BEST OF 2010

Here at MM we share, chat, argue, bury and praise music on a pretty regular basis…like daily. So throughout the year, the Mackerel crew (Mrs Mackerel, Barry-Sean, Christy-Popper, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Starbar, MM and others) keep their own ever-changing top tens ready for publication at the climax of the festive season.

Here are the 2010 results…

No 1: Polly Pocket

10. Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Snob

Words from the wise.  Lyrical genius.

9. Kurran and the Wolfnotes – Your Four Limbs (download here)

Everytime I listen to this I hear something different. Brilliant tune, love the words.

8. Brandon Flowers – Crossfire

Pop song of the year.  Does exactly what it should – belting tune, sounding best turned up loud whilst singing along.

7. Warpaint – Undertow

Reminds me of being 15 and somewhat disappointed with the world.  Fab.

6. The XX – VCR

If I was in a band I would want to sound just like this!

5. Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True

A late entry for me, but my top ten is all the richer for it.

4. Josh Ritter – The Curse

Haunting piano, all nostalgic and laid back.

3. Local Natives – Airplanes (download here)

Brilliant song. Heartbreaking lyrics.

2. Bear Bones – Oil and Lacquer (Download here)

Perfect winter song.  I shut my eyes and am sitting in a comfy chair in a country pub with an open fire, good friends and a cracking pint of ale.  ”If I’m getting old then I hope that you’re coming with me” and I really do.

1. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

This hit the number one spot months ago and has stayed there ever since.  A truly great song.

No 2: Starbar

10 Young Rebel Set - Measure Of Man

Erland & The Carnival – Trouble In Mind  (Download Here)

Lykke Li - Get Some (Download here)

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Get Better

Mystery Jets – Show Me The Light

Kings Of Leon – Pyro

Biffy Clyro – Many Of Horror

Local Natives – Airplanes  (Download Here, Daytrotter Session)

The XX – VCR

1. Stornaway – Zorbing

No 3: Dr Roddy

10. Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do (Download here)

A peach of a song to start me off with, a sparse and beautiful track. Maybe not the most uplifting of tales that is to be told in this song, but that only seems to compliment the voice of Swedish vocalist Henrik Thoren, who has, for my money, the sound of a man who has been smoking cornpipes and drinking ‘shine on porches in the south of America, for many a moon.

9. Murder By Death – Foxglove  (Download here)

This song sets its stall out right from the start. I was smitten immediately with the haunting sound of the cello and the military/marching band drum’s are like a heart beat running through the song. The music and sound of Adam turlas voice,  may lead you to think that this fevered hunt for a lover is doomed for bad times and worse, but knowing that “It was always You” puts a smile on my face.

8. Pancake Breakfast – The Ballad Of Maynard Noe  (Download here)

From the first sound you have an idea that this tune could have a real groove to it and you’re not to be disappointed. The guitar plays a funky rhythm, whilst Mike Midlo leads us into a tale of a hard, uncompromising, thug of a man who eventually gets his comeuppance. The lyric “And he’d cruise up every night, like a dog in a bin looking for a fight” paints a great image of Maynard Noe. When the song breaks it does so with gusto, it also has a fantastic guitar and trumpet solo.

7. Yeasayer – Ambling Alp

There is a great bassline to this song and the chorus is contagious, once heard you can’t shift it (in a good way, not a pop ear rot way). The drums are simple, but resounding and there is some great work on the keyboards that create a kind of electro feel, but with a real modern twist. There are some gems of lyrics in this song too concerning “old man Schmelling”. And Ambling Alp. All in all a ripsnorter of a tune.

6. Fist Fam – S. F. Bay  (Download here)

This song is a real piece of feel good hip hop. From its first listening, it put a smile on my face, I just couldn’t stop my head from nodding. For 3 minutes and 52 seconds  I felt “street”, then, remembering I was a 30 something year old British male, that all came crashing down around my ears. But I thank Fist Fam for those fleeting moments. The harmonica has a real summery, Stevie Wonder type sound and the bassline is something that Rick James would have been proud of. The lyrics set the scene  of a carefree summer city. As I write this there is about two feet of snow outside, so that is a welcome thought.

