Some cracking videos for some cracking songs today. Delta Spirit have offered up their video for Yamaha and Sad Baby Wolf have a live performance of their cover of a Jesus & Mary Chain classic. Singer-songwriter Sam Sallon’s animated video for You May Not Mean To Hurt Me (But You Do) is well worth watching, and TheWhispering Tree’s video for Where Have You Gone comes from their forthcoming Escape EP.
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.
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.
And so the moment to reveal Mad Mackerel’s final favourites of 2012. Here are numbers 20 down to top spot. Dig in and enjoy.
20 OF MONSTERS AND MEN – LITTLE TALKS
Duelling male / female voices from Iceland’s finest and bitter sweet lyrics (only with igloos and saunas instead of pubs and football). They also shout “Hey!” a lot which can’t be a bad thing. (TS)
Anything from this lot always lifts my mood. However this one just edged it for the catchy nature of the chorus, and for the fact that I thought they were saying “shit will carry on” which I thought was a good point of view to have. (SB)
19 RICHARD BUCKNER – WILLOW
This is a lying-in-a-daisy-meadow-looking-at-the-scudding-clouds sort of song. A gentle guitar arrangement coupled with some tender lyrics and softly sung vocals, all of which appeals to the latent hippy in me. Clippety clop: do you know Mr Buckner, I always remember. (Mrs M)
18 BLACK MOTH – BLACKBIRDS FALL
Long live the guitar riff! Heavy but with a funky tune and words you can understand. With an album produced by Nick Cave, not surprising they are getting glowing reviews. Raw power describes them well. (SB)
17 THE MACCABEES – PELICAN
This track bounces along at a pace in a confused ensemble of instruments that feel like they shouldn’t make sense … but do. It just works. But what’s the song about? It’s a 3 minute 45 second run through life. From being born to when we push up the daisies. Sounds miserable but it isn’t. If it doesn’t raise a smile, it’ll get your foot tapping. (BSF)
16 GHOST WAVE – HIPPY Unstoppably stomping, unrelentingly catchy, Hippy cranks up the riffage and was made for burning rubber on a sunburnt highway somewhere. (MM)
15 MICHAEL AINSLEY – RAINY LONELY DAY
Despite the air of melancholy I found this a strangely uplifting song, reminiscent vocally of the great Ray Davies (although it does not suffer by comparison). Piano and guitar combine with the haunting voice of Michael Ainsley to produce the most heartfelt tune I’ve heard all year. I’m in awe of the lyrics – “yes I know you’ve got to go – from my group of friends, you’re the best one that I know”… I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the wonderfully awkward nature of this song and to showcase the genuine talent of Mr Ainsley. (CP)
14 WILLY MASON – CARRY ON
When I was much younger my dear old Pa used to say of classical music that it was music that spoke to him: this is a song that speaks to me. The poetic lyricism is felt; the metaphor carried is subtle and reflective; and the guitar, the guitar plays softly to my heart. A song of such fragile beauty for 2012: this is a song that speaks to me. (Mrs M)
13 SIMONE FELICE – HEY BOBBY RAY
Yay! It’s another murder ballad. This time the perpetrator is young Bobby Ray. A young man born on 4th July who gets himself into a whole load of trouble when his ‘pick-up date’ doesn’t think too much of his advances. Bobby Ray doesn’t think too much of her refusal. So he kills her. This song is a lament. The fragile tones of Simone Felice complimented beautifully by a choir in the background of the chorus. A beautiful tune, intelligent lyrics and sung as only a Felice can. Hey Bobby Ray, you’re going to get yours, sunshine! (BSF)
12 TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOAT – TEENAGE BLOOD
This is another dark look at life through the eyes of a young man who is obviously ahead of his years in so many ways. Who’d have ever thought that Tom’s hometown of Tunbridge Wells would ever give rise to such grim lyrics. Carrying some of the meaningful insanity of Nick Cave with the miserable wisdom of Morrissey, Tom Williams and his Boat crew have delivered another dark gem in Teenage Blood. (BSF)
A modern twist on a country classic. It is a catchy and memorable song with great harmonies, despite the slightly depressing theme. (SB)
A great recommendation from PP here and real foot stomping stuff. Plus, anything that counts you in with a 1-2-3-4 is always a winner. (TS)
