M&T Best Albums of 2014


We've compiled our 30 favorite albums from 2014 and you can check out the full list below and take a listen to each album via Read More

Newport Folk Festival 2015 Predictions/Wishlist


Now that tickets have gone on sale for this year's Newport Folk Festival (get yours here before they sell out because they most definitely Read More

February Spotify Playlist of the Month


For us native New Englanders February feels best directly following a Patriots Super Bowl victory, especially when our resident photographer Andrew got to snap the Read More

The Districts @ The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 2/12/15


Photo: Press/Ryan Farber Seeking refuge and revival, a lucky collection of listeners bundled into Cambridge’s dark horse, The Sinclair, for a shot of that soundgood-feelgood. Read More

March Spotify Playlist of the Month


March means the flowers are starting to bloom, the birds are starting to sing, and there's still 6 feet of snow on the ground...Can't Read More

Jose Gonzalez – Vestiges and Claws

Posted on by Woody Black in Album Review, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment
Photo: Malin Johansson

Photo: Malin Johansson

Adrift in the milieu – José González emerges once again a teacher and student of his own craft on his third LP: Vestiges and Claws.

Almost ten years removed from Veneer – González’s debut LP – the Swede remains more or less unscathed. While a decade typically leaves its mark on a folk singer – usually a few more mediocre tattoos or perpetual whiskey-breath – González has emerged the same whispery apparition that he entered as. And for it Vestiges and Claws picks up from the last chord strummed on the 2007 release In Our Nature and wanders on.

Laced with the intimacy and intricacy of an ex-lover, the work almost breathes familiarity. As the nylon-stringed arpeggios dance and drape the bedroom environment on the opener, “With The Ink Of A Ghost”, a kind of confession is made. González seems to say; I’ve returned, I’m the same, take it or leave it. For a natural recluse, a non-verbal statement of the like is about the closest González will ever get to combative, yet this statement seems more about communication than confrontation. González seems to express his true desires, or better yet true self, in this message to the folk community through his decision to remain sonically consistent once again. Although remaining unchanged seems, at times, stemmed from a lack of artistic direction, it can be a very thoughtful and active choice all the same. González appears to have made attentive decision and, still regardless of its similarities – Vestiges and Claws remains a somewhat novelty to the folk community.

As the record ambles on, the essence of the work begins to take shape. Sheparded at times by González’s punctual vocal and then at others by assemblies of claps, snaps, and shakers, “Let It Carry You” serves as the lone up-tempo track visited by Vestiges and Claws. While many, undoubtedly, will recall the briskness that gave Veneer its charm with this track, “Let It Carry You” seems to solve a different riddle. It’s freshness and resolve allows the track to exist not only as nostalgia for González’s previous work in Veneer, but also as a composition in and of itself too – a piece that can stand on it’s own two feet. The ability to remain interesting while remaining homogenous; thus is the brilliance of José González. While many folk singers fall victim to the tides of criticism and critique – González seems to live outside it and remains attentive to his self and his craft.

It can be argued that the development of craft is not always synonymous with the achievement of stardom in pop music. However – in the folk community – craft most of the time precedes even stardom and José González is no exception. Having been born in Sweden to Argentine parents, González was introduced to Latin and Caribbean folk music in his early years while learning to speak (and sing) in English too. This exposure to the broader folk communities proved effective in González’s return to the classical guitar after several hardcore-punk trials in the early 2000s (Rajagopalan). When the singer returned, though, he returned with the dexterity of a proficient guitarist.

In many of the same ways Nick Drake became well known for his unity and ability with a guitar in the 1960s, José González attracted acclaim for his fingerpicking style and proficiency after the release of Veneer in 2003. After the subsequent release of In Our Nature in 2007, the evolution of González’s craft was – as somewhat expected – very gradual. Besides the introduction of multi-tracking guitars and vocal doubling, the sound of In Our Nature did not fall too far from the tree of Veneer. The result, however, was a more refined, more deliberate sound that brought the Swede’s craft closer to the resonance featured on Vestiges and Claws.

Intertwining soft-spoken phrases with long drawn-out vowels, the vocals rise and fall throughout Vestiges and Claws. Without an alarm or place to be it’s easy to disappear into the music and lose track of time. While most of the time Jose González’s consistent craft serves as his strong suit, there are moments through the interior of the album that it also flirts along the line of a downfall. “The Forest”, in particular, feels more like a watercolor painting than a consequential character study. Yet, the deliberateness of his work remains all the while and compels attentiveness rather than analysis. It becomes clear eventually that González’s outward charm has been discovered by the folk-singer himself, and that his work is a direct result of that discovery. González, it seems, understands the relationship between steadiness of character and consistency of craft in creating a legacy. And a legacy he’s made.

