Our third Best Of listing comes from the ever lovely Mrs Mackerel. Listen on Spotify here.
2016 turned out to be fairly music-light by my standards in that I didn’t listen to nearly as much as I usually do, partly in response to spending so much time driving up and down the country. For this, I need the spoken word rather than the sung one, hence a dirty dozen from me rather than the usual 20.
12 King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife
11 Fat White Family – Breaking into Aldi
10 Jamie T – Tinfoil Boy
This was my favourite Jamie T song from his new album, Trick, even before last month’s gig in Brixton. It’s the second time I’ve seen him live and if you ever get the chance, just do it. Even if you find yourself in an isolated demographic. There was a young chap dancing to this track in the aisle of the balcony, trance-like; he was lost to the song and I was mesmerised. Music: it gets you like that sometimes.
‘It’s times like this I feel tricked into waking up.’ There’s a reflection for the past 12 months if ever I heard one.
9 Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree
Although I believe that all the songs from the Skeleton Tree album were recorded prior to the tragic death of his much-loved son, grief and loss resonate across every note. More than anything, I feel grateful that I cannot feel what he feels.
8 Joseph Coward – Peanut Girl
I hear the sound – or at least the influence – of Belle and Sebastian with a peanut topping. I love this slightly retro-sounding bouncy ode to feeling young and lusty.
7 Van William with First Aid Kit – Revolution
This has all the hallmarks of a Mrs Mackerel fave written all over it, and when the familiar harmonies of those youthful Swedish warblers kick-in, I’m sold. I love a slightly mournful lyric juxtaposed with a jaunty, foot-tapping tune, said the fish as she swam away upstream.
6 The Lumineers – Gale Song
A familiar annual scenario: top ten compiled, a song is returned by MM to moi as ‘not being 2016’. But as we all know, I ain’t a fish wife for nothing. So here it is, originally recorded some time ago (tsk), released on Cleopatra in 2016. I played this short, poignant song an awful lot this year. And I love a Wesley Schultz vocal, so really, don’t argue.
5 Pixies – Um Chagga Lagga
My other alter ego also resurfaced this year: rock chick. Or perhaps gnarly old hen. Anyway, the Pixies back to making new music like they bloody mean it. Play loud, with attitude: But I’ll just keep on walking/It’s starting to hit me/ They’re coming to get me.
4 Agnes Obel – It’s Happening Again
A song for when you’re swimming with the algae, trapped with your own thoughts and unable to escape the malady of ever-revolving mental anguish. Hypnotic, bleak and maudlin. For those days when you don’t feeling like rocking out but hunkering down.
3 She Drew the Gun – Since You Were Not Mine
Tell me I’m just dreaming won’t you wake me up? Sadly not. The nightmare that has been 2016 is real but still, new bands, new music, new earworms. I sang this to the dog relentlessly in what seemed like some huge Freudian slip. Fortunately, he’s the strong silent type. Psych-pop with a shade of darkness.
2 Mitski – Your Best American Girl
Young love: sometimes life, love and relationships don’t work out quite as simply as you think it might do at the time, so she sings. Ah, but how great wisdom comes with age! This song builds, climbs and then explodes into a great big wall of sound. Heavy on the guitar and absolutely brilliant.
1 Damien Jurado – Exit 353
A big song with big meaning and a wide expansive sound that splits right open about a minute and half in. It’s that exact moment that clinched its numero uno spot for me. The moment I wish for really expensive speakers that can do its majesty justice. Sigh.
A change of school and routine means no school anthem this year, unless you count Thought For the Day. Not really.
Best gig of 2016:
Damien Jurado, Islington Assembly Hall, London, April 2016
Just edged it over Jamie T; a phenomenal gig, worth the midweek trek to the Big Smoke. Despite being surrounded by people over seven feet tall, every bit of neck ache was worth it when he played a beautiful version of one of my favourites, Museum of Flight.
Tomorrow we have Mad Mackerel’s top twenty of the year. To check out the Italian Job’s top 20 click here or here for Chris T Popper’s selections. Click for the full run down of our 100 favourite tracks (100-76, 75-51, 50-26, 25-1) and albums.