Tyler Machado is one of the Boston Hassle website’s two extremely crucial Website Managers. He also works at Harvard or something. – DS
My favorite part of reading other people’s year-end lists is making a list of things I need to listen to remain Down With The Scene. I mean, discovering tons of great music from the previous year that slipped by my ears. I do have a great way of discovering my favorite album of any given year in the first months of the following year.
In that spirit, my best-of-2015 is actually a best-of-2014 list, consisting of records that should have been on my real best-of-2014 list had I been familiar with them a year ago. Check this space around this time next year to watch as I belatedly come around to the musical gospel of Father John Misty (haha jk not gonna happen).
Krill – Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears
I’m a relative newcomer to Boston, and as such I didn’t hear Krill until I saw them open for Speedy Ortiz at Great Scott last December. Immediately those buzzing guitar tones, melodic bass lines and anxious lyrics felt like the music that soundtracks my brain. Fast forward a couple months and they’re basically my favorite band. Fast forward a couple more months and they’re broken up. It was a nice summer fling we had, Krill! Bonus 2015 points because I heard the Fenway Park DJ play this track between innings at a Red Sox game in April.
Mitski – Bury Me at Makeout Creek
I did not expect “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony” would be my most sing-alongable line of the year, but here we are. Empowering and harrowing in equal measure.
Frankie Cosmos – Zentropy
You can call in Max Martin and every other Scandinavian producer of glossy radio pop, you can hire the trendiest beatmakers and buy the biggest mixing board, you can focus group the shit out of each melodic fragment you’ve got, and yet you still won’t have yourself a pop tune as catchy as one of these tiny little songs that sound like they were recorded by accidentally pressing a button in GarageBand.
Luluc – Passerby
To toss out a Nick Drake comparison would be too reductive. The songs on Passerby employ influences from chamber indie pop to noise rock, but the arrangements always remain as subtle and hushed as Zoë Randell’s vocals. The type of record best listened to on good headphones with no distractions.
Warehouse – Tesseract
Elaine Edenfield’s powerful, post-punk growl carries these songs, but in concert she delivers them in the most casual way possible, like with a chill grin and hands in pockets. It’s not “slacker rock,” just poise and grace in being more punk than you.
Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas
Do you ever wonder if the perfect song for you is just floating around somewhere out there? Like, the song that serendipitously meets your specific musical preferences to the optimal amount has been recorded by some obscure band thousands of miles away that’s already broken up and you’ll never hear it? I used to think that, but then I heard “Avant Gardener” and felt like I got lucky.
Warpaint – Warpaint
Is it a rule that every write-up about this album has to mention “hazy atmospherics”? This is fine. I am a sucker for hazy atmospherics.
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
I have this weird habit of forgetting how much I love Sharon Van Etten, even though I’ve been listening to her since her debut. But each record represents small but notable substantial artistic leaps, always capturing a new perspective on that SVE sound.
Wye Oak – Shriek
A lot of reviews of this record implied it was a sharp departure, but I don’t hear it. Sure, they mostly ditched guitars for keyboards and sound a little bit more like their Baltimore neighbors Beach House, but much like the aformentioned Sharon Van Etten, each Wye Oak record feels like looking at the same thing from a fresh new angle. (Plus, the synth-heavy move supports my theory of this band as modern indie’s Neil Young.)
Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else
I am woefully behind on Cloud Nothings, as a rule. I remember listening to Attack on Memory when it was released, loving it… and promptly not listening to it again until 2014. So it’s fair that I didn’t get around until their actual 2014 album until more recently. Here and Nowhere Else doesn’t walk that line between anthem pop and abrasive noise quite as well as the previous LP, but it’s still another barnburner from one of the last bands keeping the faith in guitar rock alive.