Posts Tagged ‘Phosphorescent’

Ah, the wait is over.

After five long years, Phosphorescent (who topped our Best of the Past Ten Years listings earlier this year) are back with details of a new album C’est La Vie (out on Dead Oceans on the 5th October), and a new single New Birth in New England. There will also be three live dates in the UK in October.

The record chronicles a life-altering period which saw Matthew Houck fall in love, start a family, leave New York, build a studio from the ground up, and battle serious illness. The single is a deceptively breezy snapshot survey of some of those events and is currently on repeat here at MM Towers.

Stream it below. You can pre-order the album here.

 

Catch Phosphorescent live

26 Oct – Liverpool @ Grand Central Hall
28 Oct – Leeds @ Brudenell Social Club
30 Oct – London @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire

 

Mad Mackerel is ten years old. Who would have believed it.

So, thanks to everyone who has ever visited the blog, listened, commented, submitted music, sent e-mails, sent CDs, t-shirts and even vinyl, and given us a guest list pass. We really do appreciate it.

Thanks too to our regular contributors over the years – too numerous to mention all, but extra special thanks to the sprats (of course), Barry-Sean, Polly Pocket, Dr Roddy, The Italian Job, Chris T Popper and the fishily fabulous Mrs Mackerel.

And most of all thanks for letting us discover some truly great tunes. Here are ten of them – our favourites of the past ten years of Mad Mackerel.

Cheers!

 

10 The Felice Brothers – Frankie’s Gun (2008)

 

Untarnished, unpolished, unadorned. Heavy on rhythm, accordion and piano. Frankie’s Gun is a stomping, beer-swilling square dance with the grim reaper hovering in attendance. This brilliantly evocative song packs enough into three verses and a beer-hall singalong chorus to create its own Netflix series.

 

9 Grinderman – Palaces Of Montezuma (2010)

Unhinged list of over-the-top romantic promises set to a loose, funky bassline and with a subtle, gospel style shuffle that is simply sublime.

 

8 Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer (2008)

 

A darkly pensive tale of multiple murder that emerges from Dylan’s shadow to tramp from the bright lights of LA to the desolation of the prairies and the desert in search of more victims. Black River Killer drips with the authentic haunted quality of an old, gothic murder ballad and we can’t give it higher praise than that.

 

7 Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed (2008)

Eerily reminiscent of the drugged up haze of a Johnny Thunders with possibly the bleakest lyrics we’ve ever come across. “Friend of mine drank something fine, choked to death before his time last night / He said, “Found that thing you really need, cough it on down ’til you can’t breathe alright / Everyone’ll be there at the burial in your head, and a tear or two they’ll shed / Then they’re gonna go digging in your hole and find: someone else instead” or “Oh, he didn’t like people much at all, tasted better with alcohol, you know how that one goes / Realized he’d missed his whole life; kissed his dog, and shot his wife last night.

Buriedfed is anguished circular verses of regret, dependency and death, slowly building up from the twang of a lone acoustic guitar to soundtrack a rollicking daydream of Robinson’s own death and ensuing funeral.

 

6 The Quiet Hollers – Côte d’Azur (2015)

 

The unbearably poignant and dark tale of Côte d’Azur – 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.

 

5 The Roadside Graves – Far And Wide (2009)

 

A seamless fusion of country and classic rock, with just a hint of punk’s reckless abandon. Kicking off with a great riff and whiskey raw vocals, this wonderfully ramshackle Americana is like musical heroin.

 

4 Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin’ (2015)

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. It is a fingerpicked earworm where a sprawl of twangy guitar and surreal, laconic lyrics combine to create the perfect ode to stoned self-reflection, and a very well-loved tune amongst Team Mackerel.

 

3 Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive (2012)

 

With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with this outstanding tune, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on. Swaying along to this beauty in a large field clasping an overpriced (but comfortingly strong) cider is what summer should be all about.

 

2 Middle Brother – Portland (2011)

Shared a cigarette for breakfast? More than one I reckon. John McCauley of Deer Tick has a voice that was made for this song. One for the road, sung in chorus, gives me the warmest, fuzzy feeling all over. Stick me on a greyhound bus with Middle Brother playing to the open road and I reckon I’d be a happy girl. Just about the best darned cover (yes, I know but don’t care) I ever heard. Pure magic.

