Awesome band. Awesome song. Awesome video.
Awesome band. Awesome song. Awesome video.
As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year posts over the past five days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. It is the turn of Dr Roddy…
This years music has been a many varied kaleidoscope of sounds, moods and timing. I have moved house, set up home with my girlfriend and found myself a new job. Because music is my coping method all of these things have found themselves with their own soundtrack. When I looked back over my playlists of the year all of these songs feature in them as if they are the cornerstone of the tunes I’ve loved over the year. If you know them I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I have. If not, grab yourself a good fuckin’ listen.
20 Wake Up Lucid – Feel It
19 Delta Spirit – Tear It Up
Download Delta Spirit – Tear It Up mp3
18 Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental
17 Well Hung Heart – Devil
16 Michael Ainsley – Rainy Lonely Day
15 Her Parents – Don’t Know
Download Her Parents – Don’t Know mp3
14 Lost Brothers – Not Now Warden
13 Daughn Gibson – All Hell
12 WHY? – Sod In The Seed
Download WHY? – Sod In The Seed mp3
11 Justin Townes Earle – Lower East Side
10 Jake Bugg – Two Fingers
9 Aesop Rock - Zero Dark Thirty
This is one of two survivors from my mid-year list. This still tune still excites and enthrals me, a hectic delivery of lyrics that seem to tumble at a relentless rate. The rolling beat that is the backing track to this vocal prowess is relentless in its nature. Almost falling over itself to get to the next Bar. This song deserves a place in any list.
8 Houndmouth – Penitentiary
Such a great intro to this song. The melody picked out on the guitar and a Hammond organ providing the chords that pull you into this tale of a man who much like Fletcher from Porridge “Accepts arrest as a occupational hazard”. Throughout what is not to beezer a time, the song never once turns melancholy, if anything it rouses the spirit with it’s beautiful harmonies and soporific melody. A sort of Country, I Fought The Law?
7 The Growl – With The Sharp End Of A Trowel
What’s that you say? Grimy, dirty rock, half sang half drawled. Yeah, OK. Where do I sign? It seems that this year The Growl can do no wrong. Supporting the mighty Tame Impala on a Aussie tour and producing some of the best tunes I’ve heard this year. It was a tuff choice between this song and Cleaver Lever. Really I would have liked to put them in a paddling pool full of Nutella and watched them fight it out, but in the end this song wins through. For it’s dirt rock purity.
6 King Krule – Rock Bottom
Smitten with this song right from the get go. A Johnny Marr-esque guitar riff is the lead in, then from nowhere comes this fantastical delivery of words half sung half spoken, that leave you in no doubt that King Krule has been Rock Bottom. Despite looking like the kid you would steal lunch money from, the lyrics are delivered with passion and a sense of a life lived. The drums in this song are off-kilter and almost sound out of place when first heard. This off beat style works perfectly when the song comes together and leaves the head nodding and the feet tapping. Perfect.
5 Mountain Goats – Cry for Judas
Such a great feel to this. A truly outrageous pop arrangement to this song acts as a perfect optimistic backdrop to a song about surviving the worst and adding that experience to your armoury. These opposites work in perfect harmony. The Mountain Goats have long been a favourite of mine, their output is prolific and never diluted, and lyrically sharp as a tack.
4 The Janice Graham Band – Murder
The Specials got the Arctic Monkeys drunk one night and roofied them. The child that came from this unholy union is The Janice Graham Band. I loved this band from my first listen to It’s Not Me and bought the album on the strength of that one song. Murder quickly became my standout tune on the album. It has a knowledgeable lived in feel to it. As we step over the half way mark it breaks, not becoming faster just fuller with some great sounding horns - I compared them to The Specials and the Arctic Monkeys, but these boys have their own sound and swagger.
3 Patterson Hood – 12:01
Another great story song from Patterson Hood (Daddy’s Cup being one of my faves) about a guy going across the border to buy liquor instead of going home to his shell of a relationship. So maybe not the most upbeat of subjects, but nonetheless you hang on his every line. The tune picked out on the guitar and the drums have that metronomic sound that reminds me of being in a car late at night with no music, say, around “12:01, the rain and the wipers play a spooky song”. The cello sounds like other vehicles morbidly passing, heading to where you have come from or maybe where you should be heading??
