To celebrate the end of term, daughter sprat and I loafed into the local market town today. Her treat was a trip to the fishy foot parlour, and Mama went too… Nothing has given me such a fit of the giggles in quite some time. Sadly, the fish didn’t share the joke. I thought I saw a few waving white handkerchiefs while others threw themselves out of the tank onto the floor. Not really.
So it’s a trip to London to the theatre (darling) tomorrow. How bloody exciting – and travelling on the train too. I’m going Jumpy courtesy of Jenny Wren with Mrs Olive Grove. We’re going to the matinee because we’re old and we can lunch before hand and still be home in plenty of time for Match of the Day and a cup of cocoa. I know how to live.
Come Sunday, it’s off I jolly well go to see Welsh Spanner in (yes, you guessed it) deepest darkest Wales with Sprat 1 and 2. I feel that once again we will be testing the golden rule of trips to Pembrokeshire: that it doesn’t rain in Wales. Sorry to disappoint you kids, but you’re deluded. Anyway, crazy but hugely lovable Auntie Spanner is always great value and after 20 plus years she will even hug me and my children willingly. I was born an enthusiastic hugger/cuddler. The very first birthday of hers that we celebrated together prompted a spontaneous hug from me. Her response? I grew up on a farm, Scares; we don’t do hugs. This was followed by me presenting her with a cake adorned with those re-lighting candles. We had to evacuate the building as the fire alarm went off. Happy days.
Still, I believe hugging is good for the soul. Happy Friday.
Here is our regular round-up of the recent best of the inbox, blogs and internet for you to peruse, scrutinise and download for your undoubted listening pleasure and aural delight.
First up is a second taste from the forthcoming Two Gallants long player The Bloom And The Blight. While previous offeringBroken Eyes was a gorgeous, folky delight, My Love Won’t Wait indulges the band’s heavier side with a rollicking tune that is equally thrilling in a very different way. She Keeps Bees also keep the needles in the red with See Me, a recent offering from last year’s long player Dig On that calls to mind the basic rawness of PJ Harvey and blues tilt of early Kills.
Sundress are a Texas based psych-rock band in the vein of Tweak Bird or White Denim. New 7″ California Dames is a very satisfying addition to that particular stable. Ride on boys! Brooklyn’s Dead Leaf Echo on the other hand offer up a more gauzy, laid back, almost 80s vibe to their single Act of Truth. It wastheir contribution to a limited split release with Slowness that sold out with all haste, but will now be reissued by Greenfuse Records.
We were delighted to get news of a new album, Angelmaker, by Heaven’s Jail Band (think Leonard Cohen backed by Lynrd Skynrd) and a new set of tales: Doomsday fetish, slow burns, long cons, infanticide, rough sex (real and archetypal), morbid visions, delusions of grandeur, beating the odds…again all deadpanned in virulent mix of heroic and vulgar vernacular. If the sharp edges aren’t immediately apparent don’t worry, you’ll be bubble wrapping the edges of the coffee table soon. For now, try out Daddy’s Blues and buy the album from Bandcamp here.
Spook Houses’ debut LP Trying delivers low-fi slacker indie rock loaded with the energy of the band’s rambunctious punk roots and is an album surely to be accessible by angsty american suburban teenagers or nostalgic lovers of 90s basement rock in the vein of Built to Spill and Neutral Milk Hotel. Taster track American is a two minute brash burnout anthem with its chugging bass line and plodding pace and lyrics pulled from misguided conversations with girls. A stonewall keeper!
This Outer Minds track, We Are All Stone has been around for a couple of weeks now, but its perfectly judged garage-psych voodoo rumble, and reverential nod to the Doors makes it too good to leave out from posting. Finally, Lonesome Dreams, the first full-length album from rising LA-based band Lord Huron, will be released on 9th October via label IAMSOUND Records. Grab the galloping, infectious dusty folk chime of Time To Run - certainly the best thing we’ve heard from them so far.
Snacky Tunes Vol.1, is an excellent free compilation featuring past performances from their weekly radio show on Heritage Radio.
It is now available for completely free download here. It features tracks from artists as diverse as Freelance Whales, Midnight Magic, Surfer Blood, Eli Paperboy Reed, Frankie Rose and the Outs, Blood Orange, and Au Revoir Simone, amongst others.
A full tracklisting is below, along with a couple of tasters from the album. Click here to head over to the Snacky Tunes podcast, where all past shows are available for download.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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 …”
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.