Mrs Mackerel’s Top Songs of 2013

Mrs Mackerel's Top Songs of 2013

As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year that we’ve posted over the past few days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. Today it is the turn of Mrs Mackerel.

20. Steve Mason – A Lot of Love
Love the piano on this song and the catchy, sing-a-long chorus – a guaranteed earworm if I had any (ears that is… being a fish, of course.) Steve Mason’s gentle vocals reflect on love lost and the hope of finding it again.

19. The Villagers – Nothing Arrived
I’m loving the piano this year and there’s a good bit of gutsy playing here. What were we hoping to get out of this boys? Nothing actually. People are so bloody disappointing aren’t they?

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 18.  Junip – Line of Fire
Sold to me in wistful and reflective mode; there’s more than a kernal of truth in these insightful lyrics: You realise it’s just a whim/And you notice it matters/Who and what you let under your skin.

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17. Sisters – Clearhead
Here are my shoes. See how I gaze at them. It says 2013 on the label, but I’ve gone back to the early 90s. Lovely.

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16. Foxygen – No Destruction
It’s the lazy, laconic drawl and the finger-clicking rhythm – just one hand if you’re me, as the other doesn’t seem to work – and the way you can sing along to ‘No destruct-shaan’ quite happily, even in modest company.

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15. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Wide Lovely Eyes
Oh clever, clever Nicholas Cave and his voice so hypnotic, deep and dark. You could imagine this as part of a recruitment drive to join a cult (yes you, with your wide lovely eyes). With a teasing yet subdued musical arrangement, this is the gospel according to St Nick.

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14. Head & the Heart – Shake
The bass drum kicks this one into action, then a little bit of clapping and the rest of the band follows. There’s a sweet change of tempo for the chorus: ‘And the memories we made will never be lost, no.’ Maybe not with the ink, pens, and prevailing wind and all that shaking.

13.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor
We are right in the mix here: a bit of dance therapy needed. Remember the hypnotic triangle of cooker/fridge/sink? Throw some shapes, make a curry, go knock yourself out; I didn’t want to dance, but they made me.

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12. Laura Marling – Devil’s Resting Place
There’s menace and a brooding darkness in this devil’s resting place as LM returns to the pared back sound of Alas I Cannot Swim.  But there are many layers to this music and her latest album has an intensity and intelligence that means she’s still my number one gal.

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11.  Jus Post Bellum – It’s a Shame
Cowboys! Gunfight! This is an upbeat folky number with a wicked drum backbeat that pulls it all together like a rolling canter. He’s a bad ‘un and it’s a shame.

10. Waxahatchee – Swan Dive
The rhythmic drumming and finger picking guitar counter balance Katie Crutchfield’s rich, husky vocal in this short, melancholic lament: you hold on to the past, you make yourself miserable/and I’m ruled by seasons and sadness that’s inexplicable. So there.

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9.   Shovels & Rope – Johnny 99
Yes, it’s a Bruce Springsteen cover, but quite frankly, so what? This is a damn fine tune and that’s one hell of a Marlboro red voice she’s got there. And did I mention the piano (again)?

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8.   Alela Diane – Colorado Blue
Sharply observed lyrics float over a gently strummed backdrop, this song is plumbed from the emotional depths of her divorce album. Might not get you in the Christmas spirit but is sure to bring a lump to your throat.

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7.   Night Beds – Even If We Try
It starts off acappela, and finishes somewhere around dawn. Yes, this is indeed a late night/wee small hours tune if ever there was one. Recorded Bon Iver-style in a self-built studio, this is an intimate song of longing and reflection:  As you watch the colours/Fleeting with the cover/Nature set on fire/Truth found in the mire. There’s space under my wing, Winston.

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6.   Water Liars – Linens
Pull up a chair, I wanna tell you a story about tormented man. To be honest, he’s too much trouble for me (cook your own bacon, change your own sheets boyo), but I like a good yarn and a telling verse: The mind is a place unto itself/ And in it makes a heaven of hell/And a hell of heaven. Quite.

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5.   Jesse Woods – Cold Blood
This one’s a bit of a swayer and despite the title, Cold Blood is lyrically beautiful and uplifting. You can drift into the rise and fall of the music and the harmonies – and, like the man says, we’ve got places to be and nothing to prove.

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4.   James Yorkston – Just As Scared
Every couple of years I seem to find the perfect smoky bar song. Here’s just such a tune: a cheek-to-cheek intimate duet that shuffles around the piano with a bluesy feel that gets my foot a-tapping. Now where’s your shoulder, let me very gently lay my head…

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3.  Wooden Wand – Southern Colorado Song
I could rename this Southern Devon song: late July, lying on the beach with the waves rushing into my ears.  Can you hear the cymbal tremor throughout this song? Nowhere seems the only place to go; aye, Captain.

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2.   Georgia’s Horse – Thistlebomb
Tales from the battlefield: an unusual, almost discordant arrangement with sublime vocals. If I was looking for an influence, maybe a hint of Kate Bush? Quite unique and utterly brilliant.

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1. Phosphorescent – Song for Zula
Matthew Houck’s ragged voice was not always to my taste. But time has altered us both and it’s his strong yet fragile vocals that stitch together Zula’s imagery, which cuts far and deep. Intensely poignant lyrics, sweeping strings, pulsing drum machine: it all weaves together to form an emotional testament to the end of a relationship. Ever had your heart broken? This is what it feels like.

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Special mentions:

School Anthem 2013

Woody Pines – Hobo and his Bride
What’s a five mile trip to school without a bit of crooning about a hobo? It’s just me and the littlest Sprat in the Minner now and it’s often a power struggle over the play list. Joe, you win: your sing-along to this is top banana.

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Best Covers:

Deep Red Sky – Kids

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Eddie Berman with Laura Marling – Dancing in the Dark

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Jessica Lea Mayfield – I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)

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Best gig:

Phosphorescent, Village Underground, London (15 May 2013)
Fab acoustics and great sound, and, of course, the warm-up for his Muchacho tour. For me, there was no finer album of 2013. Perfect.

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Wooden Wand – Winter in Kentucky
Most. Favourite. Song. Ever.

If I had to explain, you wouldn’t understand.

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