New Video: Weyes Blood – Bad Magic

Following the release of her critically acclaimed album The Innocents, Pennsylvanian artist Weyes Blood (aka Natalie Mering) will play two UK shows in February, on Saturday 21st at the Old Blue Last in London (free show), and the day after at the Glad Cafe in Glasgow

To mark the dates, their is a new video for album track Bad Magic directed by conceptual artist Joey Frank and shot using drones. It’s a work of cinematic beauty as Mering is shot from a birds-eye viewpoint, walking along the deserted beaches of The Far Rockaways and The Hamptons in a long black cape.

Watch it here.

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Diagrams – Gentle Morning Song

The new album from Diagrams (aka ex-Tunng member Sam Genders), titled Chromatics was officially released today on Full Time Hobby. A blend of folk, electronica, synths and melodic pop that combine to deliver a calmer, warmer whole than his previous record Black Light.

Check out one of the standout tracks, the lovely Gentle Morning Song below.

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Django Django – First Light

Django Django delivered an excellent debut album in 2012 that brilliantly mixed a glam rock stomp with funky electronica and smothered it all in a glistening, infectious psych-pop sheen.

They are back with a new track and First Light is as slinky, as sinewy, and as effortlessly catchy as you’d expect.

Dive in.

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New From Nightbeds

It appears Winston Yellen, the creative force behind Nightbeds, has taken a slightly different sonic direction from 2013’s excellent Country Sleep album. The first new track in a good while is Me Liquor And God and emphasises even further the more ambient electronic side that was always present, without sacrificing any of his unique vocal delivery.

Intrigued? Have a listen.

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Video Round-Up

Here is a selection of eight new music videos that have caught our eye, and ears, recently.

There’s some creepy and weird stuff in there too – freaky clowns, burning dolls houses, epileptic horses, sacrifices… So dig in to offerings from Circa Waves, Maryleigh Roohan, Alex G, Whistlejacket, Sean Grant & The Wolfgang, Guts Club, Steel Trees, and Green Gerry.

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[Click through for free download]

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Introducing… Thea & The Wild

Introducing...Thea & The Wild

A perfect follow-up to our earlier post about BETS, and continuing a theme of female led indie-pop, we have Thea & The Wild for you.

Thea Glenton Raknes is from Norway, (which given the Mackerel’s familial connections is always a good start) where she is already well established as a songwriter, lyricist, frontwoman, and now as a producer. With her project Thea & The Wild, she produces pop music with a foot in classic folk with warm bass, analogue synths and a focus on melodies and rhythm.

Her album Strangers + Lovers gets a UK release in a couple of weeks. Have a listen to Heart Attack, a perfect pop song to start 2015 with…

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Best of the Year: Mad Mackerel’s Top Twenty

MM's Top 20 Best of 2014

And so we bring our round up of favourite songs, albums, covers, and guilty pleasures to a close with the final “best of” post, Mad Mackerel’s own top twenty.

20 Kye Alfred Hillig – My Young Love Was As Blind As Ray Charles And Half As Cold As Heat

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19 Parquet Courts – Black And White

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18 Jamie T – The Prophet

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17 The Amazing Snakeheads – Here It Comes Again

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16 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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15 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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14 Girl Band – Lawman

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13 The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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12 Together PANGEA – River

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11 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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10 Faces On Film – Percy
Percy kicks off with pulsating, tribal percussion that doesn’t quit throughout the song’s entire four and half minutes. It is like a small child in a sweet shop relentlessly pummelling you into submission until there is nothing left to do but give in. Then once you have you realise this was by far the best course of action anyway – the most infectious rhythm of the year. Resistance is futile.

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9 Sun Kil Moon – Dogs
Dogs is unashamedly, perhaps deliberately, cringingly frank and revealing. No-one sings more conversationally than Mark Kozelek, but it is exactly the lack of sentiment and judgement in this song that gives it such impact. A deadpan tale of sexual fumblings and failures mixed with an all too accurate recollection of our self obsessed teenage selves gives the song a wincing recognition for every listener’s own emotions that makes listening to it almost too painful.

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8 Dream Police – My Mama’s Dead
In my head this is a follow up to Hendrix’s classic Hey Joe. Except my head has been split in two by the sheer brutal, pneumatic force of this song, a snarling, distorted beast of a tune that is as brilliantly grim and unforgiving as the title suggests. Am I the only one who thinks the Dream Police are a far more enjoyable listen than alter-egos The Men?

