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

.

19 Dirty Bourbon River Band – Train Is Gone

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

.

18 Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine

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

.

17 Janice Graham Band – Front Door

.

16 Ox – Midnight On The Island

.

15 Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

.

14 Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

.

13 Nathaniel Rateliffe – Brakeman

.

12 William Elliot Whitmore – Old Devils

.

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)

.

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)

.

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

.

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.

.

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

.

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?”

.

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.

.

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”.

.

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)

.

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…

.

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.

Mad Mackerel’s Albums Of The Year: Part 2 (30 – 11)

Carrying on from where we left off yesterday…

30 Josh T Pearson – Last Of The Country Gentlemen

Download Josh T Pearson – Woman When I’ve Raised Hell…(Alternative Version) mp3

a

New Album From Real Estate.

29 Real Estate – Days

Download Real Estate – Green Aisles mp3 (from Days)

Download Real Estate – It’s Real mp3 (from Days)

a

28 Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

Download Gillian Welch – The Way It Goes mp3 (from The Harrow & The Harvest)

a

27 War On Drugs – Slave Ambient

Download The War On Drugs – Come To The City mp3 (from Slave Ambient)

a

Mad Mackerel Recommends...Mikal Cronin.

26 Mikal Cronin – Mikal Cronin

Download Mikal Cronin – Apathy mp3 (from Mikal Cronin)

Download Mikal Cronin – Get Along mp3 (from Mikal Cronin)

a

25 Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Download Girls – Vomit mp3 (from Father, Son, Holy Ghost)

Download Girls – Honey Bunny mp3 (from Father, Son, Holy Ghost)Removed by order some uninformed halfwit – available everywhere else for free on the web

a

24 Wooden Shjips – West

Download Wooden Shjips – Lazy Bones mp3 (from West)

a

23 Metronomy – The English Riviera

Download Metronomy – The Look mp3 (from The English Riviera)

a

Henry's Funeral Shoe Release Donkey Jacket.

22 Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Donkey Jacket

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Anvil And Chains mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

a

21 Decemberists – The King Is Dead

Download The Decemberists – This Is Why We Fight mp3 (from The King Is Dead)

a

20 Dennis Hopper Choppers – Be Ready

a

19 Bill Callahan – Apocalypse

Download Bill Callahan – Baby’s Breath mp3 (from Apocalypse)

a

18 Moon Duo – Mazes

Download Moon Duo – Mazes mp3 (from Mazes)

a

17 Black Keys – El Camino

a

a

Wooden Wand Releases Briarwood Tomorrow.

16 Wooden Wand – Briarwood

Download Wooden Wand – Winter In Kentucky mp3 (from Briarwood)

Download Wooden Wand – Big Mouth USA mp3 (from Briarwood)

a

15 Wilco – The Whole Love

Download Wilco – I Might mp3 (from The Whole Love)

a

14 PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

a

a

13 Yuck – Yuck

Download Yuck – Holing Out mp3 (from Yuck)

Download Yuck – Dark Magnet mp3 (from Yuck)

a

12 Hurray For The Riff Raff – Hurray For The Riff Raff

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Too Much Of A Good Thing mp3 (from Hurray For The Riff Raff)

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Take Me mp3 (from Hurray For The Riff Raff)

a

11 Richmond Fontaine - The High Country

Download Richmond Fontaine – The Mechanic’s Life mp3 (from The High Country)

a

Top Ten tomorrow!

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 9 Mrs Mackerel

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.Our final Top Ten selection comes courtesy of the lovely, and ever radiant, Mrs Mackerel. Over to you girl!

It’s been a great musical year. But such a plethora of riches always presents a problem – what’s a girl to choose? Fortunately some fine contributions in the preceding week means most bases are covered.

Live gigs, although few and far between this year, have been rich in quality, and particularly finger-picking good on the guitar front. A fine ensemble of gig friends too, thank you.

Without further ado, here’s my humble opinion. And remember kids this is just my opinion, you can try this at home too.

