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Best of 2013

M&T Best Albums of 2013

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2013 | Leave a comment

Here it is, our final “Best of” list for 2013. We’ve compiled our 30 favorite albums from the year and you can check out the full list below and take a listen to each album via Spotify. We’ve also done some dirty work for you and put together a track from each record into one Spotify playlist which you can explore using the button below. We hope you enjoy the list, here’s to 2014!

Full Spotify Playlist

30. Arctic Monkeys- AM

Their sound has evolved from their early 2000s punk influenced days, but I bet they still think you look good on the dancefloor.

Essential Tracks: “Arabella”, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High”

-Eric

29. Foals- Holy Fire

Another English rock band who should be much more popular here in the States.

Essential Tracks: “Inhaler”, “Out of the Woods”, “My Number”

-Eric

28. Futurebirds- Baba Yaga

Futurebird’s second studio album, Baba Yaga, keeps the group on track with their bro bluegrass sound coming through. Tracks like “Tan Lines” and “Dig” show the dynamic ability of the group to go from mellow slide guitar to loud and aggressive guitar solos, a nice addition for their live set repertoire.

Essential Tracks: “Tan Lines”, “Virginia Slims”, “Dig”

-Trev

27. Daft Punk- Random Access Memories

The robots made their triumphant return with a record full of radio hits, special guests, and one massive single that produced countless YouTube covers.

Essential Tracks: “Giorgio by Moroder”, “Doin’ It Right”, “Get Lucky”

-Eric

26. Kingsley Flood- Battles

With Battles these local heroes burst onto the national stage and rightly so.

Essential Tracks: “Don’t Change My Mind”, “Sun Gonna Lemme Shine”, “Sigh a While”

-Eric

25. San Fermin- San Fermin

A chamber-pop concept album about 20-something struggles featuring a Matt Berninger sound-alike and the girls from Lucius? San Fermin’s debut sounded too good (and too weird) to be true – it wasn’t.

Essential Tracks: “Renaissance!”, “Sonsick”, “At Night, True Love”

-Caroline

24. Hey Marseilles- Lines We Trace

Another spectacular album and Hey Marseilles is finally starting to get the respect they deserve.

Essential Tracks: “Heart Beats”, “Dead of the Night”, “Bright Stars Burning”

-Eric

23. White Denim- Corsicana Lemonade

This Jeff Tweedy produced effort is tight, and hard-hitting yet still has the jam influences that made 2011’s D a breakthrough album.

Essential Tracks: “At Night in Dreams”, “Pretty Green”

-Caroline

22. Mikal Cronin- MCII

The former Ty Segall bandmate impressed with his sophomore solo effort.

Essential Tracks: “Shout it Out”, “Weight”

-Eric

21. Grouplove- Spreading Rumours

A surprisingly complete follow-up to the 2011 breakthrough record Never Trust A Happy Song.

Essential Tracks: “Ways To Go”, “I’m With You”, “Schoolboy”

-Eric

20. Miniboone- Miniboone

It really is a crime that this record has not shown up on more year-end lists.

Essential Tracks: “I Could, I Could”, “Gimme Gimme Gimme”, “Magic Eye”

-Eric

19. Haim- Days Are Gone

These three sisters were the breakout band from 2013.

Essential Tracks: “The Wire”, “Forever”, “Don’t Save Me”, “My Song 5”

-Eric

18. Volcano- Repave

Have you ever heard of a bad Justin Vernon record?

Essential Tracks: “Byegone”, “Acetate”

-Eric

17. Vampire Weekend- Modern Vampires of the City

Vampire Weekend have become veritable philosophers of the Facebook age with Modern Vampires of the City, an album that is exceptional on the surface, and even better when you dig into its contemplative and complex lyrics.

Essential Tracks: “Step”, “Diane Young”, “Hannah Hunt”

-Caroline

16. Typhoon- White Lighter

Although lead singer Kyle Morton’s lyrics can tend to be a bit dark, this record still exudes a triumphant vibe.

Essential Tracks: “Young Fathers”, “Dreams of Cannibalism”, “Common Sentiments”

-Eric

15. Phosphorescent- Muchacho

Matthew Houck has been making music for years, but he definitely made a name for himself, and Phosphorescent, in 2014.

Essential Tracks: “Song for Zula”, “Ride On/Right On”, “A Charm/A Blade”

-Eric

14. Jonathan Wilson- Fanfare

Jonathan Wilson’s second album, Fanfare delivers and cements Wilson’s place as an artist to watch over the next couple of years. Tracks like “Dear Friend”, “Fazon” and “Moses Pain” are leaders on an album full of winners, with sounds of bluegrass, rock, soul and jazz. There is something for everyone on this album.

Essential Tracks: “Fazon”, “Fanfare”, “Dear Friend”, “Love to Love”

-Trev

13. Leagues- You Belong Here

You don’t really associate pop music with Nashville, but every song on You Belong Here could be a radio hit.

Essential Tracks: “Spotlight”, “Walking Backwards”, “Magic”

-Eric

12. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down- We the Common

We had this one on repeat for a solid month in early 2013, and it’s still sounding fresh.

Essential Tracks: “We the Common”, “Holy Roller”

-Eric

11. The Lone Bellow- The Lone Bellow

The self-titled debut album from The Lone Bellow climbed to No. 64 on the Billboard 200 for a reason; it’s simple, pure and powerful. Tracks off this album will surely be showing up at weddings in the years to come.

