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.

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)

Free Halloween Mix 2012

Free Halloween Mix 2012.

Following on from our mixes from 2010 and 2011, here is another set of freakishly macabre tunes for you to download and scare off the trick or treaters…

Download Little Wings – Halloween 2020 mp3 (from PIAPTK Sampler Fall 2011)

Download Deer Tick – The Ghost mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Royal Trux – The Spectre mp3 (from Cats And Dogs)

Download The Low Anthem – To The Ghosts Who Write History Books mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Priscillas – All My Friends Are Zombies mp3 (from All my Friends Are Zombies)

Download Elliott Brood – Graveyard (Feist Cover) mp3 (from The 2012 Loss Leader)

Download Ghoultown – Return Of The Living Dead mp3 (from Rue Morgue Radio’s Hymns from the House of Horror)

Download Hallelujah The Hills - Hungry Ghost Extraordinaire mp3 (from No One Knows What Happens Next)

Download Gross Ghost – Architect mp3 (from Insound Vinyl Mixtape 4-26-12)

Download GravelRoad – Devil’s Eyes mp3 (from Psychedelta)

Download The Builders & The Butchers – Vampire Lake mp3 (from Salvation Is A Deep Dark Well)

Download The Gunslingers – The Spectre’s Sinister Commandment mp3 (from Manifesto Zero)

Download Creepoid – Grave Blanket mp3 (from Horse Heaven)

Download Mark O’Connor featuring Charlie Daniels & Johnny Cash – The Devil Comes Back To Georgia mp3 (from Heroes)

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No Direction Home Festival: A Review

No Direction Home Festival: A Review.

No Direction Home Festival  ||  Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire  ||  8-10 June 2012

The omens were not good for the inaugural No Direction Home music festival, setting out in heavy rain that only got heavier as the traffic got slower the further north I went. However, despite the slate grey skies and constant brake lights of the M1, a journey of over 5 hours was rewarded on arrival by a break in the weather than unbelievably lasted for the whole three days.

No Direction Home is a new “little brother” venture from those behind the End of the Road Festival (those who read MM even semi-regularly will know what a fantastic event that is) and so felt very familiar from the moment we set foot in the main arena. Familiar food stalls, the Rough Trade tent, the book tent, the cinema tent and more had all been transplanted wholesale to just south of Sheffield. Likewise the music line-up was the same mix as the End of the Road – predominantly Americana, folk (both freak and traditional), country, indie and a smattering of some ultra-heavy psychedelic rock over two main stages and a small, intimate café stage by the lake.

Indeed many of the performers (perhaps slightly too many) were equally familiar as End of the Road veterans: The Low Anthem, Gruff Rhys, Richard Hawley, Django Django, Other Lives, Dirty Three, The Unthanks.

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In fact our opening set came from another EotR alumni, Lanterns on the Lake, their heavy, ethereal, ambient tinged folk a perfect atmospheric companion to the sullen, overcast skies and heavy clouds, whilst in the somewhat optimistically named Electric Dust Bowl Big Top, Wet Nuns flailed away with a punishing set of hardcore riffing and gravelly vocals – furiously competing with the elements outside.

It took Django Django to brighten the mood; their good-natured approach and twangy electro-krautrock pop lifting collective spirits. A huge improvement on when we saw them at EotR in 2010, now they ooze confidence and are happy to let the songs from their excellent debut album stand up for themselves; Life’s A Beach, Waveforms, Skies Over Cairo, Wor and standout single Default all being highlights.

Finally as the night set in fully, The Low Anthem took the stage as the night’s main attraction. As they did at the EotR, they soon captured and then captivated the audience with their haunting and melancholic brand of folk holding everyone rapt as they performed one stunning song after another. There was just time to catch a set from Canadian electro-rockers Austra to finish the night – and a perfect illustration of the eclectic reach of the festival. Not something we are likely to listen to at home, but live an astonishingly powerful and captivating spectacle with three front women dynamically weaving repetitive musical patterns in a manner akin to Siouxsie Sioux fronting Can.

