Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums Of 2013 (Part 1 50-31)

Perhaps unusually, this year seemed a better one for albums rather than individual tracks with some fabulous releases over the past twelve months. There were many contenders for our end of year list, but here, after much deliberation, is Part One of our favourites of 2013.

50 Daughn Gibson – Me Moan

More From Daughn Gibson

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49 The Men – New Moon

MM Shorts 331: The Men - New Moon

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48 Pissed Jeans – Honeys

Pissed Jeans - Honeys

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47 The Dodos – Confidence

dodos

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46 Holograms – Forever

holograms forever

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45 Colleen Green – Sock It To Me

colleen green 500x500

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44 Blank Realm – Go Easy

Blank Realm Go Easy

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43 Night Beds – Country Sleep

night beds

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42 Agnes Obel – Aventine

agnes obel aventine

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41 Grass House – A Sun Full And Drowning

Grass House Debut Album

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40 The Oblivians – Desperation

oblivians

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39 Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Any Port In A Storm

Scott & Charlene's Wedding - New Single & Album

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38 No Age – An Object

no age an object

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37 Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

public service broadcasting

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36 Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum

cate le bon mug museum 500

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35 Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

okkervil river

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34 John Grant – Pale Green Ghosts

John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts

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33 Fuzz – Fuzz

fuzz

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32 I See Hawks In L.A. – Mystery Drug

New Album From I See Hawks In L.A.

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31 Savages – Silence Yourself

Savages Silence Yourself

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Mad Mackerel’s Top Tracks of 2013: 100 – 76

MM's Top Tracks of 2013: 100 - 76

It is that time of year again. The votes have been polled from our MM contributors, the results collated and without further ado, here are Mad Mackerel’s favourite hundred tracks of 2013.

Today, we’re counting down the first twenty five, from 100-76.

100 Woody Pines – Hobo And His Bride
Classic, ramblin’ country blues, where songs are filled with characters fighting to climb up or sliding their way back down – wandering broken hearts, swaggering pimps, crusty hobos – and all inhabiting rundown roadhouses, juke joints and the dusty backroads. Have a listen to the epic tale of young love, The Hobo And His Bride.

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99 The Dodos – Confidence
Warm and wiry indie rock.

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98 Blessed Feathers – Real Song For Emily
Fiercer harmonies and a tenser, more urgent feel than this duo usually give us. Despite being only two and a half minutes long, the song’s plaintive coda has a bitter air of finality.

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97 Bill Callahan – The Sing
Well the only words I said today are “beer” and “thank you” / Beer, thank you / Beer, thank you / Beer

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96 Best Coast – Fear Of My Own Identity
The best fuzzed up pop single of the year.

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95 Eula – I Collapse
Seething, fractured, post-punk blues.

Download Eula – I Collapse mp3

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94 Torres – Honey
A single distorted guitar strum, unsupressed tension, and a raw, slow-burning payoff.

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93 Mark Mulcahy – Let The Fireflies Fly Away
Penguins, a hitch-hiking chicken, a donkey in a Chevrolet and a monkey family feud.

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92 Coke Weed – Sunseekers
A woozy, narcoleptic trip through the realms of psychedelia, indie rock and hazy Americana.

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91 Water Liars – Sucker
The first of three entries from Water Liars. Sucker is the buzzing opener to one of our albums of the year.

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90 The Oblivians – Run For Cover
Garage punks first album for 16 years didn’t disappoint. Run For Cover was a high octane highlight.

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89 Grass House – Spinning As We Turn
Cascading guitars and a hypnotic rhythm section that channels the spirits of Joe Meek and the Velvets.

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88 Ooga Boogas – Sex In The Chillzone
Featuring members of long time faves Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Sex In The Chillzone is an eight minute psych-rock lockdown into the year’s grooviest bass line that sounds like a blend of the Velvet Underground and Parliament.

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87 Of Montreal – Imbecile Rages
Your folks, they are such lovely people / I can’’t understand where you came from“, one of the best opening couplets of this or any other year.

 

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86 The Acquaintances – Paramounts
Tremolo’ed and reverby guitars and echoed out vocals wash over a top-notch rhythm section creating spaced-out garage-influenced rock with a melodic sensibility.

