Sometimes, it’s the small, spontaneous moments that make life special. The youngest sprat had over-footballed himself earlier this week – both watching and playing. He woke late on Tuesday morning and walked into the kitchen in a trance, looking downcast, school looming large on the horizon…
…just as Radio 6 fired up what can only be termed a classic tune: More Than a Feeling by Boston. So I picked him up (newly developed biceps coming in more than a little handy) and we danced. Halfway through the song – the guitar solo bit, you may recall – I used him as my air guitar. The dog was really confused and the cats fled. The song ended and I stood him down. He beamed the biggest smile ever, very gently high-fived me and then still without uttering a word, headed for the cereal cupboard.
This week’s life lesson? A little bit of Boston does the business on those difficult mornings.
I closed my eyes and I slipped away…!
Mrs M x
Well… just because your Monday morning might be a bit of a pisser. Go on, you know you want to…
The wonderful Daytrotter recently announced their 2,000th session and managed to get none other than Country music legend Glen Campbell in to record it, followed swiftly by a new session from the brilliant Delta Spirit.
For those that don’t know Daytrotter sessions are typically four songs in length, recorded live to quarter-inch tape in a matter of a couple hours, with no overdubs. They are then made available for download and streaming on the site and its various apps. Since beginning in February of 2006, Daytrotter has given away tens of millions of downloads and countless many more streams. In addition to studios in Rock Island and London, Daytrotter sessions are also occasionally taped in San Francisco, CA, Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN and Montreal.
Accessing all these sessions plus all the upcoming ones by all the bands you know and love costs a paltry $2 per month. For your ongoing listening pleasure we can’t think of anything anywhere that will give you better value than that. Below are just a very few highlights from some of the sessions we have loved – listen (they should fit neatly onto a CD), and if you haven’t done it yet, go and sign up here.
The last Friday of 2011. And so begins a slow walk to the end of another year.
Ambushed by Christmas (my own fault, of course: same date every year, nothing to be scared of), tending sick animals and children, reigning in the oldies while fighting the desire to sleep spontaneously with bouts of manic activity that appeared to achieve very little, I am reminded that the best things in life are three.
When I was a (lot) younger, and Martin O’Neill was no more than a twinkle in my footballing eye, and I still got a satsuma in my stocking from the big man (and while satsumas may not be the only fruit, they are a damn fine one), I never thought life could still be so complicated.
Good job I got a number of fine books this year to distract me, as well as a little bird and some flying saucers (filled with sherbet, not aliens I might add), not to mention the tunes… Music remains as ever an original soundtrack to life, offering guiding lights, signposts and memorial stones to our experiences. Comfort and joy.
Wishing you a musical bounty in 2012, as well as some Lovehearts in your pocket.
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 last, but very much not least, is the lovely (though flu-stricken) Mrs Mackerel and her choices for 2010.
We all sweat a little over our top tens and I don’t know why really. This is just what I think, you will undoubtedly think a little different. But I’ve always found my fellow top ten contributors a great source of new sounds that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen myself. And if you find one song you like that you didn’t know before, then job done really. So to all the musicians that kindly let us post their wares, a heartfelt thank you – here’s to the next 12 months.
Appeals to the latent rock chick in me: she may lie sleeping, but she’s still in there. The laconic, growling delivery of the lyrics makes this tune twist and dip. Late night smoky bar sort of song, bit of a hip swayer over a cocktail or two. “I know you’re a wonderful dancer” – why thank you, Adam, I expect I’m the one with the answers too.
A proper bit of girl power in the form of a punchy, irrepressible foot-stomping beat. It’s not one to get your daughters to sing along to, but I love the rhythmic no-messing attitude of this song. It’s not often you hear such a drum/percussion-dominated track but this only means it beds into your mental song library very easily. And unlike with say, Two Little Boys (sorry Rolf), you don’t end up irritating yourself.
A sleazy, sultry mix which tips a nod to Chris Isaacs and maybe even the Raveonettes too; the drums sound like a heartbeat, the guitars borrow a little from Hank Marvin. This song belongs to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.
Off we gallop at a rollicking pace before yep, here he comes, the Tallest Man on Earth, this time masquerading as the King of Spain. He has a unique and idiosyncratic voice that truly sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, and my great musical regret of 2009 is that MM and I were unable to make his London gig in last autumn.
5. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
Oh I do like a man with a voice as deep as the night. Matt Berninger’s unmistakeable baritone cuts through this lament, with the drums bringing up the rear. Hypnotic offering from a band that have been waiting in the wings for some much deserved recognition from the wider world.
4. Haunted Windchimes – Sea Bride (Visit their website here. We can’t post the song or find a stream or a video…but you can listen via spotify here)
I loathe wind-chimes. Pointless instruments of aural torture. But once I got past the name, well this is a finger-pickin’ good tune. One of my outstanding films of 2010 was Winter’s Bone and there’s a scene in it where a hill-billy Nan and her mates are sat round in what looks like someone’s front room/bar. What they make is real music for the soul. I could imagine the Haunted Windchimes pulling up a chair and being right at home – and I mean this musically, not in an in-bred, gun-toting sort of way (she adds hastily).
