Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Dr Roddy Looks Back

MM The Last Five Years - Dr Roddy

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, but first up with their personal top twenty is the right honourable Dr Roddy.

Through good fortune and fine sailing I have been lucky enough to be involved with this blog and it has provided me with some of the finest music in genres I maybe wouldn’t have looked in. So when asked to compile a top twenty of tunes from the last five years, I kicked aside the memories of musical turmoil that is involved with the yearly top tens, poured a stiff drink and set about it with relish.

20 Dan Auerbach – Heartbroken, In Disrepair

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19 Dirty Bourbon River Band – Train Is Gone

Download Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone mp3 (from Volume 2)

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18 Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine

Download Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine mp3 (from Tame Impala EP)

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17 Janice Graham Band – Front Door

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16 Ox – Midnight On The Island

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15 Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

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14 Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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13 Nathaniel Rateliffe – Brakeman

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12 William Elliot Whitmore – Old Devils

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11 What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge

Download What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge (live) mp3 (from What Would Jesus Drive EP)

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10 The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind
Wonderfully carefree and happy song that could so easily be heard drifting out of a doorway in Haight Ashbury with some interesting smelling smoke circa 1967. Yet this song never bows or becomes a pastiche of that, it rises above it all with its own verve and character.

Download The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind mp3 (from Welcome Joy)

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9 Brown Bird – Wrong Black Mare
Sullen, desperate story songs are a bit of a fave of mine and to be honest I think I can trace it back to this song. A tale of woe, desperation and unpaid debts are told here with such clarity, it’s as if you’ve got drunk with Brown Bird and they have decided to spill their guts to you. You understand though, ‘coz at some point we have all backed the “Wrong Black Mare”

Download Brown Bird – Wrong Brown Mare mp3 (from

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8 Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling
When I wrote my first review of this song I thought I had described quite well. Upon re-reading it, I can safely say that my view has changed and will probably change on my next listen to it. The insanity, confusion, and babbling of this song are what holds my love for it. It’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle, all encased in a funky B-line, foot tapping beat, gravel throated, roister of a song.

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7 Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do
This is such a beautifully crafted song. Simple, but packed with a rich warm sound that feels like it lends weight to the honesty of this tale of lost and forlorn love. Perfect Americana direct from Sweden.

Download Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do mp3

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6 Withered Hand – Religious Songs
A piece of lyrical mastery is on display here. A fantastic sing-a-long arrangement supports the witty word play that Dan Wilson sings with a vulnerability to his voice. This doesn’t stop him from punching the words that need emphasis. This song also ask the obvious question “How does he really expect to be happy, when he listens to death metal bands?”

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5 Tweak Bird – Weight
I love the in-your-face nature of this song. Right from the start, it sets its stall out – flat out, foot on the amp rock, and proud of it to boot. The guitar plays a gritty riff that sounds angry and frustrated, while the drummer is hell bent on punishing every bit of his kit.

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4 Grass House – A Cradle A Short Breath
The deep sombre tones that lay across this song act as a perfect partner to the bass as it pounds along at a merry old pace. It never fails to make me give a wry smile as I bob along to it’s woeful chorus of “A cradle, a short breath”.

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3 Roadside Graves – Far And Wide
I still think Roadside Graves is the best band name of this century and Far And Wide is a song that has stayed with me since my first listen – I was hooked. A great country riff lures you in and you hardly notice that the song fills with more and more sound and pleasure until it finishes and you’re left with a hole where the music once was, so you reach for the replay button, you know like musical heroin.

Download The Roadside Graves – Far And Wide mp3 (from My Son’s Home)

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2 Wooden Wand – Servant To Blues
As this track rolls effortlessly on, Wooden Wand spills his bleak melancholy tale of a servant to blues. In other words, the relationship equivalent of the Church’s pious man. I love the rhythm of this track, it almost seems to tick along like a clock. The peacefulness of this song is speared through the heart with a great screeching guitar solo, this then just seems to ebb back into the shadows it leapt from, only to be covered by the warm sound of the organ. Truly blissful…

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1 Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Stranger Dig (Everything’s For Sale)
For just two guys damn! They make some noise. Great heavy blues tinged riffs and rolling drum beats – I’m loving that all day long. There is talent and passion in abundance here. I’m sat here trying to write something for this whilst listening to it, that has had to stop, as when it plays it just grips me up and I can’t do anything other than get right into it. If you’re looking for something new rock wise I beg you to check them out, live if possible. Disappointment won’t be on the menu.

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.

(FESTIVE FEATURE) THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS No 10: THE ROADSIDE GRAVES

For our first ever Festive Feature on Mad Mackerel, we asked twelve of our favourite bands and artists of 2011 to answer twelve questions and we will publish them over the next twelve days taking us up to Christmas Eve.

MM's 12 Days Of Christmas 10: Roadside Graves.

