All we have now is music right? In a year where it felt like the world was falling apart, there was so much to take hope in (even songs that were written and recorded long before things started going to shit). A number of artists created work that both reflected the current moment inadvertently (Punisher, RTJ4) and very intentionally (Taylor Swift, Charli XCX). These are my top albums of the year:Continue reading
I’m standing in the Subway station waiting for the uptown train and racing to connect to the free WiFi before my train comes so I can download the first single off of the new Wombats album. It downloads as the train is pulling in and I find my seat. I always take a moment right before listening to new music from a favorite band or artist; I want to remember where I first heard a particular song or album in case it becomes of great importance to my life. I take in the blue seats and the fairly empty train car and press play. Continue reading
I think one of my favorite things about Fall Out Boy is the way the songs bring people together. “Thnks fr th mmrs” and “Sugar, We’re Going Down” are catchy as all hell, but if you’ve ever screamed them in a car with your best friend, you get this feeling like you could push every bad feeling you’ve ever felt out of your mouth into that moment. Save Rock and Roll certainly had songs for car rides, and although American Beauty/American Psycho wasn’t my cup of tea, I’m sure somebody is screaming it somewhere. Continue reading
Released almost exactly one year after her debut album, Sidney Gish’s new No Dogs Allowed marks a significant step forward for the Boston singer-songwriter. Gish’s debut marked the scope of her ambition by having her play every instrument, mostly with just her guitar and voice. Dogs sees Gish venturing with different guitar tones, more drum loops, and real bass. Gish also keeps with her writing of catchy songs withs, somewhat random lyrics, although she seems a little bit more thoughtful this time around. With the increased popularity, Gish is placing herself in league with the likes of Waxahatchee, Julien Baker, and other indie-pop songstresses that have taken the music industry by storm so much in the past year. Continue reading
It would have been really simple to write off Phoebe Bridger’s debut album as a Julien Baker clone. Both singer-songwriters write ambient folk rock with a large emotional weight placed on the lyrics. Still, Bridgers’ voice is a refreshing one that really resonates within the pop-punk and emo community. Even though she is a singer-songwriter through and through, her heart-on-her-sleeve and pop culture referencing lyrics certainly welcome her to a number of melancholy artists that have welcomed the likes of Julien Baker. Whether it’s the sweetness of “Killer” or the sadness in “Smoke Signals,” Stranger in the Alps is probably the most exciting debut album to be released this year. Continue reading
Jen Gloeckner’s debut and sophomore album were both very faithful folk albums, making her recent Vine a major departure from her previous sound. We got to talk to Gloeckner about what the recording process was like, touring, and her next album.
BurgerADay:Your sound on Vine is drastically different from Mouth of Mars. It’s a very Bon Iver-like switch to go from a very organic folk sound to something much more ambient and electronic. Why did you make the sudden shift for this album? Continue reading
John Darnielle made a name for himself recording simple songs into a boombox, mostly by himself, some people say that the Mountain Goats lost their touch once Darnielle brought in the rest of the band and began recording more polished albums. Any good Mountain Goats fan knows that the band has only improved as they’ve gotten older, then why did I apply the former philosophy to Waxahatchee? Katie Crutchfield’s debut album American Weekend was such a masterpiece that I ignored the following two albums, until Out In The Storm, which captures the lyrical essence of Waxahatchee, with wider, warmer production. Continue reading
Black Kids first and last full album came out in 2008 and while I was a big fan of them back at the beginning of high school I realized I hadn’t listened to their first album Partie Traumatic in full in at least seven years. As I sat down to re-familiarize myself with Partie Traumatic I got sucked back into the goofy upbeat dance world that Black Kids makes you a part of. Continue reading
Pageant is out May 12.
So many artists do an excellent job of hiding their influences down in their work. Some of the obvious ones shine through, but there are some influences that require some digging. Of course, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats was influenced by Bob Dylan, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that this was the type of guy that regularly listened to the likes of Mayhem and Church of Misery (save for the references of “The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton”). Despite this, there’s certainly something admirable in artists early works, where their influences are sewn firmly to their sleeve.
Thomas Jefferson Aeroplane are still in this early stage, and it’s certainly endearing. In case the name hasn’t given it away, these guys are clearly fans of AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad, catch my drift?) and Neutral Milk Hotel, and upon first listen, this trio clearly loves The Front Bottoms. From the simple acoustic, folk punk format to the wordy, heart on their sleeves lyrics, it’d be easy to just call these guys a bunch of ripoff-artists, but their songs are really great. Even the Atom Bomb Shelter Salesman, which was written and recorded in a day has solid songwriting (see: “Nuclear Winter”) that shows them evolving quickly. The Nailbiter EP is 11 minutes of catchy lo-fi promise from an incredibly emotive trio.
Once listened to attentively, you start to realize that Nailbiter has something of an arc with the first and last songs ending with the lines:
But it’s all for you
I’ll do what you do.
Cause you told me to.
The seeds I grew
Flowers could have been blue”
The first closes with the line “It’s a noose or excuse, and I can’t choose,” but the last is more resignedly “and they never do.” Where “Bitchin’ Nightmares” sounds hopeful with its jangling guitars and middle-paced tempo, the last verse sounds determined. “Bitchin’ 2: The Bitchining” is much more frantic throughout until the refrain sounds much more defeated. While there’s something of a story, the album’s shift I pretty quick making the back half much more bleak where it opened up with a pretty fun sounding release.
The EP is pretty standard folk-punk. Mostly acoustic and clean guitars are accompanied by simple drums and bass, with a smattering of distortion. The vocals are shaky and whiney, not unlike Sean Bonnette of AJJ. When TJA’s lead vocalist really shouts is when he shines through the best.
As is the case with a number of folky punk bands, the lyrics are where this trio shines though. The EP’s title track is incredibly wordy in just over 2 minutes. “Nailbiter” has the best image on the EP, where it’s sung “I wanna swim in your black coffee/stir me up and then dissolve me.” Imagery is really where the lyricism shines best. The album opens with “Drunk in my room watching Kitchen Nightmares,” and it only gets better from there. The seemingly timeless familiarity of things like multiple lives in video games mixed with the little time capsules such as Kitchen Nightmares makes it easy to insert one’s self into these narratives. While these guys haven’t defined their voice just yet, one is definitely there, and for now, we can all sing along and pretend.