Best of the Year: Mad Mackerel’s Top Twenty

MM's Top 20 Best of 2014

And so we bring our round up of favourite songs, albums, covers, and guilty pleasures to a close with the final “best of” post, Mad Mackerel’s own top twenty.

20 Kye Alfred Hillig – My Young Love Was As Blind As Ray Charles And Half As Cold As Heat

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19 Parquet Courts – Black And White

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18 Jamie T – The Prophet

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17 The Amazing Snakeheads – Here It Comes Again

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16 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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15 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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14 Girl Band – Lawman

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13 The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

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12 Together PANGEA – River

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11 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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10 Faces On Film – Percy
Percy kicks off with pulsating, tribal percussion that doesn’t quit throughout the song’s entire four and half minutes. It is like a small child in a sweet shop relentlessly pummelling you into submission until there is nothing left to do but give in. Then once you have you realise this was by far the best course of action anyway – the most infectious rhythm of the year. Resistance is futile.

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9 Sun Kil Moon – Dogs
Dogs is unashamedly, perhaps deliberately, cringingly frank and revealing. No-one sings more conversationally than Mark Kozelek, but it is exactly the lack of sentiment and judgement in this song that gives it such impact. A deadpan tale of sexual fumblings and failures mixed with an all too accurate recollection of our self obsessed teenage selves gives the song a wincing recognition for every listener’s own emotions that makes listening to it almost too painful.

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8 Dream Police – My Mama’s Dead
In my head this is a follow up to Hendrix’s classic Hey Joe. Except my head has been split in two by the sheer brutal, pneumatic force of this song, a snarling, distorted beast of a tune that is as brilliantly grim and unforgiving as the title suggests. Am I the only one who thinks the Dream Police are a far more enjoyable listen than alter-egos The Men?

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7 Parquet Courts – Ducking And Dodging
Ducking And Dodging boasts the catchiest punk riff since, oh I don’t know, Stoned And Starving perhaps. Yet this time it comes with extra ingredients, a little added anger and a whole cauldron full of world weariness and frustration giving their take on a traditional tune a fiery new incarnation and showing once and for all that they were always far, far more than simple Velvets or Pavement disciples.

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6 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric
A word perfect riposte to all those endless murder ballads where the woman’s part is merely that of hopeless victim. Over an deceptively hypnotic refrain Alynda Lee Segarra reveals that the tables are turning, “He’s gonna shoot me down, put my body in the river, Cover me up with the leaves of September, Like an old sad song, you heard it all before, Well, Delia’s gone but I’m settling the score

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5 Houndmouth – For No One
Houndmouth announced their return with this sublime slice of surreal Americana. More obtuse than before, it boasted the best opening verse of any song we heard this year, then over a deceptively simple strummed guitar line, Matt Myers travels from resignation to bitterness and ultimately acceptance. For No One is a sparse, poignant ballad that is as close to perfection as you’re likely to hear.

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4 Damien Jurado – Metallic Cloud
Metallic Cloud seems packed full of meaning, overflowing with imagery and allusion and cloaked in layers and layers of mystery. Curiously it feels to me like a companion piece to Neil Young’s After The Goldrush, and I can’t really think of a higher compliment than that. The first song to reduce me to tears this year, in tandem with the red wine mind you.

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3 The Pink Mountaintops – North Hollywood Microwaves
Surreal, obscene, freaky, offensive,  lewd. Repulsive, coarse, vulgar, gross and rude. But unquestionably, undeniably, uniformly brilliant. This was the sound of rock’n’roll updated for the here and now.

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2 The Water Liars – Swannanoa
Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Water Liars delivered an exceptional album this year, and this is an undoubted highlight, a melancholy story of searching and loss, of heroin and girls with stutters, of cowardice and looking death in the face. There is no one, but no one, who does this stuff as well as the Water Liars and why they aren’t massive is a source of constant bemusement to me.

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1 The Amazing Snakeheads – Where Is My Knife
I’m gonna show you if it takes all night, We’re staying here till you get it right, It’s been three whole days with no end in sight“, so opens the year’s most chilling, and thrilling, song. An irresistible mix of primeval rock’n’roll, trashcan punk and swampy voodoo blues provides the most exquisitely perfect soundtrack for Dale Barclay’s unhinged protagonist.

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Guilty Pleasure:

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off
F**k off, it’s brilliant.