11 SHEARWATER – YOU AS YOU WERE
I only found Shearwater this year, and what a lovely band to find. Animal Joy is a very fine album and to me, You As You Were is the standout track. It a massive song, full of energy from start to finish. I kind of wish I’d had this song with me a decade or so ago, it would have suited me down to the ground. (PP)
10 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – CHAPEL SONG
This song certainly stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it earlier in the year and continues to do so – always something new to ponder over in those heartbreaking lyrics. Thankfully I am normally left feeling more upbeat than melancholy but its a close call. A song of genius. (PP)
This is The Jam’s The Bitterest Pill brought bang up to date and made better. The song is from the view of a fella stood in a chapel whilst the love of his life walks down the aisle … with another bloke. Suffice to say, he’s not in a good place and the vocals lend to this feeling of impotent misery perfectly. Strained, angry and a little menacing, the lyrics match the tune perfectly which is … well … strained, angry and a little menacing. (BSF)
9 TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOAT – TOO YOUNG
It has a guitar riff which burrows in to the brain like an old News of the World reporter in a celebrity’s wheelie bin. It took a while but now I understand that it’s utterly useless to resist any longer. Probably the most hummed tune of the year, which I think you’ll agree, is one hell of an accolade (CP)
For me, this tune has all the energy of being young with the class of being a little older! I have loved it for months and it does what a good song should – makes you smile, makes you get up and dance or certainly tap a foot. Lovely guitars and violins, with nice gentle vocals – great stuff. (PP)
8 LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO – BABY I’M ALIVE
A lament to a lost love: “I swear I saw a ghost, I swear I saw his eyes, since when we fell in love on Mulholland Drive”. The riff is catchy and the vocals are perfect for the sentiment of the song. It’s a broken heart that will bleed all over you from the opening notes to the final chord. If you’re the lady with coffee-coloured skin who inspired this piece of art, thank you. Now go back to your lover and make him happy again. (BSF)
7 DELTA SPIRIT – CALIFORNIA
How do you write such heartbroken lyrics and marry them to such upbeat music? You move to California, buy a drum machine a keyboard and off you jolly well go. Big emotion, high impact, fantastic tune. (Mrs M)
6 KYLE ADEM – BROTHER FOLLOW
It’s a grower, this one. The momentum builds gradually, together with the tension, as it heads towards a passionate finale where the female vocal answers the male. A little bit of flute, banjo, bass drum – it’s quite a complex musical arrangement, while the lyrics hint at feudal times. Phew. It packs a punch. (Mrs M)
He really has created a brute of a song; it seems to throb with the wretchedness of the whole thing. I like music that takes you out of your comfort zone and it uses some alarmingly savage imagery to remind us just how nasty our society has become. Backed up with a fearsome delivery that makes this a real ‘sit bolt upright and ask what the hell was that’ on first listen, thankfully it doesn’t dilute with time. (CP)
5 WILLY MASON – RESTLESS FUGITIVE
From the opening beats and distinctive guitar I’m happy… we’re in proper Chris T Popper territory here! Mason’s distinctive vocals compliment the somniferous atmosphere perfectly. (CP)
With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with this outstanding tune, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on. (MM)
A slow and ominous beat that is undeniably contemporary Americana but reminds me a little of reggae and The Clash too. (BSF)
4 THE FELICE BROTHERS – LINCOLN CONTINENTAL
School run anthem 2012: a fine country drawl, a fine country band. Learn the words, sing it loud; altogether now: “I been missing you so listen/I liked to ask you can we drive through town”. (Mrs M)
A cheerful, rollicking, foot-tapper of a tune with a chorus as infectious as Chlamydia. If you’re ever feeling a bit down, stick this on and you’ll be as right as rain and imagining yourself leaving the Garden State with your soft top down. Unmistakeably Felice, understandably brilliant. (BSF)
3 FIRST AID KIT – THE LION’S ROAR
