First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining

First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining

My Silver Lining is the first taste from First Aid Kit’s forthcoming album Stay Gold, which is out on the 10th June.

It is another brilliant example of their rootsy, twangy Americana shot through with just enough orchestral grandeur and strings to give the song a rich beauty that is impossible to resist.

“I’ve woken up in a hotel room, my worries as big as the moon
Having no idea who or what or where I am
Something good comes with the bad
A song’s never just sad
There’s hope, there’s a silver lining
Show me my silver lining
Show me my silver lining”

Pre-order here.

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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.

Free Newport Festival Download From Paste

Free Paste Festival Download Album

For the second year in a row, Paste joined forces with Sennheiser at the legendary Newport Folk Festival to record unique performances with some of their favourite artists.

NoiseTrade is partnering with Paste Magazine to offer up a free fifteen track download including MM faves Dawes, First Aid Kit, Deep Dark Woods and Trampled By Turtles as well as Blind Pilot, Of Monsters And Men and many more.

Just click here to download the album for free, or to watch the accompanying videos just head over to Paste here. Download a taste if you need to in the shape of First Aid Kit’s Waltz For Richard.

Download First Aid Kit – Waltz For Richard mp3 (from Paste Festival Sessions)

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums Of 2012 Part 2: 15 – 1

The final post about our favourites of the year, here are numbers fifteen down to top spot 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.

Shearwater Animal Joy

15 Shearwater – Animal Joy

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Patterson Hood Heat Lightning

14 Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance

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Sharon Van Etten Tramp

13 Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

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Tame Impala - Lonerism

12 Tame Impala – Lonerism

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Wintersleep - Hello Hum

11 Wintersleep – Hello Hum

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Justin Townes Earle Nothings Gonnna

10 Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

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Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral

9 Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

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First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

8 First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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Two Gallants

7 Two Gallants – The Bloom And The Blight

Download Two Gallants – Broken Eyes mp3 (from The Bloom And The Blight)

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Sun Kil Moon - Among The Leaves

6 Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves

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Delta Spirit

5 Delta Spirit – Delta Spirit

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Tom Williams - Teenage Blood

4 Tom Williams & The Boat – Teenage Blood

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Willy Mason Carry On

3 Willy Mason – Carry On

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The Walkmen - Heaven

2 The Walkmen – Heaven

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Father John Misty - Fear Fun

1 Father John Misty – Fear Fun

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.

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 4: 40-21

MM's Best of 2012 Part 4 40-21

Today we countdown songs 40-21 in the Mad Mackerel Favourite 100 tunes of the year. You can check out the previous days entries here: 100-81, 80-61, 60-41.

40 ALABAMA SHAKES – HOLD ON
Almost a head-banger done country style, love the underlying guitar rhythm. (SB)

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39 LOWER DENS – BRAINS
When I picked this song out in June I said it was like a child pulling at your sleeve after it’s seen the ice cream van. Incessant and under no circumstance will it be ignored. There is also a sense of chaos, which I always find agreeable – a feeling it‘s not entirely sure where it’s going but doesn’t actually care too much. A stalwart of the year’s playlists for me and still listened to as often as it was six months ago. Can’t give it a bigger tribute really. (CP)

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38 PATTERSON HOOD – 12.01
Great story song about a guy going across the border to buy liqor instead of going home to his empty shell of a relationship. The tune picked out on the guitar and the drums have that metronomic sound that reminds me of being in a car late at night with no music, say, around “12:01, The rain and the wipers play a spooky song”. The cello sounds like other vehicles morbidly passing, heading to where you have come from, or maybe where you should be heading? (DR)

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37 TUNNG – JENNY AGAIN (BBC SESSION)
Released from 2012′s BBC Sessions, this murder ballad is set to a really jaunty, cheerful tune and sees the deceased telling us about how he was stabbed and left to die whilst his girlfriend (the lovely Jenny) buggers off with the fella who killed him. He goes on to tell about how his Jenny and the murderous ‘other man’ go on to live perfectly normal lives whilst keeping their secret. I love the fact that Tunng have crafted a really sad story around a cheerful, jog-along tune. (BSF)