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7 Parquet Courts – Ducking And Dodging
Ducking And Dodging boasts the catchiest punk riff since, oh I don’t know, Stoned And Starving perhaps. Yet this time it comes with extra ingredients, a little added anger and a whole cauldron full of world weariness and frustration giving their take on a traditional tune a fiery new incarnation and showing once and for all that they were always far, far more than simple Velvets or Pavement disciples.

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6 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric
A word perfect riposte to all those endless murder ballads where the woman’s part is merely that of hopeless victim. Over an deceptively hypnotic refrain Alynda Lee Segarra reveals that the tables are turning, “He’s gonna shoot me down, put my body in the river, Cover me up with the leaves of September, Like an old sad song, you heard it all before, Well, Delia’s gone but I’m settling the score

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5 Houndmouth – For No One
Houndmouth announced their return with this sublime slice of surreal Americana. More obtuse than before, it boasted the best opening verse of any song we heard this year, then over a deceptively simple strummed guitar line, Matt Myers travels from resignation to bitterness and ultimately acceptance. For No One is a sparse, poignant ballad that is as close to perfection as you’re likely to hear.

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4 Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
Metallic Cloud seems packed full of meaning, overflowing with imagery and allusion and cloaked in layers and layers of mystery. Curiously it feels to me like a companion piece to Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, and I can’t really think of a higher compliment than that. The first song to reduce me to tears this year, in tandem with the red wine mind you.

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3 The Pink Mountaintops – North Hollywood Microwaves
Surreal, obscene, freaky, offensive,  lewd. Repulsive, coarse, vulgar, gross and rude. But unquestionably, undeniably, uniformly brilliant. This was the sound of rock’n’roll updated for the here and now.

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2 The Water Liars – Swannanoa
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Water Liars delivered an exceptional album this year, and this is an undoubted highlight, a melancholy story of searching and loss, of heroin and girls with stutters, of cowardice and looking death in the face. There is no one, but no one, who does this stuff as well as the Water Liars and why they aren’t massive is a source of constant bemusement to me.

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1 The Amazing Snakeheads – Where Is My Knife
I’m gonna show you if it takes all night, We’re staying here till you get it right, It’s been three whole days with no end in sight“, so opens the year’s most chilling, and thrilling, song. An irresistible mix of primeval rock’n’roll, trashcan punk and swampy voodoo blues provides the most exquisitely perfect soundtrack for Dale Barclay’s unhinged protagonist.

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Guilty Pleasure:

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
F**k off, it’s brilliant.

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Favourite Cover of the Year:

Hearts Of Oak – Must Have Been Drunk (George Jones cover)

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Reissue of the Year:

Crime – Piss On Your Dog (from Murder By Guitar)

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Best of the Year: Mrs Mackerel’s Top Twenty

Mrs M's Top 20 2014

Our penultimate offering comes in the shape of Mrs Mackerel’s favourite songs of 2014…

I think, being a fish of some advancing years now, I know what I like – but at least that ranges quite widely (she says, defiantly). As usual, though, I’m late to deadline, so without further pontification or procrastination, here are my favourite songs of 2014.

20. War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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19. Cate Le Bon – He’s Leaving

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18. Mark Lanegan Band – Sad Lover

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17. The Districts – Funeral Beds

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16. Simone Felice – Running Through My Head

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15. Wytches – Burn Out the Bruise

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14. Matt Kivel – Insignificance

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13. Smashing Pumpkins – Being Beige

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12. Water Liars – Swannanoa

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11. Shovels & Rope – Evil

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10. Dead Fingers – Twisted
Husband and wife duo, Dead Fingers, produce a finger-picking good sound here. It’s a hoedown with a twist that chases a thigh-slappingly quirky rhythm. Love it.

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9. The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones
An infectious, upbeat intro to the Vacant Lots: guitar-led rock’n’roll with psychedelic undertones. I’m quite partial to a bit of pscyh-rock, as it goes. The lyrics are secondary but the driving foot-tapping rhythm means you’ll be humming this for the rest of the day.

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8. Royal Blood – Figure It Out
Play this loud – very loud, actually. And ramp up the bass while you’re at it. Led Zep meets The Darkness: just over three minutes of rock fest with a rousing finale of guitar versus drum duelling that builds and builds. Epic. My rock chick alter ego is sated.

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7. The Felice Brothers – Constituents
A move away from the usual rollicking, rootsy sound that’s trademark Felice Brothers. This weaves a slower, more brooding tempo with darker overtones: And all my constituents agree/I’ve been changed like a pebble in the sea/By the politics of time/But riddle me this: what happiness is mine?’