Brilliant vocals – all pure and clean and I still marvel at the number of words you can get into one sentence and still sound melodic. Certainly one of the best of the year. (PP)
Incredible voices, perfect harmonies and a big slice of Americana from two Swedes (who would have thought it) which just keeps rolling along like a boat bobbing over the waves. It is made even better by what sounds like “every time it all shits one way or the other” at the end of the second verse, and it is also Mrs Toy’s favourite so it has to be high in the line-up. (TS)
There is something about this folk style that really appeals. It is a very profound and beautiful song. (SB)
2 EMIL FRIIS – SAND IN YOUR EYES
Possesses a rhythmic simplicity that always manages to pick me up and transport me off somewhere else, and that’s a fairly big plus in my life. Throughout Friis effortlessly orchestrates all this with his lyrics resonating long after the song ends, which is usually when I stick it on again. Just a fantastic record full of little twists and turns with an occasional (friendly) cuff round the ear to keep your attention. (CP)
A very elegant tune, a quiet beginning and then the dark and brooding piano arrives slowly building before the lyrics kick in. It feels like it should be the soundtrack to a very brilliant film (is it?) Any how, it’s worth several listens, especially with a glass of wine or a cocktail or two. (PP)
1 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – JUAREZ
This might not be the first song written about the troubled Mexican border city but it’s the best by a country mile. From the outset, you’re sat beside the storyteller under a ferocious Mexican sun and the car you’re in is kicking up dust as it speeds away from Juarez. The lyrics are harsh and drip with regret and sadness but they paint a fantastic, brutal picture. The vocals are unmistakeable and the tune both memorable and uplifting. Beautiful in every way except for the sentiment. (BSF)
I have neither “a saint for a brother nor a drunk for Mother”…anyway, with a great tune, and amazing vocals – my favourite of the year! (MS)
Love this, love his distinctive voice. Best line for me “I got jukebox tears under turquoise skies”, no idea what it means though… (SB)
So there we have it – 100 great tunes to soundtrack another brilliant year of music.Don’t forget to check all the other chosen tunes that we’ve posted all week too – just click for 100 – 81, 80 – 61, 60 – 41, and 40 – 21.
Extra special thanks to the MM contributors this year: Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB), Middle Sprat (MS) and Toy Steve (TS). Starting tomorrow, you can check their individual choices on MM too.
Download Wake Up Lucid – Feel It mp3 (from Feel It)
Combines sex-drenched vocals, high octane guitar, and a glorious lo-fi sludge that is garage rock at its purest and most dangerous
Download Keston Cobblers’ Club – For Words mp3 (from One, For Words)
Sweetly harmonious, banjo led folk song
Download White Wires – All Night Long mp3 (from WWIII)
Fun, infectious, and recalls some of the very best of the power-pop tunes of the late 70s
Download Deep Time – Homebody mp3 (from Deep Time)
Densely melodic slice of restlessly minimalist indie pop
Download Sun Sister – Sore Eyes mp3 (from Sun Sister Single)
Lo-fi dreampop with warm melodies, gorgeous reverbed vocals and rough jangly guitars
Download The Black Cadillacs – Choke mp3 (from Run)
Pure rock - strong guitar melodies that are matched with catchy lyrics
Download Crooked Cowboy & The Freshwater Indians – Annalog And Her Hopeful Diaries mp3 (from Annalog And Her Hopeful Diaries EP)
Psychedelic whirlwind tinged with an unattainable nostalgia for a western era of dusty corrals and one-horse towns
Download Talk Normal – Bad Date mp3 (from Sunshine)
Hypnotically brilliant blend of punk and krautrock
Download People’s Temple – Looter’s Game mp3 (from Looter’s Game 7″)
Keeping a groovy, 60s psych vibe going
Download Wobbly Lamps – Alice The Goon mp3 (from Wobbly Lamps)
Takes an intro that sounds like it has been dragged kicking and screaming from a sweaty Detroit basement club in the 60s, attaches it to a thrumming, hypnotic riff, and then slams a sleazy proto-punk chorus over the top
The Lovely Sparrows – While Sailing
Gorgeous, pastoral folk
Download The Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental mp3 (from God Bless You Amigo)
Classic ramshackle Americana. Just about as good as it gets!
