Mad Mackerel Recommends…The Henry Clay People

Mad Mackerel Recommends...Henry Clay People.

The Henry Clay People have a new album set for a June 26th release on TBD Records, Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives is a thrilling and sweaty thirty minutes of teenage restlessness expertly melded with adult malaise.

The new album sees not only the return of the band’s original line up, but songwriters and brothers Joey and Andy Siara rediscovering and redefining their punky roots, allowing them to craft their most urgent, bratty, and melancholic record to date.

There is evidence aplenty in new songs, try the 90s slacker guitar patterns of Hide (download below) or the the skater brat inspired The Fakers and the punk revival of EveryBandWeEverLoved - just some of the twelve songs that make Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives the sound of The Henry Clay People finally discovering and revelling in the sound of their own, true voice.

Download The Henry Clay People – Hide mp3 (from Twenty-Five For The Rest Of Our Lives)

Introducing >>> Red Cosmos

Introducing...Red Cosmos.

Red Cosmos is the work of one wonderfully named Kim Tortoise and when we received her CD, There And Back, in the post with a most engaging handwritten note it created the initial impression of a gentle soul full of whimsy with a floaty dress and an acoustic guitar.

Hmm. Not quite.

Released a month or so ago, this is an album that is overflowing with ideas and originality mixing as it does folk with pastoral psychedelia, sound samples, ambient electronics, and hazy, woozy vocals. Throughout, the record is underpinned with a nonchalant humour and sly insouciance including one song inspired by holier-than-thou TV presenter Philip Schofield’s inherent insincerity (Do Geese See God?).

Songs switch from tripped out to tripped up to just plain trippy, creating the kind of feel that you get with a Tim Burton inspired nightmarish nursery rhyme. Take England’s Glory, the tale of a mother visited in the middle of the night by the pale spectre of her son dying alone, somewhere far away on a battlefield. Elsewhere, it calls to mind such psychedelic greats as Syd Barrett as well as more contemporary MM faves such as Damon Moon, Mathew Sawyer and Benjamin Shaw.

The album has the kind of wilful, single-mindedness and surreal vision that so many strive for and yet fail to achieve, and which is so essential in creating a unique voice. By the end of the record, we are left with the suspicion Red Cosmos might be the kind of band to drown fish just for the perverse pleasure of seeing if they can.

Try a couple of standout tracks below. Grab a digital copy from the Red Cosmos Bandcamp page, but best of all, buy the limited edition CD for $10. Just click here to do either.

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Wednesday Means Seven Of The Best: Do Believe The Hype?

Seven of the Best: Do Believe The Hype?

Here are a few streams of some of the latest singles and tracks to be creating a buzz round these parts. Worth the hype or not…you decide!

This is Anthem from King Tuff’s self titled album – full-on glam rock revival anyone? Order the record and/or grab yourself a free download of Bad Thing from SubPop here.

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This is Husbands by Savages, part of a double A-side single release (along with Flying To Berlin) and from the very first ominous percussion and insistent guitar line you know you are in for a treat. We’re really enjoying this viciously nihilistic tune.

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Another all-female band very coolly and confidently mining a rich seam of punked-up garage rock are Pins. This is Shoot You taken from their debut cassette which is now available again after a second run.

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Spector have released a new single, Celestine is another catchy indie anthem to follow in the footsteps of Chevy Thunder and Never Fade Away.

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Electric Chair by lo-fi slacker Bleached has been around for a while, but is the epitome of subterranean garage punk, all calculated swagger and sneer. This song could almost own its own scuffed leather biker jacket…

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Prissy Clerks have a sound that is a bit sweeter, with guitars that jangle more than buzz, and a mellower vocal that gives their track No Sir a 90s indie vibe, but delve beneath the surface and the sound is suffused with reverb and a hitherto unseen heaviness that contrasts perfectly with the poppier upside.

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The Dune Rats new single is titled Fuck It, thus guaranteeing them absolutely no radio airplay whatsoever. It sees an official release in July and is every bit as brattish, scuzzy and insolent as you could possibly have hoped for.

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Lastly another all-girl group Haim, have built themselves quite a reputation and this track Better Off, from their new EP shows why. In fact you can download the whole EP for free from their website here.

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The Handsome Family: Live Review

The Handsome Family: Live Review.

The Handsome Family || Bullingdon Arms, Oxford || May 25th 2012

You never quite know what you’re going to get at a Handsome Family gig. The venue was an old familiar haunt, quite cataclysmically changed from yesteryear – and not in an altogether good way. (Though thankfully, the Back Room of the Bully now has air con, which on a sweltering Friday evening in May is just what was needed.) It all made me feel quite sad to my gills. Mind you not quite as sad or as sick as a pint of possibly the worst beer I’ve ever tasted, blended with what tasted like Fairy Liquid lemon. Undrinkable. Never mind, on to darker matters, which is of course, why we’re here.