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6. Eels – Mistakes of My Youth
Sold to me on sentiment alone. Mistakes of my youth, of my 20s, of my 30s and so on: like a cat running at a closed cat flap, we are all stuck on repeat and yes, sometimes it really does hurt. A gentle melody that meanders through wistful moments of reflection, there’s nothing surprising or unusual in this Eels offering, but many could do worse than heed the quiet, cautionary wisdom of the gravel-voiced Mr Everett.

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5. Bombadil – Have Me
I’d forgotten all about this song until recently. One man, a piano and a cello: a sad, reflective, rather beautiful lament. You won’t be dancing in the kitchen, rather gazing out of the window. ‘You can’t have everything you want/Or even sometimes what you need/Even if you need it desperately.’

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4. Sharon Van Etten – Tarifa
Here’s my slow dance for this year, complete with saxophone, courtesy of the haunting vocals of Sharon Van Etten. Small moments captured like a photograph, a song about trying to hold onto a memory; lyrics filled with regret and longing. Everyone else/Hasn’t a chance, don’t fail me now/Open arms, rest.’ Aah.

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3. Alvvays – Archie, Marry Me?
You expressed explicitly your contempt for matrimony.’ Archie does not want to get married, but hey (hey), she does. I sense trouble brewing there. Jangly indie guitars and plenty of reverb, means that if you’re dancing, I’m most definitely asking. I had to be told twice, no less, that I would (of course) love Alvvays. Obviously, I hate it when other people are right, so I’m off to see them next month with Nightshift.

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1= Jamie T – Limits Lie
Five years away is a long time musically but he’s a complicated creature Mr Treays, and all the better for it. As with many of his songs, the music belies the lyrical weight and depth; life observed with pin-sharp accuracy: Who knows where your limit, where your limit lies/ you’re given, what you’re given and now the giver must die.’ Without question, my gig of the year (Alexandra Palace), and Carry On the Grudge, my album of the year.

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1= Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
It’s a temporary fix/In case you don’t come down’ – and maybe it is. A lingering air of melancholy over a simple soaring musical arrangement, this is (in a way) the musical religion of Damien Jurado. All seeing, all knowing, quietly anthemic and ethereal. I played nothing but Brothers and Sister of the Eternal Son for at least the first six weeks of this year: endings and beginnings, beginnings and endings, sometimes you never know what you’re seeing.

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Special mentions:

School Run Anthem 2014:

The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice
Cos I’m high on Halloween candy again/And your lips are sweet as brandy.’ Yes, it’s absolutely true; I often operate in a sugar-induced trance, even while driving. This will be the last school run anthem (sniff), as primary school will be no more for my youngest after the summer. So we might as well go out on a high, with his favourite band, at their rambunctious best.

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Best Covers:

Phosphorescent – Tomorrow is a Long Time
Matthew Houck sings Bob Dylan: bellisimo.

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Low – I’m On Fire
I love Bruce Springsteen and I’ve been on fire a couple of times. Mainly because I used to wear hippy skirts, drink too much cider, and then light fragrant candles. It was a long time ago, but you know what they say about moths and flames.

Guilty Pleasure:

Lonelady – Groove It Out
Yeah, it’s disco – what of it?! I like dancing.

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And hello, hello; look who’s back…

Laura Marling – Short Movie

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Happy New Year, fishy friends.

Best Of The Year – Chris T Popper’s Top Twenty

Chris T Poppers Top 20 2014

20) Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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19) Hamilton Leithauser – 11 O’Clock Friday Night

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18) Faces On Film – Percy

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17) Early Winters – A Thing For You

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16) Sleaford Mods – Routine Dean

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15) Eels – Mistakes of My Youth

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14) Chimes – Total Sunflower

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13) Dust From A 1000 Yrs – Smoke Em Up

12) Screaming Females – Ripe

11) The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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10) Houndmouth – For No One

Any song which opens with a tortured reference to dropping acid will naturally pique my interest and coupled with Matt Myers vocals and stark production my curiosity is aroused further. Deftly suckering you in, For No One then tries to lead you down a darkened alley for a damn good kicking. It also proves you don’t necessarily need anything more than a guitar and a great vocal to pack an extraordinary punch.

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9) Sleaford Mods – Tiswas
Sleaford Mods’ album Divide & Exit (undoubtedly my favourite record of 2014) grasped the moment perfectly with it’s skewering of modern British life. I won’t try and dissect Tiswas, it’s just a banging tune with the lyrical equivalent of having your ears punched quite a lot. “I don’t want my dog on a string… that’ll hurt the thing” is my favourite line of the year. The humour, frustration and utter contempt is breathtaking at times. They are unlike anything else I’ve heard all year.

