Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 8, Mrs Mackerel

Here at MM we share, chat, argue, bury and praise music on a pretty regular basis…like daily. So throughout the year, the Mackerel crew (Mrs Mackerel, Barry-Sean, Christy-Popper, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Starbar, MM and others) keep their own ever-changing top tens ready for publication at the climax of the festive season.

So last, but very much not least, is the lovely (though flu-stricken) Mrs Mackerel and her choices for 2010.

We all sweat a little over our top tens and I don’t know why really. This is just what I think, you will undoubtedly think a little different. But I’ve always found my fellow top ten contributors a great source of new sounds that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen myself. And if you find one song you like that you didn’t know before, then job done really. So to all the musicians that kindly let us post their wares, a heartfelt thank you – here’s to the next 12 months.

10. Kurran & The Wolfnotes – Your Four Limbs (Download here)

Sunny upbeat music with a beautiful harmonies, juxtaposed with a rather a dark message. A masochistic love of complete surrender; one-sided blind devotion and infatuation. It doesn’t end well.

9. Adam Green – What Makes Him Act So Bad  (Download here)

Appeals to the latent rock chick in me: she may lie sleeping, but she’s still in there. The laconic, growling delivery of the lyrics makes this tune twist and dip. Late night smoky bar sort of song, bit of a hip swayer over a cocktail or two. “I know you’re a wonderful dancer” – why thank you, Adam, I expect I’m the one with the answers too.

8. Lykke Li – Get Some  (Download here)

A proper bit of girl power in the form of a punchy, irrepressible foot-stomping beat. It’s not one to get your daughters to sing along to, but I love the rhythmic no-messing attitude of this song. It’s not often you hear such a drum/percussion-dominated track but this only means it beds into your mental song library very easily. And unlike with say, Two Little Boys (sorry Rolf), you don’t end up irritating yourself.

7. Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol  (Download here)

A sleazy, sultry mix which tips a nod to Chris Isaacs and maybe even the Raveonettes too; the drums sound like a heartbeat, the guitars borrow a little from Hank Marvin. This song belongs to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.

6.  Tallest Man On Earth – King Of Spain  (Download here)

Off we gallop at a rollicking pace before yep, here he comes, the Tallest Man on Earth, this time masquerading as the King of Spain. He has a unique and idiosyncratic voice that truly sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, and my great musical regret of 2009 is that MM and I were unable to make his London gig in last autumn.

5. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

Oh I do like a man with a voice as deep as the night. Matt Berninger’s unmistakeable baritone cuts through this lament, with the drums bringing up the rear. Hypnotic offering from a band that have been waiting in the wings for some much deserved recognition from the wider world.

4. Haunted Windchimes – Sea Bride  (Visit their website here. We can’t post the song or find a stream or a video…but you can listen via spotify here)

I loathe wind-chimes. Pointless instruments of aural torture. But once I got past the name, well this is a finger-pickin’ good tune. One of my outstanding films of 2010 was Winter’s Bone and there’s a scene in it where a hill-billy Nan and her mates are sat round in what looks like someone’s front room/bar. What they make is real music for the soul. I could imagine the Haunted Windchimes pulling up a chair and being right at home – and I mean this musically, not in an in-bred, gun-toting sort of way (she adds hastily).

3. Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

To me this is our MM summer of 2010 song: it’s sunshine and dreaminess and love. There’s self doubt and possibly even a Shelley-esque metaphor used (eyes being the window of the soul and all that). All sung to a back-drop of retro, up-tempo, carefully layered music. He’s in love, distracted, missed his train, and constantly wondering what she’s thinking. Dammit, Lucy, he needs to know – are you one he’s been waiting for so, so long? I’m rather glad I’m not 20-something any more …

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2. Laura Marling – What He Wrote

What she writes, what she sings, what she plays is incomparable to any of her peers. But age sometimes belies wisdom. I struggled to choose from the riches of her second album, but this wins over Goodbye England by a smidge, simply because I prefer the latter in its unaccompanied arrangement. Here we have a piece of Greek mythology entwined with some war time letters; cause and effect; love and loss. “I am broken too and spoken for, do not tempt me.” A talent of rare and precious mettle.

1.Avalanche City – Ends In The Ocean  (Download here)

This snuck up when I wasn’t looking: the more I listened, the more I liked it. Kiwi Dave Baxter is Avalanche City; he taught himself to sing, plays all the instruments (apart from the drums) on this track, and recorded his debut album, solo, armed with a week’s supply of veggie curry. I like that in a person. And the song? It’s about losing yourself, and finding yourself again. It’s uplifting and positive and life-affirming – and it has a goodness that radiates through my very skin. “But now all that I see is life breaking free, so long captivity for me.” Not a bad way to end the year.