10. Hyde & the Beast – You Will be Lonely

Boom-shacker, boom-shacker. Bit of cowboy guitars. An up-tempo beat coupled with the “you’re dumped” message. Still if you’ve got to do it, do it with a smile on your face and a guitar in your hand, I say. Boom-shacker, boom-shacker.

a

9. The National – Think You Can Wait

Nice bit of backing from the wonderful Sharon Van Etten, coupled with the mellifluous vocal of Matt Berninger. Trademark National: understated brilliance.

a

8. Lanterns on the Lake – Ships in the Rain

Another great thing to come from Sunderland. Catch up please. Atmosphere, ethereal vocals, beautiful lyrics. Til we meet again, girls.

a

7. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear

Widespread Mackerel popularity for this song amongst family and friends. Yep, we know a good guitar riff when we hear one: hard core. Looking for joy when there’s none to find? Plenty here.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

6. Wye Oak – Civilian

A January contender for my top ten, so a stayer. A fantastic piece of drumming that builds and builds; to be played loud on speakers not headphones, she insists in a bossy tone that MM knows only too well… Breathy vocals adds atmosphere to the intensity.

Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3 (from Civilian)

5. Wooden Wand – No Hayride

Directed to this by daughter sprat, and how right she is. The pared back simplicity of the guitar lends itself so well to the lyrics. Prolific output – does this man ever sleep?

Download Wooden Wand – No Hayride mp3 (from Archives Vol 3)

4. The Cave Singers – Haystacks

How do I love the Cave Singers? Oh let me count the ways. Storming harmonica coupled with such an irresistible tempo, I challenge you not to be out of your seat and dancing. These boys got rhythm in bucket loads and talent to match. But they’re not yours, they’re mine. Glad we cleared that one up.

a

3. Hurray for the Riff Raff – Too Much of a Good Thing

A great big old fashioned waltz of a song, throw in a sprinkling of mariachi pipes, a helping of accordion and the tender vocals of Alynda Lee Segarra. Lifetime top ten tune for me this one.

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Too Much Of A Good Thing mp3 (from Hurray For The Riff Raff)

2. Middle Brother – Portland

Shared a cigarette for breakfast? More than one I reckon. John McCauley of Deer Tick has a voice that was made for this song. One for the road, sung in chorus, gives me the warmest, fuzzy feeling all over. Stick me on a greyhound bus with Middle Brother playing to the open road and I reckon I’d be a happy girl. Just about the best darned cover (yes, I know but don’t care) I ever heard. Pure magic.

a

1. Laura Marling – Night After Night

A photo finish for me amongst the top five. Yin and yang songs. This song is wuthering, if you get my gist but hey, that’s just me. There’s so much here from the opening guitar sequence that makes me think of a boat rowing out to sea, to the subtle finale with a flamenco flourish. Lyrical dexterity, passion, sadness, regret. The incomparable Laura Marling take a bow.

a

Goddammit Janet: missed it first time round

Grinderman – Palaces of Montezuma

The theatre of this song is almost vintage Bowie. A great big banquet of lyrical genius and the funkiest rhythm to match. Bloody marvellous.

Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Janglin

From the happy-go-lucky intro to swinging, swaying finger-clicking goodness of the rest of the tune. Click your heels and away you go.

Download Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Janglin mp3 (from From Below)

And Okkervil River. Missed all together. MM and I are fools. I have told him this repeatedly while hitting him with a large branch. Joking. Sort of.

Download Okkervil River – For Real mp3 (from Black Sheep Boy)

School Run Anthems 2011

The Lovely Eggs – Don’t Look at Me (I Don’t Like It)

We sang and did the actions. The car bounced and shimmied its way to school. Nothing like a bit of 21st century punk to get you going in the morning.

a

Roadside Graves – Jail

Don’t want to work today. Just want to lay in bed. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Download The Roadside Graves – Jail (Simplefolk UK Radio Live Session) mp3

Guilty pleasure

Adele – Someone Like You

Actually no guilt attached to this choice at all. Great voice. Great song, sniff.

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 8 Mad Mackerel

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.So, the penultimate entry before Mrs Mackerel finishes off this year’s set of Top Ten postings tomorrow is my very own.

