Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: February 2012

Mad Mackerel's Best Of The Month: February 2012.

Musically, the year is starting to really kick into gear now and February saw lots of top quality tunes hit the web. Here is our pick of the best of last month’s posts along with four brand, spanking new tracks for you to download, sample and treasure. All in all over thirty great songs in one great mix.

Download Hoots & Hellmouth – Why Would You Not Want To Go There? mp3 (from Salt)
Country rocker with a slow-burn intensity that builds in tandem with some expertly judged flourishes of piano and electric guitar.

Download Mirel Wagner – No Death mp3 (from Mirel Wagner)
World-weary, doom-laden, sparse and skeletal. Oh and stunning too.

Download Mark Lanegan – The Gravedigger’s Song (from Funeral Blues)
Brilliant electronica-style drum beat throughout, with the trademark ML growling vocal delivery.

Download Dr. Dog – That Old Black Hole mp3 (from Be The Void)
Classic vintage, ramshackle country rock from excellent new album.

Download Orpheum Bell – Poor Laetitia mp3 (from The Old Sisters’ Home)
Seductive, yet slightly mocking tale of a beautiful, but awkward girl with a haughty tango beat and muted trumpet.

Download Jesse Thomas – Fire mp3 (from War Dancer)
Raw, whiskey soaked folk.

Download The Pharmacy – Dig Your Grave mp3 (from Dig Your Grave)
As good an example of indie-pop-garage bliss as you’ll find.

Download Benjamin Shaw – Kick The Dog mp3 (from The Birds Chirp And The Sun Shines Single)
Idosyncratic, perverse folk ramblings.

Download The Chromatics – Into The Black mp3 (from Kill For Love)
Sublime chilled out cover of Neil Young’s classic.

Download Maps & Atlases – Winter mp3 (from Beware And Be Grateful)
Typically tight and dense, but still catchy indie-pop.

Download Shrouded Strangers – Featherbed mp3 (from Lost Forever)
Skuzzy slacker anthem a glorious amalgam of surf guitars, krautrock rhythms and fuzzed up hillbilly stomp.

Download Moonface – Teary Eyes And Bloody Lips mp3 (from With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery)
A stormer – all buzzing guitars, massive keyboards and nailgun percussion.

Download Cheers Elephant – Doin’ It, Right mp3 (from Like Wind Blows Fire)
A sublime slice of upbeat sunshine pop that morphs into a brief kaleidoscopic freakout before settling back down again.

Download Black Mountain – Mary Lou mp3 (from Year Zero Original Soundtrack)
Almost eight minutes of perfect heavy riffage.

Download Horse Feathers – Fit Against The Country mp3 (from Cynic’s New Year)
Typically rustic folk from one of Portland’s finest.

Download  Guy Capecelatro III – Girlfriends mp3 (from North For The Winter)
Another slice of quirky folk with sly observation and mischievous lyrics.

Download Zulu – Sistine Chapel mp3 (from Wa Of The Zulu)
Clear the cobwebs with this brilliant tribal rumble and punk rock swagger.

Download Teitur – Let The Dog Drive Home mp3 (from Let The Dog Drive Home)
Gently upbeat, elegant, and expansive folk rumination.

Download Wooden Sky – Malibu Rum mp3 (from Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun)
A beautifully paced folk ballad tinged at the edges with the faint wisp of melancholy – lovely.

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams)
A downtempo slow burn of barely picked electric guitar washes over sighed vocals that gradually swell to an appropriately lugubrious and mournful climax.

Download Colleen Green – Worship You mp3 (from Milo Goes To Compton)
Throbbing garagey guitars over a sweetly saccharine vocal.

Download Band In Heaven – Sleazy Dreams mp3 (from Sleazy Dreams 7″)
Visceral, pulsating industrial punk riffing of the very best kind.

Download Drifterswift – Rule Of Twelfths mp3 (from The Rule Of Twelfths EP)
Spacey dream pop, slightly fuzzy and a 100% bona fide ear worm.

Download Ray Wylie Hubbard – Drunken Poet’s Dream mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)
Sublime version of standout track from country outlaw’s last album.

Download The Crocodiles – Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9) mp3 (from Endless Flowers)
Full on, catchy indie rock. Noisy.