2 Hopsin – Ill Mind Of Hopsin V
If your not a fan of rap then you are in good company with Hopsin. The latest voyage into the ill mind of Hopsin sees him apply a damn good coat of learning to all things that are the caricature of modern day Hip Hop. Everybody from the white boy loser, female groupie Ho, black, street gangster and the artists that dilute the power back this modern day social commentary and poetry. On top of this there is a monumental beat, that is the engine to this behemoth of a song. Please take the time to listen to this tune and I mean LISTEN!!!
1 Monument Valley – The Very First Alarm
The second of my survivors from my mid-year faves. I adore the hopeless feel to this song. I could write endlessly about my love for this song but honestly it’s simplicity, beauty, deftness of lyric and the mesmerizing sound of Ned Younger’s voice that coats the lyrics of this bitter song with a sweet syprupy glaze (for the Masterchef fans out there), that keeps pulling me back to it over and over again.Follow @madmackerel
So then, half way through the year already. Time to take stock and see what the first six months have delivered up in terms of new tunes and bands. We asked some of the regular MM contributors to pick three songs that have particularly struck a chord (sorry) with them in the first part of 2012.
Kyle Adem – Brother Follow
Unlike Brains by Lower Dens this was an instant hit. A real earthy campfire ditty with a grotesque sentiment I fully approve of. I make no apology for repeating the line MM brought to our attention in late April. ‘So our sisters became whores, and our brothers savage carnivores, devouring the bodies of our fathers’. Well that got my attention… and I’m pleased to report the quality of musicianship effortlessly matches the lyrics. Building in to a stomping climax sung with a equal parts desperation and aggression it may well be my song of the year so far. Kyle Adem I salute you sir. (CP)
Download Kyle Adem – Brother Follow mp3 (from Armour)
Aesop Rock – Zero Dark Thirty
What a start. What a tune, The bassline holds you down, whilst the drums jump on your chest. Lyrically Aesop Rock is head and shoulders above most of his competitors in this genre. His delivery, subject matter and phraseology is so unique and fresh it’s no wonder he has won such plaudits from his peers. The lyric “Spinning in the shadows of immoral magnets / are we supporting the artist or enabling the addict” shows great skill. This kind of poetry is sadly lacking in most of the so called Hip Hop that is touted round the charts, like music in a gimp suit. However it is the music that backs up all the wordplay that had me all over this track like White on rice. (Dr R)
The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose
A great summer song with a real laid back feel to it The line “Hang loose / let the ocean worry about being blue” sums up the vibe of this track perfectly. I love the guitar intro that meanders along through the song providing a nice country accent to it. The drums are hard edged and drive the song along beautifully. There are also elements of soul to both the track and definitely to Brittany Howard’s vocals that seem to drape around this song effortlessly. To be honest on a sunny day, with a cold beer and this track, you can drift off to anywhere in the world. (Dr R)
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – Liliputt
In what should be Liz’s year, I say all hail the coronation of Queen B. From the sweeping string arrangements, to her falsetto harmonies, to the thrumming hooves of percussion that build the momentum, here is a tune that marks the musical originality – and arrival – of the one and only BJH. “I might die without these words having left my mouth” – OK then, I’ll say it: genius. (Mrs M)
Richard Buckner – Willow
Ballad is sometimes a bit of a bastardised term, but don’t let Bonnie Tyler et al put you off. This is the real deal. “I can still remember…” so much melancholy and longing hinted at, both lyrically and musically. The simple arrangement dips and sways, well, like a willow tree actually, and is broken by a lovely twangy guitar bit, two verses in. I have always been a sucker for a man with a sad song and a guitar. Tick, tick. (Mrs M)
Download Richard Buckner – Willow mp3 (from Willow EP)
Father John Misty – Writing A Novel
Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun has been one of our most played of the year. It is lewd, bawdy, irreverent, frank and honest. Picking just one track is near nigh impossible, but in the end I went for Writing A Novel, carried along on a jaunty, rolling rhythm and spewing forth a lyrical stream of consciousness that borders on genius, and contains one of the years simplest and best lines, “I”m writing a novel, because its never been done before“. (MM)
Simone Felice – Hey Bobby Ray
