Bradley's Almanac

[Nac Faves] My Favorite Music of 2017

Posted on April 2, 2018 at 10:00 am | Comments Off on [Nac Faves] My Favorite Music of 2017

Ah, the best laid plans and the most brutal excuses. My honest intention to get this sucker done before the new calendar year hit was derailed by a major bout of holiday pneumonia, then as December disappeared in a fevered haze and I gathered myself to finish in January… enter ye olde influenza! Such an enjoyable one-two punch. My immune system certainly isn’t going to make anyone’s “best of” list.

February was spent catching up on the day job and re-familiarizing myself with my family, and next thing you know, it’s mid-March. Then, naturally, the ‘Nac goes down for a week. As I wrap this thing up and April begins, my headphones are overflowing with music that will wind up on the 2018 edition. Good thing I’m on nobody’s deadline but my own.

So, yeah, another year long gone, another later-than-everyone-else list of musical favorites shared. Full lengthers, short players, and a few other random releases from throughout 2017. The silver lining of all that sickness was tons of idle time spent listening to neglected records, and deeper dives into the ones I loved. The list kept getting longer.

As you scroll, stream a Soundcloud playlist of songs from most of the releases below, or if you must, a longer one on Spotify, and use the provided label links to buy these records as direct as you can. Give these song makers, and the ones you love, your hard-earned dollars. #IRespectMusic

If you make it all the way through this too-long run-down (or, y’know, just skip to the end right now), you’ll find a few special giveaways I’ve gathered for random readers – the vinyl release of one of my favorite 2017 LPs, a gift certificate to a Boston-area used record shop, and an autographed copy of a truly moving book by one beloved artist about another gone too soon. So drop your name in my virtual hat and take a shot. Ya spin the wheel, ya take yer chances.

For the curious and/or bored, my previous faves lists: 2016 & 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, & 2001.


Favorite LPs of 2017


Alvvays
“Antisocialites”
[ on Polyvinyl ]

One undeniably catchy, infectious-insta-classic track surrounded by a collection of solid indie-pop songs, much like their debut LP. It may lack the ‘wow’ impact of their self-titled record, but that first breath of Canadian air was so fresh they can hardly be faulted.

[ Stream the LP on Bandcamp / Buy direct from Polyvinyl ]


Andrew Cohen & Light Coma
“Unreality”
[ on Comedy Minus One ]

Andrew Cohen adds a fruitful collaboration with pals Light Coma to his post-Silkworm discography, mixing full-band songs with a few solo jams. His SKWM/Bottomless Pit bandmate Tim Midyett continues under his Mint Mile moniker in parallel (new EP just showed up in the mail!), so even if their time of teaming up is behind them, I’m grateful their separate songs keep on coming. Getting to premiere a track from this AC&LC record was a genuine honor, and traveling out to Chicago to see them play (with Mint Mile, Out, & the Rutabega) was a personal 2017 high point.

[ Buy direct from Comedy Minus One ]


Julien Baker
“Turn Out The Lights”
[ on Matador ]

I was embarrassingly tardy for the Julien Baker train, but wow, did I ever jump on board. This, Hhr second full-length, absolutely floored me – her open-hearted lyrics and sparse, beautiful arrangements hit me hard. There was no single song in 2017 that moved me more than “Sour Breath”, which I played over and over and over again, both in my headphones and in my head. I couldn’t make it to her most recent Boston show, and her upcoming appearance at the Boston Calling fest won’t be enough to satisfy, so I’m heading up to Vermont soon to see her play with Tancred, another fave. And I’d travel further for that team-up if I had to.

[ Buy direct from Matador ]


David Bazan
“Care”
[ on Undertow ]

Following David Bazan’s career for so many years has been a singular, surprising joy. No, the joy itself hasn’t been a surprise, but the sonic turns he’s taken sure have been. From his full band Pedro the Lion output, his synth-based Headphones record, through his solo electric and acoustic work, and now “Care”, his most recent guitar-free solo LP, I’ve been all-in for all of it. Less than a year later and he’s back to working on Pedro the Lion songs, and I couldn’t be happier, though it does take a bit of the “what will he sound like next?” mystery out of it. Feels like we’ve gone full circle, and the thought of PtL’s scheduled Boston show has got me giddy.

[ Stream the album on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Undertow ]


The Clientele
“Music for the Age of Miracles”
[ on Merge Records ]

previous release, expanding their sonic palette with the addition of collaborator Anthony Harmer on a variety of instruments (including the distinctive santur). It’s one of their most cohesive records, and all-the-more appreciated in that it may never have happened but for the chance re-meeting of Harmer and frontman Alasdair MacLean, and a spark of inspiration. May some special kind of spark strike again.

[ Stream the album k on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Merge ]


Allison Crutchfield
“Tourist In This Town”
[ on Merge Records ]

A banner year for each of the musical Crutchfields, with Merge releasing both Allison’s ace solo album and sister Katie’s killer Waxahatchee record (see below, of course). If they were trying to outdo each other, well, let’s call it a tie that we all won. Can barely believe I’ll be seeing Allison and her Swearin’ bandmates later this week when they open up a long-sold-out Superchunk show at the Sinclair. Wonder if they’ll do a song or two off this LP, or keep things separate? Either way, I’m walkin’ out happy.

[ Buy the album direct from Merge ]


Mark Eitzel
“Hey Mr Ferryman”
[ on Merge Records ]

I’ll buy anything Eitzel, but this LP feels more inspired than his last few full-lengths. Really glad he made the move over to Merge and that this album seemingly got some added attention – be nice to see that relationship stick and produce a string of equally solid records. The world sure needs more Mark.

