MM’S BEST OF THE YEAR: MRS MACKEREL’S TOP TWENTY SONGS

MM Best of 2015 no guitarOur Best of the Year posts are coming to a close and for the penultimate list we hand over to the ever fragrant Mrs Mackerel.

Over to you Mrs M…

Another year banked. As ever, I look at my list and think yes, there are some that are keepers and others that maybe were just a mirage. A little like life really.

 

20 The Tulips – Winter Winds

19 Hanni El Khatib – Moonlight

18 Jamie T – Marilyn Monroe

17 Amason – Moon as a Kite

16 Haunted Hearts – Something That Feels Bad Is Something That Feels Good

15 Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian at Best

It’s a blistering guitar-led onslaught that plays out against a searing vocal style. Lyrically, it’s very much a commentary on her new found fame: Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you. She’s learning fast, is Courtney.

 

14 Mutual Benefit – Not For Nothing

A very gentle tune with lulling melody and meaningful lyrics; throw in a bit of violin to the mix and it ticks all the boxes for me. The lyrics are sung very quietly, but if you listen hard, you can catch every word. Often the quietest people have the most to say.

 

13 The Decemberists – The Harrowed and the Haunted

Vintage Decemberists: lots of maritime imagery and a dark, sad tale of longing. Will you be there waiting/Or is your heartbeat fading?/ Fading from the time/ Still miles to go til I arrive.

 

12 Laura Marling – I Feel Your Love

You must let me go before I get old/I need to find someone who really wants to be mine/I feel your love. A change of musical style, but the sage words and usual lyrical dexterity remain a constant from the enigmatic Laura Marling, here in rock chick mode.

 

11 Harrison Storm – Sense of Storm

Storms, hurricanes, water: you sense a theme building in my top twenty this year. A really beautiful piece of acoustic folk about losing your sense of home from this talented Australian troubadour. Enough said.

 

10 Houndmouth – Sedona

A tribute to the city of Sedona, when it was known as ‘Arizona’s Little Hollywood’ and home to three decades of A-list movie making, before it all headed west (Hey little Hollywood/You’re gone but you’re not forgotten). The band’s four-part harmonies peppered throughout gives this bit of classic Americana an extra layer.

 

9 Fat White Family – Whitest Boy on the Beach

I like a heavy bass line I do, and this one sucks you in and pulls you along. I like it to steer me round the kitchen, dancing while I work. Rhythmically, Whitest Boy demands some sort of production line movement: mince pie making, possibly. Have another listen – get it now?

 

8 Du Blonde – Chips to Go

So BJH ditched the hooves, went blonde and hitched her wagon to a brand new edgier sound. Good for her, so it seems. Sold to the fish in the corner on the chorus alone, with it’s epic drum/guitar mash-up, she’s got one hell of a vocal range that wallops a whole range of emotions into orbit.

 

7 Marika Hackman – Drown

The unusual and subdued musical arrangement suits the hypnotic (almost lethargic) vocals, and floats around the brooding darkness of the lyrics. It’s easy to be swept away by the prevailing sense of emptiness and loss; guaranteed to send me into sad reflective mode, even if I’m high on sugar and caffeine.

 

6 Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin

So, it takes Kurt a little while to recognise himself as the “man in the mee-rah”. Wakey, wakey son. But after a minor identity crisis and a bit of a teeth mix-up, everything’s pretty pimpin. Finger-picking guitar, foot tapping rhythm and a rasping vocal drawl made this a very well-loved tune amongst Team Mackerel.

 

5 Ezra Furman – Haunted Head

A one-off original, Mr Furman. And if the youngest Sprat had written a top ten, Ezra would be there, one to ten. Here we meander downtown, with lyrics that evoke the mania of being bipolar, under the influence of Velvet Underground and a vocal nod to Bowie. Haunted head? Frankly, I know how he feels.

 

4 Calexico – Follow the River

Calexico has a special place in my heart, and the familiarity of a beloved old friend, albeit one who lives on the US/Mexico border. We sync well, Calexico and myself: Follow the River is a sad, wistful song that offers hope, despite itself. I’ll take that, thanks lads.