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85 Dim Peaks – Reason
Laid back, folk infused Americana.

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84 Colleen Green – Heavy Shit
Totally infectious, stoned punk.

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83 Shadows At Play – Into The Sun
Upbeat, ethereal folk song that alludes to the Greek mythology story of Icarus, exploring the notion that a man is free once he is defeated.

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82 Harmed Brothers – Love Song For The Assumed
Mixing folk and bluegrass with a wistful twist of poignant melancholy, Love Song For The Assumed was as sweet and as simple a song of heartbreak and longed for resolution as we heard in the whole year.

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81 Villagers – Nothing Arrived
I’m loving the piano this year and there’s a good bit of gutsy playing here. What were we hoping to get out of this boys? Nothing actually. People are so bloody disappointing aren’t they? (Mrs M)

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80 Phox – Noble Heart

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79 Black Angels – Indigo Meadow
Tribal drumming, 60s Hammer-Horror organ, and reverb.

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78 The Coathangers – Adderall
A propulsive, jittery, slice of post-punk agitation, borne in on the back of tribal drums and a perfect match for a commonly abused drug used to stimulate the central nervous system!

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77 Steve Mason – Lot Of Love
Love the piano on this song and the catchy, sing-a-long chorus – a guaranteed earworm if I had any (ears that is… being a fish, of course.) Steve Mason’s gentle vocals reflect on love lost and the hope of finding it again. (Mrs M)

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76 Jules Larson & AG – Bend Into The Break

Check back tomorrow for tracks 51-75.

Grass House Debut Album

Grass House Debut Album

Next Monday will see the release of A Sun Full And Drowning, the debut long-player from long-standing MM faves Grass House.

Featuring ten tracks, the album includes new versions of the bands critically acclaimed and sold out singles Spinning As We Turn (one of our favourite tracks of the year), And Now For The Wild and the recent I Was A Streetlight, as well as earlier single The Faun. 

They are self-styled purveyors of ‘outsider pop’ and it is a term that fits very well with influences assimilated (though not slavishly) from such corners of the musical world as the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, Deerhunter and The Walkmen. Thankfully though, the band do more than just pay homage, but rather they confidently assert their own identity and style, for this is a collection of mighty fine songs – original, memorable, and (in the best possible sense) insidiously catchy.

You can check out all the singles in our other Grass House posts, but for now wrap your ears around some of the other tracks from the album and roll on Monday (order here).

The Twenty Best Things We Heard, Saw, And Discovered At The Green Man Festival

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Our first visit to the brilliant Green Man Festival. Here are the twenty best things we heard, saw and discovered over the weekend.

1. The Parquet Courts live up to the hype
Like the Ramones on speed, the four-piece transcended all the hype with the set of the weekend – a thrilling, occasionally ramshackle, breakneck excursion into punk, slacker pop and moshpit heaven, and in Stoned and Starving they have a ready made classic for years to come.

2. Dancing Bears at British Sea Power
An epic, brooding, cinematic set brought to a stunning, and appropriately eccentric climax as, during Carrion, two seven foot Grizzly Bears appear amongst the audience  to dance, grapple and lead an impromptu conga.

3. John Cale and Roy Harper still cut the mustard
They may be advanced in years, but both the old boys demonstrated just why the main stage was still the perfect stage for them. First up an amiable Harper showed just why he is a primary influence on so many of today’s folk stars from the Fleet Foxes to Joanna Newsom, finishing his set of pastoral, freak tinged folk with the classic, and beautifully poignant When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease. Then Cale, dressed in a fetching pink suit jacket and tie with denim shorts reeled through a set that built to a fabulous pulsating climax with Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend, Nookie Wood, Satellite Walk, and a stunning version of Jonathan Richman’s Pablo Picasso.

Mikal Cronin 14. Cover versions aplenty
Cover versions abounded everywhere at Green Man. As well as Cale’s brilliant Pablo Picasso, we had Roy Harper doing Dylan’s Girl From The North CountryNeil Young covers from Low (Down By The River) and Band of Horses tearing through Powderfinger, Fanfarlo covering Orange Juice’s Rip It Up, and Mikal Cronin delivering a superb Whole Wide World, but perhaps best of all was Mo Kenney’s melancholic, acoustic take on Bowie’s Five Years – simply mesmerising.

