Stephen Brower

Easy Sound Recording Co.

General Manager, Easy Sound Recording Co.

Associated Spotify Playlist

The Best Records of 2015

  • Colleen Green - I Want To Grow Up (Hardly Art)

    Green, the pride of West L.A., has made the most earnest and anthemic post-juvenile existential crisis record in recent memory. Or maybe ever. She wants to grow up. She really does. Sing along.

  • Widowspeak - All Yours (Captured Tracks)

    Buoyed by a perfect song ("Girls") and a perfect side (the first one), All Yours is simply a hazy, lazy fadeaway record for the ages.

  • Torres - Sprinter (Partisan)

    Where this list's first two entries couch their malaise in stoned cadence, Torres puts hers right up front, aggressive-like. On album opener "Strange Hellos," Mackenzie Torres snarls "Heather I dreamt that I forgave / but that only comes in waves / I hate you all the same" over a bald, slightly a-rhythmic guitar figure, presaging the fury that is to follow.

  • Sonny And The Sunsets - Talent Night At The Ashram (Polyvinyl)

    Sonny Smith's barbed, California sci-fi garage pop just keeps getting better. If it's hard to follow this de-facto concept album's odd narratives, well, just walk around on its spooky-sticky melodies.

  • Hanni el Khatib - Moonlight (Innovative Leisure)

    Garage wunderkind Khatib's latest is unapologetically a big, fat rock record. Eerie keyboard pulses and infectious drum loops that sound either lifted from or ready for hip-hop samples sidle up beside chunky, KROQ-ready riffs throughout.

  • Holydrug Couple - Moonlust (Sacred Bones)

    Allow me to say this emphatically - South American psych bands are making the best and most interesting music in the world right now. Holydrug Couple were the class of a crowded field in 2015, delivering a dreamy, dense, and dare I say groovy slab in Moonlust.

  • Indie Gente - del 26 al 15 (self-released)

    David Rojas Dager, working under the solo nom-de-rock Indie Gente, first snuck out this stunning collection of home-recorded, sun-baked Ecuadoran garage nuggets on soundcloud. Now available in a somewhat proper release, del 26 al 15 is a relentlessly interesting and imminently listenable discovery.

  • Twerps - Range Anxiety (Merge)

    Range Anxiety mines the best instincts of 90s grunge and jangle (see: the dead-on quotient of "I Don't Mind") and condenses them into a rock solid slacker-pop set.

  • Two Sheds - Assembling (Crossbill)

    I'm a sucker for short songs. A just-right, just-so marriage of sound and sentiment sometimes doesn't need anything more. Assembling holds such a gem in the impeccable 1:38 of "The Feel." It's one of several magic moments on the LA quintet's latest.

  • The Intelligence - Vintage Future (In The Red)

    Lars Finberg remains my favorite acerbic, whip-smart rock lyricist and Vintage Future offers a heaping pile of the bent excellence we've come to rightly demand from Intelligence records.

  • Moon Duo - Shadow of the Sun (Sacred Bones)

    Moon Duo, San Francisco's answer to South America, more than ably wave the American haze flag on Shadow of the Sun, quite possibly outstripping "parent" project Wooden Shjips in the process.

  • Hills - Frid (Rocket Recordings)

    I'm also a sucker for really long songs. Cue these heavy drone sounds from Sweden.

  • Drug Cabin - Yard Work (401k Music)

    You want a breezy, melodic, and just all-around damn solid "California" record? This is it. Don't overthink it.

  • Cranium Pie - Mechanisms, II (self-released)

    A patently terrible band name, but also the best gonzo space organ doom jag of the year.

  • Dignan Porch - Creme (Edils Recordings)

    This tossed-off cassette released by the band's booking agent hits that rare bullseye betwixt Dino Jr. aping riffage and rattletrap Memphis garage reminiscent of The Limes, et al.

The Best Songs Of 2015 Not On Any Of Those Records

  • Warpaint - No Way Out (Rough Trade)

  • Chelsea Wolfe - Iron Moon (Sargent House)

  • Together Pangea - She's a Queen (Burger)

  • Ty Segall - Drug Mugger (Famous Class)

  • Mikal Cronin - ii) gold (Merge)

  • Harriet - American Appetite (Harvest)

  • Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe - Wehmut ( 'a' Records)

  • Amen Dunes - I Know Myself (Sacred Bones)

  • Kurt Vile - Pretty Pimpin (Matador)

  • U.S. Girls - Sororal Feelings (4AD)

The Best Live Shows of 2015

  • Jucifer - The Complex - Glendale, CA

    Of literally thousands, Jucifer on this January night was quite possibly the single most transcendent live music experience I've had. Not quite music, not quite performance art, not quite meditation, not quite exorcism, and somehow more than the sum of all those disparate parts.

  • The Orwells - The Echo - Los Angeles, CA

    I love the Orwells, and so seeing their name on the Echo marquee on a random weeknight and walking in just as they unleashed their Midwest-bred party rock on a positively teeming LA crowd was just about perfect.

  • EDJ and Friends - Huichica Music Festival - Sonoma, CA

    As a rule, bands I work with aren't allowed to make these lists, but I'm making a slight exception here for this EDJ-fronted supergroup hastily assembled for a one off performance at America's best music festival. Eric D. Johnson, Kevin Barker, Neal Casal, Richard Gowen, the Rademakers, Kacey Johansing, and Farmer Dave Scher ripped through a perfect late-afternoon covers set including Bob Dylan, Warren Zevon, Neil Young, Grateful Dead, and Velvet Underground tunes.

  • Daniel Romano - The Bootleg Theater - Los Angeles, CA

    Speaking of Dylan, a masked, Romano-led hot-shit band channelled the Rolling Thunder Revue this October night at the bootleg, fully gobsmacking the capacity crowd.

  • Jamey Johnson - House of Blues - Anaheim, CA

    Double J is one of very few out there in the trenches playing hard country music for hard country fans. A rare area appearance brought him to Disneyland, more or less, on this fall Thursday night for a typically beer-soaked, fight-starting set. Not even a bonsai sit in by OC also-rans Lit could derail the proceedings.

  • Tame Impala - Hollywood Forever Cemetery - Los Angeles, CA

    Upon the release of the band's hotly anticipated (and delightfully counter-programmed) new album Currents, Kevin Parker and co. descended upon the Hollywood Cemetery for two nights. It was coronation writ large on the grandest of stages.

  • Kevin Morby - Teragram Ballroom - Los Angeles, CA

    As does his ever-deepening catalog of stellar recordings, Morby's three piece band just keeps getting better, as evidenced in jaw-dropping fashion at this July performance.

  • Heartless Bastards - Pickathon - Happy Valley, OR

    Erika Wennestrom and co. may have quietly become America's best straight-ahead rock and roll band. On this August night deep in the Oregon woods, people were literally hanging from the trees and every song was a crescendo.

  • Ultimate Painting - Rough Trade - Brooklyn, NY

    This Dead-drenched London-based group found the elusive "groove" this night in Brooklyn, to adapt the period-relevant parlance.

  • Fu Manchu - The Troubadour - Los Angeles, CA

    Somewhat unbelievably billed as a 25th anniversary show, Fu brought the desert thunder over the course of two blistering sets, burning through King of the Road front to back and offering a grab bag of hits and rarities for a fully engaged, well-oiled crowd.

  • Chelsea Wolfe -The Regent - Los Angeles, CA

    Much like Tame Impala at the cemetery, this album release show marked Wolfe's arrival as music's reigning queen of darkness. Every LA heavy music head worth his or her salt was in black-clad attendance, and the Wolfe delivered.