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Murkey's Marvellous Mixtape 2014

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:06 pm
by MurkeyChris
Happy new year SOTWers. I'm a pretty irregular visitor here these days, but I hope you'll enjoy this little mix I've put together.

At the end of every year I make a playlist of my favourite musical discoveries of the last twelve months. The music can be old or new, any genre, anything goes.

This is my fifth end-of-year mix. There are 18 tracks coming from eight different countries. Here’s what I’ve loved in 2014. ... 7WVvSu0iax

Artists need support to do what they do. We all know now that Spotify pays around a thousandth of a dollar per stream. That’s ludicrous but is still better than some other ways of streaming. Those musicians who do put their stuff on Spotify generally do so for the sake of exposure (and, more than ever this year, a lot of the music I’ve enjoyed hasn’t been on there). The musicians still need you to pay for gigs and buy albums if they are going to be able to earn a living wage. With that in mind I’ve put links, where possible, to help you buy the album with the fewest middle-men between your money and the music makers.

Lorde – Royals

As ever, I’ve started with my favourite. Julius introduced me to this mesmerising, addictive song from the New Zealand singer at the very start of the year and I’ve rarely stopped listening to it since. For an alternative version, you might like this:

From Pure Heroine (Universal, 2013)

2. Bonnie Dobson and her Boys – Mean and Evil

UK-based Canadian Bonnie Dobson (now why is that surname familiar?) is one of an absolute horde of long-lost folk singers who have returned to recording in the last decade. Although her voice is stretched too thin elsewhere on the album, I love this swaggering blues, featuring Felix Holt on harmonica.

From Take me for a walk in the morning dew (Hornbeam, 2013). Available to buy from

3. Chancha Via Circuito - Sueño en Paraguay

Pedro Canale is a producer whose name means something like ‘pig on the circular train’. Dunno why. But what’s important is that he creates beautiful electronic music like this that embraces the traditional music of his native Argentina and its surrounding countries. Listen to the Paraguayan harp on here. This is something really special. Shame his recent European tour didn’t make it to the UK.

From the album Amansara (Crammed, 2014). Available to buy from

4. Coetus – La Molinera

Keeping it Latin, here’s a fantastic big band I saw when I went to Spain in April. They play folk music from along the whole Iberian Peninsula on a multitude of percussion instruments. You can read my review of them and others at the Folkarria festival at ... 014-spain/.

From the album Entre Tierras (Temps, 2012)

5. Kitty Gallagher – Keening Song

I’ve spent a lot of 2014 listening to music documentaries on the BBC iPlayer. One especially enchanting one was ‘The First LP in Ireland’, in which singer Colum Sands met some of the traditional Irish singers recorded in 1951 by Alan Lomax, Robin Roberts and Seamus Ennis. You can hear it at: It was the first time I heard this indescribably beautiful lament, sung by a singer the trio visited. Keening songs were performed to provide catharsis, and the singers were often employed at funerals.

Available on the album Traditional Songs of Ireland (Saydisc, 2011). Available from ... eland.html.

6. Sam Lee – Phoenix Island

England’s Sam Lee has a warm voice and an incredible talent for arranging folk songs. This song, pieced together from fragments of a traveller’s repertoire, is from his 2014 EP, which followed his classic 2012 debut album,Ground of its Own.

From More for to Rise (The Nest Collective Records, 2014)

7. Jacques Brel – Je Suis Un Soir D’Été

One of my favourite places to go in Brussels is a bar called Goupil Le Fol, which I generally just call the Jacques Brel bar, as they only play chanson and have the ceiling lined with old LPs. I’ve known of Brel through English translations of his songs for some time (most famously, Scott Walker doing Amsterdam), but never listened to him own recordings until recently. The languid ‘Je Suis Un Soir D’Été’ (‘I am a Summer’s Evening’) jumped out, with its haunting female vocal in the background.

Available on Les 50 Plus Belles Chansons (Barclay, 2013)

8. Pharrell Williams – Happy

I was introduced to this song by my cousin Lizzy on New Year’s Eve 2013. It’s ubiquity hasn’t dimmed it’s sheer joyfulness. The fact that it has it has proved such a potent political statement, with many fan videos coming from within oppressive regimes, just adds to its appeal.

From Despicable Me 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Back Lot Music, 2013)

9. Kirsty McGee and the Hobopop Collective – A Family Trait

This is Kirsty’s third appearance on one of my mixtapes. Well if she will keep making great albums of phenomenal original songs, what can I do? This perky number comes with what sounds to me like coconut shell percussion and James ‘Matt Steel’s brother’ Steel on electric guitar. Listen to the lyrics and it seems be from the perspective of a character (I imagine a hick from Southern USA) gently justifying her incestuous relationship. Creepy, but a masterful bit of songwriting.