[ Buy it straight from Merge ]


Jeremy Enigk
“Ghosts”
[ on Lewis Hollow ]

The wait for this one seemed long, but so worth it. Part of the reason it felt drawn out was that the former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman gave us a window into the creative process with his Pledgemusic campaign, and that window opened early. From conception through studio time, previews to pressing, the project took over 2 years from start to finish, resulting in a beautiful, multi-layered collection. Enigk has such a singular voice that the production needs to be epic, and the fan-funds he gathered allowed him to make that happen.

[ Stream and buy the album at Bandcamp ]


Girlpool
“Powerplant”
[ on Anti Records ]

It’s been a joy to see Girlpool’s relatively speedy rise from a basement-playing pair to a Paradise-packing full band – my nervousness that they’d lose something special by fleshing out their sound with bass & drums was mostly unfounded, and this record proved it. Admittedly, I’d love to see them as a duo again someday, but as long as they keep writing their heartfelt songs and singing those perfect harmonies, I’ll keep going regardless.

[ Stream the full album on Bandcamp / Buy direct from Anti ]


The Just Joans
“You Might Be Smiling Now”
[ on Fika Recordings ]

I kind of feel like this one flew under too many radars, but that could just be my Stateside-perspective. I owe my appreciation of these particular Scots to my bandmates, so this is the first of their releases I’ve been able to eagerly await, as it’s been ages since their last. Thankfully, and unsurprisingly, it’s another indiepop treasure. Just wish they were playin’ Indietracks this year, as it’s the first one I get to attend (!). Maybe they’ll be hangin’ around so I can pester them to play me a song or two. After I partake of some liquid courage.

[ Stream three more tracks on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Fika ]


Land of Talk
“Life After Youth”
[ on Saddle Creek ]

Most appreciated musical gift of the year: Elizabeth Powell’s glorious recorded return. Her band has become one of my absolute faves over the past decade, since the moment I first set ears upon 2008’s “Some Are Lakes”. Her second full-length came less than two years later, and then… nothing. She seemingly disappeared, but I never stopped waiting, hoping, and searching for word of a return. Every year I’d write one of these favorites lists and wonder when her next LP would wind up on one. So here we are, with “Life After Youth” at last. Pretty sure I played it more than any other album I bought in 2017, and was grateful for every single note.

[ Stream the whole LP on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Saddle Creek ]


Ted Leo
“The Hanged Man”
[ on SuperEgo Records ]

Speaking of more-than-welcome returns, Ted came back! Well, it’s not like he left. Solo shows, duo shows (with Aimee Mann as the Both), variety shows (I seem to remember him on stage wearing only a giant diaper at some point?), just no proper TL/Rx recordings since 2010’s “The Brutalist Bricks”. That’s a long time to go without a new release, but thanks to a wealth of fan funding and a trove of gathered songs, he presented us with “The Hanged Man”. The band he assembled to deliver these new tracks (and so many older faves) was a stacked powerhouse, and I’m not sure I had more fun at a show last year than I did when they played Brighton Music Hall in September. A total blast of an evening. I expect no less when Ted & co. return for two nights in June.

[ Buy it straight from Ted’s shop ]


Lo Tom
“Lo Tom”
[ on Barsuk Records ]

In my world, a super group if ever there was one. David Bazan, his ex-PtL bandmate (and fellow faves listee) TW Walsh, Jason Martin (aka Starflyer 59), and ace drummer Trey Many (His Name Is Alive & more) got together a few times and threw together a rock-solid record that was the perfect counterbalance to Dave & TW’s decidedly-more-digital solo releases.

[ Stream another track on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Barsuk ]


Jason Loewenstein
“Spooky Action”
[ on Joyful Noise ]

Just the second solo LP from this Sebadoh co-pilot since his killer 2002 debut, “In Sixes and Sevens”, an record that blew me away and set one hell of a high bar. After what feels like a lifetime ago, he damn well mighta reached it. Another crackling collection of tweaked-out, propulsive rock songs. Bad timing and poor planning meant I missed him play these tracks live, but I’m hopeful it won’t be too long until I remedy that, and that it won’t be another 15 freakin’ years until album number three.

[ Stream the entire LP on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Joyful Noise ]


Loney Dear
“Loney Dear”
[ on Real World Records ]

Sweden’s Emil Svanängen may take his own sweet time making records, but it has never resulted in one I haven’t loved. He harnesses a special kind of magic in his songs, laying his strong yet delicate voice over carefully-constructed emotional epics. I owe a great debt to Low for bringing him and his band (with Thor!) along to open their 2008 tour. I’ve been in love with Loney Dear since the first note of that first song at the Somerville Theatre.

[ Stream another track on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Real World ]


Makthaverskan
“III”
[ on Run For Cover Records ]

Ridiculously talented Swedes making noise that’s both new and nostalgic, combining elements I love (and frankly should be tired of by now) into their own goosebump-raising mixture. I love my Allston neighbors at Run for Cover for many reasons, but helping this band get their music out into the world may be the biggest one.

[ Stream the LP on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Run For Cover ]


The New Pornographers
“Whiteout Conditions”
[ on Concord Music Group ]

The New Pr0ns fully embraced their inner-ELO and ponied up some of their most infectious songs in years, including the one that incessantly soundtracked my Spring, “This Is The World Of The Theatre”, which survived a ridiculous amount of repeated listening and remains a forever fave. Those post-chorus Neko notes? Super swoon.

[ Buy direct from Concord ]


The New Year
“Snow”
[ on Undertow ]

Any release from the Kadane brothers and their compatriots is a gift, and this new LP is no different. Another chapter in the ongoing sonic story I’ve been obsessed with since I first heard Bedhead in the early 90s. The only negatives I can ever muster are “I wish this track was longer” or “I wish there were more songs”. Complimentary complaints if ever there were.

[ Buy direct from Undertow ]


Tara Jane ONeil
“Tara Jane ONeil”
[ on Gnomonsong ]

TJO returns with a self-titled LP of authentic beauty, full of gorgeously delicate, emotionally heavy songs. It’s such a pure, natural-sounding record that using her name for the title makes perfect sense – it serves as a songwriting mission statement for everything she does so, so well.

