Friday, July 24, 2020

McQ's Best Of 2019 Vol 6 - All Things Rockin'!

Punk-pop, garage rock, southern-friedrock, guitar-anchored pysch-rock, harder-hitting indie and rousing bar band efforts make up the bulk of this, our liveliest of the 2019 mixes.  Not an exceptional year in this neck of the woods, but you wouldn't know it based on the strength of these tunes.

Here's the Spotify link. Enjoy!


1. Chequeless Reckless - Fontaines D.C.: We'll be hitting three more songs from Dublin post-punkers 2019 Mercury prize nominated Dogrel (Strong Recommend) on this mix here.  First up, Chequeless Reckless, owner of my favorite opening rock verse of 2019. 

2. Walking Away From Love - Steve Mason: Really found myself enjoying former Beta Band frontman/guitarist Steve Mason's varied but unpretentious fourth solo album About The Light (Solid Recommend). On this number here, Mason strikes a straightforward uptempo rocking pose.

3. Psy-Ops Dispatch - Thee Oh Sees: Face Stabber (Solid Recommend) is not the best of the Thee Oh See's now twenty-two full-length releases (I'm still partial to the Brigid Dawson/Petey Dammit-era garage-anchored peaks Carrion Crawler/The Dream and Floating Coffin), but I'll be damned if this isn't the most adventurous album of the act's prolific career. On Face Stabber, guitarist John Dwyer takes all the textural experimentation that has increasingly dominated the band's last few releases and channels it into a supremely ambitious attempt to deliver a pysch-rock album every bit as fluid and improvisational as jazz.  More often than not, as on the pounding Psy-Ops Dispatch here, he and the band succeeds, but the album's supreme triumph is coming up a bit later in this mix. 

4. Kebab Spider - Sleaford Mods: Now well into their second decade, Nottingham's greatest punk-rap ranters continue to mine caustic gold from their very narrowly defined but utterly unique formula on their 10 the full-length Eton Alive.

5. Greenville - The Long Ryders: One of the best comeback stories of 2019, 80's LA Paisley Underground legends The Long Ryders returned with their first studio album in 32 years in the warm, oft charming Pyschedelic Country Soul (Solid Recommend), ably abetted by the most surprising of patrons, Dr. Dre, who donated recording time at his personal studio in support of the effort.

6. Starfire 500 - Amyl And The Sniffers: One of 2019's top punk releases, debut Amyl And The Sniffers (Solid Recommend) introduced the world to this hyper-charged up-and-coming Aussie act and their charismatic, Wendy O. Williams-voiced lead singer Amy Taylor. Opener Starfire 500 is just one of several top tier barn burners on the album. 

7. Get Yourself Together - The Black Keys: While not a peak work in their discography, I found the Black Keys self-produced ninth album and first in five years "Let's Rock."(Solid Recommend) to be a highly entertaining, streamlined, unpretentious party-rock effort in the vein of 2011's fantastic El Camino.

8. Fighting - Redd Kross: The venerable LA-alternative act led by the McDonald brothers stepped forward in 2019 with their second release of the decade with Beyond The Door (Mild Recommend), and though the album overall is at times a bit of a mess with its chaotic, Cheap Trick-flavored mix of heavy metal tropes and Beatle-esque harmonies, I found my several really enjoying the madcap track Fighting presented here.

9. Hypersonic Missiles - Sam Fender: The appealing title track from young, slightly Springsteenish mainstream rocker Sam Fender and his full-length studio debut Hypersonic Missiles.

10. Loner - Queen Zee:  Queen Zee, we hardly knew thee. Formed in 2017, the British queercore garage-punk act had already call it quits by the end of 2019, but not before releasing their highly entertaining self-titled debut Queen Zee (Solid Recommend). It's an album loaded with snarky, spirited, youthful gems, including tracks like Sissy Fits, Porno, and awesome closer I Hate Your New Boyfriend, but nothing on the album hits with quite the punch of the absolutely classic slab of garage rock Loner included here.

11. One Sick Plan - Oso Oso: One of the few songs on this mix with a clear 90s alternative rock indebtedness, it's a highlight from Long Island rocker Oso Oso's similarly styled third studio release basking in the glow

12. Now That You're Gone -The Raconteurs: We're including our two favorite songs in this mix from the Jack White-led Raconteurs first studio album in eleven years, the sturdy Help Us Stranger (Mild Recommend), starting with the effective slow burner Now That You're Gone.

13. F The NRA - The Coathangers: They had me at "F." No way I couldn't include this very pointed song from all-girl Atlanta garage-rock veterans The Coathanger's latest The Devil You Know (Mild Recommend). 

14. Show Me - Mikal Cronin: Engagingly patient but insistent garage rocker with an rich, varied arrangement here from Bay Area resident and Ty Segall bassist Cronin's fourth solo studio release Seeker

15. Signs, High Times - Tedeschi Trucks Band: Killer, super grooving Gospel/Blues number here from Jacksonville-based, husband/wife-led Tedeschi Trucks Band taken from their fourth studio album Signs

16. Roy's Tune - Fontaines D.C.: Most of Fontaines D.C.'s debut Dogrel is an aggressive, fairly snarling affair, but on a couple of occasions the band shows it's more than capable of taking things down a notch or two, as on this so appealing, almost REM-ish mid-tempo number here.


