of 2014" lists this year are focused entirely on local releases from NJ/NYC bands that were either self-released or available on indie labels. Each pick comes with a link so you can either download or stream a few songs yourself. Hopefully a few of you will discover some great tunes you may have missed amid all the clamor and tumult that was 2014.


Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lose (Barsuk Records)

The Everymen – Givin’ Up On Free Jazz (

Those Mockinbirds
- Penny The Dreadful (

- Rock River (Life Force Records)

The Gradients - The Gradients (

The Harmonica Lewinskies
– Dad Rock (

Karen Haglof
– Western Holiday (

– Isn’t It Sad (

Val Emmich – Autobio Part 1 EP (

Wreaths - Wreaths (Killing Horse Records)

Black Wine
– Yell Boss (Don Giovanni)

Accidental Seabirds
– The Greenpoint Spill (

Speed The Plough
– The Plough & The Stars (

The Porchista
s - Shoot It At The Sun (

- Stuyvesant Shmyvesant (


The Front Bottoms – Rose EP (Bar None)

Eastern Anchors
– Dragging Your Axe Behind You EP (

– Bitterheart EP (

The Brooklyn What
– Minor Problems EP (

The Britanys
– It’s Alright EP (

Gay Elvis
- Gay Elvis Has Left The Building (

Paul Silver

Paul Silver’s Top “10” Records for 2014

Another year has come to an end? I guess that means it’s time for the inevitable “top 10” lists to come out. I’ve already seen people publishing them weeks ago. It’s sort of like the Christmas shopping season starting earlier and earlier every year. And, just like waiting until the last minute to do your shopping can net you either great deals or a bunch of lousy presents, I like to wait until right before Christmas, when I know the likelihood of another major winner being released is a lot lower.

This year has seen a bumper crop of good releases. Either that, or I just like things a lot more. Either way, it’s been a really enjoyable year for finding new bands and new music.

As usual, my list is based off the music I’ve reviewed over the course of the past twelve months. And, as always, the order has nothing to do with ranking and everything to do with the order in which I reviewed the records.

BAD COP/BAD COP – Boss Lady EP – When this came out, I said this would likely end up on my year-end list. And I was right. Multi-part harmonies are featured in the four fast and furious songs. The music is tight, bouncy, fun, and some of the songs have a bit of a dark edge to them.

SWANS – To Be Kind – The progression away from pure noise continues, as this album makes more use of minimalism and repetition than noise, confronting the listener is new ways.

ALVVAYS – S/T LP – The debut from this Canadian quintet consists of jangly, dreamy pop music. It’s got bounce aplenty, and a cool minimalist groove.

BEACH SLANG – Who Would Ever Want Anything So Broken? EP – These four songs are energetic, melodic, and have an emotional edge.

NEEDLES//PINS – Shamebirds LP – Equal parts retro punk rock, garage rock, power-pop, and pop-punk, the sound is, at once, raw and polished. Guitars jangle like crazy, and the feel is retro without sounding passé.

BLANK PAGES – Blank Pages LP – Ten tracks of garage-punk sound, with hints of surf, that sound like this band came from Denton, TX rather than Germany. Fans of bands like Marked Men or Radioactivity will eat this up.

RATIONAL ANTHEM – Emotionally Unavailable LP – If you look up “pop-punk” in a dictionary or encyclopedia, there’s going to be a picture of this album.

THE STUPID DAIKINI – S/T EP – This was an easy pick. The real centerpiece of the four songs of this EP is Zavislak’s revelatory vocals. They shine like a beacon in the night, though they don’t lead to safety. Rather, they sing stories of heartbreak and sadness. Stripped down instrumentals support the vocals and the amazing song writing.

CYMBALS EAT GUITARS – Lose LP – Was there ever any doubt this would be on my list? The album has a very large sound, with lots of reverb, fuzz and distortion, and Joe D’Agostino still earns the nickname, “Joseph Ferocious,” with his enormous vocals that he attacks with glee. The music is expansive, melodic, chaotic, poppy, and beautiful, all at once.