SATURDAY

Having gone to bed chanting the Woodstock refrain of “No rain, no rain” to myself I was rewarded on Saturday both with a dry start and a sweetly enchanting set of pastoral folk from Tiny Ruins, fresh from their recent tour support with the Handsome Family. Highlight being the surreal, but true tale of the Brazilian priest Fr. Carli who tried to fly using 1,000 helium balloons…some pieces of him were never recovered. Next up was quirky singer-songwriter Liz Green who sadly failed to sparkle as we’d hoped, and seemed a little daunted by the gravitas of the main stage, so it was back to the big top for Tyne & Wear’s Cornshed Sisters whose traditional finger-in-the-ear choral folk songs were much appreciated and provided a calming, bewitching effect over the audience.

Emerging, blinking and slightly dazed for Euros Childs it took a few songs for me to realise what an thoroughly excellent songwriter he is (for that genuinely is his real name), and for the last twenty years or or so he has been performing his own brand of slightly unhinged psych-pop laced with black humour and waspish wit. With Cavendish Hall he provided one of the songs of the weekend and one of those lovely ‘discovery’ moments of a new artist you know you’re going to enjoy for a long, long time to come.

Next up was Mrs Mackerel’s fave and one of the most individual performers of the weekend in anti-pop, anti-folk, anti-conventionalist Beth Jeans Houghton with her Hooves of Destiny. Opening with the galloping, infectious Atlas and running through many of the highlights of their excellent debut Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (Dodecahedron, The Barely Skinny Tree, Lilliput, Harlequin and Sweet Tooth Bird) as well as non-album cuts like the barber-shop drenched harmonies of Honeycomb, the irreverent Shampoo (“looks like cum, smells like flowers, I use shampoo in the shower“) and Your Holes, it was the most delightfully unique set of the weekend and demonstrates that the independent spirit of indie pop is alive and well in BJH’s hands.

Other Lives followed with a set of wonderfully melodramatic orchestral folk rock that somehow reminded me of The Waterboys crossed with Radiohead and was every bit as good as that combination sounds ridiculous. Gruff Rhys was exactly as you would have expected – unconventional and predictably unpredictable, expertly mixing the glam rock stomp of In A House With No Mirrors with the gently psych-whimsy of Candylion and the melancholic pop of Lonesome Words. There was no such variety with the swirling headfuck of Moon Duo’s powerfully propulsive heavy-psych that suffered slightly from a muddy sound and their seeming insistence for playing in complete darkness on stage. They were followed by the equally pulverising Pyramids whose crunchy guitar riffs, slashing rhythms and howled vocals played out like an adrenalin fuelled Hawkwind on speed. Headlining the main stage was arch whistler Andrew Bird and despite his over-fussiness (no pictures, no family members, constant irritated gesturing to the soundman) he pleased the crowd with a set of winsome folk and some quite impressive violin manoeuvres.

SUNDAY

Slow Club

The sun shone. Some of the thick mud dried up, a bit, and the wonderfully uncompromising Trembling Bells kicked off the day with a set of traditional British folk underpinned with the occasional ferocious onslaught of psychedelic pyrotechnics that was as bruising as it was soothing. The much-admired Cold Specks brought authentically sorrowful tales of the delta flavoured with a soulful taste of the Mississippi to the main stage, so authentic in fact you almost expected to see a paddle steamer on the adjacent lake. They were followed by a fabulously entertaining set of quirky and surreal indie rock from The Wave Pictures and back inside the big top local boys The Crookes charged up the crowd with a fizzing, high energy set of guitar pop. By now the crowd was gathering to pay homage to folk legend Martin Carthy who introduced each song with a conversational air and as though he had all the time in the world. Exuding bonhomie, he ran through a selection of traditional and classic folk songs and demonstrated why he is universally revered by fellow musicians as one of the best acoustic guitarists around. A pleasure to watch.

And on the back of that came the unexpected highlight of the weekend. While ex-Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, aka Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun has gradually been growing on me over the past few weeks, to hear him play it live made it obvious what an outstanding set of songs they are. Just one man and his guitar, it was dark night of the soul stuff, visceral, bawdy, and confrontational. In between he was ironic, self-deprecating and slightly sarcastic and it quickly became one of those rare occasions where the audience become transfixed by what is being placed before them. Fun Times In Babylon, Only Son Of The Ladies’ Man, Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, Nancy From Now On, Writing A Novel – each song greeted with more rapture than the last and as he finished with the stunning Now I’m Learning To Love The War and Every Man Needs A Companion the entire tent breathed a collective sigh and then erupted. It was worth the ticket price on its own.

