Polly Pocket’s Top Songs Of 2013

Polly Pocket's Best Of 2013
As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year that we’ve posted over the past few days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. The fourth instalment comes from Polly Pocket – thanks for putting them arse backwards Poll!

1 Junip – Line Of Fire
This has been in the top spot since the beginning of the year. Beautiful vocals courtesy of Jose Gonzalez, it all sounds so effortless whilst building up to that epic finish. Unfortunately, this song also reminds me of seeing Junip this Autumn where, having got Mr Gonzalez to sign my album I then proceeded to tell him that he and the band were ‘awesome’. He was a gentleman about it but it remains embarrassing.

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2 Cash Savage and The Last Drinks – Hypnotiser
Full of attitude and lots of swagger. This is definitely a Friday night cocktail favourite (goes particularly well with a Dirty Martini). If you don’t end up singing along with the gospel choir you are not listening to it right.

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3 Phosphorescent – Song For Zula
What an epic tune this is with its fine strings and heartbreaking lyrics to match. A timeless classic.

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4 Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street
It has taken me longer to love Nick Cave than it should and I am sorry to those who have tried to show me the right path in the past. Thankfully I have learnt the error of my ways and it is Jubilee Street that helped me see the light. Storytelling at its best.

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5 Telekinesis – Ghosts and Creatures
There is something familiar and comforting about this indie tune. Love all that distortion and a beat that makes me want to dance, or at least sway a little in a kind of early 90′s way. Turn it up and you will feel uplifted.

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6 Agnes Obel – Fuel To Fire
This beautiful song stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it a couple of months ago. All a bit haunting and full of melancholy. The album is a treat but Fuel To Fire stands out at the front for me.  A great find for 2013. Lovely.

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7 Deptford Goth – Union
It’s the simplicity of this tune that first got me hooked.  Its also a song I would have been in love with as a teenager. It might be electro pop but there is a fair amount of misery and sorrow in there too so what’s not to love?

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8 HAIM – Falling
A last minute change around has put HAIM into the top ten, every time I hear this song I am reminded of just how good I think it is. Very polished, really well produced, love those harmonies and that retro feel. HAIM are like marmite. I like marmite.

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9  Tired Pony – All Things All At Once
Boasting quite a line up Tired Pony have got it all going on. All Things All At Once has a pure, unpolished feel to it, like they all just happened to be together and decided to start playing and recording and here it is. Country? Folk? Americana? Who knows. Whatever it is it sounds bloody good to me.

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10 Laura Marling – Devil’s Resting Place
I couldn’t have a top ten without Ms Marling featuring in it somewhere (23, how can she be just 23 and getting better with every album?).  I love the exotic, dark sound to this song. Once I Was An Eagle is a very fine album, if you don’t own it you should.

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11 Half Moon Run – Full Circle

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12 The Cave Singers – Canopy

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13 Gaz Coombes Presents – One Of These Days

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14 Barbarossa – The Load

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15 Cerny Brothers – Whiskey

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16 Pickwick featuring Sharon Van Etten – Lady Luck

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17 Jules Larson + AG  – Bend To The Break

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18 PHOX – Noble Heart

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19  Shadows At Play – Into The Sun

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20 Dim Peaks – Reason

Dr. Roddy’s Top Songs of 2013

Best Of 2013: Dr Roddy's Choices

As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year that we’ve posted over the past few days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. Today we kick off with Dr Roddy…

MM has, again filled my musical cup until it brimeth over, making it another year of anguish and sleepless nights over whether X should be higher in my Top Ten then Y. I know that may not seem like a massive problem in the grand scheme of things but for me it is, trust bruv. So after much wrangling here are my decisions.

10 Hanni El Khatib – Nobody Move
On Hanni El Khatib’s biog on Wikipedia he says that his “…music is for anyone who has ever been shot or hit by a train”. I think that this is a good way to describe this tune – it hits you flat out, ballsy, raw and aggressive in it’s lunge for your ears. Cracking bit of up tempo rock with a good nod at 70s punk.

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9 Wild Child – Crazy Bird
Never whistle in songs goes the old adage, well tell that to Otis Redding and these guys, fuckos! This tune has a such a feelgood factor to it, it positively bristles with fun and bounce. The melancholy sound of the fiddle in the background gives it some real gravitas, so you can feel serious when you are whistling along to it. You know you will!

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8 Drenge – Backwaters
I love this powerful two piece out of Derby. Sort of Henrys Funeral Shoe meets The Smiths. I have always been a sucker for this sort of sound. You’re just towed away on the riptide of noise. This is the kind of song you turn up to eleven when people are in the middle of talking to you about some inane shit.

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7 Burning Hell – Grown Ups
You were a Nazi hunter, I was a cockney punter” sings Mathias Kom. After hearing that opening line I thought, “Hello, that’s different,that’s got my attention“. A wonderful sing along track that has the sound of a heavily stoned grunge record. I still feel guilty that it isn’t higher in the list.

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6 King Krule – Easy, Easy
My friend bought me the King Krule album for my birthday this year. It was an inspired choice and it lived in the CD tray for some weeks – I think they had started to bound molecularly. A gruff and untempered voice guides you through a cultural landscape that sounds empty and barren, which is emphasised by the production on the lonely guitar that accompanies King Krule’s lament.