Download Coke Weed – Magpie mp3 (from Nice Dreams)
Gently haunting and woozy-at-the-edges folk psychedelia.

Download Ceremony – Adult mp3 (from Zoo)
Loud, fast, uncompromising. This is searing punk rock.

And to finish off we have new tracks from These United States and their rambunctious melting pot of rock-and-roll, folk balladry, and outlaw country that went into taster track Dead And Gone as well as the psych rock influenced indie of Temporary from White Rabbits, one of the best things we’ve heard from them. Exitmusic have a new album scheduled and title track Passage is typically powerful and haunting with layered guitars and drums building to an extraordinary crescendo. Lastly it is the sonic guitar blast of Yellow Orchestra on their outstanding new track The Shakedown.

Download These United States – Dead And Gone mp3 (from These United States)

Download White Rabbits – Temporary mp3 (from Milk Famous)

Download Exitmusic – Passage mp3 (from  Passage)

Download Yellow Ostrich – The Shakedown mp3 (from Strange Land)

MM Shorts 99: Black Mountain

MM Shorts 99: Black Mountain.

What better way to start the weekend than with almost eight minutes of heavy riffage from the mighty Black Mountain. This track, Mary Lou, comes from their soundtrack to new film Year Zero.

The album is out on Jagjaguwar on the 4th March.

Download Black Mountain – Mary Lou mp3 (from Year Zero Original Soundtrack)

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.

Mad Mackerel’s Albums of the Year

So after much deliberation, head scratching, discussion, and more head scratching, we have MM’s favourite albums of 2010. And we choose our words very carefully here, because we would not presume them to be the best, only those that have given us the most pleasure and enjoyment, records that we have returned to again and again, and for whatever reason have captured a moment or special place in our hearts.

And while we have limited our selection to 25 albums there were many, many more that could have, and maybe should have, featured. But there that’s the beauty of music, entirely subjective and based on individual opinions not fact.

So without further ado, here are our 25 favourite albums of 2010.

25 Sharon Van Etten – Epic


Haunting, ethereal and stunning album from a modern day siren. Sad prairie folk music indeed.

Download Sharon Van Etten – Love More mp3

24 Haunted Windchimes – Honey Moonshine


Traditional, old-timey backwoods, backporch music that burrowed its way into your head and then refused to budge.

Download The Haunted Windchimes – Don’t Take My Baby Away (Baby Back) mp3

23 The Streets On Fire – This Is Fancy


High voltage, good time, bad boy rock ‘n’ roll that was as good and as unashamedly fun as it was simple. Garage rock reclaimed.

Download The Streets On Fire – That’s Hard To Find mp3

22 Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues


The son of the peerless Steve Earle comes of age with a perfectly judged set of tales that in their honesty and unashamed frankness are worthy of Townes himself.

Listen to Harlem River Blues.

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21 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor


With repeated listens the sheer power and passion of The Monitor becomes overwhelming. So what if it is a concept album about the American Civil War, its ambitious, rebellious, and rousing. Just play it loud!

Download Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union mp3

20 Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk


Another perfectly judged record from the perfectly matched duo. Campbell’s lovely whispering tones offset by Mr Lanagan’s threatening growl.

Listen to Snake Song.

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19 Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement

An album of dreamy, unsettling rock melded with freak-folk to provide one of the year’s most unusual and most rewarding listens. At times it sounds like an evil Beach House and at others spare and caustic where hope is slowly, but firmly drowned in a swirling, atmospheric mix of twinkling guitars and alluring voices.

Download Lower Dens – Hospice Gates mp3

18 The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt


A fine follow up to the outstanding Shallow Grave, the trademark Dylanesque vocals allied to a set of cracking tales from the bible to bullfighting.

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – The King Of Spain mp3

17 The Migrant – Travels In Lowland


With its dreamlike journey into psych-indie, the debut album from The Migrant was one of the most surprising and engaging folk records of the year.

Download The Migrant – The Organ Grinder mp3

16 Tweak Bird – Tweak Bird


In the vein of the much lauded and genuinely good Tame Impala, Tweak Bird were louder, faster, and simply rocked harder. A superb mix of motorcycle rock riffs with dirty fingernail blues and even a hint of jazz. This was stoner rock for the 21st century and it was brilliant.