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Favourite Cover of the Year:

Hearts Of Oak – Must Have Been Drunk (George Jones cover)

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Reissue of the Year:

Crime – Piss On Your Dog (from Murder By Guitar)

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Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums of 2014: Part 2

Here are our favourite twenty albums of 2014. Don’t forget to check out numbers 40 – 21 here.

20 Together PANGEA – Badillac

together badillac

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19 Meatbodies – Meatbodies

meatbodies

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18 Strand of Oaks – Heal

strand of oaks

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17 Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing

jessica lea mayfield

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16 Eagulls – Eagulls

eagulls

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15 Happyness – Weird Little Birthday

happyness

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14 Felice Brothers – Favourite Waitress

New From The Felice Brothers

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13 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

mac demarco

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12 Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

New Album From Sharon van Etten

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11 Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Angel Olsen

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10 The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

War on Drugs

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9 Dream Police – Hypnotised

dream police

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8 Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Small Town Heroes

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7 Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

parquet courts

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6 Damien Jurado – Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son

damien jurado

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5 Pink Mountaintops – Get Back

More From Pink Mountaintops

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4 Sun Kil Moon – Benji

sun kil moon benji

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3 Water Liars – Water Liars

water liars

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2 Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

amazing snakeheads

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1 Jamie T – Carry On The Grudge

jamie t

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Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Songs Of 2014: 40 -21

MM's Best of 2014 40-21

Day four of five – reaching the top of the MM charts for 2014. Here are our favourites from 40 down to 21.

40 Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves

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39 Dead Fingers – Twisted

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38 Alt J – Left Hand Free

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37 Screaming Females – Ripe

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36 Sleaford Mods – Tiswas

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35 Sun Kil Moon – Dogs

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34 Jamie T – Zombie

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33 Spookyland – Silly Fucking Thing

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32 Dream Police – My Mama’s Dead

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31 The Felice Brothers – Constituents

 

30 Jonah Tolchin – Mockingbird

 

29 Mac DeMarco – Brother

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28 The Vacant Lots – Mad Mary Jones

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27 Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric

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26 Sharon Van Etten – Everytime The Sun Comes Up

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25 Wooden Wand – Waveland

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24 Mark Erelli – Ice Fishing

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23 Bombadil - Have Me

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22 Faces On Film – Percy

 

21 The Felice Brothers – Cherry Licorice

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Don’t forget to check out numbers 100 – 81 here, 80 – 61 here, and 60 – 41 here.

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Songs Of 2014: 60-41

MM's Best Of 2014 60-41

Day three of our countdown – tracks 60 through to 41 of our favourite songs of the year.

60 Cate Le Bon – He’s Leaving

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59 Jamie T – The Prophet

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58 Mark Lanegan Band – Sad Lover

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57 The Districts – Funeral Beds

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56 The Amazing Snakeheads – Here It Comes Again

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55 Sleaford Mods – Routine Dean

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54 Simone Felice – Running Through My Head

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53 Sam Doores – Drifter’s Wife

52 The Wytches – Burn Out The Bruise

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51 Sun Kil Moon – Jim Wise

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50 Early Winters – A Thing For You

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49 Smashing Pumpkins – Being Beige

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48 Matt Kivel – Insignificance

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47 Hamilton Leithauser – 11 O’Clock Friday Night

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46 Together PANGEA – River

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45 The Dune Rats – Dalai Lama, Big Banana, Marijuana

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44 Chimes – Total Sunflower

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43 Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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42 Shovels & Rope – Evil

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41 First Aid Kit – Heaven Knows

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Check out numbers 100 – 81 here, and 80 – 61 here.

Five Songs You Should Have Heard This Week

Here are 5 tunes that you should have heard already, but if not…

1. Sun Kil Moon – The Possum
2. Strand Of Oaks – My Wrecking Ball (Ryan Adams cover)
3. Kal Marks – Don’t Pussy Foot With A Pussyfooter
4. HOLY – Golden Fog
5. Swearing At Motorists – Groundhog Day (Damn The Piper)

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Favourite Albums of 2014 (So Far)

MM's Best of 2014 So Far

The longest day has come and gone, and halfway through the year we are. It seemed a good point to reflect and share thirty of our favourite albums of 2014 so far, and so here they are, in strictly alphabetical order of course…

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The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads

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Amen Dunes – Love

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Avers – Empty Light

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Dan Baker – Pistol In My Pocket

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Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

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The Drive-By Truckers – English Oceans

