Posts Tagged ‘Decemberists’

Back again like a carrion crow to roadkill. Every year since 2009, Chris T Popper has shared his favourite tunes of the year, and we love him all the more for it…

 

10. Death Valley Girls – Disaster (Is What We’re After)
Whilst the video for this song featuring Iggy Pop eating a hamburger garnered plenty of attention it shouldn’t detract from an absolute belter of a tune. A cracking hook and melody compliment Bonnie Bloomgarden’s raucous vocals. It barrels along like a proper foot stomper should.

 

9. Decemberists – Cutting Stone
I am a big fan of folk horror and this one conjures up dreamy visions of green fields, vales and vistas. Oh and lots of blood. Hats off to Decemberists who consistently serve up this unsettling fare. The album this song (and the excellent Severed) comes from, I’ll Be Your Girl, wasn’t particularly well received, but I love the backdrop of sweeping synths exuding tales of wayward children and a heartbroken lover falling under the Cutting Stone’s spell.

 

8. Silverbacks – Dunkirk
Produced by Girl Band’s Daniel Fox (a good start) this catchy, jittery little number from Silverbacks imagines a future dystopian Dunkirk which despite it’s iconic historical status now exists as a private holiday resort. A marvellous conceit and they follow through with an effective, unsettling moody treat that’s as tight as a gnat’s chuff.

 

7. Ought – Disgraced In America
Disgraced In America by the marvellously monickered Ought caught my ear with absolute gems like ‘I floated round downtown, I floated round Spain. I was like a Dentist, rooting for pain’. The entire vocal by Tom Darcy is brilliantly inventive and engaging while the song’s meandering lack of structure is the ideal accompaniment. You can’t help but follow where he goes.

 

6. Western Scene – Strange But True
The uplifting feel of optimism in Strange But True is impossible to resist. And considering what 2018 has been like let’s be thankful for that. A heartwarming and affecting song that has lifted the spirit crushing gloom of a morning drive to work on many occasions. The message that amazing things can happen outside of your comfort zone is one I’ll try to adhere to a little bit more in 2019.

 

5. Oh Sees – Nail House Needle Boys
Ah man, what a frazzling opening guitar that is. It slithers in to your ears accompanied by the mellow tones of John Dwyer. It’s the song I’ve had most reaction to when I’ve played it to friends. It seems to have an instant effect, the riff is so hypnotic the famous mind bender Derren Brown is suing. Allegedly.

 

4. Ron Gallo – Always Elsewhere
The start of the song sounds like an alarm going off and what follows is a rage against the shallowness that seems to occupy the world, always looking elsewhere and never sated. The shame of FOMO. It’s so packed full of stuff it can take a bit of getting used to. It rushes around against a fiery backdrop of jangling guitars and Gallo’s exhortations to ‘feel what’s real’. Chaotic and unrestrained, top marks Mr G.

 

3. Superorganism – Everybody Wants To Be Famous
A dream of a hook, lazy synths and the deadpan innocence of Orono Noguci’s delivery combine to make this an absolute peach of electronica. Little samples pop up and float off complimenting the melody perfectly; which after one listen is scorched in to your brain long after the final till rings shut. Noguci has some wonderful lines poking fun at our wholesale desperation for fame, whatever the cost.

 

2. Drenge – Bonfire Of The City Boys
Rob Graham’s growling basslines starts up the madness and invites you in – you can keep your boots on. When a song gets aggression right my synapses light up like a Christmas tree and this has oodles of it. The spoken word lyrics keep the fuse burning until it erupts in to a cacophony of drums and guitar. Class war has rarely sounded so good which is useful as it’s probably happening soon.

 

1. Cold Soda – Anna May
Cold Soda is a side project of MM stalwarts The Cave Singers and they have produced a gem of a tune with Anna May. When the melody kicks in the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention and send the message for my goosebumps to immediately join them. This song does what all the best songs do – it instantly transports me to a different world. The arrangement is carefully constructed and deftly executed, the plaintive vocals of Pete Quirk blending in to give it just the right amount of pathos without spilling in to sickly sentimentality. A stunning song that despite repeated listening still works those goosebumps without fail.

 

Check Dr Roddy’s top ten choices here, and check in tomorrow for MM’s selections.

So here we have it – the top of the pile! Our favourite songs of 2018.

25 Ought – Disgraced In America

 

Way back in January, Montreal based quartet Ought kicked off 2018 with the bright guitar sound and ultimately noisy percussion and spaced-out synths of Disgraced in America. It was a fine start.

