Some Of The Best Releases By Boise Musicians So Far In 2015 

We leave the first half of the year on a high note ...

Even with about six months left, 2015 has been a good year for local music. In addition to Treefort Music Fest breaking even for the first time, musicians who call the Treasure Valley home have put out high-quality work. Below are some of the year's standouts so far.

Built to Spill, Untethered Moon
Many Boise Weekly readers probably know about or own Untethered Moon (Warner Bros., 2015; album image above),
Built to Spill's first album since the slightly lackluster There is No Enemy (Warner Bros., 2009).
With Jason Albertini's bass and Stephen Gere's drums adding extra force to BTS' signature guitar pyrotechnics, those who haven't heard it should consider picking up this return to form, which showcases a raucous energy injected into winsome tunes and ruminative lyrics.

Eilen Jewell, Sundown Over Ghost Town
"You ease my worried mind," Eilen Jewell sings on the lead track of her new album. Many of the songs that follow clarify just how worried her mind can get.
On Sundown Over Ghost Town (Signature Sounds, 2015), Jewell meditates on hard times, failed relationships, and the corrosive effects of development and industrialization on the Idaho landscape. Her assured vocals and pristine folk, blues and country melodies help the somberness go down. Some fans may miss her earlier albums' touches of surf and rockabilly, but Jewell compensates with some of her sharpest, most detailed lyrics to date.

Sun Blood Stories, Twilight Midnight Morning
In terms of dramatic power, sonic daring and pure pleasure, Twilight Midnight Morning (Obsolete Media Objects, 2015) leaves most so-called psychedelic albums of recent vintage in the dust. Hypnotic basslines and supple drumming flow with keening guitars, screeching viola, moaned vocals and a plethora of trippy noises. This may well be the best local release of the year.

Shades, Common Desire
Don't take BW's word that Shades' sophomore album is fantastic. Music writer Paul Lester praised the group's "lush, wan electronic dreampop" in a June blogpost for The Guardian. "Shades are a four-piece from Boise, Idaho, but they sound like a lonely laptop boy from a bedroom, wherever," Lester wrote. Maybe so, but we're happy to claim them.
If you didn't pick up a copy of Common Desire (self-released, 2015) at Shades' "soft release" show in April, don't fret: The album will be officially released on Friday, July 31.

Stepbrothers, Why the Fuck Would Anything Nice Ever Happen?
Between family issues, struggling with insecurities, and dealing with responsibilities like jobs and kids, growing up can suck. The pained lyrics on melodic hardcore band Stepbrothers' latest album illustrate this sad truth in great detail. Why the Fuck (WavePOP Records, 2015) doesn't wallow in despair, though: The anthemic tunes and thunderous performances reflect the group's drive to endure and persevere, as do touches of humor, such as the taped chatter about the Star Wars prequels and song titles like "You're a Doctor. Is This a Mole?" and "I'm Not a Doctor. That's a Raisin."

Storie Grubb, Fashion is Fake
Although he disbanded The Holy Wars after Treefort 2015, local artist Storie Grubb has stayed productive. Fashion is Fake (self-released, 2015) features his trademark surreal, sardonic lyrics and gorgeous melodies—and you'd never know Grubb recorded it in his basement. While Matthew Vorhies' accordion adds some sweetener, Grubb spikes the mix with a few dashes of jolting electric guitar.

Hollow Wood, Wallflower EP
Wallflower (self-released, 2015) is worth purchasing just for "Little Bird," the guaranteed showstopper of every Hollow Wood live performance. However, the rest of the EP is almost as tuneful and rousing. For example, Adam Jones bares his fangs as a lyricist on "Crucifix," which rails against an oppressive religious upbringing.

Ancient Psychic, dream, punk
Led by former Sun Blood Stories drummer Brett Hawkins, this psych-pop collective released its debut album on June 16. dream, punk (self-released, 2015) may not have the cathartic force of Twilight Midnight Morning, but its dreamy tunes, shimmering guitars and understated humor yield considerable pleasures. Tip to playlist-makers: SBS founder Ben Kirby recommends putting Twilight and dream, punk on shuffle.

Andy Byron, The Journey
In some musical genres, maturity can prove problematic. In country, however, it can make an artist's work richer. Andy Byron's The Journey (self-released, 2015) is a perfect case in point. Whether he's singing about budding, broken or enduring relationships, the lyrics come through as authentic and are well served by Byron's finely crafted melodies and warm, weathered croon.

Other Notable Releases:
Brett Netson and Snakes, Scavenger Cult EP; Hillfolk Noir, Pop Songs for Elk; Lee Penn Sky, 29 Left Down; Lionsweb, Branches Beach EP; The Ravenna Colt, Terminal Current; Cutting Cages, Cutting Cages; Thomas Paul, Interference EP; Sword of a Bad Speller, Magicky Pee EP

Upcoming Release Shows: Toy Zoo (Neurolux, Saturday, July 18), RevoltRevolt (Neurolux, Saturday, Aug. 8)

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