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.

    Comments

    Leave a Reply


    Notice: Undefined variable: user_ID in \\NAWINFS02\HOME\users\web\b498\rh.bsearles\wp-content\themes\elements-of-seo\comments.php on line 78





  • Handy links

  • BOSTON-AREA LIVE SHOW ACTION
    Tuesday, November 22nd
    The London Suede
    Manic Street Preachers
    @ the Orpheum

    Friday, November 25th
    The Sheila Divine
    Valleyheart
    The Rupert Selection
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, November 26th
    Dinosaur Jr.
    Guided By Voices
    Eugene Mirman
    @ the House of Blues

    Sunday, November 27th
    The Sheila Divine
    @ the Paradise

    Wednesday, November 30th
    Mclusky
    Minibeast
    @ the Sinclair

    Wednesday, November 30th
    Chris Brokaw
    "Duets With Strangers"
    Live scores of guitars,
    electronics, & percussion
    for interview videos
    Free @ 8pm @ MIT Building W97
    Thursday, December 1st
    Archers of Loaf
    Weird Nightmare
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, December 3rd
    Stars
    "The Christmas Anyway Tour"
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Sunday, December 4th
    Morrissey
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Sunday, December 4th
    Laura Cantrell
    @ Atwood's

    Sunday, December 4th
    beabadoobee
    Lowertown
    @ Roadrunner

    Tuesday, December 6th
    Local H
    "Here Comes The Zoo"
    20th Anniversary Tour
    @ the Middle East Downstairs

    Thursday, December 8th
    Blake Morgan
    Janita
    @ Rockwood Music Hall

    Friday, December 9th
    Patrick Watson
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, December 10th
    Pterodan (Dan McCarthy)
    Rawbell Sounds
    Tim Traynor & the Gulf Club
    The Maethtro
    @ the Lilypad

    Saturday, December 10th
    Oneida
    Martin Bisi
    Thalia Zedek
    @ the Lilypad

    Sunday, December 11th
    Mint Green
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Monday, December 12th
    The Sinclair's 10th Birthday
    with Deer Tick
    @ the Sinclair

    Monday, December 12th
    Lightning Bolt
    @ the Royale

    Tuesday, December 13th
    Bonny Light Horseman
    @ the Sinclair

    Wednesday, December 14th
    Men I Trust
    Feng Suave
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, December 16th
    "A Very FUNdraising XMAS"
    with Buffalo Tom, Mary Lou Lord,
    The Bags, members of Fuzzy,
    Merrie Amsterburg, members of
    Scruffy The Cat, and more
    @ the Burren

    Friday, December 16th
    Modest Mouse
    Mattress
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, December 17th
    The Lemonheads
    "It's A Shame About Ray"
    30th Anniversary Tour
    with Juliana Hatfield
    & On Being An Angel
    @ the Paradise

    Saturday, December 17th
    Foals
    @ Roadrunner

    Tuesday, December 27th
    The Return of the...
    Aimee Mann & Ted Leo
    Christmas Show!
    with special guests
    @ the Wilbur

    Thursday, December 29th
    Cave In
    Piebald
    Kal Marks
    @ the Royale

    Friday, December 30th
    Caspian
    Junius
    Som
    The Burning Paris
    @ the Sinclair

    Wednesday, January 24th
    Jon Spencer & the Hitmakers
    @ the Middle East

    Friday, January 27th
    Slaughter Beach, Dog
    Whitmer Thomas
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, January 28th
    Gregory Alan Isakov
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, February 3rd
    Patty Griffin
    Raul Malo
    @ the Wilbur

    Saturday, February 11th
    Maggie Rogers
    Del Water Gap
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, February 24th
    Elle King
    Red Clay Strays
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, February 25th
    Gramercy Arms
    (featuring Dave Derby
    of the Dambuilders)
    @ the Midway Cafe

    Sunday, February 26th
    Kula Shaker
    @ Brighton Music Hall

    Monday & Tuesday
    February 27th & 28th
    The Beths
    Sidney Gish
    Hans Pucket
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, March 3rd
    Pile (LP release)
    @ the Somerville Armory

    Friday, March 3rd
    Arctic Monkeys
    Fontaines DC
    @ the Garden

    Friday, March 3rd
    The "Remain In Light" Tour
    with Jerry Harrison
    & Adrian Belew
    @ House of Blues

    Sunday, March 5th
    Weyes Blood
    @ the Royale

    Tuesday, March 7th
    Elvis Costello &
    the Imposters
    @ the Cabot, Beverly

    Tuesday, March 14th
    Quasi
    Bat Fangs
    @ the Sinclair

    Friday, March 17th
    Dawes
    @ Roadrunner

    Saturday, March 18th
    Hallelujah the Hills
    Eyelids
    @ Atwood's

    Sunday, March 19th
    White Reaper
    Mamalarky
    @ the Royale

    Monday, March 20th
    Bruce Springsteen
    & the E Street Band
    @ TD Garden

    Friday, March 31st
    The Church
    @ the Sinclair

    Sunday, April 2nd
    Robyn Hitchcock
    Kelley Stoltz
    @ City Winery

    Monday, April 3rd
    Tennis
    Kate Bollinger
    @ the House of Blues

    Thursday, April 6th
    Caroline Rose
    @ the Sinclair

    Saturday, April 8th
    Emma Ruth Rundle
    @ Crystal Ballroom

    Sunday, April 9th
    Bikini Kill
    @ Roadrunner

    Thursday, April 13th
    Andrew Bird
    @ MGM Music Hall

    Sunday, April 16th
    Dead Can Dance
    @ the Wang

    Friday, April 21st
    Fruit Bats
    @ the Royale

    Saturday, April 22nd
    Unknown Mortal Orchestra
    @ Roadrunner

    Wednesday, April 26th
    Andy Shauf
    @ the Royale
    Saturday, April 29th
    Lucius
    @ Roadrunner

    Sunday, April 30th
    Placebo
    Deap Vally
    @ Roadrunner

    Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
    May 19th, 20th, & 21st
    Taylor Swift
    Phoebe Bridgers
    Gayle
    @ Gillette Stadium

    Sunday, May 21st
    Blink 182
    Turnstile
    @ the Garden

    Tuesday, May 30th
    Crowded House
    @ the Wang

    Sunday, July 16th
    First Aid Kit
    The Weather Station
    @ Roadrunner

    August 5th
    Foreigner
    Loverboy
    @ Xfinity Center
    Wednesday, October 11th
    The Mission UK
    The Chamelons
    @ Brighton Music Hall