Posts Tagged ‘Richard Buckner’

So here we are, the penultimate day of our countdown of our favourite 200 songs marking ten years of MM. Today, we’ve hit the top twenty…

 

20 The Dutchess & The Duke – Reservoir Park (2008)

Wonderfully rootsy swagger of earthy, organic folk-rock set to a loose Stones like honky tonk rumble.

 

19 Wooden Wand – Winter In Kentucky (2011)

 

Set against a backdrop of rolling, countrified rock, Winter In Kentucky is peerless narrative songwriting. A story of bone-weary resignation written from the perspective of a meth addict on a reality show after his girlfriend left him for rehab.

 

18 Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes (2015)

 

Possesses a rhythmic simplicity that transports the listener off somewhere else, and throughout Emil Friis effortlessly orchestrates all this with his lyrics resonating long after the song ends, which is usually when we stick it on again. Just a fantastic record full of little twists and turns with an occasional (friendly) cuff round the ear to keep your attention.

 

17 We Are Augustines – Juarez (2011)

Much like Airborne Toxic Event before them, We Are Augustines flamed brightest with one exceptional debut album. Juarez comes from it, a beautiful slow burner and impassioned confessional that somehow finds redemption in an epic climax.

 

16 Dr. Dog – Shadow People (2010)

 

Perfect blend of sweet Americana, country twang and oddball pop, dashed through with a touch of their hometown Philly soul.

 

15 Wye Oak – Civilian (2011)

 

Ah, the echo laden MBV influenced guitar, the pummelling drums, the droning organ, the quiet / loud / quiet structure. Just glorious noise-pop.

 

14 Fleet Foxes – White Winter Hymnal (2008)

 

A simple vocal round to start, some trebly guitar and confident percussion, but it is those voices, and those harmonies, that blows White Winter Hymnal wide open.

 

13 The Amazing Snakeheads – Where Is My Knife (2014)

If a song could musically define menace this would be it. Set to an ominous, tribal rhythm, it thrums throughout with quivering, barely surpressed fury and threat. With vocals that start I’m gonna show you if it takes all night / We’re staying here till you get it right / It’s been three whole days with no end in sight. Things don’t get any better either.

 

12 Richard Buckner – Willow (2012)

 

This is a lying-in-a-daisy-meadow-looking-at-the-scudding-clouds sort of song. A gentle guitar arrangement coupled with some tender lyrics and softly sung vocals, all of which appeals to the latent hippy in me. Clippety clop: do you know Mr Buckner, I always remember.

 

11 The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio (2010)

They have many imitators, but none can ‘do’ the National like the National. Typically hypnotic offering, and with a voice as deep as the night, Matt Berninger’s unmistakeable baritone cuts through this lament, with the drums bringing up the rear. Sad, atmospheric and uplifting at the same time.

 

Check out numbers 200-181, 180-161, 160-141140-121, 120-101, 100-9190-8180-7170-6160-5150-4140-31 and 30-21.

 

Round Up Time Again

A few very choice tunes have come our way recently and which for one reason or another we’ve been slow to post them.

So here is a quick and dirty round up of some of them!

First up the very welcome return of the wonderful Pink Mountaintops and the first taste from their forthcoming album Get Back. We also have the brilliant Bass Drum Of Death and new single Black Don’t Glow, and very much in a similar vein we have more sonic mayhem from NØMADS.

We also have new tracks from two of our favourite songwriters; Richard Buckner in the form of Gauzy Dress In The Sun from the forthcoming expanded reissue of Bloomed and Chad VanGaalen’s Where Are You? from his new long player Shrink Dust. We have the spaced out punk of The Ketamines and the much anticipated new single from The Men, and Magic Bones’ excellent ode to Aussie punk rock, Round The Block.

Rounding off our rounding up are a track from the Woolen Men’s latest EP Quick Trips, and from Those Darlins, Why Can’t I,  one of the standout tracks from last year’s excellent Blur The Line album. Finally Let’s Wrestle’s new album is garnering lots of positive column inches and you can hear just why with Rain Ruins Revolution – witty, sarcastic indie rock at its best.