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8) Wooden Wand – Waveland
Ah, Mr Wand, I’ve been expecting you (sorry). A regular contributor over the years to my top 10’s Mr James Jackson Toth delivers yet again. It’s a song which appears to be absolutely straightforward; Toth recorded this by himself at home with his guitar and an 8-track recorder. However, like a particularly enormous onion there seems to be layer upon layer that reveals itself upon each further examination. And with the added onionesque quality of bringing a tear to the eye – through joy and sadness, my ridiculous metaphor is complete. With every listen I get a bit more from Waveland, it’s one of the hardest tricks to pull off but as usual Toth does it perfectly.

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7) Jonah Tolchin – Mockingbird
Opening up with kick-ass harmonica before the fiddle and guitar join the party Mockingbird is Tolchin’s sideways look at the nursery rhyme Hush Little Baby. So far so intrigued. It certainly has a strangely traditional feel and a classic break/riff stomp to it. It reminds me in a strange way of the climax of the classic 1981 film Southern Comfort where Powers Booth and Keith Carradine are serenaded by a full on Cajun hoedown. Brilliant deep, dark country on a low burn, just how I like it.

6) Horse Thief – Little Dust
Pretty much a sure thing for my top 10 from the first listen, the Oklahoma quintet Horse Thief (even the name makes me love them more) have struck gold with this perfectly formed piece of Americana. It begins with the piano before the guitar and rhythm section slide in forming the ‘taking it real easy…’ groove. It already feels like a country classic.

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5) The Amazing Snakeheads – Where Is My Knife
Take this song on in a fight – go on. I dare you. It will win hands down. In May this year I watched the Amazing Snakeheads deliver the best live performance I have seen for a long time and it blew my tiny mind. Dale Barclay is a man to be admired first and foremost. Mainly because he looks unfeasibly hard and secondly because he fucking means it. Menacing serial killer lyrics and a guitar picking out threats with a drum beat to rival any Tarzan film kind of works for me. Try it live when you’ve only ever heard one song by them before – quite an eye opener. Barclay growled at the audience ‘are youse my friends?’ my hand shot up like a rocket. Yes, I am, just don’t hurt me or get your knife.

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4) Elijah Ocean – Ride It Out
The other day this song was playing and my girlfriend was on her laptop, watching faces or something, when I noticed she was unconsciously singing along to the chorus. That’s what this song does; whoever you are (providing you have a soul) it touches you. The melody is simple enough, gently building throughout with the message of just getting through it, which is fairly universal. It actually becomes quite inspirational by the end with its catchy chorus infecting your brain. Life can sometimes feel like it’s on a continual loop of making you ride something or other out – good to have Elijah there to sing the soundtrack.

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3) Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
Been a firm favourite from the moment I heard it. Jurado’s voice sounds amazing, and the string section is nothing short of magnificent. It’s one of those songs where you can be listening in the car and when it finishes you realise your turning was a couple of miles back and you never noticed. Or, you’ve not seen one of those bastard mobile speed cameras because you’re singing along so loudly and enjoying the moment. Let’s see if I enjoy my Speed Awareness Course as much in the New Year…

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2) Girl Band – Lawman
Fucking chaos. That’s why I signed up; as soon as that guitar started I was dug in like a tick on a hound. Experimental without being utterly awful (which lets face it you don’t hear that too often.) The drums halfway through are pure moony, just listen to it. Keith Moon banging on your brain or Reverend Moon washing it…. take your pick, same result applies. The long drawn out guitar with heavy feedback compliments/adds to the cacophony perfectly. To paraphrase the band themselves this song is ‘…driven by insistent low-end skronk’. Quite.

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1) Sleaford Mods – Smithy
It’s all over in under 2 and a half minutes but still manages to make me grimace, smile and cower in equal measure. A brutal bass line and drum riff accompanies singer Jason Williamson’s verdict on the state of the nation. Not so much angry as bored with the sheer futility of it all, Sleaford Mods drill down until they reach (or is that retch) in to the unpleasant shitty bits of our modern culture. I like absolutely everything about this record, right down to Andrew Fearn throwing in a bit of chopper noise at the end. ‘Who cares about rock stars anymore?’ asks Williamson – not me mate. I’ve watched all my old heroes become parodies of themselves or even worse John bloody Lydon and I’m well and truly out of it.

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