Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums Of 2013 (Part 2: 30 -11)

Here is the second instalment of our favourite albums of 2013, counting down from 30 to 11.

30 Nick Cave – Push The Sky Away

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29 Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In

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28 Coke Weed – Back To Soft

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27 Georgia’s Horse – Weather Codes

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26 Alela Diane – About Farewell

MM Shorts 333: Alela Diane's New Album

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25 Foxygen – We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

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24 Quiet American – Wild Bill Jones

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23 The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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22 Torres – Torres

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21 Bill Callahan – Dream River

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20 Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

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19 Wooden Wand & The World War IV – Wooden Wand & The World War IV

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18 Various Artists – Divided & United The Songs Of The Civil War

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17 Blitzen Trapper – VII

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16 Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle

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15 Mark Mulcahy – Dear Mark J Mulcahy, I Love You

More From Mark Mulcahy

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14 Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

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13 Cass McCombs – Big Wheel And Others

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12 Low – The Invisible Way

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11 Terry Malts – Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere

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See numbers 50 – 31 here.

Caitlin Rose Covers The National

Caitlin Rose Covers The National

Not much needs to be said about this.

Caitlin Rose is currently on a big UK tour and to mark her arrival on our shores she has unveiled a beautiful cover of The National’s Pink Rabbits, which comes from The National’s current 4AD album Trouble Will Find Me.

Listen below or click through to purchase from Amazon.com.

Remaining Tour Dates

Mon 9 Sep Glasgow ABC2 £12
Wed 11 Sep Gateshead The Sage £12.50
Thu 12 Sep London Shepherds Bush Empire £16.50
Fri 13 Sep Manchester Ritz £14
Sat 14 Sep Festival No6 Portmeirion £170

Videos of the Day: The National || L.A. Salami || Miss Quincy & The Showdown || High Coast

Videos of the Day

Films today from indie heavyweights The National and their video for the brilliant Sea Of Love, and from rising UK troubadour L.A. Salami we have the sparse but engrossing video for Old Queen’s Head, (pick up a free download of his track Deformation Days below too). We have some appropriately vintage film footage for Miss Quincy & The Showdown’s video for Silent Movie, and lastly, a chilly hunt for the Northern Lights accompanies High Coast’s sweetly picked Americana on Talvatis.

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Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (27th January)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (27th January).

Children: they really do f**k you about don’t they? In a week when our eldest sprat managed to eclipse his younger sister’s great show of academic prowess by making us all as miserable as sin, I think I should resign defeated. I blame the parents; he seems to. Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Most things in life that are worth something demand some sort of effort – sadly my darling son, that sort of self motivation is something that you have to find inside yourself.

Swimming against the tide this Friday.

Mrs Mackerel x

Download Calexico – Deep Down mp3 (from Garden Ruin)

Download The National – Ashamed Of The Story I Told mp3 (from Ciao My Shining Star – The Songs Of Mark Mulcahy)

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.

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 8, Mrs Mackerel

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

So last, but very much not least, is the lovely (though flu-stricken) Mrs Mackerel and her choices for 2010.

We all sweat a little over our top tens and I don’t know why really. This is just what I think, you will undoubtedly think a little different. But I’ve always found my fellow top ten contributors a great source of new sounds that maybe I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen myself. And if you find one song you like that you didn’t know before, then job done really. So to all the musicians that kindly let us post their wares, a heartfelt thank you – here’s to the next 12 months.

10. Kurran & The Wolfnotes – Your Four Limbs (Download here)

Sunny upbeat music with a beautiful harmonies, juxtaposed with a rather a dark message. A masochistic love of complete surrender; one-sided blind devotion and infatuation. It doesn’t end well.

9. Adam Green – What Makes Him Act So Bad  (Download here)

Appeals to the latent rock chick in me: she may lie sleeping, but she’s still in there. The laconic, growling delivery of the lyrics makes this tune twist and dip. Late night smoky bar sort of song, bit of a hip swayer over a cocktail or two. “I know you’re a wonderful dancer” – why thank you, Adam, I expect I’m the one with the answers too.