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Mini Round Up

To follow on from our Best of the Month post yesterday, we’re kicking off July proper with a quick collection of excellent new tunes for you to stream.

They come from the likes of metallic punk rockers Holograms, classic indie janglers Veronica Falls, sludgy metallers Torche, garage punks Wet Spots, the always top-notch Richard Buckner, brash garage snarl from TRAAMS, unique singer-songwriter Joseph Childress, and psych-blues rockers Heavy Times.

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MM's BEST OF 2012 Nos 20 - 1

And so the moment to reveal Mad Mackerel’s final favourites of 2012. Here are numbers 20 down to top spot. Dig in and enjoy.

20 OF MONSTERS AND MEN – LITTLE TALKS
Duelling male / female voices from Iceland’s finest and bitter sweet lyrics (only with igloos and saunas instead of pubs and football). They also shout “Hey!” a lot which can’t be a bad thing. (TS)

Anything from this lot always lifts my mood. However this one just edged it for the catchy nature of the chorus, and for the fact that I thought they were saying “shit will carry on” which I thought was a good point of view to have. (SB)

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19 RICHARD BUCKNER – WILLOW
This is a lying-in-a-daisy-meadow-looking-at-the-scudding-clouds sort of song. A gentle guitar arrangement coupled with some tender lyrics and softly sung vocals, all of which appeals to the latent hippy in me. Clippety clop: do you know Mr Buckner, I always remember. (Mrs M)

Download Richard Buckner – Willow mp3

18 BLACK MOTH – BLACKBIRDS FALL
Long live the guitar riff! Heavy but with a funky tune and words you can understand. With an album produced by Nick Cave, not surprising they are getting glowing reviews. Raw power describes them well. (SB)

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17 THE MACCABEES – PELICAN
This track bounces along at a pace in a confused ensemble of instruments that feel like they shouldn’t make sense … but do. It just works. But what’s the song about? It’s a 3 minute 45 second run through life. From being born to when we push up the daisies. Sounds miserable but it isn’t. If it doesn’t raise a smile, it’ll get your foot tapping. (BSF)

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16 GHOST WAVE – HIPPY
Unstoppably stomping, unrelentingly catchy, Hippy cranks up the riffage and was made for burning rubber on a sunburnt highway somewhere. (MM)

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15 MICHAEL AINSLEY – RAINY LONELY DAY
Despite the air of melancholy I found this a strangely uplifting song, reminiscent vocally of the great Ray Davies (although it does not suffer by comparison). Piano and guitar combine with the haunting voice of Michael Ainsley to produce the most heartfelt tune I’ve heard all year. I’m in awe of the lyrics – “yes I know you’ve got to go – from my group of friends, you’re the best one that I know”… I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the wonderfully awkward nature of this song and to showcase the genuine talent of Mr Ainsley. (CP)

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14 WILLY MASON – CARRY ON
When I was much younger my dear old Pa used to say of classical music that it was music that spoke to him: this is a song that speaks to me. The poetic lyricism is felt; the metaphor carried is subtle and reflective; and the guitar, the guitar plays softly to my heart. A song of such fragile beauty for 2012: this is a song that speaks to me. (Mrs M)

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13 SIMONE FELICE – HEY BOBBY RAY
Yay! It’s another murder ballad. This time the perpetrator is young Bobby Ray. A young man born on 4th July who gets himself into a whole load of trouble when his ‘pick-up date’ doesn’t think too much of his advances. Bobby Ray doesn’t think too much of her refusal. So he kills her. This song is a lament. The fragile tones of Simone Felice complimented beautifully by a choir in the background of the chorus. A beautiful tune, intelligent lyrics and sung as only a Felice can. Hey Bobby Ray, you’re going to get yours, sunshine! (BSF)

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12 TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOAT – TEENAGE BLOOD
This is another dark look at life through the eyes of a young man who is obviously ahead of his years in so many ways. Who’d have ever thought that Tom’s hometown of Tunbridge Wells would ever give rise to such grim lyrics. Carrying some of the meaningful insanity of Nick Cave with the miserable wisdom of Morrissey, Tom Williams and his Boat crew have delivered another dark gem in Teenage Blood. (BSF)

