Best of the Year: Mrs Mackerel’s Top Twenty

Mrs M's Top 20 2014

Our penultimate offering comes in the shape of Mrs Mackerel’s favourite songs of 2014…

I think, being a fish of some advancing years now, I know what I like – but at least that ranges quite widely (she says, defiantly). As usual, though, I’m late to deadline, so without further pontification or procrastination, here are my favourite songs of 2014.

20. War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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19. Cate Le Bon – He’s Leaving

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18. Mark Lanegan Band – Sad Lover

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17. The Districts – Funeral Beds

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16. Simone Felice – Running Through My Head

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15. Wytches – Burn Out the Bruise

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14. Matt Kivel – Insignificance

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13. Smashing Pumpkins – Being Beige

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12. Water Liars – Swannanoa

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11. Shovels & Rope – Evil

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10. Dead Fingers – Twisted
Husband and wife duo, Dead Fingers, produce a finger-picking good sound here. It’s a hoedown with a twist that chases a thigh-slappingly quirky rhythm. Love it.

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9. The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones
An infectious, upbeat intro to the Vacant Lots: guitar-led rock’n’roll with psychedelic undertones. I’m quite partial to a bit of pscyh-rock, as it goes. The lyrics are secondary but the driving foot-tapping rhythm means you’ll be humming this for the rest of the day.

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8. Royal Blood – Figure It Out
Play this loud – very loud, actually. And ramp up the bass while you’re at it. Led Zep meets The Darkness: just over three minutes of rock fest with a rousing finale of guitar versus drum duelling that builds and builds. Epic. My rock chick alter ego is sated.

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7. The Felice Brothers – Constituents
A move away from the usual rollicking, rootsy sound that’s trademark Felice Brothers. This weaves a slower, more brooding tempo with darker overtones: And all my constituents agree/I’ve been changed like a pebble in the sea/By the politics of time/But riddle me this: what happiness is mine?’

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6. Eels – Mistakes of My Youth
Sold to me on sentiment alone. Mistakes of my youth, of my 20s, of my 30s and so on: like a cat running at a closed cat flap, we are all stuck on repeat and yes, sometimes it really does hurt. A gentle melody that meanders through wistful moments of reflection, there’s nothing surprising or unusual in this Eels offering, but many could do worse than heed the quiet, cautionary wisdom of the gravel-voiced Mr Everett.

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5. Bombadil – Have Me
I’d forgotten all about this song until recently. One man, a piano and a cello: a sad, reflective, rather beautiful lament. You won’t be dancing in the kitchen, rather gazing out of the window. ‘You can’t have everything you want/Or even sometimes what you need/Even if you need it desperately.’

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4. Sharon Van Etten – Tarifa
Here’s my slow dance for this year, complete with saxophone, courtesy of the haunting vocals of Sharon Van Etten. Small moments captured like a photograph, a song about trying to hold onto a memory; lyrics filled with regret and longing. Everyone else/Hasn’t a chance, don’t fail me now/Open arms, rest.’ Aah.

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3. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me?
You expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony.’ Archie does not want to get married, but hey (hey), she does. I sense trouble brewing there. Jangly indie guitars and plenty of reverb, means that if you’re dancing, I’m most definitely asking. I had to be told twice, no less, that I would (of course) love Alvvays. Obviously, I hate it when other people are right, so I’m off to see them next month with Nightshift.

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1= Jamie T – Limits Lie
Five years away is a long time musically but he’s a complicated creature Mr Treays, and all the better for it. As with many of his songs, the music belies the lyrical weight and depth; life observed with pin-sharp accuracy: Who knows where your limit, where your limit lies/ you’re given, what you’re given and now the giver must die.’ Without question, my gig of the year (Alexandra Palace), and Carry On the Grudge, my album of the year.

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1= Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
It’s a temporary fix/In case you don’t come down’ – and maybe it is. A lingering air of melancholy over a simple soaring musical arrangement, this is (in a way) the musical religion of Damien Jurado. All seeing, all knowing, quietly anthemic and ethereal. I played nothing but Brothers and Sister of the Eternal Son for at least the first six weeks of this year: endings and beginnings, beginnings and endings, sometimes you never know what you’re seeing.