5. Nathaniel  Rateliffe – Brakeman.

I find this song has an almost lullaby quality to it. The lyrics just seem to drip with regret and despair. The piano seems to frame that perfectly as Nathaniel Rateliffe sings a tale of a man who seems to be at the shit end of work, love and life. The song itself seems simple and uncomplicated by heavy production, which is by no means a bad thing. A definite case of less is more. And at 2 minutes 25 seconds that makes it perfect.

4. Street Sweeper Social Club – The New Fuck You.

Great name for a band, great tune. There is nothing wrong with a power chord riff that is more infectious than MRSA. This also has some of the greatest lyrics I have heard in one song, ever! I could repeat some of them here, but that would just mean writing the song pretty much verbatim. The only thing I can say is get yourself some understanding neighbours, beers and turn this one up!!

3. The Tallest Man On Earth – King of Spain  (Download here)

What a song. It couldn’t be any simpler, just a man and a guitar. Filling the speakers with such a rich sound you almost think there is a whole band there. This track was a instant hit in my house, you could listen to it in any frame of mind and take something from it. Because of this it has become the sound track to many a refined night of co-co and slippers obviously?  The pace of this track is excellent it gallops along like a giddy mare. While the lyrics leave you pining for rioja and siesta in warmer climes. A great winter warmer.

2. Wooden Wand – Ragtop Ruby

This song has the lyric of the year of the year for me “Mr Kyle from Saint Charlies, I guess you met a man there, He’d just enough rope in his trunk to make you uneasy”. A work of genius.  Although this is the opening line the rest of the song doesn’t disappoint with more inspired lyrics, while the guitar creeps along at a nice rhythm to accompany Wooden Wand’s drawling delivery. It was hard to choose between the WW songs I’ve heard this year but there could only real be one winner. Ragtop Ruby.

1. What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge  (Download here, live version)

Here it is: without question song of the year. As soon as heard this on a CD of Mr Mackerel’s latest offerings I knew it was going to be my number one. It has everything I love – thumping drum beat, power chords and a good bit of wit. Listening to Amy Casey and Tim Box banter the lyrics back and forth at one another  is a nice touch. But it’s the guitar riff that makes this song a sure fire winner. The bass and drums are the backbone but it’s that riff. Oh and I don’t know if I mentioned the killer riff?

Bubbling Under (Songs That Came So Close)

5. Overmountain Men – Looking For Dr. Caligari

4. Gaoler’s Daughter – Nine Pieces Of Silk

3. Uncles – Settler’s Song

2. Sheepdogs - I Don’t Know

1. Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill

Best Songs First Heard this Year, But Not 2010

5. Frank Turner - Try This At Home

4. Willard Grant Conspiracy – Drunkard’s Prayer

3. Get Busy Committee – My Little Razor Blade

2. Wooden Wand – Son Of Wand (Hard Luck Prince)

1. Wilco – Handshake drugs

Guilty pleasure (I’m in no way repentent)

Lena Meyer – Satellite

No 4: Barry-Sean

10. The Hold Steady – Rock Problems

I love The Hold Steady and although this is no Your Little Hoodrat Friend, it’s still brilliant. A great riff and Craig Finn’s distinctive vocal has brought on bouts of dad dancing in my kitchen on a number of occasions throughout the year. That’s why Rock Problems creeps into my top ten of 2010 at number 10.

9. Two Wounded Birds – My Lonesome

I’m not a sleazy kind of chap but I do like a sleazy beat. My admiration of War Crimes’ brilliant Treatise is testament to that. This is another one with a laid back vibe that for some reason makes me want to go and listen to it whilst playing pool in a smoky bar (fat bloody chance nowadays). It’s a latecomer to my top 2010 ten which just goes to show how instantly likeable it is. Am I right Mrs Mackerel?