A modern twist on a country classic. It is a catchy and memorable song with great harmonies, despite the slightly depressing theme. (SB)

A great recommendation from PP here and real foot stomping stuff. Plus, anything that counts you in with a 1-2-3-4 is always a winner. (TS)

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11 SHEARWATER – YOU AS YOU WERE
I only found Shearwater this year, and what a lovely band to find. Animal Joy is a very fine album and to me, You As You Were is the standout track. It a massive song, full of energy from start to finish. I kind of wish I’d had this song with me a decade or so ago, it would have suited me down to the ground. (PP)

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3

10 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – CHAPEL SONG
This song certainly stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it earlier in the year and continues to do so – always something new to ponder over in those heartbreaking lyrics. Thankfully I am normally left feeling more upbeat than melancholy but its a close call. A song of genius. (PP)

This is The Jam’s The Bitterest Pill brought bang up to date and made better. The song is from the view of a fella stood in a chapel whilst the love of his life walks down the aisle … with another bloke. Suffice to say, he’s not in a good place and the vocals lend to this feeling of impotent misery perfectly. Strained, angry and a little menacing, the lyrics match the tune perfectly which is … well … strained, angry and a little menacing. (BSF)

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9 TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOAT – TOO YOUNG
It has a guitar riff which burrows in to the brain like an old News of the World reporter in a celebrity’s wheelie bin. It took a while but now I understand that it’s utterly useless to resist any longer. Probably the most hummed tune of the year, which I think you’ll agree, is one hell of an accolade (CP)

For me, this tune has all the energy of being young with the class of being a little older! I have loved it for months and it does what a good song should – makes you smile, makes you get up and dance or certainly tap a foot. Lovely guitars and violins, with nice gentle vocals – great stuff. (PP)

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8 LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO – BABY I’M ALIVE
A lament to a lost love: “I swear I saw a ghost, I swear I saw his eyes, since when we fell in love on Mulholland Drive”. The riff is catchy and the vocals are perfect for the sentiment of the song. It’s a broken heart that will bleed all over you from the opening notes to the final chord. If you’re the lady with coffee-coloured skin who inspired this piece of art, thank you. Now go back to your lover and make him happy again. (BSF)

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DELTA SPIRIT – CALIFORNIA
How do you write such heartbroken lyrics and marry them to such upbeat music? You move to California, buy a drum machine a keyboard and off you jolly well go. Big emotion, high impact, fantastic tune. (Mrs M)

Download Delta Spirit – California mp3

KYLE ADEM – BROTHER FOLLOW
It’s a grower, this one. The momentum builds gradually, together with the tension, as it heads towards a passionate finale where the female vocal answers the male. A little bit of flute, banjo, bass drum – it’s quite a complex musical arrangement, while the lyrics hint at feudal times. Phew. It packs a punch. (Mrs M)

He really has created a brute of a song; it seems to throb with the wretchedness of the whole thing. I like music that takes you out of your comfort zone and it uses some alarmingly savage imagery to remind us just how nasty our society has become. Backed up with a fearsome delivery that makes this a real ‘sit bolt upright and ask what the hell was that’ on first listen, thankfully it doesn’t dilute with time. (CP)

Download Kyle Adem – Brother Follow mp3

5 WILLY MASON – RESTLESS FUGITIVE
From the opening beats and distinctive guitar I’m happy…  we’re in proper Chris T Popper territory here! Mason’s distinctive vocals compliment the somniferous atmosphere perfectly. (CP)

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. (MM)

A slow and ominous beat that is undeniably contemporary Americana but reminds me a little of reggae and The Clash too. (BSF)

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THE FELICE BROTHERS – LINCOLN CONTINENTAL
School run anthem 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”. (Mrs M)

A cheerful, rollicking, foot-tapper of a tune with a chorus as infectious as Chlamydia. If you’re ever feeling a bit down, stick this on and you’ll be as right as rain and imagining yourself leaving the Garden State with your soft top down. Unmistakeably Felice, understandably brilliant. (BSF)

Download The Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental mp3

3 FIRST AID KIT – THE LION’S ROAR
Brilliant vocals – all pure and clean and I still marvel at the number of words you can get into one sentence and still sound melodic. Certainly one of the best of the year. (PP)

