Before I get started, I’ll say two quick things.
One – I have made no effort to ever hide my love for Forgive Durden’s Razia’s Shadow. It’s easily in my Top Five. And there will surely be a few mentions of it in the coming
paragraphs. Two – man, it’s great to have Thomas Dutton making music again. Here’s why:
On the debut album from glam-pop duo Cardiknox, made up of Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton, of the now-defunct aforementioned Forgive Durden, the pair packs California sun and New York City ambition into a dozen tracks, each one as infectious as the last.
Another year nearly over means another album of the year list! Our Managing Editor and Senior Photographer, Eric Riley, has compiled a list of his favorite albums of 2015. To see which albums made the cut, check out the list below!
Honorable Mentions: Sara Bareilles – What’s Inside: Songs From Waitress Spose – Why Am I So
Happy? Adele – 25
20. Ryan Adams, 1989 Much like I did a few years ago with Lights’ Acoustic, I feel like leaving reimagined/rereleased/retold albums
near the beginning of the list is fair. There are a few renditions here that give
Swift a run for her money – the soft, whimpering transformation of what is my
favorite from the original 1989, “Out
of the Woods,” stands out as another favorite here, while the dreary “Blank
Space” turns Swift’s original on its head.While Adams’ version is an entirely new piece of work, I’m
wary to truly rank it. Let the discussions on that begin, I suppose.
19. The Airborne Toxic Event, Dope Machines As a huge fan of 2013’s Such Hot Blood, I was excited when I heard news of another album
and expected big things for the follow-up. While the album is far from perfect,
it offers a lot to be enjoyed. Opening with “Wrong,” the record starts on
sturdy legs, and the sunny “California” soon keeps things moving well. “Hell
and Back” is as close to a trademark TATE song as you could ask for, with dual
vocals leading the way. All that’s missing are Anna Bulbrook’s strings, and
where this song hits just barely outside of the bullseye, finale “Chains”
closes the record in perfect form.
18. The Ballroom Thieves, A Wolf in the Doorway The Ballroom Thieves were chosen as the
local opener for one of the May dates on Boston Calling this year, and anyone
who showed up early enough to catch them was treated to something special. The
Boston-based trio roared through the plaza, and their massive sound
impressively translates over to the album. Each member loans a distinct voice
to the music, and on tracks like “Oars to the Sea” or “Bullet” (which can be
downloaded for free on our Winter Compilation, a link will be on our site), the
various styles each have a chance to stand out.
17. August Burns Red, Found
in Far Away Places Leaving August Burns Red in a spot that hardly cracks
the Top 20 seems odd, and I’ll admit it feels a bit strange. The ranking is
much less of a comment on them, but more of a further compliment to the albums
placed next. When it comes down to it, August Burns Red are one of the best
metal bands in the game, and their first Grammy nomination for Found in Far Away Places is
well-deserved and long overdue.
16. The Maine, American
Candy The Maine continue to grow as one of the most consistent, well-rounded
pop/rock bands within the scene. One of those who were able to successfully
shed their neon of the mid-2000’s, American
Candy is sweet addition to an already impressive catalog. (And with the
amount of Diet Coke that is usually running through me, I’m fairly sure “Diet
Soda Society” will be the title of my memoir.)
15. MC Lars, The
Zombie Dinosaur LP Between seeing him in concert, talking to him about his
upcoming projects, and reviewing* this new album, I had a lot to say about MC
Lars over the summer – being one of the coolest, most genuine people in the
music scene, as well as putting out one of the most fun hip-hop records of the
year, meant all of these things were positive. The Zombie Dinosaur LP is a frantic, fast-paced romp through pop
culture, picking up as many books, movies, and shows as it can along the way.
Not everything is fun and games, however – Lars opens his mind and clears the
air with people from his past on closer “Triforce,” one of his best works
to-date. Whether it’s The Simpsons, Game of Thrones, Roger Rabbit, internet
dating tips, or an undead T-Rex tearing through the Bay Area, this album may literally have it all.
* For a full write up of The Zombie
Dinosaur LP, click here!
