above photo by Greg Cook
Dan Shea is the Music Editor for the Boston Hassle website & The Boston Compass newspaper. He is also the Editor-In-Chief of the Boston Hassle website (though he hates that title). He is also one of two Directors of the BRAIN Arts Organization non-profit organization. He lives in Jamaica Plain, MA with his wife and son. He needs a new and better day job to pay the bills. And he released two albums in 2015 as The Circuitous Dan Shea.
Music is life. My son Zachie loves the shit. I love the shit. My wife Meg loves the shit. I love the shit out of Zachie and Meg, and I also love the shit out of music. This love flows freely from me and it always has, and I am in no way capable of stopping it, totally, fully understanding it, or diverting its energy. So, instead I embrace this force and focus my brain on it. That’s why I started booking shows and why I started this website, the Compass newspaper, and the BRAIN Arts non-profit (w/ Sam Potrykus and with the help of many many wonderful persons). Some may nay say this purity of vision, may call it into question, may spit upon and suggest that because it does not seamlessly align with their vision then something must be wrong with it. But nah. I call bullshit on that. Freak flag flyers. Real punks. Wanderers. Don’t worry about the passing fancies that may (or may not) temporarily cast shadows. Their bloom will wither and die too, and they will become bankers, or car salesmen, or sad moms, or taco bell lifers. Stay true, and you too will find what you are looking for. Here are some of my favorite records made in these New England states in the past 365 days or so. What a wide ranging and wild assortment. The heart sings! The ears ring!
Ian Kovac Jr Jr – You Know It When You Feel It (OSR Tapes)
Wonk pop, plop rock from former Guerilla Toss synth fiend. Dignified, exonerated, and released by NYC by way of Burlington, VT’s OSR Tapes.
Robert Robinson – Connecticut River (Feeding Tube Records)
You can swim in this stuff, hell, this psychedelia is so thick you can dang well float in it. Bucolic. Infested. Of the Sore Eros brand known to occupy that most pleasant of Massachusetts’ valleys.
KTB – s/t (Feeding Tube Records)
Pissed off punk demons with a drum machine and whole bunch of industrial strength ideas. Mad (as in angry) groove. Bumping noise rock. Mems. of Guerilla Toss and Bugs and Rats.
Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching (Exploding in Sound Records/ Double Double Whammy)
Indie rock like they used to make it before that term became lifeless, limp, useless. Anyway, turns out that this record is apparently a swan song, leaving thousands of widowed ears and souls in its wake. A more spot on quirky, and rhythmically interesting rock band would be really, really difficult to find my friends. RIP.
Karl – Feast Day (Lungbasket)
Freely wandering and idiosyncratic folk sounds, freeing itself of its genre’s clutches and gazing back down upon it from above. Brittany Karlson songs and sings alongside the guitars of Sam Lisabeth and Ethan T. Parcell.
Curse Purse – s/t (Feeding Tube Records)
A clamorous song, a cacophony of cacophonies for noisy lovers. Three guardians at the gate of Massachusetts’ noise. A singular and always interesting take in a crowded room.
The Channels – Disposable Camera
Next gen noise rock at its best when embracing Ian Kovac’s heavy, molasses-like bass flunk. Loud and limb flail instigating. Ex-mems. of Guerilla Toss, Aykroyd.
Chris Weisman – The Holy Life That’s Coming (NNA Tapes)
Holy songsmith does not descend, but the sound of his existence, the fruit of his labor wafts down the mountain from Vermont anyway. The experts at NNA these catch songs and release them. Chris Weisman is a gem. Watch him refract.
The Forgotten Jam – s/t
Con Tex and his band of ragamuffins keep on marching to that drummer in their head. A little psych rock, some country fried bits, and lots of love. And “Two Jobs.
Dent – Eyeballs
Loud and inventive, exciting music borne of music school, but against all odds not sucking and existing truthfully in the real world around us. Front woman is a force of nature also.
Friendship Ceremonies – Can’t Take The Country Out Of The Boy (Friendship Tapes)
A journey of a saxophone taken out of context, fits and starts, simmering and boiling. A generally peaceful deluge of extended sounds found and surrounded by nature.
Timeghost – Cellular (Chondritic Sound/ Load Records)
The undetected swelling of your head as the cellular signals of everyone around you passes through your skull, your brain, your mind. That sound. Incredible live performer.
Gracie – s/t (Ghost Ramp Records)
Half of the Fat Creeps gone melancholy indie rock and country sadness. Hell of a voice, backed up by a great band, and chock full of the most important aspect in these kinds of cases… great songs.