Incredible voices, perfect harmonies and a big slice of Americana from two Swedes (who would have thought it) which just keeps rolling along like a boat bobbing over the waves. It is made even better by what sounds like “every time it all shits one way or the other” at the end of the second verse, and it is also Mrs Toy’s favourite so it has to be high in the line-up. (TS)

There is something about this folk style that really appeals. It is a very profound and beautiful song. (SB)

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EMIL FRIIS – SAND IN YOUR EYES
Possesses a rhythmic simplicity that always manages to pick me up and transport me off somewhere else, and that’s a fairly big plus in my life. Throughout Friis effortlessly orchestrates all this with his lyrics resonating long after the song ends, which is usually when I stick it on again. Just a fantastic record full of little twists and turns with an occasional (friendly) cuff round the ear to keep your attention. (CP)

A very elegant tune, a quiet beginning and then the dark and brooding piano arrives slowly building before the lyrics kick in.  It feels like it should be the soundtrack to a very brilliant film (is it?) Any how, it’s worth several listens, especially with a glass of wine or a cocktail or two. (PP)

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WE ARE AUGUSTINES – JUAREZ
This might not be the first song written about the troubled Mexican border city but it’s the best by a country mile. From the outset, you’re sat beside the storyteller under a ferocious Mexican sun and the car you’re in is kicking up dust as it speeds away from Juarez. The lyrics are harsh and drip with regret and sadness but they paint a fantastic, brutal picture. The vocals are unmistakeable and the tune both memorable and uplifting. Beautiful in every way except for the sentiment. (BSF)

I have neither “a saint for a brother nor a drunk for Mother”…anyway, with a great tune, and amazing vocals – my favourite of the year! (MS)

Love this, love his distinctive voice. Best line for me “I got jukebox tears under turquoise skies”, no idea what it means though… (SB)

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So there we have it – 100 great tunes to soundtrack another brilliant year of music.Don’t forget to check all the other chosen tunes that we’ve posted all week too – just click for 100 – 8180 – 6160 – 41, and 40 – 21.

Extra special thanks to the MM contributors this year: Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB), Middle Sprat (MS) and Toy Steve (TS). Starting tomorrow, you can check their individual choices on MM too.

Mad Mackerel's Best of the Year...so far!

So then, half way through the year already. Time to take stock and see what the first six months have delivered up in terms of new tunes and bands. We asked some of the regular MM contributors to pick three songs that have particularly struck a chord (sorry) with them in the first part of 2012.

Kyle Adem – Brother Follow 
Unlike Brains by Lower Dens this was an instant hit.  A real earthy campfire ditty with a grotesque sentiment I fully approve of. I make no apology for repeating the line MM brought to our attention in late April. ‘So our sisters became whores, and our brothers savage carnivores, devouring the bodies of our fathers’. Well that got my attention… and I’m pleased to report the quality of musicianship effortlessly matches the lyrics. Building in to a stomping climax sung with a equal parts desperation and aggression it may well be my song of the year so far. Kyle Adem I salute you sir.  (CP) 

Download Kyle Adem – Brother Follow mp3 (from Armour)

Aesop Rock – Zero Dark Thirty
What a start. What a tune, The bassline holds you down, whilst the drums jump on your chest. Lyrically Aesop Rock is head and shoulders above most of his competitors in this genre. His delivery, subject matter and phraseology is so unique and fresh it’s no wonder he has won such plaudits from his peers. The lyric “Spinning in the shadows of immoral magnets / are we supporting the artist or enabling the addict” shows great skill. This kind of poetry is sadly lacking in most of the so called Hip Hop that is touted round the charts, like music in a gimp suit. However it is the music that backs up all the wordplay that had me all over this track like White on rice.  (Dr R)

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The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose
A great summer song with a real laid back feel to it The line “Hang loose / let the ocean worry about being blue” sums up the vibe of this track perfectly. I love the guitar intro that meanders along through the song providing a nice country accent to it. The drums are hard edged and drive the song along beautifully. There are also elements of soul to both the track and definitely to Brittany Howard’s vocals that seem to drape around this song effortlessly. To be honest on a sunny day, with a cold beer and this track, you can drift off to anywhere in the world.  (Dr R)

Download The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose (Hear Ya Session) mp3 (from Hear Ya Session) Grab whole session from Hear Ya here.

