Bradley's Almanac

2009: My Favorite (Boston-made) Music

Posted on March 3, 2010 at 12:13 pm | No Comments

As I mentioned in my list of favorite full-lengths released last year, there were so many that came from bands based here in the Boston-area that I thought I’d spotlight them in their very own post. To be completely clear, though: This is far from some lesser-category of local releases, but a list of 10 albums that sit proudly alongside my other favorite 20 – the fact that they originate from Boston would be entirely irrelevant if it didn’t give me some major hometown pride. And allow me to see these bands play live a lot more than most of you.

And yes, I do realize it’s March already, and far too late for such a list. I am shamed. Better late than never, right?

So here they are, in alphabetical order, my favorite albums of 2009 that just happened to be created by Boston-area bands, along with a few shorter local releases that made my year better. I’ve included a free n’ legal MP3 with each (all gathered in a .zip file at the bottom), and have linked the label names to where you can buy the full-lengths, in the event you’re compelled to give these talented souls some cash (hint: you are).


Arms and Sleepers“Matador”
(on Fake Chapter Records)

My favorite ambient album of ’09, from a Boston/Portland duo that’s been around for awhile and finally made it onto my radar with this album’s release in November. Collaborators abound on “Matador”, including this gorgeous duet with Catherine Worsham of Uzi & Ari, which also features a bit of guitar work from Mona Elliott of Travels

[MP3] Arms and Sleepers – “The Architekt



The Beatings“Late Season Kids”
(on Midriff Records)

I wrote a bit about the triumph of persistence that is The Beatings’ sixth album right here, and it still rings true. In case you missed it, be sure to freely download the entire (and entirely excellent) Midriff Records 2009 Sampler on which this song also resides…

[MP3] The Beatings – “All Things You’ve Been Missing



Caspian“Tertia”
(on The Myelene Sheath)

My inclusion of Beverly’s Caspian on this list should come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading the ‘Nac for awhile. They continue to grow, stretching the bounds of instrumental post-rock, writing songs that may shine on record, but are near-blinding in a live setting. I love that their label – The Mylene Sheath – treats us to limited edition, hi-quality Caspian vinyl, and that they’ll also be putting out deluxe CD reissues of the bands’ previous work in a couple weeks. Go here for details and pre-order action.

[MP3] Caspian – “Of Foam and Wave



The Channels“Cold Comfort”
(self-released)

This album took me by surprise, only because I came upon it in a most unusual and unassuming way – it was handed to me by my temporary bandmate, guitarist/singer/cartoonist Rob Sergel, on the night of our first and only show together (so far?) as the Marvelous Marbles. I had no idea what to expect when I popped it into my computer a couple weeks later – but within a couple listens I considered myself very, very lucky. Rob and his friend Ben have crafted a bedroom pop gem, somber in subject, uplifting in execution, and waiting to be discovered by a whole hell of a lot more like-minded listeners.

Y’know, as much fun as I had playing with my MM bandmates, I wouldn’t have predicted I’d walk away from the experience holding onto one of my favorite albums of the year. I’ve shared one track with Rob’s permission below, but you can stream the entirety of “Cold Comfort” right here.

[MP3] The Channels – “Don’t Come Over



Hallelujah the Hills“Colonial Drones”
(on Misra Records)

Hallelujah the Hills’ second album damn well delivered on the promise made by their first, proving yet again that literate songs need not be boring – hell, they can be downright catchy. They’ve found the perfect studio balance, layering dense, detailed instrumentation in a blanket of warm production that sounds like no one else – you hear an HtH song and you know it’s them. Here’s one to make you dance

[MP3] Hallelujah the Hills – “Blank Passports



Mean Creek

“The Sky (Or The Underground)”
(on Old Flame Records)

When I first heard this, Mean Creek’s second album, I knew I liked it quite a bit, but that I’d need to spend more time discovering just how much. Before that happened, I caught the band downstairs at the Middle East as part of the Mark Sandman Memorial Concert, and was frankly flat-out blown away. That live performance, the power of it, the perfect sound mix and harmonies of that afternoon set… well, it brought even greater life to the studio versions and elevated the songs in my ears. I’m generally not a fan of music-related awards contests and such, but this is one I can get behind.