Download Tweak Bird – A Sun Ahh Ahh mp3

15 Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions


In Christ Jesus from the Black Dirt Sessions, Deer Tick delivered one of the truly primal and affecting moments of musical recording in 2010, and the rest of the album wasn’t half bad either.

Download Deer Tick – Twenty Miles mp3

14 Delta Spirit – History From Below


Indie rock with a country inflection, Delta Spirit packed History From Below full of dusty, rural Americana and bar room blues boogie. With the impassioned and distinctive voice of Matt Vasquez backed by a rumbling juggernaut of percussion and rhythms, the album was a welcome addition to the long tradition of classic American rock.

Download Delta Spirit – Bushwick Blues mp3

13 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs


Indie gods manage to live up to, and then surpass the hype with The Suburbs, an album full of outstanding tracks that demand they be listened to as a whole – a proper music album.

Watch Ready To Start.

12 Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms


Despite some occasional iffy AOR moments, Infinite Arms was like the girl with the curl, and when it was good (which it mostly was), it was brilliant.

Watch Laredo.

11 Black Keys – Brothers


Authentic blues duo cranked out their best yet and in tracks like Sinister Kid and Howlin’ For You added some more classic cuts to their catalogue.

Watch Tighten Up.

10 Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can


Showcasing her incredible natural talent despite such tender years, I Speak Because I Can truly marked Laura Marling out as a worthy heiress to Joni, Emmy Lou and the like. Darker, stronger, and more confident than her debut, she is surely poised for great things.

Watch Rambling Man.

9 Liars – Sisterworld


A brilliant collection of crushing guitars, machine gun percussion and soaring vocals that retained its experimental art-noise edge but became much more accessible and much more listenable – welcome to the big league time?

Listen to the superb Proud Evolution.

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8 The National – High Violet


Overcoming the music blogger’s ‘big band’ prejudice with ease, High Violet was bigger, better and more affecting than anything the National have done to date.

Listen to Conversation 16.

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7 Strand Of Oaks – Pope Killdragon


Having caught our attention with their wonderful Springsteen cover on Hear Ya, Strand of Oaks more than lived up to our expectations with Pope Killdragon. Sparse folk tunes mixed with occasional and abstract guitar wigouts and also showcased Tim Showalter’s ability to grab the attention with some of the best lyrical couplets of the year. Stand out track Alex Kona a case in point, starting “Alex Kona was twelve feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball” – what’s not to like?

Download Strand of Oaks – Bonfire mp3

6 Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – How Snakes Eat


Spare, beautiful, mournful and melancholic, the fragile folk of Mathew Sawyer hid whiplash lyrics and biting black humour that revealed and revelled in a bittersweet world where daydreams and nightmares fought to the death for supremacy.

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3

5 Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

Backwards-looking it maybe, but that’s to miss the point of Black Mountain. This was an album bursting with rock riffs that were so good you thought they must have been invented in the classic age of rock, and in Let Spirits Ride, the band provided the headbanging anthem of the year.

Download Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3

4 Dr Dog – Shame, Shame


Another wonderful record of rousing, country infused tunes. Each listen revealed more of its anthemic charms and spirited, rugged rock on an album full of top notch tunes from start to finish.

Watch Shadow People.

3 Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer Of The Void

A brilliant and worthy follow-up to the exceptional Furr, and in songs like The Man Who Would Speak True, Blitzen Trapper showed they had worthy successors to classics like Black River Killer and the like. Full of prog-folk, dusty rural ballads, sci-fi synths and more, Destroyer of the Void was a stunning record.

Download Blitzen Trapper – Heaven And Earth mp3

2 Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It Easy

After the sublime To Willie tribute last year came the originals. From the loose, ramshackle rock of It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) to cowboy ballads, transcendental homages, and the climactic, Neil Young like, epic album closer L.A.

Download Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade mp3

1 Wooden Wand – Wither Thou Goest, Cretin

Despite Wither Thous Goest, Cretin only receiving an initially limited release, and despite it being overshadowed by the subsequent release of (the also excellent) The Death Seat on Michael Gira’s label, Wooden Wand delivered an album of stunning simplicity, in equal parts poignant, heartbreaking, and redemptive.