8. Scott Fant – 8lb Sledge (Download here)

This might come as a bit of a surprise to the Mackerels because I’ve not made a song and dance about it. But it is a great track and worthy of its place in my top ten at the cost of other great songs such as I Don’t Care if There’s Cursing by Phosphorescentand VCR by The XX. Nice one Mr Fant … I hope there’s many more where this came from.

7. Lykke Li - Get Some  (Download here)

Is this wrong? Does it seem wrong to you that a forty-something bloke should like such an anti-pop, gritty but very listenable track. I’ve no aspirations to be ‘down with the kids’ but I love this track even if it does make me the ‘oldest swinger in town’ … and I do mean ‘oldest swinger’ in the Fred Wedlock sense.

6. Chapel Club – All the Eastern Girls

It’s no secret at Mackerel Towers that I love Chapel Club. Most of us here do. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of seeing them at The Jericho Tavern in Oxford which only served to increase my respect for the lads. Okay, so All the Eastern Girls doesn’t feature as highly in my top ten as Surfacing did last year but this is still a great track. I still think Chapel Club will go onto great things and really, really hope the do. At least they’re proof that someone in this country is doing something original … bloody X Factor!

5. The Vaccines – Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)

Short, aggressive and like a 21st century Ramones track. Grab yourself a snakebite, put on your dockers and put this on full blast. You’ll be back in the late seventies in no time.

4. Local Natives – Airplanes  (Download here – Daytrotter Session)

Now we’re really getting serious. I fell in love with this track on first time of hearing back in the spring and still listen to it frequently. A total contrast to the Vaccines at no. 5, a great harmony and truly lovely song.

3. Mumford & Sons – Unfinished Business  (Download here)

Ahhhhhh! It’s a cover. It’s a White Lies cover. Nobody cares. This is a great ghost-story song. You’ve really got to listen to it. That shouldn’t be hard because everyone’s listening to Mumford & Sons at the moment aren’t they? Proof once again that original musicians with integrity can still make it in these days of Cowell-dominated, manufactured pop.

2.The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio

Deciding between the year’s number 1 and number 2 is always difficult and 2010 was no different. This is The National, I think, at their best. It dominated Radio 6 early in the year and I’ve not stopped playing it since. No bloody idea what the message of the song is but it is brilliant. Sad, atmospheric and uplifting at the same time. So close to being my number one … but beaten by the beautiful tones of a young American girl.

1. Caitlin Rose –  For the Rabbits

That girl would be the massively talented Caitlin Rose. She of the beautiful, enchanting and addictive voice is the first woman to ever take the number one spot of my annual top ten. Okay, so the song reminds me of a happy time of year; standing in a chilly, Dorset field late at night at End of the Road and swaying along to it with hundreds of other festival-goers. Sitting by open French doors on a warm Sunday evening in Ventnor breathing in the fresh sea air. But that’s what music is about isn’t it? To me, For the Rabbits is my sound of 2010, my memory of 2010 and the best tune to come out of 2010.

Darn, I missed these …

Ones that I heard for the first time in 2010 but wish I’d heard in the years they were released:

Wolf Parade – You are the Runner, I Am My Father’s Son

Makes me wish I’d become a lead guitarist … just to play this and pose really.

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again

Beautiful song, beautiful voice and a great mentor in the form of the brilliant Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. I love this song.

Mountain Goats – Dance Music

I reckon the Goats are probably one of the Marmite bands of the music world. Me? I love them. They sing songs about life … not my life but life all the same … in a quirky, original way that usually brings a smile to my face. And any music that brings a smile to someone’s face can’t be that bad, can it?

The Low Anthem – This God Damn House

This is one of my most played songs of the year. I heard the Low Anthem sing this at EOTR and I’ve loved it since. Beautiful, sad and the story is still up for discussion at Mackerel Towers.