 

24 Spiritualized – I’m Your Man

 

I’m Your Man was the brilliant lead single from Spiritualized’s new album And Nothing Hurt. It wraps layer upon layer of gloriously transcendent sound together to create something utterly mesmerising and cinematic, and with a towering guitar solo – where the waves of blissful noise are almost overwhelming.

 

23 Jon Spencer – Hornet

 

Jon Spencer can be relied upon to deliver a sleazy, bone-shaking excursion into the underbelly of classic blues and with Hornet he delivers in spades – growling, primitive and with a suitably buzzing guitar figure.

 

22 Fat Earthers – Letter Bomb

 

We love the Isle of Wight and now we love it even more because it is home to the insane noise of the Fat Earthers whose punked-up garage rock didn’t so much explode out of our speakers, as leave them gibbering in twisted shards of plastic and cable in the corner. There is always one song that gatecrashes our favourites at the end of the year and Letter Bomb is it.  I hope they’re from Ventnor!

 

21 Western Scene – Strange but True

 

A chugging, exhilarating earworm of a song that recalls something of the best of Lord Huron or Wilco, with its irresistible melody and immediate emotional energy.

 

20 American Pets – Bad Dream

 

Sublime, sweetly melodic indie rock. The kind so many bands try to do, and so many fail to achieve. It is impossible not to be carried away on the rise and fall of the harmonies and Bad Dream’s gentle swell of mildly psychedelic beauty.

 

19 Ron Gallo – Always Elsewhere

 

Ron Gallo seems to be one of those absurdly hyperactive songwriters, flitting from one genre to another as though on a never ending quest for musical nectar. That he does it so well seems equally absurd as he rolls out gem after gem in a prolific manner. Always Elsewhere is garage rock, psych-pop, new wave, glam and 70s NY punk. It is jerky, obsessive and compelling and held together by his anxious, exasperated vocals.

 

18 FEWS – Businessman

 

Just unstoppable, pulverising noisy psych built on the most pulsating riff imaginable.

 

17 The Twilight Sad – I/m Not Here (Missing Face)

 

After too long an absence Twilight Sad returned with I/m Not Here (Missing Face) which was a driving, motorik anthem, with wailing guitars and swirling synths circling around frontman James Graham’s repeated declarations of “I don’t want to be around you anymore.” Graham describes the track’s lyrical basis as being “about my ongoing battle with not liking myself, trying to be a good person but constantly feeling like I’m failing myself and everyone I care about.

 

16 Young Fathers – In My View

 

As much spoken as sung, In My View is a fractured, down-tempo track set atop skittering percussion and synths.

 

15 Superorganism – Everybody Wants To Be Famous

 

Like a mutated cross between Uptown Top Ranking and some long-forgotten video game, Everybody Wants To Be Famous manages to take its wonderfully kaleidoscopic groove to a whole new level of infectious electro-pop flourescence.

 

14 Dr. Dog – Listening In

 

On their brilliantly assured new album Critical Equation, Dr. Dog barely put a single foot wrong, and an absolute standout for us was Listening In. Another exceptional example of their warm, psych-infused Americana, carried along on metronomic percussion and a typically plaintive and questioning vocal.

 

13 Phosphorescent – Christmas Down Under

 

The introspective smoulder and slow burn of Christmas Down Under is a pedal-steel led tale of surreal Americana. One for the sunset and the open road…

 

12 Katie Toupin – Danger

 

After a long stint with Houndmouth, Katie Toupin’s first foray into solo territory resulted in the bluesy rock of her debut EP Moroccan Ballroom. The raw, haunting beauty of Danger mixes heartbreak with a smattering of grit and her always stunning vocals to create something very special indeed.

 

11 Fontaines DC – Chequeless Reckless

 

Our third and final entry from Fontaines DC – back in February we said we were pretty sure Chequeless Reckless would end up in our best of the year lists and so it proves. Channelling past masters like the Modern Lovers, The Fall and Iggy Pop, as well as contemporaries like Idles and Shame, Chequeless Reckless is built on a driving, hypnotic, kraut-rock infused cyclical riff, and some scalpel sharp lyrics.

A sellout is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money,
An idiot is someone who lets their education do all of the thinking
A phony is someone who demands respect for the principles they affect
A dilettante is someone who can’t tell the difference between fashion and style

 

10 Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Billy The Kid And Geronimo

 

In the rich vein of classic country like Pancho and Lefty, the fantastical Billy The Kid and Geronimo – about an imagined meeting between the two 19th century outlaws whose lives became the stuff of legend in the American West has Gilmore, who is part Native American, voicing the thoughts Alvin wrote for Geronimo, the Chiricahua Apache chief who was one of the last Native American leaders to abandon his resistance against white colonisation of the American Southwest.