With lyrics that are the match of any songwriter we know (“He had just enough rope in his trunk to make her nervous”) allied to sparse, plucked folk on the one hand and footstomping barnyard rhythms on the other, there is not a wasted moment, nor a false step on the entire album.

Download Wooden Wand – The Fly mp3

The End of the Road Festival – A Review

Welcome to our longest ever post, and a whole bucketful of great songs. Last weekend, Barry-Sean came with me to the End of the Road Festival and outside of the musical orgy that is SxSW, we agreed it is the best festival we’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. In fact he’s been writing about it ever since. Here’s what he has to say….

Having arrived early on Friday afternoon (yes, we missed secret guests Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell on Thursday night due to a prior 5-a-side football engagement), and after popping up tents we headed off to the Big Top for a gentle introduction of sunny, African-tinged, psych pop from the Ruby Suns before one of Mr M’s current favourites, Elliott Brood took the stage. What a great start to the weekend. With their casual, friendly banter and energetic riffs and vocals, the band drew a sizeable crowd and got them jumping. Hi-energy hoedown to get everyone in the festival mood.

Download Elliott Brood – Wolfgang mp3 (from Ambassador)

Being on the wrong side of forty, as Mr M headed off elsewhere, I decided to calm down a bit by staying at the Big Top for Woodpigeon, a group I heard for the first time recently (note to Mrs M here – be a bit more forthcoming with your musical discoveries please … Mr M tells me you’ve been a bit of a Woodpigeon fan for ages). Soothing melodies, tight musical arrangement and lyrics that cover a range of topics from love and reaching manhood to tales of the gods of nature in old Canada. This is contemporary folk and utterly excellent it is too. Lady Gaga fans probably won’t like it but we do … each to their own and we love Woodpigeon … so much so that I went back for second helpings when they stood in for Timber Timbre at the Garden Stage the following afternoon.

Download Woodpigeon – Empty-Hall-Sing-Along mp3 (from Die Stadt Muzikanten)

While this was going on MM was enjoying a thoroughly pleasant main stage set by Freelance Whales before heading over to catch the sultry, southern tones of singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield – already a fave of his, it was a performance that held the audience both captivated and spellbound. Meanwhile, I made a dash to the beautiful Garden Stage to see the truly wonderful Mountain Goats. These chaps aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but, like other favourites of mine The Hold Steady, they have a big enough following not to worry about that too much. Being slightly late, I couldn’t get anywhere near the front, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. If you’ve not heard anything by them, start yourself off with these gems.

Download The Mountain Goats – Dance Music mp3 (from The Sunset Tree)

Download The Mountain Goats – Genesis 3:23 mp3 (from The Life Of The World To Come)

Download Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again mp3 (from With Blasphemy So Heartfelt)

Time then for a change of pace with Wolf Parade. And despite a poor sound (the one time it happened in 3 days), the rabid crowd and full-on 100% rock ‘n’ roll performance ensured everyone was happy, and with This Heart’s On Fire, we had an early contender for song of the weekend.

Download Wolf Parade – Ghost Pressure mp3 (from Expo ’86)

And then we had Modest Mouse. As you’d expect, a very large crowd had gathered at the Garden Stage for biggest name of the day and they did not disappoint them one little bit. The die-hard fans rocked and jumped while admirers like Mr M and I swayed a bit and bobbed our heads in appreciation … except perhaps to the sublime Float On, where I may have shuffled my feet and sung along a bit. A great show with which to round off events on the main stage.

But the music wasn’t over. We still had time to take in The New Pornographers who closed proceedings in the Big Top with a surprisingly frenetic and high energy set that left the crowd breathless and us ready for our tents.

We’ll skip the rainstorm of Friday night/Saturday morning that caused my feet to get a good soaking while I slept. I might write a Leonard Cohen style song about it one day called ‘Wet feet at the End of the Road’ … sounds more like Half Man Half Biscuit when you look at it written down.

Anyway, I digress from the start of possibly one the most beautiful days of my music-loving life. Saturday in this part of North Dorset dawned with grey skies and a grim, relentless drizzle but gave way to sunshine, cider and truly fantastic music.

