Posts Tagged ‘TRAAMS’

The third part of our epic countdown of our favourite songs of the past ten years.

160 The Pink Mountaintops – North Hollywood Microwaves (2014)

 

Filthy, snarling, primal rock’n’roll featuring some pornographic rapping from Annie Hardy (ex-Giant Drag). A case of the bite being much worse than the bark.

 

159 Calexico – Two Silver Trees (2008)

Atmospheric and relaxed, Two Silver Trees meanders on a river of accordion, keys, hushed guitars and seductive vocals.

 

158 Mountain Man – Animal Tracks (2009)

 

A perfect combination of old-timey acoustic guitars and lilting, reverbed harmonies. And that chorus was made for a campfire late in the evening.

 

157 Wire – One Of Us (2008)

One of Us is a coiled spring of minimalist musical tension. Taut, melodic and streamlined, it is a post-punk classic.

 

156 The Willard Grant Conspiracy – Preparing For The Fall (2009)

Set to a vivid strummed guitar, Robert Fisher sings a sprawling apocalyptic tale about the soul of man with a voice rich in world weary resignation. “And  I see the devil sitting in my favorite chair / he says he wonders why I’m, I’m still here / And I say that I’m having trouble finding the door / And he says if we wait a little longer / Won’t have trouble anymore / And I’m just preparing for the fall

 

155 Dr. Dog – Bring My Baby Back (2017)

 

Laying a yearning, plaintive vocal over the top of a perfect mix of  pop, gospel and psych rock, the nigh on perfect Bring My Baby Back majors on themes of betrayal, repentance, solitude, and revenge, wrapped up in a perfectly strummed acoustic guitar. It was the most innocently beguiling tune of 2016.

 

154 Whalers – That Rabbit (2010)

 

What. A. Riff. A wonderfully straightforward blend of thudding, bass-heavy rock that makes us think of the best bits of QotSA melded with the Black Angels and then given some 60s style reverb treatment.

 

153 Van William – Revolution (2017)

 

Van William is a return to the folksier roots of his previous band Port O’Brien. Add in a mournful trumpet and the gorgeous harmonies of First Aid Kit and this lovely record is suddenly elevated to another plane altogether.

 

152 Tom Williams & The Boat – Get Older (2011)

 

Get Older is a musical storm of thumping bass drum, growled, restrained vocals and a stunning violin-led riff – it all combines to deliver an energy and edginess that is on a par with its catchiness.

 

151 Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band – Nikorette (2009)

 

Riding in on the back of a classic rock groove, and morphing into a loping country rock shuffle, Nikorette sounds like a brilliant lost outtake from a late-era Clash album.

 

150 The Black Angels – Don’t Play With Guns (2013)

Their trademark psych-drone is matched to provocative lyrics,  a big, ominous organ groove and an even bigger riff. Wonderful stuff.

 

149 The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin (2008)

Haunting and lachrymose, Ben Knox’s pitch perfect falsetto weaves a sad tale on the back of tranquil beauty.

 

158 Chad VanGaalen – Cries Of The Dead (2008)

 

I can hear the cries of the dead / Maybe it’s your neighbour beating his dog in the basement. Emotive vocals and a twee, but never saccharine harmony tinged with sadness, sets this fractured slice of indie-pop apart from the also-rans.

 

147 Middle Brother – Daydreaming (2011)

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.

 

146 Arborist – Twisted Arrow (2015)

 

A fabulous slice of rolling, countrified folk and Kim Deal’s hushed and plaintive vocal adds weight to a familial tale of detachment and is the perfect counterpoint to Mark McCambridge’s sharp delivery.

 

145 Tom Williams & The Boat – See My Evil (2011)

 

Menacing, righteous fury set to threatening percussion and a thick, pulsing bass-line.

 

144 Sparks – Let The Monkey Drive (2008)

Ultra catchy surreal tale of a couple so eager to consummate their love that they’d let a primate steer the car while they fumble in the back seat. And it has one of our favourite lyrical couplets of the past ten years too: “Let the monkey drive, and it’s only fair / It’s the monkey’s car and he hates to share

 

143 Titus Andronicus – Titus Andronicus (2008)

Huge drums start thumping behind the rhythm guitar, throw in bass, piano and a wicked harmonica as frontman Patrick Stickles thrashes through the song. All together now “Your life is over / your life is over“.