14. The Early November, Imbue 2015 was such a huge year for music, to the point where I almost neglected one
of my favorite bands releasing some of their best work. Ace Enders has always
been one of the most consistent songwriters around, with the uncanny ability to
write a new album almost annually without sacrificing quality. Their shortest
release (10 tracks) since the For All of
This EP (8), Imbue gets the job
done in less time than usual. Sharper than ever, The Early November have been
continuing to get better ever since their reunion a few years ago, and it’s
safe to say that, with Enders’ unwavering pen and the hiatus’ dust fully shaken
off, much more is still to come.
13. Demi Lovato, Confident Demi Lovato has always been that guilty pleasure of mine. Though, in this case,
rather than the “guilty” part, I just openly, constantly, shamelessly talk
about the pleasure part. Starting off as one of the faces in a crowd on a
roster of singing Disney actors and actresses, Lovato has clawed her way out of
that, becoming a genuine pop sensation along the way. On Confident, Lovato addresses her critics (“Confident”), her
doubters, her internal demons (“Old Ways”), facing them head-on and showing
them who is in control.
Like she says, what’s wrong with being confident?
12. Elle King, Love Stuff If “Ex’s and Oh’s” is all you’ve heard from Elle King, you should
know you spent a year missing out on one of 2015’s breakout stars. Love Stuff is alt-country/pop with a
Southern touch, and King’s voice is a perfect fit. Where the aforementioned
single is one of, like, six songs on the radio at the moment, tracks like
“Jackson” and “Under the Influence” are more than worthy of the same airwave
presence, while “America’s Sweetheart” is one of the best, catchiest songs I
heard all year and one that finds itself on endless repeat. King hasn’t been in
the musical spotlight for long, but it has been a big year for her and I’m
hoping it’s not too long of a wait until we hear more from her.
11. Greg Holden, Chase
the Sun Finding a new artist is always fun. Finding a new artist that
takes any expectations and blows them out of the water is way better. Chase the Sun is an album that came
along pretty early in the year, and right away it was one I knew would find a
spot on the list, it was merely a matter of where. After the first few plucked
notes and keys of the introductory “Hold On Tight,” I was intrigued, then the
first booming chorus had me hooked. Holden’s voice soars through the speakers,
and over the span of a dozen (well, eleven, whatever) songs, he doesn’t let up.
The upbeat pieces are fun and catchy, and when he slows things down, his
ballads are soft, sincere, and breathtaking. “Go Chase the Sun” relies on his
crooning voice and gentle piano, while the simple strum of acoustic guitar
backs the spectacular “Boys in the Street.” Holden’s songwriting and
musicianship are both on display throughout Chase
the Sun, and given the right push, we could see him thrown into the same
rotations as Ed Sheeran or Gavin Degraw etc. etc. etc. Holden could be a
household name, and Chase the Sun
deserves to take him there.
10. Fall Out Boy, American Beauty / American Psycho I’ll
be the first to admit that, on first listen, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this
album. And I know I’m not alone in saying that – from message boards to concert
lines, the first few listens brought mixed reviews for many. But, as Fall Out
Boy do as well as anyone, they make music that both demands and deserves
further attention. Sure, there were the instant standouts (“Novocaine,”
“Favorite Record”) and the radio-ready, stadium-filling singles (“Centuries,”
“Uma Thurman”), and then there were the ones that felt like Pete Wentz came up
to you and personally hit you in the gut. Stump’s vocal power and range, (which
somehow continue to grow) take the writing on “Jet Pack Blues” and “The Kids
Aren’t Alright” and churn out a pair of the band’s strongest tracks. Even on
ones that I was almost entirely turned off to originally, like the title track
or “Twin Skeletons,” you soon come around and gain further evidence to support
that even when they aren’t at their highest, they’re still better than most,
and that doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon.
9. Frank Turner, Positive Songs for Negative People Much
of what has been said about Frank Turner’s latest is something along the lines
of “if 2013’s Tape Deck Heart was the
breakup record, Positive Songs for
Negative People is the comeback.” It keeps getting said because it’s very
true. Right away, the first two tracks following the opener are in-your-face
resurgence – “Get Better” is all about doing just that, and “The Next Storm”
assure you that even the darkest of clouds and the heaviest of rains will pass
– don’t wait inside for the storms to start again, go celebrate the sun while
To say the album is about optimism is redundant (hence the
title), but it should still be mentioned, because what the album does is remind
you that just staying positive is an important weapon.
