“Keeping folks waiting since 1989”

The Wrens. The Wrens. The Wrens. Dammit! I was hoping that like Beetlejuice, if you say their name three times they’d appear. Didn’t work.

Okay, my friends The Wrens. They should be right up there in the pantheon of great New Jersey born and bred bands like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, The Gaslight Anthem, My Chemical Romance, The Smithereens, Bouncing Souls, The Misfits, Thursday, Titus Andronicus, The Feelies, Frank Sinatra and many others. But, my god, even Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush put out records more frequently than these guys. They put on one of the most amazing, inspired, intense live shows I’ve ever witnessed. And I’ve witnessed a lot over the years.

Zell’s, Hoboken NJ (03 April 1998)

Budapest, New Brunswick NJ (13 March 1999)

Brothers Greg and Kevin Whelan formed their band with former high school colleague Charles Bissell in 1989 as a guitarist. They were supposed to play a gig supporting The Fixx, which in the end was cancelled. Jerry MacDonald replaced the band’s original drummer in 1990 and they moved into a house together in the town of Secaucus. They would later release an album called Secaucus. In fact, they’ve made a habit of naming their records after where they were living. There was an EP called Abbott 1135…at the time they lived at 1135 Abbott in Fort Lee. Then, of course, there is the band’s magnum opus The Meadowlands which is the name for the general area of Bergen County around the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers and Newark Bay.

They’ve been putting out music since 1993 – that’s 19 years ago – but us fans have only been able to get 3 full length albums, an EP, and a few singles out of them. Silver (1994), Secaucus (1996), Abbott 1135 (1997), The Meadowlands (2003). We have been promised a “new album” for several years now, but I’m not holding my breath. There has even been evidence of progress on this new album. Video surfaced of a recording session in 2009:
Marked Up

There have been a number of new songs performed live thoughout the 9 years since The Meadowlands:
2009

2010

2011 (with members of Palomar)

They no longer live in one house. They have full time jobs, wives, kids. Ya know, all those things that eat up time that would be better spent making a new damn record! (I kid, I kid.) But, according to the band’s Facebook page and website – both of which are kept surprisingly up to date (Facebook moreso) by Charles – they have been working on a new record, they have been making progress on a new record, and they are well aware of the fact that there are many of us waiting for a new record. Some more patiently than others.

Visual proof of all of that:

In 1998, I had them on my old radio show “The Underground” on WHTG-FM (FM106.3).

How big should The Wrens be? Well, on March 26 2004 I saw them headline the Knitting Factory in NYC. Arcade Fire supported.

Everyone Choose Sides (from The Meadowlands, 2003)

Faster Gun (from The Meadowlands, 2003)

Everyone Choose Sides (from The Meadowlands 2003, live acoustic 2006)

Hopeless (from The Meadowlands, 2003, live at Haldern Pop 2006)

Boys, You Won’t (from The Meadowlands, 2003, live at Haldern Pop 2006. With many guests.)

Happy (from The Meadowlands, 2003, live 2008?)

I’ve Made Enough Friends (from Secaucus, 1996, live 2009)

Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park NJ (23 September 2005)

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