Makin Waves Dirty Jersey Dozen are left to right from top Cold Weather Company, The Cryptkeeper Five, Katie Henry, Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son, Daughter Vision, Well Wisher, Dentist, Deal Casino, Lowlight, Nalani & Sarina, The Happy Fits and Doc Rotten. PHOTO COLLAGE BY BOB MAKIN
The Makin Waves Dirty Jersey Dozen are the 12 Garden State original unsigned and extremely independent rock acts who made the most waves in 2019 by touring at least regionally and releasing impactful videos and singles in support of a great, well-received recording released within the past 24 months. They also are most likely to make the most waves in 2020 by remaining the New Jersey music scene’s most creative and productive artists.
Also to qualify, acts must not have any current personnel issues and be based solely in New Jersey and not shared with another state (although a minority of members can live in surrounding states). Here are the Makin Waves’ Dirty Jersey Dozen in alphabetical order:
Cold Weather Company: After touring regionally in support of their third self-produced LP, the cathartic "Find Light," New Brunswick-based harmonic acoustic trio Cold Weather Company dropped a darling cover of the 1954 Penguins classic “Earth Angel” in celebration of the 25th anniversary of “Back to the Future,” in which the beloved tune was played at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Then they offered their 82,000 monthly Spotify listeners "Warmth in Winter," the first single from an LP expected in 2020. They also launched Cold Weather Cleanup, an international effort by the environmentally-minded band that made an impact as far away as New Zealand. The 2020 Cleanup already is in planning stages, but first CWC will play Jan. 21 at Brooklyn Bowl with Drown Your Boots. Shows at times now feature an expanded lineup.
The Cryptkeeper Five: These Trenton-based punk veterans have been touring two years regionally in support of their best-ever album, "Stronghold," released 20 years after their formation. Following a great video for one of the tracks, "10,000 Keys," TCK5 – co-winner of the 2018 Makin Waves Songwriters of the Year -- dropped a cover of The Sonic’s 1965 classic “Strychnine,” made famous 15 years later by The Cramps. Tour dates included their debut at South Florida's beloved The Fest. They next will play locally Feb. 21 at their hometown spot Millhill Basement with fellow Trenton punks Doc Rotten, plus Philly girl band Ramoms and Brooklyn's Night Surf.
Daughter Vision: If Robert Smith from The Cure and Siouxsie Sioux were married by Al Jourgensen of Ministry, Daughter Vision would make the perfect wedding band. A fun and fascinating mix of the theatrical glam of David Bowie, the art rock of Laurie Anderson, and the synth pop of Kraftwerk and Vince Clarke of Depeche Mode, Yaz and Erasure, the artsy Asbury Park unit released "DV EP," their fourth record and first with new vocalist Amarna Yoni, aka Emily Grove. They toured out to Arizona in support of it and will play Valentine’s Day at Langosta Lounge in Asbury.
Deal Casino: These creative lads from the City by the Sea – the 2018 Makin Waves Live Act of the Year -- toured the nation twice this year, most recently with fellow Asbury act The Parlor Mob. Having followed an EP and an LP last year with the summer single, “Bang Bang Bang,” Deal Casino have garnered a Spotify following of more than 40,000, Their Radiohead-like creative juices are sure to be flowing as they ready their next release, most likely helmed by longtime producer Erik Kase Romero and to feature more videos by Anthony Yebra. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Joe Parella also is forging a career producing local acts, such as Ella Ross and Blaise, and collaborating on songs with them, as well as Jersey-raised, Brooklyn-based Tor Miller.
Dentist: One of the hardest-working bands in New Jersey, this Asbury Park-based surf-rockin’ indie-punk trio Dentist toured the nation a couple of times this year. The extensive road work was followed by a new single, "Someone like You," which features a funny, over-the-top video, and a delightful cover of the Hawaiian holiday classic “Mele Kalikimaka.” Plans are to follow up next year with another LP for L.A.-based Cleopatra Records, which would be Dentist’s fourth since 2014. See them live Jan. 11 when they rep the Dirty Jerz at Tri-State Underground's Block Party at Oddity Bar in Delaware with several regional bands, including Medusa’s Disco. And read all about them on the cover of New Jersey Stage magazine as the Makin Waves Band of the Year.