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5 Water Liars – Linens
I don’t think I have the vocabulary to describe the beauty of this song, so I’m not going to try. If you know this song then you will know that at some point everyone has or does share this song’s wants, needs and ideology. If you don’t know the song, catch yourself some quiet time, a good whisky and indulge…..

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4 Thee Oh Sees – Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster
With a opening sound filthier than a night out with Jimmy Savile, this track has been a staunch favourite since my first listen. The bass line and guitar riff are simple, but massively addictive and unwavering in ferocity as the song crescendos during the chorus. It is the one song this year that whenever anyone hears it for the first time they sit there quiet, then at the end, without fail say “That was awesome, Who was that?

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3 Cave Singers – Have To Pretend
What a groove this song has – it chugs away happily down the line, the drums are pounded relentlessly, their only company a bass line that seems to have the demeanour of a drunken Sunday afternoon. Pete Quirk’s voice is a wonderful accompaniment and his lackadaisical delivery of lyric, it’s as if it would kill him to pronounce any word properly. This just adds to the songs swagger.

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2 John Grant – GMF
This song was a real grower upon first hearing it I thought “Oh that’s alright” then I carried on about my business. Then one day I properly listened. Any song that has the line “Half of the time I think I’m in some movie / I play the underdog of course / I wonder who they’ll get to play me, maybe / they could dig up Richard Burton’s corpse” is a winner in my book. This song really is a lyric driven tune, the melody underneath is a vehicle for some wonderfully arrogant word play but what would you expect from a song entitled GMF (Greatest Mother Fucker).

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1 Low – Plastic Cup
From the first listen this song has been a real contender. Lyrically a tour de force, witty, poignant accompanied by some beautiful harmonies and vast yet warm soundscape. I love the song’s theme of having to piss into a plastic cup then it being dug up in a thousand years and heralded as the cup the king drank from every night. It is the kind of faux pas that wouldn’t look out of place in a Python sketch. A truly wonderous piece of work that has welded itself to my brain and is having a sit-in.

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Best song I have heard this year, not from this year.

Future of the Left – Small Bones, Small Bodies
Don’t have a Scooby what this song is about, just know that I adore it. It has more front than Brighton and just rocks my world everytime I hear it. If it was this year it would defo have been my number one. I’m a bit late to the Future of the Left party, but now I’m here lets turn the music up and ‘ave it.

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Favourite cover song of the year

Quiet American – Gallows Pole
I am a massive Led head, Zeppelin are idolised because of this ridiculous pedestal that I have them on. I believe that you should never try to cover any of their tunes (the same goes for Aretha Franklin). This song however is the exception that proves the rule. A great re-work of the track without damaging it.

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Best gig of 2013

Hudson Taylor – East Oxford community church (Gathering Festival)
I have seen some great bands this year and my God I have seen some dross too. This year my girlfriend and I attended Gathering festival, which is on our doorstep in Oxford. We were lucky enough to catch Hudson Taylor. Four guys stepped on to the stage with no ego or pretence – they just exuded fun and merriment. Soon this had spread like wildfire through the crowd. Pretty soon the measly 40/50 people who had come to see these guys where whipped up into a fervour and carried away with the band’s thunderous performance, as if we were packed into a pub in their native Ireland. They supported Kodaline on their UK tour and sold out every show they played with them. If you want to see a awesome live band, see these guys.

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Guilty pleasure

Chloe Howl – Rumour
I am far too old to like this kind of power pop but Rumour is just such a well crafted piece of music and deftness of lyric. Chloe Howl was another revelation from Gathering. If you have teenage kids take them to see this girl, then sneak out the next day and buy her album for yourself.

MAD MACKEREL’S TOP TRACKS OF 2013: 25 – 1

MM's Favourite Tracks Of 2013: 25 - 1

So this is it, the final countdown of our favourite tracks of 2013…

As voted for by MM luminaries: the luminous Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), the newly teenaged Middle Sprat (MS), Marston’s Mr Big, Chris T Popper (CP), the criminally insane Dr. Roddy (Dr R), and patricide obsessive Polly Pocket (PP). A motley crew it is true, but all united by their love of a damn good tune.

So, here then are their final selections from 25 down to top spot.

25 Big Sun – Pants
Quirky, frothy and sardonic. Sung with tongues so far in cheeks it should have sounded funny. Instead we got idiosyncratic indie-pop genius.

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24 James Yorkston – Just As Scared
Every couple of years I seem to find the perfect smoky bar song. Here’s just such a tune: a cheek-to-cheek intimate duet that shuffles around the piano with a bluesy feel that gets my foot a-tapping. Now where’s your shoulder, let me very gently lay my head…(Mrs M)

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23 Martha’s Vineyard Ferries – Blonde On Blood
Like the best ever Fall single played at 78rpm. This is, of course, a very good thing indeed. (MM)

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22 I See Hawks In L.A. – One Drop Of Human Blood
Hypnotic, trippy, country rock par excellence.

