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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  • Handy links

  • BOSTON-AREA LIVE SHOW ACTION


    Monday, January 24th
    Lomelda
    Alexalone
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, January 27th
    Ezra Furman
    @ the Crystal Ballroom


    Monday, January 31st
    The War on Drugs
    House of Blues


    Tuesday, February 1st
    We Are Scientists
    @ Sonia


    Thursday, February 3rd
    Reptaliens
    Yot Club
    Renata Zeiguer
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, February 5th
    An Evening with Bruce Dickinson
    @ the Shubert Theatre


    Saturday, February 5th
    Erasure
    @ the Orpheum


    Monday, February 7th
    STRFKR
    The Undercover Dream Lovers
    @ the Sinclair


    Tuesday, February 8th
    Courtney Barnett
    Shamir
    @ the Wang


    Thursday, February 10th
    Squirrel Flower
    Mia Joy
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, February 12th
    The Royal Arctic Institute
    Sleepyhead
    Chris Brokaw
    @ the Lilypad


    Saturday, February 12th
    Ian Sweet
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Friday, February 18th
    The Cribs
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, February 24th
    John Moreland
    Will Johnson
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday, February 24th
    Sleigh Bells
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, February 25th
    Illuminati Hotties
    Fenne Lily
    Pom Pom Squad
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, February 26th
    The Beths
    Lunar Vacation
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, February 27th
    Bruce Cockburn
    @ the Wilbur


    Monday, February 28th
    Journey
    Billy Idol
    @ the Garden


    Tuesday, March 1st
    AFI
    Cold Cave
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, March 2nd
    The Besnard Lakes
    @ O'Briens


    Wednesday, March 2nd
    Bruce Cockburn
    @ the Narrows, Fall River


    Thursday, March 3rd
    Punch Brothers
    Haley Heynderickx
    @ the Orpheum


    Friday, March 4th
    Nation of Language
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Saturday, March 5th
    Superchunk
    Torres
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, March 5th
    Guided By Voices
    @ the Royale


    Monday, March 7th
    Pet Fox
    @ O'Brien's


    Monday, March 7th
    Microphones
    Emily Sprague
    @ Somerville Theatre


    Wednesday, March 9th
    Clan of Xymox
    The Bellwether Syndicate
    Aertex
    @ the Hard Rock Cafe


    Friday, March 11th
    Lady Pills
    @ O'Brien's


    Friday, March 11th
    Lewis Black
    @ the Emerson Colonial


    Saturday, March 12th
    Son Volt
    Jesse Farrar
    @ the Sinclair


    Monday, March 14th
    Ryley Walker
    TONSTARTSSBANDHT
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, March 15th
    Marketa Irglova
    & Glen Hansard
    (The Swell Season)
    @ the Emerson Theatre


    Tuesday, March 15th
    Ministry
    Melvins
    Corrosion of Conformity
    @ House of Blues


    Wednesday, March 16th
    Tame Impala
    @ the Garden


    Saturday, March 19th
    Rick Maguire (Pile)
    @ Church of the Covenant


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


    Saturday, March 19th
    The Dear Hunter
    The World Is a Beautiful Place...
    Tanner Merritt (of O'Brother)
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, March 20th
    Sleaford Mods
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, March 20th
    Dropkick Murphys
    Jim Lindberg (Pennywise)
    The Rumjacks
    @ Roadrunner


    Sunday, March 20th
    Henry Rollins
    @ the Wilbur


    Monday & Tuesday
    March 21st & 22nd
    Mitski
    Michelle
    @ Roadrunner


    Tuesday, March 22nd
    Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
    @ the Wang


    Wednesday, March 23rd
    Hrishikesh Hirway
    (The One AM Radio)
    Jenny Owen Youngs
    @ Crystal Ballroom


    Wednesday, March 23rd
    Hot Water Music
    @ the Sinclair


    Thursday & Friday
    March 24th & 25th
    Bleachers
    @ Roadrunner


    Thursday, March 24th
    Black Beach
    @ O'Brien's


    Thursday, March 24th
    They Might Be Giants
    'Flood' 30th annivesary
    @ the Royale


    Friday, March 25th
    Yard Act
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, March 26th
    Thao
    @ the Paradise


    Saturday, March 26th
    Car Seat Headrest
    Bartees Strange
    @ House of Blues


    Sunday, March 27th
    Kishi Bashi
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, March 30th
    Sparks
    @ the Shubert Theatre


    Thursday, March 31st
    Parquet Courts
    Hailu Mergia
    @ the Royale


    Friday, April 1st
    Brian Jonestown Massacre
    Mercury Rev
    @ Roadrunner


    Friday, April 1st
    Low
    @ Columbus Theatre
    in Providence


    Sunday, April 3rd
    Andy Shauf
    @ the Paradise


    Monday, April 4th
    Holy F*ck
    @ Sonia


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


    Tuesday, April 5th
    Perfume Genius
    Hand Habits
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, April 6th
    Spoon
    Margaret Glaspy
    @ the House of Blues