Without further ado…

10. Milk Music – Beyond Living

Although it was released early in the year, I only discovered it recently. A full on, no holds barred, nihilistic 70s punk attitude and the very best of the heavyweight riffs of the grunge era is a mighty powerful combination. One that makes me wish my car stereo went all the way up to eleven.

Download Milk Music – Beyond Living mp3 (from Beyond Living EP)

9. Yuck – Holing Out

Similarly, Yuck’s Holing Out effortlessly recalled the 90s with a crunchy distorted riff, reverb and a fuzz slathered hook. That it also had one of the best videos of the year was just another bonus.

a

Download Yuck – Holing Out mp3 (from Yuck)

8. Wooden Wand – No Hayride

If there is one mystery to me in the world of music, then it is how James Jackson Toth aka Wooden Wand can be so damn prolific across so many genres and yet suffer no discernible dip in quality – not that I’m complaining. Another great year and too many tracks to choose from, but in the end it was this, seemingly an afterthought on his forthcoming boxset that makes up Volume 3 of his archives – a simple folk ballad that still managed to be head and shoulders above most things released this year.

Download Wooden Wand – No Hayride mp3 (from Archives Vol 3)

7. Kurt Vile – Peeping Tomboy

Top ten from the opening moments of this song; the hazy, shimmering guitar and the lazy drawled vocals intoning

“I don’t want to change, but I don’t want to stay the same
I don’t want to go but I’m running
I don’t want to work, but I don’t want to sit around all day frowning

I don’t want to give up, but I kinda want to lie down
But not sleep just rest
Give me a break how much does it really take?
Get my head outta here”

a

6. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear

It made a lot of other MM guest top tens so no need to add anything new. Anthemic, swaggering blues boogie at its fiery best.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

5. The Royal Sea – This Summer

I’ve mentioned this two or three times recently and posted it earlier today so not much more needs to be said about this either. Simply that it is pure, sugar-coated garage pop with just the right amount of surf inspired twang that in a parallel world would have been the woozy, feel-good hit of the summer.

Download The Royal Sea – This Summer mp3 (from The Royal Sea)

4. Deer Tick – Chevy Express

Deer Tick’s Divine Providence was, mostly, a rowdy, rambunctious good time rock’n’roll record that was meant for late nights of whiskey drinking and bar-room brawls. But tucked away in the middle of all the heady intoxication was this track: sombre, reflective, and undeniably sobering. It was the soundtrack to a heavy heart and lonely regret washed by the first light of an early morning dawn and may well be the best thing they’ve ever done.

3. Felice Brothers – Fire At The Pageant

Voodoo, zombies, sinister nursery rhyme chants, classic Felice Brothers lyrics and a woozy, old-timey, back porch rhythm means this song should have been an utter mess. That it was the complete opposite stands tribute to this bunch of ramshackle mavericks of increasingly experimental Americana.

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

2. Tom Williams & The Boat – Get Older

The most bitterly caustic song I heard all year meant it was a shoe-in for my top ten. I originally said “it drips venom over a heavy, single drumbeat, a vicious guitar strum, and spits lyrics like physical bullets”, and this still sounds a pretty fair summation to me.

a

1. Middle Brother – Daydreaming

From the simple picked guitar line and weary, melancholy opening lyric, the scene is set for a raw, unflinching excursion courtesy of McCauley’s craggy vocals and beer-soaked romanticism. Loneliness never sounded so…well, lonely.

a

Almost Made It

The Wooden Shjips pulverising Lazy Bones, Tom Williams & The Boat’s observationally wry and off kilter Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet, the blistering euphoria of Wye Oak’s Civilian, and LONG’s criminally ignored and under-rated Shoot Your Dog. If there was a better example of dark, claustrophobic psych-rock this year than the Ganglian’s Jungle then I didn’t hear it, while A.A. Bondy’s dark-hearted The Twist and Twilight Hotel’s epic road trip Mahogany Veneer were both superb examples of modern Americana. Back home, Metronomy’s ultra catchy The Look, and Male Bonding’s fuzzed up, yet still sugary What’s That Scene? flew the flag for the UK – on another day, in another year, all could so easily have been in the final shake up.