 

3 Tracey Thorn – Goodbye Joe

I just love this song; I go to bed listening and wake up humming this tune. Do I care that it was originally released in 1982, or that it’s a COVER? Zut allors, MM had a bit of a fishy fit. He is now lying on his side. I am, of course, a stroppy fish wife. And always right. Ahem.

 

2 Lord Huron – Hurricane (Johnnie’s Theme)

Oh little darling/don’t you look charming/here in the eye of a hurricane – well you know, with a good hat, soft lighting and the right amount of blusher, anything is possible. Upbeat, up-tempo, lots of gee-tar: my top twenty sort of needed this – and the album is an overlooked gem of 2015.

 

1 The Quiet Hollers – Côte d’Azur

And here with me lies my song for 2015, by a very long country mile: the unbearably poignant and dark tale of Côte d’Azur as my own private metaphor for everything from life and death, loss and yearning – and all that lies in between. About those memory markers that resurface in the depths of your dreams and the half way stage when the sun warms your face, and what’s real and what’s not – the journey and the destination – merges into one; always searching. This song breaks my heart at every single listen, so I turn up the white noise.

 

Best gig of 2015:

The Decemberists, O2 Academy, Bristol

En famille. Colin Meloy is a magnificent raconteur, in addition to his musical prowess and distinctive vocal style. I’d waited a long time to see the Decemberists and they did not disappoint, closing the set with a magnificent rendition of The Mariner’s Revenge Song. Again, please.

 

School Anthem:

The Decemberists – A Beginning Song

Played out the final primary school assembly for smallest Sprat. Anthemic and emotional, this builds to epic finale that despite the best efforts of the pantomime horses, played out a celebration of the joy, achievements and idiosyncrasies that all our bright lights gave to us.

 

New to me in 2015: Dr Dog – It

I loved this at first listen, meandering through a blistering heatwave in rural Spain. Such well observed lyrics, for really, it truly is all in how you look at it: It’s real and it’s a lie/It’s the answer and the question when you wonder why. Yeah; ain’t that so.

 

You can see our full 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).

MM’S BEST TRACKS OF 2015: 25-1

MM BEST OF 2015

Here we go then, our final countdown of our favourite tracks of 2015, with no fewer than three artists managing two entries in the top 25 this year! And don’t forget you can see the other 75 choices here (100-75), here (75-51) and here (50-26).

Enjoy.

25 Ghostpoet – Off Peak Dreams

 

24 Tracy Thorn – Goodbye Joe (2015 re-issue)

 

23 Calexico – Follow The River

 

22 Decemberists – Make You Better

 

21 Mikal Cronin – iv) Ready

 

20 Sleaford Mods – Tarantula Deadly Cargo

 

19 Ezra Furman – Haunted Head

 

18 Slaves – Feed The Manta Ray

 

17 Man Of Moon – The Road

 

16 Dan Mangan + Blacksmith – Mouthpiece

 

15 Free Weed – Later

 

14 Spray Paint – Day Of The Rope

 

13 Lord Huron – Hurricane (Johnnie’s Theme)

 

12 Low – What Part Of Me

 

11 Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best

 

10 Protomartyr – Pontiac 87

 

9 Spray Paint – Signal Master

 

8 This Is The Kit – Silver John

 

7 Decemberists – Carolina Low

 

6 Traams – Succulent Thunder Anthem

 

5 Girl Band – Pears For Lunch

 

4 Houndmouth – Sedona

 

3 Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake

 

2 Quiet Hollers – Cote D’Azur

 

1 Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin

 

Nine Songs You Should Have Heard This Week

After last week’s bonanza collection we’re back to an altogether more manageable collection of nine songs gathered up from the past seven days just for you.

