Posts Tagged ‘Phosphorescent’

It’s time for MM’s annual round up of our favourite songs of the year. Thanks as always go to all our regular contributors – Mrs Mackerel, Chris T Popper, the Italian Job, Polly Pocket and a very welcome return to the fold for Dr Roddy.

So without further ado, lets start the countdown.

100 Cabbage – Preach To The Converted

 

In a year that we lost the great Mark E Smith, Manc neighbours Cabbage stepped up to the plate and delivered an album of sneering, swaggering and violently nihilistic songs that were cut from the same cloth as the Fall. Preach to the Converted is a prime example, a snarling, surf-tinged punk stomper.

 

99 Yowl – Warm (In The Soft White Fire Of Modern Living

 

Yowl capture the frustration of the 9-to-5 London grind like few others (also making Chris T Popper’s best of the year list in 2016). In frontman Gabriel Byrde, they have someone who can spin poetry on songs about alienation and exhaustion. Yowl are often viciously loud, but on Warm (In The Soft White Fire Of Modern Living) it is tempered with a more fatalistic, loose feel that calls to mind Lou Reed as much as it does Parquet Courts.

 

98 Teenage Cavegirl – No Good/So Bad

 

Austin, Texas boy/girl duo Teenage Cavegirl offer exactly what their name says they should. The tribal drums and trash-pop guitar lines combine to create a deceptively simple slab of primal garage rock. Throw in some plaintive lyrics, an anthemic chorus and wrap it all up in under two minutes.

 

97 Black Delta Movement – Let The Rain Come

 

Inspired by the ghosts of the Sonics and MC5, influenced by the kaleidoscopic thrum of the Black Angels and Wooden Shjips, Let The Rain Come is a propulsive, mesmerising gem of powerful psych-rock that layers an industrial sheen over it’s pummelling hypnotic heart.

 

96 Cool Ghouls – CCR Bootleg

 

A boisterous, jerky slice of indie that rambles along with an unshakeable airy confidence and a knowing nod to the great band’s chooglin’ style.

 

95 Parquet Courts – Wide Awake

 

Channelling their inner Talking Heads, Wide Awake is a shout along anthem propelled on something akin to tropical percussion and a sparse, funky and naggingly insistent guitar refrain.

 

94 Yak – White Male Carnivore

 

A welcome return from the noisenik trio. White Male Carnivore is what, in the old days, we’d have called a rip-snorter. Crunchy, muscular and prone to an odd left turn (those weird backing vocals, the wry nod to American spirituals), the song careers along moving everything out of its path with sheer force of will.

 

93 Sunflowers – Sleepy Sun

 

A mutating slab of space rock – all slurred riffs and acid-bleached vocals. Just as likely to be a nightmare as a dream depending on your drug of choice…

 

92 Strange Cages – Hypothalmus Blues

 

Brighton’s Strange Cages are purveyors of a snotty, psych-surf rock ‘n’ roll sound in the vein of The Cramps or Ty Segall. The wonderfully titled Hypothalamus Blues combines elements of krautrock and post-punk with a paranoid, schizophrenic vocal.

 

91 Sleep Eaters – Ghost On Fire

 

Just over two minutes of cacophonous, fuzzed out, desert, cowboy garage-rock, that sounds like a feral cross between The Black Lips, The Stooges and the Screaming Blue Messiahs – imagine all three dropped into a sun-baked, spaghetti western playing to a whiskey bar full of gunslingers on speed.

 

90 Ron Gallo – Really Nice Guys

 

Taking aim squarely at the music industry and those bands who are “better people than musicians“, Ron Gallo’s blackly acerbic wit is filtered directly through the prism of 60s garage rock and fuzzy psychedelia.

 

89 Nest Egg – Denied Doctrine

 

A three-piece from Asheville, North Carolina who describe their head-heavy and kosmische psych-rock wig-outs as ‘mood music for nihilists’. Denied Doctrine is a mind scrambling swirl of malevolent, chugging guitars and hypnotic reverb.

 

88 Mothers – Pink

 

Pink grips like a vice and over seven taut, potent minutes of nervy, hypnotic, krautrock it builds layer upon layer of bewitching intensity that never lets up.

 

87 Lonely Parade – I’m So Tired

 

A mix of wiry post-punk and buzzsaw guitars – disaffected dissonance never sounded so good!

 

86 Crepes – Bicycle Man

 

Infectious indie-pop par excellence. A groovy bass-line and hooks sharp enough to burrow deep under the skin.

 

85 American Pets – Forgetting

 

Taking inspiration from the likes of The Velvet Underground, Wilco, Tom Petty, and Serge Gainsbourg, LA based indie band American Pets’ Forgetting is a quietly strummed mix of bleak suburban nostalgia and nightmare.

