Video | The Nuclears – Zegema Beach

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Did you, like me, spend an hour and a half shoveling hip-high snow this morning? And that was just round one? Then what you need is this video (and perhaps also hot chocolate with booze in it).  It’s literally the opposite of 3 feet of snow. It’s a surf extravaganza about Starship Troopers.

You heard me.

I’ve talked about Brooklyn buddies The Nuclears before, and this video is for a song off their 2014 album This Is How We Party. It’s also an amazing B-movie-looking beach party, complete with surfing, babes, and plastic insects fighting (or possibly having sex?). So why are you still reading this? Watch the video! Then go out and finish shoveling, already. And come see them when they come up to Boston next, probably in late February.

Would you like to know more? The Nuclears website | Facebook | Twitter

Video | Ex Hex – Don’t Wanna Lose

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I am not alone, at this fine publication, in liking Ex Hex a lot. Myself, I first encountered them when they opened for Rocket from the Crypt on their reunion tour last summer. One of the things that instantly endears a live band to me is stage moves. Rock moves and synchronized moves and dance moves, anything you’ve got, I am on board. And these 3 ladies were having a very party time onstage and dancing at each other, and on top of their moves, they had catchy, bouncy rock! Well, that was it for me, I was sold.

So when I saw that they had a video out that plays on Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains!, I knew we were in for more sweet moves, and I was not wrong. The funny thing is, it’s a takeoff on a movie from 1982 (a great year, but I may be biased), but absolutely none of it looks out of place.

Enjoy the video, and if you want to see moves in person, you can catch them at Great Scott on April 24. That may seem far, but their last show sold out, so don’t sleep.

New Music | Dan & The Wildfire – Backwash

Dan & The Wildfire

Boston’s roots-rock extraordinaire Dan & The Wildfire have been honing their unique blend of southern-folk-soul for a number of years now, and with their forthcoming third album, Bull Moose, set to be released this spring, the quintet’s hard work is making many a New Englander wish they were in Dixie. Especially in the middle of January!

Dan is Dan HL (Lead Vocals/Guitar) & The Wildfire are Thom Brennan (Trumpet/Vocals), Matt Hines (Keyboards/Vocals), Sam Katz (Bass/Vocals), and Kyle Jenkins (Drums/Vocals), and together the band has been gathering up praise from magazines and blogs on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, including being nominated for New England Music Awards’ ‘Indie Act of the Year’ in 2013 and 2014.

The new single, “Backwash,” is perfectly crafted for washing away the winter doldrums and making you feel as though anytime is the right time for front porch whiskey drinking. Combining a New Orleans brass band sound with delta-blues guitar, the track does indeed “wash them troubles away.” You are going to play this song over and over again I Guarantee! (Note: Yes, you should read that in your mind just as Cajun-cuisine chef Justin Wilson would say it.)

The band will be promoting Bull Moose ferociously soon so be sure to keep up with them here on Music Savage as we will surely be keeping tabs on our local old-timey troubadours.

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New Music | Swanky Tiger – Bad Operator

Swanky Tiger

How’s your Wednesday going? Kind of dull and chilly? This will help. NYC’s Swanky Tiger has a dirty glam sound that is anything but dull, and singer/guitarist Oliver Myles Mashburn’s sneering delivery is also the opposite of chilly. Seriously, there is something about that little trail-off at the end of a line… look, we’re all adults here, let’s just say it: it’s sexy.

When I was first listening to the song, I wrote myself a little note and it said “what we have here is TRASH in the best possible way.” I agree wholeheartedly with myself. This isn’t trashy in the sense of the guy having a loud personal argument on the bus, or in the sense of tracksuits and bad haircuts. That kind isn’t any fun. This is the fun kind: the kind that pops its gum in church, the kind that can always be counted on to have a flask somewhere about their person, the kind that you pick up at a bar and never find out their last name. Let’s pretend the gentlemen of Swanky Tiger didn’t meet at boarding school, because that is the opposite of what they sound like.

Get Swanky Tiger’s new album, Empires, and play it at your next party. And invite me.

New Music | Divers – Tracks

Divers (Portland)

Portland, Oregon. A town with its own tv show. A town I nearly lived in. A town that I have a very brief and specific feud against this particular year (US Air Guitar National Championships needs to be in Boston this year!). Don’t hold that feud against it, though, because Divers is coming out of Portland with some really good bounce-along music, exemplified here with “Tracks.”