[MP3] Mean Creek – “The Sky (Or The Underground)



The Novel Ideas“The Sky Is A Field”
(self-released)

I said it back in December, and I’ll say it again: Songs that make me swoon. Their introductory email hit my inbox just when I needed it most, in October, when various life-related dominoes started falling around me, and this album helped keep my head up. Still does. Stream the whole thing here.

[MP3] The Novel Ideas – “The Sky

I’m also compelled to mention that Novel Ideas’ member Alex Caplow has released a pretty stunning new album titled “Real Life Color” under the name Magic Man. The songs, co-written and recorded with his old friend Sam Lee (of The Tumbled Sea), came together while the two were working together on organic farms last summer in France. More than worth a free download right here. I’ll be spending a lot more time with this one as winter becomes spring.



Pants Yell!“Received Pronunciation”
(on Slumberland Records)

The simple fact is that “Not Wrong“, the next-to-last track on “Received Pronunciation”, is hands down my favorite song of 2009. And without the ‘Boston’ qualifier, either. I don’t like to settle on absolute faves, because my mood changes too much for me to be sure of such things, but over and over again I come back to this simple, understated, perfect little gem that gets me every single time. And it sits on this album among so many other pop treasures, showing that these three guys can craft songs that add up to so much more than the sum of their parts.

[MP3] Pants Yell! – “Cold Hands



Taxpayer“Don’t Steal My Night Vision”
(on Lunch Records)

A bona fide rock record, refreshingly self-assured without being at-all cheezy. There are far too many bands in this town who cross that line, who are all cocky showmanship but no substance – who have the swagger but not the songs. Taxpayer ain’t one of those bands. There are also a ton of bands here who have some good music, but settle for a mediocre vocalist because he plays guitar and writes the songs. Well, Taxpayer ain’t that either, thanks to singer/guitarist Jared Marsh, who has the confidence and the range to handle what’s going on behind him. Like Mean Creek, these guys deserved all the accolades thrown their way in ’09.

[MP3] Taxpayer – “We Have Arrived



You Can Be A Wesley“Heard Like Us”
(self-released)

I’ve professed my love for the Wesleys many times before, and their debut full-lengther was pretty much guaranteed a spot on my yearly faves list from the get go. Can’t wait to see what’s up their sleeves for a follow-up.

[MP3] You Can Be A Wesley – “Creatures

Before I put a period on the end of my musical 2009, here are a few other local non-long-players that occupied my ears last year, and a couple that came out last year but I’ve only recently started digging…

  • I really dug the Christians & Lions “Bird’s Milk” EP, which you can download for free (and under a Creative Commons license) at the bottom of this page. Here’s the title track…

  • I fell quickly for Girlfriends after hearing the five songs from their debut cassette EP, and fell even further after I saw them play Great Scott in January. They are, in fact, the real deal. And they happen to share a member (and label) with Christians & Lions. Which I didn’t realize until after I got into both bands independently. Seems Ben Potrykus has my number. Go listen.
  • I sang the praises of Dylan In The Movies in that December fave songs post, and I can’t resist an opportunity to do so again. The long-in-the-making next album is now titled “Josephine If You Only Knew“, named for what is now the title track, and it’ll be out on American Laundromat this year. Given how much I love this song, how much I played it last year, and how great the new stuff they played on last week’s KEXP studio session was (seriously, go listen), my anticipation has reached new heights. Added bonus: One of the songs on the album features backing vocals from the Watson Twins and the track “Girl With the Black Tights” was co-written with Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, Breeders, + Belly, of course). Download the “Josephine” single here, and keep an eye on the American Laundromat site for updates on the album’s eventual release.
  • Age Rings are dead; long live Hot Protestants. With a lineup shift, the new name emerged last summer when the band played their first show at Great Scott and offered up an excellent 4-song EP. A second 4-song blast quickly followed in October, and you can download both (naming your own price) right here. Full length on the way? Here’s hoping. Here’s the first track from that first EP…

  • As promised, here’s a .zip file with all the songs linked above.

    For your further edification (assuming you haven’t had enough reading), have a look at the Metro’s look back at local music in 2009, with contributions from writers Linda Laban, Luke O’Neil, Selene Angier, Pat Healy, G. Valentino Ball, and Nolan Gawron. Globe writer Jonathan Perry shared his own list of ’09 local faves on January 1st. Yes, the man’s punctuality (not to mention his writing) puts me to shame. Next year I’ll do better. Well, unless I don’t.

