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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    Saturday, July 17th
    Hallelujah the Hills
    @ the USS Constitution


    Saturday, July 17th
    Dyr Faser
    Margaret Garrett
    New Aura
    @ ONCE @ Boynton Yards


    Saturday, July 17th
    Thalia Zedek
    Richie Parsons
    Eric Martin
    7pm @ the Midway


    Friday, July 23rd
    The Rum Bar Boston Blowout
    with Watts, The Dogmatics,
    The Dents & Stop Calling Me Frank
    @ ONCE x Boynton Yards


    Saturday, July 24th
    ONCE presents
    “NICE, a fest”
    with…
    Really From, Bowling Shoes,
    Shallow Pools, Mint Green,
    The Infinity Ring, Pet Fox,
    Frisbee Club, Lady Pills,
    Kira McSpice, Kati Malison,
    Mercet, & Jesus The Dinosaur
    @ ONCE @ Boynton Yards


    Friday, July 30th
    Kevin Morby
    & Waxahatchee
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    Friday, July 30th
    Luna
    @ Truro Vineyards


    Monday, August 2nd
    Japanese Breakfast
    @ Gateway City Arts, Holyoke


    Thursday, August 5th
    Squeeze
    Hall & Oates
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Thursday, August 5th
    Soul Asylum
    Local H
    Juliana Hatfield
    @ Vault Music Hall
    in New Bedford, MA


    Friday, August 6th
    Modest Mouse
    @ Some Bank Pavilion


    Saturday, August 7th
    The Spearmint Sea
    @ ONCE x Boynton Yards


    Saturday, August 14th
    Freezepop
    Worshipper
    Sidewalk Driver
    The Glitter Boys
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, August 24th
    Wilco
    Sleater-Kinney
    Nnamdi
    @ Some Bank Pavilion


    Sunday, August 29th
    Cloud Nothings
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, September 3rd
    Thalia Zedek Band
    Helen Money
    Chris Brokaw Rock Band
    Hilken Mancini & Chris Colbourn
    @ the Middle East Upstairs


    Saturday, September 4th
    Alanis Morissette
    Garbage
    Liz Phair
    @ Xfinity Center


    Tuesday, September 7th
    Mint Green
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, Sept. 10th
    Slaughter Beach, Dog
    Shannen Moser
    Gladie
    @ The Sinclair


    Saturday, Sept. 11th
    Guided By Voices
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, Sept. 16th
    Bob Mould Band
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, Sept. 17th
    Julien Baker
    Thao
    Katie Malco
    @ House of Blues


    Friday, Sept. 17th
    Flogging Molly
    Violent Femmes
    Me First & the Gimme Gimmes
    THICK
    @ Some Bank Pavilion


    Saturday, Sept. 18th
    Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit
    @ the Wang


    Sunday, September 19th
    Middle Kids
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, Sept. 22nd
    Future Islands
    W. Hinds
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, Sept. 22nd
    OH SEES
    @ The Sinclair


    Wednesday & Thursday
    September 22nd & 23rd
    Soccer Mommy
    Squirrel Flower
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, Sept. 23th
    Toad the Wet Sprocket
    @ the Wilbur


    Friday, Sept. 24th
    Primus
    @ the Some Bank Pavilion


    Sunday, September 26th
    Phoebe Bridgers
    Muna
    @ the Some Bank Pavilion


    Tuesday, September 28th
    Quicksand
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, September 29th
    Heartless Bastards
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, Sept. 29th
    José González
    Rufus Wainwright
    @ the Orpheum


    Thursday, Sept. 30th
    an evening with
    Mary Chapin Carpenter,
    Marc Cohn, & Shawn Colvin
    @ the Chevalier


    Thursday & Friday
    Sept. 30th & Oct. 1st
    Caspian
    Junior Beef
    @ The Sinclair


    Saturday, October 2nd
    Todd Rundgren
    @ Big Night Live


    Sunday, October 3rd
    AGP15:
    Thalia Zedek Band
    Honey Radar
    Andrew Cohen
    @ O’Brien’s