 

1 PHOSPHORESCENT – SONG FOR ZULA (2013)

 

It is Matthew Houck’s ragged, yet fragile vocals that stitch together Zula’s imagery, which cuts far and deep. Intensely poignant lyrics, sweeping strings, pulsing drum machine: it all weaves together to form an emotional testament to the end of a relationship. Ever had your heart broken? This is what it feels like.

 

So there we have it, 200 of our favourite songs since 2008. Everyone a gem, everyone a memory. Enjoy!

 

Check out the full countdown here: 200-181, 180-161, 160-141140-121, 120-101, 100-9190-8180-7170-6160-5150-4140-3130-21 and 20-11.

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.

The first 100 Days project that has posted a new song for every day of Trump’s administration up ’til now has concluded with Phosphorescent’s wonderful cover of the alternative American national anthem, Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land.

 

“Sometime about a year ago
I heard “This Land Is Your Land”
And it brought me to tears
Like maybe most Americans I guess I’ve known it forever
It’s one of those magic ones that snuck through somehow
And slipped into the jet-stream of collective consciousness
Just like Woody Guthrie himself did
Somebody out there on the internet had made a collage of footage
Of thousands of folks singing this song together at Bernie Sanders rallies
Voices raised together in a spirit of generosity;
Then juxtaposed it with footage from Trump rallies from that time
People punching, spitting, yelling
So much hate and anger
So much ugliness;
Everyone at ease with the empty mean-ness of it all;
Everyone agreeing on impotent vile-ness
As basic human-ness
There were a handful of Phosphorescent shows around that time
And I started singing This Land Is Your Land during the set
But it didn’t then and still doesn’t now feel political
I’m not sure I fully grasp what constitutes “political”
The other night over a drink with a friend
It came up that I was gonna record this song for this 100 Days benefit
“Oh that’ll do it,” he joked, “That’ll fix everything.”
And I laughed cuz I reckon he is right in a lot of ways
And I can be as jaded as anybody
Depending on the hour, day, mood
But I don’t want to live there
So anyway, what is this politics?
Where does personal end and politics begin?
Are all songs political?
Is this a political song?
Regardless, does an 80-year-old folk song have any purchase in 2017?
Do “most Americans” know it?
Does that matter?
Does this / Can this do anything
As relates to the 100th day in office
Of a “President” of a “Nation” ?
I don’t know
I only know that it speaks to that looming thing
That has stayed near me my whole life;
That thing that wants nothing to do with fear
Or selfishness or pettiness or greed;
That thing which blindly and stubbornly
Persists in believing in the sweetness of this world
It speaks to that thing and says,
“Stay a little longer hey,
This land was made for you and me”

Matthew Houck
Phosphorescent
April 27 2017

The project has raised over $100,000 so far for causes working on the front lines of climate, women’s rights, immigration and fairness. You can still buy all 100 tracks for $30 from Bandcamp here.

As this month’s free CD, Mojo magazine are giving away another one of their excellent cover versions of a classic album – this time Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde is revisited in all its glory.

Mojo DylanAmongst the delights on offer are Steve Gunn taking on Visions of Johanna, Marissa Nadler’s fabulous version of Absolutely Sweet Marie and Night Beats’ tackling Obviously Five Believers. Other artists featured include Ryley Walker, Malcolm Middleton, Jim O’Rourke and Thomas Cohen.

Possibly our favourites though are these two – firstly long standing MM faves Phosphorescent covering I Want You and Kevin Morby’s wonderful version of Temporary Like Achilles.

Listen to both below. Mojo magazine is out now as they say and there is also a limited edition vinyl version to purchase too should you wish – order here.

 

 

Day of the Dead

On May 20th, 4AD will release Day of the Dead – a celebration of the Grateful Dead’s music created and curated by brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National.

It has been a massive undertaking. The compilation is a wide-ranging tribute to the songwriting and experimentalism of the Dead, which took four years to record, features over 60 artists from varied musical backgrounds, 59 tracks and is almost 6 hours long.