  1. Calexico – Tapping On The Line
  2. Blitzen Trapper – Love Grow Cold
  3. Alex Chilltown – Cwtch
  4. Lucero – Can’t You Hear Them Howl
  5. Sun Kil Moon – The Weeping Song (live) (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds cover)
  6. Avers – Calling Out To You
  7. Woozy – Gilding The Lily
  8. Alex Bleeker & The Freaks – Sealong Hair
  9. Laura Stevenson – Jellyfish

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Eight Songs You Should Have Heard This Week

As per usual, here is our weekly round up of the tunes and tracks you need to have heard by now…

1. Simon Joyner – Nostalgia Blues
2. Ryley Walker – Sweet Satisfaction
3. Weed – Stay In The Summer
4. Pale Honey – Youth
5. Death Cab For Cutie – No Room In Frame
6. Calexico – Falling From The Sky
7. Little Wings – By Now
8. Comet Gain – To The City’s Core

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New Calexico Album – Edge Of The Sun

Calexico have announced a new album, Edge of the Sun, their first studio release since Algiers in 2012. It is a collaborative affair with contributions from Sam Beam aka Iron & Wine, Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses, Nick Urata from DeVotchka, Neko Case and plenty more.

The first taste is the jaunty, latin tinged Cumbia de Donde.

Have a listen. The album is out in April.

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2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 1: 100 – 81

MM's Best of 2012 (100-81)

So the waiting is over, and here are the first twenty entries in our Top 100 of 2012, part of MM’s much expanded Best of the Year review. Over the next five days we will reveal our favourite songs and those of our contributors: Mrs Mackerel, Christy Popper, Barry-Sean, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Middle Sprat, Starbie, and Toy Steve. These are not the most “popular” songs of the year, nor do they lay any subjective claim to being the “best”, but they are without doubt the favourites of all those who have written for MM one way or another this year.

So without further ado…

100 GRASSFIGHT – NASSAU
With shades of Interpol in the hypnotic, propulsive percussion, echoes of Dinosaur Jr in the swirling guitar, and a classic indie deep, monotone vocal, Nassau successfully ticks all the necessary boxes for a post-punk extravaganza.

Download Grassfight – Nassau mp3

99 FUTURE OF THE LEFT – CITY OF EXPLODED CHILDREN
Humming, hypnotic , menacing krautrock rumble over which Andy Falkous intones possibly the best opening lyric of the year:  “Chicken tikka bathsalts found at bus stops

(No stream or video available)

98 WELL HUNG HEART – DEVIL
Like the feral lovechild of Howling Wolf, Mick Jagger, Joan Jett and Suzi Quattro fronting a hybrid of Nirvana and the Black Keys. All in a good way. A very good way.

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97 FIELD REPORT – I AM NOT WAITING ANYMORE
Haunting, poignant and fragile first single that heralded a stunning debut album of more than five years in the making.

Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3

96 THE WAVE PICTURES – SEAGULLS
With an infectious guitar jangle and clever lyrics – reminiscent of classic 80s UK indie bands like The Brilliant Corners – this year The Wave Pictures finally became the UK’s answer to the brilliant Mountain Goats. (BSF)

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95 JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – LOWER EAST SIDE
In the Spring of 2012 Justin Townes Earle released Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now. His best record to date, this song, tucked away in the middle of the album perfectly captured how it feels to be in a city of millions yet to be completely alone.

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94 BECK – I JUST STARTED HATING SOME PEOPLE TODAY
A track of three very distinctive parts. The first to the twang of country guitar and cowboy vocals telling us that he’s seen the light and that people really aren’t very nice at all. He hates them all. Then ears are suddenly assaulted by a volley of Jack White’s fury reminiscent of late 70s punk before finishing on smooth, jazzy notes as Karen Elson,with silky tones, lets a bloke called Randy know that he is “Sooooooooooo dead“. Insane but brilliant. (BSF)

(No stream or video available)

93 DAUGHN GIBSON – ALL HELL
Rarely can the opening “insane preacher monologue” approach been used as effectively as this. Yet 45 seconds of spittle-flecked insanity is taken far, far deeper into black, murky waters as over  a humming bassline and fragmented crackles and loops, Gibson’s unflinching baritone reminds us over and over again “its a long way down“.

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92 CALEXICO – FORTUNE TELLER
Gorgeous standout from the Algiers album with the ghostliest of vocals.

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91 THE MARK LANEGAN BAND – GRAY GOES BLACK
Gravel voiced soul-searching carried out over a motorik rhythm.

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90 THE MAGNETIC FIELDS – ANDREW IN DRAG
This song is really a bit of fun and it makes me smile every time I hear it. A guy turns up to see his mate, Andrew, dress up in drag. He does it on a whim for a laugh but ends up fancying him. An amusing story that bobs along with a catchy, but low-key tune. (BSF)

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89 BEN HOWARD – ESMERELDA
Murkier, darker waters abound for this highlight from this year’s Burgh Island EP. Howard’s lonely voice struggles to break free from a claustrophobic and ominous backdrop.