Back outside Slow Club entertained with their jolly mix of folk and indie pop, and the sweet voices of The Unthanks accompanied by the Brighouse and Rastrick Band provided the perfect accompaniment to the setting sun over the lake. And finally, despite a broken leg (which precipitated a much appreciated parody of the famed Nirvana-at-Reading style entrance in a wheelchair), local hero Richard Hawley delivered a festival closing set perfectly in keeping with the mood. His velveteen vocals cloaking the bitter sting and melancholy of his lyrics while the 60s tinged psychedelic guitar of his latest album Standing At The Sky’s Edge weaved intricate patterns in the cool night air.

And so it was time to fight the pop-up tent and go home, one amongst 3,000 satisfied punters. No Direction Home succeeded in keeping the intimacy that makes The End of the Road so special and had many memorable performances that will linger long in the memory. Tickets are already on sale for next year (click here) and we’re hoping with a year under their belt, they will go with a slightly more original and bolder line-up. If so, we will be there again!

Download Euros Childs – Cavendish Hall mp3 (from Ends)

Download Cold Specks – Holland mp3 (from I Predict A Graceful Expulsion)

Download Father John Misty & Phosphorescent – I Would Love You mp3

Download The Wave Pictures – I Love You Like A Madman mp3 (from Instant Coffee Baby)

Download Andrew Bird – If I Needed You mp3 (Townes Van Zandt cover)

Download The Crookes – Backstreet Lovers mp3 (from Dreams Of Another Day)

Download our full Festival mixtape here.

No Direction Home Festival: Free Mix

No Direction Home Festival: Free Mixtape.

As you read this I will probably still be speeding northwards through the torrential rain on the M1 heading for Sherwood Forest and the inaugural No Direction Home music festival. Having spent the last two years happily enjoying the fantastic End of the Road festival, my plans were scuppered for a hat-trick by a sneaky move in dates making it clash with our first overseas family holiday in years to the beaches of Spain.

Thankfully, the same folk are behind this one so despite the rotten weather forecast, hopes are high for another fantastic event and judging by the line-up, we should be in for a treat. Friday night will be headlined by The Low Anthem, Saturday by Andrew Bird and Sunday by Richard Hawley. In between times we will have the pleasure of sets from Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny, Other Lives, Moon Duo, Lanterns On The Lake, The Wave Pictures, Wet Nuns, Father John Misty, Mikal Cronin and Spectrals. Best of all though will be discovering those artists and bands that we’ve not come across before and who turn out to be jaw-droppingly good.

Here is a free mix just to give you a taste of what we’ll be enjoying over the weekend, or if you fancy snapping up one of the last few tickets you can get one here.

Look out for a full review next week.

Download Father John Misty – Nancy From Now On mp3 (from Fear Fun)

Download Mikal Cronin – Apathy mp3 (from Mikal Cronin)

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

Download Other Lives – For 12 mp3 (from Tamer Animals)

Download Spectrals – Chip A Tooth (Spoil A Smile) mp3 (from A Spectrals Extended Play EP)

Download Moon Duo – Mazes mp3 (from Mazes)

Download The Low Anthem – Charlie Darwin mp3 (from O My God, Charlie Darwin)

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

Download David Thomas Broughton – Nature mp3 (from Outbreeding)

Download David Thomas Broughton – Walking Over You mp3 (from The Complete Guide To Insufficiency)

Download Lanterns On The Lake – You’re Almost There mp3 (from Gracious Tide, Take Me Home)

Download Slow Club – Beginners mp3 (from Paradise)

Download Django Django – Love’s Dart mp3 (from Storm / Love’s Dart 7″)

Download The Cornshed Sisters – Nowhere Man mp3 (from Mojo Presents – Yellow Submarine Resurfaces)

Download Peter Wolf Crier – Crutch & Cane mp3 (from Inter-Be)

Download Zulu Winter – Lets Move Back To Front mp3 (from Language)

Download Woodpigeon – I Live A Lot of Places mp3 (from Treasury Library Canada)

Download Wet Nuns – Heavens Below mp3 (from Heavens Below 7″)

Download Tiny Ruins – The Death Of A Russian mp3 (from Some Were Meant For Sea)

Download The Wave Pictures -Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens mp3 (from Long Black Cars)

Download Veronica Falls – Bad Feeling mp3 (from Veronica Falls)

Download Austra – Lose it mp3 (from Feel It Break)

Download Joe Gideon & The Shark – True Nature mp3 (from Harum Scarum)

Daytrotter Reaches 2,000

Daytrotter Reaches 2,000 Sessions - Free Mix.