5. Grass House are destined for big things
We’ve loved Grass House for a long time and our first chance to see them live is everything we hoped for. Outsider pop it may be, but the effortless way the band mix dusty, western twang with sinister gothic noir and use them both to weave mournfully surrealistic tales means the crowd is soon gripped. And in the hypnotic and transfixing Spinning As We Turn, the gothic blues of And Now For The Wild and the tense, sinewy I Was A Streetlight they have three singles that should be the envy of just about every other up and coming band out there.

6. James Yorkston’s Dad sings along
A wonderful set by James Yorkston and band is capped by his Dad shyly joining them on stage for a full tent a capella sing-a-long of the Ivor Cutler classic Hold The Barrel Steady.

7. Arbouretum get heavy
Sometimes you just need long hair, cool as fuck riffs, guitar shredding and fantasy led lyrics. Arbouretum were all that and more and in False Spring provided the best air-guitar moment of the weekend.

8. Public Service Broadcasting get funky
Brilliant use of humour, sound samples, computer conversations with the audience, guitar riffs, banjo and persuasive percussion meant Public Service Broadcasting managed to get the entire walled garden crowd on their feet and dancing within two songs. Whether it was a self-conscious shuffle or a full on funky freakout, resistance to tracks like Signal 30, The Now Generation and London Can Take It, proved utterly futile.

9. Barry-Sean is a Whooper
We didn’t know it before, but gradually over the three days we started hearing a few whoops and hollers from Barry-Sean. Sure he started quietly, with a couple of muted efforts for Parquet Courts and then the next day for Grass House and a couple of others, but by the tail end of the festival he was in full voice, hollering like Foghorn Leghorn for Darren Hayman, Public Service Broadcasting and British Sea Power

10. Sam Amidon’s surreal banter
Amidst a lovely set of muder ballads, love songs and a capella gospel tunes, Sam Amidon entertained royally with some surreal between-song banter, none more so than the tale of the messages he receives from Kirsten Dunst’s eyes during her films.

Green Man Main Stage11. The Green Man Stages…
Really are sublime. The Mountain stage nestles at the base of (you’ve guessed it) a mountain, the walled garden stage is simply perfect, the courtyard a delight, the hills, the steps, the views, and this year even the weather meant it was everything we hoped it would be, but expected it wouldn’t.

12. Low really are a classic band
In the press tent one desperate-to-impress young thing opined that despite the new songs not being very good, Low were still a classic band. “Really“, asked another scribe, “do you know the new songs?“, the young thing confessed he didn’t and gently, but firmly, the scribe pointed out you can’t know how good the new songs are if you don’t know them at all. Touché.

And anyway, while the set did contain bonafide classics in Monkey, Over The Ocean and Murderer, at least one of those ‘new songs”, Plastic Cup is destined for the same status.

13. Boutique camping…at our age – hell yes!
Confession time. Barry-Sean paid extra for our four man tent, already put up and waiting for us in the Tangerine field. No more cramped, and crap, single skin pop-up tents that leak and then refuse to return into the carrier you brought them in. Our smugness was unbearable when the one serious downpour of the weekend happened about 2am on Saturday night…we woke dry and warm. The most comfortable festival we’ve ever been to.

14. Edwyn Collins ripping it up
As well as Fanfarlo, Edwyn Collins treats everyone to Rip It Up during a brilliant set in the late afternoon sun.

15. The ever growing popularity of Phosphorescent
As the burgeoning crowd testifies, and indeed the number of them singing along enthusiastically to most of the set, Matthew Houck’s Phosphorescent have delivered a true masterpiece with most recent album Muchacho, and stepped up to the big league. As the majestic Song for Zula floats out across the hills beneath the setting sun, it is probably the most perfect way to capture the enchantment and good-natured magic of this lovely festival.

16. Darren Hayman’s King Charles rap
Illustrating why he is a British songwriting treasure, Darren Hayman introduces Henrietta Maria one of the standouts from 2012 historical concept album The Violence with a role-played soliloquy as King Charles that is as good as it is slightly creepy.

