Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Polly Pocket Picks Her Favourites

MM The Last Five Years - Polly Pocket

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, then Chris T Popper and now we have the choices of the fragrant, but often blasphemous Polly Pocket.

20) Ben Howard – Old Pine

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3

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19) Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning

Download The Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning mp3

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18) One Eskimo – Hometime

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17) Annie Williams – Roll On Hills

Download Annie Williams – Roll On Hills mp3

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16) Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo

Download The Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo mp3

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15) The Cave Singers – Swim Club

Download The Cave Singers – Swim Club mp3

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14) The Low Anthem – To Ohio

Download The Low Anthem – To Ohio mp3

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13) First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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12) The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found (Daytrotter Session) mp3

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11) Alt-J – Taro

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10) Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum
Never fails to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It really does capture that feeling when you fall utterly head over heels and there is nothing to be done about it.

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9) Laura Marling – Sophia
I love that this song seems to have two such distinct parts to it but they work so beautifully together. Such an incredible voice. Laura can do no wrong in my eyes.

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8) Bon Iver – Blood Bank
A timeless beauty, much loved since 2009. So far it has proved impossible to listen to without singing the end part of the song ‘I know it well’ for hours afterwards.

Download Bon Iver – Blood Bank mp3

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7) Junip – Line Of Fire
A 2013 tune and already Line of Fire is a song I’d rather not live without. I love Jose Gonzalez’ effortless vocals. Utterly emotional, a bit bleak in places and all consuming. It has a cracking (and very odd) video to go with it too.

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6) Shearwater – You As You Were
A lovely discovery for 2012. This song just gets bigger and bigger until you realise you are no longer singing along but shouting like a crazy person!

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3

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5) Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True
If you like a song to tell you a tale then this is the one for you. It will also make you want to learn to play the harmonica.

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4) A.A. Bondy – The Twist
From 2011’s top ten, a beautiful track. Very dark and brooding, like a lovely storm overhead. No idea what it’s all about but it feels most profound.

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3) We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
It was my number 1 from 2012 and it certainly deserves its place here. Is it the voice or the lyrics that are most heartbreaking? Always a stand still and listen to all the way through tune.

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2) Willy Mason – What Is This
Timeless, effortless and to my mind perfect. I have yet to find a time or a situation where this tune doesn’t fit the bill.  That pretty much sums up the entire album for me, Carry On is a masterpiece.

Watch it here.

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1) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight
I remember the car journey when I first heard this song – it was a bit of a mind blower and hearing it live the next year cemented it as a firm favourite. The moment the strings start you know its going to be epic and it never disappoints.

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3

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Three much loved discoveries:

A.A Bondy
You know an artist is that good when you kick yourself for not having found them sooner – I could have been listening to ‘When The Devil’s Loose’ since 2009 but only came to it in 2011 having fallen in love with ‘Believers’.

The Tallest Man On Earth
There is a real honesty to Kristian Matsson’s songs, I think that is what I love best. He has an incredible voice and writes songs you just can’t help but sing a long to. Always a treat.

Laura Marling
An unbelievable talent. I was privileged enough to have heard Laura Marling sing in Gloucester Cathedral in 2011 – a very fitting venue for the purest of voices. If she is this good now, what will she be like in years to come? I look forward to finding out.

Wednesday Means Eight Of The Best

Tuesday Means Eight of the Best!

Its been a good while since we’ve put up one of these type of posts, but a plethora of top notch releases meant it demanded to be temporarily resurrected!

So without further ado we have another taste of Laura Marling’s much anticipated new album in the shape of Once, and another taste from the rather weirder folk songstress Amanda Jo Williams and Holster, The Gun It Hangs In There, which is taken from her new album You’re The Father Of My Songs.

Cass McCombs will release a split single with Michael Hurley in the summer and his offering is the cheery shuffle of Three Men Sitting On A Hollow Log. Elsewhere, New Zealand band Surf City’s forthcoming album We Knew It Was Not Going To Be Like This continues their love affair with psychedelic, reverb-swathed guitar pop, drawing from their Flying Nun forefathers The Clean and The Chills, as well as the fuzzed-up dream pop of The Jesus and Mary Chain and the loopy noise of Animal Collective. Have a listen to It’s A Common Life.

Brendan Benson has a new single out titled Swallow You Whole, which is an infectiously jaunty piano led slice of indie rock and by contrast a slow burning, semi-intimidating cover of TLC’s  No Scrubs by Scout Niblett is a gem right out of left field – it comes from her critically acclaimed new album It’s Up To Emma.

Next, turn up the volume for another taste of White Mystery’s high octane garage-punk blues with their new single Telepathic from recent album of the same name, and finally we have the insouciant indie of Smith Westerns new single 3AM Spiritual which comes with a free, lightly sprinkled tinge of 60s psychedelia.


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Another Taste From Laura Marling’s Once I Was An Eagle

More From Laura Marling

We have already posted Where Can I Go? the first offering from Laura Marling’s forthcoming album Once I Was An Eagle (out 27th May).

The album is picking up uniformly good reviews and sounds like it may well be her best yet. This second taste from it is the altogether more insistent and threatening Master Hunter, which comes across as equal parts angry and frustrated, and is one of our new favourite LM tracks.

Listen below.

New Album From Laura Marling

New Album From Laura Marling

It is hard to know what to say about Laura Marling without falling back into cliche at the earliest opportunity. As a songwriter, hers is seemingly a very old head on young shoulders as she effortlessly is able to create whole albums of extraordinary material that would be the pinnacle of many other’s careers – and then she goes and does it again, and again.

With three full length albums already to her name, suffice to say then she is undoubtedly one of the very best singer-songwriters these shores has produced for a very long time and she releases a new album Once I Was An Eagle at the end of May.