BABY GHOSTS – Maybe Ghosts LP – Strong music, with awesome female-male harmonized vocals and a lo-fi vibe. The music is right there on the border between indie-pop and pop punk. It’s fast and loud guitar stuff, but it’s super melodic, and despite the fuzzy lo-fi recording, it has a lightness you don’t get with a lot of punk-based music.

THE CREEPS – Eulogies LP – Garage-like, lo-fi, and with an edgy pop, the ten tracks on this disc will darken your life.

THE DIRTY NIL – Cinnamon b/w Guided By Vices 7” Single – Luke Bentham’s vocals are just as crunchy as the guitars, and bend like the bent notes of a pulled guitar string. The music is punk crossed with grunge and garage, and just really strong.

GARETH DISCKSON – Invisible String LP – From the very first track, I feel like a burden is being lifted and I’m being transported to another place, another time. God, this is gorgeous. The acoustic guitar is almost harp-like in its delicateness, and Dickson’s vocals are airy and otherworldly.

GREAT APES – Playland at the Beach EP – Great Apes are a step above the typical pop punk band, blending in strong indie rock elements and creating effective arrangements and strong melodic lines.

PEARS – Go To Prison LP – Well, OK, you caught me. I didn’t actually review this album. But it certainly deserves to be on this list. It combines hardcore punk, melodic pop-punk, and grindcore, and it works really well!

I hope you understand that it’s impossible to narrow things down to a “top 10.” It’s hard enough culling the list down to the fifteen here. There are so many good bands putting out records, so get out there and buy some!

Paul Silver’s Top “10” Live Shows of 2014

After a long dry spell, during which I went to precious few live shows, I started going more frequently again a few years ago. And the pace has steadily increased, to where I think I’ve gone to more live shows this year than any back in my youth. Part of going to many shows is that you end up seeing some truly amazing bands that are a notch above others. And this year, I saw some mind-blowing live shows.

As with my top “10” list of records for the year, these are not in any order other than the order in which I saw them.

CREEDLE / FLUF / CHUNE – Casbah, San Diego, 1/24 – Three bands from San Diego’s past performed to celebrate the Casbah’s 25th anniversary. OK, Chune wasn’t anything to write home about, but they were OK. Fluf was as incredible as they ever were in the 90s, with drummer Miles Gillette flying in from New Zealand for the reunion show, and bassist Josh Higgins coming down from the Bay Area. O was there, of course, and surprise guest Mike Olson came up on stage to sing a couple of Olivelawn songs with the band. Creedle was a band I hadn’t seen before, but I instantly became a fan.

THE MAXIES / THE HUM HUMS / THE WELL WELLS / PELOTAN / THE SNEEZE – Zone B, Tokyo, 2/12 – I went on tour to Japan with the Maxies this year, and most of the dates were with the Kingons, a pretty damn good band. The last night of tour, though, was with several other bands that cemented my theory that there is no such thing as a bad Japanese band.

IRON CHIC / LOW CULTURE / LENGUAS LARGAS / RUMSPRINGER – Yucca Tap Room, Tempe, AZ, 3/14 – My jaw dropped when I heard about the line-up, and it lived up to all expectations. There was more creative musical talent in this room than in a lot of small cities.

RADIOACTIVITY / SUSPICIOUS BEASTS – Tower Bar, San Diego, 5/1, VLHS, Pomona, CA, 5/2 – Simply an amazing experience. Radioactivity is made up of members of Marked Men and Bad Sports, out of Denton, Texas, and is the most incredible blend of garage and punk you’ll ever find anywhere. Suspicious Beasts are from Japan, and also play a pretty powerful garage punk sound (see my theory on Japanese bands above). It was so good that I saw them two nights in a row!