This year’s honourable mention goes to…

Jason Ward – Bless You  (Download here)

Bless you, Jason Ward. And bless you, MM. It’s quite a feat to make someone laugh when they’re in that much pain. Lies, deceit and fraud just ain’t enough for some people – let’s chuck in assault and battery too. Bless You is the anthem for the lesser common psycho. Delusional and toxic, they often hunt in pairs. Napoleon and Squealer. The Liver Turds. All should be sealed in a room and made to listen to Alexandra Burke on a loop. All together now, “How horrible are you …”

Bubbling Under:

5. Isobel Campbell & Willie Mason – Cool Water

4. Gorillaz – Melancholy Hill

3. Pancake BreakfastBallad of Maynard Noe

2. Mumford & SonsUnfinished Business

1. Port O’BrienMy Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)

And the Mrs Mackerel “Missed the Boat” or Songs I love that are not 2010

She Keeps Bees & Sharon Van EttenCuddle Alone

Just about the saddest song ever written. There’s nothing else to say really. Haunting.

The Dutchess & The DukeScorpio

Well, often timing is everything; I became aware of D&TD about ten days after they split up. Was it something I said? Scorpio is a particular favourite, a painfully observed lament about a dying relationship.

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (24th December)

This time last week, we were snow free. Twenty-four hours later, nearly two foot of the white fluffy stuff had settled, sending Christmas plans into chaos. Beautiful though it undoubtedly is, it’s created a seasonal barrier for some of us to seeing those you love the most.

So sadly, the Mackerels don’t go Mackem this Yule, but we will enjoy our very special Norsk Christmas Eve courtesy of Bestemor. So bring on the rice cream, the Weegie carols, and a plentiful supply of candles.

Good Jul to you and yours

Mrs Mackerel

For me it’s been the year of female vocalist, and as our own Christmas gift, we are very privileged to be able to offer a previously unreleased song from the ethereal-voiced Sharon Van Etten (written by Jeremy Joyce). A Mad Mackerel exclusive for Christmas Eve, we are humbled. The track is called Coming Home.

Download Sharon Van Etten – Coming Home mp3 (Theme from the film Women’s Prison)

Introducing…Jeremy Joyce

Jeremy Joyce is a guy who plays the guitar and writes songs from Philadelphia and currently residing in Brooklyn. He also writes great biographies…

“He got his start listening to Metallica on tape on boomboxes that had features such as high speed dubbing. He often noted that Iron Maiden sounded a lot better when they were being dubbed at high speed. Working nights at a Texaco, Joyce bought the cheapest generic strat he could get. The first song he ever wrote contained references to Star Trek. It was a bad ass song recorded on a 4 track and was at the time compared to King Crimson. Later in life Joyce would work as a bike messenger in Philadelphia and program electronic music. After that Joyce played lead guitar for Adam Arcuragi, until they parted in one of the most famed band breakups in Philadelphia history. Alone and forsaken Joyce went out to try to pick up girls at open mics. He met one but she was taken, Laurie Pickard. They formed the Fence Bells and made an EP and album with Brian McTear. After the demise of the Fence Bells, Jeremy made several unreleased EPs and singles.

Fast Forward to 2010, Joyce makes an EP called The By And By. It rocks and swings, thanks to some pretty awesome musicians: Cousin Nick Ferrante of the Black Hollies, John Foti (a friend in Dan Zanes and Friends), Erin Bru of the Defibulators. Plus everything recorded at Seaside Lounge sounds good.”

Like he says…”it’s kinda rock, kinda bluesy. Hope you like it“.

We did – a lot.

Take a listen to 18 Wheels below, a dark and groovy rocker with a great Hammond Organ solo, and head over here to download the rest of the EP for free (limited time) or on CDr in polybox with silkscreened cover for $5.

Download Jeremy Joyce – 18 Wheels mp3 (from The By And By EP)

Best Coast & Wavves Christmas Song

It’s been around a little while, but following on from Crystal Stilts earlier today comes no-wave, lo-fi, chillwave, witch-house, stoner darlings (or something like that) Best Coast and Wavves collaborating on this Christmas tune.

A cheery ditty and better late than never – after all, like us, you may have missed it!

Download Best Coast & Wavves – Got Something For You mp3

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 7, Mad Mackerel

Here at MM we share, chat, argue, bury and praise music on a pretty regular basis…like daily. So throughout the year, the Mackerel crew (Mrs Mackerel, Barry-Sean, Christy-Popper, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Starbar, MM and others) keep their own ever-changing top tens ready for publication at the climax of the festive season.

So here are MM’s ten favourite tunes from 2010 – no claims on them being the best, but for many different reasons, these are the tracks that most struck a chord (no pun intended).

