Mad Mackerel The last Five Years – Chris T Popper Picks His Favourites

MM The Last Five Years - Chris T Popper

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 and now the ultra-punctual and fastidious Chris T Popper offers up his selections.

20) Strand of Oaks – Trap Door

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19) Avett Brothers – January Wedding

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18) Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer

Download Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer mp3

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17) Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl

Download Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl mp3

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16) Wye Oak – Civilian

Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3

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15) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3

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14) Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge of The Extra From Zulu mp3

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13) Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill

Download Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill mp3

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12) Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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11) Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank)

Dowload Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank) mp3

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10) Sonny + The Sandwitches – Through The Fog And Haze
Over the years I have never forgotten how much this song meant to me; if anything it gets stronger like an addiction (and considering this is a personality trait I’ve developed over the years I will happily succumb). I can be in the shower/waiting in a queue/at a meeting with senior management and I’ll randomly sing the first line. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well when someone is talking flow charts and I’m singing ‘through the fog and the haze…’ at them. But it makes more sense than what their flapping mouths are coming out with. It’s just going to happen.

Download Sonny + The Sandwitches – Through The Fog And Haze mp3

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9) Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano
Not a single mackerel swam my way on this one. I was denounced as an absolute arse but I cared not. Hayman wrote this song after suffering a fractured skull; which opened up the idea to him of writing a song gentle enough to listen to with brain ache. There is nothing wrong with gentle in this age of incessant noisy shit. It is a beautiful soliloquy telling the story of a piano’s life (something I always wanted to hear) luckily I was able to understand – they didn’t. Their fault not mine.

Download Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano mp3

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8) Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Colour Television
Passed me by initially. Found it by simply playing my iTunes on shuffle one night a couple of years ago and was instantly hooked… and what a revelation. The insistent guitar is ravaged with a punk attitude I thought was long dead. By that I mean talent. Could have come from 1976 and share a gob full of spit with the best of that era, by that I mean the Clash and there is no greater praise I can bestow. Another story televised, another billion hypnotised. Quite.

Download Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Colour Television mp3

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7) Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me
As soon as that horn blast announces its arrival I’m in. It builds with a rhythmic hypnotism that refuses to let go. Evoking the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone with an outstanding vocal from Ben Nicholl (I was lucky enough to catch this live and it didn’t disappoint) it’s never been off the ‘best of’ playlists since I heard it.

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6) The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind
A timeless guitar riff that immediately sends my brain synapses in to electrical overdrive. Everything else becomes secondary to tapping my foot and grinning inanely. To be fair though, grinning inanely comes fairly naturally…

I went to see the Cave Singers live and they didn’t even perform this song (and it’s still in my top ten!). Now I know their back catalogue is good, but next time I’ll write the set list for fucks sake.

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

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5) Lower Dens  – Brains
In the language of common parlance may I just say one thing? OMG. In fact I’ll go even further… OMFG! I swear down. Now I’ve totally alienated you I’ll continue… There is a subtlety to this work you have no idea about unless you have included it in your own top 5 (which you haven’t). Opens with a drumbeat that grips your lapels up like a rottweiler on heat.  And then… well, it just gets better of course. I suggest you go and listen to it and then come back to me and we’ll talk about it over a large gin & tonic and a ridiculously large bifta.

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4) Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes
Smashed in to my number one spot last year and who could stop it? I have no idea what it’s about and neither do I care. It’s just not important to me because I can put this song on at any time, in any mood (and by jingo I can be a moody bastard) and find myself singing the chorus loud and proud – without getting a single word right. But hey that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? The sheer momentum carries you along like a crazed right wing Chancellor at a witch’s funeral – enough to shed a tear for the right reasons.

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3) Phospherescent – Song For Zula
When Mr Mackerel asked us to put together our favourite songs of the last five years I was a little cautious of including any recent favourites. It’s difficult enough to pick 20 of the best at any time… but Song For Zula transcends the conundrum. The impact of the opening bars/violins/first line (referencing Johnny Cash no less) is timeless. I have a special place in my heart for Phossie and the Red Eyed Fly in Austin when I first saw them live (get me!) – opening with a Radiohead cover and then converting me to country music by channelling the great Willie Nelson. Met him (Phossie not Willie!) by the way. I want to be his best friend. He doesn’t.