[ Stream the whole album on Soundcloud / Buy direct via Midheaven ]


Palehound
“A Place I’ll Always Go”
[ on Polyvinyl Records ]

Seems like each year there’s at least one Boston-based band I adore that makes a measurable, well-deserved jump to wider recognition, and 2017 felt like Palehound’s year. “A Place I’ll Always Go“ was a showcase of Ellen Kempner & co’s song-building talents, adding further depth to the promise shown on their 2015 debut.

[ Stream the album on Bandcamp / Buy direct from Polyvinyl ]


Quicksand
“Interiors”
[ on Epitaph Records ]

How the hell did Quicksand take a 22-year break and return with an LP that sounds as cohesive and powerful as they ever were? It’s like no time passed at all. A ridiculous and remarkable accomplishment. Side note: This damn record nearly got me a speeding ticket.

[ Stream more tracks on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Epitaph ]


Ride
“Weather Diaries”
[ on Wichita Recordings ]

These four Oxford gents comprise one of my top ten all-time bands, so their 2014 return was an unexpected, magical gift. Their post-reunion live shows met and crushed my tempered expectations, then rumors of new recordings got me all-sorts-of giddy. Maybe too giddy. While I enjoyed “Weather Diaries” enough to list it here (and it certainly outdoes their final two LPs), it didn’t quite hit the sweet spot I hoped for. Much of it is ace, and there’s at least one stone-cold Ride classic (“Cali”), but I can’t help but think it would have made an absolutely killer EP. Speaking of which, they just released a new one. And that sweet spot? Nailed it.

[ Stream the LP on Bandcamp / Buy direct from Wichita ]


Savak
“Cut Ups”
[ on the Ernest Jenning Record Co. ]

A mid-2016 discovery for me, thanks to my faith in the fine taste of the CMO label, though I’ve heard and dug plenty of songs involving the individual players before. These members of Obits, Edsel, Ted Leo’s band, The Cops, Nation of Ulysses, Enon & more combined to release their debut LP that year, and quickly followed it up with this even-better collection on the EJRC in 2017. A record per year is quite a precedent, gents. Might hold you to it.

[ Stream the whole album on Bandcamp / Buy direct from Ernest Jenning ]


Slowdive
“Slowdive”
[ on Dead Oceans ]

Even more unexpected than Ride’s return was the resurrection of my/our beloved Slowdive. While Ride’s legacy was a tad tarnished by their last pre-breakup recordings, Slowdive went out on an incredible high note with the bliss-filled, ahead-of-its-time “Pygmalion” LP in 1995. Getting to hear live renditions of the songs on that record was something I’d never hoped to dream of, so when they came back and did just that, it left me stunned (not ashamed to say my eyes welled up during the crescendos of “Blue Skied an’ Clear”, every time). New studio recordings, too? The swirly frosting on top. The fact that they pulled together an album that can sit proudly within their existing discography, with songs that fit seamlessly into their live set, is no minor victory.

[ Stream another track on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Dead Oceans ]


Swale
“There’s No One Here”
[ on Swale Songs ]

Doing my hometown proud. It’s convenient when people you know put out a record you love, since it saves you from either avoiding the topic or offering vague compliments. These four Vermonters have that rare ability to fold a bunch of styles into their songwriting while remaining unmistakably themselves. Each song on this LP sounds like a Swale song, though they don’t often sound like each other, and it all comes together as a cohesive whole. That was some Kickstarter cash well-spent.

[ Stream the record on Soundcloud / Buy direct via Bandcamp ]


TW Walsh
“Terrible Freedom”
[ on Tower of Songs ]

Timothy William Walsh’s latest LP is a triumph not just because of his songs (which are as solid as ever), but the impeccable production they’re wrapped in. He’s dialed back the guitars, using them as a tool rather than a base, and leaned more into synths and programming – yet ended up with his most soulful, natural sounding record so far. There’s a definite 70s vibe (a bit of Gary Wright, a dash of Gerry Rafferty, even a hint of early Peter Gabriel), but it’s more update than homage, avoiding nostalgic traps with meticulous ease. TW’s years of experience in mastering, mixing, and song-writing collaboration (in the Soft Drugs & Pedro the Lion) come together here effortlessly, and he’s already given us more: He recently offered up an excellent new song and accompanying video called “Born Hungry”.

[ Stream & buy the LP through Bandcamp ]


Waxahatchee
“Out in the Storm”
[ on Merge Records ]

The other half of 2017’s killer one-two Crutchfield combo, Katie’s record wastes no time letting you know her band’s gonna get a little loud this time out, the opening track starting in full-on rock mode with zero warning. It’s the perfect palette-cleanser, and readies you for the range of songs that follow – short, sharp slices of energetic indie-pop interspersed with moments of true, introspective beauty, all held together by her gorgeous voice and uncanny knack for melody.

[ Stream the whole thing on Soundcloud / Buy direct from Merge ]


Weather Weapon
“II”
[ via Bandcamp ]

Longtime area art-maker Gilmore Tamny once again showed us her sonic side with the second long player from her scrappy Somerville-based trio. Owing a clear debt to early-90s Pacific NW indie-punk, she kept the formula straight-forward – rock out with your guitar out while delivering evocative, literate lyrics as drummer Steph Melikian (Operators/GRCB) and bassist Jen Godfrey hold it down. As if a record that gives a shout out to Market Basket wasn’t going to end up on this list? I mean, come on.

[ Stream & buy on Bandcamp ]



Favorite Short-Players, Reissues,
& Web-Only Releases of 2017


Funeral Advantage
“Please Help Me” EP
[ via The Native Sound ]

Tyler Kershaw has that rare ability to write sparkling songs that sound uplifting while tackling some heavy, personal lyrical subject matter (a la Bobby Wratten of the Field Mice). His reverb-drenched guitar lines, melodies, and dynamic arrangements come together so well, and since I first heard their 2015 full-length, this band has become not just a Boston-area fave, but a fave period.