 

142 TRAAMS – Succulent Thunder Anthem (2015)

Traams at their absolute, unstoppable motorik best. Propulsive, urgent, threatening.

 

141 Pontiak – Shell Skull (2008)

 

A serrated rhythmic stomp and slow crawling groove captures the ghosts of Black Sabbath and the Doors in this bass heavy rocker.

 

Check out songs 200-181 and 180-161 as well.

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Our final Best of post of 2016 is MM’s own selections. You can also listen via Spotify here.

20 TRAAMS – A House On Fire
I always think I don’t really like long songs and yet they always seem to end up in my favourite tracks of the year. This TRAAMS song is nearly nine minutes long yet hurtles along in a blur of krautrock inspired grooviness that is irresistible.

 

19 BAIT – I’m Still Here
Out-slaved anything on the last Slaves record and mentions evil genius Timmy Mallet. Top marks.

 

18 Mind Spiders – Running
An unstoppable, frantic force of razor sharp guitars and seething urgency.

 

17 Underworld – I Exhale
See what I mean about long songs… Another eight minutes of hypnotic, motorik techno that cannot be denied.

 

16 King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife
Described by the band as a ‘never-ending album’, Nonagon Infinity features nine songs connected by musical motifs which flow ‘seamlessly’ into each other with the last track ‘linking straight back into the top of the opener’. The first single, a psych-rock/trash metal wig out, Gamma Knife contained a riff from the song People Vultures and both songs are our favourites on the record. This just edges it for its sheer grooviness.

 

15 Terry – Don’t Say Sorry
I love this song for making me feel 15 again and discovering all those now punk classics. Nervy, incessant, catchy as hell and the best deadpan vocals of the year. Why would you say sorry for that?

 

14 Van William – Revolution
We still miss Port O’Brien and (whisper it) Van Pierszalowski’s new musical vehicle WATERS haven’t really been a patch on PO’B, so we were delighted to discover Van William, another new project, but this time returning to the folksier roots of his previous band. Add in a mournful trumpet and the gorgeous harmonies of First Aid Kit and a lovely record is suddenly elevated to another plane altogether. Fingers crossed for more from Van William

 

13 Flat Worms – Red Hot Sand
Starts like the Butthole Surfers and then gets better. The bit from 45 seconds to one minute is my favourite 15 seconds of punk rock this year.

 

12 Damien Jurado – Exit 353
Concluding the single story he has been telling over a trilogy of albums with Visions of Us on the Land, the lead single Exit 353 was a snapshot view of life and death, love and betrayal told through a perfect combination of expansive, evocative guitars with their roots in the heyday of classic 70s psych and Western movie strings that called to mind sun-blasted vast, parched sands.

 

11 James Arthur’s Manhunt – Kill Zone
An intense, tribal, maelstrom of churning, filthy guitars and pounding percussion that veers into space rock by way of spaghetti westerns and Italian horror films.

 

10 Great American Canyon Band – Undertow
Only You Remain was an excellent debut album of beautiful, pastoral Americana cut through with an almost sinuous psychedelic haze – imagine Beach House and Mazzy Star with Gram Parsons and Neil Young. Undertow was a dreamy, reverb-rich, reflective highlight.

 

Lucy Dacus – I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
A song about gender, identity and being taken seriously as an artist that manages to be funny and biting and smart. It is a perfect rallying cry, all wrapped up in biting lyrics and a driving riff that has as much Joey Ramone in it as it does Pavement or Yo La Tengo.

“I don’t wanna be funny anymore / I got a too short skirt, maybe I can be the cute one / Is there room in the band? I don’t need to be the front man / If not, then I’ll be the biggest fan”

 

Cave Singers – That’s Why
A perfect, slightly fuzzy, rolling baseline, stomping drums and Pete Quirk’s unmistakeable vocals. The Cave Singers gave us a new album this year. That’s Why was the first single and as soon as we heard it we knew they at least wouldn’t be letting us down in a year that turned out to be one of monumental disappointments.

 

7 Pixies – Um Chagga Lagga
A late entry thanks to Mrs M as the Pixies finally manage to turn back the clock and deliver a southern gothic rocker of bracing urgency and delirious intensity.