March Spotify Playlist of the Month

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month March 2015

March means the flowers are starting to bloom, the birds are starting to sing, and there’s still 6 feet of snow on the ground…Can’t win ‘em all right? Good thing for you though is that we here at Maimed & Tamed aren’t going to let a little snow keep us from delivering you some brand new jams this month. We’ve even added an additional 10 bonus tracks to our normal 20 song playlist because we love you all that much. This month features the return of various M&T favorites including Two Gallants, Built to Spill, Alabama Shakes, Krill, and more. Check out the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for 20 new tracks every month.

The Districts @ The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 2/12/15

Posted on by Woody Black in Concert Review, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment

The Districts_Graffiti_Ryan Farber23

Photo: Press/Ryan Farber

Seeking refuge and revival, a lucky collection of listeners bundled into Cambridge’s dark horse, The Sinclair, for a shot of that soundgood-feelgood. Besides The Districts, the bill featured another four-piece from New Jersey Pine Barons, and the buzz worthy barrage of Boston locals, Vundabar.

As the dark, dimly lit overheads illuminated the foyer, a lone cry came from the concert hall. The source, buttoned-up in dark cottons and hair-covered eyes, became recognizable immediately as Brandon Hagen of Vundabar. Shifting from Ed Sullivan-esque Beatles upstrokes to Bowie-like vocal exaggerations to Bombay Bicycle Club-ish melodic riffs, Hagen challenged and frequented the stereotypes. The self-proclaimed jangly pop-ers of Boston – although mostly harmless – aroused a sense of self-indifference with their stage antics, but the crowd was all together amused.

The half-dancing soon subsided with the arrival of Pine Barons – an eclectic and rather erratic rock quartet from southern New Jersey. As the group dipped and dove between fingerpicked folk tunes and full-on post-punk ballads, the soundscape wandered off at times unattended, but the lyrical content remained potent. The set soon became an extended assemblage of tracks with little post-song banter and ultimately found its conclusion on a particularly electric rock-n-roll tune.

Not too long after a new drink and a new friend, the wait was over. Shepherded by the curly-haired Eric Grote, The Districts assumed the stage now studied by several hundred onlookers. After a few long and illustrious years impressing heads at Fat Possum, then Bonaroo, and recently Late Night with Seth Meyers, the Lancaster-based casual-rockers have found their way out of the trans-lantic indie circuit and into the buzz. Halfway through the opening ballad it became clear what the buzz was all about.

Reviving the all-too-familiar upbeat stop-start of Spoon, The Districts filled the room with an almost refined nostalgia as they chipped and chirped through the softer anthem “Long Distance” while the young audience sang word for word. Despite allusions of Spoon, though, Grote’s versatile vocal seemed to distinguish the four-piece from their influences and moved them into what’s becoming known as “The Districts” sound. The result was all-together spellbinding as Grote along with guitarist Mark Larson, bassist Conor Jacobus, and drummer Braden Lawrence chugged through “Lyla” and into a goosebump-inducing finale.

As whistles and wails rose from the crowd of believers and converts alike, The Districts withdrew from the stage for several minutes before returning again to even more deafening applause. It was the 12-minute volley of foot stamping and yelling that ensued as “Young Blood” built to the top from the bottom, though that left its final mark on the night with a healthy dose of ear ringing to remind the lucky listeners that The Districts are sticking around.

Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again

Posted on by Woody Black in Album Review | Leave a comment

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Nostalgia lovers gather ‘round. Light your candles, your cigarettes – Jessica Pratt has returned with her sophomore full-length, On Your Own Love Again via Drag City.

Time-traveling through history, Pratt manages to visit Greenwich Village in the 60s, West London in the 70s, and Los Angeles in the 2000s throughout the album; all the while distinguishing herself from those to which she bears resemblance in her unmistakable air of gentility.

Resting upon the shoulders of her self-titled debut, On Your Own Love Again features the familiar delicate vocal idiosyncrasies and nasal vibrato. Yet, the whole work itself feels more refined, more crafted. The production recalls the clarity and intimacy of Joe Boyd’s Pink Moon sessions with Nick Drake while it retains a certain level of individuality through its vocal layering and multi-tracked guitars. However, the sound – without a doubt – will evoke some degree of nostalgia depending on age or inclination towards dusty records.