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Special mentions:

School Run Anthem 2014:

The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice
Cos I’m high on Halloween candy again/And your lips are sweet as brandy.’ Yes, it’s absolutely true; I often operate in a sugar-induced trance, even while driving. This will be the last school run anthem (sniff), as primary school will be no more for my youngest after the summer. So we might as well go out on a high, with his favourite band, at their rambunctious best.

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Best Covers:

Phosphorescent – Tomorrow is a Long Time
Matthew Houck sings Bob Dylan: bellisimo.

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Low – I’m On Fire
I love Bruce Springsteen and I’ve been on fire a couple of times. Mainly because I used to wear hippy skirts, drink too much cider, and then light fragrant candles. It was a long time ago, but you know what they say about moths and flames.

Guilty Pleasure:

Lonelady – Groove It Out
Yeah, it’s disco – what of it?! I like dancing.

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And hello, hello; look who’s back…

Laura Marling – Short Movie

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Happy New Year, fishy friends.

WIAIWYA-7777777 Singles Club

WIAIWYA-7777777 Singles Club

Now in its third year, wiaiwya-7777777 is a seven inch singles club, and a very ambitious seven inch singles club at that – it is a celebration of the format and all things seven…

Subscribers to wiaiwya-7777777 2014 will get seven picture discs (released on the 7th of the month) that together form a fully illustrated seven step guide to releasing your own records – the world’s first all vinyl self help guide, if you will…

The releases will be from Freschard (with the Wave Pictures), Trick Mammoth, the Leaf Library, the School, the Secret History, the Human Hearts, and Eagleowl.

We have a couple for you to listen to – both are absolutely brilliant, and completely different. Try the hypnotic, krautrock disco of the Leaf Library, which is reminiscent of Stereolab at their best, and the halting, gossamer fragility of Clemence Freschard featuring the Wave Pictures with And The Rain, which kicks of the 2014 series.

Get more info here.

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Burger Records Velvet Underground Tribute

Burger Records Velvet Underground Tribute

Having only posted Natural Child’s new split 7″ single two days ago, they are back with their version of the Velvet Underground’s classic White Light/White Heat as part of Burger Records tribute to the Velvet’s album of the same name.

Listen below – it’s pretty damn good –  and also check out Mozes and the Firstborn’s Lady Godiva’s Operation, The Memories taking on The Gift (one of our all time VU favourites) and Curtis Harding’s uplifting gospel style version of Here She Comes Now.

It is out on December 10th – more details from Burger Records here.

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Round-Up Time

Round-Up Time. So much to catch up on…here’s a few tracks to tickle the earbuds.

Veteran noisemongering indie rockers Comet Gain have given us another track from their excellent album Howl Of The Lonely Crowd, this time it is the marvellously titled Clang Of The Concrete Swans.

Download Comet Gain – Clang Of The Concrete Swans mp3 (from Howl Of The Lonely Crowd)

Acid Baby Jesus deliver (as you might surmise) a full throttle blend of scuzzy garage rock, and they do it better than most. Check out latest effort Oh, Aurelia as well as previous single Hospitals.

Download Acid Baby Jesus – Oh, Aurelia mp3

Download Acid Baby Jesus – Hospitals mp3 (from Hospitals single)

Elsewhere, long dormant freak folkers Charalambides return with a trademark cut of drone and fucked up, fuzzed out folk in the shape of symphonic epic Before You Go. Pre-order the album Exile, their first for 5 years, here.

Download Charalambides – Before You Go mp3 (from Exile)

At the other end of the folk spectrum are Ohbijou who release new album Metal Meets later this month. Anser is a lovely slice of harmonious, orchestral folk that you can grab for free below.

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Sic Alps placed themselves firmly on our radar with long player Napa Asylum and have returned with a new single Breadhead, which ticks all the right boxes for us – a lo-fi, garage gem of tambourine, guitar squall and hippy vocals.

Download Sic Alps – Breadhead mp3 (from Breadhead 7″)

The recent reissue of Social Climbers one and only self-titled album of sparse, spastic, weirdly danceable punk/disco is a cause for celebration, one listen to the twitchy, psycopathic Chicken 80 is enough to tell you that. And make us nostalgic for 1980 too.