For anyone who has gone through a hardship, take a page from
Frank’s songbook – open the shutters, raise up the mast; rejoice, rebuild, the
storm has passed.
8. Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby Everyone knows I’m a
sucker for a concept album. Pretty sure any time one comes along, I start off
by saying “everyone knows I’m a sucker for a concept album.” That being said
(over and over, actually), this year Melanie Martinez gave us Cry Baby, a substance-soaked sex-stroll
through your childhood storybooks – drinking syrup out of sippy cups, being
stalked during a game of tag, dolls coming to life behind your back and
spilling family secrets, sex is no scarier than taking off your training wheels,
Mrs. Potato Head has an addiction to plastic surgery and Alice needed some
stronger medication. The sample of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” used in the
chorus of “Pity Party” is infectious, and also acts as a generational gap,
bringing a song from her parents’ childhood into the character’s life. Cry Baby found its way to the top of the
Alternative charts this year, and rightfully so. On the surface, it’s bright bubblegum
pop waiting to be eaten up. Deeper down, it’s flowing with drugs, abuse,
infidelity, insecurity, instability, and violence; a dark, disturbed peek beyond
the perfect family portrait.
7. Bring Me the
Horizon, That’s the Spirit It’s
getting to the point where I’m almost frustrated by what Bring Me the Horizon
can do. Suicide Season was brutal and
aggressive, There Is A Hell… was a
monumental shift forward in the band’s sound and style, Sempiternal turned them into a global superpower, and That’s the Spirit continues their
pursuit of world domination. Early on in their career, I enjoyed BMTH because
they were very good at being very loud and heavy. With each album since,
they’ve grown and molded themselves into a force to be reckoned with. Oli Sykes
has managed to truly harness the power within his voice, showcasing what he can
do on “Throne,” the roaring “Drown” and the soft ode “Follow You.” That’s the Spirit has them delivering at
full force, picking up steam with every step and deserving every ounce of fame
and admiration they have received.
6. HALSEY, BADLANDS For as long as I have been
following music, I can honestly say that I don’t think I have ever seen an
artist make a debut like Halsey. In May, three months before her first record
was even released, she played a 1:00 set at Boston Calling (the third act of
the day) to a crowd that would make a headliner blush. That summer, she played
to a full crowd at Lollapalooza, still without an album on the shelves. By the
time BADLANDS was released at the end
of August, she was a pop superstar. And rightfully so.
On her website, you will only find three short sentences
written under her “Bio” section: “I am Halsey. I will never be anything but
honest. I write songs about sex and being sad.” And that is exactly what she
offers – honest, open music about the taboos others may be too bashful to write
on. An autobiography of sex, drugs, cigarettes, liquor, and heartbreak, BADLANDS
was probably the most fun you had this summer. If you need further
description of what you’ll get, I always give people the same answer: I say her
music is “dirty, sexy heist music,” and that seems to get some decent approval.
Grab a ski mask and your best outfit and press play.
5. Marina and the
Diamonds, FROOT With the Electra Heart era coming to its end, a
lot of the Diamonds out there were wondering what Marina would do next. What
followed was FROOT, a sugar-sweet neon
dance party that showed that even the worst of homewreckers can still have a
bit of heart. Where Electra Heart
opens with the brash & bratty “Bubblegum Bitch,” FROOT starts with “Happy,” a bold piano ballad that plays to the
other side of her emotions – rather than going out and looking for fun, she
finds solace in herself. If the opening track makes you wonder if this record
is heading into new territories, the small bass rumble that kicks off “FROOT”
quickly shakes that away as Diamandis’ voice dances in. Much of FROOT is written on things like love and
sex and all that good stuff, with Diamandis’ confidence often shining through. In
other places, she deals with darker concepts – the state of humanity (“Savages,”
written following the attacks on the Boston Marathon) and uncertainty and the
past popping back up again (“Weeds”). The first time around, I wasn’t really as
much of a fan of FROOT as I was after Electra Heart’s first spin, or so I
thought. The more and more I listened, each song became better and better.