Ahh, time to welcome the ramshackle, loveable rogues that are the Roadside Graves. Is there a band we’ve loved more over the lifespan of Mad Mackerel? Probably not. Excluding The Clash, is there one band’s back catalogue we’d want to be marooned on a desert island with? Then it is these guys.

This year we had the concept story album of sorts We Can Take Care Of Ourselves based on the novel The Outsiders. As always, we were that little bit anxious prior to listening (you always want your favourite bands to keep up their standards and maintain the quality that made you a fan in the first place), and of course we needn’t have worried. In turns heartbreaking, subtle, reflective, delicate and occasionally murderously tense, it is a wonderful, meandering and always intelligent record that rewards more with every listen.

So, some brilliant answers to our Christmas questions from all the band – just need to get them playing over here in the UK now.

a) The Velvet Underground or The Doors?

The Velvet Underground. 

The Doors: boring, pretentious, soul-less.

The Velvet Underground: ballsy, strange, beautiful. 

Bob Dylan or Neil Young?

Bob Dylan.

This was a tough one for me, I love them both. Neil Young’s voice! Its like a dagger made of warm butter. ‘On The Beach‘ is one of my favorite records and ‘Helpless‘ one of my favorite songs. and his guitar!!! I am not a big fan of guitar solos but Neil is one of a handful of guitarists that gets my thumbs up to solo whenever he wants. Simple, dirty, apocalyptic. The guitar solo in ‘Too Far Gone‘  is one of my favorites!

Bob hits at a different and deeper level. ‘Hard Rain,’ and ‘Modern Times‘ have permanently changed me as a musician. ‘Hard Rain‘ has so much energy and precision…unbelievable. and ‘Modern Times‘ is another beast. My brother put it best when he said that there’s voodoo on that record! Details. Its the record equivalent to The Big Lebowski, eternal repeat value. Lyrically, he has a way of making me feel good. It’s hard to explain, I pretty much always feel like a scumbag but Bob will make me be ok with that. listen to ‘Lonesome Day Blues‘ from ‘Love and Theft,’ that song makes me feel like I own the world! 

c) The Sex Pistols or the Clash?

The Clash.

A lot of rock musicians go through their Clash phase, mine was intense, marijuana-fueled, and rewarding. Topper Headon will always be one of my favorite drummers. If you listen to ‘London Calling‘, all of those drum tracks are meticulously written. He had a way of adding a subtle change from part to part that gave the song body and structure, but still keeping it catchy and fun. That was a huge influence on me. And I love the Sex Pistols, raw, angry, toss your pint type shit…its great. But The Clash have depth. ‘Sandanista‘, holy shit! I still haven’t fully conquered that one and I don’t know if I ever will. So much music, so much diversity, so many weird recording tricks. Its a masterpiece! I LOVE THE CLASH!

(Colin)

Roadside Graves on Mad Mackerel.2) What has been your personal highlight of 2011?

Participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC has been a real highlight. There has been so much cynicism and hopelessness here in the U.S. about the on-going recession, the poverty, the corruption, the cuts to social services like healthcare and schools, etc… The traditional channels of democratic political participation have been obstructed by political and corporate collusion. Finally people are fighting back, working collectively for social change; there’s a growing spirit of protest and resistance, and it’s been beautiful and inspiring. Personally, I have felt a renewed sense of vibrancy and hope in New York City, where previously I’d felt only some vague neon despair.

(Jeremy) 

3) What was your low point of the year?

Losing loved ones is always the lowest point of any year, and it seems to be happening with increasing regularity as we get older. Add to that the fact that we are not getting any handsomer, cooler, or wiser, and aging seems pretty bleak. Pass the bourbon, please.

(Jeremy) 

4) You can give one single album from 2011 to just one person for Christmas. What would you buy and who for?

Honestly, 2011 has been a relative low point in purchasing new music for me. I have a backlog of stuff I’ve been meaning to check out, but haven’t had the time. My band mates are my main source of new music, but you’re more likely to get Nina Simone or Can than the new Atlas Sound or War on Drugs albums. So I’m giving the new Tom Waits to me.

Is that wrong? A Christmas present to myself…?

(Dave)

5) Give us between two and five songs from 2011 that you’d recommend as the best of the year.

In no order…

Low – Witches (“He gave me a baseball bat and said here’s what you do…”)

Felice Brothers – Oliver Stone (ambitious and odd and worthy of repeat 100 times)

Tom Waits – Pay Me (“They pay me not to come home…”)

Antlers – I Don’t Want Love (“Keep your hands to yourself when you follow me home…”)

ELO – Poorboy (Yes, this came out in the 70’s but I just heard it this year and it’s better than most songs this year, on their record Eldorado)

(John)

6) Do you have a favorite Christmas Carol – why?