[ Stream the EP on Bandcamp / Buy direct the Native Sound ]


Gregory and the Hawk
completion of “On The Orange Mountain”
and continued creations

[ via Patreon ]

While most of Meredith Godreau’s doled-out, 10-song collection “On The Orange Mountain” was created and shared in 2016 (and made my faves list last year), it officially wrapped up last May, so I’m including it again. Lucky for us, the creating continues, as noted in a post-OtOM Patreon update: “In the past few months I have missed completing songs and making videos for you. So much so that I’ve decided to continue using Patreon to share my upcoming creations with you, not to limit my experience to just the one album.” So far we’ve heard “My Own Good”, posted in November, and hopes remain high for more this year.

[ Support GatH’s continued artistic output through Patreon ]


Hüsker Dü
“Savage Young Dü” vinyl box set
[ on Numero Group ]

I mean, what can I write about this? It’s a box set of Hüsker Dü’s early recordings. Keep doing what you do, Numero Group.

[ Stream the collection at Bandcamp / Buy direct from Numero ]


The Magic Words
self-titled remastered compilation
[ via Damnably ]

Compiling two solo releases from Wussy’s Lisa Walker, one first released in 2006 (when this was all recorded), and the other in 2015. A must-own for Wussy fans.

[ Stream the collection & buy on Bandcamp ]


Spook the Herd
The “Minor Tweaks” EP
[ via Bandcamp ]

Released posthumously in mid-December, and recorded in 2015, but it’s great enough to not get lost in the end-of-year shuffle. If you missed it, here’s your heads up. Vocalist/guitarist Abe Kimball is working on a solo record, and Jesse Weiss & Theo Hartlett are working on a new project of their own with Morgan Luzzi. Meet Pet Fox.

[ Listen & buy digitally on Bandcamp ]


Soft Skies, Inc.
quarterly song releases
[ via Bandcamp ]

Ex-Lockgroove members (and current twin brothers) Marty & Ryan Rex are doling out their latest aural creations in 3-month increments: One song per quarter, like clockwork (new one yesterday!). It’s a unique release style, but if the quality stays as high as the four songs they’re given us so far, I can easily take the 90-day waits. The first track they released, “Your Small Army“, stayed stuck in my head for much of the year, and that’s not a complaint. What a song, and what a way to announce yourself to the world. Keep ’em coming, boys.

[ Listen & buy digitally on Bandcamp ]


Terry Malts / Kids on a Crime Spree
“Our Love” split 10-inch
[ on Emotional Response ]

Terry Malts have become one of those bands on my “I’ll buy anything they do” list, and the songs they contribute to this split 10-inch are further proof that was a wise decision. More greatness from these West Coast gents, alongside a band I wasn’t familiar with but am now glad I am. And that’s all you can ask from a split record release.

[ Stream and buy the EP at Bandcamp ]


Transona Five
remastered double-LP compilation
[ on Sonic Surgery ]

A welcome compilation of this Denton, Texas-based combo’s long-out-of-print discography (with some unreleased tracks), lovingly released in remastered, double vinyl form.

[ Stream the LP at BrooklynVegan / Buy from Sonic Surgery ]


The Wheel & The Alphabet:
A Tribute To Karl Hendricks

various artists
[ on Comedy Minus ONe ]

The world lost a gifted songwriter, and by all accounts a hell of a human being, when Karl Hendricks passed away in January 2017. The Comedy Minus One label rallied KH’s music-making friends and fans for this loving tribute, released just a couple of months later. The strength of the collection is a testament to his talent, and to the impact he had on everyone involved.

[ Stream & buy the tribute on Bandcamp ]

Whew. So that’s finally done.

2018 has started ridiculously strong with great records already out from the Spook School, Superchunk, the Breeders, Buffalo Tom, Lake Ruth, Loma, Field Music, Yo La Tengo, Secretary, and a stellar EP from Ride. Soon enough we’ll be gifted with new sounds from other faves: Belly, Poster Children, Wye Oak, Wussy, and Hop Along. Not to mention recent word of the just-mastered final (sigh) Willard Grant Conspiracy album, in-progress LPs from Kristin Hersh, both solo and with her band Throwing Muses, a very hopeful update on that long-awaited next Wrens’ record, a soon-to-be-announced Eric Bachmann full-length on Merge, and news of an upcoming LP from the re-emergent Flower (!). Wonder if we’ll see one before the long-completed next Versus full-length? I’ll take ’em both, please. Also really looking forward to the first long player from Burlington, Vermont’s Clever Girls, given what I’ve heard so far.

And hey, Numero Group, how about following up those incredible Unwound, Codeine, & Bedhead box sets with a remastered SEAM collection? Just throwing that wish out there into the world.

After sporadic teasing that started in 2016, I’m still anxiously awaiting any news on the potential American Analog Set resurrection front. Though we did get this very promising instagram shot in December, which included the hashtag #weinthestudiodoots (!). What th’?! Have hope, will travel! Seriously. Just tell me where and when and I’m there, AmAnSet. I need you. #bringthatbeatback


Alright, you’ve nearly made it to the end of this thing, so how about some freebies for random (north american) readers? I’ve got three giveaways to choose from…

  • The vinyl edition of my most-appreciated recorded return of 2017: Land of Talk’s “Life After Youth”.

  • A $70 (!) gift certificate to used record shop Blue Bag Records in scenic Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • A signed hardcover copy of “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die”, the deeply moving book that Kristin Hersh wrote about her time spent with the much-missed Vic Chesnutt.