 

6 Black Mountain – Florian Saucer Attack
I imagine that one of the ten commandments of music might be “Black Mountain shall deliver the riff of the year” and so, just as it was with 2010’s Let Spirits Ride, so it was with 2016’s Florian Saucer Attack. This is just top notch rocking out of ‘turn it up to eleven’ Spinal Tap proportions – I mean that in an entirely good, and non-ironic, way of course, which is a shame for American readers as “apparently” you don’t get irony. I doubt it is true although while many of your countrymen and women were damning the celebrity support of Hilary Clinton as out-of-touch and unrepresentative, millions were happily voting for a billionaire celebrity on the other side. Go figure…

 

5 Parquet Courts -Dust
Droning, danceable guitars brilliantly provide a backdrop to a jittery 50 word essay on the inherent grossness of dust and the futility of cleaning. “It follows, now swallow, You’re biting it now, Suffocate, suffocate, Breathe, Dust is everywhere, Sweep”.

 

4 Ashley Shadow – Tired
A bleary, resigned mid-tempo rocker from the twin-sister of Black Mountain’s Amber Webber that somehow feels like being stood in the epicentre of a mini-hurricane.

 

3 Car Seat Headrest – Fill In The Blank
I came late to the Car Seat Headrest album because everyone was pushing the Drunk Drivers/Killers Whales song which was OK, but not good enough to make me want to check out the album. Turns out that was my mistake as it is by far the worst song on the best album of the year. It opens with Fill In The Blank, which pushes Black Mountain mighty close in the riffage stakes for a start and also has my favourite lyric of the year: “You have no right to be depressed, You haven’t tried hard enough to like it.”

 

2 Dr. Dog – Bring My Baby Back
Laying a yearning, plaintive vocal over the top of a perfect mix of  pop, gospel and psych rock, Dr Dog created the nigh on perfect Bring My Baby Back. Majoring on themes of betrayal, repentance, solitude, and revenge, wrapped up in a perfectly strummed acoustic guitar, it was the most innocently beguiling tune of the year.

Simple plea, make them pay and make them bring my baby back to me. Oh make them pay and make them bring my baby back to me

 

1 Car Seat Headrest – (Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)
Sounding uncannily like Will Sheff of Okkervil River at the start of (Joe Gets Kicked Out of School for Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem), Will Toledo delivers a stunning combination of self-deprecating disgust, mundanity and insight without sacrificing one ounce of musicality. Equally rich and raw, with an honesty and openness that is all too rare these days, Car Seat Headrest is a genuine poet – the closest thing to a modern day Leonard Cohen that I have heard and  I simply can’t praise him more highly than that. Sheer genius.

 

And our other annual ‘awards’..

Gig of the Year: Protomartyr at the 100 Club, London

 

Cover of the Year: Julien Baker – Ballad of Big Nothing (Elliott Smith cover)

 

Car-run anthem: Insane Clown Posse – Chicken Huntin’

 

So there we have it for another year.  To check out the Italian Job’s top 20 click here or here for Chris T Popper’s selections and here for Mrs Mackerel’s. Click for the full run down of our 100 favourite tracks (100-76, 75-51, 50-26, 25-1) and albums.

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The first of our four individual listings comes from The Italian Job – she of the detailed spreadsheets and punk rock outlook. Listen on Spotify here.

20. Underworld – I Exhale

 

19. The Wave Pictures – Pool Hall

 

18. Arborist – I Heard Him Leaving

 

17. Kyle Craft – Before The Wall

 

16. Terry Malts – Used To Be

 

15. Quiet Hollers – Broken Guitar

 

14. Parquet Courts – Dust

 

13. Black Mountain – Florian Saucer Attack

 

12. Old Sea Brigade – Sleep In The Park

 

11. Mind Spiders –  Cold

 

10. Jamie T – Tinfoil Boy
Let’s start with this song that, quite frankly (and weirdly) I am still not quite sure what to make of. It is an unusual Jamie T’s song, to say the list, but I have to be true to my admit that I just find it absolutely brilliant and totally catching. So, in all its glorious eccentricity, there it is, happily sitting at no.10.

