Best of the Year: Mad Mackerel’s Top Twenty

MM's Top 20 Best of 2014

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

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

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19 Parquet Courts – Black And White

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18 Jamie T – The Prophet

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17 The Amazing Snakeheads – Here It Comes Again

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16 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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15 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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14 Girl Band – Lawman

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13 The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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12 Together PANGEA – River

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11 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guilty Pleasure:

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

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Favourite Cover of the Year:

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

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Reissue of the Year:

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

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Best of the Year: Mrs Mackerel’s Top Twenty

Mrs M's Top 20 2014

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

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

20. War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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19. Cate Le Bon – He’s Leaving

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18. Mark Lanegan Band – Sad Lover

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17. The Districts – Funeral Beds

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16. Simone Felice – Running Through My Head

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15. Wytches – Burn Out the Bruise

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14. Matt Kivel – Insignificance

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13. Smashing Pumpkins – Being Beige

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12. Water Liars – Swannanoa

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11. Shovels & Rope – Evil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Special mentions:

School Run Anthem 2014:

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

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Best Covers:

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

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

Guilty Pleasure:

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

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And hello, hello; look who’s back…

Laura Marling – Short Movie

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Happy New Year, fishy friends.

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums of 2014: Part 2

Here are our favourite twenty albums of 2014. Don’t forget to check out numbers 40 – 21 here.

20 Together PANGEA – Badillac

together badillac

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19 Meatbodies – Meatbodies

meatbodies

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18 Strand of Oaks – Heal

strand of oaks

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17 Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing

jessica lea mayfield

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16 Eagulls – Eagulls

eagulls

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15 Happyness – Weird Little Birthday

happyness

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14 Felice Brothers – Favourite Waitress

New From The Felice Brothers

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13 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

mac demarco

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12 Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

New Album From Sharon van Etten

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11 Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Angel Olsen

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10 The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

War on Drugs

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9 Dream Police – Hypnotised

dream police

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8 Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes

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7 Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

parquet courts

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6 Damien Jurado – Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son

damien jurado

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5 Pink Mountaintops – Get Back

More From Pink Mountaintops

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4 Sun Kil Moon – Benji

sun kil moon benji

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3 Water Liars – Water Liars

water liars

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2 Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

amazing snakeheads

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1 Jamie T – Carry On The Grudge

jamie t

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Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Songs Of 2014: 40 -21

MM's Best of 2014 40-21

Day four of five – reaching the top of the MM charts for 2014. Here are our favourites from 40 down to 21.

40 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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39 Dead Fingers – Twisted

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38 Alt J – Left Hand Free

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37 Screaming Females – Ripe

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36 Sleaford Mods – Tiswas

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35 Sun Kil Moon – Dogs

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34 Jamie T – Zombie

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33 Spookyland – Silly Fucking Thing

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32 Dream Police – My Mama’s Dead

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31 The Felice Brothers – Constituents

 

30 Jonah Tolchin – Mockingbird

 

29 Mac DeMarco – Brother

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28 The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones

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27 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric

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26 Sharon Van Etten – Everytime The Sun Comes Up

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25 Wooden Wand – Waveland

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24 Mark Erelli – Ice Fishing

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23 Bombadil - Have Me

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22 Faces On Film – Percy

 

21 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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Don’t forget to check out numbers 100 – 81 here, 80 – 61 here, and 60 – 41 here.

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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