Simone Felice is brother to the wonderful but ‘dark’ Felice Brothers. While his brothers sing about tragic lives and deaths, murders and gun-toting alcoholics, Simone … well Simone does the same. Just on his own. Hey Bobby Ray is the story of a sex attacker who is going to get what is coming to him. It starts slowly with Mr Felice’s slightly tortured vocals and builds to a point where a gospel choir chips in. It’s brilliant! (B-SF)
Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Any More
I nearly chose Fergus Falls by Field Report for a place in my top three, but this tune just has the edge. There are some songs that stop you in your tracks and some that creep up slowly – this one is definitely a track stopper. A beautiful tune – understated, haunting and melancholy – a perfect combination I reckon! (PP)
Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3 (from Field Report)
First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
What is not to love about this tune? For me its the stunning vocals and those harmonies that get me every time, and lyrics that deserve to be listen to several times over but still leave you wondering just how do you get so many words into one sentence? Overall its a cracker and I am sure it will remain a favourite throughout the year. (PP)
Download First Aid Kit –
The Lion’s Roar mp3 (from The Lion’s Roar) Taken down under DMCA notice due to some retarded fuckwit not knowing the song was given away as a free download everywhere. Contact us first you muppet and we’ll show you the authorisation we have to post. Anyway, you can get it via Soundcloud instead.
Gravenhurst – The Foundry
A record of almost otherworldly, ambient folk, the world view of Gravenhurst is a deeply unsettling one. The Foundry is played out over a backdrop of acoustics so profoundly beautiful that the sourness of the lyrics pack an even greater punch. “And you won’t know when evil comes, evil looks just like anyone, and I blame, I blame, I blame anyone but me“. Like having your first French kiss and finding your tongue’s been bitten off. (MM)
Last American Buffalo – Baby I’m Alive
Just for a change, a love song has captured my imagination. It’s not one of those cheerful or smoochy love songs though. I don’t think this will ever end the night at the Stonesfield Disco. No, this song celebrates love but is sung in such a way that it relays the pain that even the most loving relationships can bring. And the guitar backing is just beautiful. (B-SF)
Lower Dens – Brains
This one was definitely a grower, passing undetected until that magic eureka moment when you start glowing with the realisation you just love this damn song. Hypnotic and insistent – it keeps metaphorically pulling at your sleeve like a child who’s seen the ice cream van. It will not be denied. Lovingly textured with synth, drums while sung with a laid back approach that matches the music perfectly it doesn’t slip in to any particular category easily. I like that. There is something indefinable about what appeals and why I like it – which makes it fabulous in my book. (CP)
Lumineers – Ho Hey
I think the beauty of this song is its simplicity… From its rhythmic opening bars, steady beat and chanted ‘Ho Hey’ over a picked guitar you then realise it’s anything but simple. The composition is wonderfully subtle, far more thoughtful and precise than you first realise. It’s also a joyful record, the momentum sweeps you along until you find yourself yelping out the chorus far too loud and usually in public. Be careful if you go the gym and have it blasting out of your ipod – funny looks are certain to follow…(CP)
Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive
With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with Restless Fugitive, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on, and in doing so might have just provided us with the song of the year so far. (MM)
Download Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive (Daytrotter Session) mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)
Monument Valley – The Very First Alarm
A gorgeous, melancholy tune, that describes the moment you properly understand that you’re not going to get your lover back, and the torrent of memories and emotions that comes with that realisation. This could have been a bit soppy, but it is lifted by a haunting guitar sound and some dark lyrics, that make you smile. “You never minded too much being see through / Until you worked out who was behind you”. Don’t, however, play this to your little brother who has just split up with his girlfriend of six years, because the look in his eyes will make a bit of your soul die. Fact! (Dr R)
Rachel Sermanni – The Fog
