Favourite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

MM's Best of 2014 So Far

The longest day has come and gone, and halfway through the year we are. It seemed a good point to reflect and share thirty of our favourite albums of 2014 so far, and so here they are, in strictly alphabetical order of course…

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The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

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Amen Dunes – Love

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Avers – Empty Light

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Dan Baker – Pistol In My Pocket

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Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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The Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

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Dune Rats – Dune Rats

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Simone Felice - Strangers

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The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress

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First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

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Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes

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Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing – Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing

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Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

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Damien Jurado – Brothers & Sisters Of The Eternal Mind

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Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours

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Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – Chambers

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Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing

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Natural Child – Dancin With Wolves

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Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

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Orwells – Disgraceland

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Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

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Pink Mountaintops – Get Back

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Strand Of Oaks – Heal

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Sun Kil Moon – Benji

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Together Pangea – Badillac

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Vacant Lots – Departure

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Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

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The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

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Water Liars – Water Liars

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Wooden Wand – Farmers Corner

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Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Months: March – May (Part 1)

Mad Mackerel's Best of the Months: March to May (Part 1)

Previously we’ve just offered Best of the Month postings with downloads, but that excludes so many quality songs we’ve decided to just post our favourite tracks – irrespective of whether they are free to download or not. If you like them add them to your Spotify playlists or do the old fashioned thing and download them from iTunes, Bandcamp, or wherever.

Anyway, with a bit of ground to make up here is the first part of March to May’s selections. Nearly forty tracks – enjoy!

Twin Berlin – Buzzkill
Heavy, slow burnin’ garage punk.

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The Ukiah Drag – Dirt Trip
Wields a heavy creep-beat that cleans your dusty clock and takes you for a bourbon afterwards – self-conceited punk hypnosis.

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La Sera – Losing To The Dark
Sounds like Lesley Gore fronting Black Flag – in a good way.

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Dan Baker – Pistol In My Pocket
Skeletal, tortured alt-country and folk delivered with Baker’s mix of wavering, unforgiving howls and whispered confessionals.

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S. Carey – Crown The Pines
Glorious, delicately cascading folk.

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Secret Colours – Heavy & Steady
Bass-heavy single showcases the quintet’s maturing psych-pop sensibilities.

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Wooden Wand – Dambuilding
Beautifully judged slice of acoustic melancholy unhurriedly delivered with a slightly crestfallen air that imbues the narrative with a gorgeous poignancy.

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Benjamin Shaw – Goodbye, Kagoul World
Ramshackle psychedelic folk with a healthy splash of darkly black humour.

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WATERS – Got To My Head

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Split Screens – Close My Eyes
Over a backdrop of lush vocal harmonies, meditative fingerpicking and expressive brush work, delves into the theme of escapism and the freedom of letting go.

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Tele Novella – Trouble In Paradise
Charming, mellow indie psych-pop and subtle vocal harmonies.

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Donkeys – Scissor Me Cigs
Laid back, easy-going, breezy country tinged rock.

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Paradise – Born And Bound
Vintage-inspired, nuggets style garage-psych.

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The Leaf Library – The Greater Good
Hypnotic, krautrock disco, which is reminiscent of Stereolab at their best.

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Cate Le Bon – Sisters

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Timber Timbre – Curtains?!
Insistent groove of disquieting Americana.

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Creepoid – Wet Bread
Slow burn sonics from noise rockers.

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Heart Beach – Hours
Sad, minimal, skuzz pop drone harmonies.

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Amen Dunes – Lilac In Hand
Sweetly resigned vocals are carried along on a simple acoustic strum, piano and deft percussion.

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Brian Jonestown Massacre – What You Isn’t
Grandfathers of modern-psych deliver again.

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The Peach Kings – Be Around
Smooth and smoky vocals above bluesy guitar riffs

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The Orwells – Southern Comfort
Swaggering, infectious lead off track from the much anticipated debut Disgraceland, out on the 3rd June.

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The Delines – I Won’t Slip Up
Smooth, slow moving and sorrowful Americana.

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Horse Thief – Little Dust
Relaxed, undulating slice of Americana that sets expansive, chiming guitars behind an rolling, easy-going vocal.

