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

    "One good minute could last me the whole year..." - Superchunk
  • Almanac Archives

  • Boston-Area Action

    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
    Jason Narducy (Split Single,
    Superchunk, Bob Mould’s band)
    @ an Allston living room


    Thursday, November 15th
    Weakened Friends
    Nervous Daters
    Save Ends
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, November 16th
    Kal Marks
    Maneka
    Nice Guys
    Rong
    @ 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
    Stove
    Pet Fox
    @ O’Brien’s


    Monday, November 26th
    Preoccupations
    Protomartyr
    Rattle
    DJ Carbo
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, November 27th
    Speedy Ortiz
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, November 29th
    Kississippi
    gobbinjr
    Ruler
    @ Great Scott


    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
    Marissa Nadler
    @ Great Scott


    Saturday, December 8th
    Phosphorescent
    Liz Cooper & the Stampede
    @ the Royale


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


    Sunday, December 9th
    Justus Proffit & Jay Som
    Kal Marks
    @ Great Scott


    Sunday, December 9th
    Devotchka
    @ Once Ballroom


    Monday, December 10th
    Priests
    @ Great Scott


    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


    Tuesday, December 18th
    Beach Bunny
    Field Medic
    @ Great Scott


    Thursday, December 20th
    Ovlov
    Anna Altman
    Mister Goblin
    Alexander
    @ Great Scott


    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


    Friday, January 4th
    The Sheila Divine
    Bethlehem Steel
    Mint Green
    @ the Royale


    Saturday, January 12th
    ONE NIGHT BAND!
    A benefit for ZUMIX
    40 musicians form 8 new bands
    in the morning & perform that night
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, January 14th
    The Lemon Twigs
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, January 17th
    Camper Van Beethoven
    @ the Middle East Downstairs


    Sunday, January 20th
    Mineral
    Tancred
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Thursday, January 24th
    Neko Case
    @ the Royale


    Friday, January 25th
    Boyfriend
    @ Once Ballroom


    Friday, January 25th
    Rubblebucket
    Diet Cig
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, January 27th
    Petal
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Thursday, January 31st
    Steve Gunn
    Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, February 1st
    Jon Spencer & the HITmakers
    @ Great Scott


    Wednesday, February 6th
    H.C. McEntire
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, February 8th
    Sharon Van Etten
    Nilufer Yanya
    @ the Royale


    Tuesday, February 12th
    Beirut
    Helado Negro
    @ the House of Blues


    Wednesday, February 13th
    Adrianne Lenker (of Big Thief)
    Luke Temple
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, February 13th
    Metric & Zoe
    July Talk
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, February 13th
    Joe Jackson
    @ the Shubert Theatre


    Thursday, February 14th
    Car Seat Headrest
    @ the Royale


    Friday, February 15th
    Cherry Glazerr
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, February 16th
    Royal Trux
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, February 16th
    Bob Mould
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, February 16th
    Corrosion of Conformity
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Sunday, February 17th
    “Schitt’s Creek (the show):
    Up Close and Personal”
    @ the Orpheum


    Saturday, February 23rd
    Julia Holter
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Sunday, February 24th
    Deerhunter
    Mary Lattimore
    @ the Royale


    Monday, March 4th
    Mike Krol
    @ Great Scott


    Friday, March 8th
    Tokyo Police Club
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, March 11th
    Teenage Fanclub
    The Love Language
    @ the Paradise


    Sunday, March 31st
    & Tuesday, April 2nd
    Fleetwood Mac
    @ TD Garden


    Sunday, April 21st
    Laura Jane Grace &
    the Devouring Mothers
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, April 23rd
    Girlpool
    Hatchie
    @ the Royale


    Friday, May 31st
    Lady Lamb (full band)
    @ the Royale


    Monday, June 17th
    Dido
    @ the House of Blues


    Sunday, July 21st
    Weird Al Yankovic
    @ Blue Hills Pavilion


    Thursday, August 1st
    Iron Maiden
    with The Raven Age
    @ Xfinity Center


    Thursday, Friday, & Saturday
    October 3rd, 4th, & 5th
    Three nights of Billy Bragg
    “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back”
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, October 26th
    Peter Hook & the Light
    @ the Paradise