3. Stornoway – I Saw You Blink
To me this is our MM summer of 2010 song: it’s sunshine and dreaminess and love. There’s self doubt and possibly even a Shelley-esque metaphor used (eyes being the window of the soul and all that). All sung to a back-drop of retro, up-tempo, carefully layered music. He’s in love, distracted, missed his train, and constantly wondering what she’s thinking. Dammit, Lucy, he needs to know – are you one he’s been waiting for so, so long? I’m rather glad I’m not 20-something any more …
2. Laura Marling – What He Wrote
What she writes, what she sings, what she plays is incomparable to any of her peers. But age sometimes belies wisdom. I struggled to choose from the riches of her second album, but this wins over Goodbye England by a smidge, simply because I prefer the latter in its unaccompanied arrangement. Here we have a piece of Greek mythology entwined with some war time letters; cause and effect; love and loss. “I am broken too and spoken for, do not tempt me.” A talent of rare and precious mettle.
This snuck up when I wasn’t looking: the more I listened, the more I liked it. Kiwi Dave Baxter is Avalanche City; he taught himself to sing, plays all the instruments (apart from the drums) on this track, and recorded his debut album, solo, armed with a week’s supply of veggie curry. I like that in a person. And the song? It’s about losing yourself, and finding yourself again. It’s uplifting and positive and life-affirming – and it has a goodness that radiates through my very skin. “But now all that I see is life breaking free, so long captivity for me.” Not a bad way to end the year.
Bless you, Jason Ward. And bless you, MM. It’s quite a feat to make someone laugh when they’re in that much pain. Lies, deceit and fraud just ain’t enough for some people – let’s chuck in assault and battery too. Bless You is the anthem for the lesser common psycho. Delusional and toxic, they often hunt in pairs. Napoleon and Squealer. The Liver Turds. All should be sealed in a room and made to listen to Alexandra Burke on a loop. All together now, “How horrible are you …”
Well, often timing is everything; I became aware of D&TD about ten days after they split up. Was it something I said? Scorpio is a particular favourite, a painfully observed lament about a dying relationship.
It’s been a week of away fixtures. First, a trip to Cardiff with my dearest friend and today, I cast my net across the water to Ventnor, where me and big brother will undoubtedly regress into a bit of sibling banter. I’ll be missing the rest of the mackerel clan big time and undoubtedly the sprats will have eaten more than their fair share of pasta by the end of the weekend …
My first trip of the (Mackerel) week was the hotly anticipated Mumford gig last Friday night. They didn’t disappoint and were every bit as good live as I’d hoped. Shame about the crowd. It was like being trapped in a giant crowd of starlings, a constant twittering throughout the whole live set, people up and down to go to the bar, text their mates (actually, I’ve never seen a starling texting before), discuss their plans for the weekend and so on. La la la.
This drone is lost in the faster Mumford numbers, of which there are thankfully many, but the slower more acoustic songs – and the new stuff – were sadly accompanied by a background hum. Ho hum. Not good. A zeitgeist moment? Who knows?
Last year, MM and I saw The Low Anthem at a small venue in Oxford and it was the same there, but more acute because of their set and the size of the room. Call me old-fashioned, but if I go to see a band, I’m there to listen, dance, enjoy. (I’m not a whooper myself, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of well-placed whooping either). Maybe I’ll launch myself as some gig vigilante – the Mardy Mackerel – “show some respect and hush up” before slapping some gaffer tape on the gobby folk. And then maybe someone will break my fins and post me down the loo.
Let’s hope Ventnor is ready for a pair of opinionated Northerners tonight. Hehehehe.
Here a little bit of what I fancy this Friday, for no other reason than I think the Dutchess & the Duke are rather excellent (if sadly no more).
Download The Dutchess & The Duke – Hands mp3 (from Sunset / Sunrise)
Download The Dutchess & The Duke – Reservoir Park mp3 (from She’s The Dutchess, He’s The Duke)
The intimate (that means slightly cramped) Borderline was the host for last night’s gig by Blitzen Trapper supported by The Dutchess & The Duke.
The latter gave us 35 minutes of beautifully crafted folk harmonies and the occasional arsenic tinged lyric. The hushed, attentive crowd and easy going banter from the band made it feel like a 60s coffee house in Greenwich Village and so charmingly uncommercial were they that, following a climactic Armageddon Song, the crowd had to remind them at the end to play their best known song, the brilliant Reservoir Park.
And so the stage was set for Blitzen Trapper who immediately entranced the crowd by opening with one of the standouts from Furr, the mesmerising Black River Killer. From then on they varied the tempo considerably, mixing new tracks from Destroyer Of The Void with old favourites and there were plenty of highlights to savour. From crowd favourite and singalong Furr to a and wholly acoustic The Man Who Would Speak True. Other standouts were a ramshackle Jericho, a pulsing Evening Star, a captivating Heaven And Earth, and finishing the main set with a full on wigout version of Wild Mountain Nation.
A three song encore completed 90 minutes of old and new material, melding Byrdsian country rock and rambling backporch folk with a modern day twist that was nigh on perfect.