Download Cate Le Bon – What Is Worse mp3 (from CYRK II)
Beautifully reminiscent of The Velvet Underground at their weary, foggy best – an uncomplicated and unadorned slice of late night melancholic pop
Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Ten Sleep, WY mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt & Dreams)
Fractured, unassailable beauty that begins with a sentiment any of us over a certain age can identify with, before it breaks out into a more expansive guitar showdown/meltdown
The Wilderness of Manitoba – The Ark
Beautiful slice of chamber-folk
Download Grassfight – Nassau mp3 (from Icon EP 2)
With shades of Interpol in the hypnotic, propulsive percussion, echoes of Dinosaur Jr in the swirling guitar, and a classic indie deep, monotone vocal, the track successfully ticks all the necessary boxes for a post-punk extravaganza
Freedom Fry – Summer In The City (from Summer In The City single)
Infectious, sunshine indie-pop at its very best
Download Two Gallants – My Love Won’t Wait mp3 (from The Bloom And The Blight)
Rollicking tune showcases the duo’s heavier side
Download Outer Minds – We Are All Stone mp3 (from Behind The Mirror)
Perfectly judged garage-psych voodoo rumble, with a reverential nod to the Doors
Download Lord Huron – Time To Run mp3 (from Lonesome Dreams)
Galloping, infectious dusty folk chime
Download Spook Houses – American mp3 (from Trying)
Lo-fi slacker indie rock loaded with the energy of the band’s rambunctious punk roots
Steakhouse – Spider Bite
Hear the sound of Johnny Cash’s electric guitar come floating in over the hypnotic, pulsing rhythm and be seduced by the strange blend of krautrock and C&W
Download D.B. Rouse – Never Home Again mp3 (from The Good Land)
Another folky gem from travelling troubadour
Kalle Matson – The Shore (from Lives In Between EP)
Folk with an experimental edge that is equally at home dropping in a bit of punk distortion as it is with some funky basslines
Download Delta Spirit – Tear It Up mp3 (from Delta Spirit)
Another brilliant uptempo cut from outstanding recent album
Download Denver – Reno mp3 (from Denver)
Perfect country twang from Blitzen Trapper led indie supergroup
Download The Mountain Goats – Cry For Judas mp3 (from Transcendental Youth)
New album cut from quirky indie-rock royalty
Download Chelsea Light Moving – Frank O’Hara Hit mp3 Trademark guitar squall and distortion from Thurston Moore’s new project
Download John Murry – Southern Sky mp3 (from The Graceless Age)
Emotive and soul-wrenching mix of Americana and electronica
Download The Wild Leaves – Sister mp3 (from Sister)
Evocative and poignant, the notes sweetly swirling around the room like dust mites in the sunlight, as though the story it tells could have been hummed on back porches for decades gone by
Last American Buffalo – That Woman (from Here She Comes)
Brilliant blues stomp and folk swagger
Download Woodpecker – Married To The Movies mp3 (from Thanks Anyway)
Indie folk and banjo ramble including occasional bloodcurdling zombie screams
The Most Powerful Telescope In The Universe – Lectures On Quanta (from Lectures On Quanta)
A brilliant psych-pop nugget of mellotron led drone
And to finish off, here is Pony Boy’sThe Murder Ballad Of Carrie Lee, inspired by an actual teenage couple who gained notoriety during a cross-country crime spree in the late 1950s as well as a first taste of Hot Freak Nation. We have the beautifully crafted psych tinged rock of The Asteroid Shop and the melodically rich and compelling new track Fifty Fifty from The Luyas.
The number of new releases has cranked back into top gear recently with a whole host of tasty ear ticklers coming our way. So what could be even better than an Olympic opening ceremony than a massive Mad Mackerel Friday mix – twenty four tracks handpicked especially for you.
We light the flame with buzzworthy punked-up noiseniks Fidlar and in the same vein another from Vancouver-bred trio Nu Sensae. We have new songs from instrumental folk experimentalists Balmorhea, another from Blitzen Trapper led country rock supergroup Denver, a third track of trademark guitar distortion from Thurston Moore’s new project Chelsea Light Moving, Jason Lyttle covering 80s pop experimentalists Talk Talk, and some lo-fi goodness from R Stevie Moore.
We have some infectiously angst inspired riffage from Big Scary, some infectiously synth inspired indie rock from Letting Up Despite Great Faults and some infectiously beguiling electro-indie pop from Scraps. We have a brilliant psych-pop nugget of mellotron led drone from The Most Powerful Telescope In The Universe and a couple of tracks of Woodpecker’s indie folk and banjo ramble including occasional bloodcurdling zombie screams.
We have the new Lowpines dustily defiant Americana single via the excellent EardrumsPop label, and the slow moving gospel melancholy and honeyed velvet vocals of Padraig Whelan. There is melancholy too in Eli Mardock’s atmospheric, but slightly more upbeat indie-pop, and Fountains give us a taste of epic, brooding indie rock that tips a wink to 90s shoegaze and is as good as anything new we’ve heard in a good while – play this baby loud!
We have Delta Spirit’s brilliant Tear It Up from their recent self-titled album, and the new one from prolific and quirky indie rock royalty Mountain Goats. There is singer-songwriter’s Sondre Lerche’s out-take from his soon to be reissued album Phantom Punch, and a new taste of Crystal Castles gothic dance moves with Plague.