Day of the Dead will be released digitally, on a 5 X CD, and as a limited edition vinyl boxed set.  All profits will help fight for AIDS/ HIV and related health issues around the world through the Red Hot Organisation.

Among the first five songs shared from it today include the first new music from The War on Drugs since 2014’s brilliant Lost In The Dream with their cover of the Dead’s 1987 hit Touch of Grey.

MM faves Phosphorescent and Jenny Lewis combine with the backing of the in-house band (featuring 4/5 of the National) that contributed to numerous recordings on the compilation, to cover 1971’s Sugaree.

Courtney Barnett puts her characteristic slant on New Speedway Boogie, and The National cover Bonnie Dobson’s Morning Dew, a Grateful Dead staple since 1967, one of two songs that they contributed to the compilation.

Watch them all below.

 

 

 

 

New Live Album From Phosphorescent

Those who’ve paid more than an occasional visit to MM will know of our love for Matthew Houck’s
Phosphorescent, and next month Dead Oceans will release a live triple album taken from their four night residency (including one night solo) at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn in December 2013.

Ten hours of music was eventually edited down to 19 tracks covering four Phosphorescent albums, including 2005’s Aw Come Aw Wry, 2007’s Pride, breakout 2010 album Here’s To Taking It Easy, and ultimately, 2013’s brilliant Muchacho.

A whole host of MM faves appear including two versions, one solo, of Wolves, our favourite song of 2013, Song For Zula and many others. Have a listen to the wonderful Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly) below.

Phosphorescent Live At The Music Hall is out on the 17th February. Pre-order here or from iTunes here.

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Mrs M's Top 20 2014

Our penultimate offering comes in the shape of Mrs Mackerel’s favourite songs of 2014…

I think, being a fish of some advancing years now, I know what I like – but at least that ranges quite widely (she says, defiantly). As usual, though, I’m late to deadline, so without further pontification or procrastination, here are my favourite songs of 2014.

20. War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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19. Cate Le Bon – He’s Leaving

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18. Mark Lanegan Band – Sad Lover

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17. The Districts – Funeral Beds

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16. Simone Felice – Running Through My Head

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15. Wytches – Burn Out the Bruise

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14. Matt Kivel – Insignificance

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13. Smashing Pumpkins – Being Beige

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12. Water Liars – Swannanoa

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11. Shovels & Rope – Evil

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10. Dead Fingers – Twisted
Husband and wife duo, Dead Fingers, produce a finger-picking good sound here. It’s a hoedown with a twist that chases a thigh-slappingly quirky rhythm. Love it.

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9. The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones
An infectious, upbeat intro to the Vacant Lots: guitar-led rock’n’roll with psychedelic undertones. I’m quite partial to a bit of pscyh-rock, as it goes. The lyrics are secondary but the driving foot-tapping rhythm means you’ll be humming this for the rest of the day.

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8. Royal Blood – Figure It Out
Play this loud – very loud, actually. And ramp up the bass while you’re at it. Led Zep meets The Darkness: just over three minutes of rock fest with a rousing finale of guitar versus drum duelling that builds and builds. Epic. My rock chick alter ego is sated.

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7. The Felice Brothers – Constituents
A move away from the usual rollicking, rootsy sound that’s trademark Felice Brothers. This weaves a slower, more brooding tempo with darker overtones: And all my constituents agree/I’ve been changed like a pebble in the sea/By the politics of time/But riddle me this: what happiness is mine?’

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6. Eels – Mistakes of My Youth
Sold to me on sentiment alone. Mistakes of my youth, of my 20s, of my 30s and so on: like a cat running at a closed cat flap, we are all stuck on repeat and yes, sometimes it really does hurt. A gentle melody that meanders through wistful moments of reflection, there’s nothing surprising or unusual in this Eels offering, but many could do worse than heed the quiet, cautionary wisdom of the gravel-voiced Mr Everett.

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5. Bombadil – Have Me
I’d forgotten all about this song until recently. One man, a piano and a cello: a sad, reflective, rather beautiful lament. You won’t be dancing in the kitchen, rather gazing out of the window. ‘You can’t have everything you want/Or even sometimes what you need/Even if you need it desperately.’