There is something so real and beautiful when it comes to sadness in Christmas songs. Like that old theory concerning equal and opposite reactions, Christmas has the potential to be a very joyous time, or a very lonely/dark time. Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time is Here” seems to perfectly capture that in between space of joyousness and loneliness. For me, it conjures up a scene of a brightly lit up holiday city scene with one solitary silhouette of a figure moving through the cold winter breeze. On the other hand, I recently keyed in on the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” Judy Garland version, as it played at the local petrol station convenience mart. It instantly struck me as one of the saddest songs ever written, Christmas or no Christmas. It made me think of deceased loved ones, loved ones that are no longer in love, diseased starving children, factory farms with millions of Christmas geese piled one on top of the other…you know, some real Yule Tide scenes.

(Johnny)

7) Imagine you are snowed in and stuck in an isolated house in the woods for Christmas with no way out. Wolves and bears are prowling outside.You need to recommend the following:

A classic song to impress an ultra cool, know-it-all, teenager

Bridge Over Troubled Water‘ by Simon and Garfunkel. Get the emotional juices flowing. Nothing cool there, just sweetness. We all need to turn up the Garfunkel in our lives, and turn down the coolness and knowledge. Just be sweet.

A song to terrify Grandma

Diamonds in the Mine‘ by Leonard Cohen. “There is no comfort in the covens of the witch, some very clever doctor went and sterilized the bitch…”

That or anything by the Geto Boys, depending on how badly you want to scare her.

Roadside Graves on Mad Mackerel. A traditional song to help send Grandad to sleep

Auld Lang Syne” (lyrics based on the poem by Robert Burns). Grandads should dream of the old times and the old gone pals.  

A song for someone just waking from a five-year coma

Bat out of Hell” by Meatloaf. 

A book to frighten the children

The Bible

or maybe ‘A People’s History of the United States’ by Howard Zinn. Let ‘em have nightmares about Christopher Columbus. 

An unforgettable film to watch

“The Big Lebowski” of course. I watch it every Christmas Eve.

(Jeremy)

8) What is top of your Christmas list this year? Why?

Do you remember getting the Sears Christmas Catalog or “Wish Book” in the mail each year? You can actually find scanned issues from 1979 to about 1991 online. I looked up the 1985 version, which includes the Star Wars page that must have been permanently etched in my brain, because I remember poring over the thing for hours. It was as big as a telephone book, and each toy had their own page layout: He-man, Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, GoBots, Voltron, Matchbox. Page 442 has the ridiculous GI Joe 7-1/2 foot long aircraft carrier. I guess the internet is one big grown up version of the Wish Book these days. I don’t have too much on my Christmas list – mostly mundane, practical stuff. I’d be happy with some quality time with friends, family, food, playing music, and maybe a bottle of good bourbon.

(Dave)

9) What is the worst Christmas present you’ve ever given and/or ever received?

I’ve been in a sorry financial state for the majority of my life so I’ve been forced to be creative when present-giving time comes around. This can sometimes lead to the best gifts, and sometimes utter failure. One of the latter times came when I was into a girl. We were at gift-giving status so I knew I needed something but i had dollar zero. I decided to make her a necklace. Nice idea. I took a 90′s style beaded necklace that i had and this bottle cap from Guatemala (a street artist painted a man on the bottle cap.) I made holes in the bottle cap so that the beaded necklace would go through… I finished the necklace… It was bad. I lost some beads along the way due to lack of dexterity and craftsmanship, rough. I tried it on and realized that the bottle cap scratched my chest and my knot in the back scratched my neck in an annoying way. So not only was this necklace visually unappealing, it was painful to don. This was a shitty, ghetto-ass necklace that was painful to wear. Needless to say, I never saw her wearing it and I’d be shocked to find out she ever did. 

(Colin)

10) Will you be making a New Year Resolution? If so can you share it and will you keep it? What is the stupidest New Year resolution you’ve ever made?

Well, after recently watching Forks Over Knives Documentary I considered becoming a vegan but then realized I’d never be able to eat an oyster raw again. Scratch that. I usually have a few that I work on. People make grand resolutions and break them fairly quickly. I try to keep my resolutions current and flexible and year round. Sadly they don’t change much because I am continually working on them. I try to drink whisky only on the weekend,  get to sleep by ten on school nights, escape to my attic at least once a week to write songs, drink only green tea on weekdays (coffee makes me lose my patience too easily while teaching, green tea keeps me alert and even), call my mom weekly, think of my dad without getting upset, don’t stress that Pitchfork doesn’t review our records anymore, tell my wife I appreciate her, spend time with my new baby, and well the list goes on. Strangely enough I fail at all of them, but I’m in a constant state of improving. If I ever succeed at all the above I may just in fact become a better man. Until then, well. This year I’d really like to add no complaining to my list. So in a long roundabout way I believe my New Year’s Resolution is to not complain for 2012. Which is quite a task when you live in New Jersey.

