The AGP Top 25 of 2018

A trying year politically delivered an incredibly strong year in music. With  excellent albums by some of established favorites like Guided By Voices and Superchunk as well  formidable releases from rising acts such as Twin Foxes, Darklands, Ovlov, and Kal Marks we had plenty of sonic splendeur to keep us chugging along. In our first installment of 2018 in review we take time share some our favorites of the year. Most of these are available on Bandcamp, so if there something here that lands in your wheelhouse please consider supporting these artists in any way you can.

*Photo above taken at AS220 in Providence by Eleanor Dean

Riffs & Friendship: An Interview With Greed Island


I first discovered New Hampshire’s Greed Island via a social media post from fellow Seacoast indie outfit, Rick Rude back in January. I immediately tracked down their then just released Nest Egg and proceeded to freak out over the bands marriage of Matador Records heyday guitar bands, pop hooks, and intelligent lyricism. That album has been in constant rotation since last winter and in my estimation one of the years finest. I recently caught up with Greed Island’s guitarist/vocalist, Trevor Butler to discuss the recording of his bands latest release and the burgeoning Seacoast scene. In addition we are thrilled to premiere the video for Tiny Homes that the band recently recorded with Ty Ueda for his Mount Misery Sessions. Thanks to Trevor for allocating the time to answere a few questions and of course the band for making the trek down from the New Hampshire for tonight’s show.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Let’s start at the beginning, when did you realize you wanted to start a band?

Trevor Butler: What kid doesn’t wanna be in a band? It’s rad, you get to play real loud and just get it all out there. Chris Kennedy and I had been playing music together for a while and started writing some stuff we liked so we started playing out. We just found a lot of happiness in being able to share our creative efforts with friends and all the other amazing people out there we get to play with.
Greed1
The Ash Gray Proclamation: How did Greed Island come together?

Trevor Butler: Greed Island came together with a mindset of writing new music, a lot of which formed by listening to the bands coming out of the New England post punk boom.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Can you tell me a little bit about the creative process that led to recording of your latest Nest Egg?

Trevor Butler: Nest Egg is based a lot on our experiences at a house we lived in on Baker Street in Dover. That year we watched birds lay a nest on our porch and watched their birblets grow, I took in my cat Grandma who showed up on our porch one day, and just made a lot of memories there. Honestly, probably the best home we’ve ever had.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: How often does the band get together to write and record new material ?

Trevor Butler: Chris and I write the songs and a lot of times it happens in waves, we’re really busy so it just happens out of the blue. So far, it’s just been a yearly thing with recording, but we’re actually recording in early June to put out a split with our buds Idling.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: You are involved in the Dover scene as well as Sue’s Space in Rollinsford NH. What can you tell me about that space and your current role within that organization?

Trevor Butler: Sue’s and Wrong brain have given so much to the seacoast scene it’s honestly been amazing to be a part of it. Both organizations are at the heart of the true weirdo art collective and keep the area exciting. My focus at Sue’s has been a fundraiser coordinator. We are a member based art collective with a wonderful spot in the Rollinsford Mills with a stage, PA, lights, projector, and anything else you could ever need to have fun. My latest effort has been trying to raise money for bleachers. We’ve been throwing bigger events recently like the Rock Water Film Festival and Take Down wrestling and we want everyone to have a good view of the action.
Greed

The AGP: Which Seacoast bands should we be checking out ?

Trevor: Woah! So many. Pretty much all of them, but off the top of my head, Charles, Notches, Rick Rude, Idling, Heavy Pockets, Sunchoke, Gash, People Skills, and Peacham. Also, a couple of Manchester based bands, Baby Lawns and Bad Fellows.
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The AGP
: On Thursday you return to Rhode Island for a show at Machines With Magnets, what can the Greed Island uninitiated expect from your performance?

Trevor: Riffs and friendship.

Greed Island will perform at Machines With Magnets tonight along with The Chris Brokaw Rock Band, Gold Muse, and Lightsleeper. Event Info
MWM best

Photo credits: B/W band shot,courtesy of Robert Fitzsimmons
Flyer courtesy of Alex Keown

2017: The Year In Review | Top 10 Albums

top LP'sThrow another year end list on the fire! With the last days 2017 looming, we have selected our favorite LP’s of the year. This was another banner year for the independent music being made in the American Northeast corridor. We also saw exceptional records from rising as well as established acts and in one case we got the first new recordings in a couple of decades. We thank you for your continued readership and support of this site. Stick around because we have a big 2018 planned.