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36 FIRST AID KIT – BLUE
So beautiful and so sad. Its about a girl whose only love dies in an RTA when he’s twenty-two and from that moment on she decides not to love anyone else. Yep, its another feel-good corker! (BSF)

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35 WAKE UP LUCID – FEEL IT
Loud, brash and all the better for it. Considering my changing (or is that evolving…) taste in music it genuinely fills me with joy that I still love a proper hard as nails guitar frenzy. The feedback is utterly magnificent, as is the drawled out vocals snarling over the fuzz. Sort of song I would listen to before I had to have a fight. (CP)

Download Wake Up Lucid – Feel It mp3 (from Feel It)

34 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – BALLAD OF A PATIENT MAN
This song was my live gig moment of the year, amongst many great gigs. Fantastic guitar wig out and drummy bit in the middle, sung with the emotional intensity that’s trademark Billy McCarthy. Awesome song, bloody awesome band. (Mrs M)

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33 GRAVENHURST – THE FOUNDRY

The Foundry is played out over a backdrop of acoustics so profoundly beautiful that the sourness of the lyrics pack an even greater punch. “And you won’t know when evil comes, evil looks just like anyone, and I blame, I blame, I blame anyone but me“. Like having your first French kiss and finding your tongue’s been bitten off.  (MM)

Like a modern-day story from The Brothers Grimm, the whole song carries with it a threat and a sense of foreboding. I think the meaning might lie in the rise of Nazi Germany and how ordinary people can get swept up in a rising tide of violence and persecution. That’s my interpretation but I’ve been known to be wrong. Anyway, have a listen and heed the message well. Just in case you had it in mind to burn some books and persecute some unfortunate section of our society. (BSF)

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32 HOUNDMOUTH – PENITENTIARY
An old fashioned, whiskey drinking, tobacco chewing kind of a song and its a song sung well. (PP)

Such a great intro to this song. The melody picked out on the guitar and a Hammond organ providing the chords that pull you into this tale of a man who much like Fletcher from Porridge “Accepts arrest as a occupational hazard”. Throughout what is not to beezer a time, the song never once turns melancholy, if anything it rouses the spirit with its beautiful harmonies and soporific melody. A sort of Country, I Fought The Law?  (DR)

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Download from Rough Trade for free here.

31 TWO GALLANTS – BROKEN EYES
“Hey there girl with the broken eyes”, this startling imagery starts Two Gallants most nostalgic song on The Bloom And The Blight. Poignant without ever being cloying, it is a perfectly judged slice of wistful Americana. (MM)

Download Two Gallants – Broken Eyes mp3

30 JAKE BUGG – LIGHTNING BOLT
Awesomely twangy guitar and a Sun-era rockabilly rhythm. The ghost of Johnny Cash is alive and well and comes from Nottingham. (MS)

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29 FATHER JOHN MISTY – WRITING A NOVEL
Carried along on a jaunty, rolling rhythm and spewing forth a lyrical stream of consciousness that borders on genius, and contains one of the years simplest and best lines, “I”m writing a novel, because its never been done before”. (MM)

Download Father John Misty – Writing A Novel mp3

28 BAND IN HEAVEN – SLEAZY DREAMS
I am a 50p head when it comes to musical tastes: I like to mix it up big time. Heavy, bassy, pounding rhythm, wall of guitar noise, this is my (kitchen) dance floor number of 2012. Rock on. (Mrs M)

Download Band In Heaven – Sleazy Dreams mp3

27 ALT-J – TARO
It was a hard to know which track to pick from (in my humble opinion) the album of the year, An Awesome Wave. In any given situation this song always sounds perfect. I understand none of it but love all of it, particularly the instrumental twiddly middle which always takes me to far away lands, even when stuck on the M4. This song, like much of the album creates something brilliant. (PP)

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26 KING CHARLES – LOVE LUST
This great indie-pop song always has me dancing. I love the lyrics and the fizzing, funky beat it has going on. My favourite song off one of my favourite albums of 2012. (MS)

Download King Charles – Love Lust mp3

25 MONUMENT VALLEY – THE VERY FIRST ALARM
I adore the hopeless feel to this song. I could write endlessly about my love for this song but honestly It’s simplicity, beauty, deftness of lyric and the mesmerizing sound of Ned Youngers voice that coats the lyrics of this bitter song with a sweet syprupy glaze (for the Masterchef fans out there), that keeps pulling me back to it over and over again. (DR)

