The wonderful Daytrotter recently announced their 2,000th session and managed to get none other than Country music legend Glen Campbell in to record it, followed swiftly by a new session from the brilliant Delta Spirit.
For those that don’t know Daytrotter sessions are typically four songs in length, recorded live to quarter-inch tape in a matter of a couple hours, with no overdubs. They are then made available for download and streaming on the site and its various apps. Since beginning in February of 2006, Daytrotter has given away tens of millions of downloads and countless many more streams. In addition to studios in Rock Island and London, Daytrotter sessions are also occasionally taped in San Francisco, CA, Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN and Montreal.
Accessing all these sessions plus all the upcoming ones by all the bands you know and love costs a paltry $2 per month. For your ongoing listening pleasure we can’t think of anything anywhere that will give you better value than that. Below are just a very few highlights from some of the sessions we have loved – listen (they should fit neatly onto a CD), and if you haven’t done it yet, go and sign up here.
And so here we have our top ten albums of the year. To be honest the order is fairly arbitrary – on another day it could be a completely different as really these ten records have so little between them in turns of the pleasure and enjoyment they gave us. If you’ve not acquainted yourselves with any of these then we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.
Our final Top Ten selection comes courtesy of the lovely, and ever radiant, Mrs Mackerel. Over to you girl!
It’s been a great musical year. But such a plethora of riches always presents a problem – what’s a girl to choose? Fortunately some fine contributions in the preceding week means most bases are covered.
Live gigs, although few and far between this year, have been rich in quality, and particularly finger-picking good on the guitar front. A fine ensemble of gig friends too, thank you.
Without further ado, here’s my humble opinion. And remember kids this is just my opinion, you can try this at home too.
10. Hyde & the Beast – You Will be Lonely
Boom-shacker, boom-shacker. Bit of cowboy guitars. An up-tempo beat coupled with the “you’re dumped” message. Still if you’ve got to do it, do it with a smile on your face and a guitar in your hand, I say. Boom-shacker, boom-shacker.
9. The National – Think You Can Wait
Nice bit of backing from the wonderful Sharon Van Etten, coupled with the mellifluous vocal of Matt Berninger. Trademark National: understated brilliance.
8. Lanterns on the Lake – Ships in the Rain
Another great thing to come from Sunderland. Catch up please. Atmosphere, ethereal vocals, beautiful lyrics. Til we meet again, girls.
7. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear
Widespread Mackerel popularity for this song amongst family and friends. Yep, we know a good guitar riff when we hear one: hard core. Looking for joy when there’s none to find? Plenty here.
A January contender for my top ten, so a stayer. A fantastic piece of drumming that builds and builds; to be played loud on speakers not headphones, she insists in a bossy tone that MM knows only too well… Breathy vocals adds atmosphere to the intensity.
How do I love the Cave Singers? Oh let me count the ways. Storming harmonica coupled with such an irresistible tempo, I challenge you not to be out of your seat and dancing. These boys got rhythm in bucket loads and talent to match. But they’re not yours, they’re mine. Glad we cleared that one up.
3. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Too Much of a Good Thing
A great big old fashioned waltz of a song, throw in a sprinkling of mariachi pipes, a helping of accordion and the tender vocals of Alynda Lee Segarra. Lifetime top ten tune for me this one.
Shared a cigarette for breakfast? More than one I reckon. John McCauley of Deer Tick has a voice that was made for this song. One for the road, sung in chorus, gives me the warmest, fuzzy feeling all over. Stick me on a greyhound bus with Middle Brother playing to the open road and I reckon I’d be a happy girl. Just about the best darned cover (yes, I know but don’t care) I ever heard. Pure magic.
1. Laura Marling – Night After Night
A photo finish for me amongst the top five. Yin and yang songs. This song is wuthering, if you get my gist but hey, that’s just me. There’s so much here from the opening guitar sequence that makes me think of a boat rowing out to sea, to the subtle finale with a flamenco flourish. Lyrical dexterity, passion, sadness, regret. The incomparable Laura Marling take a bow.
Goddammit Janet: missed it first time round
Grinderman – Palaces of Montezuma
The theatre of this song is almost vintage Bowie. A great big banquet of lyrical genius and the funkiest rhythm to match. Bloody marvellous.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Janglin
From the happy-go-lucky intro to swinging, swaying finger-clicking goodness of the rest of the tune. Click your heels and away you go.
Download Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Janglin mp3 (from From Below)
And Okkervil River. Missed all together. MM and I are fools. I have told him this repeatedly while hitting him with a large branch. Joking. Sort of.
Download Okkervil River – For Real mp3 (from Black Sheep Boy)
School Run Anthems 2011
The Lovely Eggs – Don’t Look at Me (I Don’t Like It)
We sang and did the actions. The car bounced and shimmied its way to school. Nothing like a bit of 21st century punk to get you going in the morning.
Roadside Graves – Jail
Don’t want to work today. Just want to lay in bed. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
So, the penultimate entry before Mrs Mackerel finishes off this year’s set of Top Ten postings tomorrow is my very own.
Without further ado…
10. Milk Music – Beyond Living
Although it was released early in the year, I only discovered it recently. A full on, no holds barred, nihilistic 70s punk attitude and the very best of the heavyweight riffs of the grunge era is a mighty powerful combination. One that makes me wish my car stereo went all the way up to eleven.