Download Wooden Shjips – Lazy Bones mp3 (from West)

Download The Ganglians – Jungle mp3 (from Still Living)

Download Metronomy – The Look mp3 (from The English Riviera)

Favourite Covers

Hurray for the Riff Raff’s mesmerising My Sweet Lord and Phosphorescent’s reverent take on Neil Young’s Are You Ready For The Country? were both outstanding, but just pipped by Siskiyou’s own Young cover, the skeletally menacing Revolution Blues. Titus Andronicus payed due homage to Nirvana’s classic Breed, but best of all was Middle Brother’s version of the Replacement’s Portland.

Download Phosphorescent – Are You Ready For The Country? mp3

a

a

Best Tunes First Heard This Year But Not 2011

How on earth had Okkervil River escaped me for so long, particularly John Allyn Smith Sails and the superb For Real. Likewise with Wilco’s Misunderstood – I’d heard it, but this year I actually listened to it. Shellac’s Prayer To God is the most vicious song I’ve ever heard and one of the best, and so too Fugazi’s Waiting Room. Richard Buckner’s heartbreaking Emma was a revelation and James McMurty’s rollicking live version of Choctaw Bingo was eight minutes of pure, adrenalin fuelled Americana.

Download Shellac – Prayer To God mp3 (from 1000 Hurts)

Download Richard Buckner – Emma (Devotion & Doubt Outtake) mp3

Happy Christmas and Happy New Year. Here’s to 2012 when it all starts again!

(FESTIVE FEATURE) THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS No 9: HENRY’S FUNERAL SHOE

For our first ever Festive Feature on Mad Mackerel, we asked twelve of our favourite bands and artists of 2011 to answer twelve questions and we will publish them over the next twelve days taking us up to Christmas Eve.

MM's 12 Days of Christmas 9: Henry's Funeral Shoe.

If 2009’s debut Everything’s For Sale marked Welsh blues rocking duo Henry’s Funeral Shoe out as one to watch, this year’s follow up Donkey Jacket certainly delivered in spades. From the massive riffs and heavy percussion, the fuzzy distortion and reverb, and the unashamedly sleazy blues licks it was a stomping, visceral record that was exactly as exciting, as energetic and as downright thrilling as we’d hoped for.

Donkey Jacket needs a place on your shelves – file between the Black Keys and ZZ Top!

1) Three iconic clashes. Who would you vote for in each of these?

a) The Velvet Underground or The Doors?

Not fussed on either band… The Doors because they had a song in Lost Boys. It was some band covering the song but I love that film and it brings back good memories.

b) Bob Dylan or Neil Young?

Jesus! Impossible to chose. Sorry! If this was “If I had gun to your head” you’d have to shoot me.

c) The Sex Pistols or the Clash?

Hmmm, I’ll go with the Sex Pistols.

Henry's Funeral Shoe on Mad Mackerel. 2) What has been your personal highlight of 2011?

Apart from the birth of my son, I’d say the release of our 2nd album and how well its been received.

3) What was your low point of the year?

Not had one. Musically its been smashing for us.

4) You can give one single album from 2011 to just one person for Christmas. What would you buy and who for?

Immortal Technique’s Revolutionary Vol. 1. I’d give it to David Cameron.

5) Give us between two and five songs from 2011 that you’d recommend as the best of the year.

Street Joy – White Denim

Mushroom Story – Todd Snider

Dirty Hustling – Jimbo Mathus

Stomp & Holler – Hayes Carll

Kmag Yoyo – Hayes Carll

6) Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol – why?

‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’, because a Christmas tree was made for rocking around.

7) Imagine you are snowed in and stuck in an isolated house in the woods for Christmas with no way out. Wolves and bears are prowling outside.You need to recommend the following:

Henry's Funeral Shoe on Mad Mackerel. A classic song to impress an ultra cool, know-it-all, teenager

Killing In The Name Of

A song to terrify Grandma

Misery Is The River Of The World

A traditional song to help send Grandad to sleep

Silent Night

A song for someone just waking from a five-year coma

Save Me Jesus

A book to frighten the children

House of Leaves

An unforgettable film to watch

Zulu

8) What is top of your Christmas list this year?

Snow, because it brings chaos then calm.

9) What is the worst Christmas present you’ve ever given and/or ever received?

