Best of the Best Kind

The best local releases of 2019 (so far) include Thomas Paul, Marshall Poole, Juice!, Dirt Russell, The Hand, Tylor & the Train Robbers, Storie Grubb, buttstuff, a.k.a. Belle, and more.


  • Boise Weekly

Already, 2019 has seen plenty of great local music come out. Check out these releases and look for work from Ealdor Bealu, Sun Blood Stories, Lucid Aisle and others in the near future.

Thomas Paul, No Air Anywhere (self-released)

It took Thomas Paul six years and lots of physical and emotional travail to complete No Air Anywhere. With this in mind, its elegant arrangements, gliding vocals and calm command of multiple genres become even more impressive.

Marshall Poole, Pasadena (self-released)

"We were chasing down a living / Now we're chasing down the sun," sings Marshall Poole's Rider Soran on the second track of Pasadena. A sense of wonder and discovery permeates the album, which features this talented young band's frankest lyrics and deftest interplay yet. Between the heavy riffing of "Rebirth" and "So It Goes," the creep of "Presentation" and the surge of "P-Word" and "The Zephyr," Soran et al sound as if they really could chase down the sun. Even if they don't, it'll be exciting to hear where their music takes them next.

Juice!, Skating Calls (self-released)

Skating Calls opens with "Pizza Night," which might be the first soul-funk song ever to equate eating pizza with getting it on. Nothing else on the album matches its inspired blend of silliness and sexiness, though songs like "AI Girlfriend" and "Prison Break" come close. In any case, Ashley Young's sassy, sultry vocals and her bandmates' slinky grooves are no joke.

Dirt Russell, Dirt Don't Hurt EP (self-released)

This punky duo packs more power into five songs than other rock groups muster over whole careers. Ryan Hondo's howls and manic guitar are matched in Angela Heileson's snarling yelps and nimble, hard-hitting drums.

The Hand, Dad (self-released)

Except for the Dirt Russell EP, no local release in 2019 (so far) rocks as hard as this power trio's sophomore LP. Frontman Scott Schmaljohn (State of Confusion, Treepeople) bellows and fires off guitar solos like grunge never died.

Tylor & the Train Robbers, Best of the Worst Kind (self-released)

The Train Robbers' debut, Gravel (self-released, 2017), introduced Tylor Ketchum as a thoughtful country songwriter. On this follow-up, he delivers on the promise he showed. Whether he's depicting love gone wrong, the travails of a touring musician or the exploits of his notorious ancestor Black Jack Ketchum, he comes up with fresh insights.

Storie Grubb, Halfway Happy (March) (self-released)

In 2018, local artist Sean Kelly, aka Storie Grubb, put out two LPs of original material—one of which could count as a double album—a 21-song cover album, an EP and a few singles. Something of an overachiever, he set himself a challenge for this year: To write, record, mix and release a full album from scratch every month.

So far, Grubb has met this challenge. The tracks aren't always fully realized, but his catchy tunes and hooks never fail him. The best of the bunch might be this March release, where Grubb drew inspiration from goofy, fan-provided titles like "Cellulite Phones" and "Fork It, I'm Out of Spoons."

buttstuff, I Need a Break from Heaven Pt. 1 (self-released)

Most listeners probably wouldn't expect tenderness or introspection from a punk-influenced band called "Buttstuff." That's what makes this EP's fragile vocals, somber tunes and yearning lyrics so disarming. Meanwhile, the steady rhythm section and ringing, buzzing guitars overpower the murky production.

a.k.a. Belle, Sagebrush Athenians (self-released)

Probably no local release this year will have more erudite liner notes than those of Sagebrush Athenians. Said notes start with a description of the original Athenians—"the inventors of democracy, which they practiced more vigorously than any modern democracy"—before praising their modern descendants, who "wish for true democracy, for acceptance and respect for all peoples."

Cynics might find this high-minded, but it's hard to deny the music's eloquence. Songs shift between pop, rock, country and jazz, and Catherine Merrick delivers the most trenchant lyrics and the savviest singing of her career. Sam Merrick's guitar follows suit, equal parts Neil Young, Duane Eddy and Wes Montgomery.

Other Noteworthy Local Releases

The French Tips, It's the Tips (self-released); Sawtooth Monk, The Golden Path (self-released) The Phets, Dark Again (self-released); The Sky Burns Brighter, The Sky Burns Brighter EP (self-released); Urban Outfielders, Out of This World (Hidden Home Records); Get Wet +, Three (self-released); Preakedness, Nest (self-released); Kira, Wither & Decay (self-released); Kissay, Soft Touch (self-released).