(John) 

Imagine you’re headlining a Christmas Concert at your favourite venue. You can share the stage with three other artists or bands (past or present) for the final encore of the night. Who would they be and what would you play?

The fact that this is a Christmas Concert fucks up my usual response to ‘dream band’ types of questions. 

It would be at the Bottletree in Birmingham, Alabama. 

GG Allin on vocals. Back from the grave and keeping it dangerous. 

Antony (from Antony and the Johnsons) on backing vocals. Keep it strange.

I’ll play a double-neck guitar through a half-broken blues junior amp.

Les Claypool on bass, all three drummers from The Boredoms on drums. Keep it loud and locked in. It will be the most fucked up Christmas Concert ever.

(Jeremy)

12) Can you write us a Christmas themed limerick?

Do They Know It’s Christmas on Arrakis?

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Sipping on mulled spice,

Gurney takes out his baliset.

Practicing each carol twice,

While wondering what kind of presents he’ll get.

The Harkonnens hang their stockings

While the baron wears his Santa suit

So he better not misbehave

Because that new slave boy is so damn cute

Little Paul got a new Weirding Module

And the Fremen have their peace.

No matter what the Spacing Guild says,

Christmas on Arrakis is as wonderful as can be

(Johnny)

Buy the new album here. Download from eMusic here.

Watch Liv Tyler.

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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)

Download The Roadside Graves – Everything mp3 (from You Won’t Be Happy With Me EP)

Download The Roadside Graves – Liv Tyler mp3 (from You Won’t Be Happy With Me EP)

Download The Roadside Graves – Far And Wide mp3 (from My Son’s Home)

Download The Roadside Graves – Lot Lizards mp3 (from If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do)

Download The Roadside Graves – Jesus Is A Friend Of The Family mp3 (from What Happened To Him Could Happen To Anyone)

Download The Roadside Graves – Demons (Aquarium Drunkard Encore Session) mp3

Download The Roadside Graves – Jail (Simplefolk UK Radio Live Session) mp3

Tomorrow: The Royal Sea

Previously: Lovely Eggs (here), Twilight Hotel (here), Grass House (here), Hurray For The Riff Raff (here), Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks (here), Ohioan (here), Wooden Wand (here), Henry’s Funeral Shoe (here).

MM’s 2011 Top Ten Series: No 5 Barry-Sean

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.

Next to share their favourites of the year is part man part canine Barry-Sean…

What a fantastic year for music this has been for me. I don’t just mean for music that has been produced this year but more about the music that I’ve discovered from previous years (or, more accurately in most cases, music that has been discovered for me). And, because I’ve spent a lot of time going backwards and forwards to London on the train, I’ve had loads of listening time. Hurrah!

So here we go. Here’s my top ten songs of 2011.

10. Sissy & The Blisters – Let Her Go

When MM first introduced me to Sissy & The Blisters, I wasn’t too fussed. But they’ve grown on me over the past few months. Let Her Go starts off sounding like the Editors covering Placebo. But it does remain a truly S&tB song throughout and has a wonderfully catchy chorus. A great start to my top 10, I think.

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9. Tom Williams & The Boat – See My Evil

My favourite track from the fantastic Too Slow, released early in the year. It’s an album that’s so good I could have easily included at least one more track from it in my top ten songs of the year. But no, let’s keep things varied.

Tom Williams & The Boat produce some pretty dark songs and this one bounds from one grim situation to another with a vocal that flicks between contempt and resignation accompanied by a tortured but catchy guitar riff. Pure brilliance!

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

8. Roadside Graves – Double Feature

I’m well behind the mackerel shoal in getting to love the Roadside Graves. While the other mackerels were waxing lyrical about songs like Far And Wide and Liv Tyler, I just wasn’t getting it. And then Double Feature came along and it was like having a bucket of water thrown over my head. Suddenly everything made sense and I understood what all the fuss was about.

Double Feature is from the concept album We Can Take Care of Ourselves and feels like a story … its just I’m not really sure what its about. But it builds beautifully and transported me to a drive-in on a middle-America summer evening. Atmospheric and tuneful with a great pace and vocals. If you’ve not listened to Roadside Graves before, please do try this first … then go and buy the album.

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

7. Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down

Another band I didn’t really ‘get’ but Shake Me Down from the album Thank You Happy Birthday caught my attention and held it from the opening chords. And I’ve carried on playing regularly since I first heard it in March.

I couldn’t tell you what musical genre this track fits into but its somewhere between rock and Americana. I’m just not sure where.

Download Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down mp3 (from Thank You Happy Birthday)

6. Deer Tick – The Bump

I love Deer Tick. They’re a really talented bunch of chaps who can switch between songs about the painful side of love (listen to Ashamed from their War Elephant album) to rollocking, lets-just-have-a-beer-and-party singalongs. The Bump falls well and truly into the latter category. Any song that can make me smile and stamp my foot along to it every time I hear it has got to be worth a place in my top ten, hasn’t it?