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – Liliputt
In what should be Liz’s year, I say all hail the coronation of Queen B. From the sweeping string arrangements, to her falsetto harmonies, to the thrumming hooves of percussion that build the momentum, here is a tune that marks the musical originality – and arrival – of the one and only BJH. “I might die without these words having left my mouth” – OK then, I’ll say it: genius. (Mrs M)

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Richard Buckner – Willow
Ballad is sometimes a bit of a bastardised term, but don’t let Bonnie Tyler et al put you off. This is the real deal. “I can still remember…” so much melancholy and longing hinted at, both lyrically and musically. The simple arrangement dips and sways, well, like a willow tree actually, and is broken by a lovely twangy guitar bit, two verses in. I have always been a sucker for a man with a sad song and a guitar. Tick, tick. (Mrs M)

Download Richard Buckner – Willow mp3 (from Willow EP)

Father John Misty – Writing A Novel
Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun has been one of our most played of the year. It is lewd, bawdy, irreverent, frank and honest. Picking just one track is near nigh impossible, but in the end I went for Writing A Novel, carried along on a jaunty, rolling rhythm and spewing forth a lyrical stream of consciousness that borders on genius, and contains one of the years simplest and best lines, “I”m writing a novel, because its never been done before“. (MM)

Download Father John Misty – Writing A Novel mp3 (from Fear Fun) via R&G

Simone Felice – Hey Bobby Ray
Simone Felice is brother to the wonderful but ‘dark’ Felice Brothers. While his brothers sing about tragic lives and deaths, murders and gun-toting alcoholics, Simone … well Simone does the same. Just on his own. Hey Bobby Ray is the story of a sex attacker who is going to get what is coming to him. It starts slowly with Mr Felice’s slightly tortured vocals and builds to a point where a gospel choir chips in. It’s brilliant!  (B-SF)

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Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Any More
I nearly chose Fergus Falls by Field Report for a place in my top three, but this tune just has the edge. There are some songs that stop you in your tracks and some that creep up slowly – this one is definitely a track stopper. A beautiful tune – understated, haunting and melancholy – a perfect combination I reckon!  (PP)

Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3 (from Field Report)

First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
What is not to love about this tune? For me its the stunning vocals and those harmonies that get me every time, and lyrics that deserve to be listen to several times over but still leave you wondering just how do you get so many words into one sentence? Overall its a cracker and I am sure it will remain a favourite throughout the year.  (PP)

Download First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar mp3 (from The Lion’s Roar) Taken down under DMCA notice due to some retarded fuckwit not knowing the song was given away as a free download everywhere. Contact us first you muppet and we’ll show you the authorisation we have to post. Anyway, you can get it via Soundcloud instead.

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Gravenhurst – The Foundry
A record of almost otherworldly, ambient folk, the world view of Gravenhurst is a deeply unsettling one. The Foundry is played out over a backdrop of acoustics so profoundly beautiful that the sourness of the lyrics pack an even greater punch. “And you won’t know when evil comes, evil looks just like anyone, and I blame, I blame, I blame anyone but me“. Like having your first French kiss and finding your tongue’s been bitten off.  (MM)

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Last American Buffalo – Baby I’m Alive
Just for a change, a love song has captured my imagination. It’s not one of those cheerful or smoochy love songs though. I don’t think this will ever end the night at the Stonesfield Disco. No, this song celebrates love but is sung in such a way that it relays the pain that even the most loving relationships can bring. And the guitar backing is just beautiful. (B-SF)

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Lower Dens – Brains
This one was definitely a grower, passing undetected until that magic eureka moment when you start glowing with the realisation you just love this damn song. Hypnotic and insistent – it keeps metaphorically pulling at your sleeve like a child who’s seen the ice cream van. It will not be denied. Lovingly textured with synth, drums while sung with a laid back approach that matches the music perfectly it doesn’t slip in to any particular category easily. I like that. There is something indefinable about what appeals and why I like it – which makes it fabulous in my book.  (CP)