8. Lykke Li – Get Some  (Download here)

A proper bit of girl power in the form of a punchy, irrepressible foot-stomping beat. It’s not one to get your daughters to sing along to, but I love the rhythmic no-messing attitude of this song. It’s not often you hear such a drum/percussion-dominated track but this only means it beds into your mental song library very easily. And unlike with say, Two Little Boys (sorry Rolf), you don’t end up irritating yourself.

7. Two Wounded Birds – Night Patrol  (Download here)

A sleazy, sultry mix which tips a nod to Chris Isaacs and maybe even the Raveonettes too; the drums sound like a heartbeat, the guitars borrow a little from Hank Marvin. This song belongs to a different era, where women had beehives and men wore hats and chain-smoked. Just fabulous.

6.  Tallest Man On Earth – King Of Spain  (Download here)

Off we gallop at a rollicking pace before yep, here he comes, the Tallest Man on Earth, this time masquerading as the King of Spain. He has a unique and idiosyncratic voice that truly sets him apart from many of his contemporaries, and my great musical regret of 2009 is that MM and I were unable to make his London gig in last autumn.

5. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

Oh I do like a man with a voice as deep as the night. Matt Berninger’s unmistakeable baritone cuts through this lament, with the drums bringing up the rear. Hypnotic offering from a band that have been waiting in the wings for some much deserved recognition from the wider world.

4. Haunted Windchimes – Sea Bride  (Visit their website here. We can’t post the song or find a stream or a video…but you can listen via spotify here)

I loathe wind-chimes. Pointless instruments of aural torture. But once I got past the name, well this is a finger-pickin’ good tune. One of my outstanding films of 2010 was Winter’s Bone and there’s a scene in it where a hill-billy Nan and her mates are sat round in what looks like someone’s front room/bar. What they make is real music for the soul. I could imagine the Haunted Windchimes pulling up a chair and being right at home – and I mean this musically, not in an in-bred, gun-toting sort of way (she adds hastily).

3. Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

To me this is our MM summer of 2010 song: it’s sunshine and dreaminess and love. There’s self doubt and possibly even a Shelley-esque metaphor used (eyes being the window of the soul and all that). All sung to a back-drop of retro, up-tempo, carefully layered music. He’s in love, distracted, missed his train, and constantly wondering what she’s thinking. Dammit, Lucy, he needs to know – are you one he’s been waiting for so, so long? I’m rather glad I’m not 20-something any more …

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2. Laura Marling – What He Wrote

What she writes, what she sings, what she plays is incomparable to any of her peers. But age sometimes belies wisdom. I struggled to choose from the riches of her second album, but this wins over Goodbye England by a smidge, simply because I prefer the latter in its unaccompanied arrangement. Here we have a piece of Greek mythology entwined with some war time letters; cause and effect; love and loss. “I am broken too and spoken for, do not tempt me.” A talent of rare and precious mettle.

1.Avalanche City – Ends In The Ocean  (Download here)

This snuck up when I wasn’t looking: the more I listened, the more I liked it. Kiwi Dave Baxter is Avalanche City; he taught himself to sing, plays all the instruments (apart from the drums) on this track, and recorded his debut album, solo, armed with a week’s supply of veggie curry. I like that in a person. And the song? It’s about losing yourself, and finding yourself again. It’s uplifting and positive and life-affirming – and it has a goodness that radiates through my very skin. “But now all that I see is life breaking free, so long captivity for me.” Not a bad way to end the year.

This year’s honourable mention goes to…

Jason Ward – Bless You  (Download here)

Bless you, Jason Ward. And bless you, MM. It’s quite a feat to make someone laugh when they’re in that much pain. Lies, deceit and fraud just ain’t enough for some people – let’s chuck in assault and battery too. Bless You is the anthem for the lesser common psycho. Delusional and toxic, they often hunt in pairs. Napoleon and Squealer. The Liver Turds. All should be sealed in a room and made to listen to Alexandra Burke on a loop. All together now, “How horrible are you …”

Bubbling Under:

5. Isobel Campbell & Willie Mason – Cool Water

4. Gorillaz – Melancholy Hill

3. Pancake BreakfastBallad of Maynard Noe

2. Mumford & SonsUnfinished Business

1. Port O’BrienMy Brain is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)

And the Mrs Mackerel “Missed the Boat” or Songs I love that are not 2010

She Keeps Bees & Sharon Van EttenCuddle Alone

Just about the saddest song ever written. There’s nothing else to say really. Haunting.