The wonderful Daytrotter recently announced their 2,000th session and managed to get none other than Country music legend Glen Campbell in to record it, followed swiftly by a new session from the brilliant Delta Spirit.

For those that don’t know Daytrotter sessions are typically four songs in length, recorded live to quarter-inch tape in a matter of a couple hours, with no overdubs. They are then made available for download and streaming on the site and its various apps. Since beginning in February of 2006, Daytrotter has given away tens of millions of downloads and countless many more streams. In addition to studios in Rock Island and London, Daytrotter sessions are also occasionally taped in San Francisco, CA, Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN and Montreal.

Accessing all these sessions plus all the upcoming ones by all the bands you know and love costs a paltry $2 per month. For your ongoing listening pleasure we can’t think of anything anywhere that will give you better value than that. Below are just a very few highlights from some of the sessions we have loved – listen (they should fit neatly onto a CD), and if you haven’t done it yet, go and sign up here.

Download We Are Augustines – Ballad Of A Patient Man mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Cave Singers – Cold Eye mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Felice Brothers – Marlboro Man mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Phosphorescent  - Cocaine Lights mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Father John Misty – I’m Writing A Novel mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download A.A. Bondy – Witness Blues mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – Shallow Grave mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Gabriel & The Hounds –  When We Die In South America mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Jessica Lea Mayfield – Our Hearts Are Wrong mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Liars – Scarecrows On A Killer Slant mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Low Anthem – Ticket Taker mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Bill Callahan – Eid Ma Clack Shaw mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Middle Brother – Portland mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Arborea – Black Is The Colour mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Heartless Bastards – Got To Have Rock ‘n’ Roll mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Port O’Brien – A Bird Flies By mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Dutchess & The Duke – Scorpio mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download KaiserCartel – Carroll Street Station mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Ray Wylie Hubbard – Drunken Poet’s Dream mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Sandman The Rappin’ Cowboy – White Line Highway mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: January 2012

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

Here are the best of our January posts together with a few tasty new tracks. All in all nearly forty great tunes compiled and neatly presented in one lovely mix. As always, don’t forget to check out all our previous monthly mixes listed in the sidebar on the left.

Download Night Genes – Soaring Through The Chromosomes mp3 (from Like The Blood)
Infectiously catchy, military folk stomp. A real gem.

Download Cheyenne Marie Mize – Wishing Well mp3 (from We Don’t Need EP)
A mix of r&b tinged staccato vocals and adventurous modern pop.

Download HowlerBack Of Your Neck mp3 (from America Give Up)
Buzz band deliver with this slice of catchy, infectious garage influenced rock that calls to mind vintage Strokes.

Download Ceremony – Hysteria mp3 (from Zoo)
Viciously uncompromising and brilliant hardcore punk.

Download Frankie Rose – Know Me mp3 (from Interstellar)
Dreamy pop jangle.

Download The Owsley Brothers – Rotten On The Vine mp3 (from Rotten On The Vine Single)
New single from our favourite experimental blues boys.

Download Kam Kama – Called Up mp3 (from The Tiled House EP)
Propulsive percussion and dark, sinewy guitar lines are the order of the day. Sinister vocals are intoned and the overall effect is one of delightful queasiness and uncertainty.

Download Laura Gibson – La Grande mp3 (from La Grande)
Cantering desert-folk.

Download The Mind Spiders – Wait For Us mp3 (from Meltdown)
Perfect, primal garage rock.

Download Disappears – Replicate mp3 (from Pre Language)
Brain splintering psych-rock.

Download Donovan Quinn – Shadow On The Stone mp3 (from Honky Tonk Medusa)
Perfectly judged excursion into classic storytelling territory backed by gentle guitar lines and a slightly weary, melancholy tinged vocal.

Download First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar mp3 (from The Lion’s Roar)
Title track of new album showcases those gorgeous and beautiful folk harmonies.