Bringing the lo-fi back into bedroom recordings, Pratt seems penned on the cultivation of a feeling rather than a statement. As the nine-track record ambles on, it becomes clear that the wayfaring musings of the 27 year old are mostly benign, light-hearted even (i.e. “Jacquelyn in the Background”). Although the homogeneity of songs sometimes invites daydreams rather than attentiveness, the overall effect is natural and, thus, fully realized.

Whether On Your Own Love Again echoes Vasti Bunyan in its songwriting, Sibylle Baier in its sincerity or Joni Mitchell in its underlining folkness, the result silhouettes a much fresher shadow and that is the shadow of Jessica Pratt.

February Spotify Playlist of the Month

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Maimed & Tamed Spotify Playlist of the Month February 2015

For us native New Englanders February feels best directly following a Patriots Super Bowl victory, especially when our resident photographer Andrew got to snap the photo above of Julian Edelman in all of his Duck Boat glory. Lucky for the rest of you though that February also means a brand new playlist from all of us here at M&T. This month’s playlist features a former M&T album of the year winner in Lady Lamb the Beekeper, along with an early contender for 2015 album of the year in Hey Rosetta!, among many others. Check out the full playlist (plus 5 bonus tracks because we love you that much) below and remember to subscribe for 20 brand new tunes every month.

Damn Tall Buildings, Nemes, and The Western Den at Cafe 939 2/6/2015

Posted on by Woody Black in Concert Preview | Leave a comment

Damn Tall Buildings, Nemes, and The Western Den at Cafe 939

It’s true; the snow has forced us to keep inside these past few weeks tending to our soup and beer, sometimes together, sometimes separately. But it’s time to return to wild.

On February 6th (this Friday), when all the snow melts, Damn Tall Buildings, Nemes, and The Western Den will be taking the stage at Café 939 at Berklee College of Music. All three Boston based bands brandish their own dynamics and sounds with Damn Tall Buildings leading the folksy bluegrass two-step, Nemes following with their alt- foot stomp inducing -rock, and Western Den finishing with the caress and conquer of a good folk tune.

Not only is this music the best way to return feeling to your bones, it’s – in fact – the only way. Bring your dancing shoes, or rather your duck boots, and set your weekend off to the start it so deserves.

Doors open at 8pm. Don’t be late!

Buy Tickets 

Newport Folk Festival 2015 Predictions/Wishlist

Posted on by Eric in Newport Folk Festival Spotlight | Leave a comment

Newport Folk Festival 2015

Now that tickets have gone on sale for this year’s Newport Folk Festival (get yours here before they sell out because they most definitely will) the lineup rumor mill has inevitably started turning. In years past our predictions/wishlist have been both hits and misses, but that’s not going to stop us from making another list this year. Here’s to hoping we get ‘em all right in 2015.

My Morning Jacket

This one just makes too much sense. Jim James and co. are back hitting the festival circuit hard this summer with appearances at Bonnaroo, Governors Ball, Boston Calling, and Hangout already confirmed. Plus Mr. James also resides on the festival’s Board of Advisors, and not to mention their epic set at the 2012 festival that was cut short by torrential rain. If ever there was a lock for this year’s lineup, this would be it.

-Eric

Natalie Prass and/or Courtney Barnett

About a minute into Natalie Prass’ brand new album, that oh-so-familiar feeling hit: “God, she’d be great at Newport.”  Prass’ vocals float precariously on top of her brassy backing band, creating one of the most unique female folk albums we’ve heard in a while. Another powerhouse we’d love to see at Folk ’15 is Courtney Barnett (of Australia, naturally). Her 2013 album was a veritable indie hit, thanks especially to her raw, sardonic songwriting. Much like Newport veterans like Sharon Van Etten and Jenny Lewis, Prass and Bartnett have found new ways to juxtapose hard and soft in their music. We’re crossing our fingers to see both in July.

-Caroline

Laura Marling

After a rather lengthy hiatus, Ms. Marling has returned to her tales of love, self-reflection, womanhood and all the rest in her full-length album, Short Movie.

-Woody

Eyelids

Members of the Decemberists + The Minus 5 + Guided By Voices = Eyelids. Need we say more?

-Caroline

Jessica Pratt

Having recently been picked up by Drag Records, Jessica Pratt and her ’60s sentimentalities have the folk and indie audiences caught somewhere between nostalgia and a breath of fresh-folk air.