While they may not have been as radio-ready as “How to Be A Heartbreaker” or
“Homewrecker,” the substance and strength of the newer works brought Marina to
the next level and FROOT has hardly
left my stereo since.
4. twenty one pilots, blurryface Listening through blurryface, I’m sure I’m not the only
one who kind of worries about Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun…
When “Fairly Local” was first released, we got our first
taste of what was to come from the duo, and we were not disappointed. It was
darker than anything they had done, with eerie atmosphere and a haunting video
to boot. “Tear In Your Heart”, “Ride,” and “Stressed Out” have given them
mainstream success (the latter landing them their first #1), but the real gems
are the … less typical pieces. “Doubt,” with its horror film score and echoed
chorus, is a favorite, and the trumpets in “Not Today” are just cheesy enough
to be a perfect fit (and make it my favorite on the record). Grand finale
“Goner” is one that I still can only handle on my worst days, which is saying
something after five months of being exposed to it.
One of the darker, emotional albums you heard this year, hiding the pain
beneath the bright pianos, upbeat tempos, and plucky ukulele did exactly what
it was meant to – relate, with listeners realizing that the worst of us is
often given a separate face.
3. The Wonder Years, No Closer to Heaven Another year, another beautiful project from the pen of Dan
Campbell. Last year, Campbell’s solo work with Aaron West and the Roaring
Twenties landed him in fifth place, and I handed The Greatest Generation the bronze in 2013, so The Wonder Years
finding themselves within the top five is no surprise. On No Closer to Heaven, TWY released what, arguably, is their
strongest effort to date. Whether it’s the songwriting, the production, the
instrumentation, or how well it translates into their live show, the album
delivers on every level. While opener “Brothers &” melts into lead single
“Cardinals,” there’s a soft, haunting feel to start the record before the first
chorus kicks you in the teeth. “Cigarettes & Saints” is so brilliant that
it hurts, and much like Generation’s
finale “I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral,” choruses find themselves repeated
and reworked throughout various parts of the album, threading themes and
connections between songs across the album. It’s a writing choice that I
admired last time, and is equally effective this time around.
I say this with no exaggeration – at the moment, I think you
would have a hard time finding a better all-around band than The Wonder Years.
And what is even more impressive is that they continue to, somehow, get better
2. CHVRCHES, Every Open Eye Part of the reason Every Open Eye finds itself in the
runner-up spot is because I purchased it blindly. I had just seen the band
perform the night before, had heard some great things about the album, and
found the vinyl for pretty cheap (and the cover was pretty, if I’m being
totally honest). Secondly, it’s marvelous. I probably should have started with
that. Lauren Mayberry’s vocals are razor-sharp from start to finish, and every
hook on the album is better than the last. If any one of these songs were on
any other album, it would be that album’s best chorus or hook. This makes
choosing one from this record very
difficult. But, if push came to shove, “Clearest Blue” would get my vote for Every Open Eye’s standout. Clocking in
at just under four minutes, the first fifty percent of the song is buildup
before eventually dropping off into the catchiest burst on the album. (Full
disclosure: this record should come with a warning label – I was running while
listening to this song and I almost got hit by a bicycle because I was too busy
dancing to the drop. So, listen at your own risk.) On Martin Doherty’s sole
vocal track, “High Enough to Carry You Over,” he plays the role well, dividing
up the album and breaking apart any monotony or repetition that could occur.
There was a third reason why Every Open Eye found itself in second place. It wasn’t anything
that the album did wrong, in fact, any other year, it would have won the top
spot. There was just one album that it couldn’t overshadow.
1. HAMILTON, ORIGINAL
CAST RECORDING So here we are – the soundtrack to a Broadway show is
getting my Album of the Year. Simply put, the fact that it was hands-down the
best release of 2015 earned it the #1 spot, but if you need more, I’m going to
give you a whole bunch of reasons, so
Music fans are fickle. We want new, we want creative, we
want things we’ve never heard before but we want it to be familiar and we want
all of it all the time. As oxymoronic and impossible as that all sounds, Hamilton gives you all of that and then
some. A play adapted from the biography of a historical figure – not a
groundbreaking feat. A hip-hop musical based on the life and death of Alexander
Hamilton, with each Founding Father’s role, as well as any other principal
character (with the exception of Jonathan Groff as King George) played by a
person of color – that’s where things get a bit innovative. I’m sure that had
something to do with writer/lyricist/composer/star Lin-Manuel Miranda being awarded
a MacArthur Genius Grant this year.