    Monday, October 4th
    Gary Numan
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, October 5th
    Will Sheff (Okkervil River)
    Damien Jurado
    @ City Winery


    Thursday & Friday
    October 7th & 8th
    Lady Lamb
    with strings
    @ City Winery Boston


    Tuesday, October 12th
    Idles
    @ the House of Blues


    Wednesday, October 13th
    Nothing
    @ The Sinclair


    Thursday, October 14th
    St. Vincent
    @ the Wang


    Saturday, October 16th
    Waxahatchee
    Katy Kirby
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, October 16th
    Lucy Dacus
    Bartees Strange
    @ the House of Blues


    Monday, October 18th
    Manchester Orchestra
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, October 20th
    Diet Cig
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday & Saturday
    October 22nd & 23rd
    The Town & the City Festival
    a stacked lineup of artists
    @ venues around Lowell, MA


    Saturday, Sunday, & Monday
    October 23rd, 24th, & 25th
    The Magnetic Fields
    Christian Lee Hutson
    @ City Winery Boston


    Saturday, October 30th
    Wild Nothing
    Beach Fossils
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, October 30th
    The Monkees
    Farewell Tour
    @ the Chevalier, Medford


    Tuesday, November 2nd
    Buck Meek
    (of Big Thief)
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, November 5th
    beabadoobee
    @ the Royale


    Friday, November 5th
    Titus Andronicus
    performs “The Monitor”
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, November 8th
    Tennis
    Molly Burch
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, November 14th
    The Psychedelic Furs
    @ the Cabot in Beverly


    Monday, November 15th
    The Flaming Lips
    @ the House of Blues


    Monday & Tuesday
    November 8th & 9th
    Beach Bunny
    Miloe
    @ the Paradise


    Wednesday, November 10th
    Adrianne Lenker
    (of Big Thief)
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, November 13th
    Moving Targets
    @ the Middle East


    Tuesday, November 16th
    Half Waif
    @ Sonia


    Wednesday, November 17th
    Nada Surf
    Pom Pom Club
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, November 18th
    Deer Tick
    Delta Spirit
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, November 18th
    Tokyo Police Club
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, November 19th
    Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
    @ the Chevalier


    Tuesday, November 23rd &
    Wed., Nov. 24th (ska dream night)
    Jeff Rosenstock
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, November 27th
    Dinosaur Jr.
    The Lemonheads
    @ the House of Blues


    Wednesday, December 1st
    CHVRCHES
    Donna Missal
    @ House of Blues


    Friday, December 3rd
    Hiss Golden Messenger
    Rosali
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, December 7th
    Metz
    Preoccupations
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, December 11th
    Slow Pulp
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Sunday, December 12th
    Runnner
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, December 14th
    Steve Gunn
    Jeff Parker
    @ The Sinclair


    Wednesday, December 15th
    Bully
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Monday, January 24th
    Best Coast
    Rosie Tucker
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, February 5th
    Erasure
    @ the Orpheum


    Wednesday, February 8th
    Courtney Barnett
    Bartees Strange
    @ the Wang


    Friday, February 24th
    Sleigh Bells
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, March 1st
    AFI
    Cold Cave
    @ the Royale


    Monday, March 7th
    Microphones
    Emily Sprague
    @ Somerville Theatre


    Thursday, March 13th
    Reigning Sound
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, March 19th
    Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
    @ Sonia


    Low
    Friday, April 1st
    @ Columbus Theatre
    in Providence


    Sunday, April 3rd
    Andy Shauf
    @ the Paradise


    Monday, April 4th
    Airborne Toxic Event
    @ the House of Blues


    Thursday, April 21st
    Fruit Bats
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, April 22nd
    Mogwai
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, May 1st
    OMD
    @ House of Blues


    Monday, May 2nd
    Hoodoo Gurus
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, May 14th
    Built to Spill
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, August 16th, 2022
    Goo Goo Dolls
    @ Some Bank Pavilion


    Sunday, September 19th, 2022
    New Order
    Pet Shop Boys
    @ Some Bank Pavilion