Doc Rotten: This Trenton-based punk act tour Europe nearly as often as most bands do weekenders. They’ll be back in Germany in April for their fourth tour overseas, including a jaunt through Japan. Released in May, the band’s latest video is for the Social Distortion-like “So Long” from the 2018 debut full-length, “Illusion to Choose.” Demos for a follow-up recently were recorded in the Poconos. See them Jan. 4 at Tusk, Philadelphia, with True Will and Breaklite, and Jan. 25 at their Punk Rock Burlesque Show at Roxy & Dukes, Dunellen, with bands Stolen Wheelchairs and Barren Marys, plus dancers Vivi Noir, Holly Ween, MasoKiss, and Honeytree Evileye. Then another domestic tour will take them to Denver.
The Happy Fits: Touring nationally for the past two years, this young, peppy alt-rock trio from Clinton have garnered nearly a quarter million Spotify fans based on the strength of their 2018 debut full-length, “Concentrate.” The fun continued at House of Independents in Asbury Park with The Happy Fits’ Second Annual Holiday Show, also featuring Deal Casino and Shoobies on Dec. 20 and Sonic Blume on Dec. 21, which was sold-out. Having charted in Spotify’s Top 50 with their first single, the lads now are celebrating about 207,000 monthly listeners there.
Katie Henry: This young Northwest Jersey blues-rocker has been makin alotta waves lately in support of her debut album, “High Road.” She toured nationally, headlined Stanhope House and Cutting Room, and played Crawfish Fest and the 12th annual Blues Blast Music Awards, for which she was nominated Best New Artist. She also received four Independent Blues Award noms and is the Makin Waves Female Artist of the Year. In late January, Katie will head out for a two-week tour of California. An East Coast jaunt will include Feb. 15, Saw Creek Estates, Bushkill, Pa.; March 4, Beneduce Vineyards, Pittstown, and April 25, Lititz Shirt Factory, Lancaster, Pa. Then she’ll play Deadhead-friendly Dark Star Jubilee in May in Ohio and West Virginia's popular 4848 Festival in July with Greensky Bluegrass, Grace Potter, Galactic, Dirty Dozen Brass Band and much more.
Lowlight: This prolific synth-roots outfit – the 2016 Makin Waves Band of the Year -- have released four records in three years, including this year's "Endless Bummer" LP on Telegraph Hill Records. And they toured rather extensively in support of them. Having ended a wonderful year participating in What a Wonderful Year, Telegraph's aptly named two-day celebration of the Asbury Park music scene, as well as the label's annual compilation with a new single, “NYE,” Lowlight can be enjoyed live Jan. 17 at The Asbury hotel during Light of Day Festival and Jan. 18 at John & Peter's in New Hope.
Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son: Another Telegraph Hill act who recently released a single, “Nothing for Nothing,” on the label's annual comp and played What a Wonderful Year, Bobby Mahoney and the Seventh Son are the definition of road warriors. Mahoney constantly tours either solo or with the band. Yet somehow, they've found the time to record release several LPs and EPs throughout their nine years together, as well as a recent cover of My Chemical Romance’s “Teenagers” with their pals in A Boy Named John. Another record is in the works. In the meantime, they’ll play Jan. 17 at the Stone Pony, Asbury Park, during Light of Day Festival with The Weeklings, John Eddie, James Maddock and Hollis Brown; Jan. 24, Olive’s, Nyack, N.Y.; Jan. 25, Khyber Pass, Philadelphia; Jan. 31, Hazelton Art Lounge, Hazelton, Pa., and Feb. 1, Gooski’s, Pittsburgh.
Nalani & Sarina: The Central Jersey-based funk 'n' folk twin duo took their sibling harmonies and inspired story songs on the road most of the year in support of last year's fantastic outing, "The Circle." The 2018 Makin Waves Band of the Year also supported their best-ever LP with more sweet videos this year, including an adorable throwback to their earliest days first playing music as wee ones for the touching album track “Tomorrow and Yesterday.” Currently writing a follow-up, the Central Jersey sisters and their hot band are sure to be makin tasty waves in 2020 with more jaunts to Nashville, Chicago and L.A.
Well Wisher: Having released one of the best Jersey albums of 2018, "This Is Fine," on Richmond-based 6131 Records, Well Wisher continued to work really hard behind the debut LP this year with tours of the Midwest and South, including three appearances at SXSW in Austin. Hot local shows included at House of Independents’ and a holiday Planned Parenthood benefit at the Wonder Bar. To follow inspired videos, a live EP, and a cover of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag,” recordings are in the works, along with more road work.
Bob Makin is the reporter for MyCentralJersey.com/entertainment and a former managing editor of The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And like Makin Waves at www.facebook.com/makinwavescolumn.