Forest Fire – Fortune Teller

Simply a great song. I mean, who couldn’t love a song with the lyrics ‘Tonight I’m gonna melt some faces with Gatling gun social skills’. These guys are just cool personified in an oddball sort of way. A bit like me really … not.

No 5: Christy-Popper

10. Local Natives – Airplanes  (Download here, Daytrotter Session)

The first big tune of the year for me, I sort of rediscovered this while compiling my top ten. A classic sing-a-long chorus shouldn’t, and doesn’t thankfully, overshadow the rest of the song, which is arranged perfectly.  All of it fits in so seamlessly – as comfy as an old pair of slippers (and responds very well to be playing loud after a night out). Is there any greater praise?

9. Sheepdogs – I Don’t Know (Download here)

As infectious as Rabies it bumbles along with a great hook and a kind of 70s’ feel. I imagine the lead singer looking like a young Lemmy without the warts. This is of course no bad thing. I can vaguely remember (through the smoke and wine) the sudden realization I loved this song. A real foot stamper, get me to that barn dance and put the Sheepdogs on!

8. Vanish Valley – Become The Night  (Download here)

This song seems to have an indefinable quality to it, not that I’ll let that stop me…I could mention the honey-laden chorus, Andrew McAllistair’s perfect vocal or the understated but utterly brilliant guitar. It just instinctively hits the spot like music does sometimes. Truly a sum of its parts.

There, I tried.

7. Wooden Wand – Ragtop Ruby

Ahhh, Wooden Wand. At nearly 6 minutes this is a rare ‘long’ song (my attention span isn’t great) but it still makes number 8. You have to adapt for a genius… From the start we know we’re in Wooden Wand territory. Lonesome guitar and his familiar drawl, along with the line of the year – “with just enough rope in his trunk to make you uneasy”. We’ve all been there I think, although my own personal memory is a man with a lump hammer on his dashboard when hitching a ride at 15 years old. But hey that’s another story.

6. Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do  (Download here)

True, it’s simple country… basic some would say (shame on them). And I say, so what. It’s a magical song, with all the right ingredients for a country classic. Strayfolklet the song do all the work, while I sit with drunken tears streaking my puffy face, asking where it all went so wrong. Don’t you just love songs that have no happy ending? If Kenneth Williams was here today he’s commit suicide all over again after hearing this… what’s the bloody point!

5. Tallest Man On Earth – King of Spain  (Download here)

Throughout 2010 I have never tired of listening to this song. Manic strummed guitar like a cracked out flamenco dancer it spins and twists whilst TMOE sings in ‘that’ voice. Despite my best efforts it never annoyed me, unlike so many others. The combination of the voice and guitar gives it a unique quality, the most distinctive sound of the year for me and well deserving of a top 5 place.

4. Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill  (Download here)

Mr Wand’s second entry is an absolute beauty. I am an Uncle. I think I may be a bit like Uncle Bill. I certainly hope so. I can remember as a small person sneaking in to my brother’s record collection, although I never picked ‘Heroin’ or ‘Cocaine’. That came later. I am genuinely in awe of WW, he is without doubt my man of the year (bollocks to Mr Facebook). It’s all so effortless, with lyrics that are poignant yet laced with the darkest humour. I make no apologies for picking out another of his brilliant lines (which always makes me wince/smile in silent acknowledgement) “I seen you when you think I ain’t looking son, you don’t need no help doing bad…”

3. What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge  (Download here, live version)

On first listen I loudly declared this would be my number 1 so it is with a heavy heart I place it third. And it’s a belter. I love the back and forth insults with that brutal guitar riff, frankly the best I’ve heard all year (at least it won something). A twisted Islands In The Stream for people like me. That’s cynical and sarcastic and exactly how I like it. Also what would Jesus drive..? My guess is a Hillman Avenger.

2. Common Prayer – Us Vs Them  (Download here)

This is my song okay. No one else is allowed to like it as much as I do. The change of key just before the first chorus… That’s just for me alright. I can only suggest Common Prayer got together and discussed how to get in my head before writing this masterpiece. I know that word is banded around lightly and I freely admit to doing it now. Who knows I’ll probably read this in June and think what the hell was I saying. But right now… well it’s a masterpiece with a tinkly piano and a snare drum to die for. Just remember it’s mine, all mine.