I don’t know if its the nearly panicked urgency underlying the party spirit of the song, or its evocation of “streetlights late at night” – sidebar, do you hear that and automatically envision that red light shining off a wet street, no one in either direction, or is the mental picture of the wet street the product of coming from a rainy clime? Serious question. But something about this is more than just a catchy tune… although it is certainly that. Makes me want to be out alone late at night walking around with this in my headphones. Perversely, it makes me want to walk on the tracks.

If you want more, you can get more – in a month or so. Their album, Hello Hello, will be out February 17th on Rumbletowne and Party Damage Records.

Still though, Portland, don’t get any big ideas, Nationals are still going to be here.

New Music | Monophona – Thumb

CollageNoir_2

There is a certain type of music you hear in your dreams. The sound of moving between the shadows, unseen and stealthy. Luxembourg trio Monophona recreate that dreamy sound quite well, and the new single, “Thumb,” is a hypnotic blend of acoustic-folk/trip-hop, perfectly suited for subconscious adventures.

Band members Claudine Muno (vocals, guitars, keys), Jorsch Kass (drums), and DJ/Producer Philippe “Chook” Schirrer, joined musical forces in 2011 and Monophona released their debut album, The Spy, in 2012. Their forthcoming sophomore effort is titled, Black on Black, and will be released January 30th via German label Kapitän Platte.

Once you listen to “Thumb” you will undoubtedly want to know more about this band, and you will most certainly want to hear more of their music. Head on over to Monophona’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter to keep up to date on release info and tour dates.

Pre-order Black on Black

New Music | Prateek Kuhad – Flames

Prateek

With 2014 in the rearview mirror it’s time for the folks here at Music Savage to start looking ahead at all the great new music standing by to make 2015 something special. One of the musicians with an album on the way has already set the bar pretty high in my opinion, and that is a singer-songwriter from India named Prateek Kuhad. For the last couple of years Prateek has been steadily making a name for himself as a stand-out artist on the independent music scene in India and I am so happy to be able to share the first single, “Flames,” from his forthcoming debut album In Tokens & Charms, out January 21st via Pagal Haina Records.

It’s easy to see why “Flames” was selected as the first track to share from the release. The song captures you from the very first listen, with beautiful layered harmonies and guitars that emphasize the delicately balanced emotion pouring through the speakers. It is a song meant to be heard in your head when you fall dizzily in unrequited love. To wear one’s heart on their sleeve is nothing new, but to do so with sincerity is the key. Prateek Kuhad has that key and people are beginning to take notice.

We will definitely post more music from In Tokens & Charms so stay tuned.

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2014 | Steve’s Top Albums of the Year + Stuff

The practice of ranking the year’s albums is certainly one that I approach with some hesitation. Like Kyle, I was tempted to not even try to rank them. I mean, ask me what the best album of the year is and — depending on my mood and the day’s events — I’ll likely give you a different answer each time.

However, the geek in me wants to give things some sort of order, so I’m going to resort to statistics and order them by total number of plays for all songs on the album, on all of my devices. Sound fair? Good, glad we’re together on this one.

(Just to be clear, though, listening to any of these albums will surely not be a waste of your time.)

Bring it on, 2015!


Eagle Rock Fire – Joe Purdy

One could certainly say that this was a big year for country music. If you believe the headlines, it was Sturgill Simpson that swooped in and saved the genre. And if you were distracted by the glowing star that is Simpson, you may have missed an album that has a total play count higher than any other in my library over the past 365. And it was given away for free.

Joe Purdy most likely entered your life pleasantly enough, with a few songs that hit the spot from either Julie Blue or You Can Tell Georgia. I spent my share of hours hiking around the woods of both coasts enjoying Purdy’s mellow bravado. But on this year’s release, Joe really found his sweet spot. Honing the confidence and storytelling that made some of his earlier works catch on, he’s elevated the wryness and lyrical playfulness that will have you smirking while you sing along. There are too many great lines to list here, but spin this one a few times and I’ll wager you’ll find yourself coming back to it over and over.