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  • 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
  • Almanac Archives

  • Boston-Area Action

    Saturday, December 16th
    Bent Shapes (farewell show),
    Laika's Orbit, & Beware the
    Dangers of a Ghost Scorpion
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, December 18th
    Unsane
    Big Brave
    Child Bite
    Hepatagua
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, December 21st
    Ceremony
    Nothing
    @ Sonia


    Friday, December 22nd
    Love Love & Friends Xmas Show!
    with special guests Rick Berlin,
    Field Day, Bob Kendall,
    Anna Rae/Hemway, & Martha Marin
    @ the Midway Cafe


    Thursday, December 28th
    Cymbals Eat Guitars
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday & Sunday
    December 30th & 31st
    Deer Tick
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, December 31st
    Speedy Ortiz
    Ovlov
    Wendy Eisenberg
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, January 6th
    Fur Purse (LP Release Party!)
    with Whore Paint,
    Shepherdess, and Sister
    @ the Midway Cafe


    Wednesday, January 10th
    Craig Finn & the
    Uptown Controllers
    with John K. Samson
    @ City Winery Boston


    Friday, January 12th
    Passion Pit
    @ House of Blues


    Saturday, January 13th
    ONE NIGHT BAND
    40 musicians form 8 new
    bands & perform that night
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, January 13th
    Lana Del Rey
    Jhene Aiko
    @ TD Garden


    Saturday, January 13th
    Wildhoney
    Horse Jumper of Love
    Mini Dresses
    Strange Passage
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, January 13th
    Camper Van Beethoven
    Cracker
    @ the Middle East Downstairs


    Thursday, January 18th
    Deerhoof
    Family Planning
    Olivia Neutron-John
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Sunday, January 21st
    Tennis
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, January 24th
    Sleigh Bells
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, January 24th
    Destroyer
    Mega Bog
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, January 26th
    The Posies
    @ City Winery Boston


    Wednesday, January 31st
    Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
    Night Beats
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, February 3rd
    Steve Earle
    @ City Winery Boston


    Friday, February 9th
    Girlpool
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, February 10th
    Weakened Friends
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday & Sunday
    February 10th & 11th
    Ian Hunter
    & the Rant Band
    @ City Winery Boston


    Friday, February 16th
    Steve Earle
    @ City Winery Boston


    Friday, February 16th
    Robert Plant
    @ the Orpheum


    Saturday, February 17th
    Porches
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, February 17th
    Noel Gallagher’s
    High Flying Birds
    @ the Boston Opera House


    Sunday, February 18th
    X Ambassadors
    Now, Now
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, February 21st
    Frightened Rabbit
    Wintersleep
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, March 1st
    Shopping
    French Vanilla
    @ Great Scott


    Tuesday, March 6th
    Jessica Lea Mayfield
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, March 8th
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, March 8th
    Tune-Yards
    @ the Royale


    Friday, March 9th
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    @ Sanders Theatre, Harvard


    Friday, March 9th
    OMD
    @ the House of Blues


    Saturday, March 10th
    Nada Surf celebrating the 15th
    anniversary of their "Let Go" LP
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, March 23rd
    Glen Hansard
    @ House of Blues Boston


    Saturday, March 31st
    S. Carey
    @ Great Scott


    Tuesday, April 3rd
    Yo La Tengo
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, April 7th
    Ought
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, April 10th
    Franz Ferdinand
    @ House of Blues Boston


    Tuesday, April 17th
    Ministry
    Chelsea Wolfe
    @ the Royale


    Friday, April 20th
    Buffalo Tom
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, April 22nd
    The Darkness
    @ the Royale


    Friday, April 27th
    They Might Be Giants
    @ the House of Blues


    Saturday, April 28th
    Peter Hook & the Light
    performing both of the
    "Substance" collections by
    Joy Division & New Order
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday & Sunday
    April 28th & 29th
    Turnover
    Camp Cope
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, May 18th
    The Fratellis
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, June 2nd
    Japanese Breakfast
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, June 11th
    Jimmy Eat World
    Alex Lahey
    @ House of Blues


    Tuesday, July 17th
    Weezer
    Pixies
    @ Xfinity Center


    July 21st & 22nd
    Foo Fighters
    @ Fenway Park


    Friday, August 10th
    Pedro the Lion
    @ Brighton Music Hall