Here at MM we share, chat, argue, bury and praise music on a pretty regular basis…like daily. So throughout the year, the Mackerel crew (Mrs Mackerel, Barry-Sean, Christy-Popper, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Starbar, MM and others) keep their own ever-changing top tens ready for publication at the climax of the festive season.
So last, but very much not least, is the lovely (though flu-stricken) Mrs Mackerel and her choices for 2010.
We all sweat a little over our top tens and I don’t know why really. This is just what I think, you will undoubtedly think a little different. But I’ve always found my fellow top ten contributors a great source of new sounds that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen myself. And if you find one song you like that you didn’t know before, then job done really. So to all the musicians that kindly let us post their wares, a heartfelt thank you – here’s to the next 12 months.
10. Kurran & The Wolfnotes – Your Four Limbs (Download here)
Sunny upbeat music with a beautiful harmonies, juxtaposed with a rather a dark message. A masochistic love of complete surrender; one-sided blind devotion and infatuation. It doesn’t end well.
9. Adam Green – What Makes Him Act So Bad (Download here)
Appeals to the latent rock chick in me: she may lie sleeping, but she’s still in there. The laconic, growling delivery of the lyrics makes this tune twist and dip. Late night smoky bar sort of song, bit of a hip swayer over a cocktail or two. “I know you’re a wonderful dancer” – why thank you, Adam, I expect I’m the one with the answers too.
8. Lykke Li – Get Some (Download here)
A proper bit of girl power in the form of a punchy, irrepressible foot-stomping beat. It’s not one to get your daughters to sing along to, but I love the rhythmic no-messing attitude of this song. It’s not often you hear such a drum/percussion-dominated track but this only means it beds into your mental song library very easily. And unlike with say, Two Little Boys (sorry Rolf), you don’t end up irritating yourself.
7. Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol (Download here)
A sleazy, sultry mix which tips a nod to Chris Isaacs and maybe even the Raveonettes too; the drums sound like a heartbeat, the guitars borrow a little from Hank Marvin. This song belongs to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.
6. Tallest Man On Earth – King Of Spain (Download here)
Off we gallop at a rollicking pace before yep, here he comes, the Tallest Man on Earth, this time masquerading as the King of Spain. He has a unique and idiosyncratic voice that truly sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, and my great musical regret of 2009 is that MM and I were unable to make his London gig in last autumn.
5. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
Oh I do like a man with a voice as deep as the night. Matt Berninger’s unmistakeable baritone cuts through this lament, with the drums bringing up the rear. Hypnotic offering from a band that have been waiting in the wings for some much deserved recognition from the wider world.
I loathe wind-chimes. Pointless instruments of aural torture. But once I got past the name, well this is a finger-pickin’ good tune. One of my outstanding films of 2010 was Winter’s Bone and there’s a scene in it where a hill-billy Nan and her mates are sat round in what looks like someone’s front room/bar. What they make is real music for the soul. I could imagine the Haunted Windchimes pulling up a chair and being right at home – and I mean this musically, not in an in-bred, gun-toting sort of way (she adds hastily).
3. Stornoway – I Saw You Blink
To me this is our MM summer of 2010 song: it’s sunshine and dreaminess and love. There’s self doubt and possibly even a Shelley-esque metaphor used (eyes being the window of the soul and all that). All sung to a back-drop of retro, up-tempo, carefully layered music. He’s in love, distracted, missed his train, and constantly wondering what she’s thinking. Dammit, Lucy, he needs to know – are you one he’s been waiting for so, so long? I’m rather glad I’m not 20-something any more …
2. Laura Marling – What He Wrote
What she writes, what she sings, what she plays is incomparable to any of her peers. But age sometimes belies wisdom. I struggled to choose from the riches of her second album, but this wins over Goodbye England by a smidge, simply because I prefer the latter in its unaccompanied arrangement. Here we have a piece of Greek mythology entwined with some war time letters; cause and effect; love and loss. “I am broken too and spoken for, do not tempt me.” A talent of rare and precious mettle.
1.Avalanche City – Ends In The Ocean (Download here)
This snuck up when I wasn’t looking: the more I listened, the more I liked it. Kiwi Dave Baxter is Avalanche City; he taught himself to sing, plays all the instruments (apart from the drums) on this track, and recorded his debut album, solo, armed with a week’s supply of veggie curry. I like that in a person. And the song? It’s about losing yourself, and finding yourself again. It’s uplifting and positive and life-affirming – and it has a goodness that radiates through my very skin. “But now all that I see is life breaking free, so long captivity for me.” Not a bad way to end the year.
This year’s honourable mention goes to…
Jason Ward – Bless You (Download here)
Bless you, Jason Ward. And bless you, MM. It’s quite a feat to make someone laugh when they’re in that much pain. Lies, deceit and fraud just ain’t enough for some people – let’s chuck in assault and battery too. Bless You is the anthem for the lesser common psycho. Delusional and toxic, they often hunt in pairs. Napoleon and Squealer. The Liver Turds. All should be sealed in a room and made to listen to Alexandra Burke on a loop. All together now, “How horrible are you …”
5. Isobel Campbell & Willie Mason – Cool Water
4. Gorillaz – Melancholy Hill
3. Pancake Breakfast – Ballad of Maynard Noe
2. Mumford & Sons – Unfinished Business
1. Port O’Brien – My Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)
And the Mrs Mackerel “Missed the Boat” or Songs I love that are not 2010
She Keeps Bees & Sharon Van Etten – Cuddle Alone
Just about the saddest song ever written. There’s nothing else to say really. Haunting.
The Dutchess & The Duke – Scorpio
Well, often timing is everything; I became aware of D&TD about ten days after they split up. Was it something I said? Scorpio is a particular favourite, a painfully observed lament about a dying relationship.