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21 Augustines – Cruel City
Of course Augustines feature in my Top Ten again – how could they not? Their voices are my favourite of all. The music fits with the lyrics and their voices, and the whole of it captures the mood of the song perfectly! I can’t wait for to hear more songs by them! (MS)

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20 Cave Singers – Have To Pretend
What a groove this song has – it chugs away happily. Down the line the drums are pounded relentlessly, their only company is a bass line that seems to have the demeanour of a drunken Sunday afternoon. Pete Quirk’s voice is a wonderful accompaniment and his lackadaisical delivery of lyric, it’s as if it would kill him to pronounce any word properly. This just adds to the song’s swagger. (Dr R)

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19 Southerly – Desolation Low
Now I mean this in a good way, but I just love the damn ‘seriousness’ of this song. Serious without being shit that is. And for that Southerly must be congratulated and lauded. Instead we have a climatic build up and an epic finale that gave it a deserved top 3 status in my songs of the year. It just picks me up and carries me away no matter how many times I hear it. (CP)

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18 Cash Savage & The Last Drinks – Hypnotizer
Full of attitude and lots of swagger. This is definitely a Friday night cocktail favourite (goes particularly well with a Dirty Martini). If you don’t end up singing along with the gospel choir you are not listening to it right. (PP)

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17 Georgia’s Horse – Thistlebomb
Tales from the battlefield: an unusual, almost discordant arrangement with sublime vocals. If I was looking for an influence, maybe a hint of Kate Bush? Quite unique and utterly brilliant. (Mrs M)

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16 Nick Cave – Jubilee Street
It has taken me longer to love Nick Cave than it should and I am sorry to those who have tried to show me the right path in the past. Thankfully I have learnt the error of my ways and it is Jubilee Street that helped me see the light. Storytelling at its best. (PP)

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15 Phosphorescent – Ride On/Right On
While I might be at odds with my shoalmates, this track from Phosphorescent’s peerless Muchacho album was my tune of the year. A little bit of funky rhythm and a whole lot of country grit combined to make the most compelling and enduring song of 2013. (MM)

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14 Houndmouth – Casino
This song is my favourite of the year, only just though. It always has me awkwardly singing and bopping when I can! With the country twang in their voices and the electric guitar in the background, I can’t help but love this song. (MS)

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13 Wooden Wand – Southern Colorado Song
I could rename this Southern Devon song: late July, lying on the beach with the waves rushing into my ears.  Can you hear the cymbal tremor throughout this song? Nowhere seems the only place to go; aye, Captain. (Mrs M)

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12 Laura Marling – Devil’s Resting Place
There’s menace and a brooding darkness in this devil’s resting place as LM returns to the pared back sound of Alas I Cannot Swim.  But there are many layers to this music and her latest album has an intensity and intelligence that means she’s still my number one gal. (Mrs M)

I couldn’t have a top ten without Ms Marling featuring in it somewhere (23, how can she be just 23 and getting better with every album?).  I love the exotic, dark sound to this song. Once I Was An Eagle is a very fine album, if you don’t own it you should. (PP)

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11 Junip – Line Of Fire
Sold to me in wistful and reflective mode; there’s more than a kernel of truth in these insightful lyrics: You realise it’s just a whim/And you notice it matters/Who and what you let under your skin. (Mrs M)

This has been in the top spot since the beginning of the year. Beautiful vocals courtesy of Jose Gonzalez, it all sounds so effortless whilst building up to that epic finish. Unfortunately, this song also reminds me of seeing Junip this Autumn where, having got Mr Gonzalez to sign my album I then proceeded to tell him that he and the band were ‘awesome‘. He was a gentleman about it but it remains embarrassing. (PP)

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10 John Grant – GMF
This song was a real grower upon first hearing it I thought “Oh that’s alright”, then I carried on about my business. Then one day I properly listened. Any song that has the line “Half of the time I think I’m in some movie / I play the underdog of course / I wonder who they’ll get to play me, maybe / they could dig up Richard Burton’s corpse” is a winner in my book. This song really is a lyric driven tune – the melody underneath is a vehicle for some wonderfully arrogant word play but what would you expect from a song entitled GMF (Greatest Mother Fucker). (Dr R)

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9 Wild Child – Crazy Bird
Never whistle in songs goes the old adage, well tell that to Otis Redding and these guys, fuckos! This tune has a such a feelgood factor to it, it positively bristles with fun and bounce. The melancholy sound of the fiddle in the background gives it some real gravitas, so you can feel serious when you are whistling along to it. You know you will! (Dr R)

I love this song. The catchy, tuneful whistling and always get stuck in my head and the harmony in their voices when they sing together are my favourite factors of this song. This means that this song is placed at number two in my top ten. (MS)

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8 Jesse Woods – Cold Blood
This one’s a bit of a swayer and despite the title, Cold Blood is lyrically beautiful and uplifting. You can drift into the rise and fall of the music and the harmonies – and, like the man says, we’ve got places to be and nothing to prove. (Mrs M)

As traditional as the aching sadness of yet another year wasted Christmas always brings, there will undoubtedly be a latecomer to my top 10. Step forward Jesse Woods. I was listening to this song in the car when I first got the CD and when I finally heard to it on a ‘proper’ music system it blew me away. Woods has great timing to his delivery and an even better voice. It’s bloody magnificent. (CP)

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7 Water Liars – Linens
Pull up a chair, I wanna tell you a story about tormented man. To be honest, he’s too much trouble for me (cook your own bacon, change your own sheets boyo), but I like a good yarn and a telling verse: The mind is a place unto itself/ And in it makes a heaven of hell/And a hell of heaven. Quite. (Mrs M)

I don’t think I have the vocabulary to describe the beauty of this song, so I’m not going to try. If you know this song then you will know that at some point everyone has, or does, share this song’s wants, needs and ideology. If you don’t know the song, catch yourself some quiet time, a good whisky and indulge….. (Dr R)