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Strand Of Oaks – Goshen ’97
A superb full-on, incendiary, ballsy roots-rocker with screaming guitars and relentless percussion.

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Clouder – Lost In Reverie
Romping rock track about a faceless female presence that’s propelled by antsy guitars that morph in and out of surf and psychedelic jangles.

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Dune Rats – Funny Guy
Two and a half minutes of pumped up, guitar-fuelled stoned, garage rock that is impossible to resist.

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Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – Sealed Scene
Get locked into the space rock groove…

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Free Swim – Meal For One
Brilliant track of catchy indie insouciance, scalpel sharp lyrical minutiae, and overall inventive quirkiness.

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The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice
Classic ragged, uptempo rocker – no one does this stuff better than the Felices.

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The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones
A full on head rush of punked-up psychedelia.

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CRUISING – You Made Me Do That
As lo-fi and DIY as it comes – grimy, distorted, brooding and depraved.

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Old Smokey – Dead Man’s Pose
An upbeat scorcher with rolling, brushed drums, chanted group vocals, and a clarinet that brings to mind a New Orleans second line.

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Tijuana Bibles – Toledo
Somewhere in between the nostalgic Americana of Tom Waits and the sludgy riffs of the grunge resurgence.

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Triptides – Moonbeams
Dreamy, meandering slice of psych-rock with hints of surf.

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And a couple of new ones to finish off…the new single Mainline from indie rockers Teleman, and the driving, hook-filled urgency of PUJOL’s Circles.

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Download all

At Last…New From The Felice Brothers… MM Rejoices

New From The Felice Brothers

At last we have a first taste from the Felice Brothers forthcoming record Favorite Waitress. Appropriately enough it is called Cherry Licorice.

It is a classic ragged, uptempo rocker that is sure to become a guaranteed live sing-a-long as couplets like “all the lady and gents, are covered in excrement”, and “the teacher slit my wrists, for every class I missed” are destined for a roaring crowd encore.

Favorite Waitress is our most anticipated record of 2014, Cherry Licorice has just heightened that anticipation by a bigger margin than we could have ever imagined.

Pre-order the album here and get an immediate download of three new songs from the record.

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Live Review: The Felice Brothers Deliver The Greatest Show On Earth

Felice Brothers Live Review

The Felice Brothers & Willy Mason | Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London | 30 May 2013

Afterwards, as I drove the motorway miles home from the capital, the Twitter feeds awash with “best gig ever” messages, I was thinking that, in many ways, The Felice Brothers remind me of The Clash.

Ian and Jimmy Felice, a rustic Strummer and Jones feeding from each other and the crowd’s energy, while ex travelling dice player Christmas Clapton sternly stalks the stage around them, bass slung low, a rustic Paul Simenon. The songs with their deep appreciation, fascination and dissection of the American Dream, then there are the political references, the showbiz references, the tales of corruption, of card sharps and loan sharks, chancers, grifters and desperadoes,  gangland encounters and brushes with the law, the ever present ghost of Woody Guthrie, and just like the Clash, the Felice Brothers can also be a brilliant covers band.

Not only that, but watching them perform on Thursday in west London (no coincidence that we were on established Clash home-territory), it was clear that when the stars align and the mood is right, then the Felice Brothers can be one of the most thrilling live music experiences you could ever hope for.

felice brothers posterPrior to the main event we had a solo show from Willy Mason. His easy-going, good natured bonhomie warmly reciprocated by the audience as he ran through some old favourites like Oxygen and some new ones, a slow as molasses Restless Fugitive and the rockabilly shuffle of I Got Gold. It was the perfect hors d’oeuvre, the appetite sharpened and anticipation heightened.

And so it was on to the main attraction – a homecoming of sorts for the band – Jimmy Felice affectionately reminiscing about one of the first gigs outside of the States that they ever played being in this exact same area of the city. Showcasing a handful of new songs from a forthcoming album, of which set opener Butch Cassidy and the sleazy blues licks of Some Say, are surely destined to become FB classics, the party mood was set early as sing-along anthem Whiskey In My Whiskey was second up on the menu, meeting with raucous and delighted approval.

It was a brilliantly judged set, mixing songs from their extensive and varied back catalogue to perfection. The ramshackle helter skelter of Run Chicken Run rubbing shoulders with the pathos of Wonderful Life and the carnival voodoo chant of Fire At The Pageant tempered by the small town despair of Dead Dog and the solo, sorrowful second coming of Mating Of The Doves.

Elsewhere The Ballad Of Lou The Welterweight and Cus’s Catskill Gym proved (if it needed proving) that the Felice Brothers have two of the best ever songs about boxing, and from pugilists to the 1,000 strong voices singing along word-for-word to Frankie’s Gun and the Woody Guthrie style cover of traditional fiddle folk tune Cumberland Gap. Finally, an hour and forty minutes later the band reluctantly exited stage left after an encore climaxing with the barn dance stomp of Sail Away Ladies and Penn Station.

The Felice Brothers – the greatest show on Earth? Reckon so. Upstairs, Joe Strummer will have approved.

Download The Felice Brothers – Fire At The Pageant mp3 (from Celebration, Florida)

Download The Felice Brothers – Frankie’s Gun mp3 (from The Felice Brothers)

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

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums of 2012 Part 1: 30-16

To finish off our favourites of the year, here are numbers thirty to sixteen of the albums we have most enjoyed in 2012.

Don’t forget to check back for our 100 Favourite Tunes and the MM contributor’s best of lists too.

Joe Pug GD

30 Joe Pug – The Great Despiser

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dcw

29 David Cronenberg’s Wife – Don’t Wait To Be Hunted To Hide

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boh mirage rock

28 Band Of Horses – Mirage Rock

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lord huron ld

27 Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams

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jbm stray ashes

26 JBM – Stray Ashes

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mama rosin bbb

25 Mama Rosin – Bye Bye Bayou

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red river dialect awell

24 Red River Dialect – Awellupontheway

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damon moon lungs

23 Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams)

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Loose Ends mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams)

diamond rugs

22 Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs

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gravenhurst gid

21 Gravenhurst – The Ghost In Daylight

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daughn gibson ah

20 Daughn Gibson – All Hell

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wof thirst

19 Waves Of Fury – Thirst

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felice bros gbya

18 The Felice Brothers – God Bless You Amigo

Download The Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental mp3 (from God Bless You Amigo)

bjh ytcn

17 Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – Yours Truly Cellophane Nose

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simone felice album

16 Simone Felice – Simone Felice

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15 The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 5: 20 – 1

MM's BEST OF 2012 Nos 20 - 1

And so the moment to reveal Mad Mackerel’s final favourites of 2012. Here are numbers 20 down to top spot. Dig in and enjoy.

20 OF MONSTERS AND MEN – LITTLE TALKS
Duelling male / female voices from Iceland’s finest and bitter sweet lyrics (only with igloos and saunas instead of pubs and football). They also shout “Hey!” a lot which can’t be a bad thing. (TS)

Anything from this lot always lifts my mood. However this one just edged it for the catchy nature of the chorus, and for the fact that I thought they were saying “shit will carry on” which I thought was a good point of view to have. (SB)

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19 RICHARD BUCKNER – WILLOW
This is a lying-in-a-daisy-meadow-looking-at-the-scudding-clouds sort of song. A gentle guitar arrangement coupled with some tender lyrics and softly sung vocals, all of which appeals to the latent hippy in me. Clippety clop: do you know Mr Buckner, I always remember. (Mrs M)

Download Richard Buckner – Willow mp3

18 BLACK MOTH – BLACKBIRDS FALL
Long live the guitar riff! Heavy but with a funky tune and words you can understand. With an album produced by Nick Cave, not surprising they are getting glowing reviews. Raw power describes them well. (SB)

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17 THE MACCABEES – PELICAN
This track bounces along at a pace in a confused ensemble of instruments that feel like they shouldn’t make sense … but do. It just works. But what’s the song about? It’s a 3 minute 45 second run through life. From being born to when we push up the daisies. Sounds miserable but it isn’t. If it doesn’t raise a smile, it’ll get your foot tapping. (BSF)

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16 GHOST WAVE – HIPPY
Unstoppably stomping, unrelentingly catchy, Hippy cranks up the riffage and was made for burning rubber on a sunburnt highway somewhere. (MM)