17. Midlake and Band of Horses rock out
Two bands joyously grabbing their headline (or near headline) opportunities on the Mountain stage to deliver crowd-pleasing country-rock with a backwoods feel. Muscular as it was tender, and perfectly matched to the atmosphere and setting of the Brecon Beacons.

18. The Allah-Lahs get groovy
Closing the night on the Walled Garden stage, the Allah-Lahs treat us to some seductive, surf-tinged psychedelia that somehow manages to be both laid back and carefree, and melancholic and nostalgic. Perfection.

19. The art of Nick Reed
In the vintage tent were a host of little stalls. In a corner were t-shirts and postcards from Nick Reed, pre-dating the wonderful David Shrigley, his is a brilliantly warped worldview told through the eyes of a scribbled dog and some scalpel sharp observations. T-shirt for teenage son duly purchased.

20. Marika Hackman enchants in the Rough Trade tent
With a crystalline voice like Nico, and lyrics that are as dark as anything we heard all weekend, Marika Hackman enchanted all who were present when she played a short acoustic set in the Rough Trade tent.

And some of our favourite songs…

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New Grass House Single

New Single From Grass House

London four piece, and long standing MM faves, Grass House are set to release a new single on Marshall Teller Records on the 2nd September. It is a taste of what to expect from the band’s forthcoming debut album A Sun Full And Drowning, which will follow at the end of October.

I Was A Streetlight is another top notch example of their cascading, orchestral indie rock with hypnotic percussion and ominous, foreboding vocals. It all bodes very well for the album and we are looking forward to seeing them live for the first time at Green Man next week.

Grass House Announce “And Now For The Wild” Single

Grass House Announce New Single

Latest signings to Marshall Teller Records, the brilliant Grass House are set to release a new single, And Now For The Wild, on June 24. It comes backed with live favourite Spinning As We Turn (which we posted here) and will be released on seven inch vinyl and available to download.

Possibly their finest moment to date (and they’ve had a few damn fine ones already), the new single is a taste of what to expect from the band’s debut album, which is set for release later this year on their new label. Cascading cinematic guitars with a hypnotic rhythm section, the band continue down a more sonic path with truly great results. Whilst Eno, The Velvet Underground, Joe Meek and The Walkmen still exert some external influence on the band, the Grass House sound is unique and very much stands alone.

Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Dr Roddy Looks Back

MM The Last Five Years - Dr Roddy

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

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

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

20 Dan Auerbach – Heartbroken, In Disrepair

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19 Dirty Bourbon River Band – Train Is Gone

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

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18 Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine

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

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17 Janice Graham Band – Front Door

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16 Ox – Midnight On The Island

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15 Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

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14 Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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13 Nathaniel Rateliffe – Brakeman

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12 William Elliot Whitmore – Old Devils

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11 What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge

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

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

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

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

Download Brown Bird – Wrong Brown Mare mp3 (from

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

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

Download Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do mp3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Track From Grass House

New Single From Grass House

We have been big supporters of Grass House from the days of their brilliant debut EP back in the spring of 2010. So it is a genuine pleasure to hear they have now been signed by Marshall Teller Records, and even more so that they have unveiled a brand new album track which they are giving away as a free download.

Spinning As We Turn is classic Grass House - hypnotic, propulsive, and oozing at the edges with a faint whiff of unmistakeable menace. The influences range from the Velvet’s chug to Spector’s wall of sound by way of the fatalism of Leonard Cohen, but this London four-piece have always possessed the originality and imagination to create something truly of their own making.

Their debut album is due later in the year, and if this is anything to go by we are in for a real treat.

See all our previous Grass House posts here.

Videos of the Day: The Capsules || The Highballers || Hooray For Earth || Grass House

Video of the Day

Our final video post of 2012 has offerings from The Capsules, The Highballers, Hooray For Earth and a live offering from MM faves Grass House with a new song, A Thousand Generators. Enjoy!

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Download The Capsules – Our Apocalypse mp3 (from Northern Lights & Southern Skies)

Download The Capsules – Across The Sky mp3 (from Northern Lights & Southern Skies)

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