The Dutchess & The DukeScorpio

Well, often timing is everything; I became aware of D&TD about ten days after they split up. Was it something I said? Scorpio is a particular favourite, a painfully observed lament about a dying relationship.

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 4, Barry-Sean

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

Time for our fourth instalment, the meandering mind of Barry-Sean…

Hmmmmmm! A few weeks ago I said to Mr MM that although I’ve enjoyed my music this year more than last, I thought I had heard fewer decent tracks this year (I choose my words carefully here seeing as just because I hadn’t heard them doesn’t mean they didn’t exist). At time of saying it, I meant it. My musical highlight of this year was the End of the Road festival but I just wasn’t feeling it for much of 2010 music generally.

The good news is that upon doing my 2010 top ten, I realised just how much great music did come out this year. Here’s my pick of them …

10. The Hold Steady – Rock Problems

I love The Hold Steady and although this is no Your Little Hoodrat Friend, it’s still brilliant. A great riff and Craig Finn’s distinctive vocal has brought on bouts of dad dancing in my kitchen on a number of occasions throughout the year. That’s why Rock Problems creeps into my top ten of 2010 at number 10.

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9. Two Wounded Birds – My Lonesome

I’m not a sleazy kind of chap but I do like a sleazy beat. My admiration of War Crimes’ brilliant Treatise is testament to that. This is another one with a laid back vibe that for some reason makes me want to go and listen to it whilst playing pool in a smoky bar (fat bloody chance nowadays). It’s a latecomer to my top 2010 ten which just goes to show how instantly likeable it is. Am I right Mrs Mackerel?

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8. Scott Fant – 8lb Sledge (Download here)

This might come as a bit of a surprise to the Mackerels because I’ve not made a song and dance about it. But it is a great track and worthy of its place in my top ten at the cost of other great songs such as I Don’t Care if There’s Cursing by Phosphorescent and VCR by The XX. Nice one Mr Fant … I hope there’s many more where this came from.

7. Lykke Li - Get Some  (Download here)

Is this wrong? Does it seem wrong to you that a forty-something bloke should like such an anti-pop, gritty but very listenable track. I’ve no aspirations to be ‘down with the kids’ but I love this track even if it does make me the ‘oldest swinger in town’ … and I do mean ‘oldest swinger’ in the Fred Wedlock sense.

6. Chapel Club – All the Eastern Girls

It’s no secret at Mackerel Towers that I love Chapel Club. Most of us here do. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of seeing them at The Jericho Tavern in Oxford which only served to increase my respect for the lads. Okay, so All the Eastern Girls doesn’t feature as highly in my top ten as Surfacing did last year but this is still a great track. I still think Chapel Club will go onto great things and really, really hope the do. At least they’re proof that someone in this country is doing something original … bloody X Factor!

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5. The Vaccines – Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)

Short, aggressive and like a 21st century Ramones track. Grab yourself a snakebite, put on your dockers and put this on full blast. You’ll be back in the late seventies in no time.

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4. Local Natives – Airplanes  (Download here – Daytrotter Session)

Now we’re really getting serious. I fell in love with this track on first time of hearing back in the spring and still listen to it frequently. A total contrast to the Vaccines at no. 5, a great harmony and truly lovely song.

3. Mumford & Sons – Unfinished Business  (Download here)

Ahhhhhh! It’s a cover. It’s a White Lies cover. Nobody cares. This is a great ghost-story song. You’ve really got to listen to it. That shouldn’t be hard because everyone’s listening to Mumford & Sons at the moment aren’t they? Proof once again that original musicians with integrity can still make it in these days of Cowell-dominated, manufactured pop.