Essential Tracks: “Green Eyes And A Heart of Gold”, “Tree to Grow”

-Trev

10. Arcade Fire- Reflektor

Many were critical of the promotional campaign launched ahead of the release of Reflektor, but when all was said and done this is a damn good album. It’s a bit more of a grower than The Suburbs and although it stretches across 13 tracks and two discs, there are hardly any moments of self-indulgence. Reflektor may not be the best record of 2013, but is arguably the most important album to come out this past year. It also includes some of the band’s best songs over their 10 year career like “Afterlife” and “Reflektor”

Essential Tracks: “Here Comes the Nightime”, “Afterlife”, “Reflektor”

-Eric

9. Jim James- Regions of Light and Sound of God

Inspired by a 1920s graphic novel, Jim James’ solo debut has the My Morning Jacket frontman experimenting with many new sounds that you won’t hear in any of his other projects. James played nearly every instrument on the album’s nine tracks, even showing off his impressive saxophone playing skills on a few songs. Though it clocks in at just over a half hour in length there’s plenty to get excited about, even the instrumental “Exploding” is catchy and addicting.

Essential Tracks: “A New Life”, “State of the Art”

-Eric

8. Little Green Cars- Absolute Zero

Little Green Cars exploded onto the scene in 2013 following the release of the single “The John Wayne,” and once Absolute Zero arrived, it seemed that each track was just as good as the last. Though the average age of the band is just around 20, the songwriting on Absolute Zero is much more mature than one might expect. Vocal duties are shared by Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke, creating plenty of opportunity for dynamic harmonies and storytelling. Try not to get hooked on this album, we dare you.

Essential Tracks: “Harper Lee”, “The John Wayne”, “Big Red Dragon”

-Eric

7. Little Comets- Life Is Elsewhere

Released in their native UK in late 2012, Little Comets’ sophomore release didn’t hit stores in the US until this summer. To say this record flew under the radar would be quite the understatement. Each song is equally addicting and once you’ve listened through all 14 tracks it’s hard not to stop back at the top over and over again. With the band doing minimal US touring in 2013, we hope that they’ll be back soon with a Boston date so we can hear these incredible songs come to life.

Essential Tracks: “Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night”, “Violence Out Tonight”, “Bridge Burn”, “Bayonne”

-Eric

6. The Head And The Heart- Let’s Be Still

The Head And The Heart could have gone in a few different directions following their 2011 self-titled breakthrough album. They could have rested on their laurels, made a very similar record, and most likely still achieved mainstream success, but instead they took another route. Let’s Be Still is a beautiful evolution of the band’s sound and builds from their self-titled debut, which was a folk record through and through. The progression of their style from 2011 to now gets us very, very excited to hear what this band will do next since they’ve showed with Let’s Be Still that the sky really is the limit.

Essential Tracks: “Summertime”, “Shake”, “10,000 Weight In Gold”, “Let’s Be Still”

-Eric

5. Houndmouth- From The Hills Below The City

We sang the praises of Houndmouth throughout 2012 and their full-length debut did not disappoint. From The Hills Below The City included three of the four tracks from the band’s self-titled EP and picked up exactly where those four tracks left off. We predicted that Houndmouth would become the next Lumineers and with this album they are certainly taking a step in the right direction towards superstardom.

Essential Tracks: “Come On, Illinois”, “Casino (Bad Things)”, “Halfway to Hardinsburg”

-Eric

4. Diarrhea Planet- I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

A full-on four-guitar assault on your ears, and hands-down the best punk rock album that came out in 2013. Don’t let the name fool you, these guys are supremely talented and have made one of the best records of the last year. If you’ve had the pleasure of catching this band live, it’s easy to see how much fun these guys have playing music and that’s the way it should be. Their energy is infectious as are the songs on this record, so take a listen and you’ll understand why they’re having so much fun.

Essential Tracks: “Kids”, “Separations”, “Babyhead”, “The Sound Of My Ceiling Fan”

-Eric

3. Frightened Rabbit- Pedestrian Verse

Over the past year these Scotsmen have quickly catapulted themselves into my pantheon of favorite bands, much to the credit of 2013’s Pedestrian Verse. The band’s fourth full-length album gained them plenty of critical acclaim and rightly so. They’ve already been mentioned on this site for having one of the best songs and putting on one of the best shows we’ve seen in 2013 and Pedestrian Verse is no different. Beyond “The Woodpile” there are plenty more remarkable songs like “Late March, Death March”, “The Oil Slick”, and “Acts of Man”, the latter of which was translated onto the stage as an epic pre-encore set closer during live shows. It’s safe to say that Frightened Rabbit will be producing quality records for years to come and you can bet the Christmas money you got from grandma that we’ll be at every one of their Boston shows.

Essential Tracks: “Acts of Man”, “The Woodpile”, “The Oil Slick”

-Eric

2. Lucius- Wildewoman

Lucius is often explained in a simple phrase: “two girls, one voice,” but this talented ensemble is far more than that quick reduction. The band’s two leads, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, sing, dress, and even cut their hair in unison. But a compelling aesthetic does not a top album of the year make. What makes Lucius one of this year’s best is an album comprised of eleven smart and polished pop songs. This album will captivate you from the first clip-clops of the empowering “Wildewoman,” and it won’t let up until the last rollicking love proclamations of “How Loud Your Heart Gets.” Wildewoman is inspired by their 60’s girl-group predecessors, but it’s still modern and new. It’s cohesive and refined, but never takes itself seriously. Wildewoman is pop music you can believe in.