Worst received was a nail file kit.

Worst given was a cheap fake gold bracelet to my first girlfriend. I was 10! :)

10) Will you be making a New Year Resolution? If so can you share it and will you keep it? What is the stupidest New Year resolution you’ve ever made?

Never made one. If you want to do something don’t wait, get on with it.

11) Imagine you’re headlining a Christmas Concert at your favourite venue. You can share the stage with three other artists or bands (past or present) for the final encore of the night. Who would they be and what would you play?

Electricity. Peter Green, Neil Young and Howlin’ Wolf.

12) Can you write us a Christmas themed limerick (go on please have a go)?

Pass

Buy Donkey Jacket – US here, UK here. Download from eMusic here.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Anvil And Chains mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Don’t Lose The Rhythm mp3 (from Everything’s For Sale)

Tomorrow: The Roadside Graves

Previously: Lovely Eggs (here), Twilight Hotel (here), Grass House (here), Hurray For The Riff Raff (here), Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks (here), Ohioan (here), Wooden Wand (here), Tom Williams & The Boat (here).

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 4 Dr Roddy

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.With probably the longest entry of 2011 we give the floor to regular MM contributor and top ten compiler…Dr Roddy.

Well it seems to be that time of year again. I always spend 340 days looking forward to doing this and 25 agonising over it. This year especially though, as I think there has been a bumper harvest of great songs. When I looked at my Top Ten playlist (with over 100 songs in it) I just thought one thing: bugger!

I got there in the end though. There have been certain parties that have tried to throw spanners in the works, by sending e-mails containing latecomers and over looked songs. Cheers you heartless bastards. So without further ado….

10. Monument Valley – Dear John Letters

This is a bit of a late arrival to my top ten but the moment I heard this song I fell for it totally. That old adage of less is more, is plain for all here. A pendulum-esque rhythm is picked out on an acoustic guitar, whilst the story is sung to us in an almost lullaby fashion by Ned Younger. Who wrote these songs from a collection of pictures of strangers? The song seems to tell of two people who were once side-by-side, parted then reunited. There is a line in the song, “And though we weren’t quite whole, turned out we were all each other needed to grow old“. That is such a simple and genuine way to describe what you need from another person, which fits wonderfully into this simple and genuine song.

Download Monument Valley – Dear John Letters mp3 (from Tongues EP)

9. Cosmo Jarvis – My Day

This song elbowed its way in to my Top Ten, with that wonderful punk fuelled fervour. You can’t ignore it. Lyrically it is a tour de force. I do love a bit of cutting social satire all set to unashamed balls ‘n all guitar work – in fact It seems as if all the instruments are being given their last rights, in that “play it like you nicked it” fashion. The passion and power that is behind the delivery of the lyrics are awesome: the line “Grew up thinking we were so advanced and had the largest heads / Didn’t masturbate with our own minds instead we used the Web“, what a great way to point at a general loss of social imagination and it is the line of this year for me.

a

8. Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone

This is such a funky tune there is no way it was going to get left out. The verses could easily be written as a warning to anyone who enters X-Factor and the chorus is definitely a warning to anyone who WINS the bleeding thing. That aside what we have here is a awesome tune – the bassline rolls along with the kind of sound that makes you want to walk a bit like Mister Soft. The guitar and drums lollop alongside it at perfect pace and all together it’s like a big spliff in audio format. Now I’ll be honest I’m not too big on sax breaks in songs, but this is the exception. It acts as a real nice jazzy kind of break in the song, leaving you hungry… no, greedy for some more of that bassline.

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

7. Warped 45s – Grampa Carl

I do love a good story song and this is about as good as it gets. We are told the story of Grampa Carl who was a Rum-runner in America during the prohibition era of the 20s. This seemed to be funded by a spot of illegal gambling. I do like to take the side of the rogue, especially a rogue who likes a bet and a drink, although this tale ends with Carl being buried in a Presbyterian cemetery. No religious hypocrisy there then! The tale in between is all engrossing with many a slip between cup and lip. There is a great line at the end of this song, “My grandpa said to me when I was just a kid / Just cusp someone says something’s wrong doesn’t mean that it always is“. I love that, and have employed it as a mantra for some years already. All of that is accompanied by some fantastic musicianship. There is the cool rumbling of a Hammond organ in the background and the guitar work is laced heavily with a bluesy feel, reminiscent of Drive-By-Truckers, which I think can only be seen as a compliment.