I said this last year, and I’ll say it again. Don’t tell my friends I’m listening to Country.

I don’t really mean that, though.

iTunes | Spotify


Clover Lane – Jonah Tolchin

If there is such a thing as a “sophomore slump,” it certainly doesn’t apply to Jonah Tolchin’s second full length effort. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that Clover Lane trumps the much-loved Criminal Man by a mile. And that’s saying something, folks.

On the album (named after the New Jersey street Tolchin was raised on,) Jonah displays the voice, guitar skill and lyrical prowess of an artist at least twice his age. His first effort as part of Yep Roc Records, is addictive to pretty much any age range from the most seasoned blues or folk fan on down to my kids who start singing the chorus of “Mockingbird” on the regular, without prompting. This effort clearly lays it out for everyone to see and hear — Jonah Tolchin is a Blues / Folk force to be reckoned with.

And as we speak he’s working on his next album. Prepare yourself accordingly.

iTunes


Hozier – Hozier

We seem to be seeing a few groups zoom to stardom each year now, but Hozier’s rise seems to be more than a right-place-right-time thing. His ascent has been somewhat dizzying from a by-standers point of view. Going from playing the extremely modest Cafe 939 to selling out the House of Blues (6 months in advance) in one year. I can only imagine what the ride has been like from where he’s sitting.

From the first Youtube clips I saw of this talented young man, I was hooked by the blues-inspired musicianship and his approach to music as a whole. There’s something old-world about his entire presence. A calming, mature spirit in a (very tall) young man’s form. It was also fairly easy to tell that his mass appeal would break him apart from the rest of the pack.

The first taste most folks got of the Irishman’s music was the ever-present “Take Me to Church” — if you haven’t heard this song yet, that rock you’ve been living under must be really cozy — but if you listen to the rest of the album and do a quick search for his earlier videos, you’ll see his talents run much deeper than a single song can capture.

Stay tuned for more from Andrew. This story has just begun.

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Smith&Weeden – Smith&Weeden

The first time I saw Smith&Weeden, they were opening at the Columbus theater for a couple other great acts. The musicianship, hooks and personality made an immediate impression. One of those moments that has you hitting the Googles to find more.

Thankfully, S&W gave us more this year with their first full length album. The self-titled effort runs the gamut from the edge-of-society anthem “Creeper Blues,” to the all-to-common relationship statement bouncer “Drinking,” to the plaintive, temporal relief of “Sunshine,” to the straight up rock “Playing a Part.” The album truly has a song for every mood. Harmonies and lyrics that draw you in, extremely well crafted riffs in all the right places, and a presence that lets you know they’re enjoying what they do as much as you enjoy listening to it. Quality rock ‘n roll is alive and well, folks. And it’s in pretty damn good hands down in Providence.

iTunes | Spotify


Bahamas is Alfie – Bahamas

Before the release of this album, I admit that I was fairly unaware of the talent of Afie Jurvane. I can assure you that I will no longer be blind to anything that this fella puts out. The songs themselves range from Beatle-esque to Nilsson-ish and for those who may know what I’m referring to, you can even find the essences of oft-overlooked Dolorean and fellow Canadian stand-out Dan Mangan.

Now, that’s not to say that this work is overly derivative. Jurvane has his own style of storytelling and song construction that keeps you listening from track to track to find out what happens next. I simply mean that being able to hear all of those liknesses put this album firmly in my wheelhouse and had me welcoming it in as part of my life pretty much immediately.

iTunes | Soundcloud


So Hard – Lil’ Dicky

Yes, it’s a mix tape. Yes, it’s rap. Yes it’s from a Jewish Caucasian guy. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about this entry on the list.

I grew up listening to just as much rap and hip-hop as anything else. It’s engrained into my being as much as rock and roll and folk (and show tunes; let’s save that conversation for some other time.) But for the most part, the genre has lost me. I’m not sure if that’s because of a shift in the music itself or if it’s more due to a shift in me as a person. Either way, in recent years rap and hip hop have left me wanting.

Enter, Lil’ Dicky.