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6 Terry Malts – I Was Not There
As my previous top 10’s bear out I do like a proper modern punk song. Terry Malts can do that. Heavy drums and a real hurry-up guitar combine to great effect. It’s an enjoyably unforgiving song.  And ‘I was not there’ are four words that have constantly come in useful throughout my own life. (CP)

To do simple, balls-to-the-floor, screw-you punk rock this brilliantly well takes real talent. Terry Malts have it. (MM)

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5 Burning Hell – Grown Ups
An instant hit. From the very start Grown Ups is a treat, with the most arresting opening lyric I’ve heard for some time. Guitar meanders along as the tale unfolds about nostalgia and the joy of hanging around graveyards being ‘little goth idiots’. I had a goth stage in my teens – trench coat, skinny black jeans, miserable outlook and an utterly appalling haircut. The quintessential goth you might say and a really great effort from me. (CP)

You were a Nazi hunter / I was a cockney punter” sings Mathias Kom. After hearing that opening line I thought, “Hello, that’s different, that’s got my attention”. A wonderful singalong track that has the sound of a heavily stoned grunge record. I still feel guilty that it isn’t higher in my list. (Dr R)

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4 T. Hardy Morris – OK Corral
Sad, sad songs eh? Love ‘em myself and T. Hardy Morris delivers a tour de force with OK Corral. You can’t help it as you’re dragged in to the drowsy chorus and it’s tangible sense of sorrow. It’s also another song from this year with a great opening line, “Swear me in / I’m pretty good at making promises“…(CP)

The sound of a ghost town set to song. (MM)

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3 Foxygen – No Destruction
It’s the lazy, laconic drawl and the finger-clicking rhythm – just one hand if you’re me, as the other doesn’t seem to work – and the way you can sing along to ‘No destruct-shaan’ quite happily, even in modest company. (Mrs M)

This was pretty much nailed on. With the opening line of “I’m sending you this photograph / Of me in my new car“, I had already signed up on the Foxygen dotted line and was awaiting further instruction. A subversive laid back and slightly peculiar song. Kept me thinking all year, as I never knew where I really had it. (CP)

We may have lost Lou Reed this year, but his spirit lives on in No Destruction, a natural pretender to his throne, and this song has the best use of “weaseled” in any song we’ve heard. (MM)

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2 Low – Plastic Cup
I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like this song after the very first listen. I think Low may have cracked it. There’s a dreamy kind of stillness to it and a perfect example of the genius of simplicity. It never tries too hard because it doesn’t need to. (CP)

One of those few songs that feels like it could have been written any time in the past 40 years. Timeless is over-used, but this really is that good. (MM)

From the first listen this song has been a real contender. Lyrically a tour de force, witty, poignant, accompanied by some beautiful harmonies and a vast yet warm soundscape. I love the song’s theme of having to piss into a plastic cup then it being dug up In a thousand years and heralded as the cup the king drank from every night. It is the kind of faux pas that wouldn’t look out of place in a Python sketch. A truly wondrous piece of work that has welded itself to my brain and is having a sit-in. (Dr R)

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1 PHOSPHORESCENT – SONG FOR ZULA
Matthew Houck
Matthew Houck’s ragged voice was not always to my taste. But time has altered us both and it’s his strong yet fragile vocals that stitch together Zula’s imagery, which cuts far and deep. Intensely poignant lyrics, sweeping strings, pulsing drum machine: it all weaves together to form an emotional testament to the end of a relationship. Ever had your heart broken? This is what it feels like. (Mrs M) 

In a recent interview Matthew Houck talked about Song For Zula and how he felt he had achieved something with the song that he thought was beyond his ability. An almost unconscious level of quality he hadn’t perceived was there. I know exactly what he means… apart from never having achieved anything to my ability or beyond it. But I can imagine, so I won’t let it hold me back. Just the best song I’ve heard in ages. (CP)

What an epic tune this is with its fine strings and heartbreaking lyrics to match. A timeless classic. (PP)

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Check out the rest of our top 100 here: 100 – 76, 75 – 51, 50 – 26.

MAD MACKEREL’S TOP TRACKS OF 2013: 75 – 51

MM's Favourite Tracks Of 2013: 75 - 51

The countdown of our one hundred favourite tracks of 2013 continues…today we reach halfway as we bring you 75 down to 51.

75 GRMLN – Summer Days
Thrashy, catchy, singalong rock’n’roll with platform shoes and ridiculous flares.

Download GRMLN – Summer Days mp3

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74 Sisters – Clearhead
Here are my shoes. See how I gaze at them. It says 2013 on the label, but I’ve gone back to the early 90s. Lovely. (Mrs M)

 

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73 Courtney Barnett – History Eraser
Deadpan, conversational, charming, funny, literal and literate – a drunken night’s tale told with an upbeat lo-fi jangle and amiable vocal delivery.

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72 Pickwick – Lady Luck
Gorgeous cover of the Richard Swift tune, and featuring Sharon Van Etten.


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71 Holograms – A Blaze On The Hillside
Most thrilling riff of the year?

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70 Willie Nile – American Ride
The best roadtrip song we’ve heard in many a moon, impassioned and infectious.

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69 Cerny Brothers – Whiskey
Moonshine Americana straight from the back porch.

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68 Mickey Gloss – Are You Happy
Wry social commentary meets punk DIY and garage psychedelia in a distillation of antipodean sun and London melancholia.