Rachel Sermanni has such a beautiful voice with the most incredible vocal range. I love the violins throughout which help to give it such a rich, polished sound. To me, there is something really enchanting about this song, but not in a light hearted, frivolous way, it has a mischievous heart and carries with it an air of darkness (which to my mind should be encouraged!) (PP)
Tunng – Jenny Again
I’m a sucker for a story song. The more grim the story, the better I like it. Usually those songs are played out to menacing guitar riffs or slowly plucked blues strings. Not this one. This is a jaunty little number that trips along whilst the ‘narrator’ tells about how his life was ended by ‘the other man’ who then runs off and has a pretty nice life with his Jenny. You’ve really got to listen to it. (B-SF)
The Walkmen – Heartbreaker
The Walkmen might have been around for over a decade but this is a fresh cut for the men from NYC. It’s not the singer, it’s the song, sings Hamilton Leithauser – actually it’s both. Cue a deft guitar riff to start, bring in your pedal drum and I’m already out of my seat. Slight retro ambience, this tune just oozes style and cool. It really is the perfect tempo dance number for my ageing fins. How can you not? It would be rude. Love it, love it, love it. (Mrs M)
Download The Walkmen – Heartbreaker mp3 (from Heaven)
Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy-Popper (CP), Polly Pocket (PP), Barry-Sean (BS-F) and Dr. Roddy (Dr R) for their selections. Why not tell us whose choices you like best?Follow @madmackerel
Our sixth guest top ten comes courtesy of our very own Chris T Popper, a small but perfectly formed (and often irritating) younger sibling who has been stealing my records since he had invisible friends as a small child.
Chris T Popper’s Top 10
10. Little Barrie – Tip It Over
The Nottingham trio start off my top 10 with the fabulous Tip It Over. Heavy guitar providing a great riff coupled with a momentum that creeps up on you. There’s some storming guitar solos too that never get self indulgent, which is quite an achievement in itself. The album was produced by Edwyn Collins who’s very name could send an old flat mate of mine in to a frothing rage. Merely humming A Girl Like You in his company could send him puce coloured. Which is why I did it. A lot.
9. Wye Oak – Civillian
Jenn Wasner’s eerie vocals are a revelation to me – she has a wonderful delivery and a quality I can’t quite put my finger on. That keeps me interested alone. The song’s pace is something to admire too, keeps you right on the edge until a second half that is nothing short of epic. Great fuzzy guitar reverb (Velvet by Big Pink was a former number one of mine so you can tell I like a bit of feedback…) and that pounding drum just beats you in to submission.
Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3 (from Civilian)
8. Young The Giant – My Body
Chiming guitars with a sing along chorus… anthemic you could say.
These words would usually have me running for the hills. Not this time, no sir. In fact I metaphorically run with arms wide open towards Young The Giant ready to embrace them. Why? Because sometimes you need to give in, admit defeat and just sit back and enjoy. Is it Simple Minds and Matt Cardle’s bastard love child? If that’s the case then two wrongs did make a right.
Download Young The Giant – My Body mp3 (from Young The Giant)
7. Smith Westerns – All Die Young
Heard this one really late. but it still forced its way in to my affections. Unlike Young The Giant this ticks all my traditional boxes. Has a lazy blissed out vibe, like it’s been down a coffee shop in Amsterdam for a while before rocking up red eyed to eat all your biscuits. Also feels a bit 70s which frankly I like, happens to be my favourite decade for lots of things – Punk, The Wicker Man, the 3 day week… And it has a wonderful Hammond organesque start, which I always enjoy.
Download The Smith Westerns – All Die Young mp3 (from Dye It Blonde)
6. Natural Child – Hard Workin Man
The guitar riff alone is addictive, enough to make you realise how great it must be to be able to play it. I wish I could. I have a ukulele and a games console guitar in the cupboard so I’ll move on. The room can sometimes fill with a faint smell of bourbon and sweat when this gets played and always has me reaching for a beer. Not good when listened to in the car… I keep the cans in the back and it’s dangerous reaching over when negotiating oncoming traffic.
Download Natural Child – Hard Workin Man mp3 (from 1971)
5. Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual
The sheer originality of this song, in harness with the hypnotic beat that plods mercilessly in to your brain, has got me. I give in. It’s a bad ritual, but it calms me down. Another latecomer that gate crashed the top ten, this wonderfully dark offering always makes me stop what I’m doing (which to be fair isn’t usually a lot) and listen. There is always room for an air of menace in my top ten.
4. Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me
Mariachi horns, violins, trumpets galore – what is there not to like? A magnificent vocal from Ben Nicholl sends the whole piece off to soar in to that vast Americana sky (pretentious, moi?). An instant hit with me – and everyone I’ve ever played it to… which is quite a lot of people. In a parallel Earth somewhere this is the year’s biggest seller.
3. Country Mice – Morning Son
There’s something strangely comforting about this song. I genuinely love country music… and when it’s done so perfectly I could listen to it on loop. Has a melancholic beauty which can send me a bit dewy eyed.
Which is exactly what I’m after quite frankly.
Download Country Mice – Morning Son mp3 (from Twister)
2. Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl
Lyrically this is a tour de force. I won’t repeat my favourites here because there’s too many. Although ‘dead as a rat’ and ‘smoked like a borrowed car’ might just get a mention. Toby Burke is also a writer so it comes as no surprise he’s so skilled with words. I just need to get hold of one of his books now because if there anything like this I’ve found my new favourite author.
Download Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl mp3 (from Mexico City)
1. Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano
Not only song of the year it’s my favourite song for… well ages. Sometimes something comes along that sounds pretty close to perfect. I am in absolute awe of Darren Hayman, it’s quite simply a work of genius. Lyrically it bobs along on the back of that piano playing in the background, Hayman delivering each line so perfectly. I guess it can be instinctive when a song gets to your heart – your absolute favourite place, and that’s The Ship’s Piano. From about the third listen I knew I had found something I will always love listening to. And considering how many times I’ve played it the last three months that’s quite a relief…
Download Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano mp3 (from The Ship’s Piano)
Bubbling Under – 5 that came so close…
Monument Valley – Dear John Letters
Danny Brown – Die Like A Rockstar
Roadside Graves – Double Feature
Violet May – What You Say
Vacant Fever – Heavy Leather
Best Song Heard But Not This Year:
White Buffalo – Black & Blue
Song That Was In My Top 10 All Year Until I Realised It Was 2010:
Al Lover & Gus Cutty – Part Of The Game
Download Al Lover & Gus Cutty – Part Of The Game mp3 (from Part Of The Game / All Mine Single)
Siskiyou – Revolution Blues
The Dirtbombs – Shari Vari
Download The Dirtbombs – Shari Vari mp3 (from Party Store)
With probably the longest entry of 2011 we give the floor to regular MM contributor and top ten compiler…Dr Roddy.
Well it seems to be that time of year again. I always spend 340 days looking forward to doing this and 25 agonising over it. This year especially though, as I think there has been a bumper harvest of great songs. When I looked at my Top Ten playlist (with over 100 songs in it) I just thought one thing: bugger!
I got there in the end though. There have been certain parties that have tried to throw spanners in the works, by sending e-mails containing latecomers and over looked songs. Cheers you heartless bastards. So without further ado….
10. Monument Valley – Dear John Letters
This is a bit of a late arrival to my top ten but the moment I heard this song I fell for it totally. That old adage of less is more, is plain for all here. A pendulum-esque rhythm is picked out on an acoustic guitar, whilst the story is sung to us in an almost lullaby fashion by Ned Younger. Who wrote these songs from a collection of pictures of strangers? The song seems to tell of two people who were once side-by-side, parted then reunited. There is a line in the song, “And though we weren’t quite whole, turned out we were all each other needed to grow old“. That is such a simple and genuine way to describe what you need from another person, which fits wonderfully into this simple and genuine song.
Download Monument Valley – Dear John Letters mp3 (from Tongues EP)
9. Cosmo Jarvis – My Day
This song elbowed its way in to my Top Ten, with that wonderful punk fuelled fervour. You can’t ignore it. Lyrically it is a tour de force. I do love a bit of cutting social satire all set to unashamed balls ‘n all guitar work – in fact It seems as if all the instruments are being given their last rights, in that “play it like you nicked it” fashion. The passion and power that is behind the delivery of the lyrics are awesome: the line “Grew up thinking we were so advanced and had the largest heads / Didn’t masturbate with our own minds instead we used the Web“, what a great way to point at a general loss of social imagination and it is the line of this year for me.
8. Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone
This is such a funky tune there is no way it was going to get left out. The verses could easily be written as a warning to anyone who enters X-Factor and the chorus is definitely a warning to anyone who WINS the bleeding thing. That aside what we have here is a awesome tune – the bassline rolls along with the kind of sound that makes you want to walk a bit like Mister Soft. The guitar and drums lollop alongside it at perfect pace and all together it’s like a big spliff in audio format. Now I’ll be honest I’m not too big on sax breaks in songs, but this is the exception. It acts as a real nice jazzy kind of break in the song, leaving you hungry… no, greedy for some more of that bassline.
Download Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone mp3 (from Volume 2)
7. Warped 45s – Grampa Carl
I do love a good story song and this is about as good as it gets. We are told the story of Grampa Carl who was a Rum-runner in America during the prohibition era of the 20s. This seemed to be funded by a spot of illegal gambling. I do like to take the side of the rogue, especially a rogue who likes a bet and a drink, although this tale ends with Carl being buried in a Presbyterian cemetery. No religious hypocrisy there then! The tale in between is all engrossing with many a slip between cup and lip. There is a great line at the end of this song, “My grandpa said to me when I was just a kid / Just cusp someone says something’s wrong doesn’t mean that it always is“. I love that, and have employed it as a mantra for some years already. All of that is accompanied by some fantastic musicianship. There is the cool rumbling of a Hammond organ in the background and the guitar work is laced heavily with a bluesy feel, reminiscent of Drive-By-Truckers, which I think can only be seen as a compliment.
Download The Warped 45s – Grampa Carl mp3 (from Matador Sunset)
6. Danny Brown – Die Like A Rockstar
This song helped to reinvigorate my love for Hip Hop. There had been pretty much nothing in this genre that had excited me for years. Then boom! (Irony, honest) I heard this. From the very first opening when you hear that rolling drum beat it sounds special, then you get that menacing b-line and lyrics that pull you straight into the middle of the track. The lyrics are basically a who’s who of famous party animals from music, film and T.V. and this is done with wit, intelligence and a phenomenal turn of phrase. “Sniff it at a roll, off the counter in my kitchen / Trippin’ off the shit that had Brian Wilson flippin’” is just one off a fistful of gems from this one tune. Danny Brown certainly has a wonderful delivery (I think the kids call it a “FLOW”), a sort of southern drawl that is helped by his missing front tooth, giving it a sort of lispy quality and has a distinct whiff of nihilism about it. That monster bassline just continues to snarl along at you through the whole song. Just brilliant!
Link – left click only: DOWNLOAD: Danny Brown – Die Like A Rockstar – RCRD LBL
5. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear
The energy in this song is the equivalent to 15 speed freaks at a coffee morning. Even the guitar at the start is reminiscent of a racehorse being held off its true power until the time comes and don’t worry it will. The opening lyrics are the way to start a song “You’ve got street fighting hands/ and a rock and roll face / But you show affection in other ways“. These match the general feeling of the song perfectly; it has that raw, grimy, slightly sullied sense about it. When the drums join the party the song truly comes alive, with the kind of fire that I’ve only ever really heard in Nirvana tracks (And there’s only two of these guys). As the song settles back down and you stop looking like the guy from the old Maxell adverts (showing my age with that cultural reference) the guitar glides along and takes you with it, with points where you think its going to drop again but these are just teasers. Don’t worry though there are plenty more guitar breaks to come. A bit of a latecomer to the list but there was no way it could be ignored.
Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)
4. Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me
Sounding like the start of a Sergio Leone western is a good way to grab my attention. I love the sound of that trumpet along with the violins/fiddles – it creates such an atmospheric start. When the bass and guitar come in, they seem to be able to hold that atmosphere, perfectly but with a different slant. They bring with them a down-to-earth country style, which is held up perfectly by the lyrics of Ben Nicholls, who has a lamenting sound to his voice (and is also a one man band, talented – a bit!!). You think you’re in for a typical kind of alt-Country song but then something new, the strings are back along with keys that give this song an almost Egyptian feel. A friend of mine who is a musician said this song has some great work in the minor keys; I will have to take his word for that. All I know is that this is a truly beautiful and dynamic track; the fact that it’s not my number one still grates on me whenever I hear it. Self-flagellation for punishment methinks.
