Six Songs You Should Have Heard This Week

1. Mark Lanegan Band – Harvest Home
2. Hurray For The Riff Raff – Everybody Knows
3. Hollis Brown – Wait For Me Virginia
4. Diarrhea Planet – Heatwave
5. Blitzen Trapper – To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High) (Ryan Adams Cover)
6. Field Report – Marigolden

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Favourite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

MM's Best of 2014 So Far

The longest day has come and gone, and halfway through the year we are. It seemed a good point to reflect and share thirty of our favourite albums of 2014 so far, and so here they are, in strictly alphabetical order of course…

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The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

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Amen Dunes – Love

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Avers – Empty Light

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Dan Baker – Pistol In My Pocket

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Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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The Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

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Dune Rats – Dune Rats

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Simone Felice - Strangers

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The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress

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First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

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Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes

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Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing – Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing

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Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

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Damien Jurado – Brothers & Sisters Of The Eternal Mind

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Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours

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Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – Chambers

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Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing

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Natural Child – Dancin With Wolves

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Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

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Orwells – Disgraceland

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Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

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Pink Mountaintops – Get Back

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Strand Of Oaks – Heal

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Sun Kil Moon – Benji

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Together Pangea – Badillac

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Vacant Lots – Departure

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Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

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The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

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Water Liars – Water Liars

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Wooden Wand – Farmers Corner

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Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes

A little like our own Laura Marling, Alynda Lee Segarra (who is to all intents and purposes Hurray For The Riff Raff) is a supremely talented young songwriter who, with each successive release, seems able to defy expectations and improve yet further on all that she has done before.

Her songs possess that undefinable, and all too rare, ability to powerfully connect and stir the emotions without recourse to formula, stereotype or convention. In large part her new album Small Town Heroes is a record from, and about New Orleans, the city where in her early days as a teenager she learned to play on the streets before returning there to settle more permanently – St. Roch Blues, Crash on the Highway and End of the Line provide a trio of compelling and reverential stories about the Crescent City.

Elsewhere The Body Electric is a brilliant feminist reimagining of the traditional murder ballad, while Blue Ridge Mountain is an Appalachian nod to Maybelle Carter. Over the course of its twelve tracks the record delivers a timeless and exquisitely crafted collection that lingers long in the memory and the heart.

Just as we lose one of America’s founding fathers of folk, it seems entirely appropriate that Hurray For The Riff Raff are releasing Small Town Heroes, rooted as it is in simple traditions and clear truths. Powerful and moving, Alynda Lee Segarra is adding her own unique voice and indelible stamp on to American folk music. We think Mr Seeger would wholeheartedly approve.

It is out on the 11th February via ATO Records. Pre-order here.

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Videos of the Day: Hurray for the Riff Raff || John Grant || The Grisly Hand || Have Gun Will Travel || Radar Men From The Moon

Videos of the Day

Some cracking videos for you today from Hurray for the Riff Raff, John Grant, The Grisly Hand Have Gun Will Travel, and the excellently named Radar Men From The Moon.

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Mrs Mackerel’s Last TFI Friday (11th January)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (11th January)

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu … you know the rest. I’m off to skip over the mountains, Swiss Outpost, but I do promise to Skype…

Anyway (surely one of my favourite refrains?), it’s a New Year and time for me to bid goodbye to TFI and my Friday night soubriquet. With a few gig dates already booked for the months ahead, I may get the opportunity to reprise the Mrs Mackerel mantel at some later date, who knows.  Anyway parking the sadness of the last few weeks temporarily to one side, and wishing to leave TFI on a typically frothy and fatuous note, I wracked my brains to a few weeks back when I did indeed feel like the heady combination of a cappuccino with a copy of Hello!, and recalled a rather silly exchange at a Christmas party.

Having swum in fashionably late, as is my want, I was sober and drink-wise, considerably far behind many of the gathering. Hey ho, not to worry I thought, as I sidled out with the smokers to catch up with the High Priestess herself. It was quite a posse actually and predominately female, but one male voice piped up: “So then girls (a term always appreciated with my advancing years), what do you find attractive in a man?” The words “lamb” and “slaughter” sprang to mind… HP and I could barely conceal our amusement and commenced thus.