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67 Nick Cave – Wide Lovely Eyes
Oh clever, clever Nicholas Cave and his voice so hypnotic, deep and dark. You could imagine this as part of a recruitment drive to join a cult (yes you, with your wide lovely eyes). With a teasing yet subdued musical arrangement, this is the gospel according to St Nick. (Mrs M)

 

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66 Barbarossa – The Load
A sparse and delicate ballad, undercut by a distorted organ refrain, and constructed around remarkable and tender vocals.

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65 The Orwells – Who Needs Who
Roaring drums and aggressive, snapping vocals gave us the most thrilling garage punk single of the year.

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64 Fuzz – Sleigh Ride
Heaviest riff of the year?

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63 Cass McCombs – Big Wheel
Hypnotic, rumbling, country-dirt travelogue.

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62 Arcade Fire – Reflektor
We are right in the mix here: a bit of dance therapy needed. Remember the hypnotic triangle of cooker/fridge/sink? Throw some shapes, make a curry, go knock yourself out; I didn’t want to dance, but they made me. (Mrs M)

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61 Chelsea Light Moving – Lip
Hardcore anthem of the year.

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60 The Cave Singers – Canopy
Sun-drenched, mellow indie folk opener from their Naomi album.

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59 Coma Cinema – Virgin Veins
Spare and haunting. Talking of quiet suffering, loneliness, ugliness and confusion, “The heart is a monument / to a childhood of abuse.

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58 Dune Rats – Stoner Pop
In a parallel world somewhere, this was the smash hit of the summer.

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57 Wooden Wand & The World War IV – I Hate The Nightlife
On Wooden Wand’s wrist is a tattoo: WWNYD – What Would Neil Young Do? Our guess? Buy this record. Epic, taut, tense, and full of the fiery guitar so beloved of NY.

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56 The Head & The Heart – Shake
The bass drum kicks this one into action, a little bit of clapping and then, hello, the rest of the band follows. There’s a sweet change of tempo for the chorus: ‘And the memories we made will never be lost, no.’ Maybe not, but watch out for that prevailing wind. (Mrs M)

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55 Half Moon Run – Full Circle
A captivating blend of exquisite guitar lines and delicate folk melodies.

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54 Quiet American – Wild Bill Jones
Old time folk for modern times, Quiet American bring new light to the many faceted tale of all-American bad boy Wild Bill Jones.

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53 Gaz Coombes Presents – One Of These Days
Heartfelt, beautiful melancholia set to a piano and strings and a pulsing bass line.

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52 Blitzen Trapper – Feel The Chill
That old wreck of a shack buried in evergreen and murky darkness at the bend in the road up on Jackson Hill where we used to drink and never failed to give me a chill driving by in the old Impala for it’s implacable mystery.” That’s where Feel the Chill takes place.

 

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51 Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Gammy Leg
I underestimated this offering from Australia’s finest when I first listened to it. Essentially a tale of the immense bad luck befalling the protagonist and his ‘gammy leg’ it’s easy to dismiss. That would be a mistake. The wonderful deadpan, matter of fact delivery is laced with some brilliant throwaway lines and the black humour never wavers for a second. (CP)

Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Polly Pocket Picks Her Favourites

MM The Last Five Years - Polly Pocket

Believe it or not, Mad Mackerel has been around for more than five years now. During that time we’ve posted more than 4,000 times, and offered more than 5,000 songs for your listening pleasure. And more than three quarters of a million people have paid MM a visit during our lifetime on Google’s (godawful) blogspot and since April 2010 on WordPress.

We asked some of the regular MM contributors to give us their top twenty songs since MM first went live and we’re also going to give you one big mega-listing shortly, first up was Dr Roddy, then Chris T Popper and now we have the choices of the fragrant, but often blasphemous Polly Pocket.

20) Ben Howard – Old Pine

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3

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19) Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning

Download The Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning mp3

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18) One Eskimo – Hometime

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17) Annie Williams – Roll On Hills

Download Annie Williams – Roll On Hills mp3

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16) Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo

Download The Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo mp3

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15) The Cave Singers – Swim Club

Download The Cave Singers - Swim Club mp3

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14) The Low Anthem – To Ohio

Download The Low Anthem – To Ohio mp3

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13) First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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12) The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found (Daytrotter Session) mp3

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11) Alt-J – Taro

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10) Emiliana Torrini - Jungle Drum
Never fails to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It really does capture that feeling when you fall utterly head over heels and there is nothing to be done about it.

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9) Laura Marling – Sophia
I love that this song seems to have two such distinct parts to it but they work so beautifully together. Such an incredible voice. Laura can do no wrong in my eyes.

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8) Bon Iver – Blood Bank
A timeless beauty, much loved since 2009. So far it has proved impossible to listen to without singing the end part of the song ‘I know it well’ for hours afterwards.

Download Bon Iver – Blood Bank mp3

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7) Junip – Line Of Fire
A 2013 tune and already Line of Fire is a song I’d rather not live without. I love Jose Gonzalez’ effortless vocals. Utterly emotional, a bit bleak in places and all consuming. It has a cracking (and very odd) video to go with it too.

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6) Shearwater – You As You Were
A lovely discovery for 2012. This song just gets bigger and bigger until you realise you are no longer singing along but shouting like a crazy person!

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3

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5) Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True
If you like a song to tell you a tale then this is the one for you. It will also make you want to learn to play the harmonica.