 

9 Decemberists – Severed

 

Channelling their inner New Order and 80’s electronic new wave, the Decemberists delivered another left-turn in their long career with I’ll Be Your Girl. Chief among them was Severed, all fuzzy synths, rolling bass and an unrelenting guitar riff. The juxtaposition of shiny, shimmering melody and bleak lyrics was just the icing on the cake.

 

8 Cold Soda – Anna May

 

Cold Soda is a Cave Singers side project, and Anna May is brilliant, brooding Americana, built on a sinewy rhythmic groove and Pete Quirk’s ominous rasp.

 

7 Silverbacks – Dunkirk

 

Brilliantly delivering their own louche take on NYC-indebted rock, Dublin art-punks Silverbacks’ single Dunkirk is underpinned by an insistent, nagging bassline and creepy crawly guitar lines, it provides the ideal vehicle for frontman Daniel O’Kelly’s stream of consciousness ramblings about martial strife, the perfect sandcastle and spotting a con artist when he sees one. The track lurches forth, pressure building from the undulating backbeat and layers of skronking guitars accenting Daniel’s increasingly frazzled yelps before finally collapsing into a sugar sweet coda.

 

6 Rod Picott – Coal

 

Coal is a tough track. A hard-driving, unflinching snapshot of an industry’s decline. It is a world of darkness, small enclosed spaces, rusted machines and steel tied boots. It is simple, unadorned folk storytelling at its spartan best.

 

5 Quiet Hollers – Addicted

 

Addicted is a powerful rumination on opiate addiction – Quiet Hollers frontman Shadwick Wilde has struggled with addiction since adolescence. Although he didn’t intend for it to be a “drug song” necessarily, its inception came at a time when his family was struggling with the loss of his mother’s brother, who died of a fentanyl overdose so he felt it was important to acknowledge how deeply vulnerable we all are to these things, and how serious that problem really is. The track is a perfect mix of alt-country shot through with grungy guitars and a resigned honesty shared through fittingly world weary vocals.

 

4 Dan Mangan – Peaks And Valleys

 

Dan Mangan is a restless troubadour, from the earnest straight up folk of Postcards & Daydreaming to the darkly experimental Club Meds, he has always been both an explorer and an observer. Peaks and Valleys comes from new record More or Less and is a up-tempo, easy going reflection on the simple things in life and the wisdom and understanding that comes with getting older. Sometimes the most obvious things can be the most revealing and so it is with this lovely reminder that optimism is not a bad weapon to have in these turbulent times.

 

3 Drenge – Bonfire Of The City Boys

 

It started with a bang” the opening line from Bonfire of the City Boys could almost be a prediction as a stuttering, repetitive bassline starts up and Eoin Loveless’ spoken word vocals cut in over the top before a crushing guitar riff takes centre stage. Heavier than they’ve ever been, with a sound more akin to Future of the Left, Bonfire of the City Boys is four minutes of joyously ferocious hardcore.

 

2 Decemberists – Cutting Stone

 

Like one of their classic ornate folk fantasies turned dark, appropriately enough Cutting Stone is cut through with a synth accompaniment that brilliantly contrasts a brittle, futuristic feel to Colin Melloy’s literate and verbose tale of wayward children and dying brides.

 

1 Oh Sees – Nail House Needle Boys

 

Nail House Needle Boys – a deliriously scorched excursion around the outer limits of prog-rock and glam, sucking in great gulps of Can, Deep Purple and King Crimson and exhaling them as little more than smoke and ash, drifting down on to the still twitching corpse of psychedelic rock.

 

Check out the rest of our countdown: 100-76 here, 75-51 here and 50-26 here.

Traveling On is the title song from The Decemberists’ new EP, all five of which are unreleased tracks from the same sessions that produced their excellent album I’ll Be Your Girl.

Top tune.

 

We’re celebrating ten years of MM. Today we’ve reached the top 50 of our favourite songs of the past decade.

50 Discount Guns – I Heard (2012)

 

Ass kicking blend of blues rock and country and western with big riffs, plenty of fuzz and loads of reverb. Like the Black Keys with balls.

 

49 Thee Oh Sees – Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster (2013)

 

A bass line and guitar riff that are simple genius, massively addictive and unwavering in ferocity as the song crescendos during the chorus. It was the one song that year that whenever anyone heard it for the first time they sat there quietly, and then at the end, would say without fail “That was awesome, Who was that?

 

48 Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – Lilliput (2011)

 

Experimental freak-folk, pop song writing, and a slyly humorous outlook all combine in a stunning fashion. Lilliput’s gentle opening soon gives way to cantering drums, gilded strings and some marvellously versatile falsetto vocals.