Firstly, “Bob” a sense of humour is a must, we said. Laughing. Next, I added: nice arms – there is nothing attractive about a man I feel I could arm wrestle and BEAT! Bit of giggling. Also, Bob, good dentistry is a must; typically English stained, crooked teeth are a massive turn-off. Bob stops smiling. And dress sense, we said, smiling sweetly, looking him up and down, or should we put height next? Six foot plus… actually why don’t you ask your wife, because she’s stood just behind you and I can see her over the top of your head. How we laughed and then ran away, as all good girls do. Tut, tut.

So one final thought: sometimes music really does reach the parts of you that you thought you had tucked away in some emotional backwater, deep inside. I listened to a song this week that’s due for release on an album in March. I think it’s truly remarkable: a soaring, poetic allegory set to music that circles and soars. And the effect? I cried for every single sadness in the last 12 months; that was some volume of tears, I must say. But in a world where so many over-share and document the minutiae of life, this is mine, and I’m not sharing; if your soul speaks in the same musical tongues as mine, you’ll find it all the same, somehow, somewhere, some time.

In-keeping with the Sound of Music theme, I thought I should depart with a few of my favourite bands, obviously of which there are too many to mention (darling) but here’s a selection. Thanks for reading – all four of you.

Fishy kisses,

Mrs Mackerel x

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

Download The Low Anthem – This God Damn House mp3 (from What The Crow Brings)

Download Johnny Cash – Sunday Morning Coming Down (from Greatest Hits)

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 2: 80-61

MM's Best of 2012 Nos 80-61

Here are tracks 80 – 61 in our countdown of Mad Mackerel’s 100 favourite tunes of the year. Don’t forget to check out numbers 100 – 81 in yesterday’s post here and check back tomorrow for numbers 61 – 40.

Here we go…

80 SUN KIL MOON – SUNSHINE IN CHICAGO
Beautifully bittersweet reflections of wandering troubadour preparing for another gig in Chicago and how the times have changed…

Sunshine in Chicago makes me sad
My band played here a lot in the nineties when we had
A lot of female fans and fuck they all were cute
Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes

Download Sun Kil Moon – Sunshine In Chicago mp3

79 IMAGINATION HEAD – SANDCASTLE
An absolute gem of gently swelling prog-folk spun through with gentle psychedelia. Sandcastle could easily sit amongst any of the classic Mercury Rev offerings…it is that good.

Download Imagination Head – Sand Castle mp3

78 BETH ORTON – CALL ME THE BREEZE
Gorgeous and pastoral. Call Me The Breeze is a sultry, surging hymn to becoming one with nature, and a stunning return to recording after a six year hiatus.

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77 HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF – ODE TO JOHN & YOKO
Slow burning, heartfelt tribute to the aspirational dreams of the hippy couple.

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Ode To John And Yoko mp3

76 JBM – CROOKED BRANCHES
Fragile and haunting folk – I’m sure she swam out of the lake in her yellow dress – but it is a rather beautiful song. (Mrs M)

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75 FATHER JOHN MISTY – MISTY’S NIGHTMARES 1 & 2
A ramshackle countrified excursion into 70s rock that ambles along with a grace and sure footedness that belies the wry lyrics and droll delivery.

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74 STEPHEN PAUL SMOKER – GREEN CITY
One of the year’s best riffs wedded to a pulsating psych-rock groove and foot stomping rhythm.

Download Stephen Paul Smoker - Green City mp3

73 BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE – TEMPER TEMPER
Going back to my roots here; you can’t do without a good guitar riff or a head banging drum beat, this is one of my essential driving tunes. I feel a certain empathy with the lyrics too, I’m sure they weren’t really written about me. (SB)

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72 WILD NOTHING – PARADISE
Retro-electro pop, but damn it, I just like it. Whenever I hear it I feel I have gone back about 20 years, sitting round the edge of a village hall hoping not to dance. (PP)

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71 DARREN HAYMAN – ELIZABETH CLARKE
For centuries the upper echelons of British society have covered up their own misdeeds by getting the lower orders to turn against each other. These days, so called benefit cheats are vilified in the tabloids. The 17th century equivalent were called witches and strung up. Thankfully we’re not allowed to string people up these days. This song is about the hanging of an 80-year-old lady who gave her confession after being tortured by Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. It’s not a cheerful listen but is beautifully executed (oops!) by Darren Hayman who really captures the atmosphere. (BSF)