I could go on for much longer than necessary about this, so
I’m going to try and organize a few bullet points rather than go on a
longwinded rant. – historically, the Cabinet meetings between Hamilton and
Thomas Jefferson regarding the National Bank turned vicious and often violent.
Miranda’s concept of turning these meetings on the soundtrack into extended rap
battles is incredible, and both are executed perfectly, with sharp wit, harsh
words, and just enough dissing to make things personal.
– “Wait For It” and
“Dear Theodosia” are beautiful, soulful moments that could stand on their own
outside of the confines of the show.
– the war scenes, “Guns
and Ships,” “Right Hand Man,” “Yorktown,” and “Stay Alive” are intense, brutal
and, more importantly and impressively, historically accurate. “Stay Alive”
leads into “Ten Duel Commandments,” a bulleted list of guidelines used to
settle feuds when words didn’t work.
– The idea behind the show itself – a hip-hop musical about
Alexander Hamilton – could have become nothing but nonsense. When Miranda first
discussed his concept, he explained how Hamilton was the epitome of hip-hop
culture – an orphaned child who never knew his father, who pulled himself up by
his bootstraps and worked to get to the top, facing any obstacle or opponent
head-on, taking names and leaving plenty of notches in his bedpost along the
way, eventually dying in a shootout and leaving a legacy. Sounds as hip-hop as
it can get.
– At one point, it was the #1 rap album on the Billboard
– That being said, the rhymes and lyrics throughout the show
are stellar, and each cast member delivers the performance of a career. Both of
the aforementioned Cabinet Battles are brilliant, “Satisfied,” “The Reynolds
Pamphlet,” and “The Adams Administration” showcase what some of the more minor
characters can do, and the best line in the show, arguably, comes during
“Washington On Your Side,” when Jefferson and Aaron Burr shout “show these
Federalists what they’re up against, SOUTHERN MOTHERFUCKING DEMOCRATIC
Okay. I think I’ve talked enough about this. If you haven’t
listened to this show, I’m hoping this will give you enough reason to do so,
and if you have listened to it
before, you can confirm everything I’ve said.
It’s a masterpiece, in the simplest form of the word.
When Miranda first debuted his idea in 2009, at the White
House Evening of Poetry, Music, and Spoken Word, he performed a rough version
of what would become the opening track “Alexander Hamilton,” which received an
applauding response, but not before some misplaced laughter. In the video footage,
you can see Miranda clench his lip and grip his microphone harder with each
muffled laugh, but he finishes his performance, and six years later, Hamilton is the biggest, most successful
show Broadway has seen in a long, long time.
Earlier this year, The Tropics announced a change in name, now known as HEARTWATCH. Now, the band is back with a debut mini-album, the first under their new moniker. Set to be released on February 26th, the self-titled debut was produced by Damien Lewis (Kimbra, Marina and the Diamonds, Jill Scott) and was recorded in two weeks while the band was in Portland, OR this past spring. For fans interested in seeing the band live, you can catch them headline the SF Noise Pop Festival on February 24th!
Below you can find the artwork and track listing for HEARTWATCH.