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Lumineers – Ho Hey
I think the beauty of this song is its simplicity… From its rhythmic opening bars, steady beat and chanted ‘Ho Hey’ over a picked guitar you then realise it’s anything but simple. The composition is wonderfully subtle, far more thoughtful and precise than you first realise. It’s also a joyful record, the momentum sweeps you along until you find yourself yelping out the chorus far too loud and usually in public. Be careful if you go the gym and have it blasting out of your ipod – funny looks are certain to follow…(CP)

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Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive
With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with Restless Fugitive, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on, and in doing so might have just provided us with the song of the year so far.  (MM)

Download Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive (Daytrotter Session) mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Monument Valley – The Very First Alarm
A gorgeous, melancholy tune, that describes the moment you properly understand that you’re not going to get your lover back, and the torrent of memories and emotions that comes with that realisation. This could have been a bit soppy, but it  is lifted by a haunting guitar sound and some dark lyrics, that make you smile. “You never minded too much being see through / Until you worked out who was behind you”. Don’t, however, play this to your little brother who has just split up with his girlfriend of six years, because the look in his eyes will make a bit of your soul die. Fact!  (Dr R)

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Rachel Sermanni – The Fog
Rachel Sermanni has such a beautiful voice with the most incredible vocal range. I love the violins throughout which help to give it such a rich, polished sound. To me, there is something really enchanting about this song, but not in a light hearted, frivolous way, it has a mischievous heart and carries with it an air of darkness (which to my mind should be encouraged!)  (PP)

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Tunng – Jenny Again
I’m a sucker for a story song. The more grim the story, the better I like it. Usually those songs are played out to menacing guitar riffs or slowly plucked blues strings. Not this one. This is a jaunty little number that trips along whilst the ‘narrator’ tells about how his life was ended by ‘the other man’ who then runs off and has a pretty nice life with his Jenny. You’ve really got to listen to it.  (B-SF)

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The Walkmen – Heartbreaker
The Walkmen might have been around for over a decade but this is a fresh cut for the men from NYC. It’s not the singer, it’s the song, sings Hamilton Leithauser – actually it’s both. Cue a deft guitar riff to start, bring in your pedal drum and I’m already out of my seat. Slight retro ambience, this tune just oozes style and cool. It really is the perfect tempo dance number for my ageing fins. How can you not? It would be rude. Love it, love it, love it. (Mrs M)

Download The Walkmen – Heartbreaker mp3 (from Heaven)

Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy-Popper (CP), Polly Pocket (PP), Barry-Sean (BS-F) and Dr. Roddy (Dr R) for their selections. Why not tell us whose choices you like best?

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.So, the penultimate entry before Mrs Mackerel finishes off this year’s set of Top Ten postings tomorrow is my very own.

Without further ado…

10. Milk Music – Beyond Living

Although it was released early in the year, I only discovered it recently. A full on, no holds barred, nihilistic 70s punk attitude and the very best of the heavyweight riffs of the grunge era is a mighty powerful combination. One that makes me wish my car stereo went all the way up to eleven.

Download Milk Music – Beyond Living mp3 (from Beyond Living EP)

9. Yuck – Holing Out

Similarly, Yuck’s Holing Out effortlessly recalled the 90s with a crunchy distorted riff, reverb and a fuzz slathered hook. That it also had one of the best videos of the year was just another bonus.

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Download Yuck – Holing Out mp3 (from Yuck)

8. Wooden Wand – No Hayride

If there is one mystery to me in the world of music, then it is how James Jackson Toth aka Wooden Wand can be so damn prolific across so many genres and yet suffer no discernible dip in quality – not that I’m complaining. Another great year and too many tracks to choose from, but in the end it was this, seemingly an afterthought on his forthcoming boxset that makes up Volume 3 of his archives – a simple folk ballad that still managed to be head and shoulders above most things released this year.