3. Little Barrie – Tip it Over
We are in to the top three now, this is where shit gets real and what a song to jump into it with. This song was a surefire winner for me. The high hat ride at the intro, then the understated guitar and bass enter the fray…they sound so innocuous, but if only you knew what they are to become. I love the notion of this song as well “Tip it over, what you need it for” could apply to so many things. It carries with it a certain amount of venom and it would have made a great soundtrack for the UK riots this year. The musicianship in this tune is truly fantastic – there is great work on the drums, though for me the true star is the guitar, you could be forgiven for almost losing it in the rest of the song, then just to remind you it’s alive and dangerous it has a little echo of the vocals in the chorus. Then it is let loose like some kind of wild beast and drags your ears with it. This song always gets my foot going and without question wins the award for song that every time I hear it I think to myself, “Shit! I want to learn to play guitar”.
2. Brown Bird – Bilgewater
From the very first listening I adored this song with a passion that I only usually give to Leeds Utd and gin & tonic. From the opening line of “Don’t matter if the cold wind blows, I’m going to wind up working in the thick of it“, I felt a affinity with this song, I work as a coalman so this sums up my job in one fell swoop. The bluesy feel to the rhythm of this song lends itself perfectly to the gritty nature of the lyrics and they give you a hard look at life. Those rose tinted glasses you’ve been wearing? Well this tune takes those off and stamps all over them. This is delivered without threat or malice, just in a matter of fact way – “this is how it is”. It’s nice to hear that once in a while – dilutes the saccharine a bit. There are so many brilliantly phrased lines in here, each verse holding a fistful of lyrical gems. The only way I can really give this song enough praise is to say that if Bill Hicks was still with us, I think he would appreciate this song and it’s honesty. That is massive praise I think.
Download Brown Bird – Bilgewater mp3 (from The Sound of Ghosts EP)
1. Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling
I took you via the scenic route but we’ve arrived. Number one and that is exactly what it is. Just the best song I’ve heard this year by a country mile. From the very first hearing to listening to it while I write this, the whole thing fascinates me. The opening sounds like some kind of nightmare dream sequence from an episode of Hammer House of Horror, weird sounds and insane babbling, accompanied by a disjointed guitar and harmonica. As the drumbeat cuts in, it pulls it all together, and then we get to hear the greatest of gravelly voices. If you were to tell me this guy don’t smoke Capstan full strength and gargle with Napalm I’d call you a liar. As the song builds with an absolutely wonderful bassline driving it along, so does the intensity of the lyrical delivery. Now this maybe childish (in fact it is) but I think if going to swear in a song why not say c#@t and why not say it lots. Some people may find this offensive but it is a common saying down my way, meaning positive and negative things. The harmonica is stitched throughout the tune harking back to that eerie bedlam-esque start. From start to finish it is the real deal. Brilliant melody, great bassline, witty lyrics, profanity and raw-throated vocals. These are a few of my favourite things!
Bubbling under (The songs that scream why? at me in the middle of the night)
1. Grass House – A Cradle, A Short Breath
2. Tom Williams & The Boat – Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet
3. Creepoid – Grave Blanket
Download Creepoid – Grave Blanket mp3 (from Horse Heaven)
4. Jason Isbell & The 400 – Codeine
5. Lovely Eggs – Fuck It
Best Cover of the year
Siskiyou – Revolution Blues
Best I’ve heard for the first time this year (but not from this year)
1. Mountain Goats – No Children
2. Joe Pug – I Do My Father’s Drugs
3. Modest Mouse – Doin’ The Cockroach
4. Shellac – Prayer To God
Download Shellac – Prayer To God mp3 (from 1000 Hurts)
5. Fugazi – Waiting Room
Download Fugazi – Waiting Room mp3 (from 13 Songs)
Guilty Pleasure (Go on hate away!)