Over to the Garden Stage again for Forest Fire. I’d not really paid much attention to this US four-piece before but I certainly will be from now on. Full of character and attitude, these guys are indie-rock through and through. The lead guitarist threatened to steal the visual show with a combination of double denim, eye make-up, lipstick and cool cravate and armband. Try and imagine a meeting of Bruce Springsteen, Freddie Mercury (mid-70’s) and Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and you’ll be somewhere close to the look … shouldn’t have worked but did.

Anyway, the guy can play, but rather than steal the show, complimented the others in the group perfectly. The geeky looking but slightly menacing lead singer, cool chick on bass and excellent drummer. I loved Fortune Teller with the brilliant lyric ‘gattling gun social skills’ but the real crowd pleaser came at the very end of the set as Forest Fire entered into a krautrock crowd-pleaser that became one of the many highlights of my festival. If anyone out there was at this gig and knows the name of that last song, please let me know. I want it!

Download Forest Fire – Fortune Teller mp3 (from Survival)

And then came Phosphorescent. The brilliant ‘Phossie’, loved by all at The Mad Mackerel, came to our attention when Mr M and younger brother Christypopper saw them at SxSW 2009. They have been in our hearts and playlists ever since. For this one, Mr M and I used our considerable frames to get to the very front row of the crowd and we spent the hour pretty much mesmerised by the haunting and haunted vocals of Matthew Houck backed up by a flawless performance by the band. This was a clever, crowd-pleasing set with a couple of songs from the sublime To Willie album, a stunning version of Wolves from the Pride album, and a few new ones from Here’s to Taking it Easy thrown in. Oh, and just for good measure, the lads were joined by their mates from Deer Tick who provided backing vocals on Los Angeles. The sun had come out and it felt like this day couldn’t get any better. How wrong can one person be?

Download Phosphorescent – Wolves mp3 (from Pride)

Download Phosphorescent – Reasons To Quit mp3 (from To Willie)

We didn’t bother moving from our front row spot at the Garden Stage. Why would we? Deer Tick were coming on and we love Deer Tick. They didn’t disappoint. A great set that varied from well paced jig-a-longs through to a truly beautiful rendition of Ashamed meant they had the crowd captivated and happy.

Download Deer Tick – Twenty Miles mp3 (from The Black Dirt Sessions)

So a break from the music for a few minutes while Mr M and I went to the Phosphorescent and Deer Tick signing sessions. And here happened the high point of my festival.

MM is queuing for his Deer Tick CD and Phossie are still hanging around, drinking their beer and smoking fags. Which is exactly what I was doing. Then drummer Chris Marine catches our eye and engages us in conversation. He gave a very candid view on playing at Bestival and a glowing character reference on David Gray (who Phossie have recently been supporting). He has never been a favourite of ours but if he’s okay with Phosphorescent, maybe we should try a bit harder to understand him (or lets not, MM). After failing miserably at a really cool handshake (sorry Chris, I was never as cool as you) we had a quick chat and photo shoot with lead-singer, Matthew Houck, in which we even discussed at which angle our cigarettes should be hanging from our lips. How cool are Phosphorescent?

Okay, a little self-indulgence on my part there…so back to the music.

And on to my eye-opener. MM has long been an admirer of Brakes. I have not … until I heard them at End of the Road. Their music doesn’t fit with the general laid back feeling of most other musicians at the festival but man it was good. It was better than good. I stood there mesmerised and energised by a group I didn’t even think I liked. It wasn’t quite an epiphany moment for me but it wasn’t far off. Playing live like the Ramones on speed, and featuring a four second long song as the set closer, I shall be listening to more of Brakes from now on.

Download Brakes – All Night Disco Party mp3 (from Give Blood)

However, I had to cut out on them to run across to the Local stage to see Caitlin Rose. I had heard rave reviews about her and wanted to hear the US songstress for myself. She had packed out the venue and I was forced to stand very near the back … it was worth it. If angels exist, they probably sing like Caitlin Rose. I saw four songs and found myself desperate to get hold of her album Own Side Now. One to keep a close eye on for the future.

And back over to the Big Top for a bit of Saturday night heavy rock with Black Mountain. Now I’ve never been into heavy rock and probably never will be. But I do like Old Fangs and thought I’d try and broaden my horizons with a bit of ear-splitting guitar and drums. I enjoyed it, Mr M loved it and judging by the reaction of the very large crowd who had gathered to see them Black Mountain were very much on form. Great stuff … as long as you like heavy rock.