 

9. The Julie Ruin – I Decide
This song nearly didn’t make it to my top ten because, you know, fierce competition and all that.. but I was just kidding myself! These girls managed to combine whimsical and nonsensical lyrics sung with a childish, cheeky voice with earth-shattering bass guitars mixed with a slightly dark but brilliant beat. It’s catchy, it works, I love it!

 

8. Flat Worms – Red Hot Sand
This track’s got it all. The noise, the energy, the sand, the heat, the sweat, the City of Angels.. you can feel it all! Without a doubt the best intro of my entire top 20, a screechy prelude to bold and distorted guitars reminiscent of the soundtrack to a particularly violent ’70 television crime drama. Hot!

 

7. James Arthur’s Manhunt – Kill Zone
A last minute entry, this song delivers the perfect balance between anger and.. more anger; my cup of tea, it hit me instantly! The ‘wicked’ brief guitar solo about two minutes into the song is what definitely sealed the deal for me! A powerful track.

 

6. The Bones of J.R. Jones – Hammers and Nails
It could not get more ‘folk’ than this, totally captivating! Hammers and Nails tells of ancient tales from the deep south, ritualistic dance routines around bonfires (well, in my head at least) and unnerving dark secrets. With its infectious beats it has firmly remained one of my favourite songs of this year since the first time I’ve listened to it.

 

5. Communist Daughter – Balboa Bridge
This is another last minute entry and holds a special place in my heart -and in my top 10. I read there is a story behind this song, a story of difficult times and a mental health struggle that gives it a deep meaning that goes beyond the beautiful, sweet and romantic tone. The lead singers’ voices are stunning and heart warming, this is a true gem of a song.

 

4. Mind Spiders – Running
Brilliantly played, from the first sharp guitar note this song’s pace is relentless and intense, borderline exhausting. It perfectly conveys the message in the title, setting off my little brain on a mild state of underlying-anxiety. It starts on a high that unrelentingly continues throughout. Cannot get enough of it.

 

3. Great American Canyon Band – Undertow
What a beautiful, beautiful song. A deep, languid ballad that gets better and better with every upcoming note, until the lead guitar comes in and suddenly takes it to yet another level. I could get lost in this song, I could praise it ‘at infinitum’. It’s an outstanding piece of music.

 

2. TRAAMS – A House on Fire
Seeing TRAAMS live recently was a revelation in itself, their performance was nothing short of magnificent! Powerful, aggressive, implacable, with unbelievably impressive guitars. Their latest single A House on Fire is all this and even more, if any more is possible! An 8-minute long, epic, mind-blogging track that totally blew me away. One thing is clear, TRAAMS do not mess about.

 

1. Ashley Shadow – Tired
Every now and then a song comes along that, like a mirror, seems to have the power to reflect a bit of your life back at you, that makes you think and makes you ‘feel’, with a message comforting and melancholic at the same time. This is what this stunning, timeless piece does for me. Ashley Shadow’s voice is angelic, warm and reassuring; the song is classy, beautiful, unsophisticated. My indisputable choice for the top spot of the year. Totally deserves it!

 

Tomorrow we have Chris T Popper’s favourite twenty songs of the year. Click through to check out our favourite 100 tracks of 2016 (100-76, 75-51, 50-26, 25-1) and our album choices here.

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And so here we are, our favourite tracks of the year counting down from 25 to number 1.

Enjoy…

 

25 King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Gamma Knife

 

24 Little Barrie – I.5.C.A.

 

23 She Drew The Gun – Since You Were Not Mine

 

22 Car Seat Headrest – Fill In The Blank

 

21 Communist Daughter – Balboa Bridge

 

20 Mitski – Your Best American Girl

 

19 Dr Dog – Bring My Baby Back

 

18 Yak – Victorious (National Anthem)

 

17 Car Seat Headrest – (Joe Gets Kicked Out Of School For Using) Drugs With Friends (But Says This Isn’t a Problem)

 

16 TRAAMS – A House On Fire

 

15 Terry – Don’t Say Sorry

 

14 The Wave Pictures – Pool Hall

 

13 Jamie T – Tinfoil Boy

 

12 Flat Worms – Red Hot Sand

 

11 Black Mountain – Florian Saucer Attack

 