Download Guy Capecelatro III – Like Anything mp3 (from North For The Winter)
As much a carefully constructed poem as it is a song. There are no wasted words, and each one is sung in a minimal, whispering voice accompanied by sparse instrumentation, including a haunting saw, creating a mood that is beautifully sombre.

Download Gabriel & The Hounds – The World Unfolds mp3 (from Kiss Full Of Teeth)
Deceptively seductive song that calls to mind artists from across the decades and as diverse as The Byrds to the Silver Jews.

Download The Great American Canyon Band – Tumbleweed mp3 (from Tumbleweed 7″)
Alt-country duo use just 2 old guitars to create a sound that is intimate, honest and ethereal.

Download Town Hall – Charlie mp3 (from Sticky Notes & Paper Scraps EP)
Try the gorgeous slow burn of Charlie, which is as captivating a song as we’ve heard this year.

Download Stephen Paul Smoker – Green City mp3 (from Ripe Fruit)
Pulsating psych-rock groove and foot stomping rhythm, marvellous.

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3 (from Animal Joy)
Impassioned tune galloping along on the back of an urgent piano refrain.

Download Cate Le Bon – Puts Me To Work mp3 (from CYRK)
Sultry and gently hypnotic folk.

Lower Dens – Brains (from Nootropics)
Brilliantly hypnotic and menacing track from experimental folksters.

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Download D.B. Rouse – Full Time Job mp3 (from Meal-Ticket)
Fine example of this wandering troubadour’s unique view of the world married to a sharp lyrical delivery.

Download Capybara – Neighbor Crimes mp3 (from Dave Drusky)
Warm, organic indie rock that manages to be both simple and catchy.

Download Toy – Left Myself Behind mp3 (from Left Myself Behind single)
Krautrock rhythms melded with buzzing indie guitars and a vocal that recalls the halycon days of British indie rock.

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Loose Ends mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams)
An absolute gem, a gentle strum, a loosely insistent rhythm, hoarsely whispered vocals and a sweetly climactic chorus.

Download Young Prisms – Floating In Blue mp3 (from In Between)
Beguiling mix of dreamy psychedelia over a fuzz of shoegazey guitars and reverb.

Download The Ex-Girlfriends Club – The Witch mp3 (from Boo Hoo Hoo)
Incendiary mix of distortion, proto-punk and voodoo blues that manifests itself perfectly in the primal stomp of this cover of the Sonics classic The Witch.

Download Terry Malts – Nauseous mp3 (from Killing Time)
High octane, clattering punk riffage.

Download Big Deal – Chair mp3 (from Chair EP)
Harmonious, sweetly strummed indie-pop with a nice touch of reverb.

Download William Fitzsimmons – Blood and Bones (Acoustic Version) mp3 (from Noisetrade Free Sampler)
Alternative version of track from deluxe edition of acclaimed album Gold In The Shadow.

Download I See Hawks In L.A. – Dear Flash mp3 (from New Kind Of Lonely)
Authentic acoustic Americana.

Download The Low Anthem – Stories Of The Street mp3 (from The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Covered)
The wonderful Low Anthem put their stamp on a track from Leonard Cohen’s classic debut.

Download Vacant Fever – Kill Kill Kill mp3 (from Kill Kill Kill EP)
Recalls some of the classic work of bands like Wire or Gang Of Four. It is jerky, minimal and, best of all, genre-defying!

And to finish off this month’s bumper offering we have the new track from folksters The Bowerbirds, some cascading guitars and thunderous rhythms from The Jealous Sound’s new release, A Gentle Reminder and a six minute sonically layered slab of climactic indie rock from LA band Louden Swain that we’ve got on repeat here. We have some swirling, 60s tinged psych-rock from The Pharmacy and finally the breezy jangle of Wild Nothing’s new single, Nowhere.

Download The Bowerbirds – In The Yard mp3 (from The Clearing)

Download The Jealous Sound – Your Eyes Were Shining mp3 (from A Gentle Reminder)

Download Louden Swain – Cigarette mp3 (from Eskimo)

Download The Pharmacy – Dig Your Grave mp3 (from Dig Your Grave)

Download Wild Nothing – Nowhere mp3 (from Nowhere 7″)

The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Covered For Mojo

The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Covered For Mojo.

As is often their wont, Mojo magazine have produced another fine cover disc this month, with a tribute to Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece of a debut The Songs Of Leonard Cohen plus a ‘bonus’ of five extra classic tracks from his back catalogue.