Download Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3 (from Wilderness Heart)

You’d think by this point Mr M and I would have been through with music, wouldn’t you? Oh no, not us. Grabbing another pint of cider from the Somerset Cider van, we scooted along to the Jarvis Cocker vs Richard Hawley DJ set for a bit of almost-dad-dancing.

Sunday. Our last day at The End of the Road. Where did the weekend go?

First to catch the ears as the sun shone down, were the gorgeous harmonies and traditional folk sound of The Smoke Fairies, who still managed to evoke a vague Wicker Man feeling to the proceedings.

Mr M had told me very good things about Kath Bloom and Woodpigeon had indicated that Ms Bloom had tried leading him astray, so I thought I’d give the veteran alt country singster a go. At the cosy Big Top stage, she charmed us all with lilting vocals, intimate chats and a great all-round performance. I’ve not followed Kath Bloom over the two or three decades she’s been performing but if this was anything to go by, she still got ‘it’.

Download Kath Bloom – Heart So Sadly mp3 (from Thin Thin Line)

Meanwhile MM was taking in the slightly experimental folktronica of Lanterns On The Lake and then finding himself completely absorbed by the raw, plaintive folk of Joe Pug. Reminiscent of Dylan, the lyrical wordplay of Hymn 35 and the brilliant, brooding despair of Not So Sure were two more standout tracks to add to the weekend’s collection.

Download Joe Pug – Not So Sure mp3 (from Messenger)

Onto the early evening and the Hawaiian inspired indie groove of Django Django brought the Big Top crowd up into one big head nodding, swaying mass. Like a less threatening Archie Bronson Outfit, the threesome melded krautrock rhythms with dance-friendly synths and big, big choruses to put (even bigger) smiles on the faces of the watching audience.

Download Django Django – Love’s Dart mp3 (from Storm / Love’s Dart 7″)

Then it was on to see the enigmatic, super-energetic, super-talented Felice Brothers. My (and MM’s) favourite performance of the entire festival. Before End of the Road, I was only really familiar with the beautiful ballad, Cooperstown, and I went to this performance expecting more of the same. What we got was the ultimate masterclass in ramshackle crowd pleasing..like the Waterboys on speed, or perhaps The Pogues on Red Bull and vodka?

For a bunch of brothers (which four of the guys really are) they’re pretty different. The lead singer, Ian, had the attitude (and even a slight look) of a young Roy Keane. Violinist, Farley, looked like an all-American college kid who could have easily played at the wildest hoe-down. Then, there’s the multi-talented, multi-instrumental James who got the large crowd singing along, stamping along and generally having a great old American time. In between, they introduced humour, irony and even a little self-effacement. What a great start to the evening.

Download The Felice Brothers – Run Chicken Run mp3 (from Yonder Is The Clock)

So, with the crowd literally jumping around and howling for more of the same, the Felice Brothers left us and as darkness descended across this little part of North Dorset, on came The Low Anthem. Energy levels dipped and as a hush descended across Larmer Gardens we waited like children eager for their bedtime story.

I’ve never seen The Low Anthem live and wasn’t prepared for the spellbinding performance. As each beautifully sung, tightly played song drifted across the gardens, the crowd were silent. Mr M reckons he couldn’t hear the pin he dropped … the rest of us were too transfixed too even notice he’d dropped it. If you like our sort of music, you’ll probably know To Ohio and Charlie Darwin but if you haven’t already heard it please listen to This God Damn House. It is a song of beautiful genius and could quite easily melt the coldest of hearts.

So was this a quiet set? Was it the musical equivalent of a mug of Horlicks? Don’t you believe it. The end of each song was met with rapturous appreciation and lead singer, Ben Knox Miller soaked up the adoration with unbridled happiness before finishing with a cover of the blues classic, Sally Where’d You Get Your Liquor From? Go and see The Low Anthem and if you can’t get to see them, buy Oh My God, Charlie Darwin, sit back with a cup of coffee and a cigarette and enjoy …

Download The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin mp3 (from O My God, Charlie Darwin)

Download The Low Anthem – This God Damn House mp3 (from What The Crow Brings)

It is now 9.30 on Sunday evening and the Garden Stage, which has been full to capacity for most of the day, is now fit to bursting with expectant ‘End of the Roaders’ awaiting the mighty Wilco. Guitars – lots and lots and lots of guitars – would send us on our way back up the road to Oxfordshire. And to songs like I Am Trying to Break Your Heart and Bull Black Nova we were slowly walking back to the car and heading home.