Download The Warped 45s – Grampa Carl mp3 (from Matador Sunset)

6. Danny Brown – Die Like A Rockstar

This song helped to reinvigorate my love for Hip Hop. There had been pretty much nothing in this genre that had excited me for years. Then boom! (Irony, honest) I heard this. From the very first opening when you hear that rolling drum beat it sounds special, then you get that menacing b-line and lyrics that pull you straight into the middle of the track. The lyrics are basically a who’s who of famous party animals from music, film and T.V. and this is done with wit, intelligence and a phenomenal turn of phrase. “Sniff it at a roll, off the counter in my kitchen / Trippin’ off the shit that had Brian Wilson flippin’” is just one off a fistful of gems from this one tune. Danny Brown certainly has a wonderful delivery (I think the kids call it a “FLOW”), a sort of southern drawl that is helped by his missing front tooth, giving it a sort of lispy quality and has a distinct whiff of nihilism about it. That monster bassline just continues to snarl along at you through the whole song. Just brilliant!

Link – left click only: DOWNLOAD: Danny Brown – Die Like A Rockstar – RCRD LBL

5. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear

The energy in this song is the equivalent to 15 speed freaks at a coffee morning. Even the guitar at the start is reminiscent of a racehorse being held off its true power until the time comes and don’t worry it will. The opening lyrics are the way to start a song “You’ve got street fighting hands/ and a rock and roll face / But you show affection in other ways“. These match the general feeling of the song perfectly; it has that raw, grimy, slightly sullied sense about it. When the drums join the party the song truly comes alive, with the kind of fire that I’ve only ever really heard in Nirvana tracks (And there’s only two of these guys). As the song settles back down and you stop looking like the guy from the old Maxell adverts (showing my age with that cultural reference) the guitar glides along and takes you with it, with points where you think its going to drop again but these are just teasers. Don’t worry though there are plenty more guitar breaks to come. A bit of a latecomer to the list but there was no way it could be ignored.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

4. Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

Sounding like the start of a Sergio Leone western is a good way to grab my attention. I love the sound of that trumpet along with the violins/fiddles – it creates such an atmospheric start. When the bass and guitar come in, they seem to be able to hold that atmosphere, perfectly but with a different slant. They bring with them a down-to-earth country style, which is held up perfectly by the lyrics of Ben Nicholls, who has a lamenting sound to his voice (and is also a one man band, talented – a bit!!). You think you’re in for a typical kind of alt-Country song but then something new, the strings are back along with keys that give this song an almost Egyptian feel. A friend of mine who is a musician said this song has some great work in the minor keys; I will have to take his word for that. All I know is that this is a truly beautiful and dynamic track; the fact that it’s not my number one still grates on me whenever I hear it. Self-flagellation for punishment methinks.

a

3. Little Barrie – Tip it Over

We are in to the top three now, this is where shit gets real and what a song to jump into it with. This song was a surefire winner for me. The high hat ride at the intro, then the understated guitar and bass enter the fray…they sound so innocuous, but if only you knew what they are to become. I love the notion of this song as well “Tip it over, what you need it for” could apply to so many things. It carries with it a certain amount of venom and it would have made a great soundtrack for the UK riots this year. The musicianship in this tune is truly fantastic – there is great work on the drums, though for me the true star is the guitar, you could be forgiven for almost losing it in the rest of the song, then just to remind you it’s alive and dangerous it has a little echo of the vocals in the chorus. Then it is let loose like some kind of wild beast and drags your ears with it. This song always gets my foot going and without question wins the award for song that every time I hear it I think to myself, “Shit! I want to learn to play guitar”.

