Best Music in Boston

2015 Best Music Lessons, Kids

The New School of Music

Cambridge

In one room, you might find tots trying to vocally or physically interpret instrumental sounds as part of the school’s popular Dalcroze Eurhythmics program; in another, grade schoolers might be…Read More

2015 Best Music Venue

The Sinclair

Cambridge

With top-notch bookings (courtesy of promoters Bowery Boston) and the city’s best-designed concert experience, the Sinclair is the House of Blues, only more intimate; the Paradise, without poles obstructing the…Read More

2014 Best Music Venue, Alt/Pop/Rock

Brighton Music Hall

Allston

The former Harpers Ferry has spent the past few years as the intermediary step between Great Scott and the Paradise, booking national acts on the rise and local acts on…Read More

2014 Best Music

Cheapo Records

Cambridge

Some used-record stores are disorganized warehouses, while others have sparse offerings to match their small spaces. This circa-1954 Central Square icon manages its wide catalog well, making it easy to…Read More

2014 Best Music Venue, Jazz/Blues

Wally’s Café

Boston

At the crossroads of the next John Mayer and the original Bleeding Gums Murphy stands a music club that could only live in Boston. Still going strong after 67 years,…Read More

2013 Best Music Venue, Small

The Middle East

Cambridge

This was a winner in our 2013 Best of Boston Readers’ Poll. See all the 2013 winners…Read More

2013 Best Music

Somerville Grooves

Somerville

For music nerds, the neighborhood record store used to be a home away from home, and its disappearance in recent years has left us distraught. So it was with sweet…Read More

2013 Best Music Venue, Small

The Sinclair

Cambridge

Superstar chef Michael Schlow may have brought initial buzz to this new restaurant/music club, but now its lineup of stellar performers—postpunk legends such as the Feelies and Wire, Gen-X faves…Read More

2013 Best Music Venue, Large

TD Garden

Boston

It’s a vaunted sports temple, of course, but the Garden had a banner year for music, with appearances by everybody from the current stars Museto the stalwart Rolling Stones, on…Read More

2012 Best Music Venue, Large

Bank of America Pavillion

Boston

It’s hard to beat a concert by the water, and this venue, within walking distance of the Seaport District restaurants, also comes with skyline views. Most important, though, is the…Read More

2012 Best Music, Used

In Your Ear

Boston

Thirty years is a long time in the music business, particularly when you’re still vending vinyl in the age of iTunes. But with hundreds of thousands of records, CDs, and…Read More

2012 Best Music Venue, Small

Brighton Music Hall

Allston

Like its predecessor, Harper’s Ferry, Brighton Music Hall is essentially a dive bar with a big stage and cheap drinks—the perfect venue for indie headliners. The 340-person space draws remarkably…Read More

2011 Best Music, Used

Looney Tunes

Boston

This beloved store serves bargain hunters and obsessive collectors alike. What would be a rare find elsewhere is commonplace at Looney Tunes, especially when it comes to the jazz, soul,…Read More

2011 Best Music, New

Newbury Comics

Boston

The Newbury Street flagship of this legendary local chain is stocking less music (and more knickknacks and novelty books) these days, and the fact that it constantly repositions its racks…Read More

2011 Best Music, New Arist

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

With an unadulterated sound and a timeless, gamine look, Aly Spaltro, a.k.a. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, upstages every testosterone-fueled act in Boston. Her voice is light yet certain, as are…Read More

2009 Best Music Venue, Large

Bank of America Pavilion

Boston

Dock all the points you like for the pricey beer, seasonal setup, and occasional ‘Ya Mo B There’ booking, and this harborside venue with the graceful sail-like tent and stunning…Read More

2009 Best Music

Newbury Comics

Boston

With brick-and-mortar record stores boarding up left and right, this local chain—launched in 1978 by a pair of MIT students—has acquired fresh polish on its cherished-institution status. But the truth…Read More

