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Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists

A look at the Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey artists as compiled by award-winning music journalist Gary Wien.  This version of Are You Listening? features great black and white photographs, full record track listings, and information about each artist and release (a full-color version is also available).  At 8.5″ x 8.5,” it is designed to represent an oversized compact disc.

The book represents a wide look at New Jersey’s rich rock and roll scene.  Artists span from all parts of the Garden State including the Asbury Park, New Brunswick, Hoboken, Trenton, and Jersey City music scenes.  Popular national artists like Bruce Springsteen, My Chemical Romance, and Fountains of Wayne are featured alongside independent singer-songwriters like Keith Monacchio, Arlan Feiles, 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 Jon Caspi’s pop to Thursday’s post-hardcore.

From the Author

In the latter half of 2010, Gary Wien personally 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 book,  Are You Listening?

The book 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 records by New Jersey artists during the decade; records which served as his starting point.  He then searched the web for artists with connections to New Jersey.

“Every time I thought I was near the end, I would find several hundred more to go through,” said Wien.

Through websites like Napster, CDbaby, and iTunes, he was able to listen to them all.  Weeknights and weekends were devoted to his research.  He stopped covering live shows for the year and even loaded up his iPhone with new artists each week to use his hour commute for additional listening time.  Every record was given a grade with the top 100 graded a second time months later to form the final list.

Are You Listening? represents a wide look at New Jersey’s rich rock and roll scene.  Artists span from all parts of the Garden State including the Asbury Park, New Brunswick, Hoboken, Trenton, and Jersey City music scenes.  Popular national artists like Bruce Springsteen, My Chemical Romance, and Fountains of Wayne are featured alongside independent singer-songwriters like Keith Monacchio, Arlan Feiles, 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 Jon Caspi’s pop to Thursday’s post-hardcore.

“While New Jersey has seen its ugliest sides dominate the entertainment world in recent  years, music is what the state should really be known for,” said Wien.  “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.”

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 that contained interviews with over 40 artists.  He followed that by creating the popular website, AsburyMusic.com and the monthly print publication Upstage Magazine.  Later he added an online radio station to the collection, one which still broadcasts 24/7 at ThePenguinRocks.com.

During the five-year period of 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 even 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.

“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.  This 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. ”

About the Author

Gary Wien has been covering New Jersey’s music scene in print and online since 2001. Are You Listening? is the second time he’s focused on New Jersey music for a book. In 2003, he released Beyond The Palace, the first comprehensive look at the Asbury Park rock and rock scene from the sixties to 2003. To help promote the book he created AsburyMusic.com, a website that would eventually serve as the community’s online home.

In 2004, he launched Upstage Magazine, a print publication dedicated to covering the arts throughout New Jersey. The following year, he launched an online radio station supporting indie and national artists at ThePenguinRocks.com. Upstage Magazine was a critical success, but never achieved the financial goals Gary had set for it. An ill-fated partnership led to the magazine’s premature demise. Gary moved on to a job with a national Association based in Princeton where he handles their public relations and produces a bimonthly magazine.

During the decade, he earned three straight Asbury Music Awards for Top Music Journalist. He also won awards for his website, online radio station, and print magazine. He lives in Belmar, NJ with his wife Dr. Sherry Wien, whom he met while attending Lynchburg College in VA.