1. Faultlines 2. Never Let You Go 3. Bored At Best 4. Broken Bones 5. Gone Too Long 6. Teeth
Boston Calling Music Festival City
Hall Plaza; Boston, MA
May 22nd – May 24th 2015
Pre-show Grade: With only a few standout acts (in comparison to past festivals), this
was more of a grower than a shower. B
Post-show Grade: After a handful of fantastic performances from acts I didn’t know much about, such as MØ, TV On the Radio, and The Lone Bellow, there were surely countless new fans, myself included, gained by plenty of bands. Meanwhile, those who were expected to be dominant – St. Vincent, Marina and the Diamonds, HALSEY, and Tenacious D to name a few, lived up to and exceeded expectations. A-
Crowds: Highlight & lowlights: Boston’s own The Ballroom Thieves opened day three with a bang, drawing an expanding crowd that grew with each song, while hometown heroes PIXIES closed the festival in expert fashion. Not every band could generate the same heightened buzz, however. A few midday acts on Sunday, with focus on Vance
Joy and Jason Isbell, drew the crowds, but didn’t seem to hold their attention throughout the duration of their lengthy set lists. But even without being at full steam, the energy was still better than most. B+
Grounds: As always, the plaza was immaculate, not showing any signs of wear-and-tear from the 10,000+ weekend attendees. After a few tinkers and tweaks over the last few years, the stage setup has been perfected and cemented, with the dual-stage setup allowing for quick changes to one without distracting from the other stage’s performer, and giving any festival-goer the ability to see and hear from any spot within the grounds. A+
Weather: Not like this can be altered or changed by the people in charge, but it helps when it leans to the more favorable side, which it did. A chilly Friday night wasn’t a big issue, thanks to the three-act introductory lineup. The sun shone bright throughout Saturday and Sunday without feeling overbearing or uncomforting. My only issue was some big-time light during a few acts, but really, that’s just me looking for something to say. Good job, Mother Nature. A
Amenities: Much like the stellar groundskeeping, many other amenities were beyond acceptable. Though I can’t speak for the parking situation since I stayed at a hotel about a block away (which, I’m going to give BC a point for that, as well), public transit allowed attendees to arrive from all over the city. Plus, if people did have trouble parking, that was probably their fault for trying to drive in the city anyway. The portable bathrooms were kept clean and stocked (I mean, as well as a festival’s portable bathrooms can be), and there were designated VIP restrooms to those with higher-level tickets. A handful of vendors and sponsors offered free food or beverage samples, drawing in customers a wide selection of local and widespread options. Shoutout to the Chicken and Rice Guys, Polar Drinks, and Chipotle. I love you all. A
Overall: It’s no secret that I love the Boston Calling festival – it’s a killer music weekend in the heart of my favorite city, staffed by some of the nicest, most-accommodating people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. And those are the factors that the general public rarely see, which makes it even more special – they aim for the best in every aspect they can. It sounds biased, but I’d be willing to bet that any random, impartial concertgoer would second at least a few of my opinions. And every piece of the festival that seems impressive is magnified even greater when you consider that this past May was only the fifth time it has been put on, and only the third as a three-day show. Somehow both huge yet centralized, providing all of the key elements with a creative touch, Boston Calling is an up-and-comer if there ever was one. A-
Over the course of Boston Calling’s three-day festival there were plenty of moments that struck a chord with the audience. These came from acts big and small, and we at LOL wanted to recap some of our favorite sights and sounds. From fresh faced newcomers to seasoned festival veterans, every act at Boston Calling performed with aplomb – read on
for some of the stellar moments observed by our staff during the three day festival.
Next Big Thing Halsey was an absolute stunner, especially considering the length of her career (less than a year!). With the amount of buzz around her Room 93 EP, which has been featured heavily n MTV and Buzzfeed, it was shocking that her time slot was so early in the day. However, the little starlet packed a huge punch with her single ‘Hurricane’, a ballad that is equally biting as it is heart wrenching Halsey has a tremendous future ahead of her if she continues with this momentum, be sure to check her out on tour with Imagine Dragons this summer!
Middle School Flashback Gerard Way is the obvious choice for this category – the singer did not perform any of the hits from the My Chemical Romance roster but it was obvious that those in attendance were tenured fans. His performance was eerily reminiscent of the past, glad in the same signature black and red getup and bleached hair dyed back to black. The singer’s positivity has still remained contagious but the extremely warm welcome he garnered can be attributed to the loyal support of his t-shirt wearing fans and nostalgia factor.
Best Crowd Interaction While an argument can be made that many artists on the Spring bill are deserving of this slot, there was nothing quite like the reactions that Tenacious D elicited from their
audience. Fans were hollering lyrics at the top of their lungs, with just as many laughs being elicited as cheers. Not many musical comedy acts are able to support their humor with a musical talent to match but Jack Black and Kyle Glass managed to balance the two in a spectacle that highlighted and played off of both skillsets. The minimalistic presentation but entirely engrossing performance was a testament to how well the duo command a crowd.