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5. Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects

I’m not really a ‘fun song’ sort of bloke but from the opening, jangly chords I fell in love with this. It’s just three and a half minutes of fun and it never fails to give me that feel-good feeling. If you’re ever a bit down in the mouth, this is sure to pick you up.

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

4. Lanterns on the Lake – Ships in the Rain

Pure atmosphere … a bit like a modern day Ocean Rain (for younger readers that’s an Echo & The Bunnymen track from their sublime album of the same name).

This songs meanders gently along with breathy, haunting vocals that takes you to a place where you can almost feel the creak of wood beneath your feet and feel the rain on your face. Beautiful.

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3. Richmond Fontaine – Lost in the Trees

Now we’re into the really serious stuff. This track has been on so many of playlists this year and I’ve never tired of it. A dark tale of a party in the woods that goes badly wrong.

The backing riff is as moody as the lyrics and, sorry to namedrop the Bunnymen again, brings to mind the brilliant Do It Clean. To be honest the only reason this isn’t at number one is because I couldn’t make my mind up between my top three songs of the year and not all of them can be number one. It is a great, great track though.

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2. The Decemberists – January Hymn

Again, this could have been number one (but equally could have been number three) but just got pipped at the post.

January Hymn is a beautiful, atmospheric song that tells of a fella who goes out clearing his drive of snow on a snowy day. He thinks of his love who has left him and all the things he should have said before she left.

You’d expect the Decemberists to come up with quality tunes and lyrics but this is so good you can picture the scenes as Colin Meloy sings them. Genius.

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Twilight Hotel – Mahogany Veneer

A moody (and slightly sad) road trip as Twilight Hotel take us across America, visiting some of the places you wanted necessarily want to see, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina being a great example.

The entire song conjures up so many images in the mind to a backdrop of a melancholic melody. I do love story songs and this has become one of my favourites. Not necessarily for the story itself but for the intelligent way Twilight Hotel have matched lyrics with tune and brought them together to create a dark, dark journey.

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

Bubbling Under

Young the Giant – My Body

A thumping, foot-tapping tune that seems to push the buttons of the fellas in our office more than the ladies. Great tune … enough said.

Lovely Eggs – Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)

This got in my head back at the start of autumn and just stayed there. Daft lyrics set to a late seventies punky tune with a distinctive and quite addictive vocal. Great fun.

Mr Plow – Typhus

Not such great fun but you’ve got to love a song about a killer disease haven’t you? If you’re mad enough not to want to listen to this all the way through … just about everyone dies in the end! Don’t listen to this is if you’re feeling low though, eh?

Download Mr Plow – Typhus mp3 (from Joyful In Song We Are)

Missed it!

The Whalers – That Rabbit

If this had been a 2011 song, it would have been top five. I love this.

Download The Whalers – That Rabbit mp3 (from How The Ship Goes Down)

Walkmen – Juveniles

This would have been my number two if it had been this year. It conjures up memories of sitting on a Friday evening train on the way back from London and marvelling at the Berkshire countryside in early spring. For me, this tune will always remind me of the coming of lighter evenings and warmer days.

Download The Walkmen – Juveniles mp3 (from Lisbon)

White Buffalo – Black and Blue

And this would have been my number one. Brilliant lyrics that starts with the storyteller’s girlfriend storming out after a row. The storyteller goes on to reflect on the downside of being in love. I‘m not going to say anything else. Just that if you only listen to one of the songs I’ve talked about here, please make it this one.

Okkervil River – John Allyn Smith Sails

Aaaaah, Okkervil River. Why didn’t I know about you before this year? These guys were one of my highlights of End of the Road 2011. This is another dark tale but without the moody tune to go with it. There’s also a brilliant cameo by a well-known tune towards the end of the song that I absolutely love.

Modest Mouse – Doin’ the Cockroach

I love Modest Mouse and I think this is as good as the brilliant Float On. It might be an acquired taste, I don’t know, but it has dominated my playlists for much of the year and I truly wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get past the aforementioned Float On and into some of MM’s other tunes.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Choctaw Bingo

And lastly, a song from way, way back that seems to have passed me by. Shame on me and shame for me. I’ve put the Ray Wylie Hubbard version here but I love the live version by James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards too. Its eight and a half minutes of roister-doistering, foot-stomping that will have you hooked as quickly as the crystal meth that Uncle Slayton cooks up. Great story, great song, glad its in my ITunes collection.

Covers

Siskiyou – Revolution Blues

My favourite Neil Young tune covered perfectly. Perhaps even more tortured and paranoid than the original vocal, Siskiyou have really done the brilliance of Revolution Blues proud.