We wish you an incredible Christmas and New Year filled with beautiful noise.

10. Milked – Death on Mars [EiS]
MilkedFormer Geronimo! front man, Kelly Johnson returned last summer with a new project armed with 9 songs about a sci-fi future, drenched in fuzz. Well, my obsession with album has only deepened since posting our review. Whether on the frantic sludge rock of White Punks In Angst or the pop hook fest that is Goodbye Durango Death On Mars is a remarkable debut album, buzzing with cathartic post-punk.

Stream: Spotify |Bandcamp | AGP Review 

9.Beverly TenderWhat Have You Done To My Water? [Disposable America]
6a287-unnamedAfter the high bar set up by 2015’s Lord Mayor Makes 1,000 Speeches, Beverly Tender had their work cut out for them if they were to match their self-released debut EP.  Well, as you’ve probably guessed Beverly Tender exceeded all expectations with a superb collection of skewed pop and angular guitar anthems. The one noticeable flaw is the brevity of this set, but luckily it stands up wonderfully to repeat listens. Just put it on at a day long loop.

Stream: Spotify| Bandcamp| AGP Review

8. SlowdiveSlowdive [Dead Oceans]
slowUK Shoegaze legends reunited in 2014 to some shows in their homeland and luckily for their stateside fans expanded the live dates to include two tours of the U.S. over the past few years. On Slowdive the band deliver a near flawless record overflowing with droning ambience, C86 influence pop, and their signature guitar haze. However, what makes this LP so exceptional is that Slowdive manage to create something completely unique while retaining just enough of the elements of what made their early recordings so captivating.

Stream: Spotify|Bandcamp

7. Rick RudeMake Mine Tuesday [Sophomore Lounge | Tiny Radars]
rickThis New Hampshire collective provided the year’s biggest eureka moment with Make Mine On Tuesday. With twin guitar interplay reminiscent of Keep It Like A Secret era Built To Spill and the scrappy lo-fi charm of early Guided By Voices, Rick Rude delivered the year’s most addictive listens. For all the heavyweight influences and comparisons on Make Mine Tuesday the ensemble manages to carve out a space all their own and on tracks like Bald & Fat in Houston, TX and Sunhead they delivered one of the years most varied and sonically diverse LP.

Stream: Spotify|Bandcamp

6. The New Year Snow [Undertow]
SnowThese Texan’s have held a very special spot in my heart since discovering the incredible and sadly retired Bedhead (92-98) back in college. Since then I have followed along with Matt and Bubba Kadane’s post Bedhead outfit, The New Year. Early on the band seemed to expand upon the slo-core path of their earlier work, but over the past 4 albums The New Year has become an archetypal institution all their own. Snow represents another step forward for the band and finds the Kadane’s turning in a stunning new collection of sparse, deliberate, and beautifully arranged pop songs.

Stream: Bandcamp

5.Bad History Month Dead And Loving It: An Introductory Exploration of Pessimysticism [EiS]
Dead For the better part of 10 years Sean Bean has captured our attention with intelligent lyricism ripe with self-deprecation, first as Boston’s anti folk noise duo Fat History Month. In relative short time he amassed an impressive catalog of full lengths, EP, split releases, and plenty of basement shows. Dead and Loving It… marks the first official release under Bad History Month moniker, a name Bean adopted from FHM’s excellent 2013 release. This new LP is an incredible study of self-examination and existentialism. It’s also an album that display’s Bean as a gifted songwriter. Dead And Loving it is work of substance and emotion that offers a glimpse of hope out the despair exhibited thought out the LP, particularly on The Church Of Nothing Matters. Bleak as fuck, but completely stunning from start to finish.

Stream: Spotify|Bandcamp

4. Mount EerieA Crow Looked At Me [P.W. Elverum & Sun]
a crowFor those unfamiliar with this story, Phil Elverum the man behind both The Microphones and more recently, Mount Eerie suffered an enormous personal loss after his wife died due to an inoperable cancer in 2016. He recorded these songs shortly after her passing in the home they shared with their newborn daughter while utilizing her instruments. To say this is a devastating record is a bit of an understatement, but for all the sadness that drips from these songs there’s both beauty and honestly in these tracks as well. A Crow Looked At Me is an incredible cathartic document of loss, remembering the little things in life, and finding a way to dust ourselves off and trudge on for the people that need us most.