 

47 Parquet Courts – Stoned And Starving (2012)

 

Two irresistibly hypnotic chords carry a song of deadpan delivery, like Wire doing slacker rock (which obviously would be a very good thing indeed).

 

46 Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True (2010)

Like a companion piece to Black River Killer (still to come folks, still to come), a surreal, dark fairytale with tumbling rhymes over minimal percussion and a splash of lovely harmonica and always remember “You better guard your tongue like your enemy

 

45 Water Liars – Linens (2013)

 

Gorgeous heartbroken country ballad, “And what I would give to be quiet beside you / with the window open, a record playing low / to feel your skin between the clean bed linens / inside a room where sadness never goes”

 

44 Port O’Brien – My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) (2010)

Amongst other things Port O’Brien were a fabulous covers band. This is the sweetest Ramones cover ever.

 

43 Felice Brothers – Fire At The Pageant (2011)

Voodoo, zombies, sinister nursery rhyme chants, classic Felice Brothers lyrics and a woozy, old-timey, back porch rhythm means this song should have been an utter mess. That it was the complete opposite stands tribute to this bunch of ramshackle mavericks of increasingly experimental Americana.

 

42 The Decemberists – June Hymn (2011)

June Hymn crafts pastoral and emotional imaginery into exquisite, literate, and ultimately hopeful indie rock.

 

41 Magnetic Fields – Drive On Driver (2008)

A serpentine melody couched in woozy, soft-focus feedback. The ultimate distorted road trip.

 

Check out numbers 200-181, 180-161, 160-141140-121, 120-101, 100-9190-8180-7170-61 and 60-51.

Countdown continues. Here are songs 60 – 51 in our favourite tunes of the past ten years.

60 Bon Iver – Bloodbank (2009)

Atmospheric, cabin-folk propelled by a woodsy, acoustic strum and cooly whispered vocals.

 

59 Jones Street Station – The Understanding (2012)

 

Like if the Beach Boys had played folk music – a wonderful sense of melody and intricate rhythms played with a joyous abandon and sense of fun.

 

58 Tired Pony – All Things All At Once (2013)

 

Cinematic and reflective. All Things All At Once is a widescreen slice of downbeat, bleakly romantic Americana.

 

57 Range Rats – Colt 44 (2010)

A shade over two minutes of rockabilly shuffle, Johnny Cash rumble, some gun-toting lyrics and a tale of righteous revenge.

 

56 The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song (2009)

Gather round, gather round, it’s another every day story of country folk. Dark tales are their speciality. For me, it’s the drumming that adds the menace and the rage. I’m sure they’re a lovely bunch of people. Really. Just don’t book them for any babysitting…

 

55 The Brakes – Two Shocks (2009)

Perfectly crafted power-pop – a wonderful rolling bassline and stomping percussion compliments lines like ‘I covered my body in bacofoil and waited for the sun to come out”.

 

54 Drive-By Truckers – Check Out Time In Vegas (2008)

Desperation tinged lament that drips with pedal steel and the sharp twang of regret. Alt-country Sin City style.

 

53 Dr. Dog – Uncovering The Old (2008)

 

Filtering warm, melodic Americana through a nostalgic soul and pop prism. The marvellous chiming guitars and Scott McMicken’s rich vocals turn Uncovering The Old into a mini masterpiece.

 

52 Haunted House – Chandaliers (2009)

 

Clattering and jerky, a chanted incantation of skewed indie rock and a long forgotten classic.

 

51 The Decemberists – Severed (2018)

Relentless, new wave synths and a glam rock gallop mix and match with moody, foreboding lyrics. Dance while the world burns…

 

Check out numbers 200-181, 180-161, 160-141140-121, 120-101, 100-9190-8180-71 and 70-61.

 

We’re counting down our favourite songs of the past ten years. Here are numbers 70-61.

70 Water Liars – Swannanoa (2015)

A melancholy story of searching and loss, of heroin and girls with stutters, of cowardice and looking death in the face. No one does this stuff as well as Water Liars.

 

69 Goodnight, Texas – Jesse Got Trapped In A Coalmine (2012)

 

Has the authentic twang and gritty lyrics of the very best Appalachian folk and the echoes of its rootsy Americana hangs in the air like a ghostly fog long after the song has finished.

 

68 Royal Blood – Little Monster (2014)

Mid-tempo, classic rock chug with a rousing chorus.

 

67 The Decemberists – Rox In The Box (2011)

Rustic, rural Americana, Rox In The Box is a breezy, sing-a-long gypsy stomp inspired by the deadliest hard rock mining disaster in U.S. history.

