Best of the Year: Mad Mackerel’s Top Twenty

MM's Top 20 Best of 2014

And so we bring our round up of favourite songs, albums, covers, and guilty pleasures to a close with the final “best of” post, Mad Mackerel’s own top twenty.

20 Kye Alfred Hillig – My Young Love Was As Blind As Ray Charles And Half As Cold As Heat

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19 Parquet Courts – Black And White

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18 Jamie T – The Prophet

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17 The Amazing Snakeheads – Here It Comes Again

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16 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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15 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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14 Girl Band – Lawman

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13 The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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12 Together PANGEA – River

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11 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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10 Faces On Film – Percy
Percy kicks off with pulsating, tribal percussion that doesn’t quit throughout the song’s entire four and half minutes. It is like a small child in a sweet shop relentlessly pummelling you into submission until there is nothing left to do but give in. Then once you have you realise this was by far the best course of action anyway – the most infectious rhythm of the year. Resistance is futile.

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9 Sun Kil Moon – Dogs
Dogs is unashamedly, perhaps deliberately, cringingly frank and revealing. No-one sings more conversationally than Mark Kozelek, but it is exactly the lack of sentiment and judgement in this song that gives it such impact. A deadpan tale of sexual fumblings and failures mixed with an all too accurate recollection of our self obsessed teenage selves gives the song a wincing recognition for every listener’s own emotions that makes listening to it almost too painful.

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8 Dream Police – My Mama’s Dead
In my head this is a follow up to Hendrix’s classic Hey Joe. Except my head has been split in two by the sheer brutal, pneumatic force of this song, a snarling, distorted beast of a tune that is as brilliantly grim and unforgiving as the title suggests. Am I the only one who thinks the Dream Police are a far more enjoyable listen than alter-egos The Men?

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7 Parquet Courts – Ducking And Dodging
Ducking And Dodging boasts the catchiest punk riff since, oh I don’t know, Stoned And Starving perhaps. Yet this time it comes with extra ingredients, a little added anger and a whole cauldron full of world weariness and frustration giving their take on a traditional tune a fiery new incarnation and showing once and for all that they were always far, far more than simple Velvets or Pavement disciples.

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6 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric
A word perfect riposte to all those endless murder ballads where the woman’s part is merely that of hopeless victim. Over an deceptively hypnotic refrain Alynda Lee Segarra reveals that the tables are turning, “He’s gonna shoot me down, put my body in the river, Cover me up with the leaves of September, Like an old sad song, you heard it all before, Well, Delia’s gone but I’m settling the score

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5 Houndmouth – For No One
Houndmouth announced their return with this sublime slice of surreal Americana. More obtuse than before, it boasted the best opening verse of any song we heard this year, then over a deceptively simple strummed guitar line, Matt Myers travels from resignation to bitterness and ultimately acceptance. For No One is a sparse, poignant ballad that is as close to perfection as you’re likely to hear.

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4 Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
Metallic Cloud seems packed full of meaning, overflowing with imagery and allusion and cloaked in layers and layers of mystery. Curiously it feels to me like a companion piece to Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, and I can’t really think of a higher compliment than that. The first song to reduce me to tears this year, in tandem with the red wine mind you.

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3 The Pink Mountaintops – North Hollywood Microwaves
Surreal, obscene, freaky, offensive,  lewd. Repulsive, coarse, vulgar, gross and rude. But unquestionably, undeniably, uniformly brilliant. This was the sound of rock’n’roll updated for the here and now.

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2 The Water Liars – Swannanoa
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Water Liars delivered an exceptional album this year, and this is an undoubted highlight, a melancholy story of searching and loss, of heroin and girls with stutters, of cowardice and looking death in the face. There is no one, but no one, who does this stuff as well as the Water Liars and why they aren’t massive is a source of constant bemusement to me.

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1 The Amazing Snakeheads – Where Is My Knife
I’m gonna show you if it takes all night, We’re staying here till you get it right, It’s been three whole days with no end in sight“, so opens the year’s most chilling, and thrilling, song. An irresistible mix of primeval rock’n’roll, trashcan punk and swampy voodoo blues provides the most exquisitely perfect soundtrack for Dale Barclay’s unhinged protagonist.

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Guilty Pleasure:

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
F**k off, it’s brilliant.

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Favourite Cover of the Year:

Hearts Of Oak – Must Have Been Drunk (George Jones cover)

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Reissue of the Year:

Crime – Piss On Your Dog (from Murder By Guitar)

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Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums of 2014: Part 2

Here are our favourite twenty albums of 2014. Don’t forget to check out numbers 40 – 21 here.

20 Together PANGEA – Badillac

together badillac

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19 Meatbodies – Meatbodies

meatbodies

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18 Strand of Oaks – Heal

strand of oaks

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17 Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing

jessica lea mayfield

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16 Eagulls – Eagulls

eagulls

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15 Happyness – Weird Little Birthday

happyness

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14 Felice Brothers – Favourite Waitress

New From The Felice Brothers

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13 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

mac demarco

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12 Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

New Album From Sharon van Etten

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11 Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Angel Olsen

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10 The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

War on Drugs

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9 Dream Police – Hypnotised

dream police

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8 Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes

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7 Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

parquet courts

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6 Damien Jurado – Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son

damien jurado

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5 Pink Mountaintops – Get Back

More From Pink Mountaintops

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4 Sun Kil Moon – Benji

sun kil moon benji

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3 Water Liars – Water Liars

water liars

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2 Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

amazing snakeheads

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1 Jamie T – Carry On The Grudge

jamie t

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Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Songs Of 2014: 40 -21

MM's Best of 2014 40-21

Day four of five – reaching the top of the MM charts for 2014. Here are our favourites from 40 down to 21.

40 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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39 Dead Fingers – Twisted

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38 Alt J – Left Hand Free

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37 Screaming Females – Ripe

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36 Sleaford Mods – Tiswas

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35 Sun Kil Moon – Dogs

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34 Jamie T – Zombie

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33 Spookyland – Silly Fucking Thing

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32 Dream Police – My Mama’s Dead

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31 The Felice Brothers – Constituents

 

30 Jonah Tolchin – Mockingbird

 

29 Mac DeMarco – Brother

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28 The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones

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27 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric

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26 Sharon Van Etten – Everytime The Sun Comes Up

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25 Wooden Wand – Waveland

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24 Mark Erelli – Ice Fishing

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23 Bombadil - Have Me

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22 Faces On Film – Percy

 

21 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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Don’t forget to check out numbers 100 – 81 here, 80 – 61 here, and 60 – 41 here.

New Videos: Hurray For The Riff Raff || Fat White Family || Cheatahs || Dr. Dog || Mini Mansions

Taking a break from the countdown of our favourite 100 songs of the year to bring you five new excellent videos from some MM faves – Hurray For The Riff Raff (who will be featuring in the top 100 shortly), Fat White Family, Cheatahs, Mini Mansions and an excellent live video from Dr. Dog.

Enjoy.

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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)