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Dune Rats – Dune Rats

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Simone Felice – Strangers

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The Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress

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First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

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Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes

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Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing – Micah P. Hinson & The Nothing

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Hurray For The Riff Raff – Small Town Heroes

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Damien Jurado – Brothers & Sisters Of The Eternal Mind

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Hamilton Leithauser – Black Hours

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Lorelle Meets The Obsolete – Chambers

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Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing

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Natural Child – Dancin With Wolves

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Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

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Orwells – Disgraceland

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Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal

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Pink Mountaintops – Get Back

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Strand Of Oaks – Heal

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Sun Kil Moon – Benji

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Together Pangea – Badillac

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Vacant Lots – Departure

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Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

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The War On Drugs – Lost In The Dream

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Water Liars – Water Liars

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Wooden Wand – Farmers Corner

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Sun Kil Moon & The Album Leaf – Perils From The Sea

Sun Kil Moon & The Album Leaf - Perils From The Sea

Sun Kil Moon’s bitterly poignant and self-deprecating Among The Leaves was one of our favourite albums of last year and Mark Kozelek has wasted no time in following that up with a collaboration with The Album Leaf titled Perils From The Sea. It would appear that upbeat still remains a distant expectation with titles like Baby In Death Can I Rest Next To Your Grave…only an eight minute epic too.

The album is out at the end of April on Caldo Verde Records. Have a listen.

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums Of 2012 Part 2: 15 – 1

The final post about our favourites of the year, here are numbers fifteen down to top spot of the albums we have most enjoyed in 2012.

Don’t forget to check back for our 100 Favourite Tunes and the MM contributor’s best of lists too.

Shearwater Animal Joy

15 Shearwater – Animal Joy

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Patterson Hood Heat Lightning

14 Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance

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Sharon Van Etten Tramp

13 Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

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Tame Impala - Lonerism

12 Tame Impala – Lonerism

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Wintersleep - Hello Hum

11 Wintersleep – Hello Hum

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Justin Townes Earle Nothings Gonnna

10 Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

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Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral

9 Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral

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First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

8 First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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Two Gallants

7 Two Gallants – The Bloom And The Blight

Download Two Gallants – Broken Eyes mp3 (from The Bloom And The Blight)

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Sun Kil Moon - Among The Leaves

6 Sun Kil Moon – Among The Leaves

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Delta Spirit

5 Delta Spirit – Delta Spirit

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Tom Williams - Teenage Blood

4 Tom Williams & The Boat – Teenage Blood

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Willy Mason Carry On

3 Willy Mason – Carry On

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The Walkmen - Heaven

2 The Walkmen – Heaven

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Father John Misty - Fear Fun

1 Father John Misty – Fear Fun

Polly Pocket’s Top Songs Of 2012

MM's Top Songs Of 2012: Polly Pocket

As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year posts over the past five days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. Kicking us off is Polly Pocket

This has been the hardest year ever to pick the best of – it has been a cracking year for top tunes but here goes…..

30. Sinead O’Connor – The Wolf Is Getting Married

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29. Two Gallants – Broken Eyes

28. Tame Impala – Elephant

27. Sera Cahoone – Deer Creek Canyon

Download Sera Cahoone – Deer Creek Canyon mp3

26. Sun Kil Moon – The Bird Has A Broken Wing

Download Sun Kil Moon – That Bird Has A Broken Wing mp3

25. The Dandy Warhols – Sad Vacation

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24. Rachel Sermanni – The Fog

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23. Matthew Perryman Jones – Land of the Living

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22. Fort Atlantic – No One Will Know

Download Fort Atlantic – No One Will Know mp3

21. Dubious Ranger – 1999

Download Dubious Ranger – 1999 mp3

20. The Wilderness of Manitoba – The Ark

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19. Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon and Ethan Schmid – Love In Vain

Download Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon and Ethan Schmid – Love In Vain mp3

18. Shovels & Rope – Birmingham

17. Strand Of Oaks – Little Wishes

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16. Ben Howard – Oats In The Water

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15. Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait

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14. Magic Arm – Put Your Colour Up

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13. Trampled By Turtles – Keys To Paradise

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12. Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore

11. Grassfight – Nassau

10. Wild Nothing – Paradise
Well, this is way more retro electro pop than I was anticipating having in my top ten, but damn it, I just like it. Whenever I hear it I feel I have gone back about 20 years, sitting round the edge of a village hall hoping not to dance. I never thought it would end up at number ten, but I admire it for doing so.