-Woody

Will Dailey

What would a Newport Wishlist be without a little local love? Of all the Boston folk rock artists who put out an album in 2014, Dailey might be the most deserving of a slot at the historic festival. National Throat was one of our favorite records from last year and we could totally see it translating to a killer set at The Fort this year.

-Eric

Little May

The M&T team will always rep Boston, no questions asked… but there’s something in the water down under, so we’ve got toss some serious love towards Aussie bands as well. Little May, a new group of Sydney, offers three-part harmonies and stunning melodies that would attract an insta-crowd at Newport.

-Caroline

The Decemberists

With a new album out, Colin Meloy on the aforementioned festival Board of Advisors, and a bunch of festival dates already announced, this one is a close second in the mortal lock category.

-Eric

Jose Gonzalez

The Swede returns. Years after tattooing his sound on the arm of the post-Nick Drake revival, Gonzalez finds himself anew on his highly anticipated full-length, Vestiges and Claws.

-Woody

Júníus Meyvant

This one is definitely our sleeper pick for 2015. The Icelandic singer Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson, who performs under the name Júníus Meyvant, hasn’t made a ton of noise stateside, but as we’ve seen in years past that hasn’t stopped producer Jay Sweet from booking acts that on are the cusp. Just imagine this performance of “Color Decay” (which also appeared on our Best Songs of 2014 list) at the Fort and you’ll understand what we mean.

-Eric

January Spotify Playlist of the Month

Posted on by Eric in Playlists | Leave a comment

M&T Spotify Playlist of the Month January 2015

Somehow it’s 2015, and though were sorely disappointed that many of the predictions made in Back to the Future Part II have yet to come true (most importantly the hoverboard part), we are very much looking forward to all of the new music that will be released. To kick off the new year we have a playlist full of fresh jams for your listening pleasure. This month’s playlist features new tracks from familiar artists like Father John Misty, San Fermin, and Modest Mouse along with newcomers such as Happy You, Low Key, and more. Check out the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for 20 brand new tunes every month.

M&T Best Albums of 2014

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2014 | Leave a comment

M&T Best Albums of 2014

We’ve compiled our 30 favorite albums from 2014 and you can check out the full list below and take a listen to each album via Spotify. We’re such nice people that we also put together a playlist featuring one song from each album, which you can check out on Spotify by clicking the button below. Here’s to more great music in 2015!

Full Spotify Playlist

30. Jessie Ware- Tough Love

The Sade of our time turns out a sophomore album thats equal parts jamz and feelz, all anchored by her impeccable voice.

Essential Tracks: “Say You Love Me,” “Cruel,” “Tough”

-Caroline

29. Hozier- Hozier

Public service announcement: the mega-hit “Take Me to Church” is just one of many incredible Hozier songs that appear on his soulful debut album.

Essential Tracks: “From Eden,” “Someone New,”  “Jackie and Wilson”

-Caroline

28. Sisyphus- Sisyphus

Sufjan Stevens + Son Lux + Serengeti = Pure Magic. Following their 2012 debut EP, this trio of artists delivered a full-length album in 2014 that seamlessly combined the styles and sounds of each individual member.

Essential Tracks: “Calm It Down”, “Rhythm of Devotion”, “Lion’s Share”, “Alcohol”

-Eric

27. The Hotelier- Home, Like Noplace There Is

We’ve got a soft spot for this quartet out of Worcester, MA, but this album making our list was certainly not due to some kind of hometown bias. Emo has made its triumphant return and we certainly don’t hate it.

Essential Tracks: “Housebroken”, “Your Deep Rest”, “An Introduction to the Album”

-Eric

26. Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels 2

Killer Mike and El-P return with a follow-up to their 2013 debut that is as much, if not more, of a crowd-pleaser than its predecessor.

Essential Tracks: “Early”, “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)”, “Blockbuster Night Part 1″

-Eric

25. Wye Oak- Shriek

A definite departure from the sound captured on 2011’s Civilian, which makes us all the more excited to see what direction they will head in next.

Essential Tracks: “Before”, “Logic of Color”, “Sick Talk”

-Eric

24. Tennis- Ritual in Repeat

Pop perfection once again from the husband and wife duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore.

Essential Tracks: “Needle and a Knife”, “Bad Girls”, “Never Work for Free”

-Eric

23. The Barr Brothers- Sleeping Operator

To say Sleeping Operator was well worth the 3-year wait would be a vast understatement. The immensely talented Brad Barr and co. certainly did not disappoint with this 13-track ear-pleaser.