a

2. Brown Bird – Bilgewater

From the very first listening I adored this song with a passion that I only usually give to Leeds Utd and gin & tonic. From the opening line of “Don’t matter if the cold wind blows, I’m going to wind up working in the thick of it“, I felt a affinity with this song, I work as a coalman so this sums up my job in one fell swoop. The bluesy feel to the rhythm of this song lends itself perfectly to the gritty nature of the lyrics and they give you a hard look at life. Those rose tinted glasses you’ve been wearing? Well this tune takes those off and stamps all over them. This is delivered without threat or malice, just in a matter of fact way – “this is how it is”. It’s nice to hear that once in a while – dilutes the saccharine a bit. There are so many brilliantly phrased lines in here, each verse holding a fistful of lyrical gems. The only way I can really give this song enough praise is to say that if Bill Hicks was still with us, I think he would appreciate this song and it’s honesty. That is massive praise I think.

Download Brown Bird – Bilgewater mp3 (from The Sound of Ghosts EP)

1. Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling

I took you via the scenic route but we’ve arrived. Number one and that is exactly what it is. Just the best song I’ve heard this year by a country mile. From the very first hearing to listening to it while I write this, the whole thing fascinates me. The opening sounds like some kind of nightmare dream sequence from an episode of Hammer House of Horror, weird sounds and insane babbling, accompanied by a disjointed guitar and harmonica. As the drumbeat cuts in, it pulls it all together, and then we get to hear the greatest of gravelly voices. If you were to tell me this guy don’t smoke Capstan full strength and gargle with Napalm I’d call you a liar. As the song builds with an absolutely wonderful bassline driving it along, so does the intensity of the lyrical delivery. Now this maybe childish (in fact it is) but I think if going to swear in a song why not say c#@t and why not say it lots. Some people may find this offensive but it is a common saying down my way, meaning positive and negative things. The harmonica is stitched throughout the tune harking back to that eerie bedlam-esque start.  From start to finish it is the real deal. Brilliant melody, great bassline, witty lyrics, profanity and raw-throated vocals. These are a few of my favourite things!

a

Bubbling under (The songs that scream why? at me in the middle of the night)

1. Grass House – A Cradle, A Short Breath

2. Tom Williams & The Boat  – Wouldn’t Women Be Sweet

3. Creepoid – Grave Blanket

Download Creepoid – Grave Blanket mp3 (from Horse Heaven)

4. Jason Isbell & The 400 – Codeine

5. Lovely Eggs – Fuck It

Best Cover of the year

Siskiyou – Revolution Blues

Best I’ve heard for the first time this year (but not from this year)

1. Mountain Goats – No Children

2. Joe Pug – I Do My Father’s Drugs

3. Modest Mouse – Doin’ The Cockroach

4. Shellac – Prayer To God

Download Shellac – Prayer To God mp3 (from 1000 Hurts)

5. Fugazi – Waiting Room

Download Fugazi – Waiting Room mp3 (from 13 Songs)

Guilty Pleasure (Go on hate away!)

Lana Del Rey – Video Games

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 3 Starbar & JaMS

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.Our third top ten contributions come from Starbar and JaMS who job share in the office. This is JaMS first entry in to the guest top ten spots, but first up is Starbie…

10. Laura Marling – I Was Just A Card

9. Slow Club – If we’re Still Alive

a

8. The Decemberists – This Is Why we Fight

7. Lana Del Ray – Video Games

a

6. Black Keys – Lonely Boy

5. Deer Tick – Miss K

Download Deer Tick – Miss K. mp3 (from Divine Providence)

4. Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

3. Big Pink – Stay Gold

a

2. Noah & The Whale – L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N

1. Death Cab For Cutie – Stay Young Go Dancing

a

Bubbling Under

Funeral For a Friend – Broken Foundation

Florence & the Machine – Shake it Out

Fleet Foxes – Lorelai

Download Fleet Foxes – Lorelai mp3 (from Helplessness Blues)

Ed Sheeran – Lego House

———-

And JaMS…

10. Sharon Van Etten – Serpents

Download Sharon Van Etten – Serpents mp3 (from Tramp)

9. Adele – Set Fire To The Rain

8. The Decemberists – January Hymn

7. The Black Keys – Lonely Boy

a

6. Charlene Soraia – Wherever You Will Go

a

5. Friends – I’m His girl

4. Lykke Li – Sadness Is A Blessing

Download Lykke Li – Sadness Is A Blessing mp3 (from Wounded Rhymes)

3.  Florence and the Machine – What The Water Gave Me

2. Lana Del Rey – Video Games

1. Laura Marling – Sophia

a

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 2 Banner

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.For the second of our ‘guest’ top ten posts we are pleased to welcome the finger-choppin’ Banner to the roster with his first contribution to the end of year best of lists.