Black Keys – Ummm Oh Yeah (Dearest)

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This is a standout track from an outstanding album of Buddy Holly covers. I was brought up on Buddy Holly and have come to love his music almost as much as my dad loves it. I could have easily picked out half a dozen tracks from the sublime Rave On Buddy Holly album but Ummm Oh Yeah (Dearest) is my favourite Buddy Holly original so this is the one I’m putting forward in my favourite covers of the year.

Free Halloween Mix 2011

Free Halloween Mix 2011. While we’re not great ones for themed mixes on MM, Halloween is one of the exceptions we like to make. Here is a perfect mix for whatever ghoulish event you’ve got lined up today! Fifteen corking tunes, from the skewed new wave pop of XTC and off-kilter indie of the Mountain Goats to the trashy surf rock of The Cramps and from the folk-stomp of the Men They Couldn’t Hang and the gothic drive of Ghost Dance to the pounding blues rock of the Scissormen and 22-20s. Enjoy.

Download Ministry – Every Day Is Halloween mp3

Download Ghost Dance – The Grip Of Love mp3

Download Green On Red – Zombie For Love mp3

Download The Roadside Graves – Demons (Aquarium Drunkard Encore Session) mp3

Download The Scissormen – The Devil Is Laughing mp3

Download The 22-20s – Devil In Me mp3

Download Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks – Macabre Holy Pleasure mp3

Download Ghoultown – Killer In Texas mp3

Download The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Ghosts Of Cable Street mp3

Download The Seeds – Evil Hoodoo mp3

Download The Cramps – I Was A Teenage Werewolf mp3

Download The Bodeans – Pretty Ghost mp3

Download The Mountain Goats – Damn These Vampires mp3

Download The Skeleton Dead – Lock The Doors mp3

Download XTC – The Ballad Of Peter Pumpkinhead mp3

And don’t forget our 2010 Halloween mix either – still available here.

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: July 2011

Mad Mackerel's Best of July Mix. Oh yes, it is that time again. Here is a round up of the very best of what we posted in July, plus a couple of new ones to add to the mix. Enjoy.

Download Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me mp3 (from Be Ready)

Morricone inspired spaghetti western feel and Tijuana style horns combine to give an authentic dusty desert twang.

BTW: Whichever knob alleged infringement of copyright and reported to DMCA – get your facts right or contact us direct! This track is shared with full permission of Top Button Digital who represent the band.

Download Jenny Owen Youngs – Great Big Plans mp3 (from Great Big Plans)

First taste of singer-songwriter’s new album. It’s good!

Download The Deep Dark Woods – Westside Street mp3 (from The Place I Left Behind)

Another lovely example of their warm, resonant folk sound – it meanders slowly and surely along on the back of some lovely harmonies and easy going instrumentation.

Download Wooden Shjips – Lazy Bones mp3 (from West)

Takes the spirit of the Velvet Underground and melds it perfectly with the pummeling space rock of Hawkwind to create one of the best tracks of the year so far.

Download The Happy Thoughts – Sweet Dirty Love mp3 (from The Happy Thoughts)

Two and a half minutes of perfect, roughly hewn, garage style power pop.

Download Grass Widow – Mannequin mp3 (from Milo Minute 7″)

A suitably jangly and messy cover of Wire’s classic.

Download Megafaun – These Words mp3 (from Megafaun)

A round-robin of gamelan, ambient sounds, frogs, and cicadas underpin a hauntingly indelible piano melody and a hypnotic beat.

Download Vacant Fever – Heavy Leather mp3 (from Heparin And Saline)

Brilliantly sparse and stripped back affair with not a wasted note or murmur from first moment to the last.

Download Blind Atlas – Mary Anne mp3 (from Iron Wall EP)

The band put down their electric guitars and picked up acoustic instruments for Mary Anne and produced a lovely, laid-back country song.

Download The Sainthood Reps – Monoculture mp3 (from Monoculture)

Gem of distortion, bludgeoning percussion, and a nagging, jagged riff that sets it well apart from the usual fare and, played loud enough, might just remove the paint from the walls.

Download Brown Bird – Fingers To The Bone mp3 (from Salt For Salt)

Traditionally dark and eerie sound that is often backed with some of the most ominous and foreboding lyrics you’re likely to hear.

Download The Parson Red Heads – Burning Up The Sky mp3 (from Yearling)

Harkens back to the most prolific and inventive elements in the canon of West Coast psych-folk, the band’s music is intricate, gorgeous and rich.

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – Weather Of A Killing Kind mp3 (Adult Swim free single)

Gravelly tones and strummed acoustics.

Download Pepper Rabbit – Murder Room mp3 (from Red Velvet Snow Ball)

The dark undertone takes its time to bubble to the surface before dragging you back down in to its hidden depths.

Download St. Vincent – Big Black Mariah mp3 (live at Rain Dogs Revisited at The Barbican)

Cover of the month?