Essential Tracks: “Half Crazy”, “Love Ain’t Enough”, “Come In The Water”, “Little Lover”

-Eric

22. Ryan Adams- Ryan Adams

What is there to say about Ryan Adams that hasn’t been said before? His self-titled effort is deserving of all the praise bestowed on it this year.

Essential Tracks: “My Wrecking Ball”, “Gimme Something Good”, “Kim”, “Feels Like Fire”

-Eric

21. Sylvan Esso- Sylvan Esso

The unexpected match-up of Amelia Meath’s folksy vocals and Nick Sanborn’s spry electronic production made for one hell of a debut album. A welcome surprise.

Essential Tracks: “Play It Right,” “Hey Mami,” “Coffee”

-Caroline

20. Alvvays- Alvvays

Alvvays burst onto the scene in 2014 with an album soaked in nostalgic sounds that brought to mind some of our favorite female-fronted bands from the ’90s like The Sundays and Mazzy Star.

Essential Tracks: “Archie, Marry Me”, “Party Police”, “Atop a Cake”

-Eric

19. Vacationer- Relief

Kenny Vasoli, the former frontman of 2000s emo band The Starting Line, created a lush and layered record that’s the ideal soundtrack for a tropical vacation.

Essential Tracks: “Stay”, “Paradise Waiting”, “In The Grass”, “Heavenly”

-Eric

18. FKA twigs- LP1

Possibly the most intimate album of all time, LP1 is a mesmerizing tour of FKA’s haunted mind and bedroom.

Essential Tracks: “Two Weeks,” “Lights On,” “Closer”

-Caroline

17. Against Me!- Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Laura Jane Grace dazzles on this album as she takes us through her transition to living life as a woman.

Essential Tracks: “Transgender Dysphoria Blues”, “True Trans Soul Rebel”, “Fuckmylife666″, “Two Coffins”

-Eric

16. Stars- No One Is Lost

As soon as lead single “From The Night” hit the airwaves we knew Stars had returned in a big way, and much to our delight the rest of the record was equally as tantalizing.

Essential Tracks: “From The Night”, “Are You Ok?”, “No One Is Lost”

-Eric

15. Spoon- They Want My Soul

It has been confirmed that Spoon is simply not capable of making a subpar record.

Essential Tracks: “Do You”, “New York Kiss”, “Inside Out”, “Rent I Pay”

-Eric

14. Conor Oberst- Upside Down Mountain

With the help of Jonathan Wilson and the ladies of First Aid Kit, the Bright Eyes frontman released yet another successful solo album, not to mention one of our favorite sets from this summer’s Newport Folk Festival.

Essential Tracks: “Zigzagging Toward the Light”, “Hundreds of Ways”, “Governor’s Ball”, “Double Life”

-Eric

13. Shakey Graves- And the War Came

Alejandro Rose-Garcia continues to be one of our favorite songwriters in the world of folk music, and this year he also brought us quite the delightful discovery in Esmé Patterson.

Essential Tracks: “Only Son”, “Dearly Departed”, “Family and Genus”

-Eric

12. Kevin Drew- Darlings

The Broken Social Scene frontman redefines crazysexycool with his 2014 solo release.

Essential Tracks: “You in Your Were”, “It’s Cool”, “Good Sex”, “Body Butter”, “And That’s All I Know”

-Eric

11. The Rural Alberta Advantage- Mended With Gold

Powerful is probably the only way to describe Paul Banwatt’s drumming chops, which are front and center on this epic release. The RAA also put on one of the best shows we saw in 2014 at The Bowery Ballroom back in November.

Essential Tracks: “Our Love”, “On The Rocks”, “Terrified”, “45/33″

-Eric

10. Caribou- Our Love

Caribou’s Our Love reminds us that electronic music can be beautiful, rich, and most importantly, human.

Essential Tracks: “Silver,” “Second Chance,” “Your Love Will Set You Free”

-Caroline

9. Will Dailey- National Throat

After escaping his major label deal, local Boston hero Will Dailey delivered one of 2014’s most funky and soulful albums. Between the horns, the shredding guitar solos, and the thoughtful arrangements, Dailey takes us along for the ride as he details the breakup with his label. National Throat brought Dailey two Boston Music Awards for Album and Artist of the year, and both deservedly so.

Essential Tracks: “Sunken Ship”, “Castle of Pretending”, “Lookout Johnny”, “We Will Always Be a Band”

-Eric

8. Mina Tindle- Parades

More than half of Parades is in Tindle’s native language of French, but none of this gorgeous and unpredictable chamber-pop is lost in translation.