2009 Best Music Venue, Small

T.T. the Bear’s Place

Cambridge

Somewhere between a band’s first roadie and their first rider, they play T.T.’s, a beer-soaked cranny in Central Square now in its third decade. For about 10 bucks a night,…Read More

2008 Best Music, Specialty

Twisted Village

Cambridge

Largely, and proudly, devoid of the latest by Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne, and their mainstream compatriots, this Harvard Square basement shop is ideal for seekers of Japanese guitar noise, old…Read More

2007 Best Music, Specialty

In Your Ear

Boston

An old-school record store that drowns out the download age by cultivating loyal customers and an understated cool you can’t buy on iTunes, In Your Ear caps one of the…Read More

2006 Best Music, Used

Cheapo Records

Cambridge

In a world choking on Black Eyed Peas, this cluttered basement shop is a refuge for the lonely few who still cling to the classics. The R&B, soul, and blues…Read More

2006 Best Music, New

Newbury Comics

Boston

For all its diversification into DVDs, action figures, and Napoleon Dynamite doodads, Newbury Comics maintains an unparalleled selection of obscure art rock, under-the-radar hip-hop, and hard-to-find imports. And, as an…Read More

2005 Best Music, Used

Cheapo Records

Cambridge

You’re likely to collide with other intent collectors as you wander Cheapo’s narrow aisles. Whether the secondhand tunes you’re tracking are on vinyl, CD, or cassette, chances are your quest…Read More

2005 Best Music, New

Newbury Comics

Boston

An independent music store with a fairly priced, unbeatable selection? Yes, it still exists. This hip shop, with a staff straight out of High Fidelity, sells everything from Britney Spears…Read More

2004 Best Music, Used

Looney Tunes

Boston

The reduced production costs of the digital age and the concurrent scouring of record-company vaults have given fledgling artists new opportunities and unearthed many a treasure. But they have also…Read More

2004 Best Music, New

Newbury Comics

Boston

When was the last time you saw a CD for under $10? Newbury Comics regularly prices select new releases under 10 bucks and dozens more under $12. Add that to…Read More

2003 Best Music, New

Newbury Comics, Back Bay location

Boston

Newbury Comics is to Nick Hornby as music megastores are to Carson Daly. The trucker hat—wearing kids who staff this eclectic pop culture emporium truly know their stuff, and they’re…Read More

2003 Best Music, Used

Disc Diggers

Somerville

When you’re looking for used vinyl, hit Looney Tunes in Cambridge. Want psychedelic CDs? Try Twisted Village in Harvard Square. But for an all-around selection of great used stuff, Disc…Read More

2002 Best Music, Record Label

Big Wheel Recreation

Boston

Most of the music getting airtime on commercial radio these days may be pop-driven drivel, but no one has told that to the folks at Big Wheel. The new-wavy garage…Read More

2002 Best Music, Rock Album

Chauncey

We were one more Creed song away from slitting our wrists when Chauncey’s self-titled debut—loaded with swerving melodies, bending rhythms, and emotional truths—revived our faith in rock ‘n’ roll. Not…Read More

2002 Best Music, Store

Newbury Comics, Back Bay location

Boston

Now that antiseptic virgins have started selling overpriced CDs at the corner of Newbury Street and Mass. Ave., it’s nice to know the bad girl still lives next door. The…Read More

2001 Best Music Store, New

Newbury Comics

Cambridge

Great variety (imports, independents, jazz, classical, rock, soundtracks) isn’t enough. Low prices (new discs as low as $9.99) aren’t enough. Even a knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful staff isn’t enough. Because…Read More

2001 Best Music Store, Used

Disc Diggers

Somerville

The indie music ethic in this town is so snobbish, it’s almost considered blasphemy if you like a song on the radio. But thanks to Davis Square’s Disc Diggers, located…Read More

2000 Best Music, Up-and-Coming Artist

Star Ghost Dog

With all the dot-com madness in the Zeitgeist, who has time for good old-fashioned slacker ennui? Star Ghost Dog, that’s who. The fact that they happen to be so tuneful…Read More