From Those Old Demons (Hobopop Recordings, 2014). Available to buy from

10. Emmylou Harris – Wrecking Ball

I was seduced by the Emmylou Harris song ‘Deeper Well’ a few years ago, but only got around to listening to the song’s parent album in full this year. The album, Wrecking Ball, is a masterpiece. Produced by Daniel ‘once in a band with Owen’s uncle’ Lanois, I could have picked any of the tracks to go on here. I opted for the title track, with chorus vocals from the song’s author, Neil Young.

From Wrecking Ball (Elektra, 1995)

11. Beverley Martyn – Levee Breaks

Another lost folk chanteuse, this is Martyn’s first album in fourteen years and only her second since her two 1970 albums with her late, great but abusive ex-husband, John Martyn. This version of the American blues, originally written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, is a highlight, with crashing electric guitar by Michael Watts.

From The Phoenix and the Turtle (Les Cousins, 2014). Available to buy from ... ley-martyn.

12. Elizabeth Mitchell with Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Ruthy Ungar, Gail Ann Dorsey, Dan Zanes, Aoife O’Donovan and Simi Stone – Children, go where I send thee

It seems I have soft spot for children’s albums of American folk songs. Here’s a great singalong for Christmas.

From The Sounding Joy: Songs In and Out of the Ruth Crawford Seeger Songbook (Smithsonian Folkways, 2013). Available to buy from ... unding-joy.

13. Chano Dominguez – Flamenco Sketches

My mixtapes often reflect whatever country I have visited in the year they cover. Sure enough there are no less than five tracks on here from Spain, following my trip to Madrid in April. Pianist Chano Dominguez is influenced by both jazz and flamenco, as can be heard in this Miles Davis cover, which moves from gentle contemplation to explosive fireworks. He’s joined by Blas Cordoba on vocals and handclaps, Dafnis Prieto on drums and Ben Stree on bass.

From Flamenco Sketches (Blue Note, 2011)

14. La Shica – Zingara Rapera

La Shica, aka Elsa Rovayo, is a dancer, singer and rapper inspired in equal measure by flamenco music and pop innovators like Björk and Camille. I interviewed her in Madrid, and she was lovely. Unfortunately, on my return to the UK, contact with her people completely dried up, and I couldn’t write the planned article. It was very frustrating, but enjoy this track from her debut anyway.

From Trabajito de Chinos (Warner Music Spain, 2008)

15. Pan de Capazo – Coiroos 86

Whilst in Madrid, I also met with Ramon Rodriguez from Pan de Capazo. You will be able to read about this wild, punky folk band in the March issue of fRoots magazine. And look out for some UK shows in February/March too.

From Wi:l (2011). Available to buy from

16. The First Edition – I just dropped in (to see what condition my condition was in)

I heard this bizarre piece of psychedelic majesty on a compilation of songs by Kenny Rogers, the lead singer with the First Edition. He’s a man best known for middle-of-the-road country numbers, so I thought I’d discovered some obscure slice of experimental whimsy, until Julius pointed out it was used quite prominently (and brilliantly) in The Big Lebowski (see Oh well, no cool points for me, but still a great song.

From The First Edition (Reprise, 1967)

17. Moore Moss Rutter – The Galway Shawl

I picked up the debut Moore Moss Rutter release a couple of years ago, never really took it in. When I saw they were playing at Glastonbury this year I dug it out again, to reveal a trio playing intricate and intelligent instrumental music and songs sung in Jack Rutter’s plaintive croon. I went to see them at the festival, where they were entertaining the crowds in one of the bars. “Who’ve you come here to see?” one of them asked the crowd. “You!”, I shouted out in reply. They thought I was joking!

From Moore Moss Rutter (Rootbeat Records, 2011). Available to buy from

18. SonDeSeu Orquestra Folk – Barlovento

A bouncy number from a 45-piece Galician folk orchestra to send you on your way…

From Barlovento (2010). Available to buy from

Re: Murkey's Marvellous Mixtape 2014

PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:38 pm
by NormanD
Thanks, Chris, for another great list of faves and recommendations. There's always some good 'uns there. Sam Lee has a new album coming out in a couple of months, something to look forward to.

Re: Murkey's Marvellous Mixtape 2014

PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:26 am
by Rob Hall
Yes, thanks from me too Chris. I don't do Spotify, but I'm familiar with a few of the tracks that you mention (in particular Emmylou's 'Wrecking Ball' album, which deserves to be more widely appreciated) and I shall seek out the others.

Re: Murkey's Marvellous Mixtape 2014

PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:13 pm
by MurkeyChris
Thanks both! By the way, those on FB can follow my 'writer' page at I've been pursuaded I really should do these things!