And lastly we have the angular, jerky and irreverent new wave of The Modern Airline, the hypnotic pummelling of psych-dance-rockers Turing Machine and Mac DeMarco’sMy Kind Of Woman, a brilliant driving anthem of garage-pop.
Videos seem to accumulate in our in-box faster than we have a hope of watching them. However, having sat and watched and watched and watched and then watched some more, this then is our selection of the best we’ve seen.
Wet Nuns are a band we like a lot singing songs as they do about women, death and beer. This is the video for Heavens Below, which will make up one side of an exclusive Record Store Day 7″ release.
Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny have been featured on MM a lot this year. Lilliput is a firm Mrs M have and although some jerk keeps taking down the freely available Dodecahedron song, we’re at least able to give you the video for their latest, equally catchy single, Atlas.
Equally the marvellous California by Delta Spirit is an enormously popular song in the Mackerel household and this is the video for it.
Next is Emily Barker and her video for new single The Rains, inspired by Robert Creeley’s poem The Rain, in which small, perceived moments such as a walk in the forest, a bird in flight, rushing water, or a painterly sky inform a remembering of the self: “What am I to myself that must now remain?”.
The Wooden Sky have filmed the first of a five part series of haunting, live performances captured at the Grace on the Hill Church in Toronto. This one features the song Bald, Naked and Red. More are now available if you follow the links.
Download The Wooden Sky – Malibu Rum mp3 (from Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun)
Falling Apple is the first single from Heaven who mix a paisley underground inspired psychedelia with a shoe gaze style noise pop to create something that appears effortlessly cool.
Heyward Howkins is equal parts British tweed (Nick Drake, John Cale, The Smiths) and dusty American flannel (Bon Iver, M. Ward, Damien Jurado) and has crafted an album, The Hale & Hearty, with diverse sounds and surprising arrangements that compliment, but never overwhelm, his evocative melodies and lyrics. This is the video for Sugar Sand Stitched Lip.
Dinowalrus release a much anticipated new album, Best Behavior, in June featuring guest appearances from Titus Andronicus, and treading somewhere between futurist psychedelia, jangle rock, No Wave, post-punk and even acid house. This is the video for the excellent Phone Home From The Edge.
White Hills new video for You Dream You See is a suitably spaced out slab of alien inspired stoner rock from new release Frying On This Rock.
And lastly we have indie-gloom-pop solo project of Laura Kidd aka She Makes War, her album Little Battles is out April 9th. Driven by her bewitching, pastoral vocals and layered guitars and supported by a plethora of additional instruments from ukulele to autoharp, melodica, piano, violin, harp, saxophone and three part recorder ensemble, her songs are punctuated by a patchwork of field recordings from her global travels. Try Exit Strategy on for size.
Went to London on a (TFI) Friday to meet up with big bro. Looked at some rather amazing paintings, drank a lot of red wine, slept through my train stop and woke up somewhere as sleepy as me. Oops. Just me and a bevvied up hoodie asking me for some more drink. As if.
Fortunately, and quite unbelievably considering my location, another train was going back up the line. I scooted over the tiny footbridge with MM’s words ringing in my ears, “Stay awake.” As if.
So here we are. Saturday. Not Friday. Saturday.
Mine’s a shandy.
Mrs Mackerel x
I’m having a bit of a love in with Delta Spirit at the moment. I haven’t told them yet. Perhaps I’ll save it for a special occasion.
Because my love is strong/And my heart is weak after all
So after much deliberation, head scratching, discussion, and more head scratching, we have MM’s favourite albums of 2010. And we choose our words very carefully here, because we would not presume them to be the best, only those that have given us the most pleasure and enjoyment, records that we have returned to again and again, and for whatever reason have captured a moment or special place in our hearts.
And while we have limited our selection to 25 albums there were many, many more that could have, and maybe should have, featured. But there that’s the beauty of music, entirely subjective and based on individual opinions not fact.
So without further ado, here are our 25 favourite albums of 2010.
25 Sharon Van Etten – Epic
Haunting, ethereal and stunning album from a modern day siren. Sad prairie folk music indeed.
The son of the peerless Steve Earle comes of age with a perfectly judged set of tales that in their honesty and unashamed frankness are worthy of Townes himself.
Listen to Harlem River Blues.
21 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
With repeated listens the sheer power and passion of The Monitor becomes overwhelming. So what if it is a concept album about the American Civil War, its ambitious, rebellious, and rousing. Just play it loud!