    Wednesday, April 6th
    James Vincent McMorrow
    @ the Royale


    Thursday, April 7th
    Bright Eyes
    @ Roadrunner


    Thursday, April 7th
    Circle Jerks
    7SECONDS
    Negative Approach
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, April 8th
    Mogwai
    @ the Paradise


    Friday, April 8th
    Snail Mail
    Joy Again
    @ the Royale


    Friday & Saturday
    April 8th & 9th
    The Town & the City Festival
    a stacked lineup of artists
    @ venues around Lowell, MA


    Saturday, April 9th
    Slow Crush
    @ Sonia


    Tuesday, April 12th
    We Were Promised Jet Packs
    Weakened Friends
    @ the Sinclair


    Wednesday, April 13th
    Big Thief
    @ Roadrunner


    Thursday, April 14th
    Alt-J
    Portugal. The Man
    Cherry Glazerr
    @ Agganis Arena


    Thursday, April 14th
    Cowboy Junkies
    @ Cary Memorial Hall


    Thursday, April 14th
    Yumi Zouma
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, April 17th
    Jack White
    @ Agganis Arena


    Sunday, April 17th
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    @ the Columbus, Providence


    Thursday, April 21st
    Fruit Bats
    @ the Sinclair


    Friday, April 22nd
    Letterkenny
    @ the Orpheum


    Saturday, April 23rd
    Aimee Mann
    @ the Chevalier


    Monday, April 25th
    Fontaines D.C.
    Just Mustard
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, April 26th
    Pedro the Lion
    Oceanator
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Tuesday, April 26th
    Guerilla Toss
    @ the Crystal Ballroom


    Friday, April 29th
    The Zombies
    @ the Cabot, Beverly


    Friday, April 29th
    Hovvdy
    Molly Parden
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, May 1st
    OMD
    @ House of Blues


    Monday, May 2nd
    Cat Power
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, May 3rd
    Olivia Rodrigo
    Holly Humberstone
    @ Roadrunner


    Thursday, May 5th
    Julianna Barwick
    Malibu
    @ the Sinclair


    Sunday, May 8th
    Destroyer
    @ The Sinclair


    Tuesday, May 10th
    Pup
    Cloud Nothings
    @ House of Blues


    Thursday, May 12th
    Beach Bunny
    @ House of Blues


    Sunday, May 15th
    Dry Cleaning
    @ Crystal Ballroom


    Wednesday, May 18th
    Shout Out Louds
    @ Brighton Music Hall


    Thursday, May 19th
    Joe Jackson
    @ the Shubert


    Sunday, May 22th
    Eels
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, May 24th
    Royal Blood
    @ the House Of Blues


    Friday to Sunday
    May 27th to 29th
    Boston Calling Fest
    @ Harvard Athletic Complex


    Friday to Sunday
    May 27th to 29th
    Wilco's
    Solid Sound Festival
    @ MASS MoCA


    Sunday, June 5th
    The Antlers
    @ the Sinclair


    Saturday, June 11th
    Kraftwerk
    @ the Wang


    Thursday, June 16th
    Jonathan Richman
    with Tommy Larkins
    @ the Wilbur


    Saturday, June 18th
    The Zulus
    @ the Paradise


    Tuesday, June 21st
    Waxahatchee
    @ Roadrunner


    Wednesday, June 22nd
    Tears for Fears
    Garbage
    @ the Pavilion


    Monday, June 27th
    Ty Segall
    & Freedom Band
    @ the Royale


    Sunday, July 10th
    Brian Wilson
    Chicago
    @ the Xfinity Center


    Friday, July 15th
    Bikini Kill
    Alice Bag
    @ the Wang


    Friday, July 22nd
    Beach House
    @ Roadrunner


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


    Tuesday, August 16th
    Peter Hook & the Light
    Playing Joy Division's
    "Closer" & "Unknown Pleasures"
    @ the Paradise


    Thursday, August 18th
    Sharon Van Etten
    Julien Baker
    Angel Olsen
    Spencer
    @ the Pavilion


    Friday, September 10th
    Red Hot Chili Peppers
    St. Vincent
    Thundercat
    @ Fenway Park


    Thursday & Friday
    September 15th & 16th
    Vundabar
    @ the Sinclair


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


    Wednesday, September 21st
    OSEES
    Bronze
    @ the Royale


    Wednesday, September 28th
    Pavement
    @ the Wang


    Monday, October 3rd
    The Killers
    Johnny Marr
    @ the Garden


    Saturday, October 22nd
    June of 44
    @ the Middle East Down