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15 MICHAEL AINSLEY – RAINY LONELY DAY
Despite the air of melancholy I found this a strangely uplifting song, reminiscent vocally of the great Ray Davies (although it does not suffer by comparison). Piano and guitar combine with the haunting voice of Michael Ainsley to produce the most heartfelt tune I’ve heard all year. I’m in awe of the lyrics – “yes I know you’ve got to go – from my group of friends, you’re the best one that I know”… I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the wonderfully awkward nature of this song and to showcase the genuine talent of Mr Ainsley. (CP)

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14 WILLY MASON – CARRY ON
When I was much younger my dear old Pa used to say of classical music that it was music that spoke to him: this is a song that speaks to me. The poetic lyricism is felt; the metaphor carried is subtle and reflective; and the guitar, the guitar plays softly to my heart. A song of such fragile beauty for 2012: this is a song that speaks to me. (Mrs M)

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13 SIMONE FELICE – HEY BOBBY RAY
Yay! It’s another murder ballad. This time the perpetrator is young Bobby Ray. A young man born on 4th July who gets himself into a whole load of trouble when his ‘pick-up date’ doesn’t think too much of his advances. Bobby Ray doesn’t think too much of her refusal. So he kills her. This song is a lament. The fragile tones of Simone Felice complimented beautifully by a choir in the background of the chorus. A beautiful tune, intelligent lyrics and sung as only a Felice can. Hey Bobby Ray, you’re going to get yours, sunshine! (BSF)

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12 TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOAT – TEENAGE BLOOD
This is another dark look at life through the eyes of a young man who is obviously ahead of his years in so many ways. Who’d have ever thought that Tom’s hometown of Tunbridge Wells would ever give rise to such grim lyrics. Carrying some of the meaningful insanity of Nick Cave with the miserable wisdom of Morrissey, Tom Williams and his Boat crew have delivered another dark gem in Teenage Blood. (BSF)

A modern twist on a country classic. It is a catchy and memorable song with great harmonies, despite the slightly depressing theme. (SB)

A great recommendation from PP here and real foot stomping stuff. Plus, anything that counts you in with a 1-2-3-4 is always a winner. (TS)

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11 SHEARWATER – YOU AS YOU WERE
I only found Shearwater this year, and what a lovely band to find. Animal Joy is a very fine album and to me, You As You Were is the standout track. It a massive song, full of energy from start to finish. I kind of wish I’d had this song with me a decade or so ago, it would have suited me down to the ground. (PP)

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3

10 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – CHAPEL SONG
This song certainly stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it earlier in the year and continues to do so – always something new to ponder over in those heartbreaking lyrics. Thankfully I am normally left feeling more upbeat than melancholy but its a close call. A song of genius. (PP)

This is The Jam’s The Bitterest Pill brought bang up to date and made better. The song is from the view of a fella stood in a chapel whilst the love of his life walks down the aisle … with another bloke. Suffice to say, he’s not in a good place and the vocals lend to this feeling of impotent misery perfectly. Strained, angry and a little menacing, the lyrics match the tune perfectly which is … well … strained, angry and a little menacing. (BSF)

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9 TOM WILLIAMS & THE BOAT – TOO YOUNG
It has a guitar riff which burrows in to the brain like an old News of the World reporter in a celebrity’s wheelie bin. It took a while but now I understand that it’s utterly useless to resist any longer. Probably the most hummed tune of the year, which I think you’ll agree, is one hell of an accolade (CP)

For me, this tune has all the energy of being young with the class of being a little older! I have loved it for months and it does what a good song should – makes you smile, makes you get up and dance or certainly tap a foot. Lovely guitars and violins, with nice gentle vocals – great stuff. (PP)

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8 LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO – BABY I’M ALIVE
A lament to a lost love: “I swear I saw a ghost, I swear I saw his eyes, since when we fell in love on Mulholland Drive”. The riff is catchy and the vocals are perfect for the sentiment of the song. It’s a broken heart that will bleed all over you from the opening notes to the final chord. If you’re the lady with coffee-coloured skin who inspired this piece of art, thank you. Now go back to your lover and make him happy again. (BSF)

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DELTA SPIRIT – CALIFORNIA
How do you write such heartbroken lyrics and marry them to such upbeat music? You move to California, buy a drum machine a keyboard and off you jolly well go. Big emotion, high impact, fantastic tune. (Mrs M)