Essential Tracks: “Tempest”, “Until We Get There”, “How Loud Your Heart Gets”, “Hey, Doreen”

-Caroline

1. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper- Ripely Pine

We said it when highlighting “Bird Balloons” in our favorite tracks from 2013, but it bears repeating– Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s full-length debut is full of raw passion and energy that you can feel. Every song on Ripely Pine is an adventure, with many of the tracks eclipsing the 5 minute mark, yet never feeling dragged out. The album’s opening song, “Hair to the Ferris Wheel”, is a microcosm of the record itself, with a slow-building intro, a quick change in pace, and a raw, emotional climax. The best part about this record is that from there it only gets better. Similar to Tango In The Attic’s Sellotape (M&T’s choice for the best album of 2012), with each listen to Ripely Pine we hear something new that didn’t come through on the last listen. The layers of horns and strings supporting Aly Spaltro’s voice provide the perfect backdrop to get lost in this album, and we mean that in the best way possible. There’s plenty to love about this record and we hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as we do because it truly is a musical triumph.

Essential Tracks: “Bird Balloons”, “You Are the Apple”, “Crane Your Neck”

-Eric

M&T Best Songs of 2013

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2013 | Leave a comment

2013 has been quite the journey and as you reflect on your year, all of us here at M&T are happy to provide you with a soundtrack of 50 tasty jams while you look ahead to 2014. You can find the full list of songs below and also take a listen to each track on Spotify (save for songs by Krill, Phox, and Heyrocco) by clicking the button below.

Full Spotify Playlist

50. Body Language- “Lose My Head”

49. Klingande- “Punga”

48. Miniboone- “Gimme Gimme Gimme”

47. San Cisco- “Fred Astaire”

46. Jay Kill & The Hustle Standard- “Never Seen Runaway”

45. Mikal Cronin- “Weight”

44. Smallpools- “Dreaming”

43. Buffalo Tales- “Oh! My Kingdom”

42. Caveman- “In The City”

41. French Horn Rebellion- “Girls”

40. The So So Glos- “Lost Weekend”

39. Tallahassee- “Old Brown Shoes”

38. Chvrches- “Recover”

37. Heyrocco- “Elsewhere”

36. Savoir Adore- “Dreamers”

35. Houndmouth- “Come On Illinois”

34. Little Comets- “Waiting In The Shadows In The Dead Of Night”

33. Typhoon- “Dreams of Cannibalism”

32. Daft Punk- “Giorgio by Moroder”

31. Speedy Ortiz- “Plough”

30. Cold War Kids- “Miracle Mile”

29. Vampire Weekend- “Step”

28. The Head And The Heart- “Shake”

27. Thee Oh Sees- “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”

26. Jonathan Wilson- “Dear Friend”

25. Lucius- “Hey, Doreen”

If it weren’t for Haim, Lucius might be the best female-fronted pop band of the year.

-Eric

24. Deer Tick- “The Rock”

The first single from Deer Tick’s Negativity starts slow, but by the end John McCauley’s gritty vocals are accompanied by the blaring horns of Grupo Fantasma.

-Eric

23. Jim James- “A New Life”

Jim James delivers with his spiritual foray into a release of solo material. “A New Life” does a good job of capturing the sound and feel of this album and provides Jim an opportunity to crone and goofily dance on stage, something a touring artist probably needs every once and a while.

-Trev

22. Sweet Baboo- “The Morse Code For Love Is Beep Beep, Beep Beep, The Binary Code Is One One”

Though the title is a mouthful, you’ll be singing along after just one listen.

-Eric

21. Krill- “Theme From Krill”

Krill forever!

-Eric

20. Mapei- “Don’t Wait”

Inspired by everything from doowop to dub-step, Mapei’s big single snapped us into attention on first listen.

-Caroline

19. Sylvan Esso- “Play It Right”

We immediately fell in love with this duo after seeing them open for Volcano Choir, and we know you’ll immediately fall in love with this song.

-Eric

18. Har Mar Superstar- “Lady, You Shot Me”

Dancin’ Rick is a pretty damn good singer too.

-Eric

17. Charles Bradley- “Strictly Reserved For You”

Once that thick guitar riff hits your speakers you’ll be hooked.

-Eric

16. Phox- “Slow Motion”

“Slow Motion” calls clarinets, banjos, and even a dozen Dixie cups off their musical bench on this inventive whirlwind of a track.

-Caroline

15. Arcade Fire- “Afterlife”

It’s tough to pick just one song from Arcade Fire’s ambitious double-album, but “Afterlife” is certainly a standout.

-Eric

14. Volcano Choir- “Byegone”

Sometimes I like to think Justin Vernon is singing about him and I in this song– “He’s a legend, I’m a legend and we both go tripping through the door.”

-Eric

13. Little Green Cars- “Harper Lee”

I’m not sure that this song has anything to do with the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, but it’s a damn catchy song nonetheless.

-Eric

12. The Griswolds- “Mississippi”

The best song on this year’s best EP.

-Eric

11. Grouplove- “Ways To Go”

Try not to get up out of your chair and dance along to this one.

-Eric

10. Caroline Rose- “America Religious”

The title track to Caroline Rose’s debut start slow, like a dream, and builds into a rambling folk song. Rose’s storytelling and guitar playing abilities are showcased through nearly five minutes of tantalizing ear candy. Though the rest of Rose’s America Religious makes for an impressive modern day folk record, the title track starts things off perfectly and will keep you coming back for more.

-Eric

9. Phosphorescent- “Song For Zula”

“Song For Zula,” the standout track off Muchacho, isn’t quite a walk in the park. Instead, we find Matthew Houck lost in his thoughts, a waking nightmare where love kills and disfigures. Houck wanders through this chorus-less track while mesmerizing synth and violin lines meander around him. “Song for Zula” is a gorgeous six-minute adventure we’d take any day.