1. Avett Brothers – January Wedding

This is indisputably the best song of the year. I wouldn’t be so short sighted as to accuse my fellow Mackerel scribes of being wrong, but… you know, they are. I got married in June, what a clutz! If I had my time again I would obviously have gone for January, then I would have made 18 months instead of the frankly disappointing 14. By the end of the song I find myself genuinely hoping they live happily ever after. This is the complete opposite to how I usually feel, so just for that it’s unique. A beguiling song, complete with Audrey Hepburn name check and the laid back tempo of a country classic. Perfect.

Bubbling Under – 5 that just didn’t make it…

5. Elf Power – Stranger In The Window

4. Fist Fam – SF Bay

3. Nathaniel Rateliff – Brakeman

2. Vitamin Sees – Illuminati Mind Control

1. Tapes ‘n’ Tapes – Freak Out

Best Songs first heard this year, but not 2010

3. Wilco – Handshake Drugs

2. Felice Brothers – Whiskey In My Whiskey

1. Knife In The Water – Young Blood In The River

Guilty Pleasure

Brian Jonestown Massacre – Lets Go Fucking Mental

No 6: Mad Mackerel

10 Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade (Download Here)

Phosphorescent just seem to get better and better. A wonderful album provided this superb tale of failed love told in a resigned, accepting way and accompanied by mournful pedal steel and piano.

Red Clay River – Rattlesnake Mountain (Download here)

Always loved a good dose of black hearted, downbeat, gothic country and Red Clay River deliver in spades with this skeletal gem.

Strand Of Oaks – Alex Kona

Alex Kona was 12 feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball“, how could you not want to know the rest of the story? A standout track from a wonderful album of sparse fingerpicked folk and occasional psychedelic wigouts…Fast forward to track 5 below, or just stream the whole wonderful record.

Local Natives - World News (Download here)

While others in the Mackerel shoal may have been seduced by Airplanes, it was the propulsive, upbeat rhythms and effortlessly catchy chorus of World News that claimed my ears.

Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

The runaway feel good hit of the summer. Catchy, uplifting and a perfect soundtrack to the setting sun at the Truck Festival.

No Age – Fever Dreaming (Download here)

This song steamed out of the traps like it had just been released from the punk heydey of 1977 – and there is no higher praise in my book. Turn up loud and abuse the neighbours – especially if they’re like some of ours. Wankers.

Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True

On a par with their classic Black River Killer – a wonderfully surreal and compelling story of murder, trains, truth and gardening. Exceptional.

Howling Owls – Family Tree (Download here)

My favourite new band discovery of the year. One after another they sent songs MM’s way and all could have been top ten contenders. In the end it was this majestically malevolent ode to a dysfunctional family life where nothing is at it seems, or as it should be, that won out.

Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill (Download here)

A wonderfully poignant and nostalgic paean to a relative who is casting a knowing eye over his nephew’s mistakes and while he knows, he doesn’t tell. With lyrics that cut to the chase and tell a story that is as warm as it is personal. In a different day and ageWooden Wand would be a household name.

Black Mountain – Let Spirits Ride

Who cares if the riff is nicked from another song, or if it sounds like 1972. I don’t when it as good as this. Probably the one song in 2010 that I never ever skipped, that I always turned up to 11, and which, seen live at the End of the Road cemented its place as my number one.

Bubbling Under

1. Dr Dog – Later

2. Lumerians – Burning Mirrors

3.Tweak Bird – A Sun Ahh Ahh

4. Paleo – The King James Fakebook

5. Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu

Best Songs First Heard in 2010, but not 2010

1. Joe Pug – Hymn 35

2.The Willard Grant Conspiracy – Drunkard’s Prayer

3.Knife In The Water – Young Blood In The River

Guilty Pleasure

I’m with Dr Roddy. Pure Eurovision perfection…Lena Mayer and Satellite.