THE STUPID DAIKINI / TEENAGE EXORCISTS – U31, San Diego, 7/9 – This was my first time seeing Stupid Daikini, and I was so blown away that they’re on both my top shows list and top records list.

UNDERGROUND RAILROAD TO CANDYLAND / LENGUAS LARGAS / SWING DING AMIGOS / THE TREASURE FLEET / BLANK PAGES – Til Two Club, San Diego, 8/8 – This show was a tour that was subtitled, “Recess Records Cavalcade of Clowns,” and it celebrated 25 years of releasing records for the label. Every band was incredible, and this was the first show in California in many years for Swing Ding Amigos, a band that nearly liquefied my brain with how good they are.

AWESOMEFEST 8 PRE-FEST – Soda Bar and The Hideout, San Diego, 8/28
– Awesomefest is always a good time, and this year’s pre-fest was a great time. There was probably around 20 bands or so playing this night, going back and forth between the two clubs, but a few stood out as exceptional: Tijuana’s DFMK continue to conquer the Southern California scene, GHETTO BLASTER is San Diego’s most dangerous and fun band, SHELLSHAG are always great pop music, and THE SLOW DEATH is epic fun.

DRIVE LIKE JEHU – Balboa Park, San Diego, 8/31 – Jehu’s reunion included rearranging and performing some of their tracks to include Dr. Carol Williams, playing the Spreckels organ in this free outdoor show, their first in nearly 20 years. Thousands of people attended, with some flying in from around the country just for this event. And it was worth it.

THE DIRTY NIL / DEAD TIRED / WISH – The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, 9/11 – This was the record release show for The Dirty Nil’s new 7” single on Fat Wreck Chords. I happened to be in town for work and this show was recommended to me. And I am so glad I went, because The Dirty Nil became an instant favorite.

THE ATOM AGE / PEARS / THE TOUCHIES / GONE BABY GONE – The Ken Club, San Diego, 11/7 – As good as The Pears’ debut album is (and it’s in my top “10” list), it’s lame compared to their live show. I don’t care what else you might have going on. If you see that they’re touring to your city, go. Just go. I promise you won’t regret it.

SOULSIDE – The Black Cat, Washington, DC, 12/20 (with SWIZ and MOSS ICON), 12/21 (with OFFICE OF FUTURE PLANS and DOT DASH) – In conjunction with the release of the documentary film, “Salad Days,” chronicling the DC punk scene of the 1980s, Soulside reunited to perform two nights in New York City and two nights in Washington, DC. They were one of my favorite DC bands of the late 80s, yet I had never seen them live, so I was one of the many who flew into the nation’s capitol for the weekend. While I’ve gone to shows when I’ve gone to other places, before, this was the first time I traveled by plane specifically to go to a show. The first night featured another surprise reunion appearance by Swiz, as well, and the place went wild! The second night featured two bands I hadn’t gotten a chance to hear before, and which certainly impressed me quite a bit.

OK, so, like my list of the best records of the year, it’s hard to hold it to just 10. But at least I cut it to 11. Like I said, I’ve been going to a lot more shows than ever, this year, and that makes it that much harder to narrow things down.

Mark "Bort" Hughson

Top 10 Albums

01. Sugar Stems – Only Come Out At Night (Dirtnap)
Describing the sound as “sweet” is apt but also a bit misleading. These songs have energy and bite and don’t get anywhere near “cutesy” territory. This is power pop with shades of Phil Spector, hints of early punk rock, and even a tinge of “Gunpowder And Lead” (Hey, it’s the only Miranda Lambert song I know). Previous efforts from this band gave us an appetizing dish or two, but this album is a veritable feast of hits.

02. TacocaT – NVM (Hardly Art)
A straightforward approach, but with hooks galore and a melodic brightness despite the occasionally dark subject matter. Lots of oohs and ahhs. This album is fireworks.