-Caroline

8. Frightened Rabbit- “The Woodpile”

If you want to see a grown man cry, pick Scott Hutchison – he’s the only man on earth who makes pleading and begging attractive. Frightened Rabbit specializes in setting pathetic lyrics to a confident soundtrack, and that unexpected juxtaposition sounds amazing as ever on “The Woodpile.” With a big chorus and bigger guitars, we’re adding “The Woodpile” to the growing Hall of Fame of spectacular Frightened Rabbit tracks.

-Caroline

7. Night Beds- “Ramona”

Winston Yellen aka Night Beds made a name for himself in the world of alt country with the 2013 release of Country Sleep and much of its praise landed right on the single “Ramona.” This song is a beautifully crafted portrait of one Ramona, searching for something to make sense of what seems to be a life devoid of direction. The weepy slide guitar and Yellen’s falsetto lay the perfect backdrop for Ramona’s story, in what may be this year’s best country song.

-Eric

6. Vance Joy- “Riptide”

2013 was the year of the Australian invasion with bands like The Griswolds, San Cisco, and The Preatures all delivering stellar releases. Singer-songwriter Vance Joy certainly added to the glorious exports of Aussie music especially with the single “Riptide” off of his EP God Loves When You’re Dancing. “Riptide” is an upbeat, folk-pop tune with an infectious chorus that’s perfect for a good singalong. Like the rest of his Aussie counterparts, Vance Joy will be an artist to watch in 2014 following the success of “Riptide.”

-Eric

5. Haim- “The Wire”

They’re just not that into you. The new guitar goddesses of 2013 turn a tricky break-up into a summery pop gem on “The Wire.” This track is so catchy that even the newly heartbroken will join in on this undeniable clap-along.

-Caroline

4. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper- “Bird Balloons”

“Bird Balloons” is a six minute odyssey that explores various layers of sound careening from verse to verse with vigor and power. Like the rest of Ripely Pine this track oozes a gritty passion that can’t be felt in every word of Aly Spoltra’s delivery. The fervor with which Spoltra attacks each song is what makes it so difficult to pick just one track for this list. The difference maker is the final minute of “Bird Balloons” where Spoltra holds absolutely nothing back and emphatically pours every ounce of her being into the song.

-Eric

3. Diarrhea Planet- “Kids”

The standout track from Diarrhea Planet’s I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams is a punk rock coming-of-age story, and more specifically about facing events that may push you from adolescence to adulthood before you’re quite ready. In the song’s refrain lead singer Jordan Smith pleads, “We’re just kids,” over and over as the song fades out in a four-guitar cacophony. A big reason why this track climbed so high up our list though is its epic guitar solo. Those 30 seconds of face melting will immediately make you bust out an air guitar and wish you could join the band as the 5th axeman.

-Eric

2. The Preatures- “Is This How You Feel?”

Yet another product of Australia has climbed its way high onto our list and deservedly so. The Preatures’ “Is This How You Feel?” has a dreamy ’70s vibe that makes you feel cool just listening to the song. When I first heard it, I was immediately hooked as my finger seemed glued to the “replay” button on YouTube. Though there’s not an exact science to our list-making here at M&T, I will say that one gauge of a great song is what we’ll call shareability. What’s shareability you ask? Have you ever heard a song for the first time and you immediately send it to all of your friends and say- “This is going to be huge!” That’s shareability, and it’s safe to say that “Is This How You Feel?” scored a perfect 10 in that category.

-Eric

1. San Fermin- “Sonsick”

2013’s song of the year is overwhelming in all the right ways. Sonically, the ambitious track bursts at the seams with bold trumpets and feverish vocals. But “Sonsick” is a lyrical feat too; an adept take on just how daft us twenty-somethings can be when it comes to love. Represented by the atmospheric sopranos of the Lucius girls, the female protagonist of the track struggles with the idea of settling down. She feigns maturity, which makes the track’s sophisticated and confident arrangement even more poignant. “Sonsick” compels you to celebrate your youth… and all the growing pains and mistakes that come with it.

-Caroline

M&T Best Concerts of 2013

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2013 | Leave a comment

Although we wished we could have been at every concert in the world this year, sadly a safe and suitable cloning apparatus does not yet exist for humans. Thus the list below is by no means a definitive list of the best concerts of the year, rather a selection of our favorite shows chosen from over 250 bands that the M&T crew saw this year.

15. Dinosaur Jr. at The Sinclair 12/15

After releasing their 10th studio album I Bet on Sky late last year, Dinosaur Jr. hit the road hard during the spring and summer of ‘13, playing a slew of American and European festivals before heading back to Massachusetts for the homestretch. They chose to wrap up their touring season by playing a two-night homestand at the Sinclair in Cambridge. Sold out crowds returned the favor and I was fortunate enough to snag tickets for the Sunday December 15 show. I came prepared to experience the volume as Dinosaur Jr.’s reputation for playing in front of a legitimate mountain of amps precedes them, but I was less prepared to see how tight the classic lineup still was. J., Lou, and Murph still had that unspoken chemistry as they tore through classics “In a Jar”, “Out There”, and “Feel the Pain”, while still hitting on some new material (“Watch the Corners”) and quintessential covers (The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and J. and Lou’s first band Deep Wound’s “Training Ground”).

As J. stood silently in front of his wall of sound, Lou’s occasional crowd banter hit some personal notes as he admitted regretting not attending college (despite some youth’s chant of “FUCK COLLEGE!”) and relayed Murph’s comment of this show possibly being their last ever (hopefully a joke). After an amazing extended encore featuring “Kracked” and “Sludgefeast”, I left the show with a humming in my ears that would remind me over the next two days of various great moments from the set.