Essential Tracks: “Seaside,” “Pas Les Saisons,” “Taranta,” “I Command”

-Caroline

7. Rubblebucket- Survival Sounds

2014 was a trying year for Rubblebucket as lead singer Kalmia Traver recovered from her battle with ovarian cancer, but I’m sure they’ll look back on this year with fondness as well since they released their best record to date. This band has come a long way sonically since its 2009 self-titled debut and with Survival Sounds they found the perfect mix of their signature horn sounds paired with varied electronic elements. As long as they keep touring, Rubblebucket will be considered one of the best live acts around and to see this record come to life earlier this year was a complete and total joy.

Essential Tracks: “On the Ground”, “Carousel Ride”, “Shake Me Around”, “My Life”

-Eric

6. Saintseneca- Dark Arc

When we saw Saintseneca at SXSW this year, we knew that 2014 was going to treat them well, and after the release of Dark Arc we can safely say that it did just that. Not only does lead singer Zac Little have one of the best mustaches in the biz, he’s also got a voice to match. A warbly croon that brings to mind Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Little’s voice guides Dark Arc, but its epic arrangements are what make this album so special. It’s a shame that we didn’t get to catch the band perform live again after SXSW, but something tells us they’ll be riding the high from Dark Arc for quite some time.

Essential Tracks: “Happy Alone”, “Takmit”, “Blood Bath”, “Visions”

-Eric

5. Bombay Bicycle Club- So Long, See You Tomorrow

So Long, See You Tomorrow begins with the glorious, dazzling bang of “Overdone.” From there, BBC keeps turning out song after song of electro-pop euphoria. Despite simple lyrics, So Long, See You Tomorrow is so sonically jampacked that you’ll hear and feel something new even when your record is worn.

Essential Tracks: “Overdone,” “Home by Now,” “Luna”

-Caroline

4. Jenny Lewis- The Voyager

Jenny Lewis has long been regarded as indie music royalty, a role she certainly plays into with her bo$$ bitch ‘tude and regal stage attire. Yet on Lewis’ long-awaited The Voyager, she embraced a role far less glamorous: that of an unmarried, childless 30-something. Lewis explores this tricky theme through her classically confessional lyrics. And lucky for us, her wry stories of middle-aged malaise are layered over incredibly catchy SoCal folk-pop. In short, The Voyager’s sun-drenched vibes and shadowy lyrics make for an album that will age as well as Jenny Lewis has.

Essential Tracks: “The Voyager,” “Head Underwater,” “She’s Not Me,” “Just One of the Guys”

-Caroline

3. Big Scary- Not Art

Technically a 2013 release, but the follow-up to 2011’s Vacation didn’t reach us Stateside until early 2014. The duo of Tom Iansek and Jo Syme have been favorites of ours for quite some time, but with Not Art they have truly outdone themselves. You don’t have to take just our word for it either as the record landed them the Australian Music Prize, which is equivalent to Canada’s Polaris Prize or the Mercury Prize in the UK. The subtleties and nuances that you pick up with each additional listen is what sets this album apart from the rest of Big Scary’s catalog, and the rest of the albums released in 2014 for that matter. It’ll be tough for Tom and Jo to top this one, but we’re sure they’re up to the task and cannot wait to hear what comes next.

Essential Tracks: “Luck Now”, “Harmony Sometimes”, “Invest”, “Belgian Blues”

-Eric

2. Grey Season- Time Will Tell You Well

Grey Season wowed us all in 2014 by putting out not only one of the best records amongst the impressive crop of Boston bands who put out albums this year, but also one of the best records of 2014 period. Recorded primarily at Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock, NY, Time Will Tell You Well is perfect for summertime porch sitting or anytime you feel like a night of beer drinking. Catchy melodies, impressive harmonies, and furious banjo picking are all commonplace on this record, and for those of you M&T faithful out there, you know that those three items are a recipe for success in our minds. These Boston boys have a long career ahead of them and if TWTYW is any indication, it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Essential Tracks: “Satellites”, “Aragon Mill”, “New Kind of Dirty”, “Look at Us Now”

-Eric

1. Kishi Bashi- Lighght

On Lighght, Kishi Bashi boldly goes where most violinist/composers rarely do, and the result is ambitious, extravagant, and our favorite album of the year. Kishi Bashi builds off of his first album’s signature baroque pop, but seamlessly adds in bold disco and prog-rock inspirations. The album’s themes vary as well, from the absurdist wackiness of “The Ballad of Mr. Steak” to the heartfelt sentiment of “Q&A,” an acoustic love song that Lennon-McCartney would have happily taken credit for. Despite tonal twists and thematic turns, the album is intensely coherent, and each song is clearly branded with the Kishi Bashi stamp of wonderful weirdness. For one album (and one person) to accomplish so much is simply astounding. This frenzied journey with Kishi Bashi will likely leave you a bit exhausted, but only in the way that truly great music does.