10 The Mind Spiders – Running

 

9 Underworld – I Exhale

 

8 James Arthur’s Manhunt – Kill Zone

 

7 Terry Malts – Used To Be

 

6 Van William – Revolution

 

5 Damien Jurado – Exit 353

 

4 The Pixies – Um Chagga Lagga

 

3 Great American Canyon Band – Undertow

 

2 Ashley Shadow – Tired

 

1 Parquet Courts – Dust

 

So that’s our top 100 done for another year. Check back for the rest of the countdown here (100-76, 75-51, 50-26) and look out for our favourite albums list tomorrow and then individual lists from The Italian Job, Chris T Popper, Mrs Mackerel, and MM.

Check out previous end-of-year best ofs using the links at the top of the page.

traams

It has long been a frustration that Oxford, a city with such a rich recent heritage of music, should be so poorly served by live music nowadays. Fourth rate tribute bands, pointless 70s and 80s reunion tours and over-hyped next-big-things clog up what remains of the city’s venues ad nauseam. Every time we check the tour dates of bands and artists we’d love to see Oxford is rarely, if ever, on the map anymore.

Amongst this plethora of dross shines a beacon with the Bullingdon, a perfect venue that shames the corporate blandness of the O2 Academy just a few doors further up (Antarctic Monkeys, Boot Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam U.K. anyone?). And so it was there we headed last eve along with Chris T Popper and The Italian Job to see TRAAMS – a proper band. In Oxford. A cause for celebration. A shame the good citizens of the city couldn’t rouse themselves in larger numbers to come out and watch.

We arrived in time to see Vulgarians, the final of three support acts. New to us, but every bit as abrasive and as dark as one might have hoped. With echoes of the Birthday Party and The Fall and plenty of noisy, crunchy guitar they set the scene nicely for the main attraction. We liked the name too, particularly as Vulgaria is the land of one of our favourite villains, the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Enough of the frivolity though. TRAAMS don’t do frivolity – not for them the light-hearted banter between songs – one shouted request for Wonderwall elicits the briefest of grins in response, but that and a couple of terse thank yous are about as far as it goes. What TRAAMS do is play hard and fast – propulsive, enthralling, electrifying songs blending punk rock and experimental avant-garde, Television and Can into a brilliantly relentless barrage of motorik jams and hypnotic, thumping percussion.

traams-liveThere was no quarter asked and none given, the pace unrelenting, the rhythms undeniable. Costner and Neckbrace were short, sharp, staccato shocks to the system, Low a mid-weight throb and drone, new song Penguin was a juddering highlight. Crowd favourite Succulent Thunder Anthem’s venomous urgency ratcheted the intensity up another notch before another new song, the epic A House On Fire churned and roiled on a ferocious pulsating beat and Flowers provided some brief, fuzzy relief. Finally it was Klaus, a modern-day krautrock classic that provided the perfect, climactic finale ending in a punishing squall of feedback as the band took their leave of the stage.

Then it was over like a  thunderstorm that rages then passes. The Italian Job was all agog on her perfectly positioned stool and we traded superlatives as the too thin crowd began to melt away. Gigs like this don’t come along that often, especially in Oxford – walking back up the road the Academy proclaimed the delights of Alien Ant Farm. Maybe we get what we deserve.

 

 

 

 

The wonderful TRAAMS follow up the recently released Slipping and Penguin with a third track titled A House On Fire.

It is another of the band’s more epic songs, clocking in at just under nine minutes of krautrock inspired grooviness. The band explain: “A House On Fire has only been played live a couple of times so far. It’s been in the set for our current tour and is a lot of fun to play.  We’re quite fond of the recorded version and hope you like it too. Also, it’s nice and long and you can dance to it should you wish.”

Have a listen and indeed, dance if you wish. Also, see live dates below – the one with Girl Band should be a cracker…

 

 

Live Dates

November 2nd – Joiners Arms, Southampton
November 3rd – The Bullingdon, Oxford
November 9th – Queen Of Hoxton, London
November 10th – 02 Institute2, Birmingham (with The Wytches)
November 11th – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
November 16th – Picture House Social, Sheffield
November 24th – Studio2, Liverpool
November 25th – Club Ifor Bach, Cardiff
December 8th – Scala (with Girl Band)

best of the weekIt’s a big week of new releases in the Mad Mackerel world – new tunes from Foxygen, Cloud Nothings, the wonderful Traams and Blossoms to name but four.