Another perfectly judged record from the perfectly matched duo. Campbell’s lovely whispering tones offset by Mr Lanagan’s threatening growl.
Listen to Snake Song.
19 Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement
An album of dreamy, unsettling rock melded with freak-folk to provide one of the year’s most unusual and most rewarding listens. At times it sounds like an evil Beach House and at others spare and caustic where hope is slowly, but firmly drowned in a swirling, atmospheric mix of twinkling guitars and alluring voices.
In the vein of the much lauded and genuinely good Tame Impala, Tweak Bird were louder, faster, and simply rocked harder. A superb mix of motorcycle rock riffs with dirty fingernail blues and even a hint of jazz. This was stoner rock for the 21st century and it was brilliant.
Indie rock with a country inflection, Delta Spirit packed History From Below full of dusty, rural Americana and bar room blues boogie. With the impassioned and distinctive voice of Matt Vasquez backed by a rumbling juggernaut of percussion and rhythms, the album was a welcome addition to the long tradition of classic American rock.
Indie gods manage to live up to, and then surpass the hype with The Suburbs, an album full of outstanding tracks that demand they be listened to as a whole – a proper music album.
Watch Ready To Start.
12 Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms
Despite some occasional iffy AOR moments, Infinite Arms was like the girl with the curl, and when it was good (which it mostly was), it was brilliant.
11 Black Keys – Brothers
Authentic blues duo cranked out their best yet and in tracks like Sinister Kid and Howlin’ For You added some more classic cuts to their catalogue.
Watch Tighten Up.
10 Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
Showcasing her incredible natural talent despite such tender years, I Speak Because I Can truly marked Laura Marling out as a worthy heiress to Joni, Emmy Lou and the like. Darker, stronger, and more confident than her debut, she is surely poised for great things.
Watch Rambling Man.
9 Liars – Sisterworld
A brilliant collection of crushing guitars, machine gun percussion and soaring vocals that retained its experimental art-noise edge but became much more accessible and much more listenable – welcome to the big league time?
Listen to the superb Proud Evolution.
8 The National – High Violet
Overcoming the music blogger’s ‘big band’ prejudice with ease, High Violet was bigger, better and more affecting than anything the National have done to date.
Listen to Conversation 16.
7 Strand Of Oaks – Pope Killdragon
Having caught our attention with their wonderful Springsteen cover on Hear Ya, Strand of Oaks more than lived up to our expectations with Pope Killdragon. Sparse folk tunes mixed with occasional and abstract guitar wigouts and also showcased Tim Showalter’s ability to grab the attention with some of the best lyrical couplets of the year. Stand out track Alex Kona a case in point, starting “Alex Kona was twelve feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball” – what’s not to like?
Spare, beautiful, mournful and melancholic, the fragile folk of Mathew Sawyer hid whiplash lyrics and biting black humour that revealed and revelled in a bittersweet world where daydreams and nightmares fought to the death for supremacy.
Backwards-looking it maybe, but that’s to miss the point of Black Mountain. This was an album bursting with rock riffs that were so good you thought they must have been invented in the classic age of rock, and in Let Spirits Ride, the band provided the headbanging anthem of the year.
Another wonderful record of rousing, country infused tunes. Each listen revealed more of its anthemic charms and spirited, rugged rock on an album full of top notch tunes from start to finish.
Watch Shadow People.
3 Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer Of The Void
A brilliant and worthy follow-up to the exceptional Furr, and in songs like The Man Who Would Speak True, Blitzen Trapper showed they had worthy successors to classics like Black River Killer and the like. Full of prog-folk, dusty rural ballads, sci-fi synths and more, Destroyer of the Void was a stunning record.
After the sublime To Willie tribute last year came the originals. From the loose, ramshackle rock of It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) to cowboy ballads, transcendental homages, and the climactic, Neil Young like, epic album closer L.A.
Despite Wither Thous Goest, Cretin only receiving an initially limited release, and despite it being overshadowed by the subsequent release of (the also excellent) The Death Seat on Michael Gira’s label, Wooden Wand delivered an album of stunning simplicity, in equal parts poignant, heartbreaking, and redemptive.
With lyrics that are the match of any songwriter we know (“He had just enough rope in his trunk to make her nervous”) allied to sparse, plucked folk on the one hand and footstomping barnyard rhythms on the other, there is not a wasted moment, nor a false step on the entire album.