10 Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade (Download Here)

Phosphorescent just seem to get better and better. A wonderful album provided this superb tale of failed love told in a resigned, accepting way and accompanied by mournful pedal steel and piano.

9 Red Clay River – Rattlesnake Mountain (Download here)

Always loved a good dose of black hearted, downbeat, gothic country and Red Clay River deliver in spades with this skeletal gem.

8 Strand Of Oaks – Alex Kona

Alex Kona was 12 feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball“, how could you not want to know the rest of the story? A standout track from a wonderful album of sparse fingerpicked folk and occasional psychedelic wigouts…Fast forward to track 5 below, or just stream the whole wonderful record.

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7 Local Natives - World News (Download here)

While others in the Mackerel shoal may have been seduced by Airplanes, it was the propulsive, upbeat rhythms and effortlessly catchy chorus of World News that claimed my ears.

6 Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

The runaway feel good hit of the summer. Catchy, uplifting and a perfect soundtrack to the setting sun at the Truck Festival.

5 No Age – Fever Dreaming (Download here)

This song steamed out of the traps like it had just been released from the punk heydey of 1977 – and there is no higher praise in my book. Turn up loud and abuse the neighbours – especially if they’re like some of ours. Wankers.

4 Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True

On a par with their classic Black River Killer – a wonderfully surreal and compelling story of murder, trains, truth and gardening. Exceptional.

3 Howling Owls – Family Tree (Download here)

My favourite new band discovery of the year. One after another they sent songs MM’s way and all could have been top ten contenders. In the end it was this majestically malevolent ode to a dysfunctional family life where nothing is at it seems, or as it should be, that won out.

2 Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill (Download here)

A wonderfully poignant and nostalgic paean to a relative who is casting a knowing eye over his nephew’s mistakes and while he knows, he doesn’t tell. With lyrics that cut to the chase and tell a story that is as warm as it is personal. In a different day and age Wooden Wand would be a household name.

1 Black Mountain – Let Spirits Ride

Who cares if the riff is nicked from another song, or if it sounds like 1972. I don’t when it as good as this. Probably the one song in 2010 that I never ever skipped, that I always turned up to 11, and which, seen live at the End of the Road cemented its place as my number one.

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Bubbling Under

1. Dr Dog – Later

2. Lumerians – Burning Mirrors

3.Tweak BirdA Sun Ahh Ahh

4. PaleoThe King James Fakebook

5. Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu

Best Songs First Heard in 2010, but not 2010

1. Joe PugHymn 35

2.The Willard Grant Conspiracy – Drunkard’s Prayer

3.Knife In The Water – Young Blood In The River

Guilty Pleasure

I’m with Dr Roddy. Pure Eurovision perfection…Lena Mayer and Satellite.

Another Cover to Cherish

Having posted our ten favourite covers of the year yesterday, we completely omitted this one, which would easily have gatecrashed the top three.

It is Laura Marling’s wonderful cover of Neil Young’s The Needle And The Damage Done, which is the b-side to her latest, limited edition vinyl single produced by Jack White.

Watch the excellent stop-motion animation video by Redman & Sasufi.

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 6, Cover Songs

Following most excellent Top Ten submissions from Starbar, Polly Pocket, Dr Roddy, Barry-Sean and Mr Popper come MM’s top ten covers of 2010.

Now, we’ve said on many occasions that we’re not great lovers of covers. However, some of the cover versions we heard in 2010 may well have done enough to change our minds permanently.

So without further ado…

10 Holly Miranda – Nobody Sees Me Like You Do mp3 (Yoko Ono cover)

9 First Aid Kit – When I Grow Up mp3 (Fever Ray cover) Link removed by DMCA – no reason given…

8 Emily Reo – On The Beach mp3 (Neil Young cover)

7 Fever Ray – Mercy Street mp3 (Peter Gabriel cover)

6 Dead Luke – Ghost Rider mp3 (Suicide cover)

5 Mumford & Sons – Unfinished Business mp3 (White Lies cover)

4 Morning Benders – Outlaw Blues mp3 (Bob Dylan cover)

3 Wooden Shjips – Drunk Girls mp3 (LCD Soundsystem cover)

2 Japandroids – Racer X mp3 (Big Black cover)

1 Port O’Brien – My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down(Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) mp3 (Ramones cover)

And an honourable mention for this 2009 cover that we only first heard this year.

Download Phosphorescent – Big Red Sun Blues mp3 (Lucinda Williams cover)

And finally, we don’t post remixes because by and large we can’t be bothered with them. This was one exception to prove our rule. The Mystery Jets given the classic spacerock treatment by The Wooden Shjips.

Download The Mystery Jets – Dreaming Of Another World (Wooden Shjips remix) mp3