03. Literature – Chorus (Slumberland)
The album starts off with a “Woo!” Need I say more? …Ok. This is indie pop that is both catchy and lush, both sprite and dreamy. But so what? Tons of bands these days are rehashing the C-86 and Sarah Records aesthetic. But while those other acts just carbon copy the sound, Literature captures the essence of classic indie pop: Immensely strong songwriting, happily doing the limbo under the radar.

04. Phil Ajjarapu – Sing Along Until You Feel Better (Self Released)
Songs about singing a song and how it makes you feel rarely work, but when it does it’s like an eargasm roller-skating on a Mobius strip. This album floats on old school “AM-gold” radio airwaves, and when it lands it does so in a warm ocean and continues to float like a… Jellyfish. Andy Sturmer and Ken Stringfellow fans, take note.

05. Diarrhea Planet – Aliens In The Outfield EP (Infinity Cat)
Ok, so this is only a EP, but there are more guitars on this EP than on any two albums on this list combined, so they get a pass. Plus, these songs 5 songs, clocking in at 16 minutes, give us the full package. Basement stompers, Weezer-style fuzz pop, epic jams, all flowing through deftly crafted layers of riffs. Best EP of the year, I shit you not.

06. Martha – Courting Strong (Salinas)
Back before 90s punk sneered at it, and Oasis got melodramatic with it, indie bands embraced pop and gave it a playful noogie. The Fastbacks did it, Heavenly did it, and now Martha are doing it. Don’t stick your tongue out at me, boy! I’m trying to teach you a history lesson!

07. The Haden Triplets – When I Stop Dreaming (Third Man)
This release is so much more than adding fuel to the That Dog. reunion fire. Traditional country/Americana instrumentation, olde time songsmithing (think clever re-writes of “You Are My Sunshine” and “Big Rock Candy Mountain”), and of course the exquisite harmonies that only the Haden sisters can bring to the table. Just when I think Jack White is about to become a foot note he backs this release and earns my props once again.

08. The Muffs – Whoop Dee Doo (Burger)
Somewhere inbetween “Happy Birthday To Me” and that one Beards album, I lost interest in what Kim Shattuck was doing. The energy was subdued, the screams were reigned in, and I was ok with that. I just wished she were writing better songs. Apparently a 10-year break from releasing music has allowed her muse to stockpile the gems, because this album is great. It’s still mostly mid-tempo sugar punk with grrl pop vocals, but this time they waited until they were actually older and wiser to sound that way, and it really pays off.

09. Army Navy – The Wilderness Inside (The Fever Zone)
These guys churn out comforting, well-executed power pop in the vein of the usual suspects (Big Star and Teenage Fanclub). The guitars hover like a doting parent. The vocals swing on swaying melodies that I can only describe at revved up lullabies. I always take it as a good sign when a band makes me sound oxymoronic.

10. Safety Razors – The Worst Record Of All Time (Self Released)
I enjoyed Nancy as earnest, hard-hitting east coast punk rock (imagine if Weston didn’t get beat up!?), but I didn’t really understand where they fit in. It wasn’t like the pop punk blooming down in NYC, and it wasn’t like the shoutcore exploding in Ohio. Then one day I must have listened at a new angle and the genius revealed itself to me. The square pegs and round holes didn’t change at all, but the pieces still fit together like some kind of MC Escher drawing plastered on a telephone pole. The core of that band returns with this album and I am with them on the ground floor. They took another punk rock block of clay and shaved it, molded it, and shredded it into musical art.


It is that time once again, folks. Man, it seems like only a few weeks ago I was doing this exact same thing for 2013. We all know the old cliché “time flies”, but as we get older we also start to realize that as we age time seems to fly exponentially ever faster and faster until we inexorably reach that big ol’ sonic boom of death. As I sit and reflect on this past year in metal music, a few releases instantly come to my mind but I also think about all of those releases that I DIDN’T get a chance to hear. Naturally, I can only base my list on what I HAVE heard, but how many other really cool albums that I missed might have drastically altered the outcome? I guess my point is that any Top 10 list from any critic or writer will be inevitably biased and wholly incomplete – but that doesn’t stop any of us from doing it anyway. So, with that being said, here is my list, in no particular order, of the best metal albums I had the pleasure of being exposed to this past year……

Cannibal Corpse – A Skeletal Domain

The Cannibal Corpse boys do it again with another spectacular release of ultra-high quality death metal. Even after 3 decades of annihilating ear drums around the world, Cannibal Corpse can still throw down with the best of them and continues to push the boundaries of what death metal can and should be.