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24 STRAND OF OAKS – TRAP DOOR
I’ve fallen through the Trap Door that Tim Showelter sings about many, many times. I’m getting home late again, been looking for old friends, been looking for anything… He obviously has too. It builds to a fabulous vocal performance leaving me a bit spellbound every time I hear it. The repeated cries of ‘giving it all away’ at the end can find me with eyes screwed tightly shut while mouthing along in a ‘we’re brothers in arms’ kind of way! And that’s when I’m sober!  (CP)

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23 THE WALKMEN – SONG FOR LEIGH
The phrase chiming guitars was invented for this song. And boy do they chime, setting a hypnotic pace to the song before the pleading, soaring, chorus threatens “I’ll sing myself sick, sing myself sick, sing myself sick about you”. I hope its enough. (MM)

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22 LORD HURON – TIME TO RUN
An epic Western of a tune: a story song with a foot-tapping rhythm that mimics the flight of yer man and a great mid point when the bells of doom literally ring for our outlaw friend on the run. He did it all for love, silly boy, ‘cause when they catch him, he’s toast. (Mrs M)

Download Lord Huron – Time To Run mp3

21 BETH JEANS HOUGHTON – LILLIPUT
A storming phantasmagoria of a song, guided by the soaring vocals of BJH, a sweeping string arrangement and a drumming tattoo of percussion. When I grow up I want to be just like Beth Jeans Houghton. Lili put your hands in mine and let’s dance: hoof power rules. (Mrs M)

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Check back tomorrow for the final countdown (as Europe might say). The favourite twenty songs of the year according to the MM contributors - Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Chris T Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB) Middle Sprat (MS) and Toy Steve (TS).

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (23rd November)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (23rd November).

Team Hawley set out in the Dooper on Wednesday evening amidst such heavy rain and flooding, an ark would have been more helpful. Sadly, Sweet Mrs Stanley (SMS) couldn’t make it so we were just a gang of three. The bloody British weather and traffic hindered the journey and we missed King Charles – cue much gnashing of teeth. First Aid Kit were Swedishly good and had come a long way since Nightshift and I had watched them struggle through a gig in front of a crowd of 30 at the Jericho Tavern, three plus years ago. Sublime melodies and much hair throwing tonight, they went down a storm playing all their hits from Lion’s Roar.

We welcomed the honeyed tones of Mr Hawley with big smiles. He was just as cool and fab as ever with his rocker quiff and 1960 Rickenbacker; the sound and tunes were a predominant nod to Standing at the Sky’s Edge, with a little skip back and forth through the past. Encored with a fantastic rendition of The Ocean that had the Ballsy Barrister swaying at the front post, we three left happy.

As a fish in need of coffee and chocolate to make the drive back, I went slightly nuts on a sugar/caffeine high. I could not shut up and arrived home in sleepy Charlbury still yabbering. Mainly to myself. I managed to shut up for long enough to get to sleep for a few hours at 3am, needing a large glass of red to “come down”. The rest of the week has been a bit of a car crash ever since. Remember kids, caffeine and sugar can mess you up. Best stick to mineral water and carrot sticks. As if.

Tomorrow sees the advent of Sprat 2’s 12th birthday. My gorgeous gal and I will enjoy the morning a deux. I can’t wait. Happy birthday, sweetie.

Mrs Mackerel x

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New Single From First Aid Kit

New Single From First Aid Kit.

Swedish folk duo, First Aid Kit are releasing album highlight Wolf as their next single – it will be out on 17th September on Wichita. They are also headlining a few dates in the UK around the same time.

Have a listen and check out those dates.

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TOUR DATES

Fri 31 Aug – 2 Sept, End of the Road Festival
Fri 7 Sept, Bestival
Tue 20 Nov, London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Thu 22 Nov, Manchester Ritz
Sat 24 Nov, Glasgow QMU
Tue 27 Nov, Bristol Academy

Mad Mackerel’s Best of the Year (so far)

Mad Mackerel's Best of the Year...so far!

So then, half way through the year already. Time to take stock and see what the first six months have delivered up in terms of new tunes and bands. We asked some of the regular MM contributors to pick three songs that have particularly struck a chord (sorry) with them in the first part of 2012.

