Tag Archives: Wildhoney

Our favorite albums of 2015 (part 10)

Last week, I started counting down my favorite albums of 2015. There were a lot of brilliant records. Too many, even, to fit into a top 50. Before I started the countdown, I also named 25 honorable mentions. You can see that list here.

I broke the top 50 into chunks of five, and I encourage you to read what I wrote about all of the albums, but here’s the big list:

50)Lower Dens — Escape From Evil
49)Girl Band — Holding Hands With Jamie
48)Creepoid — Cemetery Highrise Slum
47)Thayer Sarrano — Shaky
46)Rachel Grimes — The Clearing
45)Stolen Jars — Kept
44)Hey Anna — Run Koko
43)Speedy Ortiz — Foil Deer
42)Marriages — Salome
41)Haiku Salut — Etch and Etch Deep
40)The Harrow — Silhouettes
39)Casket Girls — The Piano Album
38)Spectres — Dying
37)Eternal Summers — Gold and Stone
36)Esmerine — Lost Voices
35)Diverting Duo — Desire
34)Viet Cong — Viet Cong
33)astrobrite — Deluxer
32)Noveller — Fantastic Planet
31)Godspeed You! Black Emperor — Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
30)Long Beard — Sleepwalker
29)Hamsas XIII — Encompass
28)Westkust — Last Forever
27)Hop Along — Painted Shut
26)Lanterns On The Lake — Beings
25)Violent Mae — Kid
24)The Black Ryder — The Door Behind The Door
23)Moon King — Secret Life
22)The Soft Moon — Deeper
21)Trementina — Almost Reach the Sun
20)Beach House — Thank Your Lucky Stars
19)No Joy — More Faithful
18)Torres — Sprinter
17)Mount Eerie — Sauna
16)Shana Falana — Set Your Lightning Fire Free
15)Eskimeaux — O.K.
14)Ringo Deathstarr — Pure Mood
13)Pinkshinyultrablast — Everything Else Matters
12)SOAK — Before We Forgot How To Dream
11)Thrushes — Exposing Seas
10)A Place to Bury Strangers — Transfixiation
9)Briana Marela — All Around Us
8)Beach House — Depression Cherry
7)Bully — Feels Like
6)93MillionMilesFromTheSun — Fall Into Nothing

And now, the final countdown will get us down from 5 to 3. I had planned on doing the entire top 5 this morning, but I’m short on time, so I’ll do the top two later today.

Remember to click on album art to go to where you can buy the album.

Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

5)Courtney Barnett — Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
This is the debut album by the indie-folk/punk/twee singer/songwriter from Melbourne. She self-released a couple of EPs which were compiled and rereleased as the 2013 double EP A Sea of Split Peas. That really put her on the map and had everyone eagerly anticipating the debut album. Everyone hoped that it would arrive in 2014, and it finally came out on March 23 to unanimous accolades. She was nominated for eight ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) awards, and she took home four of those tall, pointy, triangular pyramids. She has also been nominated for a 2016 Grammy award in the “best new artist” category.
Courtney Barnett is known as much for the clever wordplay in her lyrics as she is for her brilliantly crafted songs. She lists Lou Reed, Neil Young, Paul Kelly, and Nirvana among her influences, and you can hear those and many more in her songs.
She’s done a bunch of amazing covers, including a great interpretation of the entire Kick album by INXS (here), and a cover of The Lemonheads’ song “Being Around” (here), but her own songs are absolutely brilliant. Like most of the others in this final countdown, the first time I heard this album, I immediately locked it in as a top five album. Making light of the odd combination of all of these things, all year long, I kept saying “This is my favorite debut record by a left-handed Australian lesbian”.

Wildhoney — Sleep Through It

4)Wildhoney — Sleep Through It
This is the debut album by the shoegaze/noise pop quintet from Baltimore. They released a couple of EPs that set expectations very high for the debut, and I don’t think anybody was disappointed. The album came out in January, and after I had only listened to about five seconds of it, I had it locked in to a top ten position. By the time summer rolled around, I had bumped it into the top five. Definitely among my favorite of the shoegaze revivalists.
I knew nothing at all about the band when I stumbled upon their album way back in January. I still know almost nothing about them. I just know that I love this record, which is a bit reminiscent of a much noisier Velocity Girl.
Wildhoney played at Hopscotch this year, and I was very excited about that. More excited, actually, than I was about any of the headliners. I put their set very high on my “can’t miss” list, and although I ended up being shut out of a couple of those, I did get to see the Wildhoney set. Read about that here
When you play this record, you play it very loud, and you bounce around like a college kid who’s hopped up on adderall and Red Bull.

Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp

3)Waxahatchee — Ivy Tripp
This is the third full-length album by the indie-folk/rock/punk recording project based in Brooklyn. It’s mostly the work of Katie Crutchfield (vocals/guitar), but on this album and the previous one, she’s had help from Kyle Gilbride (guitar/keys/synth) and Keith Spencer (guitar/bass/keys/drums/), and her twin sister Allison. By the way, the 2013 album Cerulean Salt came in at my #15 album of that year. Waxahatchee played at Hopscotch back in 2013, and I got delayed going to that set. I only saw two songs, but those songs were great. Read about that here.
I have to admit that Ivy Tripp isn’t one of the albums that was immediately locked in to a top five position after first listen. It took a lot of repeat listens to bump it up and up the list. And then, I saw Katie Crutchfield play a solo set that secured this album its top five position. She was actually a last-minute substitution at Hopscotch this year. Owen Pallett was supposed to be there all weekend as the “improviser in residence” and he was supposed to play a show in Fletcher on Saturday night. He had a family emergency and had to cancel his appearance. Greg Fox out of Liturgy took over the role of “improviser in residence”, and Katie Crutchfield took his spot at Fletcher. That wasn’t announced until the festival had already started, and for a lot of people, it might have gone unnoticed. I sure noticed, and I made it a top priority, even while there were a couple of other sets happening at the same time that I’d also like to have seen.
I was absolutely blown away by her set. Just Katie and an acoustic guitar. Included in the set was a spectacular cover of the Lucinda Williams tune “Greenville”. She played songs from all three albums, and made them all sound deeper and more real. I was completely awestruck, and I could have been knocked over with a feather after that. I went in expecting to see a good set, but what I saw was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Maybe it was exactly the right time and place and maybe things were aligned just right for it to hit me the way it did, but I’ve seriously never been as moved by a show as I was by that. You can read up a bit about that here.

That’s it for now. I should finish the countdown tonight, then do a recap tomorrow.


Recapping Hopscotch 15 Day One

It’s Hopscotch weekend again. My favourite weekend of every year. The only “vacation” that I take every year. It’s filled with tons of good music, a lot of beer, and seeing friends. This year, life is happening to a bunch of the guys who I normally hang out with all weekend long, and none of them were able to make it. This means that I’m flying solo for the weekend. So I’m much less likely to get talked into (or out of) seeing certain bands.

As is usual, I made a “perfect world” list of the bands that I want to see this weekend, and some of them involve scheduling conflicts. Some necessitate leaving sets early or staying put in a venue to ensure that I can get a spot. I did well this Thursday.

I had grand plans to arrive in Raleigh early today and partake of some of the day party stuff. I wasn’t early enough for that, but I was here well before the real festival started.

I started with a couple of fancy beers at Busy Bee while I waited for things to get going. A brief but heavy rain came through, which delayed the first show of the night over at the City Plaza main stage. The doors opened late for Ought/Godspeed. They got started about 20 minutes late, but it didn’t cause any problems.

Tim Beeler Darcy of Ought

Tim Beeler Darcy of Ought

Ought was a substitution for Deerhunter, who canceled a whole slew of late summer shows. The truth is that I wasn’t all that excited about Deerhunter anyway, and before I headed in, I thought that Ought was an upgrade. They played a good, energetic set, and they actually exceeded my expectations. Mostly stuff from the new record, which I’ve been enjoying quite a bit.

Godspeed

Godspeed

Next up in the outdoor City Plaza main stage was Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The Canadian post-rock icons have been going strong for more than 20 years,and they keep putting out great records. I’ve seen them three times before, and on a different blog I wrote very elaborate posts about the time I saw them in Chapel Hill back in 1999, and also the time in 2003 when I drove to Athens, Georgia to see them with a girl I met on the internet. Those are both some pretty crazy stories. If you have a few extra minutes, I invite you to read them. I saw Godspeed again in the autumn of 2012, and it was, as the other two times were, amazing.
Since Ought started late, Godspeed also started late. Not long after they started, another rainstorm rolled in. They had to move a bunch of their gear from the front of the stage further back, and that caused a small delay. They sounded good, but I was short on time, and I had to leave after they’d been on stage for only about 45 minutes.

Wildhoney

Wildhoney

I stopped on my way out of the Plaza and got something to eat and made it over to King’s just in time for Wildhoney. Their album is locked into a year-end top five position at my house, and they were one of my highest priorities for the weekend. When I arrived, King’s was packed, but the crowd started to thin out, and I got a great spot. The band scorched their way through an incredible 25-minute set, taking no prisoners. They played well, and they owned the stage with their bouncy energy. As happy as I was to see them, I was a bit disappointed when they said goodnight at 10:25. Disappointed and confused. And it left me with a bunch of extra time on my hands, and I didn’t have anything circled until the Mamiffer set at 11:30. I had a bit of serendipity though, when I headed on over to Kennedy early.

Eartheater

Alexandra Drewchin (Eartheater)

I arrived there at about 10:50 during what was supposed to be a set by John Chantler. He wasn’t on my radar at all, but when I got there, it was obvious that the person on stage wasn’t John Chantler. He had a travel visa issue, and was replaced by New York experimental/synth-dream pop artist Eartheater. I still don’t know anything about her, and it wasn’t until her set was over that I even learned who she was. I loved her set, but I was confused the whole time. That was the bit of serendipity.