The array of artists is mightily impressive from acclaimed new soul artist Michael Kiwanuka to Cass McCombs, Field Music and J Tillman recording under the name Father John Misty. The bonus tracks include Dan Michaelson, Diagrams and My Brightest Diamond.

As always, Mojo is available from all decent newsagents. Certainly worth it as it is one of the best music monthlies we have.

Here are two of our favourites from Bill Callahan and his version of So Long Marianne and the Low Anthem putting their stamp on Stories Of The Street.

Download Bill Callahan – So Long Marianne mp3 (from The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Covered)

Download The Low Anthem – Stories Of The Street mp3 (from The Songs Of Leonard Cohen Covered)

Mad Mackerel’s Albums Of The Year: Part 1 (50-31)

So, as the New Year approaches, here are our favourite albums of 2011 for your consideration. Feel free to dispute, argue, or otherwise put us right because, if nothing else, music is as about as subjective topic as it is possible to get. Some of these may not be the “best” albums of the year as far as the critics are concerned, but that matters not, as they were the ones we enjoyed listening to most – give them a try, you might feel the same.

50 Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me

Download Jessica Lea Mayfield – Our Hearts Are Wrong mp3 (from Tell Me)

49 Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread

Download Ty Segall - You Make The Sun Fry mp3 (from Goodbye Bread)

48 Wire – Red Barked Trees

Download Wire – Two Minutes mp3 (from Red Barked Trees)

New Album From Blessed Feathers.

47 Blessed Feathers - From the Mouths of the Middle Class

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

Download Blessed Feathers – By Song Through The Americas mp3 (from From The Mouths Of The Middle Class)

46 The Men – Leave Home

Download The Men – Bataille mp3 (from Leave Home)

45 Lanterns On The Lake – Gracious Tide, Take Me Home

Download Lanterns On The Lake – You’re Almost There mp3 (from Gracious Tide, Take Me Home)

New Album From The Pack A.D.

44 The Pack A.D. – Unpersons

Download The Pack A.D. – Sirens mp3 (from Unpersons)

43 The Low Anthem – Smart Flesh

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42 Other Lives – Tamer Animals

Download Other Lives – For 12 mp3 (from Tamer Animals)

41 Country Mice – Twister

Download Country Mice – Morning Son mp3 (from Twister)

Mad Mackerel Recommends...Siskiyou.

40 Siskiyou – Keep Away The Dead

Download Siskiyou – Twigs And Stones mp3 (from Keep Away The Dead)

39 The Smith Westerns – Dye It Blonde

Download The Smith Westerns – All Die Young mp3 (from Dye It Blonde)

38 Jolie Holland – Pint Of Blood

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37 Lydia Lunch & Big Sexy Noise – Trust The Witch

Download Lydia Lunch & The Big Sexy Noise – Where You Gonna Run mp3 (from Trust The Witch)

New Album From Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks.

36 Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks – Heartsick

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35 Wye Oak – Civilian

Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3 (from Civilian)

34 Jeff The Brotherhood – We Are The Champions

Download Jeff The Brotherhood – Mellow Out mp3 (from We Are The Champions)

33 William Elliott Whitmore – Field Songs

Download William Elliott Whitmore – Bury Your Burdens In The Ground mp3 (from Field Songs)

32 Natural Child – 1971

Download Natural Child – Hard Workin Man mp3 (from 1971)

31 LONG – American Primitive

Download LONG – Shoot Your Dog mp3 (from American Primitive)

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 7 Scottish Kate

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.Scottish Kate is a great friend of this blog and has often offered her (sometimes pithy) opinions on the world of music – and very good taste she has too.

She also runs the always excellent (sometimes pithy), and often provocative blog A Burdz Eye View for all things Scottish (of course), political and musical. Here are her aural selections for 2011.

The Burd’s Best Songs of 2011

Well it doesn’t get any easier.  Though given that all my old schticks are in here aplenty – drums, noise, shoegaze, jingly jangly guitars, quirkiness, blues and reverb – it really should be a doddle.  This girl is forever stuck in her groove and that’s just the way I like it.

10. Cashier No9  - When Jackie Shone

Gosh, why do I like this?  It’s just got that whole throbbing bass line thing I like.  Layers of sound.  Odd vocals.  And drums.  Of course. Like it? Love it.  The louder the better.

