2015 Year Enders

My Favorite Releases of 2015


Keeley Cormac is the Boston Hassle website’s awesome Assistant Music Manager, and an occasional show booker in these parts! – DS

a0427928390_10Gracie – Gracie
This was also the year I started listening to the Fat Creeps, so it was very comforting to be able to follow them up with Gracie Jackson’s solo project, Gracie. Gracie Jackson has acquired a demurred confidence and a penchant for strange guitar tunings, finding influence in Sonic Youth, folk, and grunge. Jackson has gathered a backing band full of friends and fellow Boston musicians and has recorded this debut steadily, only having previously released one song on their Bandcamp in October 2014. Gracie’s brooding allure pull you into the trepid waters that are Gracie’s smokey vocals, rich guitar and themes of nostalgic despair. The album feels both hollow and hopeful, as the listener senses Jackson being guided more by feeling than logic, like when she spills “Climb the ladder, what did you fall for? Climb the ladder, he makes me feel more” on “Jesse”. Gracie is very rich and drippy. It has a big sound, big like the room of destruction Gracie is calmly standing in the middle of on the album’s cover. The themes of angst and despair are reminiscent of 90’s grunge, but more woodsy and eerie at times.

a2712831571_16Sun Young – Sun Young
I am low-key obsessed with IAN, so that low-key obsession crosses over to Sun Young, fronted by Damien (bassist of IAN). Sun Young is a three-piece that makes a groovy freak pop that investigates family, life, and identity. I was able see Sun Young twice this year, once in a kitchen and once in a basement. Both times I was enthralled by their semi-goofy manner and grunge-y avant-pop. I’d been listening to one of their earlier EPs a bunch, so I was excited for the release of a ten song EP featuring re-recorded versions of 4 of the old songs and some of the newer ones I’d seen live. Very cool effects on the vocals and guitars, and the general composition of the music makes it more interesting than most. The songs go from happy to sad, but never lose hope, like on “Hell’s a Place Like Cherry Hill”. There is something about Sun Young that really stands out to me, and I wish I could figure out what it is.

mooomyMommy Long Legs – Assholes EP & Life Rips
My super cool friend, Donna, sent me a YouTube vid of Mommy Long Legs slaying KEXP. They are a group of true punk rock prom queens out of Seattle, WA making that special brand of feminist punk and pop I love so much. Crunchy guitars, group vocals, and a comedic angle is what Mommy Long Legs uses to address their feminist agenda and issues with people. They eat all Girl Culture and throw it back up at you. In March they released the Life Rips EP. On which, they cover slumber parties, being afraid of your horoscope, and sororities. Many of the songs come from extreme views on people and jokes. They make big characters out of “Yuppie Moms” who wants an “Oprah Mocha Frappuccino right now”, among other stereotypes. Then they released the Assholes EP, which is just as fun but a bit heartier and less fictional, but very direct. Like on the track “Assholes” where they chant “You can take your asshole and put it in your new car, and drive it in a wormhole, cuz in the end we’re all alone” at some hypothetical asshole modern man. The track that stands out the strongest to me is the anthem like “Weird Girl” that declares “I wanna be a weird girl, a freak girl. I want to freak you out cuz I’m a freaky fucking girl.” I like music that reminds that nothing really matters, so just do and be whatever you want and have fun.

a1172625177_16Chastity Belt – Time to Go Home
These Washington natives are making waves with their sophomore album, Time to Go Home. They’ve written the feminist anthem of the year with “Cool Slut”. With lyrics like “We just wanna have some fun /Grind upon everyone.” Chastity Belt is letting girls know that it is okay to do whatever they want and just have some fun. They are writing for the modern girl. They started off writing joke party songs, but have since moved onto more witty and emotional party songs. One of Chastity Belt’s main goals is to encourage more girls to be in bands. Guitarist Julia said “I’d like teenage girls to be able to relate to this album and listen to it and think ‘Oh! I could be in a band too.’”