Almost without doubt, what you’ll think when you first listen to Lil’ Dicky is that he’s a jokester. That he’s there for the laughs. And while I completely agree with both of those things (he clearly displays his propensity for levity, just take a gander at any of his popular Youtube videos,) I think those traits also make it easy to overlook his skill. If you can get past the schtick, you’ll hear some pretty incredible flow and linguistic acrobatics. I mean just take “Attached at the Hip” for example. Sure it’s a song about a guy fighting with his penis, but damn if that nappy headed Jew can’t spit with a quickness.

His first full album is due out any day, but for now head on over to his site and grab the free mixtape.

iTunes | Spotify | Youtube


And the War Came – Shakey Graves

I’m not sure that anyone has taken the Indie-Folk-Rock (oh, whatever…) scene by the horns more enthusiastically than Shakey Graves (a.k.a. Alejandro Rose Garcia.) And while he one-man-banded his way into our hearts with his unique, stripped-down style of musicianship, this year’s release And the War Came, found Shakey taking to the studio and emerging with a much more polished and produced sound.

As is often the case when an artists pursues a new direction, some reactions have been not so favorable. And honestly, on first listen I felt like I missed the foot-stomping suitcase drum passion from his earlier works. Hey, we all have knee-jerk reactions, right?

Well, it’s safe to say that in the past two and a half months I’ve completely fallen for this album. Once I was able to get over missing that raw sound that originally drew me to Shakey’s music, I was able to find songs full of clever lyrics, solid production, great harmonies and even some of my treasured foot-stomping — it’s just happens that I’m doing more of the foot stomping on my end of speaker.

iTunes | Spotify


Heigh Ho – Blake Mills

In 2010, through a series of musical wanderings, I came upon the music of Blake Mills. Just after the release of his debut album Break Mirrors, I heard Dawes (former bandmates of Mills’) cover one of the songs off the album. That lead to me listening to the recording hundreds of times and proclaiming it my #1 album of the year. Since then, Mills has continued to do what most music professionals know him to do, make everyone he plays with (or produces) better. Given that trait and mastery of his instruments and in the booth, it’s no wonder that his second effort landed him on my best of list again this year.

On Heigh Ho, you can clearly hear what some people wouldn’t want to — an artist growing. A musician pushing and pulling himself and those around him to make insanely great music in any manner that feels right at the moment. Unlike Break Mirrors, which seemed to be one long story told from one persons experience, this album is more a collection of vignettes wandering in and out of different styles of music and speaking from the vantage point of different characters. Some of those tales seem complete, while others seem to be the beginnings of a much longer story of their own.

One thing that’s consistent throughout each song is a commitment to mastery of structure and execution. Both sonically and lyrically.

Want proof? Give a listen to “If I’m Unworthy” on a decent set of speakers or headphones as loud as you possibly can. The combination of simple, real, to-the-point lyrics and the layers upon layers of sound that rise and crash over you will, quite possibly, leave you saying: “What the fuck just happened? Do it again!” This song in particular has earned a spot in my life right next to The Beatles “A Day in the Life.” That’s not an easy thing to do.

iTunes


All or Nothin’ – Nikki Lane

Yeeeehaaaaawww, bitches!

That’s really all that needs to be said about this one.

If you’re in need of a pick up, one sure fire way to get it is to listen to Lane’s sophomore release All or Nothin’. In addition to fantastically fun tales of seeking raucous good times in a world of over-bearing political correctness, you’ll also find beautiful harmonies and stellar production (disclosure: written by a Dan Auerbach fanboy.) When you want an album that encourages you to cut the shackles of everyday drudgery, this is the one to put on. Buckle in boys and girls, it’s a fun ride.

iTunes


Lateness of Dancers – Hiss Golden Messenger

Call it dad-folk, call it laid back, call it whatever you want to call it, but give me this album everyday and twice on Sunday. Or perhaps Saturday is more appropriate. Drawing from the spirits of the Grateful Dead, Warren Zevon and Jackson Browne, M.C. Taylor and his cohorts — collectively known as Hiss Golden Messenger — struck musical gold this year.

If you’ve heard the Hiss Golden Messenger name before, it wouldn’t surprise me. Lateness of Dancers is the group’s fifth release in the last 7 years or so. Most releases seeming to be as much therapeutic for the creators as it is entertainment for the masses. This release, however, struck more of a chord with yours truly.