Stream: Spotify |Bandcamp

3. PileA Hairshirt of Purpose [EiS]
pileIt’s been something to see Boston’s post-punk goliaths Pile, evolve from their inception in the mid 00’s to the string of superb full lengths. On A Hairshirt of Purpose, Pile manages to exceed the lofty expectations set by 2015’s You’re Better Than This with an album that pushes the bands sounds in new and exciting directions while retaining their gift for combining dexterous and complex instrumentation paired with honest self-reflection. On album number six Pile have delivered their finest record, at least until they get around to recording the next one.

Stream: Spotify|Bandcamp

2. Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven [GBV Inc.]
heavenIn April Robert Pollard’s issued his 100th full length release with August By Cake a sprawling 32 track double album which in addition to some instant Pollard classics featured songwriting and vocal contributions from Doug Gillard, Mark Shue, Kevin March, and Bobby Bare Jr. Then in the heat of August Pollard delivered GBV album #2 of 2017, How Do You Spell Heaven? A concise and focused effort reminiscent of the TVT years and arguably Pollard’s most accessible set of songs since Isolation Drills. The album kicks off with The Birthday Democrats, a catchy as all hell guitar pop anthem of the highest order. How Do Spell Heaven? Is the album casual fans have been dying for GBV to record and one the obsessives will embrace, which further proves that Robert Pollard shows no signs of slowing down or delivering a sub-par album. Not bad for a guy who just turned 60th with 101 LP’s to his credit.

Stream
Spotify

1. Meat WaveThe Incessant [Side One Dummy]
meatThe Incessant had our backs in 2017. It was there to comfort us during the early days of a certain narcissistic idiots Presidency, to cure our workday frustrations, and could be heard by anyone within an earshot of our vehicles on summer road trips. Meat Wave fronter Chris Sutter wrote the bulk of this set in the aftermath of the dissolution of 12 year relationship and he voices his displeasure throughout the album. The Incessant is a jagged noise pop opus with plenty of wit, spite, and pop hooks. The album isn’t all cacophony, Sutter takes a deep death on Birdland, only to bludgeon us with biting and arresting lyricism, “down into the valley surrounded by scum, no point in climbing out, you burned everyone you love.”

Stream: Spotify|Bandcamp

Photo Credit: Noel Kelly of The Hush Now @ The Davis Square Theater

2017: The Year In Review | Top 25 Tracks

AGP tracks 2With the end of our calendar year upon us, many of us blogging types turn to cast a gaze over the past 12 months and deliver a year end recap. It’s been a few years since we  completed this exercise, but with a year as strong as  2017 was, the opportunity to spotlight the releases and artists that one could’ve found clamoring from the AGP offices in  the past year was too good to pass up. We have compiled the 25 songs below that ended up in heavy rotation on our turntables as well as on the various streaming platforms we frequented this year. You’ll probable notice the  bulk of favorite tracks have origins in the American Northeast which speaks volumes about those artists, labels like Disposable America and Exploding in Sound Records, not to mention the thriving scenes in Allston, Northampton,  Brooklyn, and Providence.

25. Protomartyr – A Private Understanding

24. Soft Fangs – Honey Colony

23. Big Heet – On A Wire

22. Lost Film – I Forget

21. Kindling – Wait

20. The Bats – Rooftops

19. Milked – Goodbye Durango

18. Yankee Bluff – Like An Insect

17. Black Beach – Cluttered Head

16. The Spirit of The Beehive – Cops Come Looking

15. Tobin Sprout – Cowboy Curtains

14. Rick Rude – Bald & Fat In Houston, TX

13. Two Inch Astronaut – Can You Please Not Help

12. Twin Foxes – Own Eyes

11. Infinity Girl – Don’t Believe

10.  Tery Malts – Cheap Mimicry 

9. Out – Wound Up

8. Downtown Boys – A Wall

7. The Cherry Wave – Don’t Start

6.The Persian Leaps – Picture My Reaction

5. Slowdive – Star Roving

4. Meat Wave – Leopard Print Jet Ski

3. Pile – Texas

2. Guided By Voices – Low Flying Perfection

1. Bad History Month – The Nonexistent Distance

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