 

66 Spray Paint – Day Of The Rope (2015)

 

Heavy bass, discordant lead guitar crashing about the place like a demented baboon on acid and those metronomic drums just keep pounding. Jello Biafra and Gibby Haynes could have cooked this up in a deranged music lab somewhere.

 

65 Laura Marling – Don’t Pass Me By (2015)

A sonic polaroid. Understated, reserved and cooly melancholic.

 

64 War On Drugs – Red Eyes (2014)

 

Soulful and epic, the woodwinds, synths, acoustic guitars and pianos sharing space in a hazy, dreamlike fog inhabited by Dylan, Petty and Springsteen.

 

63 Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me (2011)

 

Builds with a rhythmic hypnotism that refuses to let go. Evoking the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone with an outstanding vocal from Ben Nicholl.

 

62 Willie Nile – American Ride (2013)

 

Rootsy rock ‘n’ roll. Another school run anthem, and a perfect road-trip homage to American music.

 

61 Liars – Brats (2012)

Buzzing, stomping distorted synth-punk. Great video too.

 

Remember to check out tracks 200-181, 180-161, 160-141140-121, 120-101, 100-9190-81 and 80-71.

Halfway through. Here are tracks 100-91

100 Cabbage – Celebration Of A Disease (2017)

Simply the ultimate mix of mutated groove and indie rock. With a lineage that stretches back to the Fall and takes in The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses, it is the latest addition to a long line of infectious, sing-along Manchester anthems.

 

99 Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental (2012)

The school run anthem of 2012: a fine country drawl, a fine country band. Learn the words, sing it loud; altogether now: I been missing you so listen / I liked to ask you can we drive through town.

 

98 Man Of Moon – The Road (2015)

 

Brilliantly insistent, pulsating psychedelia that ebbs and flows and mesmerises.

 

97 Naked Giants – Ya Ya (2016)

 

Slightly distorted but mighty catchy riff, heightened by a pounding backbeat and a relentlessly repetitive chorus.

 

96 The National – Think You Can Wait (2011)

With echoing strings and piano, it is the sparingly used backing vocal of Sharon Van Etten (whose shared harmonies with Matt Berninger sound as if they were always meant to be together), that elevates this track into solemn, understated brilliance.

 

95 Phosphorescent – Ride On / Right On (2013)

A little bit of funky rhythm and a whole lot of country grit combined to make one of the the most compelling and enduring songs of 2013.

 

94 The Bones Of J.R Jones – Hammer And Nails (2016)

 

An infectious blues stomp telling ancient tales from the deep south, ritualistic dance routines around bonfires (well, in our head at least) and unnerving dark secrets.

 

93 Wooden Wand – DNR Waltz (2011)

 

 

Simmering, southern-fried country rocker complete with Toth’s wry and wonderfully weary vocal drawl.

 

92 Elijah Ocean  Ride It Out (2014)

 

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.

 

91 The Decemberists – Carolina Low (2015)

Spare, simple, and undeniably menacing song. Something dark and intriguing accompanied by a sound which is evocative of American tales from old times.

 

Remember to check out tracks 200-181, 180-161, 160-141140-121 and 120-101.

  1. The Decemberists – Once In My Life
  2. The Black Lips & The Khan Family – Too Much In Love
  3. The Hold Steady – Eureka
  4. Flasher – Skim Milk
  5. Jess Williamson – I See The White
  6. Hinds – The Club
  7. Forth Wanderers – Nevermine
  8. Gang Of Four – Lucky
  9. Courtney Marie Andrews – I’ve Hurt Worse
  10. Half Waif – Torches
  11. Iron & Wine – Tomorrow On The Runway  (Innocence Mission cover)
  12. Neko Case – Hell-On

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Eels – The Deconstruction
  2. The Decemberists – Severed
  3. No Age – Send Me
  4. Haley Heynderickx – Untitled God Song
  5. Hot Snakes – Six Wave Hold-Down
  6. Bonny Doon – I Am here (I Am Alive)
  7. Radkey – Not Smart
  8. Micah P. Hinson – Beneath The Rose ((Marc Riley BBC 6 Music Session 06/11/2012)
  9. Jack Cooper – Fat Old Sun  (Pink Floyd cover)
  10. The Soft Moon – Choke
  11. The Exbats – I Was In Your Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our final weekly round-up of the year…

  1. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – All Is Known
  2. Decemberists – Ben Franklin’s Song
  3. Ron Gallo – Really Nice Guys
  4. Van William – Before I Found You
  5. A Savage – Linger  (Cranberries cover)
  6. Purling Hiss – My Dreams
  7. S. Carey – Still, Still, Still.
  8. NØMADS – Xenophobia