Download Wilco – Bull Black Nova mp3 (from Wilco (The Album))

A great festival, a superb weekend of music, laughs and the odd pint or six thrown in for good measure. Mr M and I will definitely be heading back to the End of the Road festival next year.

So should you.

Black Mountain’s Hair Song Video

Black Mountain release the second single from their much anticipated forthcoming album Wilderness Heart on 11th October.  Its west-coast groove and soaring harmonies showing off an altogether more accessible side to the band; The Hair Song brings the band’s songwriting skills into sharp focus.

A joyous and uplifting track?

Watch it below…

Pre-order the album here.

Download Black Mountain – The Hair Song mp3 (from Wilderness Heart)

MM’s Best of the Month: July

Here we are again. A round up of our favourite postings of the month. Twenty one outstanding songs from July plus three new ones to make the perfect mix tape. From folk to garage to stoner rock and summer pop it is all here for you. Download, burn to CD, play – groove!

1) Sharon Van Etten – Love More mp3

A slow burning, mesmerising song that envelops like a soft blanket with that always captivating and haunting voice to the fore

2) Roadside Graves – Everything mp3

Another absolute gem of ramshackle, atmospheric country rock

3) Bombay Bicycle Club – Jewel mp3

Acoustic folk standout from classy new album

4) Vanish Valley – Bad Things mp3

Short, mournful folky lament about being used by the Devil as “the sun slips down the ceiling“.

5) Best Coast – Boyfriend mp3

More 60s inspired lo-fi pop goodness from flavour of the month…

6) Dax Riggs – No One Will Be A Stranger mp3

Scuzzy, hypnotic blend of swamp rock with buzzsaw guitars and a healthy dose of psychedelia

7) Javi Garcia & The Cold Cold Ground – The Pills mp3

A mix of gothic country, bitter folk, full on righteous, reverb heavy southern rock, and straight-up country. All with ominous, brooding fiddle

8) Big Blood – Lay Your Head On The Rails II mp3

Comes across like an outtake from Rust Never Sleeps – feedback buzz and a big fat riff powers from the speakers while the reedy, but determinedly unbreakable vocals fight to the finish to make themselves heard

9) Ten Kens – Screaming Viking mp3

Heavenly vocals appear hauntingly over dark sludgy guitars with a surprisingly spiky post-punk riff

10) Lower Dens – Hospice Gates mp3

Weirdly beautiful, it is throbbing, insistent drone-pop on the one hand and haunting, ghostly freak-folk on the other

11) Rare Grooves – Cause For Concern mp3

Hybrid of anthemic chanting, finger-picked twang, and sometimes experimental sounding guitar

12) Fungi Girls – Doldrums mp3

A shuffling groove and dynamic hook – three minutes of pure joyful escapism that tips its hat to Bo Diddley by way of the Jesus & Mary Chain.

13) Secret Colours – Jellybean mp3

Psych-pop with warm, hazy guitars and vocals to match. Evocative of lava lamps, kaleidoscopic displays and some heavy weed man.

14) The Bees – Silver Line mp3

A little summer breeze of a taster, trademark harmonies and the sunshine are there in equal measure to put a smile on your face

15) Bridal Party – Made Me mp3

A freak folk extravaganza, a heady concoction of pulsing rhythms, drone and echoing, downtrodden vocals

16) Screaming Females – I Don’t Mind It mp3

Grungy, distorted and catchy as hell

17) Ghost Animal – In Shrouds mp3

Frantic, but eerie, slice of garage psychedelia that is fuzzy, distorted and deliciously sleazy.

18) The War Crimes – Levin As I mp3

More down-tempo, minimalist pessimism from MM faves

19) Black Mountain – Hair Song mp3

Classic rock. Enough said.

20) Moulettes – Talisman mp3

Avant-garde folk with strands of classical, gypsy, jazz, and rock that create a complex yet accessible whole.