Lana Del Rey – Video GamesFollow @madmackerel
Communicating Vessels is releasing part two of their lavishly packaged 7″ vinyl recordings of secret songwriters from the southeast of the USA.
Born equally of bright lights and seedy charm, The Grenadines might be Birmingham, Alabama’s sexiest band.
Fronted by husband and wife team Michael and Lauren Shackelford and thrust into widescreen by guitarist David Swatzell and bassist Jesse Phillips, The Grenadines have been making a name for themselves in underground circles. Shake was recorded especially for this series. Backed by Colorblind – a moody deep cut from their self-titled debut – Shake is a taut and slinky disco duet perfect for your Indian Summer dance party.
Preston Lovinggood was the driving force behind Wild Sweet Orange – a powerful and profoundly literate indie-rock combo from Birmingham, AL who is sorely missed by still-growing cult of fans. Despite releasing a sole, beloved full-length and a few EPs, label politics found Wild Sweet Orange dropped. In the time that followed, Lovinggood retreated from music and the rest of the band, led by guitarist Taylor Shaw, carried on in the form of The Great Book of John.
Fortunately, Preston found music once more… Or did it find him? Regardless, Lovinggood is in the process of recording a new album of original material. In the meantime we have these, the A-side is an extraordinary cover of Paul Simon’s Duncan – a song that could have been written especially for Lovinggood all those years ago. With an indelible atmosphere, a perfect vocal and a driving rhythm, it is one of those rare covers that is as good (if not better) than the original. The flipside, No Baby, is a vaguely-blusey Lovinggood original that flows smooth and warm. Consider it a taste of what’s to come.
Lastly, The Green Seed are the greatest Southern Hip Hop act you’ve never heard of. Crack Kills is the perfect introduction The Green Seed’s clever aplomb. An anti-consumerist jam that contemplates the importance of the individual despite how they spend their money, the track has a fresh bump and shine that will rattle both your trunk and mind.
All Communicating Vessels’ 7-inch singles come complete with a digital download of both sides. The songs will also be available from the reputable digital outlet of your choice.
Download The Grenadines – Shake mp3 (from Communicating Vessels 7″ Series)
Download Preston Lovinggood – Duncan mp3 (from Communicating Vessels 7″ Series)
Download The Green Seed – Crack Kills mp3 (from Communicating Vessels 7″ Series)Follow @madmackerel
For some reason everywhere we’ve turned recently has brought us into contact with cover songs, so we figured we ought to do our duty and collect the best of them together in one convenient place just for you.
So here you’ll find Deer Tick’s surprisingly faithful cover of an Eddie Cochran classic, Okkervil River taking on the White Stripes, Bat For Lashes doing The Eurythmics, Middle Brothers Daytrotter version of one of their album standouts, the wonderful Portland (as originally done by The Replacements). We have fuzzed up rockers The Dum Dum Girls covering The Vagrants and we have Rachel Goodrich’s version of The Shangri La’s Out In The Streets. Mrs M’s favourite Mark Lanegan takes on The Kinks and Lizzie Huffman takes on Ryan Adams and finally we have Mr West’s version of Young Folks!
These come courtesy of the some of the best blogs and music sites around, Stereogum, Daytrotter, Rollo & Grady, Side One Track One etc., - most are linked on the right in the Music links so check them out if you haven’t already.
Download Deer Tick – Summertime Blues mp3 (Eddie Cochran cover)
Download Middle Brother – Portland mp3 (Daytrotter Session, Replacements cover)
Download Okkervil River – Fell In Love With A Girl mp3 (White Stripes cover)
Download The Dum Dum Girls – Oh Those Eyes mp3 (The Vagrants cover)
Download Rachel Goodrich -Out In The Streets mp3 (Shangri Las cover)
Download Bat For Lashes – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) mp3 (Eurythmics cover)
Download Kanye West – Young Folks mp3 (Peter, Bjorn & John cover)
Download Mark Lanegan – Nothin’ In The World Can Stop Me Worryin’ ‘Bout That Girl mp3 (Kinks cover)
Download Lizzie Huffman – Oh My Sweet Carolina mp3 (Ryan Adams cover)Follow @madmackerel
Download Gil Scott Heron – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised mp3