Mamiffer

Mamiffer

Next up was Mamiffer. This was one that I was really looking forward to, and there was no disappointment there. It was much louder than I thought it would be. Not super-noisy, but the sound was really deep. The kind of low-end loud that makes the whole room vibrate, and you feel it in your teeth and bones. Although I had high expectations, I liked it even more than I thought I would. And now I’m much more keen on taking in their day party set Friday afternoon at King’s. There’s a bunch of cool stuff going on at King’s, as there always is.

I ditched the initial plan, which was to see 25 minutes of Mamiffer and leave early so I could see 15 minutes of Jenny Hval. I was enjoying it so much, I stayed for almost the entire Mamiffer set. I left just a little bit early because I wanted to give myself time to get to Bully. That was another one that was a very high priority for me, and since the venue is small and narrow, I wanted to get there early. It didn’t matter. I was there early, but the venue was at capacity. One in-one out. The VIP line was about 12 deep, and the “regular person” line was about 20 deep, but it wasn’t moving at all. It wasn’t going to happen with or without a VIP wristband.

Battles drummer John Stanier

Battles drummer John Stanier

With great disappointment, I moved on to plan B, which was to see Battles at Lincoln. My friend Bill, who couldn’t make it this year, had been urging me to see Battles instead of Bully anyway. Lincoln was also at capacity, but the line moved quickly, and I was inside before their set started. I’m not a Battles fan, but my friend Bill is a huge fan, so I was really there for his sake, and to satisfy my curiosity about their drummer. John Stanier played drums for Helmet from 1989 to 1998. His trademark is that when he plays with Battles, his ride cymbal is about 6 feet off the ground. I didn’t believe it when I heard about it, but it’s really something to watch him play that kit. Unfortunately, about three or four songs in, I started to feel weak and a little light-headed. Instead of trying to fight through it like I did two years ago during Spiritualized, I heeded my body’s warning signals, and I got out of there, got some food, got some Gatorade from my car, and called it a night.

It was a long day and a very good day. I’m upset that I didn’t get to see Bully, and I was disappointed that the Wildhoney set was so short, but a couple of sets surpassed my expectation of them, and Eartheater was a surprise that came out of nowhere. Today will be full of day party action, but the night schedule isn’t as packed for me as it was last night.

At the end of the day, my favorite thing so far has been Mamiffer.


01.15.2015 — “Seventeen” by Wildhoney

Wildhoney

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Seventeen” by Wildhoney (2015, from the debut album Sleep Through It).

Wildhoney is a shoegaze/noise pop/indie pop quintet from Baltimore. They’ve released a few EPs since 2012, and they’ve generated quite a buzz. Today’s song originally appeared on their 2014 EP Seventeen Forever, and it’s one of my favorites from the album Sleep Through It. I love every song, and this is just one of the songs that’s already on bandcamp.

I had never heard of Wildhoney before I stumbled upon their debut album the other day. And I still know almost nothing about them. The album doesn’t officially come out until January 20, but eMusic has it early. I listened to about four seconds of one song before I knew that it would be one of my favorite albums of 2015. I bought the download and immediately listened to the whole album twice in a row. It’s wonderfully noisy and beautifully melodic. It’s a very good mixture of light and dark, sweet and bitter, smooth and rough. There’s certainly no shortage of shoegaze revivalists out there, but this band is one of the brightest and best I’ve heard. Keep your eyes and ears on them.

From the album-opening “Fall In” to the closing “Boys From Out of Town”, the kids in Wildhoney don’t miss a single beat. I know it’s crazily early to be saying things like this, but I really think it’s a safe bet that Sleep Through It will end up in the top ten of my 2015 year-end list. I like it that much.

It’s clear that this band is influenced heavily by, among others, My Bloody Valentine. Today’s song borrows quite a bit from “Soon”, the album-closing song from Loveless

“Seventeen” by Wildhoney

The squelching and the feedback and the pedal stomping is perfectly shoegazey in a general kind of way. All of that stuff is fine and dandy, but it’s the drum part in the beginning that made me instantly recall “Soon”. As intoxicating as all that stuff is, the real highlight of the show is vocalist Lauren Shusterich. She joined the band prior to the Seventeen Forever EP, and set the band in a different direction. Her voice is higher and airier than the previous singer, and in this song it soars above the all of the low-end heavy stuff from the guitars and bass. I love, too, that while the guitars are obviously heavily affected, her voice is pretty clean. Maybe a bit of delay, but otherwise clean. And unlike a lot of shoegazey stuff, the vocals aren’t buried in the mix or washed over by the walls of sound. I like the brightness and vitality in the big, clean vocals. You don’t get that with a male singer or even with a female singer with a lower register.

I can’t stop listening to this album. I can’t stop listening to this song.

You can buy a download of the Seventeen Forever EP from the bandcamp page here. You can pre-order a physical copy of Sleep Through It via Forward Records (US orders) here, or via Deranged Records. It sounds like it might be a while before either of those has the physical copies in stock. You can catch the band on tour now, or buy a download from eMusic here.

I recommend playing this record very loud.


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