Download St. Vincent – Surgeon mp3 (from Strange Mercy)

And a brilliant taster from forthcoming new album.

Download We Were Promised Jetpacks – Act on Impulse mp3 (from In The Pit Of The Stomach)

An absolute cracker, featuring two minutes of tribal drumming and building guitars as an intro before launching into an anthem of stadium proportions.

Download Carter Tanton – Murderous Joy mp3 (from Freeclouds)

Our first point of reference was Sparklehorse: it is elegant, forlorn, and intimate.

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

Treat yourself to some trademark full on blues-rock riffage a la Zeppelin or Sabbath and that throaty Joplin like roar. Marvellous.

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

Country rock and whiskey raw vocals from stalwart MM faves.

Download Rhubarb Whiskey – Bears In The Lot mp3 (from Cautionary Tales)

Unique tale of bears and booze whose lyrics were penned by the infamous award winning horror author Poppy Z. Brite.

Download Case Studies – The Eagle, Or The Serpent mp3 (from The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night)

Download Case StudiesYou Folded Up My Blanket Like We Were Already Lovers mp3 (from The World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night) (via RSTB)

Two brilliant tracks that tell the tales of the dysfunctional and the disenchanted, the dreamers and the hopeless. Faultless folk!

Download Mikal Cronin – Apathy mp3 (from Mikal Cronin)

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

And two brilliant blends of sweet melodies and chords with chunky, psychedelic guitar freak-outs - a California fuzz take on gorgeously unexpected psych garage pop.

Download Amen Dunes – Lower Mind mp3 (from Through Donkey Jaw)

Dark-hearted psych-folk over a repetitive almost drone-like rhythm – it calls to mind another MM fave in Wooden Wand.

Download Peg Simone – Wait For Night mp3

An eerie, otherworldly approach to blues and folk featuring lingering, ghostly guitar riffs and silver-tongued vocals.

And to finish off a cracking mix we have the dreamy pop loops of Gauntlet Hair, the easy-going folk-pop of Book Club (via MOKB), Jeff The Brotherhood’s faithful Nirvana take for their contribution to SPIN magazine’s free tribute album (get the whole thing here) and finally The Fungi Girls offer up a taste of their wonderful mix of psych-pop hooks and garage fuzz from forthcoming album Some Easy Magic.

Download Gauntlet Hair – Top Bunk mp3 (from Gauntlet Hair)

Download Book Club – Meal Of Dreams mp3 (from Ghost)

Download Fungi Girls – Velvet Days mp3 (from Some Easy Magic)

Download JEFF The Brotherhood – Something In The Way mp3 (from Newermind: SPIN Tribute to Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’)

See all our previous Best of The Month mixes in the side bar on the left. You might also like our recent free Truck Festival mix here or Big Hitters Round Up here.

Roadside Graves Album Out Today

Roadside Graves Album Out Today.MM faves, Jersey’s Roadside Graves release their new LP We Can Take Care of Ourselves, inspired by S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, today via Autumn Tone Records.

We’ve already given you a taste through the superb Love Me More, and to mark the album release the band have made a second track, Double Feature available for your edification and enjoyment.

Buy the album here.

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)

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: May 2011

Here are the juiciest cuts from our May postings rounded up and presented as one marvellous mix plus a couple of cracking new tracks as well. Be sure to check out all our previous ‘Best Of the Month’ mixes in the sidebar too.

Download Country Mice – Morning Son mp3 (from Twister)

Country rock and blistering sonic experiments combining to deliver a brilliant apocalyptic ballad.

Download Howling Owls – Hay Fever mp3 (from When Tipsy Turns Somber EP)

Deliciously ominous folk music that creeps from the edges of the swamp and imperceptibly curls icy fingers around the back of your neck.

Download The Black Lips – Modern Art mp3 (from Arabia Mountain)

A garage fuelled boozy swagger with added meaty Stooges Fun House era sonics.

Download Jackie-O Motherfucker – In The Willows mp3 (from Earth Sound System)

Banks of hazy guitars that threaten to show the chillwave youngsters where it’s at with some sun dappled riffs.

Download Abigail Washburn – City Of Refuge mp3 (from City Of Refuge)

Charming mix of Appalachian folk and bluegrass topped with a gorgeous vocal delivery.

Download The Skeleton Dead – Lock The Doors mp3

Brilliantly realised tale of the macabre – follow the twists and turns of a murderous burglar told over a sparse backdrop of gentle instrumentation that acts as a wonderful counterbalance to the coiled menace of the lyrics – this gem gives a twisted new take on murder ballads.

Download Mount Moriah – Lament mp3 (from Mount Moriah)

Wonderfully hymnal chant over a delicate acoustic narrative.

Download Leaving – Lonely Child mp3 (from Ghost House EP)

Sparse, ghostly and beautiful folk with slow, swirling instrumentation like tendrils of smoke from a campfire.