Perhaps it’s the fact that some songs on Lateness are based on Taylor’s searching for ways to talk to his kids about God and spirituality. Maybe it’s the feeling that while music is Taylor’s outlet for creativity and he’d love to concentrate on that alone, he is constantly pulled in different directions both in the physical world and the spiritual one. Or it could be that Taylor’s voice is the kind that can lure you in with an intimate tone and then drop a thought on you that leaves asking questions for days. The latter part of that statement something he no doubt does himself.

Whatever the reasons, be they personal or musical, I stand by the statement that this right here is an album worthy of your attention.

iTunes


OTHER GREAT THINGS IN RANDOM CATEGORIES!

Most Painfully Identifiable Lyric for Aging Live Music Fans:
Sun Kil Moon – “Ben’s My Friend”

OK, well maybe it’s just me…

“There’s a fine line between a middle-aged guy with a backstage pass
And a guy with a gut hanging around like a jackass”



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Best Music Movie I Saw This Year That Didn’t Come Out This Year:
Broken Circle Breakdown

The fan boy in me really wanted to say that the Harry Nilsson biopic Who is Harry Nilsson… (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) was going to be the winner, but many months later I’m still thinking about and singing along to Broken Circle Breakdown. If you haven’t seen it, put it on your to-do list, pronto.

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2014 | Camille’s Awesome Albums List

All right. Time for my year-end list. However, since I only got on board this music blogging train in October, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage. Until then, I didn’t really have to care whether a given album came out within a given calendar year – I have an unfortunate habit of getting into bands late, for instance – except for bands who are built out of my friends, because you can believe I know when THEY put an album out. Note: this does not mean this is “friend rock” (hat tip to Smo for coining that term) that you only bother with because it’s your friends. It’s good on its own merits! Also I’m not TECHNICALLY friends with all of them and some the connection is awfully tenuous. Ok! Here we go!

Four Point Restraints, Malice

When I try to explain these guys to people who have never heard them before, I use the phrase “pirate grudges” a lot, even though they actually only have one song about pirate grudges. Unsettling, ominous, grim, and dark are better words. It’s bruise-colored skies and dim rooms, rain-slicked alleys, rancorous endings and doomed beginnings. If that doesn’t grab you, what does?

OTP, Worth the Weight

This band of Only Three People calls themselves “folk punk,” but with Worth the Weight, they’ve sped up and hit harder relative to their earlier work (certainly in their live shows) – the “folk” part of “folk punk” is less obvious. But as the artistic director of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival used to define folk music, it’s the music Of The People – of the folk! – so you can’t rule out louder, noiser ways of telling their life stories.

Descend Upon the Sane, Make Peace With What Gods You Will

This is a metal band! There are metal bands in Boston! Wanna know how metal they are? This band includes a husband and wife, and they recently had a baby, whom they named Ozzy. THAT is how metal they are. If you think you’re ready for that level of metalosity, they are ready for you. Never has “I’ve got nothing but time to kill” sounded so ominous.

Psychic Dog, Big and Lonely

I believe I just wrote about these guys. They’ve got rock. They will dispense it to you in exchange for beers. Or in exchange for some of your money, I suppose. Well spent, either way.

The Dead Girls, Noisemaker

This one’s bittersweet, because it’s their last album. The tone of the album isn’t wistful or elegiac, though – smart power-pop, yes; catchy, very yes. But there won’t be any more from this specific arrangement of guys, so get into it if you haven’t already.

The Nuclears, This Is How We Party

These Brooklyn rock and rollers are on this list for two reasons. One, this IS how I, at least, party – they bring the full rock experience, straight out of the 70s, even down to how they look, and that is definitely the way to party. Two, possibly more importantly, the line “Making out with dames and playing SEGA games.” I would like to sign up for that immediately. Who doesn’t want to make out and play video games?

DCDR, Raw

We are now moving into the “not technically friends but my friends have played shows with them” territory. Regardless, awesome. I dare you not to be bouncing in your seat.

Elephants, Strange Waves

See, see, this is why it’s good that I waited til the absolute last minute to post this. This album came out just a few days ago, getting in at the wire just like me. Anyone who knows me knows I love a tiny powerhouse, and this band contains two of them. More to the point, their songs marry quiet vocals with way more rockin’-er music than you might expect. The effect is something perfect for those summers you spend as a teenager hitching rides across the Gulf Islands in the back of strangers’ pickup trucks with all your friends. Just me? Sorry about your misspent youth, then. Listen and understand what it was like.