-Neil

14. Lucius at The Sinclair 12/5

Although we had already seen Lucius a few times previously in 2013, their sold-out show at The Sinclair was certainly the most special. By early December they were a fine tuned touring machine from a summer filled with festivals and it showed. Their live sound was incredibly tight and they were clearly very comfortable within each song as a unit. What impressed us the most though was how the arrangements of each song had evolved from the first time we saw them in early 2013. Extended intros and outros, guitar solo breakdowns, and all those added goodies that make for a stellar live show.

-Eric

13. Frightened Rabbit at Fete 4/3

Earlier this month Spotify released a widget that showed your personal listening stats for 2013, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Frightened Rabbit turned up as my most listened to artist of the year. Their show at Providence’s Fête (which is also quickly becoming one of my favorite venues) was a signature FR set. A wide selection of songs from their full catalogue with deep cuts mixed in, and of course the between songs jokes and banter from frontman Scott Hutchison. The best moment of the show was after Scott finished a completely acoustic (no mic or amplification) version of “Poke”, a fan shouted out a request for “Snake”, a track buried deep in 2007’s Sing The Greys. Scott happily obliged the fan, but not before launching into a hilarious story explaining the inspiration for the song and also the reason why he barely ever plays it, which could be seen as one in the same.

-Eric

12. Walk the Moon at House of Blues Boston 9/19

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and if you’ve seen this Cincinnati quartet live you’ll probably agree, but Walk the Moon might be the most refreshingly energetic and exciting live band touring right now. There’s something special about each of their shows that makes you feel alive and this show in mid-September at HOB was certainly no different. The band played tracks from their superb 2012 eponymous debut as well as worked through new songs that will most likely be part of their next release. What makes WTM’s live shows so special though is the fervor and passion with which the play every single note, not from song to song, I’m talking about note to note. That’s something that the crowd can feel and something that makes for a profound concert going experience.

-Eric

11. Lord Huron at Newport Folk Festival 7/28

Earlier in the summer we were only able to catch Lord Huron’s acoustic Sonic Stage set at Bonnaroo, so leading in to NFF ’13 we were excited for what a full-on electric set could bring. To say our expectations were shattered would be an understatement. The band took to the Quad Stage and masterfully recreated the gorgeous and emotive soundscapes from their 2012 debut Lonesome Dreams. The highlight of the set for me was the deft skill and enthusiasm of percussionist Mark Barry who kept quite busy throughout the set with a bevy of instruments at his disposal.

-Eric

10. Vampire Weekend at Boston Calling 9/7

For me this set was a trip down memory lane. I hadn’t seen Vampire Weekend since Bonnaroo 2008 and over that time Vampire Weekend and Contra had become essential components of the soundtrack to my college years. Needless to say I was beaming from ear to ear when they played through songs like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, “Cousins”, “A-Punk”, and “Oxford Comma” among others. It was the perfect mix of old and new and the perfect way to cap off Night 1 of one of our new favorite festivals.

-Eric

9. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper at TT The Bear’s Place 2/22

2013 was Aly Spaltro’s year and she started it off right with a string of Northeast record release shows for Ripely Pine, including a sold-out stop in Cambridge. Spaltro put on a beautiful and impassioned performance with the help of a full band that included members of both opening acts (Xenia Rubinos and Cuddle Magic) and even her Dad took on guitar duties for a few tunes. Although Spaltro’s solo sets are still quite magical, when she brings the full-band treatment it elevates the songs to a whole new level and makes for a remarkable listening experience.

-Eric

8. Phosphorescent at Newport Folk Festival 7/26

At Newport Folk Festival, a weekend full of special guests and surprise collaborations, you learn to expect the unexpected. However, nothing could have prepared me for the sucker-punch that was Phosphorescent live at the Quad Stage. That breathless feeling was largely thanks to Matthew Houck, the band’s love-worn, weary leader. Houck effortlessly channels his heartbreak into his vocals, which howl and quiver like each tragic song was written just yesterday. Phosphorescent’s set hit me like a ton of bricks, and left me with a lump in my throat – but that visceral response is ultimately what made it one of the most powerful shows I’ve seen all year.

-Caroline

7. Americanarama featuring Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket, and Ryan Bingham at Comcast Center 7/20

It’s like this tour was created specifically for me and when it was first announced I thought it was some kind of cruel trick that my friends were playing on me. My two favorite bands followed by a living legend, what else could we ask for? Highlights included Ryan Bingham joining MMJ on stage for a cover of The Band’s version of the Marvin Gaye classic “Don’t Do It” and my heart nearly exploding when MMJ joined Wilco to cover The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

-Eric

6. Volcano Choir at The Paradise 9/11

Although the band’s Repave had only been released a week before, this show quickly sold out once everyone and their brother realized that Justin Vernon would be performing at a 900 cap room. The energy from the crowd was palpable throughout the show, so much so that Vernon and guitarist Chris Rosenau had to step away from the mics multiple times between songs to let the applause of the crowd die down. The crowd never lulled below a loud and extended roar after each song, but the most raucous applause came after a stirring rendition of the Repave single “Byegone”, a performance that still gives me goosebumps when I think about it.