2.The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio

Deciding between the year’s number 1 and number 2 is always difficult and 2010 was no different. This is The National, I think, at their best. It dominated Radio 6 early in the year and I’ve not stopped playing it since. No bloody idea what the message of the song is but it is brilliant. Sad, atmospheric and uplifting at the same time. So close to being my number one … but beaten by the beautiful tones of a young American girl.

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1. Caitlin Rose –  For the Rabbits

That girl would be the massively talented Caitlin Rose. She of the beautiful, enchanting and addictive voice is the first woman to ever take the number one spot of my annual top ten. Okay, so the song reminds me of a happy time of year; standing in a chilly, Dorset field late at night at End of the Road and swaying along to it with hundreds of other festival-goers. Sitting by open French doors on a warm Sunday evening in Ventnor breathing in the fresh sea air. But that’s what music is about isn’t it? To me, For the Rabbits is my sound of 2010, my memory of 2010 and the best tune to come out of 2010.

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Darn, I missed these …

Ones that I heard for the first time in 2010 but wish I’d heard in the years they were released:

Wolf Parade – You are the Runner, I Am My Father’s Son

Makes me wish I’d become a lead guitarist … just to play this and pose really.

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Kiss Me Again

Beautiful song, beautiful voice and a great mentor in the form of the brilliant Dan Auerbach of Black Keys fame. I love this song.

Mountain GoatsDance Music

I reckon the Goats are probably one of the Marmite bands of the music world. Me? I love them. They sing songs about life … not my life but life all the same … in a quirky, original way that usually brings a smile to my face. And any music that brings a smile to someone’s face can’t be that bad, can it?

The Low AnthemThis God Damn House

This is one of my most played songs of the year. I heard the Low Anthem sing this at EOTR and I’ve loved it since. Beautiful, sad and the story is still up for discussion at Mackerel Towers.

Forest FireFortune Teller

Simply a great song. I mean, who couldn’t love a song with the lyrics ‘Tonight I’m gonna melt some faces with Gatling gun social skills’. These guys are just cool personified in an oddball sort of way. A bit like me really … not.

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 1, Polly Pocket

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

This year, to start the ball rolling we have, the already much missed Polly Pocket’s entry. At least she’ll remain a MM contributor if nothing else.

10. Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Snob

Words from the wise.  Lyrical genius.

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9. Kurran and the Wolfnotes – Your Four Limbs (download here)

Everytime I listen to this I hear something different. Brilliant tune, love the words.

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8. Brandon Flowers – Crossfire

Pop song of the year.  Does exactly what it should – belting tune, sounding best turned up loud whilst singing along.

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7. Warpaint – Undertow

Reminds me of being 15 and somewhat disappointed with the world.  Fab. Listen here:

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6. The XX – VCR

If I was in a band I would want to sound just like this!

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5. Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True

A late entry for me, but my top ten is all the richer for it. Listen here.

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4. Josh Ritter – The Curse

Haunting piano, all nostalgic and laid back. (Watch the brilliant puppeteering video)

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3. Local Natives – Airplanes (download here)

Brilliant song. Heartbreaking lyrics.  Listen here:

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2. Bear Bones – Oil and Lacquer (Download here)

Perfect winter song.  I shut my eyes and am sitting in a comfy chair in a country pub with an open fire, good friends and a cracking pint of ale.  “If I’m getting old then I hope that you’re coming with me” and I really do.

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1. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

This hit the number one spot months ago and has stayed there ever since.  A truly great tune.

Mad Mackerel’s Albums of the Year

So after much deliberation, head scratching, discussion, and more head scratching, we have MM’s favourite albums of 2010. And we choose our words very carefully here, because we would not presume them to be the best, only those that have given us the most pleasure and enjoyment, records that we have returned to again and again, and for whatever reason have captured a moment or special place in our hearts.

And while we have limited our selection to 25 albums there were many, many more that could have, and maybe should have, featured. But there that’s the beauty of music, entirely subjective and based on individual opinions not fact.