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4) A.A. Bondy – The Twist
From 2011′s top ten, a beautiful track. Very dark and brooding, like a lovely storm overhead. No idea what it’s all about but it feels most profound.

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3) We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
It was my number 1 from 2012 and it certainly deserves its place here. Is it the voice or the lyrics that are most heartbreaking? Always a stand still and listen to all the way through tune.

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2) Willy Mason – What Is This
Timeless, effortless and to my mind perfect. I have yet to find a time or a situation where this tune doesn’t fit the bill.  That pretty much sums up the entire album for me, Carry On is a masterpiece.

Watch it here.

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1) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight
I remember the car journey when I first heard this song – it was a bit of a mind blower and hearing it live the next year cemented it as a firm favourite. The moment the strings start you know its going to be epic and it never disappoints.

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3

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Three much loved discoveries:

A.A Bondy
You know an artist is that good when you kick yourself for not having found them sooner – I could have been listening to ‘When The Devil’s Loose’ since 2009 but only came to it in 2011 having fallen in love with ‘Believers’.

The Tallest Man On Earth
There is a real honesty to Kristian Matsson’s songs, I think that is what I love best. He has an incredible voice and writes songs you just can’t help but sing a long to. Always a treat.

Laura Marling
An unbelievable talent. I was privileged enough to have heard Laura Marling sing in Gloucester Cathedral in 2011 – a very fitting venue for the purest of voices. If she is this good now, what will she be like in years to come? I look forward to finding out.

Mad Mackerel The last Five Years – Chris T Popper Picks His Favourites

MM The Last Five Years - Chris T Popper

Believe it or not, Mad Mackerel has been around for more than five years now. During that time we’ve posted more than 4,000 times, and offered more than 5,000 songs for your listening pleasure. And more than three quarters of a million people have paid MM a visit during our lifetime on Google’s (godawful) blogspot and since April 2010 on WordPress.

We asked some of the regular MM contributors to give us their top twenty songs since MM first went live and we’re also going to give you one big mega-listing shortly, first up was Dr Roddy and now the ultra-punctual and fastidious Chris T Popper offers up his selections.

20) Strand of Oaks – Trap Door

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19) Avett Brothers – January Wedding

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18) Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer

Download Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer mp3

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17) Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl

Download Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl mp3

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16) Wye Oak – Civilian

Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3

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15) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3

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14) Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge of The Extra From Zulu mp3

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13) Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill

Download Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill mp3

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12) Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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11) Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank)

Dowload Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank) mp3

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10) Sonny + The Sandwitches – Through The Fog And Haze
Over the years I have never forgotten how much this song meant to me; if anything it gets stronger like an addiction (and considering this is a personality trait I’ve developed over the years I will happily succumb). I can be in the shower/waiting in a queue/at a meeting with senior management and I’ll randomly sing the first line. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well when someone is talking flow charts and I’m singing ‘through the fog and the haze…’ at them. But it makes more sense than what their flapping mouths are coming out with. It’s just going to happen.

Download Sonny + The Sandwitches – Through The Fog And Haze mp3

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9) Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano
Not a single mackerel swam my way on this one. I was denounced as an absolute arse but I cared not. Hayman wrote this song after suffering a fractured skull; which opened up the idea to him of writing a song gentle enough to listen to with brain ache. There is nothing wrong with gentle in this age of incessant noisy shit. It is a beautiful soliloquy telling the story of a piano’s life (something I always wanted to hear) luckily I was able to understand – they didn’t. Their fault not mine.

Download Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano mp3

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8) Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Colour Television
Passed me by initially. Found it by simply playing my iTunes on shuffle one night a couple of years ago and was instantly hooked… and what a revelation. The insistent guitar is ravaged with a punk attitude I thought was long dead. By that I mean talent. Could have come from 1976 and share a gob full of spit with the best of that era, by that I mean the Clash and there is no greater praise I can bestow. Another story televised, another billion hypnotised. Quite.

Download Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Colour Television mp3

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7) Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me
As soon as that horn blast announces its arrival I’m in. It builds with a rhythmic hypnotism that refuses to let go. Evoking the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone with an outstanding vocal from Ben Nicholl (I was lucky enough to catch this live and it didn’t disappoint) it’s never been off the ‘best of’ playlists since I heard it.

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6) The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind
A timeless guitar riff that immediately sends my brain synapses in to electrical overdrive. Everything else becomes secondary to tapping my foot and grinning inanely. To be fair though, grinning inanely comes fairly naturally…

I went to see the Cave Singers live and they didn’t even perform this song (and it’s still in my top ten!). Now I know their back catalogue is good, but next time I’ll write the set list for fucks sake.

Download The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind mp3 (from Welcome Joy)

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5) Lower Dens  – Brains
In the language of common parlance may I just say one thing? OMG. In fact I’ll go even further… OMFG! I swear down. Now I’ve totally alienated you I’ll continue… There is a subtlety to this work you have no idea about unless you have included it in your own top 5 (which you haven’t). Opens with a drumbeat that grips your lapels up like a rottweiler on heat.  And then… well, it just gets better of course. I suggest you go and listen to it and then come back to me and we’ll talk about it over a large gin & tonic and a ridiculously large bifta.