-Eric

5. The Complete Last Waltz at The Capitol Theatre 11/27

There’s not much more to describe what happened on Thanksgiving Eve at The Capitol Theatre in Long Island than magic, pure magic. A rotating cast of musicians including Wilco’s Nels Cline, Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez, Fruits Bats’ Eric Johnson, Vetiver’s Andy Cabic, Cass McCombs, Marco Benevento, and more, performed The Band’s legendary Last Waltz concert song-for-song. This was no half-hearted cover band though, it was a true tribute to one of the most influential bands of all-time by musicians who were inspired by their art. Each musician played their part in front of the core band who appeared on the majority of songs and included Benevento, Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine), Scott Metzger (Wolf!), Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), Joe Russo (Further), Jeff Chimenti (Further), Alecia Chakour, and the Antibalas Horns. Each song was tactfully recreated, but the highlight for us was Cass McCombs’ turn on lead vocals and guitar for a string of three songs that included “It Makes No Difference”, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, and “Stage Fright”.

-Eric

4. Paul McCartney at Bonnaroo 6/14

Paul McCartney has to be one of humanity’s greatest living treasures. Even if he was old and infirm, just wheeling him on stage and being in his presence could have been a highlight for me at this year’s Bonnaroo. Luckily though, Paul McCartney doesn’t age. This might have been one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in my life, not only because I knew almost every song he played by heart, but so did everyone else. It’s almost impossible to sum up what happened on that summer night on the Farm, but I think there was a general consensus among people after the show, it was emotional and the epitome of what Bonnaroo is supposed to be. Moving tributes to George and John, tales of Jimi and Clapton, songs ranging from the Beatles to Wings, and everyone being moved by that one song they have a connection too occurred during Sir Paul’s set. While I could talk about how personal moments of reflection provided in songs like “Eleanor Rigby”, “Let It Be” or “Yesterday” made me well up; it’s better to focus on the euphoric moments found in the songs of “Live and Let Die” which included an amazing fireworks display that took us all by surprise, “All My Loving” which made me feel like a 16 year old girl screaming on the set of the Ed Sullivan Show or 80,000 people singing the chorus of “Hey Jude.” These moments are what made this one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen in my life and why it deserves to hold a spot on the top concerts of 2013.

-Trev

3. Rock n’ Soul Superjam featuring Jim James, John Oates, et al at Bonnaroo 6/15

This year’s Rock N’ Roll Dance Party Superjam was led by Jim James and John Oates with an historic backing group comprised of Zigaboo Modeliste of The Meters, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Carl Broemel, Cyro Baptista and more. To start we were greeted by Larry Graham from Sly & the Family Stone taking us back to Woodstock with a funky cover of the Star Spangled Banner, a tip of the hat to Jimi Hendrix’s famous cover. After this intro we were guided through a magical set of some of the most danceable and singable covers ever played on The Farm, “Move On Up”, “1999”, “Instant Karma”, “Love Train” and more. This first round of jams ended with Larry Graham coming back out to lead the group in five Sly & the Family Stone songs; all culminating with the song “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” which found the crowd singing the chorus over and over again as the group walked off the stage, took a break for about 5 minutes, came back out, plugged their instruments back in and picked up where they left off. All without the crowd missing a hook of the chorus. Now, this is where the big surprises came into play. For an encore, we were surprised by R. Kelly who sang two Sam Cooke covers, “A Change is Gonna Come” and “Bring It Home To Me”, Billy Idol who sang a cover of T. Rex’s “Get it On” and Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes covering The Rolling Stones version of “Satisfaction”. Larry Graham came back one last time to wrap up the night with a soaring Sly cover of “I Want To Take You Higher.” This honestly was the best way to end a magical set, such a positive upbeat way to send everyone back out onto to The Farm for late night sets. The best part about this whole thing? Bonnaroo has episodes on Youtube covering the production and execution of this year’s Superjam.

-Trev

2. The Lone Bellow at Brighton Music Hall 4/20

Something magical happens when The Lone Bellow plays live. The trio first cast their spell on us when we experienced their beautiful, unfettered performance at BMH in April. In person, every hook, chord and lyric is intensified. The softer moments simmer, while the rich choruses become downright explosive. The trio gives their all to bring each song to life, particularly frontman Zach Williams, who sweats buckets and works the crowd like Bruce Springsteen’s kid brother. Lone Bellow’s live show grabs hold of your soul and drags it through the emotional peaks and valleys of their stacked setlist. When the lights come on, your spirit will be reeling, yet refreshed, and ready for next time.

-Caroline

1. Wilco at Solid Sound Festival 6/21 and 6/22

Though we saw hundreds of bands throughout 2013 nothing quite compared to Wilco’s 2-night run at their Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, MA. This year was a bit different as Wilco’s 2 sets were created from fan requests with the first night consisting solely of cover songs (with one Wilco original thrown in). Wilco learned and arranged over 30 cover songs specifically for the festival and they ranged from all-time classics (Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town”, Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate”) to alternative classics (Television’s “Marquee Moon”, Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair”) and plenty more in between. Night 2 featured 28 songs of pure Wilco bliss. Classics and deep cuts abound, but the best moment had to be the band’s performance of “Sunken Treasure,” the song from where this very blog derives its name. Between the three of us in attendance we had seen more than 20 Wilco sets, but never once had we heard “Sunken Treasure” which made for a special weekend to say the least.

-Eric


M&T Best EPs of 2013

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2013 | Leave a comment

2013 is almost over, but we’ve still got a few more days to share our favorites from the year that was. This time we’re kicking things off with our favorite EPs from 2013. Some may argue that EPs should be lumped in with albums when it comes to end-of-year lists, but we like to do things the logical way here at M&T so we’ll be comparing apples to apples and keeping the oranges separate. Check out the list below and subscribe to a playlist of one track from each EP here.