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2) Howling Owls – A Wordsmith’s Reverie
You know when you read a book and think ‘shit I could never write that beautifully’ (I’m a frustrated author as well as human being) – Howling Owls does that musically. There is a self-aware yet peaceful desperation to this; and not a single word is wasted. The lament of ‘I will change everything about me for you – except for the fact I can never be what you want me to be’ is heartbreaking. It also makes you realise how shit this world is. Far more people know about Kim Kardashian than Howling Owls and Wooden Wand put together. Just think about that for a moment- done that? Good. Now try not to wail in utter sadness…

Download Howling Owls featuring Maximino – A Wordsmith’s Reverie mp3

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1) Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed
This is my favourite song of the last five years of Mad Mackerel. It’s actually hard to write anything that can really do it the justice it deserves… I love music so much that a work of this sheer magnitude can leave me running on empty, even when it comes to my typical hyperbole. So, deep breath… here goes. From the moment I heard it I knew it was special. And it’s never lost its impact or the way it moves me like no other song. I know people like me say ‘genius’ a lot (and that people say that people say ‘genius’ a lot when they shouldn’t). This is genius.

Download Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed mp3

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And my 3 favourite bands…

3) Jeff The Brotherhood
2) Wooden Wand
1) Phosphorescent

Needs a mention

Best Cover:
Download Port O’Brien – Halo mp3 (Beyonce Cover)

My favourite Live Act of 08-13
Phossie – Red Eyed Fly, Austin, Texas 2009
I suddenly and quite unexpectedly understood country music.

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: August 2011

Mad Mackerel's Best Of The Month - August 2011. Our usual round up of the very best of our August posts and some new tracks too. Dip in – every one a winner as they say.

Download The Cabin Dogs – High Falls mp3 (from Midnight Trail)

Invites you to kick off your boots, pour a stiff one and sit on the porch to watch the sun go down – a song for when you’re busy doing nothing as they say.

Download Spectrals – Big Baby mp3 (from Big Baby 7″)

Spritely and upbeat that melds 60s girl group fizz with Elvis Costello in an entirely good way.

Download Waters – O Holy Break Of Day mp3 (from Out In The Light)

Delicate and almost hymn-like indie rock with a sparse, raw feel.

Download Male Bonding – Tame The Sun mp3 (from Endless Now)

Excellent slice of punky power pop.

Download Forest Fire – Future Shadows mp3 (from Staring At The X)

First taster from specialists in weirded out country folk and blues doesn’t disappoint.

Download The Coasts – Handshakers mp3 (from The Coasts)

Quirky anthem that’s equal parts gritty rockabilly and punching pop.

Download Peggy Sue – Cut My Teeth mp3 (from Acrobats)

A six minute, slow brooding burn with a heavier, more viscous feel than previously.

Download Howling Owls featuring WoolfCubb – Spirits To Lift My Spirits mp3 (from Purple On Purple EP)

MM faves return with slightly more upbeat track. And we stress the slightly…

Download Blitzen Trapper – Love The Way You Walk Away mp3 (from American Goldwing)

Another top-notch slice of loose, countrified rock.

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

Superb title track from new album.

Download Ganglians – Drop The Act mp3 (from Still Living)

Smoother than usual garage-psych.

Download Little Gold – Sisters & Friends mp3 (from Weird Freedom)

Easy-breezy basslines, washed-out harmonies, and powerfully mellow drumming.

Download Amen Dunes – Bedroom Drum mp3 (from Through Donkey Jaw)

Another taste of the ominous, malevolent, unique folk stylings from new album.

Download The Ettes – The Pendulum mp3 (from Wicked Will)

Beat-punk and garage sleaze with a healthy dose back porch blues swagger and fuzzed up reverb.

Download Sick Figures – Graveyard Swagger mp3 (from Two Ghosts)

Raucous, saloonish type of rock and roll evoking a dark, eerie mood.

Download The Witch And The Robot – Houdini mp3 (from Fear Of Mountains)

Wonderful blend of peculiarly British pysch-pop and acid folk accompanied by appropriately surreal lyrics.

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

Classic slice of bluesy, bar-room Americana from forthcoming album.

Download Ducktails – Sit Around With Ya mp3 (from Killin The Vibe 12″)

Immerse yourself in a mellow hypnotic haze.

Download Luke Temple – Ophelia mp3 (from Don’t Act Like You Don’t Care)

Chugging twang, upbeat and cajun tinged.

Download The Fresh & Onlys – I Would Not Know The Devil mp3 (from I Would Not Know The Devil 7″)

A crackerjack of garage rumble, surf harmonies and guitar jangle.