Nashville Pussy, Up the Dosage
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And now the “big famous bands whom I don’t know personally” department. Although this one time, Nashville Pussy was playing at the sadly-closed Presidents Rock Club in Quincy, which doesn’t have a stage, and Ruyter Suys dropped to her knees and delivered a fierce solo right at my feet. So we are basically best friends. Anyway, if you want to get drunk, get high, get laid, or get rocked (ideally, all of the above), Nashville Pussy are the band for you, and this record does not disappoint. There are some interesting departures from their typical sound here – one of which I’ve added here – but the general themes, as listed above, still hold.

Sloan, Commonwealth
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I told you you needed this album. I told you. Like I explained before, it’s a double album with each band member getting a side for the songs he writes and sings. That means it can vary from song to song and have upbeat rockers and slow, pensive ones; all sorts of moods and tones; quick little sub-2-minute tunes and one 17-minute-plus opus. What else can offer that? Guess what, I am listening to this album right now.

2014 | Courtney’s 5 Favorite Albums of 2014

James Vincent McMorrow, Post Tropical

Last winter, James Vincent McMorrow released his sophomore album, a beautiful collection of songs about light and dark, warmth and cold and the stagnancy that sticks in between. Compared to McMorrow’s first album, the sound is quite different. Early in the Morning, released in 2011, relied heavily on acoustic guitars. On Post Tropical we hear drums and synths that open tracks and gorgeous layers of harp and sweeping horn arrangements that carry the choruses through. But perhaps the greatest delight in Post Tropical is that it sounds the same and different with every listen. It’s really all we can hope for during the cold slog of winter: though it seems never-ending, we hope to find something new to believe in to get us through.

Robert Ellis, The Lights from the Chemical Plant

It’s amazing what moving to a new city and a haircut can do. In 2012, Robert Ellis moved from Houston to Nashville and shortly thereafter cut his Willie Nelson-length locks. His third studio album, The Lights From The Chemical Plant, came out last February and is one of the year’s best. The dark but sexy Good Intentions is the perfect upbeat track to sing along with, without ever passing into the cliche country song category. And as an added plus, there’s no mention of pickup trucks or blue jeans. Robert Ellis 1, Popular Country Music 0. Add in a track Ellis co-wrote with Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith, a cover of a Paul Simon classic, and a tune about binge-watching TV and you’ve got something for everyone.

The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dream

Listen to The War on Drugs’ latest album, Lost In the Dream, and you’ll be hooked in less than one minute, guaranteed. An absolutely gorgeous, ambitious and sprawling album, Lost In the Dream is the band’s best work. Full of atmospheric drum beats and synths, it’s an album that is as mind blowing on its first listen as it is on the 30th. Four of the tracks are over six-minutes long, but listening never feels like a chore. Lost In the Dream is such a beautiful place to be.

Field Report, Marigolden

Field Report’s second full-length album Marigolden was released in October and is a tremendously well-written set of songs about sobriety, traveling and homecomings. The album is anchored by lead singer Chris Porterfield’s wavering voice and exceptional songwriting. There are so many lines and phrases that provide beautiful imagery to bring his stories alive. In Pale Rider, a song inspired by an episode of Six Feet Under, Porterfield assures us – with equal parts grief and calm – that he can’t be “your place to go or what you need.” It’s an album that you’ll want to enjoy line by line, chorus by chorus, and track by track. Never have synths and pedal steel sounded so great together.

Hozier, Hozier

When Take Me To Church started making the rounds in early 2014, not many had heard of Andrew Hozier-Byrne, a lanky and long-haired Irish singer and songwriter. And while the opening track is one of 2014’s best songs, it’s the variety on his self-titled release that makes it such a great listen. There’s jam-worthy guitars on the blues track Jackie and Wilson, but there’s a depth to Hozier’s lyrics and music as well. None more apparent than In A Week, a ballad about two lovers buried in the earth, a beautiful and depressing track oddly reminiscent of a Seamus Heaney poem. As Hozier remarks in From Eden, “babe, there’s something tragic about you, something so magic about you.” This album is wretched and precious, indeed.