10. The Vaccines- Melody Calling EP

A prime example of a British band that does not get the credit they are due here in the States. Following the release of back to back full-length records in 2011 and 2012, the West Londoners slightly slowed down their creative output with the 3-song (plus 1 remix) Melody Calling EP. Although the band has released nearly 30 songs over the last 3 years, they certainly haven’t lost their knack for writing catchy rock songs as is clearly evidenced by Melody Calling standout “Do You Want a Man?”

-Eric

9. Tan Vampires- Ephemera

On Ephemera Tan Vampires have dug deeper into the sound they created on 2011’s For Physical Fitness, an album that we absolutely adored here at M&T. Although it’s a bit lengthy for what is commonly perceived as an EP these days, every track definitely deserves its place. There’s no filler whatsoever and maybe that’s what grabbed James Franco’s ear too.

-Eric

8. Wildcat! Wildcat!- Wildcat! Wildcat!

This EP racked up a ton of plays on my Spotify this year and solely between the songs “Mr. Quiche” and “Garden Grays”, the other two tracks aren’t bad either. Hopefully a full album and the festival circuit await their future in 2014.

-Trev

7. Rubblebucket- Save Charlie

Rubblebucket’s EP Save Charlie has it all. A great opening single in “Save Charlie”, a Doobie Brothers cover in “What a Fool Believes” and a couple of remixes featuring artists that make doing a cover of a cover an electronic treat.

-Trev

6. Jay Kill & The Hustle Standard- Stuck on the Sunrise

Our favorite folk singer turned sunglasses-wearing-BAMF and jack-of-all-trades producer returned in 2013 with Stuck on the Sunrise, their 4 song follow-up to 2011’s New Men Old Boys. Jake Hill and Charley Hustle turned out yet another EP of catchy yet contemplative tracks highlighted by “Never Seen Runaway,” a tune that perfectly blends Hustle’s smooth vocals and expert production alongside Hill’s signature snarl.

-Eric

5. Joy Kill Sorrow- Wide Awake

The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” has been a staple of the band’s live show over the last few years, but we hope the beauty of that cover doesn’t distract you from the rest of Wide Awake. Songs like “Was It You” and “Jake” are both perfect examples of Jacob Jollif’s virtuoso mandolin skills and Emma Beaton’s sultry vocals, big reasons why we fell in love with JKS in the first place.

-Eric

4. TV Girl- Lonely Women

5 perfectly packaged tracks of synth-pop bliss. With the subtle laid back nature of the EP it’s tough to say that it “screams SoCal” but you’ll get what we mean after one listen. Also one of our favorite acts of CMJ 2013, look for TV Girl to continue making waves in 2014.

-Eric

3. Tango In The Attic- Crushed Up

In 2012 the Scotsmen of Tango In The Attic took the prize of M&T’s top album with the absolutely stunning Sellotape. Their 2013 follow-up did not fail to impress either as Crushed Up continues to explore the band’s innovative approach to songwriting that was established on Sellotape.

-Eric

2. The Ballroom Thieves- The Ballroom Thieves EP

2013 was a big year for these Boston locals- an opening slot for Dispatch at Summerfest, the release of their follow-up to 2012’s The Devil & The Deep, a sold-out headlining show at The Sinclair, and that’s all just in the last 6 months. Their self-titled EP includes 4 tracks familiar to those who have attended a Thieves show over the last year, and also does an incredible job of capturing the trio’s live sound. Each song deserves its own praise, but with every listen “Coward’s Son” never fails to raise the hair on my neck and cover my arms in goosebumps. The EP version captures the exact raw energy and passion that the band brings to every live show, so if you’re not privy to The Ballroom Thieves then buy this EP and go see a show.

-Eric

1. The Griswolds- Heart of a Lion

Undeniably catchy from top to bottom, so much so you’ll find yourself singing along after just one listen. When creating our November Spotify playlist, I had to have listened to this EP at least 15 times in a row, each time making it more difficult to decide on which one track to include. Going in to CMJ each year there’s always one band that I absolutely must see, in 2011 it was Gotye, in 2012 it was Wild Cub, and 2013 was The Griswolds. Their short, but oh so sweet performance at the Delancey for this year’s Aussie BBQ was a highlight for many. If we had to choose one band that we predict to breakout in 2014 it would be The Griswolds without a doubt.

-Eric

Typhoon and Radiation City at Brighton Music Hall 9/29/2013

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2013, Concert Review, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment

Typhoon took the stage at Brighton Music Hall on Sunday night to an all-smiles crowd. Maybe it was because this mini-indie-orchestra was playing to their Boston fanbase for the first time, or because their latest LP White Lighter is just that effing good, but the excitement in the crowd was unprecedented. Another huge factor to the crowd’s straight-up giddiness was opening act, Radiation City. We first saw Radiation City in 2011 at the tiny O’Briens Pub in Allston, and the vintage-inspired quintet has exponentially honed the skill they showed back then. The crowd reacted instantly to the group’s silky harmonies and synths. Our favorite tracks of the set, “Summer Rain” and “Find It of Use,” were carried by the indulgent vocals of Elisabeth Ellison. Ellison adorably strained towards the mic on her tiptoes to float her voice into the dense soundscapes, and the crowd loved every moment of it. So for fans of Foxygen, Jens Lekman, any variant of psych-pop since the 60s, and dancing Zou Bisou Bisou-style… please, give Rad City a spin.