Download Social Climbers – Chicken 80 mp3 (from Social Climbers)

Weekend offer up Hazel from a new EP simply titled Red on Slumberland. An excellent mix of noise rock and catchy indie melodies takes this into shoegaze territory, but the song craft alone makes this well worth investigating.

Download Weekend – Hazel mp3 (from Red EP)

Carter Tanton has debuted a new single Horrorscope from his forthcoming full-length, Freeclouds, with Western Vinyl. Slated for a November 15th release, the album also features the enchanting vocals of MM fave Marissa Nadler.

Download Carter Tanton – Horrorscope mp3 (from Freeclouds)

Speculator, aka Nick Ray, has released a debut album of intriguing warped pop and skewed 80s electronics on Underwater Peoples. Try Blue Rose on for size.

Download Speculator – Blue Rose mp3 (from Nice)

We have been meaning to post about The Black Rabbits debut album Hypno-Switch for a good while without ever managing it. Theirs is a record that confidently acknowledges its dues to the past without letting it suffocate them, and the result is a superb blend of classic rock, jangly guitars, precision drumming and passionate vocals. Calling to mind The Doors via Television and The Violent Femmes, take a listen to the wistful melancholy of Painter, Poet, Prophet, Priest – one of the many album highlights. Buy the album via their website here.

Download The Black Rabbits – Painter, Poer, Prophet, Priest mp3 (from Hypno-Switch)

From black to brown, and Brown Shoe, another new name to us, but Late Nights is an excellent slice of effortlessly catchy indie and folk rock from their fourth album The Gift Horse. The soaring vocals and anthemic chorus will have you up and punching the air before you know it.

Download Brown Shoe – Late Nights mp3 (from The Gift Horse)

Download Brown Shoe – Colt Rider mp3 (from The Gift Horse)

And, appropriately enough, on to Red in the shape of Red Measure. They have a three track debut EP titled Seven Inch coming out shortly and Parlor Pageant offers much to be enthusiastic about – a nicely heavy slab of bruising no-nonsense rock carried along on a classic hypnotic riff and tribal drumming. Out on September 20th through iTunes and on Spotify.

Download Red Measure – Parlor Pageant mp3 (from Seven Inch EP)

The City And Horses are an elusive indie pop outfit who will shortly release their sophomore effort We Will Never Be Discovered via Paper Garden. The title track is a catchy gem that recalls the halycon days of prime Talking Heads.

Download The City And Horses – We Will Never Be Discovered mp3 (from We Will Never Be Discovered)

Sweet Baboo is Stephen Black, a native of the North Wales countryside and a single-minded, idiosyncratic, contrary singer-songwriter who possesses an ear for a sparkling melody, a restless soul, and a gift for a deft lyrical turn; from darkly funny to piercingly tender, twinklingly boastful to deliciously self-deprecating. Following the release of his third album, I’m a Dancer/Songs About Sleeping, Black has returned in 2011 with his latest EP – Girl Under A Tree.

Download Sweet Baboo – The Day I Lost My Voice mp3 (from Girl Under A Tree EP)

2011 has been quite the journey for ambient folk songstress Steph Thompson – who performs under the name Steffaloo. Much blog buzz has been generated and this is the exquisite b-side to debut 7″ single On Fire. Purchase the vinyl here.

Download Steffaloo – The Red Runs Free mp3 (from On Fire 7″)

Trwbador are an avant pop duo from Wales who are releasing their second EP titled The Sun In The Winter. It has been described as ‘cute and scary’ or ‘If Roal Dahl made music it would sound like this!’, but irrespective of all that, the title track really is a gem of idiosyncratic, original off-kilter pop.

Download Trwbador – The Sun In Winter mp3 (from The Sun In Winter EP)

Icarus Himself releases an album of rather good electro psych-folk on October 11 via Science of Sound Records. Try On Your Side, built on a loop of a drum machine hi-hat and a fuzzed-out Casio synth and recalling artists like Kurt Vile, Deerhunter, and David Bowie.

Download Icarus Himself – On Your Side mp3 (from Career Culture)

And last, but certainly not least, we have the raw blues boogie and punk attitude of Welsh duo Henry’s Funeral Shoe which is shown off to great effect with Dog Scratched Ear, the first track from their second album Donkey Jacket. It is out on Alive Records on October 11th. We think this might well be the best thing they’ve done to date.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)