a1899025782_10Ben Katzman’s Degreaser – Venus in Pisces
On Ben Katzman’s new album, Venus in Pisces, he contemplates growing up and breaking up. He is able to take the most universal problems and emotions of people in their young twenties and turning them in to complete Rock n’ Roll. It’s like Glam Rock with more easily relatable topics. Astrology runs heavy throughout the album, hence the title, and the lyric “You’re only keeping me around because your Venus is in Gemini” on “You Shred (But You’re Really Just Playing Me)”. The track “Sad Boi to Bad Boi” summarizes the whole album, the concept of transitioning from Sad Boi 2 Bad Boi, and being a Bad Boi who sometime feels like Sad Boi.

a0519721235_16Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up
On this album Colleen sheds her D.I.Y sound and adopts a bigger rock persona with stronger vocals, heavier guitar, a drummer instead of a drum machine, and a bassist. The album is called I Want to Grow Up, and you can tell she really means it. The most major step the punk songstress takes in growing up on this album is identifying that she needs to. All of her releases have shown progression, but this album was the most drastic. The biggest change was the studio recording, it makes the songs sound clearer and fresh. The themes of the album cover figuring out what her problem is, getting healthy, and even dying alone. Colleen’s realest and maybe most personal song to date, “Deeper Than Love,” is an almost haunting account of her past and fears about relationships, featuring lyrics like “How can I give you my life when I know you’re just going to die?” It digs deeper, but still keeps the good old fun CG punk charm. The most empowering song on the album is the closing track, “Whatever I Want,” where Colleen realizes that she doesn’t have to be scared, her world is a design of her own, and she can truly do whatever she wants. It’s super awesome to see Colleen do new things. Colleen Green focuses on being the best she can be, and Colleen Green continues to be the best.

a4007426953_16Mannequin Pussy – Kiss me tender demos
I love these three songs by Philadelphian punks, Mannequin Pussy (the whole EP is under 5 minutes). “I am not ashamed to be lonely, but I’m afraid to feel it so deeply.” Guitarist and vocalist, Marissa screams in way that completely transfers what she is feeling, the exertion of pent up anger makes a relieving and positive vibe. She is so strong and, what’s a different word than aggressive but just as powerful? Assertive, energetic, and dynamic are what’s coming up when I just searched for synonyms, and they fit. The drums and guitars swirl together in a fury. It’s punk with a drive, they work hard and know how to play the s of their instruments, and won’t take any, like on “Anything”: “Don’t you try to lie or mis-treat me/ I want this more than anything/ I want it more than you.” Very excited for these demos to be made into an album in 2016.

a0908175678_16Tomboy – Sweetie
Featured on my list last year, and probably any list of favorites I make until the day I die, Tomboy is one of my favorite bands. Formed in Boston, Tomboy is now spread along the East coast. Sweetie, their first full length, they tackle and conquer cat-callers, assholes, and relationships with dominance, grace, and wit. The sound of this album is just so strong, the fierceness and determination of Madeline’s vocals carries the songs messages and themes. The rowdy drums and fuzz-strong guitar give them a sound similar to all of the strong female-lead rock bands of the nineties. These feminist are inspiring. On “Sweetie” they are calling some unknown figure out for treating them like some 2-D toy object. After they call him out and say “No!!” that is not what they are or what they are there for, they assert this with wicked lyrics such as “You call me sweetie/ but that’s not what you mean/ ‘look pretty with that smile’/ well, I think you’re fucking vile.” And they can see threw them: “You read my mind, well I read your diary.” The songs may have some anger in them, but it’s an anger that makes you dance, then when you are dancing you have fun, so the joke is really on any asshole that has ever wronged Tomboy. They are sort of an angry-pop that makes you have fun. It’s beautifully written and simple, the smooth track ends album in impeccable standing. Every girl in the world should listen to Tomboy.

a3700720230_10Tall Juan – Why Not
BUFU Record’s supreme rocker Tall Juan, previously seen in The Beets, is an extremely tall and lanky Argentinian rocker who is known for being a lover of the Ramones. He released a two song cassette for “Falling Down” late last year, and released it on a 7” again in 2015. Then he released It’s True, which doubled in length from two songs to four. Both of these EPs were recorded by Tall Juan’s friend and roommate Mac Demarco. Why Not is three originals and one Ramones cover that features Dee Dee Ramone’s wife Barbara. The songs are fast and fun with guitar and drums that do not stop. It is lo-fi poetry laced with Ramones influence. Saying the Ramones influences Tall Juan feels like I’m putting too lightly.