Typhoon followed, who crammed no less than eleven band members onto the BMH stage. Due to a childhood illness that left him near death, frontman Kyle Morton’s music is haunted by anxiety and preemptive grief. And yet, Typhoon is anything but bleak on stage. The group’s two percussionists shared a double drum kit at front and center stage, which added a fun visual element to the set (especially when Pieter Hilton played so vigorously that parts of his kit fell off stage and into the crowd). Add in some group vocals and a horn section, and each song became a downright celebration, despite the seriousness of the lyrics. Though the imminence of death casts a shadow over many of Morton’s verses, Typhoon played each song with a true lust for life, as if that show may be their last. To Morton and Co.’s credit, I don’t know many bands out there that could cause me to ponder my own existence, all while dancing and woo-ing like a sorority girl. I guess it’s only right that a guy who almost died can make music that reminds us how freaking great it feels to be alive.

Best of 2013 So Far

Posted on by Eric in Best of 2013, M&T Favorites | Leave a comment

As we are already past the halfway point in 2013 (scary, I know), Caroline and I took some time to look back on all of the amazing music that has been released thus far. We each chose a song and an album to highlight from our growing list of favorites and explained why you need to hear these artists right now if you haven’t already. And since we’re such nice and considerate people we also created a Spotify playlist that features a spattering of additional songs from our favorite artists of 2013 including Houndmouth, San Fermin, Phox, Caroline Rose, Vampire Weekend, Tallahassee, and more. Read on to hear about our favorites and make sure to subscribe to the playlist at the bottom of the page to hear the finest that 2013 has had to offer.

Eric’s Picks

Lady Lamb the BeekeeperRipely Pine

Many times when an album comes out early in the year it can be difficult for those songs to stay top of mind when making your year-end lists. Even though we are just past the midpoint of 2013, I highly doubt that Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s Ripely Pine will soon be forgotten when December rolls around. Ever since Aly Spaltro released her debut LP under the LLTB moniker back in February, I haven’t gone more than a week without listening to it and that’s no lie. With a full band to support her songwriting, Spaltro created a sprawling, epic, and breathtaking album that has not yet been topped in 2013, at least in my book. The raw emotion, and passion in Spaltro’s songwriting is what makes me keep coming back and listening again and again. Try out “Bird Balloons”, “You Are The Apple”, and “Crane Your Neck” and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Charles Bradley– “Strictly Reserved For You”

In 2011 former James Brown impersonator, Charles Bradley, burst onto the scene with his debut LP No Time For Dreaming which featured the massive hit “The World (Is Going Up In Flames).” By now we all know his inspiring story of hardship and struggle that has led to his fairytale success, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit skeptical as to how he would follow all of that up. To say I was pleasantly surprised with 2013’s Victim of Love would be a vast understatement. The album is dripping with soul as Bradley pours his heart into every lyric, with his cohorts in the Menahan Street Band putting the exclamation point at the end of each phrase. This is especially true on the album’s opening track and lead single, “Strictly Reserved For You.” From the first hum of Bradley’s voice, to the distorted guitar lick that makes you want to melt, and all the way through the final guitar solo, this song has so much soul it’s hard not to get up and bust a move every time I hear it.

Caroline’s Picks

Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle

“The voice of a generation” is an expression that gets thrown around loosely. When talking about Laura Marling, I offer up that phrase at every chance I can get – and come at me bro, I’m ready to defend it. Ever since 2008’s “New Romantic,” Marling has nailed the plight of young love in the most authentic way I’ve ever heard.  Singing over stormy guitar and percussion on Once I Was An Eagle her vocal performance effortlessly reflects the infinite emotions that she’s working through. Sometimes scarred and fragile, sometimes burned and ruthless, and often somewhere in between, Marling’s lyrics and delivery are always real. By revealing her own self so earnestly, Laura Marling ends up speaking for us all.

Frightened Rabbit– “Acts of Man”

With Frightened Rabbit’s latest album Pedestrian Verse, lead singer Scott Hutchinson has quickly become pop culture’s latest and greatest antihero. Hutchinson drags us through his tormented highs and lows on each stunning track, particularly the album opener “Acts of Man.” Hutchinson becomes every woman’s worst nightmare realized when he mourns: “Man, he breeds although he shouldn’t/ He’s breeding just because he comes/ Acts the father for a minute/ Til the worst instincts return.” Seriously, Don Draper much? Yet soon after he admits, “I have never wanted more to be your man/ And build a house around you,” and suddenly all is forgiven. How such self-loathing, sorrow, and ultimately hope can be packed into one short song still baffles me. Pedestrian verses, these are not.

Phox: A Best of 2013 Already?

Posted on by Caroline in Best of 2013, M&T Favorites, Music News | Leave a comment

 


There’s been an abundance of excellent folk/indie/whatever popping up lately, but one thing tends to be missing for me: the element of surprise. Enter Phox. This Wisconsin septet (and recent SXSW darling) just released Confetti, a six-track album that provides a listening experience equivalent to riding Space Mountain: you have no idea where you’re going or what’s coming next, but all you know is that IT’S FREAKING AWESOME. Exhibit A: “Slow Motion” begins with a rhythm as random as a dripping sink. In under six minutes, the song manages to incorporate a mellow clarinet solo, a mid-song electro break-down, a whistle interlude… oh and that backbeat? It’s created by the tapping of paper cups on a table. No joke. Now friends, please remember all of these aural treats are packed into the opening track alone. And the very best part? Confetti never sounds crowded at all. The unpredictable twists and turns within each song end up making perfect, quirky, gorgeous sense.

If the outlandish creativity of Phox hasn’t piqued your interest thus far, the vocals surely will. Lead singer Monica Martins is one of those lucky ladies with an androgynous timbre that you truly have to be born with. Martin’s voice is timeless, limitless, and just another reason why Phox is my early pick for Best Band 2013.

To see Martins and crew at work, I implore you to watch their video for “Slow Motion” below. It’s the most fun five minutes I’ve had sitting in front of a screen, ever.