Chris T Poppers Top 20 2014

20) Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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19) Hamilton Leithauser – 11 O’Clock Friday Night

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18) Faces On Film – Percy

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17) Early Winters – A Thing For You

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16) Sleaford Mods – Routine Dean

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15) Eels – Mistakes of My Youth

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14) Chimes – Total Sunflower

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13) Dust From A 1000 Yrs – Smoke Em Up

12) Screaming Females – Ripe

11) The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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10) Houndmouth – For No One

Any song which opens with a tortured reference to dropping acid will naturally pique my interest and coupled with Matt Myers vocals and stark production my curiosity is aroused further. Deftly suckering you in, For No One then tries to lead you down a darkened alley for a damn good kicking. It also proves you don’t necessarily need anything more than a guitar and a great vocal to pack an extraordinary punch.

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9) Sleaford Mods – Tiswas
Sleaford Mods’ album Divide & Exit (undoubtedly my favourite record of 2014) grasped the moment perfectly with it’s skewering of modern British life. I won’t try and dissect Tiswas, it’s just a banging tune with the lyrical equivalent of having your ears punched quite a lot. “I don’t want my dog on a string… that’ll hurt the thing” is my favourite line of the year. The humour, frustration and utter contempt is breathtaking at times. They are unlike anything else I’ve heard all year.

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8) Wooden Wand – Waveland
Ah, Mr Wand, I’ve been expecting you (sorry). A regular contributor over the years to my top 10’s Mr James Jackson Toth delivers yet again. It’s a song which appears to be absolutely straightforward; Toth recorded this by himself at home with his guitar and an 8-track recorder. However, like a particularly enormous onion there seems to be layer upon layer that reveals itself upon each further examination. And with the added onionesque quality of bringing a tear to the eye – through joy and sadness, my ridiculous metaphor is complete. With every listen I get a bit more from Waveland, it’s one of the hardest tricks to pull off but as usual Toth does it perfectly.

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7) Jonah Tolchin – Mockingbird
Opening up with kick-ass harmonica before the fiddle and guitar join the party Mockingbird is Tolchin’s sideways look at the nursery rhyme Hush Little Baby. So far so intrigued. It certainly has a strangely traditional feel and a classic break/riff stomp to it. It reminds me in a strange way of the climax of the classic 1981 film Southern Comfort where Powers Booth and Keith Carradine are serenaded by a full on Cajun hoedown. Brilliant deep, dark country on a low burn, just how I like it.

6) Horse Thief – Little Dust
Pretty much a sure thing for my top 10 from the first listen, the Oklahoma quintet Horse Thief (even the name makes me love them more) have struck gold with this perfectly formed piece of Americana. It begins with the piano before the guitar and rhythm section slide in forming the ‘taking it real easy…’ groove. It already feels like a country classic.

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5) The Amazing Snakeheads – Where Is My Knife
Take this song on in a fight – go on. I dare you. It will win hands down. In May this year I watched the Amazing Snakeheads deliver the best live performance I have seen for a long time and it blew my tiny mind. Dale Barclay is a man to be admired first and foremost. Mainly because he looks unfeasibly hard and secondly because he fucking means it. Menacing serial killer lyrics and a guitar picking out threats with a drum beat to rival any Tarzan film kind of works for me. Try it live when you’ve only ever heard one song by them before – quite an eye opener. Barclay growled at the audience ‘are youse my friends?’ my hand shot up like a rocket. Yes, I am, just don’t hurt me or get your knife.

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4) Elijah Ocean – Ride It Out
The other day this song was playing and my girlfriend was on her laptop, watching faces or something, when I noticed she was unconsciously singing along to the chorus. That’s what this song does; whoever you are (providing you have a soul) it touches you. The melody is simple enough, gently building throughout with the message of just getting through it, which is fairly universal. It actually becomes quite inspirational by the end with its catchy chorus infecting your brain. Life can sometimes feel like it’s on a continual loop of making you ride something or other out – good to have Elijah there to sing the soundtrack.

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3) Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
Been a firm favourite from the moment I heard it. Jurado’s voice sounds amazing, and the string section is nothing short of magnificent. It’s one of those songs where you can be listening in the car and when it finishes you realise your turning was a couple of miles back and you never noticed. Or, you’ve not seen one of those bastard mobile speed cameras because you’re singing along so loudly and enjoying the moment. Let’s see if I enjoy my Speed Awareness Course as much in the New Year…

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2) Girl Band – Lawman
Fucking chaos. That’s why I signed up; as soon as that guitar started I was dug in like a tick on a hound. Experimental without being utterly awful (which lets face it you don’t hear that too often.) The drums halfway through are pure moony, just listen to it. Keith Moon banging on your brain or Reverend Moon washing it…. take your pick, same result applies. The long drawn out guitar with heavy feedback compliments/adds to the cacophony perfectly. To paraphrase the band themselves this song is ‘…driven by insistent low-end skronk’. Quite.

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1) Sleaford Mods – Smithy
It’s all over in under 2 and a half minutes but still manages to make me grimace, smile and cower in equal measure. A brutal bass line and drum riff accompanies singer Jason Williamson’s verdict on the state of the nation. Not so much angry as bored with the sheer futility of it all, Sleaford Mods drill down until they reach (or is that retch) in to the unpleasant shitty bits of our modern culture. I like absolutely everything about this record, right down to Andrew Fearn throwing in a bit of chopper noise at the end. ‘Who cares about rock stars anymore?’ asks Williamson – not me mate. I’ve watched all my old heroes become parodies of themselves or even worse John bloody Lydon and I’m well and truly out of it.

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Comments
  1. Nice to see some appreciation for Horse Thief! Nowhere near enough people seem to have heard their incredible record!

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