9. Houndmouth – Penitentiary
Just when I thought I might have found a tune before MM I was of course put right, but I was happy to share my love of Penitentiary nonetheless. Its an old fashioned, whiskey drinking, tobacco chewing kind of a song, and its a song sung well.

8. Angel Snow – Lie Awake
This was a late arrival into my top ten and I am thrilled to have it here. Those beautiful haunting vocals stay with you long after listening – its a sad story perfectly told and I love it. Not the happiest song in my top ten but certainly one of the most beautiful.

7. Tom Williams and The Boat – Too Young
For me, this tune has all the energy of being young with the class of being a little older! I have loved it for months and it does what a good song should – makes you smile, makes you get up and dance or certainly tap a foot. Lovely guitars and violins, with nice gentle vocals – great stuff.

6. The Tallest Man On Earth – Wind And Walls
Why this song? I guess it just makes me happy. When Kristian Matsson starts to sing, its hard not to smile, such a powerful voice. There is no place to hide with this tune – just a guitar, some words and a man telling a story. Nothing wrong with that combination in my mind.

5. First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
This has been in with the best since the beginning of the year, and rightfully so. Brilliant vocals – all pure and clean and I still marvel at the number of words you can get into one sentence and still sound melodic. Certainly one of the best of the year.

4. Shearwater – You As You Were
I only found Shearwater this year, and what a lovely band to find. Animal Joy is a very fine album and to me, You As You Were is the stand out track. It a massive song, full of energy from start to finish. I kind of wish I’d had this song with me a decade or so ago, it would have suited me down to the ground.

3. Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes
A very elegant tune, a quiet beginning and then the dark and brooding piano arrives slowly building before the lyrics kick in. It feels like it should be the soundtrack to a very brilliant film (is it?) Any how, it’s worth several listens, especially with a glass of wine or a cocktail or two.

2. Alt-J – Taro
It was a hard to know which track to pick from (in my humble opinion) the album of the year, An Awesome Wave. In any given situation this song always sounds perfect. I understand none of it but love all of it, particularly the instrumental twiddly middle which always takes me to far away lands, even when stuck on the M4. This song, like much of the album creates something brilliant.

1. We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
This song certainly stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it earlier in the year and continues to do so – always something new to ponder over in those heartbreaking lyrics. Thankfully I am normally left feeling more upbeat than melancholy but its a close call. This has held the no.1 spot for many months now, and rightly so. A song of genius

You can find downloads, streams, or videos for all the other tracks above by checking out MM’s Top 100 tunes here: 100 – 81, 80 – 61, 60 – 41, 40 – 21 and 20 – 1.

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 2: 80-61

MM's Best of 2012 Nos 80-61

Here are tracks 80 – 61 in our countdown of Mad Mackerel’s 100 favourite tunes of the year. Don’t forget to check out numbers 100 – 81 in yesterday’s post here and check back tomorrow for numbers 61 – 40.

Here we go…

80 SUN KIL MOON – SUNSHINE IN CHICAGO
Beautifully bittersweet reflections of wandering troubadour preparing for another gig in Chicago and how the times have changed…

Sunshine in Chicago makes me sad
My band played here a lot in the nineties when we had
A lot of female fans and fuck they all were cute
Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes

Download Sun Kil Moon – Sunshine In Chicago mp3

79 IMAGINATION HEAD – SANDCASTLE
An absolute gem of gently swelling prog-folk spun through with gentle psychedelia. Sandcastle could easily sit amongst any of the classic Mercury Rev offerings…it is that good.

Download Imagination Head – Sand Castle mp3

78 BETH ORTON – CALL ME THE BREEZE
Gorgeous and pastoral. Call Me The Breeze is a sultry, surging hymn to becoming one with nature, and a stunning return to recording after a six year hiatus.

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77 HURRAY FOR THE RIFF RAFF – ODE TO JOHN & YOKO
Slow burning, heartfelt tribute to the aspirational dreams of the hippy couple.

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Ode To John And Yoko mp3

76 JBM – CROOKED BRANCHES
Fragile and haunting folk – I’m sure she swam out of the lake in her yellow dress – but it is a rather beautiful song. (Mrs M)

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75 FATHER JOHN MISTY – MISTY’S NIGHTMARES 1 & 2
A ramshackle countrified excursion into 70s rock that ambles along with a grace and sure footedness that belies the wry lyrics and droll delivery.