So without further ado, here are our 25 favourite albums of 2010.

25 Sharon Van Etten – Epic


Haunting, ethereal and stunning album from a modern day siren. Sad prairie folk music indeed.

Download Sharon Van Etten – Love More mp3

24 Haunted Windchimes – Honey Moonshine


Traditional, old-timey backwoods, backporch music that burrowed its way into your head and then refused to budge.

Download The Haunted Windchimes – Don’t Take My Baby Away (Baby Back) mp3

23 The Streets On Fire – This Is Fancy


High voltage, good time, bad boy rock ‘n’ roll that was as good and as unashamedly fun as it was simple. Garage rock reclaimed.

Download The Streets On Fire – That’s Hard To Find mp3

22 Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues


The son of the peerless Steve Earle comes of age with a perfectly judged set of tales that in their honesty and unashamed frankness are worthy of Townes himself.

Listen to Harlem River Blues.

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21 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor


With repeated listens the sheer power and passion of The Monitor becomes overwhelming. So what if it is a concept album about the American Civil War, its ambitious, rebellious, and rousing. Just play it loud!

Download Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union mp3

20 Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk


Another perfectly judged record from the perfectly matched duo. Campbell’s lovely whispering tones offset by Mr Lanagan’s threatening growl.

Listen to Snake Song.

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19 Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement

An album of dreamy, unsettling rock melded with freak-folk to provide one of the year’s most unusual and most rewarding listens. At times it sounds like an evil Beach House and at others spare and caustic where hope is slowly, but firmly drowned in a swirling, atmospheric mix of twinkling guitars and alluring voices.

Download Lower Dens – Hospice Gates mp3

18 The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt


A fine follow up to the outstanding Shallow Grave, the trademark Dylanesque vocals allied to a set of cracking tales from the bible to bullfighting.

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – The King Of Spain mp3

17 The Migrant – Travels In Lowland


With its dreamlike journey into psych-indie, the debut album from The Migrant was one of the most surprising and engaging folk records of the year.

Download The Migrant – The Organ Grinder mp3

16 Tweak Bird – Tweak Bird


In the vein of the much lauded and genuinely good Tame Impala, Tweak Bird were louder, faster, and simply rocked harder. A superb mix of motorcycle rock riffs with dirty fingernail blues and even a hint of jazz. This was stoner rock for the 21st century and it was brilliant.

Download Tweak Bird – A Sun Ahh Ahh mp3

15 Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions


In Christ Jesus from the Black Dirt Sessions, Deer Tick delivered one of the truly primal and affecting moments of musical recording in 2010, and the rest of the album wasn’t half bad either.

Download Deer Tick – Twenty Miles mp3

14 Delta Spirit – History From Below


Indie rock with a country inflection, Delta Spirit packed History From Below full of dusty, rural Americana and bar room blues boogie. With the impassioned and distinctive voice of Matt Vasquez backed by a rumbling juggernaut of percussion and rhythms, the album was a welcome addition to the long tradition of classic American rock.

Download Delta Spirit – Bushwick Blues mp3

13 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs


Indie gods manage to live up to, and then surpass the hype with The Suburbs, an album full of outstanding tracks that demand they be listened to as a whole – a proper music album.

Watch Ready To Start.

12 Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms


Despite some occasional iffy AOR moments, Infinite Arms was like the girl with the curl, and when it was good (which it mostly was), it was brilliant.

Watch Laredo.

11 Black Keys – Brothers


Authentic blues duo cranked out their best yet and in tracks like Sinister Kid and Howlin’ For You added some more classic cuts to their catalogue.

Watch Tighten Up.

10 Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can


Showcasing her incredible natural talent despite such tender years, I Speak Because I Can truly marked Laura Marling out as a worthy heiress to Joni, Emmy Lou and the like. Darker, stronger, and more confident than her debut, she is surely poised for great things.

Watch Rambling Man.

9 Liars – Sisterworld


A brilliant collection of crushing guitars, machine gun percussion and soaring vocals that retained its experimental art-noise edge but became much more accessible and much more listenable – welcome to the big league time?