    To enter, drop an email to giveaways (at) bradleysalmanac (dot) com with “Gimme!” in the subject line, and specify what you’d like to try to win in the message (LP, book, gift certificate – you can try for all three, but only win one). Just get it to my inbox before next Monday, April 9th, 2018 at Noon EST, then I’ll select and notify the three winners that afternoon. Due to shipping costs, only enter if you’re from the US or Canada, and of course, only try for the gift certificate if you live in the Boston area, or are planning a visit.

    Thanks for reading, all. If you’re still here despite my ever-slowing posting pace, it’s genuinely appreciated. Even when this place goes silent, I’m still sharing what I love over on Farcebook, so hit me up there in the meantime. Guess I should probably start working on next year’s ‘Nac faves list now, huh?

    [In Memory of Robert Fisher] Willard Grant Conspiracy live in Cambridge MA 2006 & 2008

    Posted on December 31, 2017 at 8:49 pm | 4 Comments

    As this long, trying year comes to a close and the internet offers its plethora of “musicians we lost” posts, there’s been a name missing that more-than-deserves a mention. And not just a mention, but a goddamn bold-faced memorial: Mr. Robert Neil Fisher of the Willard Grant Conspiracy, who passed away on Sunday, February 12th, 2017 at the far-too-early age of 59.

    As a fan and longtime admirer, I’m fortunate to live in the Boston area where he was originally-based and frequently performed. The network of talented musician friends that rotated in and out of his creative collective is rooted here, so I got to see him & them play fairly often, and each set resides firmly in my brain and heart.

    When it comes to memorializing the man and musician he was in words, I’ll refer you to others: His official obituary, and appreciative tributes from Matthew at Song, By Toad, Jonathan at RPM/Life In Analog, and Loose Music on FB.

    Rather than words, I’ll instead share a couple of standout live recordings of sets performed in Cambridge, Mass: One from the Middle East Upstairs in 2006 and another from the Lilypad in Inman Square in 2008. The Lilypad appearance includes a bittersweet, classic mid-set cameo from the dearly departed Billy Ruane, himself a major WGC booster. Hard to believe he’s been gone over 7 years now.

    The cast of Conspiracy characters on these shows (and kindly correct me if I’m wrong) included guests Chris Brokaw & Drew O’Doherty on guitar for both sets, with David Michael Curry on viola, Nancy Delaney drumming, Dennis Cronin on trumpet, and Pete Sutton on bass at the Middle East. The Lilypad lineup, aside from the guitar assists from Chris & Drew, had Sean O’Brien on guitar, Anthony (?) on mandolin, and Peter on piano. I think.

    While you listen to these, remember that the future holds more music from Robert & company: He had nearly finished his final full-length, “Untethered”, before he passed, and his friends have finished it up for eventual release. Here’s hoping the new year delivers it to us. Sleep well, Robert. We were so lucky to have you around for awhile.

    Willard Grant Conspiracy
    Live at the Middle East Upstairs, Cambridge, MA
    on Friday, December 29th, 2006

    [ download the full set as one .zip file ]

    01. The Ghost of the Girl in the Well
    02. Dance With Me
    03. Fare Thee Well
    04. The Suffering Song
    05. Let It Roll

    Willard Grant Conspiracy
    Live at the Lilypad, Cambridge, MA
    on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

    [ download the full set as one .zip file ]

    01. intro
    02. Drunkard’s Prayer
    03. Notes from the Waiting Room
    04. Massachusetts
    05. The Ashes
    06. Evening Mass
    07. banter
    08. The Trials of Harrison Hayes
    09. more banter (w/Billy Ruane)
    10. Ballad of John Parker
    11. and more banter (w/Billy Ruane)
    12. The Ghost of the Girl in the Well
    13. Fare Thee Well
    14. No Such Thing As Clean

    [Last NMN’s Playlist] June’s NEW MUSIC NIGHT at ONCE Somerville

    Posted on June 19, 2017 at 9:01 am | No Comments

    Let the record show that the following list of carefully-compiled new selections were spun last Monday at the June 2017 edition of NEW MUSIC NIGHT at the ONCE Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts. Two hours of new music, locavore tacos, & ticket giveaways (last week’s winners got tix to see Ride, Land of Talk, Palehound, Now Now, & more).

    Select songs are available to stream below, but for more new music, head to Soundcloud for my oft-updated monthly ‘Nac tracks compilations.

    NEW MUSIC NIGHT – June 2017 Edition

    @ ONCE Somerville
    Monday, June 12th, 2017

    01. Iron & Wine – “Call It Dreaming
         from their upcoming “Beast Epic” LP, out in August on Sub Pop

    02. Japanese Breakfast – “Boyish
         from “Soft Sounds From Another Planet”, due out 7/14 via Dead Oceans

    03. Luna – “One Together” (Fleetwood Mac cover)
         off the forthcoming covers LP, “A Sentimental Education”, out in September

         

    04. Big Thief – “Shark Smile
         from their just-released new LP, “Capacity”

    05. Stephen MacDonald (of the Okay Win) – “At Assembly
         from his solo LP, “Locale Divide”, due out this week

    06. Rob Crow – “Just Marking Time At This Point
         the Pinback co-captain’s contribution to “Our First 100 Days

    07. People Like You – “Variations on an Aria
         first taste of their upcoming “Verse” LP, out 7/28 on Topshelf

    08. The Drums – “Mirror
         from their just-released “Abysmal Thoughts” LP on Anti

    09. Beach Fossils – “Tangerine
         featuring Rachel from Slowdive, from the new “Somersault” LP

    10. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “When I Dance With You
         from “The Echo of Pleasure” LP, due out 7/14 via Painbow

    11. Broken Social Scene – “Skyline
         from their upcoming “Hug of Thunder” LP, out 7/7 on Arts & Crafts

    12. Courtney Barnett – “How to Boil an Egg
         from a new split singles 7-inch series

    13. Swale – “Release Your Records!
         from their upcoming double LP “There’s No One Here”

         

