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

    Wednesday, September 19th
    Mothers
    Lala Lala
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, September 19th
    The Growlers
    Surfbort
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, September 19th
    Arthur Buck
    (Joseph Arthur & Peter Buck)
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Wednesday, September 19th
    Michael Nesmith &
    The First National Band
    @ the Somerville Theatre


    Thursday, September 20th
    Gary Numan
    Nightmare Air
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, September 21st
    Helen Money
    Thalia Zedek Band
    (album release party!)
    Sleepyhead
    @ the Midway in JP


    Friday, September 21st
    Outlaw Music Festival with
    Willie Nelson, Sturgill Simpson,
    Nathaniel Rateliff & The
    Night Sweats, Margo Price,
    Lukas Nelson & Promise of the
    Real, Particle Kid
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Friday, September 21st
    Silver Screams
    The Runouts
    Graneros
    The Appleyards
    @ UnchARTed, Lowell


    Friday, September 21st
    Rooney
    Mating Ritual
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, September 22nd
    Funeral Advantage, Kindling,
    Future Teens, Cosmic Johnny,
    Sam Moss & the Half Millions,
    Cheem, Gabe Goodman, Banana,
    (T-T)b, Tuft, Bad Larrys,
    Another Musician, Gia Greene,
    DJ Camino84, and more
    @ the ONCE Ballroom


    Sunday, September 23rd
    Portugal. The Man
    Lucius
    @ the Blue Hills Pavilion


    Tuesday, September 25th
    Alvvays
    Hatchie
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, September 26th
    Michael Hurley
    Darren Hanlon
    @ the Rockwell


    Wednesday, September 26th
    Carl Broemel
    (of My Morning Jacket)
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, September 26th
    Mt. Joy
    @ the Royale


    Friday, September 28th
    Bully
    Honey Cutt (fka Baby!)
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, October 1st
    Blizten Trapper
    @ Great Scott


    Monday, October 1st
    The Charlatans
    Frankiie
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, October 2nd
    Brian Fallon (Gaslight Anthem)
    Craig Finn (the Hold Steady)
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, October 3rd
    Simple Minds
    @ the Orpheum


    Thursday, October 4th
    mewithoutyou
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, October 4th
    Tom Morello
    @ the Old South Meeting House


    Friday, October 5th
    Cat Power
    Willis Earl Beal
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, October 5th
    Great Lake Swimmers
    Joshua Hyslop
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, October 5th
    The Decemberists
    Marissa Nadler
    @ the Orpheum


    Saturday, October 6th
    Active Bird Community
    Samia
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, October 6th
    Social Distortion
    Will Hoge
    Pony Bradshaw
    @ the House of Blues


    Sunday, October 7th
    Nothing
    Swirlies
    Big Bite
    Smut
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, October 7th
    Ben Howard
    Wye Oak
    @ Blue Hills Bank Pavilion


    Monday, October 8th
    Liz Phair
    Speedy Ortiz
    @ the Royale


    Monday, October 8th
    Gruff Rhys
    @ Great Scott


    Tuesday, October 9th
    White Denim
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Wednesday, October 10th
    Joyce Manor
    Vundabar
    Big Eyes
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, October 11th
    Parks (record release!)
    Hallelujah the Hills
    Photocomfort
    Future Teens
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, October 11th
    Swearin’
    Empath
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, October 12th
    Florence & the Machine
    @ the TD Garden


    Saturday, October 13th
    The Jayhawks
    @ the Somerville Theatre


    Sunday, October 14th
    The Vaccines
    @ 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)
    @ 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
    @ 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
    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
    @ 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
    Weakened Friends
    Nervous Daters
    Save Ends
    @ 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


    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
    Phosphorescent
    Liz Cooper & the Stampede
    @ the Royale


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


    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


    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


    Friday, January 25th
    Rubblebucket
    Diet Cig
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, February 14th
    Car Seat Headrest
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, February 23rd
    Julia Holter
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Monday, March 11th
    Teenage Fanclub
    @ the Paradise