Download Colossal Gospel – I Have A Heart, I Have A Heart mp3 (from Circles)

Sublime nine minutes of fragile folk beauty that reminded us of Lambchop at their best.

Download Guadalupe Plata – Pollo Podrio mp3 (from Guadalupe Plata)

Think of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion duelling with The Dirtbombs in the Castilla La Mancha…and, er, you’ll not even be close.

Download Beak> – Welcome To The Machine mp3 (from Wish You Were Here Again)

Rigid, pulsating version of Pink Floyd classic.

Download Hypocrite in a Hippy Crypt – The Town Crazies mp3 (from Tweaker In The Park)

Personal, whimsical sometimes, slyly sinister at others, lyrically sharp lo-fi folk.

Download Woodsman – In Circles mp3 (from Mystic Places EP)

Swirling, spacey guitars, reverb washes, tribal drum patterns, vocal delays and ominous repetition mix into a mesmerising, pulsating whole.

Download The Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning mp3 (from The Barr Brothers)

Folky, harmony filled and gorgeous.

Download Blessed Feathers – Stinging Nettle, Honeysuckle mp3 (from From The Mouths Of The Middle Class)

A bitterly beautiful reminder of winter’s immediacy in the Midwest.

Download Something Men – Birdy Roof mp3 (from Something Men 7″)

Effortlessly channeling early Velvets rumble and the simple, but effective chord sequences of the Kingsmen into a classic garage sound.

Download Wavves – I Wanna Meet Dave Grohl mp3 (from Life Sux EP)

More lo-fi, slacker punk goodness.

And to finish off we have new tracks for you too – a chaotic, hook ridden pop gem from Oberhofer, an unsettling six minutes of astral pop from Atlas Sound, attractive indie jangle from Sweden’s Youngfuck, and the infectious pulsing rhythms and quirky imagery of Big Tree.

Download Atlas Sound – Terra Incognita mp3 (from Parallax)

Download Oberhofer – Gotta Go mp3 (from Gotta Go)

Download Youngfuck – Black Tulips mp3 (from Youngfuck 7″)

Download Big Tree – This Fall mp3 (from This New Year)

New Song From Howling Owls

New Song From Howling Owls. It is always a joy to receive a new song from MM faves Howling Owls, and it is no different with this one. Craig from the band simply told us “I worked on this one solo using mostly an old purple keyboard from the 90s. An attempt at more positive songwriting. You may enjoy.”

Spirits To Lift My Spirits is the track. Probably goes without saying that we are enjoying it – think you will too.

And if you haven’t already, head over to their Bandcamp page here to pick up the unremittingly excellent When Tipsy Turns Somber EP completely free.

Download Howling Owls featuring WoolfCubb – Spirits To Lift My Spirits mp3 (from Purple On Purple EP)

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: May 2011

Here are the juiciest cuts from our May postings rounded up and presented as one marvellous mix plus a couple of cracking new tracks as well. Be sure to check out all our previous ‘Best Of the Month’ mixes in the sidebar too.

Download Country Mice – Morning Son mp3 (from Twister)

Country rock and blistering sonic experiments combining to deliver a brilliant apocalyptic ballad.

Download Howling Owls – Hay Fever mp3 (from When Tipsy Turns Somber EP)

Deliciously ominous folk music that creeps from the edges of the swamp and imperceptibly curls icy fingers around the back of your neck.

Download The Black Lips – Modern Art mp3 (from Arabia Mountain)

A garage fuelled boozy swagger with added meaty Stooges Fun House era sonics.

Download Jackie-O Motherfucker – In The Willows mp3 (from Earth Sound System)

Banks of hazy guitars that threaten to show the chillwave youngsters where it’s at with some sun dappled riffs.

Download Abigail Washburn – City Of Refuge mp3 (from City Of Refuge)

Charming mix of Appalachian folk and bluegrass topped with a gorgeous vocal delivery.

Download The Skeleton Dead – Lock The Doors mp3

Brilliantly realised tale of the macabre – follow the twists and turns of a murderous burglar told over a sparse backdrop of gentle instrumentation that acts as a wonderful counterbalance to the coiled menace of the lyrics – this gem gives a twisted new take on murder ballads.

Download Mount Moriah – Lament mp3 (from Mount Moriah)

Wonderfully hymnal chant over a delicate acoustic narrative.