First up was New Zealand duo, Tiny Ruins, who played an impressively short set. Perhaps it wasn’t so short, but by the time I had found out what time their set started, hoisted the men folk from their seats, we saw about two songs and it was all over.  Don’t blame me, she muttered to herself. Nevertheless, it was impressive: two gals, hosting one guitar and one double bass betwixt, bewitched the milling crowd with gentle ballads and breathy vocals. Expect to hear more from this pair in the future.

So on with the Rennie and Brett Sparks show, the opening of which stalled slightly due to a technical error (I was slightly anxious for the sound man for a short time) and then, all at once, we entered the twilight zone. Much has been writ of Rennie’s idiosyncratic banter between songs, and yes, her low key, laconic asides make their set all the better and funnier. She was on fine form tonight – carefully scripted ad libs these are not – but a little light in contrast to the dark they are.

We kick off with Weightless Again (think holiday in the red mountains, minus medication, gone wrong) followed by So Much Wine (think too much wine, too often, rather tragically), so that’s two of us happy. Baritone Brett sings effortlessly and deeply to your own heart of darkness (think Andrew Eldritch meets Grizzly Adams) and we get an extensive set spanning the old and the new, yet to be released, material. All the while, Rennie effortlessly strums, sings, chats and reflects on a whim.  Set highlights include, The Giant of Illinois, The Bottomless Hole, The Sad Milkman, After We Shot The Grizzly and encore tune, Linger Let Me Linger.

Handsome Family On Mad Mackerel.

New songs about an octopus and a glow worm suggest new variations on themes of natural phenomena (caves, holes, lightning, swamps) and wildlife (snakes, caterpillars, frogs, spiders, giant birds).  They truly are one-off originals with their strange but beautiful strain of gothic folk.

Soon it’s all over to a deservedly warm reception from the intimate crowd, and we all leave smiling – perhaps a little macabre in another setting. But you know, you had to be there.

Download The Handsome Family – The Sad Milkman mp3 (from In The Air)

Download Tiny Ruins – The Death Of A Russian mp3 (from Some Were Meant For Sea)

Download more Handsome Family songs here. Buy the back catalogue from Amazon here. Buy Tiny Ruins from their Bandcamp page here.

The Inner Flame: A Tribute To Rainer Ptacek

The Inner Flame: A Tribute To Rainer Ptacek.

Fire Records are reissuing the complete works of Rainer Ptacek, the much beloved slide guitarist from Tucson, Arizona, who originated Giant Sand’s sound from the band’s inception, as well as creating many remarkable recordings as a solo artist and with his own band, Das Combo, before succumbing to brain cancer on November 12 1997.

The reissues start with The Inner Flame, a compilation of accomplished and remarkably diverse artists who were brought together to honour Rainer’s inspirational work, featuring talents such as Robert Plant & Jimmy Page, Emmylou Harris, Evan Dando, PJ Harvey, Victoria Williams, Vic Chesnutt, Jonathan Richman, Madeleine Peyroux and of course Giant Sand.

Originally released in 1997, the album was conceived as both a tribute and benefit album, with the proceeds going towards Ptacek’s medical bills. Reissued now as a celebration of his remarkable life and extraordinary talent, extra tracks have been added by the likes of Lucinda Williams, Grandaddy, Chuck Prophet and John Wesley Harding.

Listen to Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Convertino playing with Ptacek on the achingly gorgeous dusty Arizona blues and moan of Be Prepared, as elegant and moving as anything you’ll hear for a long, long time.

Released on June 26th, you can order the album from Fire Records here.

Download Rainer & Calexico – Be Prepared mp3 (from The Inner Flame: A Tribute To Rainer Ptacek)

Introducing >>> Grave Babies

Introducing...Grave Babies.

With a name like Grave Babies, an EP title like Gothdammit, and songs called Nightmare, Bloodstains, and Mourning Heir it is not hard to guess to which musical mast the band have nailed their flag. That they are able to do so whilst maintaining a healthy dose of self-awareness of the flat-out ridiculousness of much that inhabits this particular genre does them great credit.

Watch the video for the murky, distorted Fuck Off, full of tongue in cheek gothic imagery: ghosts, Ouija boards, nightmarish figures and religious iconography and download the gloomy, drone-filled sounds of Nightmare.

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The EP was released last month on SubPop – order a copy direct here.

Download Grave Babies – Nightmare mp3 (from Gothdammit EP)