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70 DJANGO DJANGO – DEFAULT
Crackles along with all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds. A viciously catchy and erratic tune it never stops surprising me a little more with each listen. It’s fun goddammit…(CP)

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69 GOODNIGHT TEXAS – JESSE GOT TRAPPED IN A COALMINE
A mandolin-driven elegy for a doomed young fiancé, it has the authentic twang and gritty lyrics of the very best Appalachian folk and the echoes of its rootsy Americana hangs in the air like a ghostly fog long after the song has finished.

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68 TAME IMPALA – ELEPHANT
The sound of modern day glam rock – like Marc Bolan crossed with Hawkwind, Elephant is the ultimate slice of freaked out, loved up, psych-frazzle that is nothing short of perfect.

Download Tame Impala – Elephant mp3

67 STEALING SHEEP – SHUT EYE
This song by a psychedelic-folk girl band from Liverpool is completely nuts. It sounds like something my 5 and 7 year olds would come up with if they were locked in a studio with a load of instruments and for that reason, I love it. (TS)

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66 BAT FOR LASHES – LAURA
I love the simple piano music of this song, especially the intro and the way it builds to a crescendo. Her voice is haunting too, a much more sophisticated Lana Del Ray. This is a glass of wine in hand, relaxing song. (SB)

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65 QUICKBEAM – 700 BIRDS
Chill out, close your eyes and drift away on this tune of pure atmosphere. Scotland has always produced fantastic bands with distinctive but diverse sounds. This little gem shows a gentler, more ghostly side of Celtic music – if you want to lose a bit of anger for 3 mins 50 seconds, give it a try. (BSF)

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64 THE WALKMEN – HEAVEN
What can I say? The title track of The Walkmen’s 2012 album is another piece of genius from the Washington rockers. I don’t need to say any more other than ‘LISTEN TO IT’ (BSF)

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63 ALT-J – MATILDA
A fantastic song (named after the girl in the Luc Besson film Leon apparently) from a top album which sounds like some kind of Tim Burton bedtime story. I could have picked anything off the album to be honest but this was the song I heard first and the one that provided the biggest WTF factor! I downloaded this tune the second I heard it and to quote a famous sports agent, this song “had me at hello”. (TS)

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62 THE GROWL – WITH THE SHARP END OF A TROWEL
What’s that you Say? Grimy, dirty rock, half sang half drawled. Yeah, OK. Where do I sign? It seems The Growl can do no wrong, producing some of the best tunes I’ve heard this year. It was a tuff choice between This song and Cleaver Lever. Really I would have liked to put them in a paddling pool full of Nutella and watched them fight it out, but in the end this song wins through. For it is dirt rock purity. (DR)

Download The Growl – With The Sharp End Of A Trowel mp3 (from Cleaver Lever EP)

61 HOWLER – BACK OF YOUR NECK
It may not be the most original approach in the world, but Howler’s turn-of-the-year single of tight, turbo-charged surf rock hurtles to an ultra-catchy adrenalin fuelled conclusion with nary a backward glance.

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Remember…check back for numbers 60 – 41 tomorrow…

Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB) and Toy Steve (TS) for their contributions.

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (3rd August)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (3rd August).

After another clumsy week in which thankfully no animals or children were hurt in the making of, I have managed to emerge unscathed physically, but sadly not so the bank balance…

A lovely visit from nephew Harry is restorative and exhausting in equal measures. Exhausting managing four sprats, an over-affectionate hound, two cats (one that should be six feet under and not still crapping in my vegetables), three snakes (easy peasy), a rabbit seemingly made from Kryptonite, and work, dammit. Dammit, I’m going to be in trouble… late, late, late.

H, daughter sprat and I took a trip to the local market town so that H could make a memories box. I can’t imagine having anything so huge to process emotionally at the tender age of 12 than losing a parent. To watch him painstakingly make this box, and ask me how to make sure he could write Dad perfectly straight, and that the heart he wrote underneath Dad would be good enough was well… and yes sweetie, it’s absolutely perfect, just like you.