Most Underrated Performance I will not lie, when Chet Faker was forced to drop off of the Boston Calling bill, Sunday lost a bit of its luster in my eyes. Despite this, his replacement act and City Hall Plaza veterans, Lucius, came in and blew us all away. The vocal chops of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laesig, who met at Berklee, were enough to convert even the most disgruntled and fit the overall tone of the festival perfectly.
Best Summer Song I need some heaviness to my singles, especially in the summer. It’s the season of ruining
your speakers with heavy bass and head banging in the car so Run The Jewels’ “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” is my go to selection from the Boston Calling lineup. Any song by the duo should be on your summer playlist- they’re absolute fire and need to be on your radar.
Best Individual Artist Marina (and her Diamonds) showed the Boston Calling crowd that pop music done well is always something to celebrate. Her brightly colored fans came out in spades to jump
around to new tunes off of her album Froot and older hits like “Primadonna” the pop diva was returning to the stage with. Her performance was classy, energetic, and jam packed with happy, electronic vibes.
Best Band TV on the Radio were a band that brought so many musical styles that it was almost impossible not to find something in their set to jam out to. The translation of recorded
music to its live presentation is a spectacle not to be missed. Their lead singer, Tunde Adebimpe, has the sly swagger of a frontman who can execute a flawless performance every night while depending upon his fellow performers to pack a hefty punch.
Best Overall Performance Bow down to all that is St. Vincent. Annie Clark and keyboardist/guitarist/backup vocalist Toko Yatsuda stunned with a performance that was equal parts calculated movement and improvised perfection. The duo’s tiny, robotic choreography was not lost at any distance and fell perfectly in line with the music, while Clark’s purposeful collapses emoted a break in facade and composure that all could relate to. Clark’s venture into the crowd also won her bonus points, still looking effortlessly cool and composed with audience members clamoring at a chance to touch the singer. St. Vincent earned her spot as this festival’s highlight and possible the best act to grace the Boston Calling lineup.
Most Popular Beck. Beck. Beck. Did anyone on Friday talk about anything other than the Grammy winner? Yes, but he was on everyone’s minds and had an absolutely stunning performance that met or exceeded expectations. An incredible amount of people swarmed the plaza leading up to his performance, braving the Boston wind-chill to watch an hour and a half set that blew the audience.
Best of Boston This one is (obviously) going to Boston band, The Pixies. While we salute the other hometown artist’s tributes to the city, there’s nothing that gets a Boston crowd going quite like a hometown act with gritty guitars and a killer light show. Pack decades of
hits like “Debaser” and “Where Is My Mind?” into the mix and you have a perfect choice for the closer to this city’s one and only festival.
Best Cover Don’t ask a Boston girl how to pronounce her name, but MØ’s cover of “Say You’ll Be There,” the 90’s hit from The Spice Girls, was absolutely EVERYTHING. The singer’s energy was off the walls but you could tell this was one of, if not, the song that she was most excited to perform. The singer wore her hair specifically to pay homage to the girl group and loved every second of it, just like the crowd.
Written by Kara Kokinos. Photos by Eric Riley and Kara Kokinos.
Written by Kara Kokinos and Eric Riley.
Photos by Eric Riley.
After Friday’s introduction to Boston Calling 2015, there was an incredible buzz for what Saturday’s artist would bring. What seemed to be an almost entirely new crowd in attendance held many diehard fans clamoring for spots on the barricades, while other attendees swarmed the various vendors, waiting for their favorite acts or looking for an opportunity to discover a new one. It was pretty easy to discern when fans were waiting for certain artists, specifically those waiting for Gerard Way while donning old My Chemical Romance tees, or the Marina and the Diamonds fans dressed in glimmering neon and glitter. But, as clear (and, to be totally honest, kind of humorous) as it was, it was a solid example of what has made Boston Calling so successful over these last few years – its diversity. A staple of the festival has been its clear effort to cater to music fans of all tastes.
One of Boston’s many basement bands, Krill, were first to open Day Two. These punk darlings had an amazing energy and filled City Hall Plaza with their unapologetically aggressive sound as soon as their set began. The band was a well-oiled machine, though its members were noticeably a bit unsure how to handle playing such a big stage, both literally and figuratively. ( something they even tweeted about here). The young trio, while fresh-faced and eager, acted as true professionals, captivating in a way even some of the weekend’s senior acts couldn’t quite match. Packed with heavy reverb and harsh guitars, comparisons were made to Tame Impala’s set from the previous night.