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4) Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes
Smashed in to my number one spot last year and who could stop it? I have no idea what it’s about and neither do I care. It’s just not important to me because I can put this song on at any time, in any mood (and by jingo I can be a moody bastard) and find myself singing the chorus loud and proud – without getting a single word right. But hey that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? The sheer momentum carries you along like a crazed right wing Chancellor at a witch’s funeral – enough to shed a tear for the right reasons.

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3) Phospherescent – Song For Zula
When Mr Mackerel asked us to put together our favourite songs of the last five years I was a little cautious of including any recent favourites. It’s difficult enough to pick 20 of the best at any time… but Song For Zula transcends the conundrum. The impact of the opening bars/violins/first line (referencing Johnny Cash no less) is timeless. I have a special place in my heart for Phossie and the Red Eyed Fly in Austin when I first saw them live (get me!) – opening with a Radiohead cover and then converting me to country music by channelling the great Willie Nelson. Met him (Phossie not Willie!) by the way. I want to be his best friend. He doesn’t.

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2) Howling Owls – A Wordsmith’s Reverie
You know when you read a book and think ‘shit I could never write that beautifully’ (I’m a frustrated author as well as human being) – Howling Owls does that musically. There is a self-aware yet peaceful desperation to this; and not a single word is wasted. The lament of ‘I will change everything about me for you – except for the fact I can never be what you want me to be’ is heartbreaking. It also makes you realise how shit this world is. Far more people know about Kim Kardashian than Howling Owls and Wooden Wand put together. Just think about that for a moment- done that? Good. Now try not to wail in utter sadness…

Download Howling Owls featuring Maximino – A Wordsmith’s Reverie mp3

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1) Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed
This is my favourite song of the last five years of Mad Mackerel. It’s actually hard to write anything that can really do it the justice it deserves… I love music so much that a work of this sheer magnitude can leave me running on empty, even when it comes to my typical hyperbole. So, deep breath… here goes. From the moment I heard it I knew it was special. And it’s never lost its impact or the way it moves me like no other song. I know people like me say ‘genius’ a lot (and that people say that people say ‘genius’ a lot when they shouldn’t). This is genius.

Download Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed mp3

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And my 3 favourite bands…

3) Jeff The Brotherhood
2) Wooden Wand
1) Phosphorescent

Needs a mention

Best Cover:
Download Port O’Brien – Halo mp3 (Beyonce Cover)

My favourite Live Act of 08-13
Phossie – Red Eyed Fly, Austin, Texas 2009
I suddenly and quite unexpectedly understood country music.

Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Dr Roddy Looks Back

MM The Last Five Years - Dr Roddy

Believe it or not, Mad Mackerel has been around for more than five years now. During that time we’ve posted more than 4,000 times, and offered more than 5,000 songs for your listening pleasure. And more than three quarters of a million people have paid MM a visit during our lifetime on Google’s godawful blogspot and since April 2010 on WordPress.

We asked some of the regular MM contributors to give us their top twenty songs since MM first went live and we’re also going to give you one big mega-listing shortly, but first up with their personal top twenty is the right honourable Dr Roddy.

Through good fortune and fine sailing I have been lucky enough to be involved with this blog and it has provided me with some of the finest music in genres I maybe wouldn’t have looked in. So when asked to compile a top twenty of tunes from the last five years, I kicked aside the memories of musical turmoil that is involved with the yearly top tens, poured a stiff drink and set about it with relish.

20 Dan Auerbach – Heartbroken, In Disrepair

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19 Dirty Bourbon River Band – Train Is Gone

Download Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone mp3 (from Volume 2)

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18 Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine

Download Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine mp3 (from Tame Impala EP)

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17 Janice Graham Band – Front Door

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16 Ox – Midnight On The Island

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15 Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

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14 Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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13 Nathaniel Rateliffe – Brakeman

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12 William Elliot Whitmore – Old Devils

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11 What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge

Download What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge (live) mp3 (from What Would Jesus Drive EP)

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10 The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind
Wonderfully carefree and happy song that could so easily be heard drifting out of a doorway in Haight Ashbury with some interesting smelling smoke circa 1967. Yet this song never bows or becomes a pastiche of that, it rises above it all with its own verve and character.

Download The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind mp3 (from Welcome Joy)

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9 Brown Bird – Wrong Black Mare
Sullen, desperate story songs are a bit of a fave of mine and to be honest I think I can trace it back to this song. A tale of woe, desperation and unpaid debts are told here with such clarity, it’s as if you’ve got drunk with Brown Bird and they have decided to spill their guts to you. You understand though, ‘coz at some point we have all backed the “Wrong Black Mare”

Download Brown Bird – Wrong Brown Mare mp3 (from

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8 Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling
When I wrote my first review of this song I thought I had described quite well. Upon re-reading it, I can safely say that my view has changed and will probably change on my next listen to it. The insanity, confusion, and babbling of this song are what holds my love for it. It’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle, all encased in a funky B-line, foot tapping beat, gravel throated, roister of a song.

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7 Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do
This is such a beautifully crafted song. Simple, but packed with a rich warm sound that feels like it lends weight to the honesty of this tale of lost and forlorn love. Perfect Americana direct from Sweden.

Download Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do mp3

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6 Withered Hand – Religious Songs
A piece of lyrical mastery is on display here. A fantastic sing-a-long arrangement supports the witty word play that Dan Wilson sings with a vulnerability to his voice. This doesn’t stop him from punching the words that need emphasis. This song also ask the obvious question “How does he really expect to be happy, when he listens to death metal bands?”