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9. Other Lives – For 12

Nearly my choon of the year.  Deceptively simple, soaring, swooping and positively swoonsome.

Download Other Lives – For 12 mp3 (from Tamer Animals)

8. Josh Schroeder and Meredith Adelaide - Where Are You

It could so easily have been So it Goes, for both choons have been on a near constant loop at various times this year.  But seeing as I have to choose – and I must, I cannot have the ignominy of a twelve instead of a ten two years in a row – then this one wins out.  Not for nothing my Twitter bio suggests I’m not nearly as scary as I pretend to be.

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7. Secret Colours – Faust

A late contender but a worthy one.  This choon is the musical equivalent of a three course meal and therefore ticks all my bluesy-rock boxes.  So long as you like your meat and potatoes with no veg.

Download Secret Colours – Faust mp3 (from EP3)

6. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Barnes’ Yard

See?  Stomping, strummy, just a little shoogly and I’m sold.

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5. We were promised Jetpacks – Medicine

Ye cannae beat a wee jangly Scottish band, especially one that throws everything but the kitchen sink into their music.  It should be a mess but it so isn’t.  After a difficult year out, with this track they exploded back onto the music scene and it was like they’d never been away.

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4. Slow Club – Beginners

A knickerbocker glory offering of shoegaze.  With a big dollop of retro on the side and some reverb sprinklings up top for good measure.  Dreamy.

Download Slow Club – Beginners mp3 (from Paradise)

3. Team Genius – Home

Boy Wonder’s favourite moshing/air guitar choon of the year.  We have pogo-ed round the sitting room to this.  Oh yes.  For those who don’t know, he’s the eight year old, supposedly I’m the responsible adult.

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2. William Elliott Whitmore – Field Song

The man with the voice that sends shivers down my spine is at the peak of his powers.  Occasionally I have to lie in a darkened room to listen to this album – all the better to wallow y’see.  The title track is truly a thing of beauty.

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1. The Low Anthem – Matter of Time

They made it into 2009 and 2010’s list and here they are again.  The grandmasters of less is more, of making a symphony out of a three minute track.

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Favourite cover of the year

Barry-Sean and I share some bizarre commonalities.  There are Killie fans in his family too, and it would appear, the influence of Buddy Holly on our musical heritage. The standout cover version for me this year? Patti Smith doing Words of Love and making it all her own.

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Favourite discoveries of the year

Actually, this was a rediscovery.  In reprising the career of the late, great Jackie Leven, I found myself falling in love with Doll by Doll all over again.  Gypsy Blood is a great album, and only recently recognised as a modern rock masterpiece.  Aye but it’s the punkish tendencies that make it so.

Guilty pleasure

Diddy – Dirty Money Coming Home

Yes really.  The year I discovered what makes the young folk tick.  This far though and no further.

Close but no Cigar

O’Death – Bugs

This is a beautifully meaningful song on so many levels.  Especially when you know the back story.

Download O’Death – Bugs mp3 (from Outside)

FOUND – Anti Climb Paint

Just about my favourite track off one of my favourite albums of the year.

The Barettas – Touche

This is the kind of band I always wanted to be in.  Still do.

Download The Barettas – Touche mp3 (from Touche 7″)

Peggy Sue – Dumbo

Two albums in two years, both of them corkers.  Quirky and winsome.

A Classic Education – Forever Boy

It’s the drums innit?

Download A Classic Education – Forever Boy mp3 (from Call It Blazing)

Coke Weed – Not My Old Man

Or maybe it’s just the all-round oddness…

Download Coke Weed – Not My Old Man mp3 (from Volume 1)

The Kills – Future Starts Slow

Did I mention I like a bit of down and dirty?  And no one does like it Jamie and Alison. Should have married her, mate.

Lykke Li – Sadness is a Blessing

More shoegaze, quirkiness and downright pop genius.  Oh, and the best video of the year.

Butcher Boy – Helping Hands

The line that sold it to me was “on yellow grass and dirty pebble dash”.  Seemingly whimsical, masking a dark heart.

The Shivers – Kisses

There’s an acoustic and a blues version of this song.  Sometimes I play them one after the other.

Download The Shivers – Kisses mp3 (from Rob Da Bank Session)