Day Two had no shortage of diversity, and from the earliest moments of the day, the crowd devoured it. DMA’S Oasis-like sound gave the shoegazers something to sway to, while Gerard Way [& the Hormones] showcased the performer’s musical range, transforming from emo-scene royalty to a glam-pop all star. His set was a standout of the day, but more important than his music was his message, on multiple occasions taking time between songs to speak about the need for acceptance between all people, no matter their gender, their sexuality, their race, class, or health. It was a beautiful example of an artist recognizing their platform and taking advantage of it to do something positive.
Much like Tove Lo, newcomer MØ (the third performer of the afternoon) was a hidden gem within the lineup. A bundle of energy bounding across the stage, she performed like a headliner and owned the audience for every moment she could. The former had the disadvantage of following Run the Jewels’ crazed set, so there were some in attendance who say she fell victim to some slight eclipsing. The one-two punch of Marina and the Diamonds followed by St. Vincent was arguably the best pairing of the weekend, showing the two different sides of theatricality.
With Marina, her trademark blend of her operatic voice and sweet-toothed sound was a real treat, capturing everyone’s attention before opening song “Bubblegum Bitch” even kicked off. She was a dog off of its leash, exploring every inch of the stage and running wild. On the opposite side of the coin was St. Vincent – equally theatrical, but far more staged than improvised. Each movement was planned, from things as obvious as their entrance onto the stage and choreographed guitar solos to things as minimal as reaching for a guitar pick. The performers acted as marionettes gradually cutting their strings before finally gaining their freedom as the set came to a close. Vincent (Annie Clark) played the part beautifully, transitioning from a rigid, brittle wind-up doll during introductory “Birth in Reverse” into an energetic rock star by the end, eventually falling into the crowd and collapsing onto the stage floor. It was a performance in every sense of the word, and without question one of the best I’ve seen on any stage.
Today’s the day!! It is day one of Boston Calling and you can expect to see tons of coverage from us over the next couple of days! Wrapping up our Seven Bands To See At Boston Calling, we bring you our number one artist you need to be keeping an eye out for!
They be not angels,
they are but men. But, though mere men, they make up TENACIOUS D, The Greatest Metal Band in the World. While they have
their roots planted deep in comedy, it would be impossible to deny the serious
talent Jack Black and Kyle Gass both have.
With a new album (potentially) planned for 2016-2017, and a
trio of rock operas in their arsenal, Sunday night is going to be absolutely
insane in the absolutely best way possible.
For fans of: everything. For a taste, check out: “Beezleboss (the Final Showdown),” “Tribute,”
“Kickapoo” Catch them: Sunday, 8:05, Red Stage
I first saw ST. VINCENT when she performed on The Colbert Report last February, and
then seeing her a few months later on Saturday
Night Live had me hooked. It was this strange combination of energetic and
frigid, staged and theatrical, yet free and random.
Her music has been labeled “baroque pop” and “art rock” and
a dozen other things, but I think it’ll be something different to each
different listener. And when it translates to stage, it’ll be even more. (Also,
her self-titled album took home “Best Alternative Album” and made my Top 10
from 2014; maybe that’ll hold some merit?)
For fans of: Scissor Sisters, Tegan & Sara, the Dresden
Dolls For a taste, check out: “Prince Johnny,” “Teenage Talk,” “Digital Witness” Catch them: Saturday, 6:50, JetBlue
The Boston Calling
folks couldn’t get Beyoncé this year, so they booked Beck instead. (Not really.)
It deserves to be mentioned that Beck’s 12th (12TH!)
album brought home the Grammy for Album of the Year this year, but it also isn’t as big of an achievement as
it sounds, since the man has been winning Grammys almost as long as I’ve been
alive. I sincerely doubt you have better Friday night plans.
For fans of: The Arcade Fire, BASTILLE, Modest Mouse For a taste, check out: “E-Pro,” “Blue Moon,” “Modern Guilt” (And “Loser,”
obviously) Catch them: Friday, 9:15, JetBlue Stage