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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  • Almanac Archives

  • Boston-Area Action

    Wednesday, November 20th
    Beach Bunny
    Another Michael
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, November 21st
    Robert Gordon
    Chris Spedding
    Diablogato
    @ ONCE Ballroom


    Friday, November 22nd
    Matt & Kim
    @ House of Blues


    Friday & Saturday
    November 22nd & 23rd
    Letters to Cleo
    Speedy Ortiz
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, November 24th
    Robyn Hitchcock
    @ City Winery


    Sunday, December 1st
    Knower
    Ryan Power
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, December 3rd
    The Joy Formidable
    Twen
    Bryde
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Wednesday, December 4th
    Lucy Dacus
    Haley Heynderickx (solo)
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, December 4th
    Thurston Moore Group
    @ ONCE Somerville


    Thursday, December 5th
    Twin Peaks
    with Ohmme (afternoon show)
    and Lala Lala (night show)
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, December 5th
    Horse Jumper of Love
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, December 7th
    J. Robbins (Jawbox/Burning Airlines)
    full band show
    @ Great Scott


    Sunday, December 8th
    The Fixx
    Royston Langdon
    @ Big Night Live


    Sunday, December 8th
    Cher
    with Nile Rogers & Chic
    @ the Garden


    Monday, December 9th
    Stove
    @ ONCE Ballroom


    Tuesday, December 10th
    Pile
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, December 10th
    Turnover
    Men I Trust
    Renata Zeiguer
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, December 11th
    Pixies
    Kristin Hersh Trio
    @ Big Night Live
    (new venue near TD Garden)


    Wednesday, December 11th
    Turnover
    Men I Trust
    Renata Zeiguer
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, December 11th
    Battles
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, December 13th
    Mount Eerie
    & Julie Doiron
    @ the Somerville Armory


    Friday, December 13th
    Ween
    @ the House of Blues


    Friday, December 13th
    Kevin Devine
    & the Goddamn Band
    An Horse
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, December 14th
    The Cult
    “A Sonic Temple” Tour
    with Spirit Animal
    @ the House of Blues


    Wednesday & Saturday
    December 18th & 21st
    Piebald
    Nomad Stones
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, Friday, & Saturday
    December 19th, 20th, & 21st
    Lucero
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, December 21st
    Piebald
    Ivy Stone
    Weakened Friends
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, December 21st
    Daughters
    Health
    Show Me The Body
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, December 27th
    Ryley Walker
    Chris Forsyth
    Garcia Peoples
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, December 28th
    The Push Stars
    @ the Paradise


    Monday & Tuesday,
    December 30th & 31st
    Deer Tick: TickTock 2020
    with Robert Ellis/Texas Piano Man
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, January 2nd, 2020
    The Felice Brothers
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, January 6th
    Motion City Soundtrack
    @ the House of Blue Boston


    Saturday, January 11th
    Book of Love
    DJ Chris Ewen
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Wednesday, January 15th
    Beach Fossils
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, January 16th
    Camper Van Beethoven
    @ the Middle East Downstairs


    Sunday, January 19th
    The Motels
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, January 31st
    Sidewalk Driver
    Party Bois
    Cliff Notez
    Lifestyle
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, February 1st
    Nada Surf
    Aaron Lee Tasjan
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, February 1st
    Cold War Kids
    Overcoats
    @ the House of Blues


    Thursday, February 13th
    Tim and Eric
    2020 Mandatory Attendance World Tour
    @ the Orpheum


    Monday, February 17th
    Bat For Lashes
    @ Royale


    Wednesday, February 19th
    Sloan play “Navy Blues”
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday & Sunday
    February 22nd & 23rd
    Hot Water Music
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, February 23rd
    Wolf Parade
    Jo Passed
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, March 3rd
    Wye Oak
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, March 5th
    OM
    Wovenhand
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, March 6th
    Destroyer
    Nap Eyes
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, March 7th
    Squirrel Flower
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, March 13th
    Wire
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, March 14th
    Lower Dens
    :3ION
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Monday, March 16th
    Best Coast
    Mannequin Pussy
    @ the Royale


    Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
    March 20th, 21st, & 22nd
    Dashboard Confessional
    & The Get Up Kids
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, March 24nd
    Caribou
    @ the House of Blues


    Wednesday, March 25th
    Keane
    @ the Orpheum


    Sunday, March 29th
    Beach Bunny
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Sunday, March 29th
    John Moreland
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, April 2nd
    Sofi Tukker
    “RIP Shame World” Tour
    @ the House of Blues


    Friday & Saturday
    April 3rd & 4th
    CASPIAN
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, April 11th
    Peter Bjorn and John
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Monday, April 13th
    Basia Bulat
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, April 14th
    Patrick Watson
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, April 23rd
    Real Estate
    Palm
    @ the Royale


    Friday, April 24th
    Dead Can Dance
    Agnes Obel
    @ the Wang


    Saturday, April 25th
    Tennis
    Molly Burch
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, April 26th


    Tuesday, April 28th
    Andy Shauf
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, April 30th
    They Might Be Giants
    30th Anniversary of “Flood”!
    @ the Royale


    Tuesday, May 5th
    Ratboys
    Another Michael
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, May 14th
    Bikini Kill
    @ the Wang


    Friday, May 15th
    Sturgill Simpson
    Tyler Childers
    @ TD Garden


    Saturday, June 6th
    Foals
    Local Natives
    Cherry Glazerr
    @ the Pavilion


    Wednesday, July 29th
    Journey
    Pretenders
    @ the Xfinity Center