Download Leaving – Lonely Child mp3 (from Ghost House EP)

Sparse, ghostly and beautiful folk with slow, swirling instrumentation like tendrils of smoke from a campfire.

Download The Middle East – Hunger Song mp3 (from I Want That You Are Always Happy)

Australian folk musical collective’s upbeat gem.

Download Moses Luster – I’m The Lion mp3 (from I’m The Lion)

For lovers of tales of the downtrodden and the desperate.

Download Bonnie “Prince” Billy & The Phantom Family Halo – The Mindeater mp3 (from The Mindeater)

Bonnie’s vocal performance is perhaps already one of his eeriest in years – creepy backwoods paranoia anyone?

Download Marissa Nadler – The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You mp3 (from Marissa Nadler)

Her unique blend of dream pop, but this time pedal steel adds a distinct country feel to accompany that exquisite, ethereal voice.

Download Elliott Brood – Northern Air mp3 (from Days Into Years)

Another very fine example of their bluegrass tinged, up tempo alt-country with a classic singalong chorus.

Download U.S. Girls – If These Walls Could Talk mp3 (from U.S. Girls / Slim Twig Split 12″)

Hazy, insistent pop minimalism.

Download Slim Twig – Priscilla mp3 (from U.S. Girls / Slim Twig Split 12″)

Brilliantly twisted pop-art.

Download Chad VanGaalen – Sara mp3 (from Diaper Island)

Sparse, sweet, wide-eyed acoustic taster from new album.

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

Ultra catchy country and horns rumble.

Download The Stripminers – No Luck mp3

Acerbic, punky take on Americana.

Download The Adultery Brothers – Something In My Drink mp3 (from Let Me Think)

Effevescent toe-tapping indie rock.

Download Pearl & the Beard – Sweetness mp3 (from Killing The Darlings)

Spitting, crackling folk with rousing boy/girl harmonies and mischievous ways.

Download The Blood Arm – Introducing Randy Newman mp3 (from Turn And Face Me)

Explosively catchy blend of tribal drums, relentless rock ‘n’ roll guitar and classicly simple, but effective hooks.

Download Mr Plow – Thank You Mr Ford mp3 (from Joyful In Song We Are)

Rich baritone voice lingers over a backdrop of twangy Gretsch guitars, shuffling drums and zinging flat top acoustic strumming.

Download The Roadside Graves – Love Me More mp3 (from We Can Take Care Of Ourselves)

Perfectly judged slice of tattered country rock with a rich chorus and a expansive feel.

Download Savaging Spires – Bending The Rules For Brian mp3 (from Savaging Spires)

Spooky slice of freakish folk and drone with a chorus that sounds like a voodoo incantation over slow, ominous backing strings.

Download The Sea Thieves – Focus The Stars mp3 (from They Will Run)

Hypnotic and haunting, it is a song that is meant for the quiet of evening when the stars are out and the only other sound is the wind rustling the leaves.

Download Twiggy Frostbite – By The Ocean mp3 

Hazy, dreamlike song that sounds like it was created in a netherworld where surreal is the norm, and nothing is quite as it seems or as it should be.

And to finish we have the slightly unhinged proto-garage of The Bats Pajamas, the brilliantly retro garage soul of Fitz & The Tantrums (with a track just made for open-top cruising), and the first taste of songwriter Van Pierszalowski’s new project following the very sad demise of the wonderful Port O’Brien. Called Waters, this is his rousing single For The One.

Download The Bats Pajamas – Downtown Nitty Gritty mp3 (from The Bats Pajamas)

Download Fitz & The Tantrums – Don’t Gotta Work It Out mp3 (from Songs For A Break Up: Volume 1 EP)

Download Waters – For The One mp3 (from Out In The Light)

Howling Owls: When Tipsy Turns Somber EP

In the past twelve months, Howling Owls may well have featured more on MM than any other band. Ever since we discovered their uniquely sinister take on the world with queasy tales of small town life, they have continued to delight and surprise with a whole series of tracks that have been uniform in their excellence.

So we are delighted to have both details of their first EP, the wonderfully titled When Tipsy Turns Somber and a new song for you in the shape of Hay Fever. The EP features a number of tracks we’ve previously posted – off kilter stories of a David Lynch style nightmare suburbia with characters struggling to conceal sides they’d rather the world didn’t see, of broken dreams and lost hope, and of a vicious circle of self-inflicted disappointments.