2000 Best Music, Record Store, New

Twisted Village

Cambridge

When they are not playing in the local band Major Stars, Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar offer the city’s most impressive collection of rare, avant-garde, and alternative music. In one…Read More

2000 Best Music, Record Store, Use

Record Hog

Somerville

The Hog is for vinylphiles who want record buying to be an unpredictable treasure hunt. Looking for a mint copy of a Fugs LP? A stack of Scottish Indie rock?…Read More

1999 Best Music, Used CDs/Albums

Mystery Train

Boston

Where else can you find exotica such as a classic album from the sixties by the French lounge singer Serge Gainsbourg? Mystery Train carries a wide range of genres from…Read More

1998 Best Music, CD Store, New

Tower Records

Boston

No babel in this Tower, but a vertical, sensible, well-delineated selection of everything you’re looking for, whether in the roomful of world music or on that rack of local bands….Read More

1998 Best Music, CD Store, Used

Disc Diggers

Somerville

A wide selection of prices is as important as a solid choice of music, and Disc Diggers has both. It also has CDs as low as $0.99, plenty of jazz,…Read More

1997 Best Music, Records/Discs—Used

Mystery Train Records

Boston

Mystery Train in Gloucester houses perhaps the most eclectic assemblage of music and tchotchkes in eastern Massachusetts. A Gustav Mahler postcard here, a Charlie’s Angelslunch box there—now that’s culture. Looking…Read More

1997 Best Music, Records/Discs

Tower Records

Boston

Okay, it’s one of those chain stores you love to hate. Nevertheless, Tower Records is simply nirvana for any music lover. Whether you’re searching for Bach, P-Funk, or Dexter Gordon,…Read More

1996 Best Music Group, Songwriter

Dar Williams

Just off tour with folk legend Joan Baez, Dar Williams is now home in Belchertown savoring the critical success of her latest CD, Mortal City. When Williams originally moved to…Read More

1996 Best Music Group, Cutting-Edge Band

Come

After losing half the band last year, longtime critical darling Come is down to two members—Thalia Zedek and Chris Brokaw. But Come will live on—after all, Zedek and Brokaw have…Read More

1996 Best Music Group, Rock 'n' Roll Savior

Governor William Floyd (as in Pink) Weld

If it were up to the city’s 15- and 16-year-olds, Bill Weld would be a shoo-in for senator based on his move to restore Esplanade concerts by bands like Green…Read More

1996 Best Music Store, Used Records

Mars

Allston

A Generation X antidote to downtown shopping. Walk up the dark staircase to this vinyl/CD shop that carries the neighborhood’s most obscure selection of used recordings—from the Lawrence of ArabiaRead More

1996 Best Music Store, Used CDs/LPs

Looney Tunes

Boston

Some people will never be swayed by the pure, clean, digital sound of compact discs—they prefer their music to be on vinyl. You can get the best of both worlds—used…Read More

1996 Best Music Group, Neo-Folk

The Nields

The Nields were once an acoustic trio—two Nield sisters, Nerissa and Katryna, and Nerissa’s husband, David, who took their name—before evolving into an electric quintet. Although the Nields successfully made…Read More

1996 Best Music Group, Power-Pop Success

Tracy Bonham

Tracy Bonham began her career in music playing violin at age 9. Originally from Oregon, Bonham came to Boston to attend Berklee, and paid her tuition by recording jingles for…Read More

1995 Best Music Store, CDs (Rare Classical)

Orpheus

Boston

When you can’t find that rare, out-of-print classical CD around the corner on Newbury Street, try Orpheus. This hole-in-the-wall store carries classical, jazz, and international recordings, opera boxed sets, laser…Read More

1995 Best Music Store, CDs (Used Popular)

Second Coming Records

Cambridge

Great selection of standards, plus tons of imports, CD bootlegs, and unreleased tracks you can’t find at regular record shops. Good prices, too…Read More

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