Add to that songs from James McMurtryWeyes Blood, TOY, and long standing MM faves Trance Farmers and Estrons and we’ve had a bonanza seven days.

Nine songs for you. Enjoy.

  1. Cloud Nothings – Modern Act
  2. Foxygen – America
  3. Traams – Slipping
  4. Blossoms – Blown Rose
  5. James McMurtry – Screen Door  (Adam Carroll cover)
  6. Estrons – I’m Not Your Girl
  7. Trance Farmers – The Show
  8. Weyes Blood – Generation Why
  9. TOY – Clouds That Cover The Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

great escape

A final day building up the step count trudging between venues. This time choosing to start at a free all day gig at Bleach which was not an official GE event, and was nearly 3,000 steps away, but worth it all the same for Nots and Nap Eyes.

The former, a blistering all-female foursome from Tennessee, peeled what paint was left from the walls and the latter playing downstairs in the main bar offered some delightful slacker-indie pop with appropriately obtuse and literate lyrics. Both in their own way thoroughly entertaining.

After a break, I was back later for a set of spaced out, ambient tinged krautrock from Ulrika Spacek before Traams stormed the stage with their belligerent, brooding post-punk. A stunning Succulent Thunder Anthem appeared early in the set whilst closer Klaus was as good as anything we’ve heard live for a long, long time.

I hopped over the road (negligible steps) to The Joker to see a charming if somewhat inoffensively bland set of mild folk rock from Leif Erikson before retracing those 3,000 steps back to the seafront to squeeze in for the blazing, full on psychedelia of The Cult Of Dom Keller.

Ears suitably ringing, I did the last 1,000 steps or so back to the hotel and the end of three pretty fine days at the Great Escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

videoIt has been far too long since we posted any videos. We’re righting that wrong today with an excellent collection culled from our in-box – some old(er), some new, some borrowed and some blue(s).

So sit back, relax and enjoy musical films from Big Thief, Great American Canyon Band, Fidlar, M.Ward, On Dead Waves, All Them Witches, Impulsive Hearts, Bleached, Traams, and Holly Miranda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MM Best of 2015 no guitarAnd so here is the final personal Top Twenty of the year. This time it is my turn!

Another twelve months neatly wrapped up and delivered for your listening pleasure and here’s to 2016…

20. Quiet Hollers – Mont Blanc

An apocalyptic, “end-is-nigh” rolling, country rock anthem. Pure poetry with the best coda to a song I heard all year, “shed a tear for the books I shoulda read“.

 

19. H. Hawkline – Spooky Dog

Melodic, haunting, weird. Perfect psych-pop with added twisted electronics.

 

18. Arborist – Twisted Arrow

Brilliant debut single of lilting folk-rock concealing a bleak heart and featuring the hushed vocals of none other than Kim Deal of the Pixies.

 

17. Courtney Barnett – Depreston

With her forensic eye for lyrical detail and the ability to capture emotional turmoil in the sparest of sentences, Depreston is the sombre standout from her brilliant debut album proper. A tale of house hunting in Melbourne suburbia that travels from the mundane to the tender to the revealing.

 

16. Grandparents – Kids In The Alley

Take the most infectiously catchy refrain, add jangly guitars, carefree percussion and bubblegum melodies. This is what you get. A hallucinatory classic.

 

15. Futurekids – White Girl In A Wu Tang T-Shirt

Irresistible foot-tapping indie rock, the like of which you just don’t hear very much anymore.

 

14. Woolen Men – Life In Hell

A clattering, staccato burst of tense, nervy post-punk that recalls the best of Wire and The Wipers. The aural equivalent of being jabbed in the throat by a stray elbow in the mosh pit.

 

13. Rats On Rafts – Last Day On Earth

A mini masterpiece of epic, circling, incessant grooves. Far, far, far out man.

 

12. Decemberists – Carolina Low

This was one of those stopped-in-your-tracks moments that music gives you sometimes. Watching the Decemberists live in Bristol at the start of the year and Colin Meloy transfixing the whole audience into rapt attention with just guitar and voice. Also spent much of the year repeating “You’ve got an ugly little mouth boy” in a poor imitation of an American accent.