This is deliciously ominous folk music that creeps from the edges of the swamp and imperceptibly curls icy fingers around the back of your neck.

Best of all the whole EP can be downloaded for free from their Bandcamp page here – along with that brilliant cover art. Take our word for it, this will improve your iTunes library no end…and fingers crossed, there will be a debut long player in the autumn.

Download Howling Owls – Hay Fever mp3 (from When Tipsy Turns Somber EP)

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: January

Here is our regular round up of the best of January’s posts plus a couple of new tracks for your listening pleasure – all beautifully designed to make one perfect mixtape.

Download Wooden Wand – The DNR Waltz mp3

More classic down-tempo folk from greatly underrated MM fave.

Download Phosphorescent – Are You Ready For The Country? mp3

Riff-heavy, mean-assed cover which brilliantly captures the double-edged viciousness of Neil Young’s original.

Download Akron/Family – So It Goes mp3

A soulful psych-bounce over a groove both surly and sexy.

Download Secret Colours – Follow The Drone mp3

Texas-style psychedelia with a modern veneer.

Download The Veils – Bloom mp3

Nicely taut and hypnotic affair with an almost Wilco-esque bassline – it’s melodic, unpredictable and very, very good!

Download Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever mp3

Excellent appetiser from forthcoming album Smoke Ring For My Halo.

Download Pete & The Pirates – Winter 1 mp3 Removed by a modern day King Canute who doesn’t realise it has been given away free all over the internet. You cannot offer it free in one place and not expect it to turn up in another and what’s the difference? Get it loads of other places via the Hype Machine.

Welcome return from indie stalwarts offering a new direction and an echo of Donna Summer crossed with Can

Download Obits – You Gotta Lose mp3

More wonderfully sleazy, rockabilly rumble.

Download The Builders & The Butchers – Lullaby mp3

Another perfect example of their debauched country/folk stompathons.

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

A hymn to channel the raw feelings and chronicle the lives of the fucked-up romantics of Hurray For The Riff Raff’s home by the Mississippi.

Download Howling Owls featuring Maximino – A Wordsmith’s Reverie mp3

An everyday tale of resignation and failed expectations Howling Owls style, this time it has an almost a waltz-time feel.

Josh Schroeder and Meredith Adelaide – So It Goes mp3

Promising mix of catchy folk and indie pop that has that little extra quality that means it insistently burrows its way in past all the flotsam and jetsam in your brain and lodges itself firmly in your head.

Download The Caulfield Sisters – Caterwauling mp3

Gorgeous pop disguised in a layer of sonic distortion.

Download The Mountain Goats – Damn These Vampires mp3

Typically literate horror inflected cowboy tale.

Download The Mind Spiders – Neurotic Gold mp3

Wonderfully uncluttered, joyous form of proto garage-rock that is simple, unaffected and damn catchy.

Download Jeff The Brotherhood – Bummer mp3

Calls to mind the Ramones jamming with the Sonics and having a blast.

Download Duke Garwood – Summer Gold mp3

Sparse, skeletal unsettling folk-blues.

Download The Skull Defekts – Fragrant Nimbus mp3

It’s minimal and powerful, it’s a bit raga, a bit drone, has some tribal chants, lots of repetition, it’s hypnotic, a bit trancey, some pyschedelia and seriously rhythmic!

Download Earth Girl Helen Brown – Hit After Hit mp3

Fictitious, nomadic, psychedelic soul singer, featuring a unique mix of country, girl group, R&B, and ghoulishness.

Download Alexander – Truth mp3

Mellow, sunshine feel good pop that is effortlessly easy on the ear.

Download James Vincent McMorrow – If I Had A Boat mp3

Five-part harmony echoing over the sounds of an organ and folk guitar in the eerie opener to debut album.

Download Duquette Johnston – Broke & Lonely Ones mp3

A fragile, acoustic ballad – Johnston tells stories of those on their way down and those who’ll never bounce back up, bar-room tales of what might have been and what should have been, and songs of hope and redemption.

In what has been the best month of music releases for a long time, we finish with the newly fresh and minted first advance track from indie folk heavyweights Fleet Foxes with the title track from forthcoming new album Helplessness Blues. By contrast we also have fresh-faced newcomers Veelee with their quirky, folkish take on art-rock, all angular repetition, drone pop and lovely harmonies that makes their EP The Future Sight a delight. And lastly we have the new EP from Derby, titled Madeline — an edgier collection of smoky, riff-heavy basement rock that still keeps some roots in their trademark infectious indie-pop as evidenced in the undeniably catchy toe-tapper Don’t Believe In You.