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88 SHOVELS & ROPE – BIRMINGHAM
Much like The Lumineers, Shovels & Rope deal in unashamed folk anthems whose harmonies effortlessly evoke good-time, back porch sing-a-longs amongst the fireflies and the moonshine.

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87 LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO – BREAK MY HEART
At the turn of the year, Last American Buffalo released a short series of free-to-download digital signals that were uniformly brilliant. The first of two entries in our Best Of listing, Break My Heart is exquisitely blended folk, blues and classic country rock with a bitter edge that spits and snarls its discontent with the world.

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86 FATHER JOHN MISTY – ONLY SON OF THE LADIESMAN
What a voice. This song is worth a listen just for Father John Misty’s delivery. It’s like bubble bath without the bathwater – a hymn to the dead ladies man. Try sitting back with a cup of coffee, closing your eyes and letting this track soothe away your mental aches and pains (BSF)

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85 S T E A K H O U S E – SPIDER BITE
Somehow crossing 70s krautrock with desert blues and a stoned rockabilly twang to create a mesmerising journey through a venom-induced surreal otherworld.

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84 THE LUMINEERS – HO-HEY
As winning a combination of catchy folk-stomp and hollered vocals as it is possible to imagine. A deserved break-out hit for one of the most heartwarming success stories of the year.

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83 THE WALKMEN – HEARTBREAKER
The first of four entries from one of the finest albums of the year. Heartbreaker is the sound of a band in complete control of their own destiny, who know their destination and exactly how they’re going to get there. Thrilling, urgent and vital. It’s not the singer, it’s the song.

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82 FREEDOM FRY – SUMMER IN THE CITY
If there was any justice, Summer In The City would have been the soundtrack of barbecues and bakeouts the world over. It was as perfect as indie-pop is able to get, it made you want to pop the top off a cold one and party on the rooftops all day long.

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81 KESTON COBBLER’S CLUB – FOR WORDS
A truly beautiful folk composition, light of touch and sure of foot.

Download Keston Cobblers’ Club – For Words mp3

Leave a comment to us know what you think.

CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR TRACKS 80 – 61

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (24th August)

 

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (24th August).

A Lord Huron of a week, but that notwithstanding it’s now time to fly rather than run. So before we’re airborne and intoxicated once more, there’s just time to squeeze out one short TFI before I sit on the suitcase, kiss the menagerie goodbye and head for warmer climes (forest fires you’re not counted).

Doubtless I’ll spent the week in the shade, book in hand, under a large hat, pouting crossly as my Dad will remind me I have done as of forever because it’s too hot or I’ve got sand in my eyes. “Let’s put Scary in the corner, she likes it there.

A little time in the corner is always good when your batteries have been flattened.

Oh, Cobblers. Their words – do you get it?

Mrs M x

Download Calexico – Writer’s Minor Holiday mp3 (from Carried To Dust)

Download My Morning Jacket – One Big Holiday mp3 (from It Still Moves)

Calexico’s New Track: Splitter

Mrs M pointed me in the direction of this, the brilliant Splitter which will be on Calexico’s forthcoming double LP Algiers.

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Three Freebies From Noisetrade

Three Freebies From Noisetrade.

The wonderful free music site NoiseTrade have offered up three more cracking freebies in the recent days.

For the price of an e-mail you can grab yourself a sampler from the wonderful Calexico, a free EP of Mexican folk fused with American roots from David Wax Museum and an EP of unique folk from singer-songwriter Denison Witmer. All are more than worthy additions to your iTunes library if you don’t already have them, and you can grab a taste from each below.

Download Calexico – Black Heart mp3 (from Noisetrade Sampler) Download the whole sampler here.

Download David Wax Museum – Will You Be Sleeping? mp3 (from Noisetrade Sampler) Download the whole sampler here.

Download Denison Witmer – Abraham mp3 (from The Ones Who Wait – Part 2 EP) Download the whole EP here.

Video of the Day: Calexico

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