I have a memories box of my own, filled with almost all the ticket stubs of gigs I’ve been to over the years, special cards, trinkets, photos – you know the score. Some things become more special with time. But I know what this week has made me realise: even when your heart feels worn out, worn down, and emptied, someone else can just fill it up with a look, a gesture, a few well chosen words, or like Harry, a need. And I remember what my own Dad said to me many years ago, in a household where praise of any kind was hard won, and finally, I think I can accept the compliment.

Age has not yet withered this fragile heart.

Mrs Mackerel x

Music for the soul: the sublime vocals of Alynda Lee Segarra with Hurray For the Riff Raff and I Know You. And another favourite: Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan (Mackerel royalty) Honey Child What Can I Do?

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – I Know You mp3 (from Young Blood Blues)

Download Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Honey Child What Can I Do? mp3 (from Honey Child What Can I Do? single)

Hurray For The Riff Raff UK Tour

Hurray For The Riff Raff: UK Tour.

To mark the UK release of their excellent new album Look Out Mama (out 20th August on Loose Music), MM faves Hurray For The Riff Raff will be back on these shores for a tour. Dates below and grab yourself the album’s superb title track as a freebie too.

30/08 – GLASGOW, Pivo Pivo
31/08 – NEWCASTLE, The Central
01/09 – SWANSEA, The Chattery
02/09 – END OF THE ROAD FESTIVAL
04/09 – NOTTINGHAM, Glee Club
05/09 – SHEFFIELD, Greystones
06/09 – MANCHESTER, Night & Day
07/09 – NORWICH, Arts Centre
09/09 – WINCHESTER, The Railway (SXSC)
10/09 – LONDON, Borderline
11/09 – BRIGHTON, Green Door Store

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Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: May 2012

Mad Mackerel's Best Of The Month: May 2012.

Another crackerjack month of new tunes on MM, all lovingly compiled and packaged up for you in one sweet playlist ready to download.

Here are 33 of our favourite tracks from our May postings and 6 new songs too. No need to thank us.

Download Virals – Gloria mp3 (from Coming Up With The Sun EP)
Shines bright with an insanely hooky vocal and charged guitar riffs, taking cues from the sunny California coast yet retaining a suitably English feel.

Download Blasted Canyons – Holy Geometry mp3 (from 2nd Place 12″)
Infectiously driven by a brilliant needling guitar refrain that is guaranteed to stick with you long after the song has finished.

Download Michael J Epstein Memorial LibraryFaith In Free Part 1 mp3 (from Faith In Free EP)
Military stomp that comes across like a brilliantly vicious hybrid of Siouxsie & The Banshees and Sparks.

Download Sun Kil MoonThat Bird Has A Broken Wing mp3 (from Among The Leaves)
More starkly beautiful folk.

The Wind-Up Birds – Cross Country

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Skilfully blends influences from folk to punk to create a restless, hybrid sound that has feet in many camps, but a home in none.

Beast make Bomb – Coney Island

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Shimmering slice of indie rock played out against a backdrop of old-school punk attitude.

Dog Moon Howl – Blues Like A Hammer

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Full on sleazy blues and desert rock – imagine if you will Mark Lanegan duelling with Howling Wolf

Download The Ruminaters – Timmy mp3 (from Timmy Digital Single)
Beatnik, barnyard, hillbilly swamp rock.

Download GravelRoad – Devil’s Eyes mp3 (from Psychedelta)
Sinewy, swamp inspired grooves with a rough and raw blues groan.

Download Marissa NadlerThe Wrecking Ball Company mp3 (from The Sister)
Haunting and ethereal folk that mixes melancholy with yearning in a wonderfully unique way.

Download Hunx – Let Me In mp3 (from Hairdresser Blues)
Flamboyant 60s inspired doo-wop garage-pop.

Download Lord BuffaloCold Bones mp3 (from Lord Buffalo EP)
Unsettling and haunting, a blend of darkly shrouded Americana as fiddles moan and guitars ominously brood and slash.

Download Old Bricks – Waves mp3 (from City Lights)
A night’s ride through a dark, sparkling desert.

Download The Doc MarshallsHere They Come mp3 (from Look Out, Compadre)
Crooked, shimmering folk; evocative and nostalgic.