Old Wave – Just Like Catching Light In a Jar
I understand not liking some aspects of the culture surrounding the Grateful Dead, but damn, that band had the songs, and the bounce to the ounce to make them interesting in new ways over and over and over again. Last saw these guys with Cale on a Rhodes in an Allston basement, and damn if that kind of magic which I was alluding to is not present here in some manner.
Lair – Test
Posthumous recording here of the all too briefly extent synth and guitar hypno-rock duo featuring star dust of the hallowed Arvid Noe. Two guys did this live and too, and it was always excellent.
Davey Harms – This Loop Is Gonna Be The Death Of Me
The recently rechristened Mincemeat or Tenspeed is an unstoppable steamroller of bass insanity and scuzzed out to the max electronics. So fun. So loud. THUD.
Anjimile – Human Nature
Amazing voice and spare, well crafted songs in the indie-folk-pop whatever vein. It gets harder and harder each and every year for me to get excited about the various forms of pop rock. All they have to do is be great, like this record.
Joe Bastardo & Howard Stelzer – At Ease (905 Tapes)
Collision of Mass. noise luminaries of different eras, from Worcester and Lowell, respectively. Intoxicating pairing that I would hope and pray is not just a one off.
Monkeybone – The Roommate
Who can know the enigmatic producer Gobby? Take a shot with at it yourself by spinning banging-ly weird concept album about a shitty roommate. Pretty terrific electronic sounds and pretty funny to boot.
Urochromes – Get In Line 4 Mental Decline (Gut Freak Tapes)
Snarling W Mass hardcore, tongue in cheek (or at the very least SOMETHING in cheek). The riffs. The delivery. Jackie. Very best of 2015, promise.
Jake Meginsky – Vandals (Open Mouth)
Far out and exploratory electronic sounds from former member of X04. I for one hope this is the kind of stuff that is going to inspire others in our neck of the woods. Released on Bill Nace’s label.
Preskool Dropouts – Demo Too (Twerp Records)
Boston hardcore like I like it. Fast and cheeky and over before I can put my fist in the air. Another receipient of my sporadically passed out Showcase Showdown award!!
Listening Woman – none-a that stuff! (Friendship Tapes)
Weirding out out all over the goddamn place. LW may be the skronkiest band in these parts and if they are it is a title well deserved. Katie McShane lurches about with the best of them. Dig their dancer/ movement guy. Exciting band.
Czarface – Every Hero Needs A Villain (Brick Records)
I really feel bad about my relationship with hip hop. I love it but it’s so damn rare that the hair on my arms stands up when listening to the stuff. Then along comes Boston hip hop heros 7L & Esoteric with this project they share with the Rebel INS, Inspectah Deck. Man this record rules.
Mini Dresses – Four (Little Death Records)
Dream pop band of the year in New England. Great great great guitar playing and songs, and what a voice! I have been on the verge of gloating away listening to this stuff.
Whip Appeal – Silk & Velvet & Woven Gold
Entirely irreverent indie rock/ rap. The hooks rule. The singer’s flow is dangerous, and he knows when to actually sing too! And love that guitar tone. Really, what a great band. Fuck genres, this is just great songwriting and music.
Secret Rodg – s/t (Lungbasket)
Totally under the radar solo recordings, bedroom stylee, by perhaps the best guitarist in Boston, Matt Delligatti. Melancholy journey.
Sadist – Shadow of the Swastika (Total Fucker Records)
Vicious d beat flavored hardcore rife with vocal effects and an industrial churn. For my money one of the best bands, punk, or otherwise, in Boston, MA.
Andrea Pensado – Without Knowing Why (Feeding Tube Records)
Angry, visceral noise full of interesting ideas made by a member of Los Condenados. Andrea shoots to the top of the noise heap in Massachusetts like a demented, encrusted bullet.
(LISTEN) —> http://feedingtuberecords.com/releases/without-knowing-why/
Bugs and Rats – s/t (Feeding Tube Records) (originally self-released in 2014)
Ruth Garbus – Rendezvous with Rama (Feeding Tube Records) (originally released in 2010 by Autumn Records)
Birthing Hips – misc. (a couple shitty recordings from 2015 of a great band that hasn’t really recorded yet)
Pile, Speedy Ortiz, Guerilla Toss, Tredici Bacci and Downtown Boys also released great records this year, but since they’ve all been on my list so many times before I decided to give some other bands a shot this year.