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Makin Waves Top 10 2022 Jersey Indie Albums

By Bob Makin

originally published: 12/29/2022

Makin Waves Top 10 2022 Jersey Indie Albums

The Makin Waves Top 10 Jersey Indie Albums of 2022 are from left to right and top to bottom by JT Bowen, The Vansaders, Sean Tobin, The Happy Fits, Lowlight, Williams Honor, Matt O’Ree Band, Katie Henry, Dave Vargo, and Renee Maskin.

Here’s a look at what I thought was the 10 best albums released in 2022 by independent New Jersey artists: 

JT Bowen, “Dig Deep” — With the help of his good friend and producer Arlan Feiles, a celebrated Asbury Park-based singer-songwriter whose rootsy blend of folk ‘n’ soul has delighted audiences around the world, AP soul legend J.T. Bowen has made a delicious comeback with the 2022 Makin Waves Album of the Year. On “Dig Deep,” J.T. mines eight of Arlan’s most soul-searching songs and the results are soul-soaring. Read more here!

The Vansaders, “Caught in the Light” — Fans of The Clash, The Replacements, Social Distortion, Flogging Molly, Johnny Cash, and Bruce Springsteen will thoroughly enjoy this crafty collection of rootsy punk by one of the best bands ever to call Asbury Park home and the 2022 Makin Waves Songwriter(s) of the Year! Read more here!

Sean Tobin, “Ghost of the Arcade” — The 2022 Makin Waves Male Artist of the Year and his band, the Boardwalk Fire, sharpen the rootsy edge of the Asbury sound with this richly rewarding album, especially the hauntingly inspiring title track and such other Asbury-centric songs as “Memorial Drive” and “On the Corner of Sunset.” Hear it live Jan. 15 at Light of Day. Read more here!

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The Happy Fits, “Under the Shade of Green” — Well-structured, entertaining third LP from this incredibly hard-working, down-to-earth Hunterdon County trio that’s as deeply meaningful as it is inventively fun, as were a bunch of accompanying videos from the 2022 Makin Waves Band of the Year. Read more here!

Lowlight, “They Know” — Central Jersey outfit changed direction with new lead singer John Gleason of Roadside Graves, but kept on keepin’ on with 2022 Makin Waves Best EP that’s more atmospheric and less rootsy than before, but the songwriting remains strong while the music sizzles. Read more here!

Williams Honor, “eX” – Fans of Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Patsy Cline will be amazed how expertly this country album was made with the well-hyphenated talent of beloved Asbury Park duo singer-songwriter Reagan Richards and guitarist-producer-singer-songwriter Gordon Brown. Hear it live Jan. 12 at Light of Day. Read more here

Matt O’Ree Band, “Hand in Glove” — If Janis Joplin sat in with Led Zeppelin or Etta James with The Allman Brothers Band or Gov’t Mule, it would sound like this amazing album featuring three 2022 Makin Waves Award winners: Matt, Best Guitarist; his soulful wife, Eryn, Best Vocalist, and John Hummel, Best Drummer. Heart it live Dec. 30 at Hopewell Theater. Read more here!

Katie Henry, “On My Way” — Balancing on the sweet, folkie side of blues lyrically and vocally while strutting with the best of them on her six string, the 2022 Makin Waves Female Artist of the Year released this sophomore LP on German indie label Ruf Records, totally living up to its title. Hear it live March 3 at Jamey’s House of Music in Lansdowne, Pa. Read more here!

Dave Vargo, “Crooked Miles” – Throughout this third album from the 2021 Makin Waves Songwriter of the Year are hints of Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen, sometimes on the same song, such as “Head and Hearts.” Whether expressing himself in a societal anthem, like “Half Bad,” or getting confessional, such as on much of the LP, Dave’s songwriting is top notch. Hear it live 7:30 p.m. on “2forTuesday,” his weekly show on Facebook, as well as Jan. 15 at Light of Day.  

Renee Maskin, “Swimming” / “Dreams a River” — One of Jersey’s best singer-songwriters stayed true to her Americana roots and was as prolific as ever with a debut solo LP, “Swimming,” released in January, AND an immediate follow-up EP, “Dreams a River,” released in November, both on the invaluable indie Mint 400 Records. Hear them. Live Dec. 29 at What a Wonderful Wear, Jan. 13 at Light of Day, and Feb. 10 at Pino’s, Highland Park. Read more here!

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Bob Makin has produced Makin Waves since 1988. Follow Makin Waves on Facebook and contact Bob at



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