Download Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues mp3 (from Helplessness Blues)

Download Veelee – When You Gonna Come Home? mp3 (from The Future Sight EP)

Download Derby – Don’t Believe In You mp3 (from Madeline EP)

Howling Owls Are Back

It is well documented on here how much we love the wonderfully forbidding, and sometimes macabre, indie folk of the Howling Owls.

For their latest track, they have teamed up with Maximino for A Wordsmith’s Reverie. It has an almost a waltz-time feel to it, but is still an everyday tale of resignation and failed expectations. And of course we love it.

Enjoy.

Visit their Facebook page here, and check out the brilliant t-shirts!

Download Howling Owls featuring Maximino – A Wordsmith’s Reverie mp3

MM’s Best of the Month: December

Despite all the ‘best of’ lists, the top tens/twenties/fifties/one hundreds etc. and all the Christmas songs too, there has still been a cracking amount of new releases in December as well. So lest you missed out, here is our monthly round-up of the best tunes we’ve posted in December and, as always, a couple of new ones too.

That’s the New Year’s Eve mixtape sorted at least.

Download The Sweaters – Can’t Stop Winnin’ mp3

A syrupy, garage gem. It’s upbeat and has as much soul as it does jangle and is driven along by solid percussion every bit as muscular as you would hope.

Download Harlan Pepper – Great Lakes mp3

Slyly mischievous lyrics over a vintage country refrain – a song you could imagine still being sung on back porches in fifty years time.

Download Eulogies – You Hide mp3

Belying the tragic inspiration behind the new Eulogies album, this is a surprisingly positive track.

Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3

Taster from folk duo’s forthcoming album is a gem.

Download Howling Owls – My Kinda Luck mp3

Picks away at the edges of domestic strife and family troubles, gleefully revealing a queasy, black-hearted underbelly.

Download The Babies – Run Me Over mp3

Rather charming, fuzzed up, doo-wop drenched opener that comes from their forthcoming debut album.

Download Yo Soybean – Anticipation mp3

Alternative folk that bounces with slide banjo and djembe delivering an impassioned stream of consciousness concerning the mundane intricacies of twenty-something year old existence in the twenty-first century.

Download Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol mp3

Twangy menace behind a velveteen croon.

Download The Handsome Family – Drinking Beer On The Roof mp3

Classic black-humoured Americana from new album of covers, demos and outtakes.

Download The Range Rats – Colt 44 mp3

All Johnny Cash rumble and gun toting lyrics.

Download White Fence – Lillian (Won’t You Play Drums) mp3

More top notch lo-fi, retro indie pop.

Download The Mountain Goats – Tyler Lambert’s Grave mp3

Latest from the respected and influential lo-fi, indie do-it-yourselfers. A suitably prophetic tale.

Download Beach House – I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun mp3

Our most popular download of the month. More dreamy, reverb laden pop.

Download Julianna Barwick – The Magic Place mp3

Experimental and ethereal in equal measure.

Download Western States Motel – Country & Western Song mp3

A deceptively simple and straight forward tune that bounces along on a great rhythm and has quickly grown to be a firm favourite here at the Mackerel abode.

Download Jeremy Joyce – 18 Wheels mp3

A dark and groovy rocker with a great Hammond Organ solo.

Download Lisa Will Insult You, Darling – Give A Fuck mp3

A beautifully simple construction of the desolate and the downtrodden.

Download The Skeleton Dead – Gather Up Your Clothes mp3

It’s a lament, a regret. It’s both memorable and hypnotic.

Download Duke Garwood – Jesus Got A Gun mp3

An air of quiet menace, Garwood’s vocals whispering and murmuring over hollow knocks, piano and drones.

We also have a quite wonderful track from Sonny + The Sandwitches, it is from a recently released new four-song self-titled 7″ EP and features appearances by Heidi Alexander and Grace Cooper of the Sandwitches. The songs were inspired by a near-drowning, hence this track Throw My Ashes From This Pier When I Die. Superb.

We also have Religious To Damn who describe themselves as gypsy-psych and have an album Glass Prayer due for release in early 2011. This track Drifter has echoes of some of the classic 80s 4AD bands right through to Zola Jesus and Esben & The Witch.