It’s been a great year musically and especially as this year I became a dad. I’d like to thank Doctor Roddy and Chris T Popper for their steady supply of CDs this year and especially for little Max’s mega mix from which I’ve selected some of my top ten tunes.  I would like to have written a bit more about the songs but unfortunately I tried to remove my finger with an axe earlier this week.

So here they are:

Best Songs

10. Felice Brothers –Ponzi

a

9. Grass House – A Cradle, A Short breath

a

8. Ha Ha Tonka – The Usual Suspects

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

7. Vacant Fever – Heavy Leather

Download Vacant Fever – Heavy Leather mp3 (from Heparin And Saline)

6. Owsley Brothers –Under The Shade Of A Live Oak Tree

Download The Owsley Brothers – Under The Shade Of A Live Oak mp3 (from Separated At Birth)

5. Deer Tick – Miss K (this one reminds me of the missus)

Download Deer Tick – Miss K. mp3 (from Divine Providence)

4. Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling

a

3. Henry’s Funeral Shoe –Dog Scratched Ear

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

2. Wooden Wand – Motel Stationary

a

1.Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

a

Bubbling Under

5. Brown Bird – Fingers To The Bone (good music to chop off your finger to)

Download Brown Bird – Fingers To The Bone mp3 (from Salt For Salt)

4. Beirut – The Rip Tide

Download Beirut – The Rip Tide mp3 (from The Rip Tide)

3. Kurt Vile – The Creature

2. Wooden Wand – Nails And Spikes

Download Wooden Wand – Nails And Spikes mp3 (from Archives Vol 3)

1. Mr Mother Fu*ka  exquire – The last Huzzah

Henry’s Funeral Shoe Release Donkey Jacket

Henry's Funeral Shoe Release Donkey Jacket. It is fair to say that Dog Scratched Ear, the first track to be released from Donkey Jacket, the new album from Welsh duo Henry’s Funeral Shoe has become the unofficial anthem of MM over the past few weeks – a perfect mix of irresistible blues boogie topped with a killer riff has made it one of our tunes of the year so far.

The album was officially released yesterday and to celebrate the band have offered up a second track for your aural pleasure in the form of Anvil And Chains - two and a half minutes of harmonica infused blues wail and holler backed by another pulsating riff – we can’t wait to hear the whole damn record!

Donkey Jacket is out through Alive Naturalsound Records and will be available on CD Digipack, Digital Download and  Ltd. Edition Clear Vinyl of 700. Order it here (USA) or here (UK).

Visit the band’s website here.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Anvil And Chains mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (8th October)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (8th October). There’s only two and a bit months until the culmination of a hard year’s listening: the MM Top Tens. And what a year. How do we choose? What a bonanza 2011 has been.

A certain song has dominated the school run this week. Let’s take nothing away from last week’s sing-a-long, Henry’s Funeral Shoe (Dog Scratched Ear is surely a top ten contender), but The Lovely Eggs have nailed it for surely some of the best lyrics ever, with Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like it).

Look at him with his dog dirt eyes …

Look at her with rabbit spare teeth …

Look at him with his dressing gown nose …

Look at her with her cul-de-sac arms …

Look at him with his wheelchair heart …

And there’s more!

Look at her with her washing line smile …

Look at him with his sausage roll thumb …

Don’t look at me, I don’t like it …

And hey, here’s one for later, Look at us with our red wine smiles …

Masterpiece. Sadly we can’t post it, but to get your own Friday moment I direct you to watch the video. We sing this so loudly on the way to school the whole car shakes. Perfect for the school choir me thinks.

a

Happy Friday.

Mrs Mackerel

Download The Lovely Eggs – Have You Ever Heard A Digital Accordion mp3 (from Have You Ever Heard Of The Lovely Eggs)

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)