Annual Manual » Annual Manual: Culture

What's That Sound?

Some—just some—of the best recent recordings to come out of Boise

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So much good music comes out of Boise, it's hard to keep track of it all. The albums listed below (in alphabetical order by artist/band) aren't the complete cream of the crop, but more like a playlist. They provide a sampling of local talent and make it clear, through their diverse range of genres, just how robust the local music scene is.

Afrosonics, People Meet Your People

Afrosonics' live shows are exhilarating dance parties, and the band captured that vibe on People Meet Your People (self-released, 2016). Polished production, crack musicianship and ecstatic spirit evoke Parliament or Sly and the Family Stone, and the beautiful mix of male and female voices with American, Latin and African music reinforces its message of unity. afrosonics.com

Feel Better, Feel Better

We haven't heard much from Feel Better since its self-titled debut (Really Rad Records, 2016), but considering how much promise that album showed, let's hope the indie-emo band hasn't called it quits. As in Western Daughter's Driftwood Songs (Zach Sherwood and Taylor Raymond play in both bands) Feel Better's music provides release from the despair expressed in the lyrics. The clanging guitars, angular rhythms and plaintive tunes aren't for all tastes, but those who can appreciate them will want more. facebook.com/feelbetterband

The Green Zoo, The Adventures of Johnny Nihilist

After a misanthrope's girlfriend dies, he must find the resolve to carry on. That's the basic premise of The Adventures of Johnny Nihilist (self-released, 2016 ) but it doesn't capture the pathos and resonance of TGZ's sophomore release. Lyricist-frontman Thomas Newby's compassion, sardonic wit and keen eye make the narrative as sharp as a Raymond Carver story, and the graceful, hard-rocking music fleshes out this tale definitely worth hearing. facebook.com/GreenZooMusic

Lounge on Fire, Lips of Calypso

With his motor-mouthed vocals and kinky, conflicted lyrics, Nathan Norton isn't anyone's idea of a soul man—but he embraces that. Norton's willingness to let his freak flag fly is one of Lounge on Fire's biggest charms, but Lips of Calypso (self-released, 2017) doesn't get by on his anxious playfulness; it also features the band's signature driving funk and the tasteful horns that have made it a Boise favorite. All it's missing is one of Norton's delightful (read: ugly) shirts. loungeonfire.com

Oceans Are Zeroes, Oceans Are Zeroes

Oceans Are Zeroes spent two years on its self-titled album (self-released, 2017), and it paid off: Gorgeous melodies, yearning lyrics and sweeping power earned it comparisons to Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros. oceansarezeroes.com

Storie Grubb, What the Devil?

Storie Grubb has arguably written and released more good music over the past few years than anyone on this list. His catchy melodies and darkly funny lyrics are so singular that they all but scream out for greater recognition. What the Devil? (self-released, 2016) doesn't have the breakneck propulsion of Grubb's Holy Wars material, but it still lives up to his tuneful, mordant standard. storiegrubb.com

Sun Blood Stories, It Runs Around the Room With Us

Sun Blood Stories' second album, Twilight Midnight Morning (Obsolete Media Objects, 2015), was the best local release of 2015. Its follow-up doesn't try to match its wild abandon, which is probably a smart move. Instead, It Runs Around the Room With Us (self-released, 2017) shows the psych-rock band refining Twilight's bluesy riffs, fluid grooves and layers of mind-warping noises to create a more somber, introspective experience. It's not as immediately accessible, but it's just as powerful and even more beautiful. sunbloodstories.com

Thick Business, Blowin' Through the B-Sides

Ask a random selection of local 20-somethings who their favorite local band is, and they might all say, "Thick Business." The band's debut, Blowin' Through the B-Sides (Curly Cassettes, 2017) explains why. The oddball tunes and lyrics could be off-putting at first, but the tripped-out mix of cool funk and scorching psychedelic rock should win over any wary listeners. thickbusinessband.com

Tispur, Sleepy Creature

Sleepy Creature (Obsolete Media Objects, 2017) captures the delicate, wistful charm of Tispur's music perfectly. Samwise Carlson's cryptic lyrics, ominous folk melodies and high, androgynous vocals draw the listener into a world of mysterious creatures and enchantments. When the album ends, you'll feel like you just woke up from the most amazing dream. facebook.com/tispurmusic

Western Daughter, Driftwood Songs

Kids grow up so fast nowadays. Western Daughter's debut EP As the Sun Went Down (Broken Bark Records/Camp Daze, 2015) was so good, New Noise Magazine saw fit to run an exclusive stream of it in 2015. Coming out a mere year and three months later, Driftwood Songs (Take This to Heart Records, 2017) tops it in almost every way. Cameron Brizzee and Taylor Raymond's guitars chime and roar as Jess Hope's bass weaves between them. Zach Sherwood's drumming propels the music forward with greater power and intricacy. Taylor Hawkins's lyrics counterbalance the lovelorn angst of earlier WD songs with compassion and camaraderie.

"I was trying to create something that would outlive me," Hawkins sings on "Exhibition on Main St." He and his bandmates may have pulled it off here. facebook.com/westerndaughter

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