Download Sonny + The Sandwitches – Throw My Ashes From This Pier When I Die mp3 (from Sonny + The Sandwitches EP)

Download Religious To Damn – Drifter mp3 (from Glass Prayer)

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 9, Favourite New Artists

Now that we’ve had the top tens from all the Mad Mackerel contributors, we will give you a definitive overall top ten in a couple of days. Before that is our penultimate top ten list of the year – the favourite new bands and artists that have come our way in 2010 which was perhaps the hardest list of all to compile.

So with honourable mentions to Gaoler’s Daughter, White Noise Movement, Pop. 1280, The Vaccines and White Dress, here we have our favourites. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of them all in 2011…

10. Pulled Apart By Horses (MySpace)

Pulled Apart By Horses play hard, and fast, and mean and remind us in a good way of the wonderful Mclusky. They also released one of our favourite singles of the year in Back to the Fuck Yeah and followed it up with a quite excellent debut album. Brutal, noisy, tongue in cheek, marvellous.

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Download Pulled Apart By Horses – I Punched A Lion In The Throat mp3 (from Pulled Apart By Horses)

9. Grass House (MySpace)

A favourite in the MM household ever since we first heard the ominous growl and heavy drums of A Cockroach from their Plough More Sky EP. They followed up with the equally good Ant Giant Ant release.

Download Grass House – A Cockroach mp3 (from Plough More Sky EP)

Download Grass House – Mind Can Walk ‘n’ Wall Can Stay mp3 (from Ant Giant Ant EP)

Download Grass House – Lazy Bones mp3 (from Ant Giant Ant EP)

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8. The Sunderbans (MySpace)

Offering the perfect blend of UK indie rock, The Sunderbans meld classic influences like the Cure, the Bunnymen and the Smiths into a modern, fresh sound that first captured our attention with the excellent Roadkill single. They’ve followed it up with a couple of excellent singles and we’re hoping for big things in 2011.

Download The Sunderbans – Road Kill mp3 (from Road Kill 7″)

Download The Sunderbans – Death Stalks The Forest mp3

Download The Sunderbans – We Only Can Because We Care mp3 (from We Only Can Because We Care 7″)

Download The Sunderbans – Saw You In The Dark Light mp3 (from Demos)

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7. Pancake Breakfast (MySpace)

Announcing themselves with the utterly infectious The Ballad of Maynard Noe, Pancake Breakfast served up an album of country songs and folk songs and rock songs – there are songs about truckers, songs about angry birds, songs about magic cards, and songs about unfortunate fish.

Download Pancake Breakfast – The Ballad Of Maynard Noe mp3 (from Pancake Breakfast)

Download Pancake Breakfast – Little Bird mp3 (from Pancake Breakfast)

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6. Vanish Valley (MySpace)

Vanish Valley hail from Los Angeles and offer a lovely mix of rootsy folk and hazy country psychedelia that has quality stamped all over it.

Download Vanish Valley – Become The Night mp3 (from Vanish Valley)

Download Vanish Valley – Bad Things mp3 (from Vanish Valley)

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5. The Migrant (MySpace)

With his blend of wonderful psych-folk and tall stories, The Migrant provided one of our favourite albums of the year with Travels In Lowland. Effortlessly drawing you in to a world of his own making, it was somewhere we were happy to come back to again and again.

Download The Migrant – The Organ Grinder mp3 (from Travels In Lowland)

Download The Migrant – In The Sun mp3 (from Travels In Lowland)

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4. Red Clay River (MySpace)

The songs on Red Clay River’s demo CD Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams take a trip through gypsy dances to somber drifting nights. Using string-band instrumentation mixed with creative percussion including an oil drum and bare walls, Red Clay River tell their stories with shadows and characters that slip through the pines and get lost in the night.

Download Red Clay River – Rattlesnake Mountain mp3 (from Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams)

Download Red Clay River - Ain’t No Blues mp3 (from Cover Our Faces With Soot And Dreams)

3. The War Crimes (MySpace)

Describing themselves as wilfully uncommercial, it didn’t detract from the fact that this duo produced some of the most unsettling and lyrically vicious music we heard in 2010. They simultaneously conjure up the grey, suffocating monochrome of dreary Eastern European streets and the relentless, inexorable decline of our industrial heritage, of jobs lost and hopes evaporating. It is a mix that they seem to pull off brilliantly with each new track we hear.

