6. Farmingdale by Taylor Allen
Taylor Allen channels the charred vocals of Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys) on “Pints Of Anxiety,” the opening salvo upon the solo artist’s six-track collection Farmingdale, in which he expresses resignations about his ability to transition from the party life to that of the white collar worker, while “Fucked” is the ultimate watering hole sing along. Toss in Allen’s slowed and subdued rendition of the Strike Anywhere rage tune “Refusal” and its easy to understand why the vinyl release of these acoustic guitar-led anthems for the boisterous, mug swinging, barroom hero inside many a Boardwalk music enthusiast was so excitedly anticipated by this artistic community.
5. Way Across The Sea by Emily Grove
Emily Grove‘s debut EP, Way Across The Sea, was well worth the wait. Grove, who’d been performing within the Asbury music scene for years without an official release, dropped this record in August to much acclaim, earning an Asbury Music Award For Best Female Acoustic Act on its behalf. The title track, a tale of love eroded by the oceanic waters that separate two hearts, sets the scene for this ghostly soundscape, not of spooky subject matter, but in the way a melody crooned in the Boardwalk songstress’ soulful vocal styling haunts a listener’s psyche, including such tunes as “Today” and “Falling.” However, the cream of this acoustic guitar-led crop of Folk-Rock is a number dubbed “Flea” that describes in detail the toxicity of a parasitic relationship, a common thread in one of SIMGE’s favorite emotionally distressed compilations of the year.
4. Heatstroke by Brick + Mortar
The Asbury Indie-Rock duo dubbed Brick + Mortar followed up its debut 2010 release, 7 Years In The Mystic Room, with a three-song EP led by the single and title track “Heatstroke,” a artistic confessional in which front-man Brandon Asraf bares his soul, and that he may in fact lack one, with a series of thought provoking lyrics, backed by the masterful stick wielding of John Tacon on the throne, and an explosive, love professing refrain capable of hooking the most cold hearted of listeners, thus the title.
3. Damn Son by Kid Is Qual
These days technology has allowed any person with an acoustic guitar and plastic Rock Band microphone to cut a record, sending unoriginality the signal-to-noise ratio to levels off the chart…Then there’s the Virginia-based Kid Is Qual. Saying the outfit shares a sound similar to that of the French Androidal duo, Daft Punk, won’t do these artists and their music justice. Damn Son, the group’s debut studio releases has accurately captured the outfit’s truly original sound and the intensity of its live show, a level rarely achieved by the average musical collective. Front-man Jon Sullivan (Jack’s Mannequin) and his sidekick Mike Bryant (Alabama Thunderpussy) don’t double click on PC generated beats and let a light show wow their crowd, instead, opting to lead a dueling bass assault that meshes electron coated squeals and murmurs into something undeniably danceable (“Me Gu,” “Motel No Tell”). Add beat keeper Chris McClish and the Prince George, VA Hip-Hop artist, TREW, to the mix (“You’re A Crumb, I’m Ole,” “Damn Son”) and what’s left is a digitized adrenaline shot to the ticker.
2. Atlantic, Atlantic by Atlantic, Atlantic
This Indie-Rock collective was around for less than a year but made a major impact on the Asbury Park music scene with its only official self-titled release. A side-project formed by Sikamor Rooney front-man, Bradley York, who moonlights as a captivating Singer/Songwriter at local haunts, had an ability to write soaring and spacious Pop tunes about nothing incredibly in particular. “The Russians” briefly discusses the idea of too much violence on the world’s televisions, leaving an escape route for oneself, and well lit shorelines as safe havens before exploding guitars take over in a hail of electricity. “Dreaming Of You” fits the quintessential love song model before switching tempos and its focus by proclaiming the world as an undeniably cruel place to reside. While “Super Tall Buidlings” is the most enthralling stream of consciousness lyrical content SIMGE has come across in recent memory. With a record such as this, and many more unrecorded gems, we can only hope Atlantic, Atlantic will return someday soon.
1. Sundial EP by Matt Huston
Matt Huston works on both ends of the songwriting spectrum and the Langhorne, PA solo artist’s collection of bedroom demos acts as evidence to the claim. Beautifully structured acoustic guitar chords trudge through a soundscape of sullen melodies accented by a vocal styling that recalls Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy (“Curtains,” “January,” “In Disguise”). Meanwhile, Huston also possesses the ability to lighten the mood with charming Pop-Rock numbers that discuss the subject of love, both its mysterious magnificence (“Tomorrow Is The Day That I Fall In Love”) and the fear of its ability to steal the words off the tip of one’s tongue (“Keeping Quiet).