21) Minks – Ophelia mp3

Reflective, 80s tinged dream pop

And three more corking new ones. Enjoy the jangly, indie pop perfection of French Films and the breezy summer pop of The Knocks and then immerse yourself in rock ‘n’ roll’s sleazy underbelly that is Nick Cave’s brilliant Grinderman.

Download Grinderman – Heathen Child mp3 (from Heathen Child 7″)

Download The Knocks – Make It Better mp3 (from Make It Better 7″)

Download French Films – Golden Sea mp3 (from Golden Sea 7″)

More from Black Mountain

Some heavy rock is just too good to pass up.

Black Mountain push all the right buttons with this, the second track and new single, to get released from their much anticipated forthcoming album Wilderness Heart.

Even the track title calls up an era of stoned Hells Angels with straggly hair having fun on their Harleys while terrifying your mum. Marvellous.

Pre-order the album from Jagjaguwar here.

Visit Black Mountain’s MySpace here.

Download Black Mountain – The Hair Song mp3 (from Wilderness Heart)

Download Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3 (from Wilderness Heart)

MM’s Best Of The Month: June

Here is our regular monthly round up of 25 of the best tracks posted on Mad Mackerel in the past month, and three new gems too. That’s a more than decent mixtape sorted even if we were crap in the World Cup!

The FuturebirdsBattle For Rome mp3

Glorious, up-tempo alt-country gem that recalls Neil Young at his finest

Puro InstinctCalifornia Shakedown mp3

Dreamily seductive slice of icy pop

Burnt OnesBury Me In Smoke mp3

Sleazy, dirty, hook-laden surf rock and heavy doses of 7os glam

Mississippi ManMountain mp3

Superb blend of Americana and country-folk

The Vitamin Sees Illumanati Mind Control mp3

Mesmerising and hypnotic, with repetitive guitar riff and laconic vocals. Our discovery of the month!

Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3

Scorched, driving, desert blues

HollowbellyLong Road mp3

Raw, stomping, hellfire and brimstone blues

Sharon Van EttenI Couldn’t Save You mp3

Languid, lonely and desolate. As stark and as stunning a heartbreaker as you could imagine

Ferocious FewKathleen mp3

Joyous raiding of the rock’n’roll cupboard to produce a two-minute classic

Elf PowerStranger In The Window mp3

Gentle, pensive, country-tinged, psych-pop. Gorgeous

Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3

Fragile, Syd Barrett influenced unorthodox folk whimsy

All Saints DayYou Can’t Be Alone mp3

Pop overdosing on distortion and reverb

Lail AradEveryone Is Moving To Berlin mp3

Wonderful blend of sharp-tongued pop and lovely folk overtones

The WhigsDying mp3

Visceral, slow burn of a track, builds into crescendo of guitars, drums and feedback

Tame ImpalaSolitude Is Bliss mp3

Bold, fuzzed up blues standout from recent album Innerspeaker

Karen ElsonThe Ghost Who Walks mp3

Gothic-tinged, country murder ballad

TennisMarathon mp3

Sweet and catchy pop gem

Tweak BirdA Sun Ahh Ahh mp3

Brilliant mix of full-on old-school metal riffing and psychedelic overtones

The MinksFuneral Song mp3

Vintage Cure bassline, icy synths and shadowy, sombre lyrics

The Black LipsBefore You Judge Me mp3

Typically swaggering boozy cut of garage rock

We Are Country MiceFestival mp3

Garage goodness, awash with reverb, duelling guitars and a tinge of psychedelia

The Local NativesCareful mp3

Chiming cover of Television album track

SalemKing Night mp3

Ghostly leanings and haunting, desolate beats

CrocodilesSleep Forever mp3

Full on indie rocker in the spirit of the Bunnymen

Emily ReoWitch Mtn Pt. 2 mp3

Dreamily seductive and captivating fuzzy Beach House style pop

And  three new ones for you to finish off:

The Vitamin SeesEvil Eye mp3

More tripped out, pulsing krautrock from our new band discovery of the month

Port O’BrienMy Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) mp3

From the wonderful Buffetlibre/Amnesty Peace project (180 tracks for $5 minimum) comes this brilliant Ramones cover by MM faves Port O’Brien. Buy this compilation here now!

Wild NothingYour Rabbit Feet mp3

Latest chilled (and chilly) dream pop from new indie-wunderkind