Behemoth – The Satanist

Behemoth mastermind Nergal’s battle with cancer only seems to have reinvigorated his passion for his music and The Satanist is probably the band’s most cohesive and artistically triumphant album of their storied career. Nergal seems to have finally perfected his distinct blend of black and death metal and as a result produces an album that will be talked about for years to come.

Exmortus – Slave to the Sword

Arguably the best thrash album of the year, Cali’s Exmortus drag thrash metal, kicking and screaming, into the modern age with this relentlessly raging and technically precise record. This is the album, above all others this year, that really adrenalized me and reminded me just how fucking cool really well executed trash metal can be.

Orbweaver – Strange Transmissions

Miami, Florida’s Orbweaver deliver a truly tripped out take on death metal with this absolutely godly release. Completely off the wall, technically challenging, and psychologically damaging, Strange Transmissions will make you question everything you thought you knew about death metal.

Baring Teeth – Ghost Chorus Among the Old Ruins

Speaking of completely off the wall, Baring Teeth’s sophomore album challenges all known conventions of death metal and engineers something that is truly unique. Words like “experimental” and “avant garde” don’t even begin to do justice to the complete mind-fuck that Ghost Chorus Among the Old Ruins delivers.

Septic Flesh - Titan
These Greek symphonic black/death gods have been around for a very long time and have developed into arguably the most adept practicioners of the art of combining symphonic elements with blackened death metal. Titan is Septic Flesh’s masterpiece and is the album that bands like Dimmu Borgir wish they could write.

Hideous Divinity – Cobra Verde
These Italian tech/death miscreants deliver one hell of a ride on their sophomore release, Cobra Verde. It’s like everything that has ever been cool about the entire 30 year history of death metal distilled into one album. Technically dazzling while still accessible, Hideous Divinity is definitely an up and coming band that demands to be recognized.

Rings of Saturn – Lugal Ki En
What can be said about this album other than, WOW. Rings of Saturn take “deathcore” to new heights that have already sent legions of metalheads back to the woodshed to practice until their fingers bleed trying to pull off the dazzling musical gymnastics that are par for the course on this jaw dropping record. Game changing is an understatement.

Eyehategod – S/T
N’awlin’s sludge pioneers return from their long slumber with the best album of their career. The various members of Eyehategod have learned and experienced much in the nearly 15 years since the band’s last studio record and, finally clean and focused, deliver a gloriously heavy and dirty record of damn near perfect sludge and reassert their position at top of the sludge/doom metal mountain that they almost singlehandedly created all those years ago.

Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare
The infamous black metal assassins Mayhem re-emerge with a new guitarist and prove once again that they can still move the art of black metal into ever deeper, darker, and weirder places. This album largely flew under the radar, an unfortunate fact as this record is my favorite black metal album of the year and should have gotten much more attention than it did. Esoteric Warfare is the band’s best album since Grand Declaration of War and is just as brilliant as that ground breaking record ever was.

Honorable Mentions
Crowbar – Symmetry in Black, Annihilated – XIII Steps to Ruination, Death Penalty – S/T, Black Trip – Goin’ Under, The Acacia Strain – Coma Witch, is an independently published music fanzine covering punk, alternative, ska, techno and garage music, focusing on New Jersey and the Tri-State area. For the past 25 years, the Jersey Beat music fanzine has been the authority on the latest upcoming bands and a resource for all those interested in rock and roll.

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