Best of 2016: Sal Mastrocola and John O'Neill of No Nets

No Nets is a rock band from Brooklyn by way of the Bronx and Jersey, made up of a few grown-up-ish punk and emo kids – and a metalhead. After playing in bands together for over six years, Sal Mastrocola, John O’Neill, Walter Shock, and Dave Hauenstein moved into an apartment in Brooklyn in 2013 – and No Nets was born.
The band started by way of an electronic drum kit in their Brooklyn closet, and has grown over the last three years musically and personally. Their sophomore album Bright Light, released in late October, reflects that growth, exploring themes that bounce from topics like marriage, adulting, keeping your creative life while working that nine to five, and the painful reality that you might never be able to afford that fancy piece of New York real estate you always dreamed about.

The guys have grown up a bit since their days in that tiny Brooklyn apartment, but Bright Light is still bursting with youthful energy. It’s inspired by the fast, heavy bombast of the classic punk and mid-aughts emo bands they grew up with, but heavily shaped by the more refined ones they’ve come to appreciate later in life. It’s full of anthemic fist pumping sections, ambient interludes, and walls of guitar.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Mastrocola and O’Neill to discuss their favorite albums of 2016. These are the ones that got them stoked.
The Hotelier – Goodness
The Hotelier represents everything I love about the “third wave” “Long Island” emo genre, but without the casual misogyny, weekend warrior bravado, and violent relationship dynamics that the genre’s lyrical sentiments were so fraught with. It replaces those tropes with ideas of oneness with nature and your community, with acceptance, with forgiveness, with healing. It’s incredibly cathartic, emotional music that penetrates to your core. This album like something truly special – the type of record that comes around only once every 5 years or so. I have a feeling that many bands will aspire to recreate this one for years to come. – Sal
Mitski – Puberty 2
One of the best lyricists in the game right now, Mitski’s concise and impactful songs are wrapped in vivid narrative, dripping with humor, heartbreak, and sardonicism. An album highlight is “My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars”, one of the best and most interestingly produced punk nuggets I’ve heard recently. The song delivers one of the album’s most crushing moments: “I work better under a deadline / I’ll pick an age when I’m gonna disappear / until then I can try again.” Fuckkkkk that’s good. – Sal
Pinegrove – Cardinal
I heard the last track on this album, “New Friends” via a Spotify radio station. 10 seconds in and I was completely enamored. Then the song’s bridge hit and I was over the moon. I feel that’s the essence of how this album makes you feel – at first it seems like a tight collection of bouncy poppy folk inspired tunes – sublimely crafted ear candy. But each song has an unexpected moment or two – an exceptionally clever lyric, a structural left turn, a beautifully layered vocal melody – that elevates things to a whole new level. – Sal
Eskimeaux – Year of the Rabbit
One of Brooklyn’s finest, Eskimeaux’s O.K. was a highlight of 2015 for me, and Year of the Rabbit continues that trend. The vocal melodies, arrangements, and songwriting on this record feel as if they were crafted under a microscope. So tightly arranged, but executed so effortlessly. The record has a dreamlike quality to it, my only gripe is that it ends too soon. Cannot wait to see what they do next. – Sal
PUP – The Dream Is Over
The best punk rock album I’ve heard in years. Listening to The Dream Is Over is a visceral experience every time, demanding you to air drum along, to pound your fist in the air, to turn your headphones up to full blast. A perfect record from start to finish. – Sal
Kanye West – The Life of Pablo
There’s no shortage of strong opinions about Kanye. In light of recent events, I hope the dude gets the help he needs. I’ll be sending him positive vibes and jamming on this album in the meantime. I’m a huge fan of his work, and I initially felt let down by this album. It took me about a month to really understand what he was going for here, but once it clicked I fell hard. He’s venturing into new territory, and has created an album that feels like much more than a collection of songs. It’s like you’re experiencing a piece of theatre via your ears – it ebbs and flows and climaxes and crashes – over and over and over again. – Sal
Boys Night Out – Black Dogs
Can’t go wrong with metaphors about large volumes of water somehow ruining your life, especially across multiple albums… I wonder what happened. BNO has been a favorite of mine from “Make Yourself Sick” and they’ve continued their evolution w/ “Black Dogs”. Yes, they have a recipe – but it’s like a consistent mac & cheese w/ truffle oil. Simple yet complex; you know what you’re getting but you’re excited for those hyper-flavorful moments. Tortuous/strained hooks galore, even in the verses; they satisfy me greatly. – John
DIIV – Is the Is Are
Can you tell I’m a creature of habit? I like what I like deeply; and DIIV with their noodling, stream of consciousness guitaring and monotone/minimal/blended vocals hits hard. It can, almost immediately, put you in a headspace that it fully controls. While listening, I jump between the ability to heavily focus on what I’m doing at the moment, and visualize still images Zachary Cole Smith in his bedroom obsessing over getting every single note and tone of each song exactly how he wants it. – John
Band of Horses – Why Are You OK
Dreamy, mature, poppy, and constantly accentuating their unique ability to be refined (music), yet rough (vocals) in parts. Despite the beachy cover, this is a perfect soundtrack for Fall foliage viewing from the comforts of your car. There is an energy, a deeper pulse to this album that I haven’t quite recognized in their previous works. Love the vocal doubling/harmony work. Skip to the inspiring “Lying Under Oak” for one of my favorites. Westworld vibes. – John
Local Natives – Sunlit Youth
Layers! Creamy Local Natives vocals that you know and love PLUS electronic/nu-gazey layers? Strong. “Hummingbird” was one of my favorite albums, and this is a welcome and somewhat unexpected evolution. Someone got some new toys in this band, and it shows… but luckily they kept all of the old ones too. Something unique about these guys that I love is the ability to have vocals that are so incredibly soft on the ears, yet containing very pointed and specific lyrical references; memorable. – John
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