17 & 18: Ronin & Remember To Breathe - Sturgil Simpson: A record that almost landed a spot on Vol 2 - Best Albums Left, Sturgil Simpson's SOUND & FURY (Solid Recommend) holds a dichotomous slot in his discography, being both in one sense his weakest album to date, but at the same time by far his liveliest and most entertaining. After embracing his inner Van Morrison on 2016's excellent A Sailor's Guide To Earth, here Simpson embraces the essence of classic Southern Fried Rock and synth-anchored New Wave tropes simultaneously.  The entire album possesses a full-throttled, over-the-top, schizophrenic, cacophonous energy, especially on the album's positively bad-ass instrumental opener Ronin, paired in tandem here, as on the album, with second song Remember To Breathe.

19. California Friends - The Regrettes: Sunny female-fronted, Go-Gos-flavored garage from fittingly, a rising So-Cal quartet and their sophomore outing How Do You Love

20. You Did Good Kid - The Hold Steady: Lively, encouraging return to form here for the witty Minnesota yarn spinners, taken from their loose and spirited seventh album Thrashing Thru The Passion (Solid Recommend), their first full-length release since the return of beloved keyboardist Franz Nicolay to the lineup after over a decade spent away.

21. Hardly To Blame - Sheer Mag: Philly-based Sheer Mag was at it again in 2019 with their second full-length album of southern-fried punk numbers (including Hardly To Blame) A Distant Call.

22. I/m Not Here [missing face] - The Twilight Sad: Impassioned Scottish post-punkers The Twilight Sad dropped their fifth (and imho best) album in 2019 with IT WON/T BE LIKE THIS ALL THE TIME (Solid Recommend). Had a tough time picking between the self-loathing of I/m Note Here [missing face] and the equally excellent but slightly more positive VTr as representative track, but ultimately, the sheer intensity of I/m Not Here won out. 

23. Uncomfortably Numb - American Football: The almost identically named Pink Floyd classic gets a rethinking by the Urbana, Illinois emo veterans, complete with a vocal assist from Paramore's Hayley Williams, to highlight their third full-length outing of intricately paced sonics and misery American Football (LP3).

24. In America - Ezra Furman: No outright narrative themes this time out following a couple of critically acclaimed concept albums, but the the ragged, DIY charm of the engaging binary Chicago rocker remains on this single from his latest outing Twelve Nudes

25. Tough Enough - Ex Hex: The best slab of classic rock restoration from Mary Timony-led Ex Hex's slightly disappointing It's Real (Mild Recommend), a decent enough record that will definitely appeal to fans, but one that doesn't quite match the excitement of the band's excellent live performances or their exuberant 2014 debut Rips.

26. Free At Last - PUP: Hailing Toronto, punk pop quartet PUP's third studio release Morbid Stuff (Solid Recommend) was one of the most entertaining spiky, snotty expressions of youthful disaffection in 2019, and rarely were they spikier or snottier than on Free At Last, with it's should be classic put down refrain of "Just because you're sad again / doesn't mean you're special at all!" 

27. Woman - Lux Prima: Cool little number here from eponymous retro-soul debut Lux Prima (Mild Recommend), an intriguing, moody collaboration between superstar producer/Broken Bells-member Danger Mouse and Yeah Yeah Yeah's lead singer Karen O.

28. Simple Life - Lukas Nelson and Promise Of The Real: Fresh off their supporting turn as Bradley Cooper's backing band 2018's A Star Is Born, Promise Of The Real got back to putting their voice and music center stage with 2019's politically feisty but musically low-key country-rocker Turn Off The News (Build A Garden)

29. Just The Way - that dog.: Venturing between older, wiser, nostalgic indie-balladry and their original punkier roots, we will hit both sides of veteran LA girl group that dog's delightful first release in twenty-two years Old LP (Solid Recommend) over the course of this mix collection, starting with their punkier side here with Just The Way

30. An Empty Corner - Wilco: Odd, intriguing, barely there ballad from Wilco's latest, eleventh studio effort Ode To Joy (Mild Recommend). 

31. Firewall - Sleaford Mods: England's greatest, most caustic punk-rappers were at again in 2019, firing their caustic, working-class invective at targets both large and small on tenth studio outing Eton Alive (Solid Recommend). Those trademark, ultra-cool minimalistic beats are as great as ever, but one subtle variation, lead agitator Jason Williamson sings as often as he raps this time out, a shift best exemplified by the album's most melodic track Firewall included here.

32. Somedays (I Don't Feel Like Trying) - The Raconteurs: One more anthemic number from The Raconteurs engagingly hard-rocking latest Help Us Stranger to fittingly close out set two. 


33. Henchlock - Thee Oh Sees:  One of the definitive songs of 2019, and the best song on this mix, never does Face Stabber's psych-rock/jazz fusion gel more convincingly than on album closer Henchlock, all glorious twenty-one minutes of it. That crazy length is the only reason we left of Henchlock off of our Vol 2 - Best Albums Left mix, but rest assured, though ridiculously long, this Thee Oh Sees mega-jam is never boring. A modern-day rock classic.

34. Hurricane Laughter - Fontaines D.C.: Here's one last number from Fontaine D.C.'s stellar debut Dogrel, Hurricane Laughter, a rhythm guitar highlight on an album loaded with inventive rhythm guitar highlights.

35. Rocket - Steve Mason: One of my favorite moody tracks of 2019, this slow burner from Mason's About The Light finds the former Beta Band leader adopting a compelling David Gilmourish-vibe.

36. Shooting Stars - Rival Sons: Yes, it comes close to bordering on cheese in its earnestness, but end of the day, I still seriously enjoyed this rousing, anthemic call to principled arms from Long Beach, California classic-rockers Rival Sons' sixth full-length Feral Roots (Mild Recommend).

No comments: