Compared with mp3s, it takes us much longer to get around to listening to all the tracks we get sent that are for streaming only – annoyingly paid work has to take priority during the day and you can’t stick these on an iPod – however, there have been a selection of corking tunes released recently that are well worth some of your ear time and maybe even paying for a download or two….
First up is the latest track from the Hold Steady front man Craig Finn’s solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes, which is out on the 23rd of this month. Jackson is the first single, a country tinged rocker that showcases a contemplative narrative. We’re looking forward to him being the support for the rescheduled Felice Brothers shows in the spring.
Next we change pace somewhat with Pulled Apart By Horses’ appropriately titled single, V.E.N.O.M. which is a taste of new album Tough Love (also out on the 23rd).
The Cast Of Cheers single Family has been played a lot on 6 Music since the start of the year and invariably the radio gets turned up in the office – easy to see why they’re being heralded as buzzworthy for 2012.
Howler are another band tipped for big things in 2012, and they are touring the UK and Europe (starting off course on the 23rd). In support will be 19 year old songwriter Nile Marr under the name Man Made. His self-titled EP is out now and you can listen to Nobody’s Dreaming for a taste.
The Sharks new single is Arcane Effigies, a rousing indie-punk singalong that manages to be both powerful and melodic.
Mixing ambient electronics with psych infused indie, School of Seven Bells have released their first official single, Lafaye, from forthcoming album Ghostory.
The Straylings hover somewhere between Calexico and Grinderman! Mixing forceful melodies with controlled feedback, this is the lead single Carvers Kicks from debut album Entertainment On Foreign Grounds due out on 5th March.
We’re quite taken with this grungey single, Touch Electric, by new Criminal Records signings Argonaut. They are a 5 piece all female band that know their way around a proper guitar riff and it certainly makes their new album (their seventh) one to look out for later in the year.
And lastly we have the beautiful, easy paced psychedelic pop of the Pale Seas. Single, Something or Nothing could have been resurrected from the late 60s easily evoking a gentler time of paisley and incense. Lovely stuff. Pre-order here.
Now that we’ve had the top tens from all the Mad Mackerel contributors, we will give you a definitive overall top ten in a couple of days. Before that is our penultimate top ten list of the year – the favourite new bands and artists that have come our way in 2010 which was perhaps the hardest list of all to compile.
So with honourable mentions to Gaoler’s Daughter, White Noise Movement, Pop. 1280, The Vaccines and White Dress, here we have our favourites. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of them all in 2011…
Pulled Apart By Horses play hard, and fast, and mean and remind us in a good way of the wonderful Mclusky. They also released one of our favourite singles of the year in Back to the Fuck Yeah and followed it up with a quite excellent debut album. Brutal, noisy, tongue in cheek, marvellous.
Offering the perfect blend of UK indie rock, The Sunderbans meld classic influences like the Cure, the Bunnymen and the Smiths into a modern, fresh sound that first captured our attention with the excellent Roadkill single. They’ve followed it up with a couple of excellent singles and we’re hoping for big things in 2011.
Announcing themselves with the utterly infectious The Ballad of Maynard Noe, Pancake Breakfast served up an album of country songs and folk songs and rock songs – there are songs about truckers, songs about angry birds, songs about magic cards, and songs about unfortunate fish.
With his blend of wonderful psych-folk and tall stories, The Migrant provided one of our favourite albums of the year with Travels In Lowland. Effortlessly drawing you in to a world of his own making, it was somewhere we were happy to come back to again and again.
The songs on Red Clay River’s demo CD Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams take a trip through gypsy dances to somber drifting nights. Using string-band instrumentation mixed with creative percussion including an oil drum and bare walls, Red Clay River tell their stories with shadows and characters that slip through the pines and get lost in the night.
Describing themselves as wilfully uncommercial, it didn’t detract from the fact that this duo produced some of the most unsettling and lyrically vicious music we heard in 2010. They simultaneously conjure up the grey, suffocating monochrome of dreary Eastern European streets and the relentless, inexorable decline of our industrial heritage, of jobs lost and hopes evaporating. It is a mix that they seem to pull off brilliantly with each new track we hear.
A late gatecrasher to the top ten. Two Wounded Birds released their EP Keep Dreaming Baby towards the back-end of 2010 and still managed to get two of the five tracks into MM’s Top Ten series (Barry-Sean’s and Mrs Mackerel’s). It’s all menacing twang over a sultry, velveteen croon – Mrs M said they belong to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.
From the moment we heard Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank), we knew Howling Owls were going to be MM faves. A brilliantly named and slightly mysterious three piece from Orlando that trade in the sort of sparse, sinister, dark-hearted folk that resides in the shadows, and all too easily suggests the flickering ghosts of the Everglade swamps. Ominous, baleful, and captivating.
Pulled Apart By Horses are a four-piece hailing from Leeds and are starting to generate quite a buzz for themselves. They play hard, and fast, and mean and remind us in a good way of the wonderful Mclusky.
We first became aware of them via a couple of demos that were floating around the web, and then via some live tracks released as part of Record Store Day. However, it is their latest single, the superb Back To The Fuck Yeah that has really made us sit up and take notice. They also have a self-titled debut album out later this month which you can pre-order from HMV here.
Watch their excellent video for the new single (an homage to the Evil Dead) below. You can download it from Amazon here or order it on vinyl here.