Belmar, NJ (Top40 Charts/ New Jersey Music Official Website)
In the latter half of 2010, music journalist Gary Wien reviewed over 2,200 CDs by New Jersey artists released between the years 2001-2010. He listened to the good, the bad, and the very ugly yet somehow remained a music fan through it all. His picks for the top 100 albums of the decade are revealed in the upcoming book, "Are You Listening?"
"While New Jersey has seen its ugliest sides dominate the reality TV world in recent years, music is what the state should really be known for," said the author. "New Jersey has played a major role in the country's musical history from jazz to rock and roll and everything in between. This book shows that history continues to be written."
"Are You Listening?" represents a diverse look at New Jersey's rich rock and roll scene. Artists span from all parts of the Garden State including the music scenes of Asbury Park, New Brunswick, Hoboken, Trenton, and Jersey City. Popular national artists like Bruce Springsteen, My Chemical Romance, and The Gaslight Anthem are featured alongside independent singer-songwriters like Keith Monacchio, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Anthony D'Amato. Genres range from the folk of John Gorka to the indie rock of Titus Andronicus; from the Americana of Brian Molnar & the Naked Hearts to the punk of The Bouncing Souls; and from the Beatlesque pop of Fountains of Wayne to the post-hardcore of Thursday.
"Are You Listening?" features stunning color photographs, full record track listings, and stories about each artist and each release. In addition, the book contains a list of the top 100 songs of the decade. At 8.5" x 8.5," the book is designed to represent an oversized compact disc.
"I truly believe this will be the last decade we see compact discs," explained Wien. "The record industry has returned to its roots with digital singles acting as the 45s of old. More and more artists have begun releasing songs individually, rather than wait for enough material to fill an album, which is leading to the end of the album as a concept. Ironically, this was the first decade in which recording a professional album was affordable enough for artists and it will most likely be the last."
"Are You Listening?" will be available online at http://www.NJmusic.org and through online booksellers on June 1. Full-color, black and white, and an interactive e-book version will be available.
Wien has long covered the New Jersey music scene. His first book ("Beyond the Palace") was a comprehensive look at Asbury Park's rock and roll history and contained interviews with over 40 artists. He followed that by creating the popular website AsburyMusic.com and the monthly print publication Upstage Magazine. An online radio station at ThePenguinRocks.com was added shortly thereafter.
From 2003-2008, Wien's work resulted in three consecutive Asbury Music Awards for Top Music Journalist, several awards for Top Music Website and Top Online Radio Station, and one for Top Music Publication in which Upstage Magazine became the first to beat out The Aquarian for the honor. He currently produces a magazine for a national association based in Princeton while freelancing and running the website NewJerseyStage.com.
"Are You Listening?" represents hundreds of hours spent listening to music over the course of six months. Through his years writing and on the radio, Wien had built up a collection of 600-700 CDs by New Jersey artists during the decade; these albums served as his starting point. He then spent several months searching the web for artists with connections to New Jersey. Eventually, he would go through more than 2,200 albums.
"Every time I thought I was near the end, I would find several hundred more to go through," said Wien.