a4205366453_16Erica Eso – 2019
If Cloud Becomes Your Hand is avant synth rock, then Erica Eso is avant synth pop. From the mind of CBYH composer and synther, Weston Minissali, comes Erica Eso. Erica Eso is not an alter-ego, it is an explorative Brooklyn-based pop group. They’ve combined their transcendent musical affections to bring you some of the freshest and most exciting pop I have heard in a long time on their debut album, 2019. Erica Eso features many elements modern pop. It is very clean dance music, with existential feminist themes, no unnecessary sounds, and a calm pace. It has an electronic R&B vibe. Autotune is used on the already very high pitched vocals to keep up with the synths. It’s the most tasteful use that I have ever heard. When I asked Weston about Erica Eso, he said this: “Erica Eso is my baby… or maybe duel identity is more appropriate… or maybe she’s pregnant with me… It has been such an intimate process writing and now performing this music, it really has been unlike any other project. I started to imagine this loner voice cruisin’ all sexy and fragile over loose synth rhythms and crackles”. Minissali is able to achieve amazing harmonies with the synths and every instrument. 2019 draws attention with its pop melodies that sound strong but fragile, like glass.

a0065563724_16Tredici Bacci – Vai! Vai! Vai!
Tredici Bacci is the smoothest, sultriest, and most Italian pop ensemble in Boston. They are one of the only bands doing what they are doing right now, and if they are not the only ones, they are definitely the youngest. It’s a 14-piece orchestra that is describes as an1970’s Italian film soundtrack. On the latest TB tape, Vai! Vai! Vai!, they’ve made the soundtrack to a fictional lost film. This one sounds bigger than The Thirteen Kisses EP. The horn, the keys, the strings, everything sounds augmented, like everything was paid more attention to in the studio. I like how Tredici Bacci is basically band leader Simon Hanes’s way of praising Ennio Morricone, because I know all I wanna do is praise my idols and make fan art all day, and it cool he’s got other people to help him do that. It’s like spaghetti western, but in reverse. Because instead of being western stuff made by Italians, it’s Italian stuff made by Americans. Tredici Bacci is melting the world of composition with the world of more abrasive abstract style, and a prime example of how much depth there is in Boston music.

a2970389907_16Lily Konigsberg & Kassie Carlson – Muriel: Utter Perfection
Muriel means utter perfection. This tape project on feeding tube is a solo spilt. The first side is six songs by Lily Konigsberg (of Palaberta) and the second side is three songs by Kassie Carlson (of Guerilla Toss). This project sounds like a theory, like building one. The recording process is a learning process. Side A, Lily’s, has an eighties science fiction feel. Feels like it’s swarming around you. The tracks sound like techno music was dismantled and put through a filter. At some points there is an utterance of grand synths, like on “Swept by SH”. The vocals are heavily filtered and effected, and are on the verge of becoming an eerie chant. Along with some creepy keys, this side has a chaotic and otherworldly aura. Side B, Kassie’s, is intimate pop. It is recorded by Kassie and features her vocals, a drum machine, and which ever other instruments she plays. The drum machine gives the three songs a good beat, which gives an upbeat feel, even on the morbid “Nobody Loves Me”, with a retro twist. Kassie’s music is about feelings, like feeling something hyper-real or interpenetrating feeling, very specific. Such as the levels of body language. She writes great lyrics and that gets more of a light shown on it here than in gtoss. Everything she write has meaning, no random lyrics. Hopefully your familiar with Kassie’s other solo music, under the name Jane La Onda, this tape and the Jane tape are my two favorite tapes ever.

Some things I am excited for and hoping for in 2016 are: seeing Birthing Hips live, recorded Bong Wish, and a new Free Pizza record. This article will probably be re-published in my zine.

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