More From The Barr Brothers

More From The Barr Brothers

Canadian folkies, The Barr Brothers have unveiled another new track from their forthcoming album as well as details of a UK tour for the Autumn.

The new track is Half-Crazy, also taken from their new album Sleeping Operator, released on the 6th October through Secret City Records.

The band describe the song as “the tenacious offspring of the North African desert music of Mali/Morocco, and the sweat and electricity of the Chicago and Mississippi Delta blues.”

It sounds mighty fine to us. Have a listen.


Tour Dates

30th August – End of the Road Festival
31st August – End of the Road Festival
14th October – The Lexington, London
23rd October – The Castle, Manchester
24th October – Whelan’s, Dublin
25th October – Beach House, Bangor
26th October – Sligo Live Festival, Ireland
28th October – Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
29th October – The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham

The Story of Smoke Dawson

The Story Of Smoke Dawson

George “Smoke” Dawson played banjo in MacGrundy’s Old-Timey Wool Thumpers with Peter Stampfel (later of Holy Modal Rounders) in 1960, lived for years at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY, and roamed around the US as an itinerant bagpipe and fiddle player for decades. His life is laced with small triumphs, and lots of tragedy. But he’s still with us.

Tompkins Square will reissue his only album, Fiddle, a remarkable 1971 private press LP, on 19th August in all formats.

The excerpt from the sleeve notes tell one of those brilliant musical stories of rediscovery.

“I was doing some research for a box set of music recorded at Caffe Lena, the hallowed folk music venue located in Saratoga Springs, NY, when I came upon a photograph of a musician I didn’t recognise. He looked like a sixth member of The Band – a handsome fiddler with wax moustache, goatee, black Western hat. There was a traditional air to him, a seriousness, but there was also something wild there.

I needed to know who he was, and everything about him. The producers told me his name was Smoke Dawson, and they had tape on him. We listened, and his live version of Devil’s Dream made it onto the box set. Then I started digging. I found a 1996 blog post from someone named Oliver Seeler, who claimed to have recorded a solo album by Dawson in 1971. I called the number on the site, not expecting much from an 18 year old blog post. But he picked up. He gave me background on the record. And, he gave me Smoke Dawson’s phone number . . .

Listen to Connaughtman’s Rambles / Devil’s Dream / Marche Venerie.


New From The Ukiah Drag

New From Ukiah Drag

The scorched, warped Americana and post-punk of The Ukiah Drag with its pulsating organs, flattening riffs and creep beats have long found favour here in the Mackerel abode.

Their new LP is titled In the Reaper’s Quarters and can be pre-ordered from Wharf Cat Records. This is Her Royal Grip from it, and a more remorseless and unsettling four and half minutes of music you’ll be hard pressed to find…


Wooden Wand – Waveland

Wooden Wand - Waveland

Lightning have announced their first quarterly, part of a larger subscription series the label has put together with four quarterly gonzo style magazines and a 20 album series where artists have been asked to contribute a unique side project or edge creative statement.

Lightning quarterly one includes:
Five new albums by early Brooklyn infamous rock legends People of the North (Oneida), mythological songwriter and long standing MM fave Wooden Wand, Arizona desert outlaw (and another MM fave) Ohioan, primitive futurist guitar poet William Tyler, and rebel rocker and virtuoso guitar shredder Cy Dune.

Here is a track from Wooden Wand’s AZAG-TOTH, a record (apparently) exploring the musical idea of Metempsychosis and recorded at home onto his trusty Tascam 8 Track digital recorder without band or producer. Waveland is classic James Jackson Toth, deceptively simple, profound, intelligent and more proof (were it needed) of a songwriter who seemingly can effortlessly deliver what others strive for years to do, and fall short.

“the off season, it’s always hell,
you can tell each highway from the smell,
Mama’s borders they would scream and shout,
My half-brother kissed me on the mouth”

It doesn’t get much better than this. Treat yourself.



Joe Jack Talcum – Home Recordings: 1993-1999

Joe Jack Talcum - Home Recordings: 1993-99

For most people the idea of an intimate evening with Joe Jack Talcum playing songs in their living room sounds terrifying given the reputation of his better-known band The Dead Milkmen, but the appearance in 2011 of Home Recordings: 1984-1990 revealed a sadder, more intimate side to a songwriter better known for his sense of humour.

Now via HHBTM Records, comes the second volume, from one of America’s great unheralded songwriters, pulled from an archive that makes you want to hear more, to wonder what else might be in there. Home Recordings: 1993-1999 contains a cosmos of emotion—from funeral marches to rave-ups, irreverence to lament—sometimes even in the same song. A solo album in every sense of the word, it’s like eavesdropping on a soliloquy.

Check out Madonna’s Weep with it’s tweaked-out 3am surreality that recalls Robyn Hitchock’s I Often Dream of Trains.


Five Songs You Should Have Heard This Week

1. Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires – Born In The USA
2. DZ Deathrays – Less Out Of Sync
3. Bat For Lashes – Skin Song
4. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Terrified
5. Speedy Ortiz – Bigger Party







Green Man Rising

Green Man Rising

We were lucky enough to be invited to be part of the voting panel for the Green Man Rising event, a “competition” to find a new band to open the wonderful Green Man Festival on the Mountain Stage.

From a final short list of 31 artists, we picked our favourite six and we thought it would be good to share our choices with you as the standard was uniformly high, and making our choices became a highly fraught and difficult exercise.

The final is on Wednesday 23rd July at The Dublin Castle in Camden.

Here were our six picks…

There is something hypnotic and slightly eerie about Cherryshoes which we found utterly mesmerising – we could imagine Lisa M. casting a woozy spell over any audience that would be hard to shake off, and her off-kilter uniqueness seems a perfect fit for a Green man crowd.


Velvet Morning
We’ve long been fans of Velvet Morning’s heady swirl of barely concealed unease and chemically induced delusions. They sound like a collision between one of Warhol’s 60s New York art parties and moody krautrock from the 70s German underground. Delighted they made the list.


Charles Howl
May have been the most infectious track we heard – insistent, nagging riff over motorik percussion.


Pastel Colours
Intriguing mix of pastel led psychedelia, indie and twangy surf rock that they meld into a unique concoction that had us hitting repeat immediately after the first listen to Hands Like Silk.


Erin K
Brilliant contradiction of sweetly upbeat folk often underpinned with explicit lyrical detail, irreverent observation and black humour that recalls everything from Moldy Peaches to Syd Barrett by way of The Lovely Eggs. If she wins we personally request she open with the wonderful Jiggy Miggy!


Fenne Lily
Gorgeous, fragile acoustics that have a rare purity and recall the very best of the 60s coffee-shop culture


MM Shorts 588: Eaten By Dogs

It’s the musical equivalent of a bronzed man lounging on a deck chair by the pool in some luxury resort. He adjusts his balls, puts down his piña colada, sighs, picks up a razor and slits his wrists”, so says Graveyard Train’s Nick Finch said of Melbourne’s Eaten By Dogs’ single If It Ain’t Killing You, It’s Sure Killing Me.

It is brilliant noir-ish Americana and comes from their forthcoming self-titled debut album.