    14. TW Walsh – “Dropout” (Alternate Version)
         alternate take on a track from his recent “Terrible Freedom” LP

    15. Palehound – “If You Met Her
         from their just-released “A Place I’ll Always Go” LP

         

    16. Waxahatchee – “Never Been Wrong
         from their “Out In The Storm” LP, out 7/14 on Merge Records

    17. Alvvays – “In Undertow
         first single from their upcoming “Antisocialites” LP, out 9/8 via Polyvinyl

    18. Tancred – “Birthday Candles
         a non-album track released as a new single

         

    19. Now Now – “SGL
         new single to tide us over until their next record

         

    20. Lake Ruth – “Dry Salt In Our Hair” (Le SuperHomard cover)
         from a new EP of covers/remixes of this Le SuperHomard track

         

    21. Land Of Talk – “Spiritual Intimidation
         from their just-released “Life After Youth” LP

    22. Andrew Cohen & Light Coma – “Your Biography
         ex-Silkworm/Bottomless Pit member teams up with LC for the “Unreality” LP

         

    23. No Hope / No Harm – “Roger Ailes Is Dead
         another Bandcamp-released single from this Boston-based band

    24. Burglary Years – “Fake Flowers (Try Harder)
         their latest single, recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks Boston

    25. Spiral Stairs – “Dundee Man
         from the former Pavement guy’s latest record, “Doris & the Daggers”

    26. David Barbe – “Portuguese Door
         from the former Sugar member’s upcoming solo LP, “10th of Seas”, out 8/18

    27. Lo Tom – “Another Mistake
         D Bazan, T Many, TW Walsh, & J Martin made an LP, out 7/14 on Barsuk

    28. Pet Symmetry – “Stare Collection
         from their recently-released “Vision” LP on Polyvinyl

    29. Rainer Maria – “Lower Worlds
         first single from their self-titled comeback record, out 8/17 on Polyvinyl

    30. Jason Loewenstein – “Hey Hey
         from his brand new solo LP, “Spooky Action”, out now on Joyful Noise

         

    31. Superchunk – “I Got Cut
         from their new 7-inch, released to benefit Planned Parenthood

    32. Gogol Bordello – “Saboteur Blues
         first taste of upcoming “Seekers and Finders” LP, out 8/25 on Cooking Vinyl

    33. Downtown Boys – “A Wall
         from their upcoming Sub Pop LP, “Cost of Living”, out 8/11

    34. Hot Water Music – “Never Going Back
         from their “Light It Up” LP, due out 9/15 on Rise Records

    35. Dead Heavens – “Isn’t Wrong
         from their just-released LP, “Whatever Witch You Are”, out on Dine Alone

         

    36. Camorra – “Roosevelt Champion
         off “Mourning, Resistance, Celebration” 10-inch EP, out 7/14 on Arctic Rodeo

    37. Oh Sees – “The Static God
         They dropped the “Thee”, and are releasing “Orc” on Castle Face on 8/25

    38. Touts – “Political People
         off of “Sickening & Deplorable”, newly-released on Hometown Records

    39. Taiwan Housing Project – “Veblen Death Mask
         title track off their new Kill Rock Stars LP

    40. A Giant Dog – “Photograph
         from their upcoming Merge Records LP, “Toy”, due out 8/25

    41. Able Baker Fox – “Drift
         from their long-awaited sophomore LP, “Visions”, out 8/25 on No Sleep

    42. The New Year – “The Party’s Over
         from their new record, “Snow”, available from Undertow

    43. Ride – “Lannoy Point
         Lead-off track from their just-released “Weather Diaries” LP

         

    [Last NMN’s Playlist] May’s NEW MUSIC NIGHT at ONCE Somerville

    Posted on May 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm | No Comments

    The May 2017 edition of NEW MUSIC NIGHT came and went on the 15th at ONCE Somerville, with ticket giveaways galore and a playlist of new songs obsessively compiled and presented by yours truly. That very playlist is below, with a few embedded tracks for your aural pleasure. For a longer listen, hit up Soundcloud for my ever-growing, monthly ‘Nac tracks compilations, and join us on Monday, June the 12th at ONCE for the next NMN…

    NEW MUSIC NIGHT – May 2017 Edition

    @ ONCE Somerville
    Monday, May 15th, 2017

    01. Wye Oak – “Wave Is Not The Water

    02. PJ Harvey – “A Dog Called Money
    03. Ty Segall – “Black Magick
    04. Broken Social Scene – “Hug of Thunder
    05. Girlpool – “Sleepless
    06. Coco Hames – “When You Said Goodbye

    07. Stephen MacDonald – “Basic
    08. Filthy Friends – “Editions of You” (Roxy Music cover)
    09. The Hayman Kupa Band – “No More Bombs

    10. The Dears – “1998
    11. The National – “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
    12. Land of Talk – “Heartcore

    13. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Anymore
    14. Phoenix – “J-Boy
    15. Mountain Goats – “Rain In Soho
    16. Shout Out Louds – “Oh Oh
    17. TW Walsh – “Terrible Freedom” (Alternate Version)
    18. Will Johnson – “Filled With A Falcon’s Dream
    19. Wilco – “Peace Love & Understanding” (Elvis Costello cover)
    20. No. 2 – “Who’s Behind The Door?
    21. Pilkington – “All Around The Neighborhood
    22. Charly Bliss – “Black Hole

    23. Fireworks – “Dream About You
    24. Factory Edge – “Ay Chi Chi
    25. Jason Loewenstein – “Superstitious

    26. Psychic Dog – “In The Dark (Pissin)
    27. Lo Tom – “Overboard
    28. The New Year – “Homebody
    29. Helium – “XXX” (2017 remaster)
    30. Kestrels – “Octavio
    31. Elder – “The Falling Veil

    32. Mogwai – “Coolverine
    33. Slowdive – “30th June

    Again, be at ONCE for next month’s installment of NEW MUSIC NIGHT on June 12th, with taco time at 5pm and NMN kicking off at 8pm. Keep an eye on the Facebook event page for the eventual list of ticket giveaways…

    [Tonight in Somerville!] NEW MUSIC NIGHT at the ONCE Lounge (new tunes, tacos, & free tix)

    Posted on May 15, 2017 at 9:12 am | No Comments

    The May 2017 edition of NEW MUSIC NIGHT is going down this very evening at the wonderful ONCE Lounge in Somerville starting at 6pm. For the uninformed: Two hours of nuthin’ but new songs spun between free ticket giveaways for a bunch of upcoming Boston-area shows, all while you chow down on some super-tasty tacos. It’s a fine time indeed, a nice way to start the week, and I say that not just because I’m your sonic selector. I simply love hangin’ at the place.