No 7: Mrs Mackerel

10. Kurran & The Wolfnotes – Your Four Limbs (Download here)

Sunny upbeat music with a beautiful harmonies, juxtaposed with a rather a dark message. A masochistic love of complete surrender; one-sided blind devotion and infatuation. It doesn’t end well.

9. Adam Green – What Makes Him Act So Bad  (Download here)

Appeals to the latent rock chick in me: she may lie sleeping, but she’s still in there. The laconic, growling delivery of the lyrics makes this tune twist and dip. Late night smoky bar sort of song, bit of a hip swayer over a cocktail or two. “I know you’re a wonderful dancer” – why thank you, Adam, I expect I’m the one with the answers too.

8. Lykke Li – Get Some  (Download here)

A proper bit of girl power in the form of a punchy, irrepressible foot-stomping beat. It’s not one to get your daughters to sing along to, but I love the rhythmic no-messing attitude of this song. It’s not often you hear such a drum/percussion-dominated track but this only means it beds into your mental song library very easily. And unlike with say, Two Little Boys (sorry Rolf), you don’t end up irritating yourself.

7. Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol  (Download here)

A sleazy, sultry mix which tips a nod to Chris Isaacs and maybe even theRaveonettes too; the drums sound like a heartbeat, the guitars borrow a little from Hank Marvin. This song belongs to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.

6.  Tallest Man On Earth – King Of Spain  (Download here)

Off we gallop at a rollicking pace before yep, here he comes, the Tallest Man on Earth, this time masquerading as the King of Spain. He has a unique and idiosyncratic voice that truly sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, and my great musical regret of 2009 is that MM and I were unable to make his London gig in last autumn.

5. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

Oh I do like a man with a voice as deep as the night. Matt Berninger’s unmistakeable baritone cuts through this lament, with the drums bringing up the rear. Hypnotic offering from a band that have been waiting in the wings for some much deserved recognition from the wider world.

4. Haunted Windchimes – Sea Bride  (Visit their website here. We can’t post the song or find a stream or a video…but you can listen via spotify here)

I loathe wind-chimes. Pointless instruments of aural torture. But once I got past the name, well this is a finger-pickin’ good tune. One of my outstanding films of 2010 wasWinter’s Bone and there’s a scene in it where a hill-billy Nan and her mates are sat round in what looks like someone’s front room/bar. What they make is real music for the soul. I could imagine the Haunted Windchimes pulling up a chair and being right at home – and I mean this musically, not in an in-bred, gun-toting sort of way (she adds hastily).

3. Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

To me this is our MM summer of 2010 song: it’s sunshine and dreaminess and love. There’s self doubt and possibly even a Shelley-esque metaphor used (eyes being the window of the soul and all that). All sung to a back-drop of retro, up-tempo, carefully layered music. He’s in love, distracted, missed his train, and constantly wondering what she’s thinking. Dammit, Lucy, he needs to know – are you one he’s been waiting for so, so long? I’m rather glad I’m not 20-something any more …

2. Laura Marling – What He Wrote

What she writes, what she sings, what she plays is incomparable to any of her peers. But age sometimes belies wisdom. I struggled to choose from the riches of her second album, but this wins over Goodbye England by a smidge, simply because I prefer the latter in its unaccompanied arrangement. Here we have a piece of Greek mythology entwined with some war time letters; cause and effect; love and loss. “I am broken too and spoken for, do not tempt me.” A talent of rare and precious mettle.

1.Avalanche City – Ends In The Ocean  (Download here)

This snuck up when I wasn’t looking: the more I listened, the more I liked it. Kiwi Dave Baxter is Avalanche City; he taught himself to sing, plays all the instruments (apart from the drums) on this track, and recorded his debut album, solo, armed with a week’s supply of veggie curry. I like that in a person. And the song? It’s about losing yourself, and finding yourself again. It’s uplifting and positive and life-affirming – and it has a goodness that radiates through my very skin. “But now all that I see is life breaking free, so long captivity for me.” Not a bad way to end the year.