Kyle Adem – Brother Follow 
Unlike Brains by Lower Dens this was an instant hit.  A real earthy campfire ditty with a grotesque sentiment I fully approve of. I make no apology for repeating the line MM brought to our attention in late April. ‘So our sisters became whores, and our brothers savage carnivores, devouring the bodies of our fathers’. Well that got my attention… and I’m pleased to report the quality of musicianship effortlessly matches the lyrics. Building in to a stomping climax sung with a equal parts desperation and aggression it may well be my song of the year so far. Kyle Adem I salute you sir.  (CP) 

Download Kyle Adem – Brother Follow mp3 (from Armour)

Aesop Rock – Zero Dark Thirty
What a start. What a tune, The bassline holds you down, whilst the drums jump on your chest. Lyrically Aesop Rock is head and shoulders above most of his competitors in this genre. His delivery, subject matter and phraseology is so unique and fresh it’s no wonder he has won such plaudits from his peers. The lyric “Spinning in the shadows of immoral magnets / are we supporting the artist or enabling the addict” shows great skill. This kind of poetry is sadly lacking in most of the so called Hip Hop that is touted round the charts, like music in a gimp suit. However it is the music that backs up all the wordplay that had me all over this track like White on rice.  (Dr R)

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The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose
A great summer song with a real laid back feel to it The line “Hang loose / let the ocean worry about being blue” sums up the vibe of this track perfectly. I love the guitar intro that meanders along through the song providing a nice country accent to it. The drums are hard edged and drive the song along beautifully. There are also elements of soul to both the track and definitely to Brittany Howard’s vocals that seem to drape around this song effortlessly. To be honest on a sunny day, with a cold beer and this track, you can drift off to anywhere in the world.  (Dr R)

Download The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose (Hear Ya Session) mp3 (from Hear Ya Session) Grab whole session from Hear Ya here.

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – Liliputt
In what should be Liz’s year, I say all hail the coronation of Queen B. From the sweeping string arrangements, to her falsetto harmonies, to the thrumming hooves of percussion that build the momentum, here is a tune that marks the musical originality – and arrival – of the one and only BJH. “I might die without these words having left my mouth” – OK then, I’ll say it: genius. (Mrs M)

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Richard Buckner – Willow
Ballad is sometimes a bit of a bastardised term, but don’t let Bonnie Tyler et al put you off. This is the real deal. “I can still remember…” so much melancholy and longing hinted at, both lyrically and musically. The simple arrangement dips and sways, well, like a willow tree actually, and is broken by a lovely twangy guitar bit, two verses in. I have always been a sucker for a man with a sad song and a guitar. Tick, tick. (Mrs M)

Download Richard Buckner – Willow mp3 (from Willow EP)

Father John Misty – Writing A Novel
Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun has been one of our most played of the year. It is lewd, bawdy, irreverent, frank and honest. Picking just one track is near nigh impossible, but in the end I went for Writing A Novel, carried along on a jaunty, rolling rhythm and spewing forth a lyrical stream of consciousness that borders on genius, and contains one of the years simplest and best lines, “I”m writing a novel, because its never been done before“. (MM)

Download Father John Misty – Writing A Novel mp3 (from Fear Fun) via R&G

Simone Felice – Hey Bobby Ray
Simone Felice is brother to the wonderful but ‘dark’ Felice Brothers. While his brothers sing about tragic lives and deaths, murders and gun-toting alcoholics, Simone … well Simone does the same. Just on his own. Hey Bobby Ray is the story of a sex attacker who is going to get what is coming to him. It starts slowly with Mr Felice’s slightly tortured vocals and builds to a point where a gospel choir chips in. It’s brilliant!  (B-SF)

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Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Any More
I nearly chose Fergus Falls by Field Report for a place in my top three, but this tune just has the edge. There are some songs that stop you in your tracks and some that creep up slowly – this one is definitely a track stopper. A beautiful tune – understated, haunting and melancholy – a perfect combination I reckon!  (PP)

Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3 (from Field Report)

First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
What is not to love about this tune? For me its the stunning vocals and those harmonies that get me every time, and lyrics that deserve to be listen to several times over but still leave you wondering just how do you get so many words into one sentence? Overall its a cracker and I am sure it will remain a favourite throughout the year.  (PP)

Download First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar mp3 (from The Lion’s Roar) Taken down under DMCA notice due to some retarded fuckwit not knowing the song was given away as a free download everywhere. Contact us first you muppet and we’ll show you the authorisation we have to post. Anyway, you can get it via Soundcloud instead.