    So what can ya win? How about pairs of tickets for imminent local appearances from Will Johnson (Centro-matic), John Moreland, Mary Timony (as Helium!), Land of Talk (!!!), Psychic Dog (album release!), When Particles Collide, PowerSlut, The Knock Ups, Charly Bliss, Yucky Duster, Lost Dog, Coco Hames (of the Ettes), and Little Bandit. Just show up, throw your entry in a Chinese take out container, and cross yer fingers that I call your name.

    For the curious, below lies a look at last month‘s playlist, and if you want to dig deeper, check out my past & future ‘Nac Tracks monthly streaming Soundcloud playlists of newly-discovered songs. If you can’t make it tonight, shoot for next month’s NMN on June 12th from 8-10pm.

    NEW MUSIC NIGHT playlist
    April 2017 Edition – 4/24/17
    ONCE Lounge, Somerville, MA

    01. Marissa Nadler – “Rosemary
    02. RRing – “100 Dollar Heat
    03. Tara Jane O’Neil – “Blow
    04. Thurston Moore – “Smoke Of Dreams
    05. Will Johnson – “Predator
    06. Doug Tuttle – “Can It Be
    07. Adopted Highways – “Up
    08. Eyelids – “Falling Eyes
    09. Waxahatchee – “Silver
    10. Big Thief – “Mythological Beauty
    11. Sheer – “To Love And Feel Alive
    12. Flock of Dimes – “Potential
    13. TW Walsh – “Terrible Freedom
    14. The Vacant Lots – “Night Nurse
    15. Beach Fossils – “This Year
    16. The Drums – “Blood Under My Bed
    17. Land Of Talk – “This Time
    18. Coco Hames – “Tiny Pieces
    19. Happyness – “Bigger Glass Less Full
    20. The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Always Sad
    21. The The – “Can’t Stop What’s Coming
    22. The Mountain Goats – “Andrew Eldritch is Moving Back to Leeds
    23. Future Teens – “Party Ethic
    24. Chain & the Gang – “Certain Kinds Of Trash
    25. Guided By Voices – “Dr. Feelgood Falls Off the Ocean
    26. Broken Social Scene – “Halfway Home
    27. Black Helicopter – “And I
    28. Angus – “I’m An Idiot
    29. Kestrels – “Thorn” (MBV cover)
    30. The Van Pelt – “His Steppe Is My Prairie” (2017 remaster)
    32. Helium – “Hole In The Ground” (2017 remaster)
    33. The New Pornographers – “Whiteout Conditions
    34. Andrew Cohen & Light Coma – “Repack
    35. The New Year – “Myths
    36. Slowdive – “Sugar for the Pill
    37. Sharon Van Etten – “The End Of The World” (Skeeter Davis cover)

    keep looking »
  • About the ‘Nac

    This is Bradley's Almanac. I'm your host, Brad. Barely holding it together since February 2000.

    "I love this song. It's so true. I wish this song was a whole day long. Man, I would have the best day that day."
    - The Kids In The Hall

    "One good minute could last me the whole year..." - Superchunk
  • Almanac Archives

  • Boston-Area Action

    Sunday, October 14th
    The Natvral (Kip Berman of
    the Pains of Being Pure at Heart)
    with the Tallies
    3pm in-store
    @ Deep Thoughts JP


    Sunday, October 14th
    The Vaccines
    Jesse Jo Stark
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, October 14th
    Gorillaz
    Little Dragon
    @ TD Garden


    Sunday, October 14th
    The Natvural (Kip Berman of
    The Pains of Being Pure at Heart)
    The Tallies
    @ Dorchester Arts Project


    Sunday & Monday
    October 14th & 15th
    Death Cab for Cutie
    Charly Bliss
    @ the Wang Theatre


    Monday, October 15th
    Calvin Johnson
    Frank Hurricane
    Perennial
    Request Freebird
    @ Dorchester Arts Project


    Wednesday, October 17th
    Goo Goo Dolls
    “Dizzy Up The Girl
    20th Anniversary Tour”
    @ House of Blues


    Thursday, October 18th
    Big Thief
    The Range of Light Wilderness
    michael
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, October 18th
    The Proletariat
    Savageheads
    Silver Screams
    @ Sonia


    Friday & Saturday
    October 19th & 20th
    Nine Inch Nails
    The Jesus & Mary Chain
    @ the Wang Theatre


    Friday & Saturday
    October 19th & 20th
    The Town & the City Festival
    dozens of artists over 2 days
    in Lowell, Massachusetts


    Saturday, October 20th
    Mitski
    Jessica Lea Mayfield
    @ House of Blues


    Saturday & Sunday
    October 20th & 21st
    Chvrches
    Lo Moon
    @ the Orpheum


    Sunday, October 21st
    Johnny Marr
    The Belle Game
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, October 21st
    Courtney Barnett
    Waxahatchee
    @ House of Blues