Download The War Crimes – Enamour Me And Roll mp3

Download The War Crimes – Stillness Beckons mp3

Download The War Crimes – Levin As I mp3

Download The War Crimes – The Cost mp3

Download The War Crimes – Calling Time mp3

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2. Two Wounded Birds (MySpace)

A late gatecrasher to the top ten. Two Wounded Birds released their EP Keep Dreaming Baby towards the back-end of 2010 and still managed to get two of the five tracks into MM’s Top Ten series (Barry-Sean’s and Mrs Mackerel’s). It’s all menacing twang over a sultry, velveteen croon – Mrs M said they belong to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.

Download Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol mp3 (from Keep Dreaming Baby EP)

1. Howling Owls (Myspace)

From the moment we heard Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank), we knew Howling Owls were going to be MM faves. A brilliantly named and slightly mysterious three piece from Orlando that trade in the sort of sparse, sinister, dark-hearted folk that resides in the shadows, and all too easily suggests the flickering ghosts of the Everglade swamps. Ominous, baleful, and captivating.

Download Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank) mp3

Download Howling Owls – Family Tree mp3

Download Howling Owls – My World mp3

Download Howling Owls – Mood Ring mp3

Download Howling Owls – My Kinda Luck mp3

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 7, Mad Mackerel

Here at MM we share, chat, argue, bury and praise music on a pretty regular basis…like daily. So throughout the year, the Mackerel crew (Mrs Mackerel, Barry-Sean, Christy-Popper, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Starbar, MM and others) keep their own ever-changing top tens ready for publication at the climax of the festive season.

So here are MM’s ten favourite tunes from 2010 – no claims on them being the best, but for many different reasons, these are the tracks that most struck a chord (no pun intended).

10 Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade (Download Here)

Phosphorescent just seem to get better and better. A wonderful album provided this superb tale of failed love told in a resigned, accepting way and accompanied by mournful pedal steel and piano.

9 Red Clay River – Rattlesnake Mountain (Download here)

Always loved a good dose of black hearted, downbeat, gothic country and Red Clay River deliver in spades with this skeletal gem.

8 Strand Of Oaks – Alex Kona

Alex Kona was 12 feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball“, how could you not want to know the rest of the story? A standout track from a wonderful album of sparse fingerpicked folk and occasional psychedelic wigouts…Fast forward to track 5 below, or just stream the whole wonderful record.

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7 Local Natives - World News (Download here)

While others in the Mackerel shoal may have been seduced by Airplanes, it was the propulsive, upbeat rhythms and effortlessly catchy chorus of World News that claimed my ears.

6 Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

The runaway feel good hit of the summer. Catchy, uplifting and a perfect soundtrack to the setting sun at the Truck Festival.

5 No Age – Fever Dreaming (Download here)

This song steamed out of the traps like it had just been released from the punk heydey of 1977 – and there is no higher praise in my book. Turn up loud and abuse the neighbours – especially if they’re like some of ours. Wankers.

4 Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True

On a par with their classic Black River Killer – a wonderfully surreal and compelling story of murder, trains, truth and gardening. Exceptional.

3 Howling Owls – Family Tree (Download here)

My favourite new band discovery of the year. One after another they sent songs MM’s way and all could have been top ten contenders. In the end it was this majestically malevolent ode to a dysfunctional family life where nothing is at it seems, or as it should be, that won out.

2 Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill (Download here)

A wonderfully poignant and nostalgic paean to a relative who is casting a knowing eye over his nephew’s mistakes and while he knows, he doesn’t tell. With lyrics that cut to the chase and tell a story that is as warm as it is personal. In a different day and age Wooden Wand would be a household name.

1 Black Mountain – Let Spirits Ride

Who cares if the riff is nicked from another song, or if it sounds like 1972. I don’t when it as good as this. Probably the one song in 2010 that I never ever skipped, that I always turned up to 11, and which, seen live at the End of the Road cemented its place as my number one.

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Bubbling Under

1. Dr Dog – Later

2. Lumerians – Burning Mirrors

3.Tweak BirdA Sun Ahh Ahh

4. PaleoThe King James Fakebook

5. Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu

Best Songs First Heard in 2010, but not 2010

1. Joe PugHymn 35

2.The Willard Grant Conspiracy – Drunkard’s Prayer

3.Knife In The Water – Young Blood In The River

Guilty Pleasure

I’m with Dr Roddy. Pure Eurovision perfection…Lena Mayer and Satellite.