Following Barry-Sean’s welcome return to the MM bosom yesterday, we are equally delighted to now introduce The Italian Job’s debut entry into MM’s Best Of annals (and don’t try saying that when you’ve had too much eggnog).
Providing us with a welcome European flavour, and writing better in her second language than we can in our first, we invite you to sample her pleasingly punk-tinged favourites of 2015.
20 Chris Staples – Dark Side of the Moon
19 Ex-Cult – Stick the Knife In
18 Abandoned Delta – I Never Lived in New Orleans
17 Protomartyr – Pontiac 87
16 Faith Healer – No Car
15 Creepoid – American Smile
14 John Grant – Disappointing
13 Slaves – Ninety Nine
12 Low – What Part of Me
11 Elephant Stone – The Devil’s Shelter
10 Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake
Strong and hypnotic this track takes you through a slow and unavoidable declining of the mind. While the singer aggressively and repeatedly shouts out that he’s never gonna lose it (almost to persuade himself of it, more than anyone else), the first cracks suddenly appear to precisely prove him wrong! The rhythm completely changes to mimic a slow and heavy heart beat as the background to confused, anxious and slightly mad lyrics. At this point the mind is lost, and me too! I can’t shut this song out of my head!
9 Traams – Silver Lining
A great tune from Traams. Maybe it’s for its brilliant guitar work (but that, admittedly, you’ll find in any of their pieces), or maybe because of the same-y, captivating and catchy chorus. Despite the title it does not end well, however. “So go along, accept it all, it’s over”. No Silver Lining then. Oh well. Brilliant song anyway.
8 Fritjof Norrmo – Set Me on Fire
This is a bit of an unexpected one for me. With an overplayed classic country guitar, an overindulgent silly voice and a chorus adorned with a round of equally frivolous ‘para-pa-pa’, I should really dislike this song. And yet, I have inexplicably never been able to ignore it; allowing myself instead to get completely sucked into Fritjof Norrmo’s endearing and somewhat nostalgic tale of a brief but passionate love encounter. Every time I listen to this song, my little heart warms up a tiny bit.
7 Chaika – The Mirror
Wow! This is my killer track! What’s not to love about it? Dark, with superb drums and glorious guitar, this piece ticks all the boxes for me! I have just learnt that Leeds-based Chaika have only been together since late 2014 and have, apparently, done no wrong so far. With a single like The Mirror they have definitely set the bar very high for my estimation and earned a decent spot on my top 10 best songs of the year. With no doubt, I will keep an eye on them.
6 This is the Kit – Silver John
A stunningly epic song. It deservedly kept on sneaking up my top 10 to finally set at number 6. Its vibe is dense and covered in mystery. Who or What Silver John is, is not quite clear until, with her reassuringly beautiful voice, Kate Stables innocently drops foreboding lyrics such as “you apocalypse on us, yes” and “best get used to dark, used to wet”. Only then you realise she is poetically reflecting on none other than the impending end of the world. And she does it in such a mesmerising style that, all at once, the apocalypse does not seem so awful, after all. This song sends shivers down my spine.
5 Mikal Cronin – iv) Ready
Talking of killer tracks, here’s another one. Another great one! Packed with adrenaline and outstanding guitar work this song is one that, once played, I cannot easily get out of my head.
4 Man of Moon – The Road
Provided I’d have a clear road ahead of me (and provided it’d be ‘legal and safe to do so’ – right, not a daredevil me!) I would sit in my lovely little (but remarkably fast) car, put the foot down and have this song as loud as possible and, obviously, on repeat!! Albeit with a slight mainstream-y tinge, this song is a great goosebumps-inducer for me, pretty much from the get go. Holding the steering wheel while shaking my head to the fantastic guitar and bass, I cannot get enough of this song. I doubt it would have the same effect if listened to while stuck in traffic though.
3 Decemberists – Carolina Low
Carolina Low is a bare, simple, and undeniably menacing song. There is something dark and intriguing about this piece that I cannot quite place. So much so that it proudly sits at number three. Its brilliantly executed guitar work is accompanied by a sound which is evocative of old American tales from old times. I learnt The Decemberists’ lead singer wrote this song just hours before a performance for Q Live in Portland. “I didn’t know what to play so I thought I would write something for it,” Maloy told the audience. Well, well done Mr Maloy. It took you a few minutes to write a song that will stay with me for a very long time!
2 Slaves – Feed The Mantaray
Bring.It.On! Laurie Vincent’s amazing guitar comes on – heart pumps a little faster. Immediately after, Isaac Holman attacks with the drums. That’s it, from this point on my very excitable ‘twenty-something’ is channelled out of my slightly older self and I can’t help head-banging (provided nobody is looking, of course) to this brilliantly arrogant, cocky and humorous piece. Holman’s increasingly agitated and shouty state throughout the song at his own aggressive and obsessive need to know ‘whaaaat‘ (and somebody answer him, please!) makes the whole experience all the more amusing. These are two mischievous, talented young boys (Laurie Vincent has just won Total Guitar “Best New Guitarist of 2015, by the way) who, in my eyes, can afford being as brassy as they wish because have demonstrated all along the full credentials to play cracking music. And they do so all the way. Long live Slaves!
1 Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin
My very favourite song of the year! From the moment I was invited to take part in this year’s Top 10 I knew this would be my number one. And how couldn’t it have been? With wicked lyrics vaguely reminiscent of a Peter Crumb*-esque case of split personality, Kurt Vile brilliantly takes us through his befuddled state of mind where, one moment, all he wants ‘is to just have fun‘ and the other he ‘proceeds to brush some strangers teeth‘… Can’t keep up! The man in the ‘meeeerror‘ is fabulously mad and I love him for that.
* Seven Days of Peter Crumb – Jonny Glynn (read it at your peril)
You can see our countdown of our favourite 100 Tracks of the year here (100-76), (75-51), (50-26), (25-1) and favourite 30 Albums here (30-16), (15-1).Follow @madmackerel