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74 STEPHEN PAUL SMOKER – GREEN CITY
One of the year’s best riffs wedded to a pulsating psych-rock groove and foot stomping rhythm.

Download Stephen Paul Smoker – Green City mp3

73 BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE – TEMPER TEMPER
Going back to my roots here; you can’t do without a good guitar riff or a head banging drum beat, this is one of my essential driving tunes. I feel a certain empathy with the lyrics too, I’m sure they weren’t really written about me. (SB)

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72 WILD NOTHING – PARADISE
Retro-electro pop, but damn it, I just like it. Whenever I hear it I feel I have gone back about 20 years, sitting round the edge of a village hall hoping not to dance. (PP)

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71 DARREN HAYMAN – ELIZABETH CLARKE
For centuries the upper echelons of British society have covered up their own misdeeds by getting the lower orders to turn against each other. These days, so called benefit cheats are vilified in the tabloids. The 17th century equivalent were called witches and strung up. Thankfully we’re not allowed to string people up these days. This song is about the hanging of an 80-year-old lady who gave her confession after being tortured by Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. It’s not a cheerful listen but is beautifully executed (oops!) by Darren Hayman who really captures the atmosphere. (BSF)

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70 DJANGO DJANGO – DEFAULT
Crackles along with all kinds of weird and wonderful sounds. A viciously catchy and erratic tune it never stops surprising me a little more with each listen. It’s fun goddammit…(CP)

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69 GOODNIGHT TEXAS – JESSE GOT TRAPPED IN A COALMINE
A mandolin-driven elegy for a doomed young fiancé, it has the authentic twang and gritty lyrics of the very best Appalachian folk and the echoes of its rootsy Americana hangs in the air like a ghostly fog long after the song has finished.

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68 TAME IMPALA – ELEPHANT
The sound of modern day glam rock – like Marc Bolan crossed with Hawkwind, Elephant is the ultimate slice of freaked out, loved up, psych-frazzle that is nothing short of perfect.

Download Tame Impala – Elephant mp3

67 STEALING SHEEP – SHUT EYE
This song by a psychedelic-folk girl band from Liverpool is completely nuts. It sounds like something my 5 and 7 year olds would come up with if they were locked in a studio with a load of instruments and for that reason, I love it. (TS)

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66 BAT FOR LASHES – LAURA
I love the simple piano music of this song, especially the intro and the way it builds to a crescendo. Her voice is haunting too, a much more sophisticated Lana Del Ray. This is a glass of wine in hand, relaxing song. (SB)

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65 QUICKBEAM – 700 BIRDS
Chill out, close your eyes and drift away on this tune of pure atmosphere. Scotland has always produced fantastic bands with distinctive but diverse sounds. This little gem shows a gentler, more ghostly side of Celtic music – if you want to lose a bit of anger for 3 mins 50 seconds, give it a try. (BSF)

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64 THE WALKMEN – HEAVEN
What can I say? The title track of The Walkmen’s 2012 album is another piece of genius from the Washington rockers. I don’t need to say any more other than ‘LISTEN TO IT’ (BSF)

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63 ALT-J – MATILDA
A fantastic song (named after the girl in the Luc Besson film Leon apparently) from a top album which sounds like some kind of Tim Burton bedtime story. I could have picked anything off the album to be honest but this was the song I heard first and the one that provided the biggest WTF factor! I downloaded this tune the second I heard it and to quote a famous sports agent, this song “had me at hello”. (TS)

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62 THE GROWL – WITH THE SHARP END OF A TROWEL
What’s that you Say? Grimy, dirty rock, half sang half drawled. Yeah, OK. Where do I sign? It seems The Growl can do no wrong, producing some of the best tunes I’ve heard this year. It was a tuff choice between This song and Cleaver Lever. Really I would have liked to put them in a paddling pool full of Nutella and watched them fight it out, but in the end this song wins through. For it is dirt rock purity. (DR)

Download The Growl – With The Sharp End Of A Trowel mp3 (from Cleaver Lever EP)

61 HOWLER – BACK OF YOUR NECK
It may not be the most original approach in the world, but Howler’s turn-of-the-year single of tight, turbo-charged surf rock hurtles to an ultra-catchy adrenalin fuelled conclusion with nary a backward glance.

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Remember…check back for numbers 60 – 41 tomorrow…

Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB) and Toy Steve (TS) for their contributions.