Moving to Boston has exposed me to some great music: I live with another amateur musician, and I’ve made some excellent discoveries on Boston’s radio stations, namely 88.9 WERS and 90.3 WZBC Newton. Both of these stations are publicly funded and run by universities (Emerson College and Boston College, respectively). Public funding keeps these stations authentic, as they play music they feel is worthy of listening to, rather than run by the pop music market to play what people buy. Furthermore, the young DJs keep the music fresh.

This year has been a year of rediscovering old favorites, such as Green Day, the exponential growth of the 1975, and some newly discovered artists, such as Mitski, Angel Olsen, and Car Seat Headrest.

22, A Million – Bon Iver

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Courtesy of pitchfork.com

I was skeptical of Bon Iver’s newly acquired experimental electro sound. I’d heard his single “33 God” on the radio, and I was puzzled by it at first. But something about that little loop “I’d be happy as hell if you stayed for tea.” I then decided to give the entire album a try on a long drive. “22 (Over Soon),” the album’s opening track, is just as haunting as “Skinny Love” with dulcet symphs and manipulated human voices. Something about this makes the track overly emotional and yet somewhat detached, like a sad robot of some sort. Bon Iver does not fail to show their mastery of instrumentation, and 29 #Strafford APTS is a treat for aficionados of the band’s original folk sound.

Puberty 2 – Mitski

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Courtesy of Mitski Bandcamp

Mitski has the voice of an angel and I’ve listened to “Your Best American Girl” and cried more times than I can count.

You’re the sun, you’ve never seen the night but you hear it sung from the morning birds.

I’m not the moon- I’m not even a star, but awake at night, I’ll be singing to the birds, “Don’t wait for me. I can’t come.”

These two lyrics sum up the doomed love described in “Your Best American Girl.” Two things that can never naturally occur, the pain that the lover feels, and the blissful ignorance of the beloved. In addition to this song that would fit perfectly on anyone’s drink wine and cry playlist, Mitski also adds some upbeat songs like “Happy,” “A Loving Feeling,” and “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars.”

MY WOMAN – Angel Olsen

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Courtesy of pitchfork.com

If you sense a “Girls in Rock n Roll” theme in my recent listening patterns, then you are correct. Angel Olsen’s MY WOMAN is an album that sounds like it’s straight out of the seventies. Olsen’s vocals range from howling to musing. Each of the songs either packs a punch or is downright dreamy. From the longing frustration of “Shut Up, Kiss Me” to the resigned “Never Be Mine,” Olsen creates a timeless soundtrack about a timeless subject: love. This album is the perfect soundtrack for driving around when you feel slightly despondent.

Revolution Radio – Green Day

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Courtesy of tinymixtapes.com

How could such a politically tumultuous year be complete without America’s favorite punk commentators? Green Day has always been fearless about voicing its viewpoints. Green Day has mastered garage punk fire in songs such as “Bang, Bang,” which also contains the most chill-inducing drum solo I’ve ever heard.  Other songs, such as “Outlaws” and “Forever Now” boast Green Day’s theatric arena-rock sound that they’ve acquired over the past decade.

Teens of Denial – Car Seat Headrest

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Courtesy of bandcamp.com

Finally, a good band from Virginia. Car Seat Headrest is a band that can keep their music on grassroots streaming website bandcamp while also being recognized by Rolling Stone as one of the top 50 albums of 2016 (it took fourth place). Grungy, angsty, and deadpan humorous, set to killer instrumentals, whose production preserves the beautiful rawness of rock and roll.

Why Are You Okay? – Band of Horses

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Courtesy of pitchfork.com

 

Domestic nostalgia and heartbreak, the restlessness one feels in white picket fence suburbia, growing into someone you thought you wouldn’t be. This album was one of the most played of my summer. Band of Horses never fails to make hauntingly beautiful music. Among my favorites on the album are “Hag,” “Casual Party,” “In a Drawer,” and “Lying Under Oak.”

I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it – The 1975

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Courtesy of genius.com

This list is in no particular order, but I did save my most favorite for last. I could write an entire blogpost about this album alone. It changed my life and speaks to me in unimaginable ways. From the satirical narcissism of “Love Me,” to the hopeful heartbreak of “A Change of Heart,” the out of touch and depressed romanticism of “Paris,” this is one hell of an album, and, frankly, if you’re putting The 1975 off because of their boy band, poppy sound, you’re seriously missing out. The melodies are delicious and the lyricsare full of wisdom and substance.

I put “A Change of Heart” on the album, because I’d never heard a song about falling out of love before. It reminds me of when I had graduated high school and all of the things that high school is romanticized to be – a coming of age, a place to find forever friends, etc. – was a facade. In the same way, this song talks about a girl that the speaker falls out of love with as he realizes that she is not as unique or interesting as he once thought. “Was it your breasts from the start?” Matty Healy muses. “They played a part.”

You used to have a face straight out of a magazine. Now you just look like anyone.

Not to mention, “A Change of Heart” deflates much of what was romanticized on the 1975’s first, self-titled, full-length album, particularly in the songs “Robbers” and “The City.” In “Robbers,” Healy gushes, “She had a face straight out a magazine.” Earlier on the album, he sings, “If you wanna find love, then you know where the city is.” In “A Change of Heart,” he directly responds to this: “I never found love in the city/I just sat in self pity and cried in the car.”

The 1975 has grown from a pop band playing songs about the mundane life of a teenager in Manchester to a band that analyzes their own position within the media and the messages that they send to their many fans.

Interested to listen? I've compiled my favorite tracks in this handy dandy Spotify playlist.

Also published on my blog, noteworthythoughtsblog.wordpress.com