Download Wooden Wand – No Hayride mp3 (from Archives Vol 3)

7. Kurt Vile – Peeping Tomboy

Top ten from the opening moments of this song; the hazy, shimmering guitar and the lazy drawled vocals intoning

“I don’t want to change, but I don’t want to stay the same
I don’t want to go but I’m running
I don’t want to work, but I don’t want to sit around all day frowning

I don’t want to give up, but I kinda want to lie down
But not sleep just rest
Give me a break how much does it really take?
Get my head outta here”

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6. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear

It made a lot of other MM guest top tens so no need to add anything new. Anthemic, swaggering blues boogie at its fiery best.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

5. The Royal Sea – This Summer

I’ve mentioned this two or three times recently and posted it earlier today so not much more needs to be said about this either. Simply that it is pure, sugar-coated garage pop with just the right amount of surf inspired twang that in a parallel world would have been the woozy, feel-good hit of the summer.

Download The Royal Sea – This Summer mp3 (from The Royal Sea)

4. Deer Tick – Chevy Express

Deer Tick’s Divine Providence was, mostly, a rowdy, rambunctious good time rock’n’roll record that was meant for late nights of whiskey drinking and bar-room brawls. But tucked away in the middle of all the heady intoxication was this track: sombre, reflective, and undeniably sobering. It was the soundtrack to a heavy heart and lonely regret washed by the first light of an early morning dawn and may well be the best thing they’ve ever done.

3. Felice Brothers – Fire At The Pageant

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.

Download The Felice Brothers – Fire At The Pageant mp3 (from Celebration, Florida)

2. Tom Williams & The Boat – Get Older

The most bitterly caustic song I heard all year meant it was a shoe-in for my top ten. I originally said “it drips venom over a heavy, single drumbeat, a vicious guitar strum, and spits lyrics like physical bullets”, and this still sounds a pretty fair summation to me.

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1. Middle Brother – Daydreaming

From the simple picked guitar line and weary, melancholy opening lyric, the scene is set for a raw, unflinching excursion courtesy of McCauley’s craggy vocals and beer-soaked romanticism. Loneliness never sounded so…well, lonely.

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Almost Made It

The Wooden Shjips pulverising Lazy Bones, Tom Williams & The Boat’s observationally wry and off kilter Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet, the blistering euphoria of Wye Oak’s Civilian, and LONG’s criminally ignored and under-rated Shoot Your Dog. If there was a better example of dark, claustrophobic psych-rock this year than the Ganglian’s Jungle then I didn’t hear it, while A.A. Bondy’s dark-hearted The Twist and Twilight Hotel’s epic road trip Mahogany Veneer were both superb examples of modern Americana. Back home, Metronomy’s ultra catchy The Look, and Male Bonding’s fuzzed up, yet still sugary What’s That Scene? flew the flag for the UK – on another day, in another year, all could so easily have been in the final shake up.

Download Wooden Shjips – Lazy Bones mp3 (from West)

Download The Ganglians – Jungle mp3 (from Still Living)

Download Metronomy – The Look mp3 (from The English Riviera)

Favourite Covers

Hurray for the Riff Raff’s mesmerising My Sweet Lord and Phosphorescent’s reverent take on Neil Young’s Are You Ready For The Country? were both outstanding, but just pipped by Siskiyou’s own Young cover, the skeletally menacing Revolution Blues. Titus Andronicus payed due homage to Nirvana’s classic Breed, but best of all was Middle Brother’s version of the Replacement’s Portland.

Download Phosphorescent – Are You Ready For The Country? mp3

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Best Tunes First Heard This Year But Not 2011

How on earth had Okkervil River escaped me for so long, particularly John Allyn Smith Sails and the superb For Real. Likewise with Wilco’s Misunderstood – I’d heard it, but this year I actually listened to it. Shellac’s Prayer To God is the most vicious song I’ve ever heard and one of the best, and so too Fugazi’s Waiting Room. Richard Buckner’s heartbreaking Emma was a revelation and James McMurty’s rollicking live version of Choctaw Bingo was eight minutes of pure, adrenalin fuelled Americana.

Download Shellac – Prayer To God mp3 (from 1000 Hurts)

Download Richard Buckner – Emma (Devotion & Doubt Outtake) mp3

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s to 2012 when it all starts again!