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – 1904 mp3 (from There’s No Leaving Now)
Characterised by his trademark strum and those wonderful Dylanesqe pipes, but there is a darker twist and turn to the lyrics than we’ve been used to.

Download Hallelujah The HillsHungry Ghost Extraordinaire mp3 (from No One Knows What Happens Next)
Wholly absorbing and lyrically scalpel sharp track.

Download Duquette Johnston & The Rebel Kings – Roll Baby Roll mp3 (from Communicating Vessels 7″ Series)
Driving boogie and infectious holler-along refrain.

Download Spacin’Sunshine No Shoes mp3 (from New Directions Home- Uncut 2012 07)
Mangled graft of Velvets chug and Stones insouciance.

Download The Agnostic-Phibes Rhythm & Blood Conspiracy – Neckin’ Party mp3 (from Campfire Tales)
Hypnotic swamp rock tale of teenage lust and voyeurism gone horribly awry.

Download The Crocodiles – Endless Flowers mp3 (from Endless Flowers)
Snaking, noise pop.

Download Purling Hiss – Lolita mp3 (from Shaking Through Volume 3)
Huge slab of fuzzed-up riffage.

Download Holograms – Chasing My Mind mp3 (from The Holograms)
Clattering, garage-punk.

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Ode To John And Yoko mp3 (from Look Out Mama)
Gorgeous bluesy folk with a slightly retro-feel.

Download Dubious Ranger1999 mp3 (from Found Recordings From The Panda Valley Mining Company c.1931)
Gloriously mournful and hypnotic Americana.

Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young

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Exquisitely crafted pop gem full of their trademark surf-twang and velvet vocals – it drips with vacation nostalgia.

Download The Broken NeedlesSaltflat Baby mp3 (from Terra Nullius)
Mix of country balladry and spit ‘n’ snarl punk rock that is a little like Tom Waits fronting the Mekons.

Download Jaill –  Waste A Lot Of Things mp3 (from Traps)
Their signature slack yet tightly wound musical style and self-deprecating humor retains all its charm.

Download The Virgins – Venus In Chains mp3 (from Venus In Chains single)
Charmingly nonchalant slab of garage inspired rock oozing with glam undertones.

Download Stagnant Pools – Dead Sailor mp3 (from Temporary Room)
Heavy, distorted, squally and reverb heavy, pierced with shafts of melody; would probably be prime candidates to soundtrack the end of the world.

Download The Shrouded Strangers – Drinking The Spider Silk mp3 (from Lost Forever)
Masterclass in whiskey-soaked hillbilly stompers, fuzzed-up psych freak outs, and white-noise wigouts.

Download Rainer & Calexico – Be Prepared mp3 (from The Inner Flame: A Tribute To Rainer Ptacek)
Achingly gorgeous dusty Arizona blues and moanas elegant and moving as anything you’ll hear for a long, long time.

Red Cosmos – England’s Glory

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Tale of a mother visited in the middle of the night by the pale spectre of her son dying alone, somewhere far away on a battlefield.

Download Grave Babies – Nightmare mp3 (from Gothdammit EP)
Gloomy, drone-filled Goth that manages to keep its tongue firmly in its cheek.

And here are a few new ones to round off your day and set you up for the weekend nicely. First is another taste from the forthcoming Sonny & The Sunsets album, Longtime Companion in the shape of Be The Void. We also have two tracks from our new favourite band, Broken Water: Underground and Drown are good enough to strip the paint from the walls and come from just released new album Tempest.

We have the melodic indie pop dusted with notes of surf rock from Scotland’s The Imagineers and their track The Legend Of John The Terror (Notorious) and Home Groan, a new taste from Dent May’s much anticipated new album. Finally, we have a welcome reissue of some early Silver Jews recordings by Drag City Records to celebrate, from it comes this track Secret Knowledge of Back Roads. 

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Download Broken Water – Drown mp3 (from Tempest)

Download Broken Water – Underground mp3 (from Tempest)

Download Dent May – Home Groan mp3 (from Do Things)

Download The Imagineers – The Legend Of John The Terror (Notorious) mp3 (from The Legend Of John The Terror (Notorious))

Download The Silver Jews – Secret Knowledge Of Back Roads mp3 (from Early Times)

Don’t forget to check all our previous monthly Best Of mixes in the sidebar too.