    Monday, October 22nd
    Guided By Voices
    Park Doing
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, October 23rd
    The Church
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, October 23rd
    Garbage
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, October 24th
    Lily Allen
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, October 25th
    Minus the Bear
    Caspian
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, October 25th
    Pile
    The Spirit of the Beehive
    Lilith
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, October 26th
    We Were Promised Jetpacks
    Hurry Up
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, October 26th
    The Bevis Frond (two sets)
    @ the Rockwell


    Saturday, October 27th
    Mountain Man
    The Dead Tongues
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, October 28th
    Wavves
    Beach Fossils
    Kevin Krauter
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, October 28th
    Monster Magnet
    Electric Citizen
    Dark Sky Choir
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, October 30th
    Violent Femmes
    @ the Royale


    Tuesday, October 30th
    Minus the Bear
    Caspian
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, November 1st
    Lemuria
    Bethlehem Steel
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, November 1st
    Mom Jeans
    Just Friends
    Awakebutstillinbed
    Retirement Party
    Two shows @ Once Ballroom


    Thursday, November 1st
    Tune-Yards
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, November 2nd
    Hot Molasses (album release show!)
    Sugar Cones
    @ the Lilypad


    Friday, November 2nd
    Roky Erickson
    @ the ONCE Ballroom


    Saturday, November 3rd
    Ian Sweet
    Young Jesus
    Sean Henry
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, November 5th
    Maggie Rogers
    Mallrat
    @ the Royale


    Monday, November 5th
    Shannon & the Clams
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, November 5th
    Tenacious D
    @ the House of Blues


    Monday & Tuesday
    November 5th & 6th
    Lucinda Williams & Buick 6
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, November 6th
    Fucked Up
    Bad Waitress
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, November 6th
    The Joy Formidable
    Tancred
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, November 8th
    Julien Baker
    Phoebe Bridgers
    Lucy Dacus
    (solo & together)
    @ the Orpheum


    Thursday, November 8th
    Cursive
    Meat Wave
    Campdogzz
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, November 9th
    Low
    In/via
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday & Saturday
    November 9th & 10th
    Hassle Fest 10!
    Boston’s Underground
    Music & Art Festival
    all ages shows
    @ Brighton Music Hall (on 9/10),
    Lilypad, Studio 550, Green Street
    Studios, Hardcore Stadium, & more


    Saturday, November 10th
    Elvis Costello & The Imposters
    @ the Wang Theatre


    Monday, November 12th
    Saves the Day
    Kevin Devine
    An Horse
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, November 13th
    Pale Waves
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, November 14th
    Richard Thompson (trio)
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, November 14th
    The Alarm
    The Gobshites
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Wednesday, November 14th
    Wild Nothing
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, November 15th
    Jason Narducy (Split Single,
    Superchunk, Bob Mould’s band)
    @ an Allston living room


    Thursday, November 15th
    Weakened Friends
    Nervous Daters
    Save Ends
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, November 16th
    Kal Marks
    Maneka
    Nice Guys
    Rong
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, November 16th
    Robyn Hitchcock
    @ City Winery


    Friday, November 16th
    Jim James (from MMJ – solo)
    Alynda Segarra
    (from Hurray for the Riff Raff)
    @ the Shubert Theatre


    Friday & Saturday
    November 16th & 17th
    Letters to Cleo
    American Hi-Fi
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, November 18th
    (Sandy) Alex G
    Half Waif
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, November 20th
    Echo & the Bunnymen
    Enation
    @ the Orpheum


    Saturday, November 24th
    Death From Above
    Le Butcherettes
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, November 24th
    Thom Yorke
    Oliver Cooke
    @ the Wang Theatre


    Saturday, November 24th
    Kurt Vile & the Violators
    Jessica Pratt
    @ the House of Blues


    Monday, November 26th
    Preoccupations
    Protomartyr
    Rattle
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, November 27th
    Speedy Ortiz
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, November 29th
    Kississippi
    gobbinjr
    Ruler
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, November 29th
    Peter, Bjorn, & John
    Georgi Kay
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, November 30th
    Cloud Nothings
    The Courtneys
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, December 1st
    Snail Mail (two shows!)
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, December 2nd
    The Helio Sequence
    Wild Pink
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, December 3rd
    Cults
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, December 5th
    Lindsey Buckingham
    @ the Wilbur Theatre


    Wednesday, December 5th
    Reverend Horton Heat
    & Junior Brown with
    The Blasters
    Big Sandy
    @ the Royale


    Friday, December 7th
    Soccer Mommy
    Ratboys
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, December 8th
    Marissa Nadler
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, December 8th
    Phosphorescent
    Liz Cooper & the Stampede
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, December 9th
    Old 97s Holiday Extravaganza
    Caseymagic
    Rhett Miller
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, December 9th
    Justus Proffit & Jay Som
    Kal Marks
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, December 10th
    Priests
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, December 12th
    Gang of Youths
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Thursday, December 13th
    J Mascis
    Luluc
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, December 15th
    Night Birds
    Dark Thoughts
    Conmen
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, December 17th
    Hiss Golden Messenger
    @ The Sinclair


    Tuesday, December 18th
    Beach Bunny
    Field Medic
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, December 28th
    Bad Rabbits
    STL GLD
    Haasan Barclay
    @ The Sinclair


    Saturday, December 29th
    Hop Along
    @ Paradise Rock Club


    Monday, December 31st
    The Felice Brothers
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Monday, January 14th
    The Lemon Twigs
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, January 17th
    Camper Van Beethoven
    @ the Middle East Downstairs


    Thursday, January 24th
    Neko Case
    @ the Royale


    Friday, January 25th
    Rubblebucket
    Diet Cig
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, February 13th
    Joe Jackson
    @ the Shubert Theatre


    Wednesday, February 13th
    Metric & Zoe
    July Talk
    @ House of Blues


    Thursday, February 14th
    Car Seat Headrest
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, February 23rd
    Julia Holter
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, March 8th
    Tokyo Police Club
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, March 11th
    Teenage Fanclub
    @ the Paradise