This year’s honourable mention goes to…

Jason Ward – Bless You  (Download here)

Bless you, Jason Ward. And bless you, MM. It’s quite a feat to make someone laugh when they’re in that much pain. Lies, deceit and fraud just ain’t enough for some people – let’s chuck in assault and battery too. Bless You is the anthem for the lesser common psycho. Delusional and toxic, they often hunt in pairs. Napoleon and Squealer. The Liver Turds. All should be sealed in a room and made to listen toAlexandra Burke on a loop. All together now, “How horrible are you …”

Bubbling Under:

5. Isobel Campbell & Willie Mason – Cool Water

4. Gorillaz – Melancholy Hill

3. Pancake Breakfast – Ballad of Maynard Noe

2. Mumford & Sons – Unfinished Business

1. Port O’Brien – My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)

And the Mrs Mackerel “Missed the Boat” or Songs I love that are not 2010

She Keeps Bees & Sharon Van Etten – Cuddle Alone

Just about the saddest song ever written. There’s nothing else to say really. Haunting.

The Dutchess & The Duke – Scorpio

Well, often timing is everything; I became aware of D&TD about ten days after they split up. Was it something I said? Scorpio is a particular favourite, a painfully observed lament about a dying relationship.

No 8: Top Ten Cover Songs

10 Holly Miranda – Nobody Sees Me Like You Do mp3 (Yoko Ono cover)

9 First Aid Kit – When I Grow Up mp3 (Fever Ray cover)

8 Emily Reo – On The Beach mp3 (Neil Young cover)

7 Fever Ray – Mercy Street mp3 (Peter Gabriel cover)

6 Dead Luke – Ghost Rider mp3 (Suicide cover)

5 Mumford & Sons – Unfinished Business mp3 (White Lies cover)

4 Morning Benders – Outlaw Blues mp3 (Bob Dylan cover)

3 Wooden Shjips – Drunk Girls mp3 (LCD Soundsystem cover)

2 Japandroids – Racer X mp3 (Big Black cover)

1 Port O’Brien – My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down(Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) mp3(Ramones cover)

And an honourable mention for this 2009 cover that we only first heard this year.

Download Phosphorescent – Big Red Sun Blues mp3 (Lucinda Williams cover)

And finally, we don’t post remixes because by and large we can’t be bothered with them. This was one exception to prove our rule. The Mystery Jets given the classic spacerock treatment by The Wooden Shjips.

Download The Mystery Jets – Dreaming Of Another World (Wooden Shjips remix) mp3

No 9:  Top Ten New Artists

The favourite new bands and artists that have come our way in 2010 which was perhaps the hardest list of all to compile.

So with honourable mentions to Gaoler’s Daughter,White Noise Movement, Pop. 1280, The Vaccines andWhite Dress, here we have our favourites. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of them all in 2011…

10. Pulled Apart By Horses (MySpace)

Pulled Apart By Horses play hard, and fast, and mean and remind us in a good way of the wonderful Mclusky. They also released one of our favourite singles of the year in Back to the Fuck Yeah and followed it up with a quite excellent debut album. Brutal, noisy, tongue in cheek, marvellous.

Download Pulled Apart By Horses – I Punched A Lion In The Throat mp3 (from Pulled Apart By Horses)

9. Grass House (MySpace)

A favourite in the MM household ever since we first heard the ominous growl and heavy drums of A Cockroach from their Plough More Sky EP. They followed up with the equally good Ant Giant Ant release.

Download Grass House – A Cockroach mp3 (from Plough More Sky EP)

Download Grass House – Mind Can Walk ‘n’ Wall Can Stay mp3 (from Ant Giant Ant EP)

Download Grass House – Lazy Bones mp3 (from Ant Giant Ant EP)

8. The Sunderbans (MySpace)

Offering the perfect blend of UK indie rock, The Sunderbans meld classic influences like the Cure, the Bunnymen and the Smiths into a modern, fresh sound that first captured our attention with the excellent Roadkill single. They’ve followed it up with a couple of excellent singles and we’re hoping for big things in 2011.