Essential Tracks: “Philosophize in It! Chemalize with It!, “Q&A,” Hahaha Pt. 1”, “The Ballad of Mr. Steak”

-Caroline

M&T Best Songs of 2014

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2014 | Leave a comment

M&T Best Songs of 2014

2014 blew by, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of good music to soundtrack the year that was. We’ve compiled our 50 favorite songs from this year and even created a handy Spotify playlist that includes each track listed below. It was a tough decision at the top, but in the end family is all that really matters right?

Full Spotify Playlist

50. Yeah Boy- “Can’t Get Enough”

49. Slow Club- “Suffering You, Suffering Me”

48. The Hotelier- “Housebroken”

47. Haley Bonar- “Bad Reputation”

46. Montaigne- “I’m A Fantastic Wreck”

45. alt-J- “Left Hand Free”

44. Solander- “Monday Afternoon”

43. Leisure Cruise- “Double Digit Love”

42. Wye Oak- “Logic of Color”

41. First Aid Kit- “My Silver Lining”

40. Tennis- “Bad Girls”

39. Foxing- “Inuit”

38. Against Me!- “True Trans Soul Rebel”

37. Polarsets- “Parasols”

36. The Rural Alberta Advantage- “Terrified”

35. Stars- “No One Is Lost”

34. Junius Meyvant- “Color Decay”

33. Kishi Bashi- “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”

32. the Soil & the Sun- “How Long”

31. Liam Finn- “Burn Up The Road”

30. LANY- “ILYSB”

Newcomer LANY combined synth, drum kit, handclaps and the best of use of the word “hella” in music history to create my most played song of 2014.

-Caroline

29. Action Bronson- “Easy Rider”

We’ll just let the big man do all the talking himself for this one.

-Eric

28. Happy You- “New Year’s Day”

A three-and-a-half minute romp that only gets better as it goes on, and a very appropriate title given the circumstances.

-Eric

27. The War On Drugs- “Red Eyes”

If you haven’t listened to this one by now you should probably come out from under your rock and re-join society.

-Eric

26. Kevin Drew- “Good Sex”

Do Kevin Drew’s air thrusts get anyone else in the mood or is that just me?

-Eric

25. Twin Shadow- “To The Top”

This retro anthem belongs at the climax of every 80s movie ever. Truly epic.

-Caroline

24. Rubblebucket- “My Life”

Bouncy, funky, saucy, think of your favorite -y adjectives and this song is all of them combined.

-Eric

23. Saintseneca- “Takmit”

A relentless track that makes you want to puff out your chest and take on the world.

-Eric

22. Grey Season- “Satellites”

2014 proved that bluegrass is back in a big way and this cut from Boston’s own Grey Season was the finest track on one of our favorite albums of the year.

-Eric

21. Big Scary- “Harmony Sometimes”

Though it’s certainly not the catchiest track on Big Scary’s magnificent Not Art, it’s somehow irresistible and alluring in a way all its own.

-Eric

20. The Antlers- “Palace”

Lifted up by sparse horns and Peter Silberman’s falsetto, Palace’s stunningly beautiful lyrics are sent soaring.

-Caroline

19. Death From Above 1979- “Right On, Frankenstein!”

Two minutes of blazing, distorted riffs and relentless drumming followed by our favorite breakdown of the year. Try not to pump your fist to this one.

-Eric

18. Strand of Oaks- “Goshen ’97”

To say 2014 was a breakout year for Tim Showalter (aka Strand of Oaks) could quite possibly be the understatement of the year. Overall HEAL was a solid record, but Showalter’s ode to his hometown certainly stands out above the rest.

-Eric

17. Rich Aucoin- “Let It Go”

How can you not smile and dance with every listen? Rich Aucoin, you sir are truly a musical wizard.

-Eric

16. Rick Ross- “Sanctified (feat. Kanye West & Big Sean)”

“All I want’s a 100 million dollars and a bad bitch.” PREACH!

-Eric

15. Thumpers- “Tame”

The standout track from the British duo’s highly impressive debut LP.