 

84 Wharves – High School Hero

 

The naggingly, groove infused High School Hero sounds like a weird mash up of glam-rock era Bowie, Devo, Nick Cave, The Clash’s Magnificent Seven and Tom Tom Club’s Wordy Rappinghood. Even more weirdly it works… brilliantly.

 

83 Lord Huron – Ancient Names (Part II)

 

Lord Huron are not particularly known for their garage rock credentials, but Ancient Names (Part II) bursts out the blocks with a heavy, distorted sense of urgency proclaiming “gone are the days of laughter and love“, and over the course of two short minutes conveys a darkness of heart and soul that is epitome of resigned despair and hopelessness.

 

82 Thurston Moore – Mx Liberty

 

A typically corrosive broadside at the “mockery of democracy” that currently prevails in the USA. Thurston Moore’s brings his trademark barbed guitar squall and brutal, bruising percussion to the table and wins the argument. Hands down.

 

81 Flasher – Skim Milk

 

Crisp, exhilarating guitar riffs matched to a melodic ease and with some enjoyably rowdy call and response vocals, Skim Milk is a gem of sharp, precise indie rock.

 

80 LICE – The Human Parasite

 

Lyrically obtuse, melodically caustic and revelling in ugly, uncomfortable home truths, LICE’s debut single was a scratchy, skronky, instant classic. “All humans carry, through their daily lives / A compulsion to torture and destroy / Be not afeared of your impulse to despise / Your neighbour just because they have an accent you dislike.

 

79 The Men – Maybe I’m Crazy

 

A wired, pulsating, synth-driven rocker complete with wonky sax at the end. Play loud.

 

78 Phosphorescent – Around The Horn

 

The centrepiece of latest album C’est La Vie, on Around the Horn Phosphorescent calls the shimmering motorik of the War on Drugs and then raises it with an eight minute mini masterpiece of swelling, throbbing country-psych.

 

77 Gong Gong Gong – Siren 追逐劇

 

Desert psych anyone? South-east Asian freakout? Chinese blues? All this and more is thrown into the melting pot and stirred to a magnificent, galloping frenzy.

 

76 Phobophobes – Where Is My Owner?

 

The low rumble of menacing, dirty sleaze – a fetid, swampy stomp set atop twinkling drums and sweet organ flourishes. Over it all is the sardonic refrain of “Where is my owner? I thought that I came with one”

 

Many, many moons ago (actually back in 2009) when Chris T Popper and I went to Austin for the first time for SxSW, pretty much by happy chance we saw Phosphorescent live for the first time too.

At the end of that year in his top ten round up, Mr Popper wrote “In March I took my first trip to America and the SXSW festival, which widened my musical tastes considerably allowing me to finally accept the pure greatness of country and to some extent folk music. Both of these had been dismissed by my musical snobbery years ago and if it wasn’t for Mr Mackerel knowing one Phosphorescent song (a cover of Johnny Cash I think) meaning us checking out their performance at The Red Eyed Fly, life would have been very different… Beards, smoking and lots of tuning up (in a wonderful venue), followed by an opening song that literally made me freeze – a cover of House of Cards by Radiohead with Matthew Houck delivering a gobsmacking performance. I was hooked. Tunes from their new CD ‘To Willie’ (an album of sublime Willie Nelson covers) skilfully combined with their own stunning ballads left me vowing to grow a beard and buy every Willie Nelson album I could find.”

For years I have been waiting and hoping for Matthew Houck to share that cover more widely. Between me, Mrs Mackerel and Mr Popper, we have subsequently seen Phosphorescent many, many times (most recently Mrs M hopped over to Amsterdam with Middle Sprat to see them there) and they have never repeated that particular cover.

Not once.

Not ever.

Until now.

At long last, recorded for Sirius FM, here it is – a stripped back, spine tingler of a cover song, and you can must watch it below.

 

  1. Titus Andronicus – Only A Hobo
  2. BRONCHO – Keep It In Line
  3. Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie No. 2
  4. Courtney Barnett – Small Talk
  5. Kurt Vile – One Trick Ponies
  6. Flat Worms – The Apparition
  7. Death Valley Girls – (One Less Thing) Before I Die
  8. The Berries – Junkyard Dog
  9. Laura Gibson – Domestication
  10. SOAK – Everybody Loves You
  11. New Rose – Plenty Of Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More From Phosphorescent

Posted: September 7, 2018 in Americana, Country, Music, Rock
Tags:

Yesterday we had Flat Worms, today Phosphorescent. Life can’t be all bad can it?

Matthew Houck recently announced his new album C’est La Vie (out 5th October via Dead Oceans). We’ve already shared the lead single New Birth In New England. Now he has followed it up with the tranquil beauty of pedal steel-laced, slow burner Christmas Down Under.

It’s wonderful. Stream it below. Pre-order the album here.

 

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.