Download Delta Spirit – California mp3

KYLE ADEM – BROTHER FOLLOW
It’s a grower, this one. The momentum builds gradually, together with the tension, as it heads towards a passionate finale where the female vocal answers the male. A little bit of flute, banjo, bass drum – it’s quite a complex musical arrangement, while the lyrics hint at feudal times. Phew. It packs a punch. (Mrs M)

He really has created a brute of a song; it seems to throb with the wretchedness of the whole thing. I like music that takes you out of your comfort zone and it uses some alarmingly savage imagery to remind us just how nasty our society has become. Backed up with a fearsome delivery that makes this a real ‘sit bolt upright and ask what the hell was that’ on first listen, thankfully it doesn’t dilute with time. (CP)

Download Kyle Adem – Brother Follow mp3

5 WILLY MASON – RESTLESS FUGITIVE
From the opening beats and distinctive guitar I’m happy…  we’re in proper Chris T Popper territory here! Mason’s distinctive vocals compliment the somniferous atmosphere perfectly. (CP)

With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with this outstanding tune, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on. (MM)

A slow and ominous beat that is undeniably contemporary Americana but reminds me a little of reggae and The Clash too. (BSF)

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THE FELICE BROTHERS – LINCOLN CONTINENTAL
School run anthem 2012: a fine country drawl, a fine country band. Learn the words, sing it loud; altogether now:  “I been missing you so listen/I liked to ask you can we drive through town”. (Mrs M)

A cheerful, rollicking, foot-tapper of a tune with a chorus as infectious as Chlamydia. If you’re ever feeling a bit down, stick this on and you’ll be as right as rain and imagining yourself leaving the Garden State with your soft top down. Unmistakeably Felice, understandably brilliant. (BSF)

Download The Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental mp3

3 FIRST AID KIT – THE LION’S ROAR
Brilliant vocals – all pure and clean and I still marvel at the number of words you can get into one sentence and still sound melodic. Certainly one of the best of the year. (PP)

Incredible voices, perfect harmonies and a big slice of Americana from two Swedes (who would have thought it) which just keeps rolling along like a boat bobbing over the waves. It is made even better by what sounds like “every time it all shits one way or the other” at the end of the second verse, and it is also Mrs Toy’s favourite so it has to be high in the line-up. (TS)

There is something about this folk style that really appeals. It is a very profound and beautiful song. (SB)

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EMIL FRIIS – SAND IN YOUR EYES
Possesses a rhythmic simplicity that always manages to pick me up and transport me off somewhere else, and that’s a fairly big plus in my life. Throughout Friis effortlessly orchestrates all this with his lyrics resonating long after the song ends, which is usually when I stick it on again. Just a fantastic record full of little twists and turns with an occasional (friendly) cuff round the ear to keep your attention. (CP)

A very elegant tune, a quiet beginning and then the dark and brooding piano arrives slowly building before the lyrics kick in.  It feels like it should be the soundtrack to a very brilliant film (is it?) Any how, it’s worth several listens, especially with a glass of wine or a cocktail or two. (PP)

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WE ARE AUGUSTINES – JUAREZ
This might not be the first song written about the troubled Mexican border city but it’s the best by a country mile. From the outset, you’re sat beside the storyteller under a ferocious Mexican sun and the car you’re in is kicking up dust as it speeds away from Juarez. The lyrics are harsh and drip with regret and sadness but they paint a fantastic, brutal picture. The vocals are unmistakeable and the tune both memorable and uplifting. Beautiful in every way except for the sentiment. (BSF)

I have neither “a saint for a brother nor a drunk for Mother”…anyway, with a great tune, and amazing vocals – my favourite of the year! (MS)

Love this, love his distinctive voice. Best line for me “I got jukebox tears under turquoise skies”, no idea what it means though… (SB)

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So there we have it – 100 great tunes to soundtrack another brilliant year of music.Don’t forget to check all the other chosen tunes that we’ve posted all week too – just click for 100 – 8180 – 6160 – 41, and 40 – 21.

Extra special thanks to the MM contributors this year: Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB), Middle Sprat (MS) and Toy Steve (TS). Starting tomorrow, you can check their individual choices on MM too.