And on the evidence of the beautiful Where Can I Go?, all we can say is that the quality doesn’t appear to have diminished one little bit. Unbelievably she might be getting even better still.

Mad Mackerel’s Albums Of The Year: Part 3 (10 – 1)

And so here we have our top ten albums of the year. To be honest the order is fairly arbitrary – on another day it could be a completely different as really these ten records have so little between them in turns of the pleasure and enjoyment they gave us. If you’ve not acquainted yourselves with any of these then we’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

2011 – what a fine year for music.

10 Twilight Hotel – When The Wolves Go Blind

Download Twilight Hotel – Ham Radio Blues mp3 (from When The Wolves Go Blind)

Download Twilight Hotel – Mahogany Veneer mp3 (from When The Wolves Go Blind)

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9 Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

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Bonus Download Laura Marling – Night After Night (Live Acoustic Session Version) mp3

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Roadside Graves Album Out Today.

8 Roadside Graves – We Can Take Care Of Ourselves

Download The Roadside Graves – Double Feature mp3 (from We Can Take Care Of Ourselves)

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

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7 Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo

Download Kurt Vile – Jesus Fever mp3 (from Smoke Ring For My Halo)

Download Kurt Vile – Runner Ups mp3 (from Smoke Ring For My Halo)

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6 A.A. Bondy – Believers

Download A.A. Bondy – The Heart Is Willing mp3 (from Believers)

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5 The Cave Singers – No Witch

Download The Cave Singers – Swim Club mp3 (from No Witch)

Download The Cave Singers – Black Leaf mp3 (from No Witch)

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New Album From Deer Tick.

4 Deer Tick – Divine Providence

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

Download Deer Tick – Main Street mp3 (from Divine Providence)

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3 Tom Williams & The Boat – Too Slow

Download Tom Williams & The Boat – See My Evil mp3 (from Too Slow)

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2 Felice Brothers – Celebration Florida

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

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1 Middle Brother – Middle Brother

Download Middle Brother – Middle Brother mp3 (from Middle Brother)

Download Middle Brother – Me, Me, Me mp3 (from Middle Brother)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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

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8. The Decemberists – This Is Why we Fight

7. Lana Del Ray – Video Games

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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

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

1. Death Cab For Cutie – Stay Young Go Dancing

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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

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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

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6. Charlene Soraia – Wherever You Will Go

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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

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MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 1 Polly Pocket

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.As with previous years we will be posting over the next few days the Top Ten track selections for 2011 of various MM friends and contributors, as well as our Best Albums of 2011 and own best of the year list.

To kick us off we have Polly Pocket.

10. Friends – I’m His Girl

A great getting ready to go out kind of a tune.

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9. Ben Howard – Old Pine

A happy and warm glowing song, it just makes you feel good and there is nothing wrong with that.

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3 (from Old Pine EP)

8. Sunparlour Players – Green Thumb

How can anyone resist a song that starts with Christmas slay bells? Impossible to listen to without singing along.

Download The Sunparlour Players – Green Thumb mp3 (from Us Little Devils)

7. Laura Marling – I Was Just A Card

Hard to choose which Laura track to include. The good thing is they all remind me of a fabulous lunchtime not so long ago in a Cathedral with Mrs M.

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6. Arcade Fire – Speaking In Tongues

I have no idea what this song is about but that doesn’t stop it from being great. Nice to have David Byrne cropping up in it too.

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5. Meredith Adeliade & Josh Schroeder – So It Goes

I find myself frequently humming this tune, simple, stripped back, catchy, great.

Download Josh Schroeder and Meredith Adelaide – So It Goes mp3

4. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks

Dealing with dark matter whilst sounding all happy and light, just my cup of tea.

Download Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks mp3 (from Pumped Up Kicks single)

3. Annie Williams – Roll On Hills

Beautiful voice, beautiful song, timeless.

Download Annie Williams – Roll On Hills mp3 (from This Mountain)

2. A.A Bondy – The Twist

This is such a massive song, all dark and rich, just lovely.

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1. Cave Singers – Swim Club

Its been in the number one slot forever, a simple and brilliant tune in my humble opinion!

Download The Cave Singers – Swim Club mp3 (from No Witch)

Bubbling Under

5. Elbow – Lippy Kids

4. Sand Band – Song That Sorrow Sings

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3. Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Around

2. Noah And The Whale – LIFEGOESON

1. Bored Man Overboard – Abigail

Check out her 2010 Top Ten here.

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (21st October)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (21st October). A funny thing happened on the way back through Gloucester Cathedral this week. After a mesmerising 45 minutes watching Laura Marling perform an unaccompanied acoustic set, Pocket and I set off in hot pursuit in the hope of persuading Lovely Laura to write MM a Christmas exclusive. I would have course swum retrograde without Pocket chiming in my ears… faster, faster.

It was an enormous personal achievement for me to even open my mouth and speak, let alone burble away nonsensically about Christmas. La la. Trouble is, I can imagine what it feels like to be on the end of a stream of consciousness from a breathless bug-eyed woman, old enough to be your mother. It does scream go away. LL was of course perfectly gracious. I’m sure she gets a lot of requests. Mad and other.

It was an extraordinary gig. A set list conjured up very much on a song by song basis, glorious acoustics as you’d expect in such a big old holy place, a huge God-given talent and a wonderfully English audience, so polite. Perhaps: apart from the woman with crying baby. I’ve had three. It’s good form to leave discreetly when they don’t settle. Circumstances dictate, really. You just have to go with the flow.

Happy Friday.

Mrs Mackerel

We can’t offer Laura, but hey, here is an appropriately titled tune from another favourite, and a video of a new Laura song, Pray For Me.

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Download Mark Lanegan – On The Steps Of The Cathedral mp3 (from Here Comes That Weird Chill)