-Eric

14. Jenny Lewis- “She’s Not Me”

A scorned Jenny Lewis generally leads to some of indie rock’s greatest hits, and outfitted with blazing guitar riffs from Ryan Adams and even more heated vocals from Lady Lewis, “Shes Not Me” doesn’t disappoint.

-Caroline

13. Future Islands- “Seasons (Waiting On You)”

Much like The War On Drugs’ “Red Eyes,” if you haven’t heard this one you’ve probably been stranded on a desert island for all of 2014. Plus frontman Sam Herring’s dance moves are absolutely on-point. Be advised that there’s a chance you may become pregnant after viewing this gif.

-Eric

12. Yellerkin- “Tools”

Adrian Galvin and Luca Buccellati strike folktronica-dance-pop gold with “Tools”. Yeah, we’re definitely going to trademark that one.

-Eric

11. Sufjan Stevens- “A Little Lost”

Sufjan Stevens reigns supreme at creating lush electronic arrangements, and succeeds at it once again on this beautiful, piano-centric reimagining of Arthur Russell’s ode to kissing.

-Caroline

10. Kishi Bashi- “The Ballad of Mr. Steak”

“The Ballad of Mr. Steak” is a wacky, whirlwind anthem about a cut of red meat that’s equal parts classical, digital and disco.

-Caroline

9. Spoon- “Do You”

Only Britt Daniel and Spoon can make something as simple as eating popsicles on a hot day seem so cool. Terrible Dad-pun totally intended.

-Eric

8. Alvvays- “Archie, Marry Me”

“Archie, Marry Me” emits blissed-out vibes all while frontlady Molly Rankin sings of her man’s pragmatic dismissal of conventional marriage. A perfect juxtaposition.

-Caroline

7. Girls Guns and Glory- “Rockin’ Chair Money”

It might be blasphemy to say that these Boston based country rock crooners have outdone the Hank Williams original, but they’ve outdone the Hank Williams original.

-Eric

6. The Griswolds- “Beware the Dog”

Australian newcomers The Griswolds dropped this trop-pop party tune this summer, which features a shout-a-long chorus with some extremely gratifying expletives.

-Caroline

5. Bleachers- “I Wanna Get Better”

This song has been everywhere in 2014 and we mean everywhere. Though it still remains to be seen if Jack Antonoff’s solo efforts will eclipse the success of Fun., we can safely say that he’s well on his way.

-Eric

4. Ryan Adams- “Gimme Something Good”

Shimmery, sleek, and radio-ready aren’t normally adjectives that are used to describe Ryan Adams songs, but none of those words should be misconstrued or taken out of context as we mean them in the best way possible.

-Eric

3. Shakey Graves- “Dearly Departed (feat. Esme Patterson) “

What made Shakey Graves’ And The War Came one of the finest releases of 2014 was the earnest and thoughtful songwriting found throughout, and “Dearly Departed” is no exception. Though Alejandro Rose-Garcia’s approach on this track comes off as slightly humorous, he’s still a country crooner at heart and of all the things a country crooner loves we’d say lost loves and untimely breakups have to be near the top of the list. Rose-Garcia’s chemistry with Esmé Patterson on this playful duet is undeniable and I’ll be damned if anyone out there isn’t signing right along with them once the last chorus rolls around.

-Eric

2. Ages and Ages- “Divisionary (Do The Right Thing)”

In the most holy church of indie music, Ages and Ages provided the ultimate hymn of 2014. “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” begins with a simple call to action: “do the right thing, do the right thing… don’t you know you’re not the only one suffering.” This line is repeated over and over again, yet each time it gains more meaning and weight, thanks to the strings, piano and group vocals that layer on along the way. Inspiring without a hint of preachiness (and here’s the proof), “Divisionary” is a modern-day gospel hymn of the very highest degree.

-Caroline

1. Tweedy- “Diamond Light Pt. 1″

Our #1 song of 2014 could have been a B-side to our #1 song of 2011, but that’s certainly not to say that it should be treated as a leftover from some abandoned Wilco sessions. This song is the sonic summation of Tweedy, and by that we mean both Jeff and Spencer. For all the critics out there who thought it cute that 47 year old Jeff Tweedy made a record with his teenage son, they can look no further than “Diamond Light Pt. 1″ to dispel any preconceived notions they may have held. The younger Tweedy’s mastery of the drum kit on this track will quiet any pundits out there who chalked up Spencer’s involvement on the album to nepotism. All familial relations aside, this six-minute journey of a song is as inspiring as it is unusual and it’s that eerie mystique which kept us fixated on this track all year.

-Eric

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