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

    Friday, April 3rd
    (Rick from) Pile
    @ online stream


    Saturday, April 25th
    Adrienne Lenker
    (of Big Thief)
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, April 25th
    Tennis
    Molly Burch
    @ the Royale


    Tuesday, April 28th
    Brendan Benson
    @ Great Scott


    Tuesday, April 28th
    The Residents
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, April 28th
    Andy Shauf
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, April 29th
    The Radio Dept.
    Hater
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Thursday, April 30th
    Napalm Death
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, April 30th
    & Friday, May 1st
    They Might Be Giants
    30th Anniversary of “Flood”!
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, May 2nd
    … And You Will Know
    Us By The Trail Of Dead
    with Greenbeard
    @ ONCE Somerville


    Sunday, May 3rd
    Greg Dulli
    Joseph Arthur
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, May 3rd
    Wavves
    Sad Girl
    @ Big Night Live


    Sunday, May 3rd
    Sparta
    @ ONCE Somerville


    Monday, May 4th
    The House of Love
    @ the Middle East


    Tuesday, May 5th
    Half Waif
    Ian Chang
    @ Café 939


    Tuesday, May 5th
    Ratboys
    Another Michael
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, May 6th
    June of ’44
    E
    @ ONCE Somerville


    Thursday, May 7th
    U.S. Girls
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, May 9th
    Tanya Donelly & Friends
    @ the Burren


    Thursday, May 14th
    Bikini Kill
    @ the Wang


    Friday, May 15th
    Nap Eyes
    Lionlimb
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, May 15th
    Hinds
    DJ Carbo
    @ ONCE Somerville


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


    Saturday, May 16th
    Torres
    @ Great Scott


    Sunday, May 17th
    Lemon Twigs
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, May 18th
    Purity Ring
    @ House of Blues


    Monday, May 18th
    Heaven 17
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday & Tuesday
    May 18th & 19th
    Todd Rundgren
    @ Big Night Live


    Wednesday, May 20th
    Diet Cig
    Sad13
    Thin Lips
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, May 21st
    Jens Lekman (with Eddy Kwon)
    & Youth Orchestras across the USA
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, May 21st
    Madness
    @ the House of Blues


    Saturday, May 23rd
    Girl Talk
    @ the Royale


    Monday, May 25th
    REO Speedwagon
    @ Big Night Live


    Monday & Tuesday
    May 25th & 26th
    AJJ
    Xiu Xui (w/guest Jonathan
    Meiburg of Shearwater)
    Emperor X
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, May 27th
    Shiner
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, May 27th
    Frances Quinlan (of Hop Along)
    @ the Somerville Armory


    Saturday, May 30th
    Land of Talk
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, May 30th
    Stray Bullets
    Duck & Cover
    Silver Screams
    Disco Rice
    @ O’Brien’s


    Wednesday, June 3rd
    Hovvdy
    @ ONCE Somerville


    Thursday, June 4th
    EOB
    (Ed O’Brien of Radiohead)
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, June 4th
    Polaris
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, June 4th
    Violent Femmes
    X
    @ House of Blues


    Saturday, June 6th
    Car Seat Headrest
    Twin Peaks
    @ House of Blues


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


    Sunday, June 7th
    King Buzzo & Trevor Dunn
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, June 12th
    Buffalo Tom
    Ted Leo
    @ Big Night Live


    Friday, June 12th
    Bombay Bicycle Club
    Liza Anne
    @ the Royale


    Friday, June 12th
    The Airborne Toxic Event
    @ House of Blues


    Saturday, June 13th
    Tanya Donelly & Friends
    @ the Burren


    Saturday, June 13th
    Holy Fuck
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, June 16th
    Alice Cooper
    Tesla
    Lita Ford
    @ the Pavilion


    Friday, June 19th
    We Were Promised Jet Packs
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, June 20th
    The Growlers
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, June 21st
    James Taylor &
    his All-Star Band
    with Brandi Carlile
    & Shawn Colvin
    @ Fenway Park


    Tuesday, June 23rd
    Primus
    “A Tribute to Kings”
    (a Rush tribute)
    with Wolfmother
    and the Sword
    at the Pavilion


    Wednesday, June 24th
    Swans
    Anna von Haussewolf
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Wednesday, July 1st
    The Naked & Famous
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, July 1st
    Steely Dan
    Steve Winwood
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Friday, July 3rd
    Braids
    @ Great Scott


    Sunday, July 5th
    Halsey
    Chvrches
    Omar Apollo
    @ Xfinity Center


    Tuesday, July 7th
    Nicole Atkins
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, July 9th
    Alanis Morissette
    Garbage
    Liz Phair
    @ Xfinity Center


    Saturday, July 11th
    Tanya Donelly & Friends
    @ the Burren


    Sunday, July 12th
    Pernice Brothers
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, July 12th
    Barenaked Ladies
    Gin Blossoms
    Toad the Wet Sprocket
    @ the Pavilion


    Wednesday, July 15th
    Ministry
    KMFDM
    Front Line Assembly
    @ House of Blues


    Thursday & Friday
    July 16th & 17th
    Bon Jovi
    Bryan Adams
    @ the Garden


    Tuesday, July 21st
    Kim Gordon
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, July 25th
    Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, July 26th
    The Hollies
    @ the Wilbur


    Tuesday, July 28th
    Roger Waters
    @ the Garden


    Wednesday, July 29th
    Journey
    Pretenders
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Friday, July 31st
    Kraftwerk
    @ the Wang


    Saturday, August 1st
    Built to Spill
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, August 4th
    Foreigner
    Kansas
    Europe
    @ the Pavilion


    Tuesday, August 11th
    Hamilton Leithauser
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, August 14th
    Deftones
    Gojira
    Poppy
    @ Agganis Arena


    Sunday, August 16th
    Jimmy Eat World
    The Front Bottoms
    Turnover
    @ the Pavilion


    Friday, August 21st
    The Black Keys
    Gary Clark Jr.
    Yola
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Tuesday, August 25th
    Motley Crue
    Def Leppard
    Poison
    Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
    @ Fenway Park


    Tuesday, August 25th
    Wilco & Sleater-Kinney
    @ the Pavilion


    Saturday, August 29th
    Daryl Hall & John Oates
    Squeeze
    KT Tunstall
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Friday, September 4th
    Kiss
    David Lee Roth
    @ Xfinity Center


    Wednesday, September 9th
    New Order
    Pet Shop Boys
    @ the Pavilion


    Friday, September 25th
    Clannad
    @ Berklee Performance Center


    Friday, September 25th
    Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
    Weyes Blood
    @ Agganis Arena


    Saturday, September 26th
    Sleaford Mods
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, September 28th
    Ty Segall & the Freedom Band
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, October 3rd
    Circle Jerks
    @ the Paradise


    Monday, October 26th
    Snow Patrol
    acoustic tour
    @ the Orpheum


    Wednesday, October 28th
    Einstürzende Neubauten
    “The Year Of The Rat Tour”
    @ the Wilbur Theater


    Sunday, November 7th
    Hoodoo Gurus
    @ the Sinclair