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4. Sharon Van Etten – Tarifa
Here’s my slow dance for this year, complete with saxophone, courtesy of the haunting vocals of Sharon Van Etten. Small moments captured like a photograph, a song about trying to hold onto a memory; lyrics filled with regret and longing. Everyone else/Hasn’t a chance, don’t fail me now/Open arms, rest.’ Aah.

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3. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me?
You expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony.’ Archie does not want to get married, but hey (hey), she does. I sense trouble brewing there. Jangly indie guitars and plenty of reverb, means that if you’re dancing, I’m most definitely asking. I had to be told twice, no less, that I would (of course) love Alvvays. Obviously, I hate it when other people are right, so I’m off to see them next month with Nightshift.

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1= Jamie T – Limits Lie
Five years away is a long time musically but he’s a complicated creature Mr Treays, and all the better for it. As with many of his songs, the music belies the lyrical weight and depth; life observed with pin-sharp accuracy: Who knows where your limit, where your limit lies/ you’re given, what you’re given and now the giver must die.’ Without question, my gig of the year (Alexandra Palace), and Carry On the Grudge, my album of the year.

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1= Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
It’s a temporary fix/In case you don’t come down’ – and maybe it is. A lingering air of melancholy over a simple soaring musical arrangement, this is (in a way) the musical religion of Damien Jurado. All seeing, all knowing, quietly anthemic and ethereal. I played nothing but Brothers and Sister of the Eternal Son for at least the first six weeks of this year: endings and beginnings, beginnings and endings, sometimes you never know what you’re seeing.

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Special mentions:

School Run Anthem 2014:

The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice
Cos I’m high on Halloween candy again/And your lips are sweet as brandy.’ Yes, it’s absolutely true; I often operate in a sugar-induced trance, even while driving. This will be the last school run anthem (sniff), as primary school will be no more for my youngest after the summer. So we might as well go out on a high, with his favourite band, at their rambunctious best.

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Best Covers:

Phosphorescent – Tomorrow is a Long Time
Matthew Houck sings Bob Dylan: bellisimo.

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Low – I’m On Fire
I love Bruce Springsteen and I’ve been on fire a couple of times. Mainly because I used to wear hippy skirts, drink too much cider, and then light fragrant candles. It was a long time ago, but you know what they say about moths and flames.

Guilty Pleasure:

Lonelady – Groove It Out
Yeah, it’s disco – what of it?! I like dancing.

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And hello, hello; look who’s back…

Laura Marling – Short Movie

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Happy New Year, fishy friends.

Phosphorescent Cover Dylan

Phosphorescent have a pretty fine pedigree when it comes to cover versions – Willie Nelson (obviously), Merle Haggard, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, and Vampire Weekend (amongst others) have all been given the Matthew Houck treatment and the first song live we ever saw them play was a stunning version of Radiohead’s House of Cards.

Now we have another to add to the list, as Phosphorescent deliver a sublime cover of Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time. It will appear on Sweetheart 2014, a compilation from Starbucks of love song covers that also includes Beck, the aforementioned Vampire Weekend, Jim James (doing  Bob Marley’s Turn Your Lights Down Low, also below), and Fiona Apple.

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And to complete our Best of Year postings, we have our favourite ten albums from 2013. Every single one is superb…

10 Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

New Song From The Black Angels

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9 Wooden Wand – Blood Oaths Of The New Blues

wooden wand 500

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8 Vandaveer – Oh, Willie, Please

More From Vandaveer

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7 Jus Post Bellum – Oh, July

Another Track From Jus Post Bellum

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6 Wooden Shjips – Back To Land

wooden shjips 500

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5 T. Hardy Morris – The Audition Tapes

t hardy morris 500

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4 Water Liars – Wyoming

New Track, New Album From Water Liars

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3 Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

chelsea light moving 500

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2 Jesse Woods – Get Your Burdens Lifted

jesse woods 500

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1 Phosphorescent – Muchacho

phosphorescent 500

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Check out numbers 50 – 31 here, and 30 – 11 here.