If there is one mystery to me in the world of music, then it is how James Jackson Toth aka Wooden Wand can be so damn prolific across so many genres and yet suffer no discernible dip in quality – not that I’m complaining. Another great year and too many tracks to choose from, but in the end it was this, seemingly an afterthought on his forthcoming boxset that makes up Volume 3 of his archives – a simple folk ballad that still managed to be head and shoulders above most things released this year.
I’ve mentioned this two or three times recently and posted it earlier today so not much more needs to be said about this either. Simply that it is pure, sugar-coated garage pop with just the right amount of surf inspired twang that in a parallel world would have been the woozy, feel-good hit of the summer.
Deer Tick’sDivine Providence was, mostly, a rowdy, rambunctious good time rock’n'roll record that was meant for late nights of whiskey drinking and bar-room brawls. But tucked away in the middle of all the heady intoxication was this track: sombre, reflective, and undeniably sobering. It was the soundtrack to a heavy heart and lonely regret washed by the first light of an early morning dawn and may well be the best thing they’ve ever done.
3. Felice Brothers – Fire At The Pageant
Voodoo, zombies, sinister nursery rhyme chants, classic Felice Brothers lyrics and a woozy, old-timey, back porch rhythm means this song should have been an utter mess. That it was the complete opposite stands tribute to this bunch of ramshackle mavericks of increasingly experimental Americana.
The most bitterly caustic song I heard all year meant it was a shoe-in for my top ten. I originally said “it drips venom over a heavy, single drumbeat, a vicious guitar strum, and spits lyrics like physical bullets”, and this still sounds a pretty fair summation to me.
1. Middle Brother – Daydreaming
From the simple picked guitar line and weary, melancholy opening lyric, the scene is set for a raw, unflinching excursion courtesy of McCauley’s craggy vocals and beer-soaked romanticism. Loneliness never sounded so…well, lonely.
Almost Made It
The Wooden Shjips pulverising Lazy Bones, Tom Williams & The Boat’s observationally wry and off kilter Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet, the blistering euphoria of Wye Oak’sCivilian, and LONG’s criminally ignored and under-rated Shoot Your Dog. If there was a better example of dark, claustrophobic psych-rock this year than the Ganglian’sJungle then I didn’t hear it, while A.A. Bondy’s dark-hearted The Twist and Twilight Hotel’s epic road trip Mahogany Veneer were both superb examples of modern Americana. Back home, Metronomy’s ultra catchy The Look, and Male Bonding’s fuzzed up, yet still sugary What’s That Scene? flew the flag for the UK - on another day, in another year, all could so easily have been in the final shake up.
Download The Ganglians – Jungle mp3 (from Still Living)
Download Metronomy – The Look mp3 (from The English Riviera)
Hurray for the Riff Raff’s mesmerising My Sweet Lord and Phosphorescent’s reverent take on Neil Young’sAre You Ready For The Country? were both outstanding, but just pipped by Siskiyou’s own Young cover, the skeletally menacing Revolution Blues. Titus Andronicus payed due homage to Nirvana’s classic Breed, but best of all was Middle Brother’s version of the Replacement’sPortland.
How on earth had Okkervil River escaped me for so long, particularly John Allyn Smith Sails and the superb For Real. Likewise with Wilco’sMisunderstood – I’d heard it, but this year I actually listened to it. Shellac’sPrayer To God is the most vicious song I’ve ever heard and one of the best, and so too Fugazi’sWaiting Room. Richard Buckner’s heartbreaking Emma was a revelation and James McMurty’s rollicking live version of Choctaw Bingo was eight minutes of pure, adrenalin fuelled Americana.
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’sOut 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!
Tongue-in-cheek homage to the Shangri-Las, doo-wop, bubblegum pop, beach cruising and prom night teenage angst and finishes with the obligatory spoken word denouement – this time with flamboyantly camp overtones.
Download Bored Man Overboard – Abigail mp3 (from Rogue)
Vibrant, dark and reserved, they tell stories about forgotten people, of resignation and subdued wine buzzes. The music sounds like it has been dragged screaming from being immersed in six months of darkness – a wonderful antidote to the empty pop fluff that abounds.
Top quality fuzzed out, reverbed up, psychotic blast of glamorous garage rock.
Download The Heavenly States – Model Son mp3 (from Oui Camera Oui EP)
A foot-stomper with added rasp, rhythm and groove.
And to finish off we have two excellent covers for you, Loch Lomond’s reverential take on a Fleetwood Mac classic and Bat for Lashes tackling Depeche Mode, as well as the first tastes from new albums by Summer Camp and Julian Lynch, and finally a brand new song from folkies Romany Rye.
Middle Brother recently gave us the excellent track Me Me Me, and now here comes another: Middle Brother is (predictably) the title track from the band’s self-titled debut.
Middle Brother is the brainchild of Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, John McCauley of Deer Tick and Matthew Vasquez of Delta Spirit, three individuals who have joined forces to create a kind of indie roots supergroup. We are itching to get our hands on the album…but ’til then enjoy these.
It is fair to say we have been waiting for the debut album from Middle Brother with a more than keen sense of anticipation, them being an indie super-group of sorts, and featuring the not inconsiderable talents of MM faves Deer Tick (John McCauley), Delta Spirit (Matthew Vasquez) and Dawes (Taylor Goldsmith).
And at last, here we have it. Me Me Me is the tasty, er taster, for the main dish of the album proper in March, out on Partisan Records.
Download Middle Brother – Me Me Me mp3 (from Middle Brother)