Download The Sunderbans – Road Kill mp3 (from Road Kill 7″)

Download The Sunderbans – Death Stalks The Forest mp3

Download The Sunderbans – We Only Can Because We Care mp3 (from We Only Can Because We Care 7″)

Download The Sunderbans – Saw You In The Dark Light mp3 (from Demos)

7. Pancake Breakfast (MySpace)

Announcing themselves with the utterly infectious The Ballad of Maynard Noe,Pancake Breakfast served up an album of country songs and folk songs and rock songs – there are songs about truckers, songs about angry birds, songs about magic cards, and songs about unfortunate fish.

Download Pancake Breakfast – The Ballad Of Maynard Noe mp3 (from Pancake Breakfast)

Download Pancake Breakfast – Little Bird mp3 (from Pancake Breakfast)

6. Vanish Valley (MySpace

Vanish Valley hail from Los Angeles and offer a lovely mix of rootsy folk and hazy country psychedelia that has quality stamped all over it.

Download Vanish Valley – Become The Night mp3 (from Vanish Valley)

Download Vanish Valley – Bad Things mp3 (from Vanish Valley)

5. The Migrant (MySpace)

With his blend of wonderful psych-folk and tall stories, The Migrant provided one of our favourite albums of the year with Travels In Lowland. Effortlessly drawing you in to a world of his own making, it was somewhere we were happy to come back to again and again.

Download The Migrant – The Organ Grinder mp3 (from Travels In Lowland)

Download The Migrant – In The Sun mp3 (from Travels In Lowland)

4. Red Clay River (MySpace)

The songs on Red Clay River’s demo CD Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams take a trip through gypsy dances to somber drifting nights. Using string-band instrumentation mixed with creative percussion including an oil drum and bare walls,Red Clay River tell their stories with shadows and characters that slip through the pines and get lost in the night.

Download Red Clay River – Rattlesnake Mountain mp3 (from Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams)

Download Red Clay River - Ain’t No Blues mp3 (from Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams)

3. The War Crimes (MySpace)

Describing themselves as wilfully uncommercial, it didn’t detract from the fact that this duo produced some of the most unsettling and lyrically vicious music we heard in 2010. They simultaneously conjure up the grey, suffocating monochrome of dreary Eastern European streets and the relentless, inexorable decline of our industrial heritage, of jobs lost and hopes evaporating. It is a mix that they seem to pull off brilliantly with each new track we hear.

Download The War Crimes – Enamour Me And Roll mp3

Download The War Crimes – Stillness Beckons mp3

Download The War Crimes – Levin As I mp3

Download The War Crimes – The Cost mp3

Download The War Crimes – Calling Time mp3

2. Two Wounded Birds (MySpace)

A late gatecrasher to the top ten. Two Wounded Birds released their EP Keep Dreaming Baby towards the back-end of 2010 and still managed to get two of the five tracks into MM’s Top Ten series (Barry-Sean’s and Mrs Mackerel’s). It’s all menacing twang over a sultry, velveteen croon – Mrs M said they belong to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.

Download Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol mp3 (from Keep Dreaming Baby EP)

1. Howling Owls (Myspace)

From the moment we heard Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank), we knewHowling Owls were going to be MM faves. A brilliantly named and slightly mysterious three piece from Orlando that trade in the sort of sparse, sinister, dark-hearted folk that resides in the shadows, and all too easily suggests the flickering ghosts of the Everglade swamps. Ominous, baleful, and captivating.

Download Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank) mp3

Download Howling Owls – Family Tree mp3

Download Howling Owls – My World mp3

Download Howling Owls – Mood Ring mp3

Download Howling Owls – My Kinda Luck mp3

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