Download The Middle East – Hunger Song mp3 (from I Want That You Are Always Happy)

Australian folk musical collective’s upbeat gem.

Download Moses Luster – I’m The Lion mp3 (from I’m The Lion)

For lovers of tales of the downtrodden and the desperate.

Download Bonnie “Prince” Billy & The Phantom Family Halo – The Mindeater mp3 (from The Mindeater)

Bonnie’s vocal performance is perhaps already one of his eeriest in years – creepy backwoods paranoia anyone?

Download Marissa Nadler – The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You mp3 (from Marissa Nadler)

Her unique blend of dream pop, but this time pedal steel adds a distinct country feel to accompany that exquisite, ethereal voice.

Download Elliott Brood – Northern Air mp3 (from Days Into Years)

Another very fine example of their bluegrass tinged, up tempo alt-country with a classic singalong chorus.

Download U.S. Girls – If These Walls Could Talk mp3 (from U.S. Girls / Slim Twig Split 12″)

Hazy, insistent pop minimalism.

Download Slim Twig – Priscilla mp3 (from U.S. Girls / Slim Twig Split 12″)

Brilliantly twisted pop-art.

Download Chad VanGaalen – Sara mp3 (from Diaper Island)

Sparse, sweet, wide-eyed acoustic taster from new album.

Download Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone mp3 (from Volume 2)

Ultra catchy country and horns rumble.

Download The Stripminers – No Luck mp3

Acerbic, punky take on Americana.

Download The Adultery Brothers – Something In My Drink mp3 (from Let Me Think)

Effevescent toe-tapping indie rock.

Download Pearl & the Beard – Sweetness mp3 (from Killing The Darlings)

Spitting, crackling folk with rousing boy/girl harmonies and mischievous ways.

Download The Blood Arm – Introducing Randy Newman mp3 (from Turn And Face Me)

Explosively catchy blend of tribal drums, relentless rock ‘n’ roll guitar and classicly simple, but effective hooks.

Download Mr Plow – Thank You Mr Ford mp3 (from Joyful In Song We Are)

Rich baritone voice lingers over a backdrop of twangy Gretsch guitars, shuffling drums and zinging flat top acoustic strumming.

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

Perfectly judged slice of tattered country rock with a rich chorus and a expansive feel.

Download Savaging Spires – Bending The Rules For Brian mp3 (from Savaging Spires)

Spooky slice of freakish folk and drone with a chorus that sounds like a voodoo incantation over slow, ominous backing strings.

Download The Sea Thieves – Focus The Stars mp3 (from They Will Run)

Hypnotic and haunting, it is a song that is meant for the quiet of evening when the stars are out and the only other sound is the wind rustling the leaves.

Download Twiggy Frostbite – By The Ocean mp3 

Hazy, dreamlike song that sounds like it was created in a netherworld where surreal is the norm, and nothing is quite as it seems or as it should be.

And to finish we have the slightly unhinged proto-garage of The Bats Pajamas, the brilliantly retro garage soul of Fitz & The Tantrums (with a track just made for open-top cruising), and the first taste of songwriter Van Pierszalowski’s new project following the very sad demise of the wonderful Port O’Brien. Called Waters, this is his rousing single For The One.

Download The Bats Pajamas – Downtown Nitty Gritty mp3 (from The Bats Pajamas)

Download Fitz & The Tantrums – Don’t Gotta Work It Out mp3 (from Songs For A Break Up: Volume 1 EP)

Download Waters – For The One mp3 (from Out In The Light)

New Album From The Roadside Graves

Probably like most blogs, there are a handful of bands out there for whom the mere mention of new material can cause great excitement.

The Roadside Graves are one such band for us here at MM. Ever since we fell for the brilliant My Son’s Home album in 2009, and particularly the wonderful Far And Wide (which is simply one of our favourite songs of the past five years) we have leapt upon anything new with a childish joy and enthusiasm.

The back catalogue was devoured (don’t miss the sublime Jesus Was A Friend Of The Family from What Happened To Him Could Happen To Anyone) and last year saw the re-issue of the album If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do… and a new EP You Won’t Be Happy With Me – enough to keep us happy.

So we were more than pleased to learn the band will release their new LP We Can Take Care of Ourselves on July 19, via Autumn Tone Records.

The album is inspired by a story dear to the band, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. The Jersey seven-piece have ended up with eleven songs, ranging from anthems, pop songs, and ballads to a dark synthesizer instrumental to little folk ditties. For now we have Love Me More – it is a perfectly judged slice of tattered country rock with a rich chorus and a expansive feel.

Unsurprisingly we love it.

Pre-order available soon via autumntone.com. There is also a new Daytrotter session here with more songs from the new album.

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

Download The Roadside Graves – Far And Wide mp3 (from My Son’s Home)