 

11. Low – What Part Of Me

Classic Low – haunting, spectral, fuzzy and quietly, poignantly devastating.

 

10. Spray Paint – Signal Master

Like Chris T Popper, Spray Paint are my favourite discovery of 2015. Easily the sleaziest, seediest offering of the year – caustic, dead-eyed junkie punk, bleak, repetitive, and crushingly brilliant. “It’s time to put the dog down“.

 

9. Protomartyr – Why Does It Shake

The Agent Intellect was unexpectedly my favourite record of 2015 and any number of tracks could legitimately have gatecrashed my favourite songs of the year. In the end I had to limit myself to two. This one, Why Does It Shake is described by the band as a “back-handed ode to humanity’s resilient self regard in the face of inevitable oblivion. Then the trap door opens.” and is equally exasperated and eloquent. It sets the tone with the doom-laden “False happiness is on the rise, See the victims pile high” and concludes in a stunning climax of clatter and squall.

 

8. Quiet Hollers – Côte d’Azur

A hit man, a traffic jam. A sparkling ocean. Another extraordinary track of ominous, foreboding beauty from the Quiet Hollers.

 

7. Gun Outfit – Gotta Wanna

I’m a sucker for dusty, sun-parched rock and expansive widescreen Americana and Gotta Wanna combines the two in perfect unison. This is humming road-weary, dusty desert blues of the finest vintage.

 

6. Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts – Scowling Crackhead Ian

The latecomers entry to the list. Over the course of a few short weeks Jeffrey Lewis’s wryly told tale of growing up with the evil anti-hero of his school days, until they are the only two left in the neighbourhood has firmly embedded itself in to my psyche. It effortlessly helps you to recall your own equivalent of Ian, someone you actively tried to avoid and whose unpredictability could be shocking and whose meanness was legendary (mine was Robert Beckett). “Forever you’ve been Crackhead Ian, It was your kid nickname if we spoke it, You were an insane human being, Whether you ever did or didn’t really smoke it“. Says it all really.

 

5. Girl Band – Pears For Lunch

Girl Band’s Holding Hands With Jamie was a criminally underrated release this year. A band that manages to take the most discordant, contradictory noise and meld it into something magnetically compelling that grips like a vice. Pears For Lunch combines a manic energy with Dara Kiely’s lethargic, disinterested vocals as he intones, “Spend my time watching Top Gear with my trousers down, Covered in Sudocrem and talking to myself, Garlic Curry Cheese Chips“. Exactly!

 

4. Traams – Succulent Thunder Anthem

Just shy of three minutes of propulsive, throbbing bass, skimming guitars and urgent vocals. This is Traams at their rollicking, ferocious best.

 

3. Protomartyr – Pontiac 87

The finest riff of the year, and a brilliantly hypnotic reflection on a dispiriting Papal visit to Pontiac, Michigan in the late eighties.

 

2. Houndmouth – Sedona

The best sing-a-long chorus of the year bar none. Altogether now, “Hey little Hollywood, You’re gone but you’re not forgot, You got the cash but your credit’s no good, You flipped the script and you shot the plot, And I remember I remember when your neon used to burn so bright and pink, A Saturday night kinda pink“.

 

1 Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin’

Probably the most overwhelming choice for number one song of the year that we’ve had in seven years of voting. A fingerpicked earworm, a sprawl of twangy guitar and surreal, laconic lyrics combine to create the perfect ode to stoned self-reflection.

 

And some other random choices..

Favourite cover of the year: Kinky Friedman – My Shit’s Fucked Up (Warren Zevon cover)

 

Gigs of the year: Fat White Family (Oxford) and The Decemberists (Bristol)

 

Song I wished I’d heard earlier in the year: Robert Chaney – The Ballad Of Edward And Lisa

 

Best Songs Heard For The First Time, But Not From This Year: Justin Townes Earle – Yuma & Sleaford Mods – Chop Chop Chop

 

 

You can see our full countdown of our favourite 100 Tracks of the year here (100-76), (75-51), (50-26), (25-1) and favourite 30 Albums here (30-16), (15-1).