Listen to the superb Proud Evolution.

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8 The National – High Violet


Overcoming the music blogger’s ‘big band’ prejudice with ease, High Violet was bigger, better and more affecting than anything the National have done to date.

Listen to Conversation 16.

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7 Strand Of Oaks – Pope Killdragon


Having caught our attention with their wonderful Springsteen cover on Hear Ya, Strand of Oaks more than lived up to our expectations with Pope Killdragon. Sparse folk tunes mixed with occasional and abstract guitar wigouts and also showcased Tim Showalter’s ability to grab the attention with some of the best lyrical couplets of the year. Stand out track Alex Kona a case in point, starting “Alex Kona was twelve feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball” – what’s not to like?

Download Strand of Oaks – Bonfire mp3

6 Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – How Snakes Eat


Spare, beautiful, mournful and melancholic, the fragile folk of Mathew Sawyer hid whiplash lyrics and biting black humour that revealed and revelled in a bittersweet world where daydreams and nightmares fought to the death for supremacy.

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3

5 Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

Backwards-looking it maybe, but that’s to miss the point of Black Mountain. This was an album bursting with rock riffs that were so good you thought they must have been invented in the classic age of rock, and in Let Spirits Ride, the band provided the headbanging anthem of the year.

Download Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3

4 Dr Dog – Shame, Shame


Another wonderful record of rousing, country infused tunes. Each listen revealed more of its anthemic charms and spirited, rugged rock on an album full of top notch tunes from start to finish.

Watch Shadow People.

3 Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer Of The Void

A brilliant and worthy follow-up to the exceptional Furr, and in songs like The Man Who Would Speak True, Blitzen Trapper showed they had worthy successors to classics like Black River Killer and the like. Full of prog-folk, dusty rural ballads, sci-fi synths and more, Destroyer of the Void was a stunning record.

Download Blitzen Trapper – Heaven And Earth mp3

2 Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It Easy

After the sublime To Willie tribute last year came the originals. From the loose, ramshackle rock of It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) to cowboy ballads, transcendental homages, and the climactic, Neil Young like, epic album closer L.A.

Download Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade mp3

1 Wooden Wand – Wither Thou Goest, Cretin

Despite Wither Thous Goest, Cretin only receiving an initially limited release, and despite it being overshadowed by the subsequent release of (the also excellent) The Death Seat on Michael Gira’s label, Wooden Wand delivered an album of stunning simplicity, in equal parts poignant, heartbreaking, and redemptive.

With lyrics that are the match of any songwriter we know (“He had just enough rope in his trunk to make her nervous”) allied to sparse, plucked folk on the one hand and footstomping barnyard rhythms on the other, there is not a wasted moment, nor a false step on the entire album.

Download Wooden Wand – The Fly mp3

Phosphorescent confirmed as support for The National in the UK

MM faves Phosphorescent have been confirmed as support for the forthcoming huge National tour throughout Europe. Phosphorescent will join The National for the majority of their shows in both mainland Europe, England, and Ireland starting November 11. Dates are below.

Download Phosphorescent – Mermaid Parade mp3 (from Here’s To Taking It Easy)

Download Phosphorescent – It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) mp3 (from Here’s To Taking It Easy)

Download Phosphorescent – Reasons To Quit mp3 (from To Willie)

Download Phosphorescent – Wolves mp3 (from Pride)

Download Phosphorescent – Big Red Sun Blues mp3 (Lucinda Williams cover)

Download The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio mp3 (from High Violet) Link removed by label/PR despite the song being freely available everywhere. F**wits.

UK and Ireland dates:

24th Nov Bristol, 02 Academy w/ The National

25th Nov Coventry, Warwick Arts Centre w/ The National

26th Nov Glasgow 02 Academy w/ The National

27th Nov Manchester, 02 Academy w/ The National

30th Nov London, Brixton Academy w/ The National

1st Dec London, Brixton Academy w/ The National

2nd – 4th Dec Dublin, Olympia Theatre w/ The National