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Gravenhurst – The Foundry
A record of almost otherworldly, ambient folk, the world view of Gravenhurst is a deeply unsettling one. The Foundry is played out over a backdrop of acoustics so profoundly beautiful that the sourness of the lyrics pack an even greater punch. “And you won’t know when evil comes, evil looks just like anyone, and I blame, I blame, I blame anyone but me“. Like having your first French kiss and finding your tongue’s been bitten off.  (MM)

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Last American Buffalo – Baby I’m Alive
Just for a change, a love song has captured my imagination. It’s not one of those cheerful or smoochy love songs though. I don’t think this will ever end the night at the Stonesfield Disco. No, this song celebrates love but is sung in such a way that it relays the pain that even the most loving relationships can bring. And the guitar backing is just beautiful. (B-SF)

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Lower Dens – Brains
This one was definitely a grower, passing undetected until that magic eureka moment when you start glowing with the realisation you just love this damn song. Hypnotic and insistent – it keeps metaphorically pulling at your sleeve like a child who’s seen the ice cream van. It will not be denied. Lovingly textured with synth, drums while sung with a laid back approach that matches the music perfectly it doesn’t slip in to any particular category easily. I like that. There is something indefinable about what appeals and why I like it – which makes it fabulous in my book.  (CP)

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Lumineers – Ho Hey
I think the beauty of this song is its simplicity… From its rhythmic opening bars, steady beat and chanted ‘Ho Hey’ over a picked guitar you then realise it’s anything but simple. The composition is wonderfully subtle, far more thoughtful and precise than you first realise. It’s also a joyful record, the momentum sweeps you along until you find yourself yelping out the chorus far too loud and usually in public. Be careful if you go the gym and have it blasting out of your ipod – funny looks are certain to follow…(CP)

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Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive
With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with Restless Fugitive, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on, and in doing so might have just provided us with the song of the year so far.  (MM)

Download Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive (Daytrotter Session) mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Monument Valley – The Very First Alarm
A gorgeous, melancholy tune, that describes the moment you properly understand that you’re not going to get your lover back, and the torrent of memories and emotions that comes with that realisation. This could have been a bit soppy, but it  is lifted by a haunting guitar sound and some dark lyrics, that make you smile. “You never minded too much being see through / Until you worked out who was behind you”. Don’t, however, play this to your little brother who has just split up with his girlfriend of six years, because the look in his eyes will make a bit of your soul die. Fact!  (Dr R)

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Rachel Sermanni – The Fog
Rachel Sermanni has such a beautiful voice with the most incredible vocal range. I love the violins throughout which help to give it such a rich, polished sound. To me, there is something really enchanting about this song, but not in a light hearted, frivolous way, it has a mischievous heart and carries with it an air of darkness (which to my mind should be encouraged!)  (PP)

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Tunng – Jenny Again
I’m a sucker for a story song. The more grim the story, the better I like it. Usually those songs are played out to menacing guitar riffs or slowly plucked blues strings. Not this one. This is a jaunty little number that trips along whilst the ‘narrator’ tells about how his life was ended by ‘the other man’ who then runs off and has a pretty nice life with his Jenny. You’ve really got to listen to it.  (B-SF)

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The Walkmen – Heartbreaker
The Walkmen might have been around for over a decade but this is a fresh cut for the men from NYC. It’s not the singer, it’s the song, sings Hamilton Leithauser – actually it’s both. Cue a deft guitar riff to start, bring in your pedal drum and I’m already out of my seat. Slight retro ambience, this tune just oozes style and cool. It really is the perfect tempo dance number for my ageing fins. How can you not? It would be rude. Love it, love it, love it. (Mrs M)

Download The Walkmen – Heartbreaker mp3 (from Heaven)

Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy-Popper (CP), Polly Pocket (PP), Barry-Sean (BS-F) and Dr. Roddy (Dr R) for their selections. Why not tell us whose choices you like best?