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5 Tweak Bird – Weight
I love the in-your-face nature of this song. Right from the start, it sets its stall out – flat out, foot on the amp rock, and proud of it to boot. The guitar plays a gritty riff that sounds angry and frustrated, while the drummer is hell bent on punishing every bit of his kit.

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4 Grass House – A Cradle A Short Breath
The deep sombre tones that lay across this song act as a perfect partner to the bass as it pounds along at a merry old pace. It never fails to make me give a wry smile as I bob along to it’s woeful chorus of “A cradle, a short breath”.

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3 Roadside Graves – Far And Wide
I still think Roadside Graves is the best band name of this century and Far And Wide is a song that has stayed with me since my first listen – I was hooked. A great country riff lures you in and you hardly notice that the song fills with more and more sound and pleasure until it finishes and you’re left with a hole where the music once was, so you reach for the replay button, you know like musical heroin.

Download The Roadside Graves – Far And Wide mp3 (from My Son’s Home)

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2 Wooden Wand – Servant To Blues
As this track rolls effortlessly on, Wooden Wand spills his bleak melancholy tale of a servant to blues. In other words, the relationship equivalent of the Church’s pious man. I love the rhythm of this track, it almost seems to tick along like a clock. The peacefulness of this song is speared through the heart with a great screeching guitar solo, this then just seems to ebb back into the shadows it leapt from, only to be covered by the warm sound of the organ. Truly blissful…

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1 Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Stranger Dig (Everything’s For Sale)
For just two guys damn! They make some noise. Great heavy blues tinged riffs and rolling drum beats – I’m loving that all day long. There is talent and passion in abundance here. I’m sat here trying to write something for this whilst listening to it, that has had to stop, as when it plays it just grips me up and I can’t do anything other than get right into it. If you’re looking for something new rock wise I beg you to check them out, live if possible. Disappointment won’t be on the menu.

Easy Way From The Cave Singers

Easy Way From The Cave Singers Naomi Album

Metaphorically speaking we have a huge red ring round March 5 on our calendar because that is when the new Cave Singers album Naomi gets a release.

They have made a second track from it available for your listening pleasure and Easy Way certainly more than meets our (high) expectations as it drives along on the back of another trademark riff from Derek Fudesco and even features a flute solo. It is simply another back porch, campfire foot-stomping singalong of the highest quality, and which they do just about better than anyone else out there.

Listen and put that ring round the 5th in your own calendar…

Mrs Mackerel’s Last TFI Friday (11th January)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (11th January)

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu … you know the rest. I’m off to skip over the mountains, Swiss Outpost, but I do promise to Skype…

Anyway (surely one of my favourite refrains?), it’s a New Year and time for me to bid goodbye to TFI and my Friday night soubriquet. With a few gig dates already booked for the months ahead, I may get the opportunity to reprise the Mrs Mackerel mantel at some later date, who knows.  Anyway parking the sadness of the last few weeks temporarily to one side, and wishing to leave TFI on a typically frothy and fatuous note, I wracked my brains to a few weeks back when I did indeed feel like the heady combination of a cappuccino with a copy of Hello!, and recalled a rather silly exchange at a Christmas party.

Having swum in fashionably late, as is my want, I was sober and drink-wise, considerably far behind many of the gathering. Hey ho, not to worry I thought, as I sidled out with the smokers to catch up with the High Priestess herself. It was quite a posse actually and predominately female, but one male voice piped up: “So then girls (a term always appreciated with my advancing years), what do you find attractive in a man?” The words “lamb” and “slaughter” sprang to mind… HP and I could barely conceal our amusement and commenced thus.

Firstly, “Bob” a sense of humour is a must, we said. Laughing. Next, I added: nice arms – there is nothing attractive about a man I feel I could arm wrestle and BEAT! Bit of giggling. Also, Bob, good dentistry is a must; typically English stained, crooked teeth are a massive turn-off. Bob stops smiling. And dress sense, we said, smiling sweetly, looking him up and down, or should we put height next? Six foot plus… actually why don’t you ask your wife, because she’s stood just behind you and I can see her over the top of your head. How we laughed and then ran away, as all good girls do. Tut, tut.

So one final thought: sometimes music really does reach the parts of you that you thought you had tucked away in some emotional backwater, deep inside. I listened to a song this week that’s due for release on an album in March. I think it’s truly remarkable: a soaring, poetic allegory set to music that circles and soars. And the effect? I cried for every single sadness in the last 12 months; that was some volume of tears, I must say. But in a world where so many over-share and document the minutiae of life, this is mine, and I’m not sharing; if your soul speaks in the same musical tongues as mine, you’ll find it all the same, somehow, somewhere, some time.

In-keeping with the Sound of Music theme, I thought I should depart with a few of my favourite bands, obviously of which there are too many to mention (darling) but here’s a selection. Thanks for reading – all four of you.

Fishy kisses,

Mrs Mackerel x

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Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Too Much Of A Good Thing mp3 (from Hurray For The Riff Raff)

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

Download Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down (from Greatest Hits)

Cave Singers Announce Naomi Album

Cave Singers Naomi

MM faves The Cave Singers have announced details of a new album Naomi, that will see a release in March next year on Jagjaguwar. Apparently, it’s an album full of love and suffering, surrender and redemption: the messy stuff of life.

For now we have a video teaser for Have To Pretend, a sparsely hypnotic thump of bluesy campfire storytelling.