Believe it or not, Mad Mackerel has been around for more than five years now. During that time we’ve posted more than 4,000 times, and offered more than 5,000 songs for your listening pleasure. And more than three quarters of a million people have paid MM a visit during our lifetime on Google’s (godawful) blogspot and since April 2010 on WordPress.
We asked some of the regular MM contributors to give us their top twenty songs since MM first went live and we’re also going to give you one big mega-listing shortly, first up was Dr Roddy, then Chris T Popper and now we have the choices of the fragrant, but often blasphemous Polly Pocket.
10) Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum
Never fails to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It really does capture that feeling when you fall utterly head over heels and there is nothing to be done about it.
9) Laura Marling – Sophia
I love that this song seems to have two such distinct parts to it but they work so beautifully together. Such an incredible voice. Laura can do no wrong in my eyes.
8) Bon Iver – Blood Bank
A timeless beauty, much loved since 2009. So far it has proved impossible to listen to without singing the end part of the song ‘I know it well’ for hours afterwards.
7) Junip – Line Of Fire
A 2013 tune and already Line of Fire is a song I’d rather not live without. I love Jose Gonzalez’ effortless vocals. Utterly emotional, a bit bleak in places and all consuming. It has a cracking (and very odd) video to go with it too.
6) Shearwater – You As You Were
A lovely discovery for 2012. This song just gets bigger and bigger until you realise you are no longer singing along but shouting like a crazy person!
5) Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True
If you like a song to tell you a tale then this is the one for you. It will also make you want to learn to play the harmonica.
4) A.A. Bondy – The Twist
From 2011’s top ten, a beautiful track. Very dark and brooding, like a lovely storm overhead. No idea what it’s all about but it feels most profound.
3) We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
It was my number 1 from 2012 and it certainly deserves its place here. Is it the voice or the lyrics that are most heartbreaking? Always a stand still and listen to all the way through tune.
2) Willy Mason – What Is This
Timeless, effortless and to my mind perfect. I have yet to find a time or a situation where this tune doesn’t fit the bill. That pretty much sums up the entire album for me, Carry On is a masterpiece.
1) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight
I remember the car journey when I first heard this song – it was a bit of a mind blower and hearing it live the next year cemented it as a firm favourite. The moment the strings start you know its going to be epic and it never disappoints.
You know an artist is that good when you kick yourself for not having found them sooner – I could have been listening to ‘When The Devil’s Loose’ since 2009 but only came to it in 2011 having fallen in love with ‘Believers’.
The Tallest Man On Earth
There is a real honesty to Kristian Matsson’s songs, I think that is what I love best. He has an incredible voice and writes songs you just can’t help but sing a long to. Always a treat.
An unbelievable talent. I was privileged enough to have heard Laura Marling sing in Gloucester Cathedral in 2011 – a very fitting venue for the purest of voices. If she is this good now, what will she be like in years to come? I look forward to finding out.
Today we reach the halfway mark of our favourite 100 songs of 2012. Here are numbers 60 – 41 for your listening pleasure. You can check out numbers 100 – 81 here and yesterday’s post of 80 – 61 here.
And on we go…
60 JAMES LEVY & THE BLOOD RED ROSE – YOU SNEAK INTO MY ROOM
A real mellow chill out tune. Reminds me of laid back version of the Divine Comedy. (SB)
59 ANGEL SNOW – LIE AWAKE
This was a late arrival into my best of the year list 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, but certainly one of the most beautiful. (PP)
58 THE LUMINEERS – FLAPPER GIRL
Piano-led tune that is rather understated yet really gets under your skin, particularly when the guitar comes in to answer the piano. Lovely, undulating melody, the power of this song lies in its simplicity as lead singer and guitarist, Wesley Schultz, lays his heart on his sleeve. Ho Hey, their star is deservedly in the ascendant. (Mrs M)
57 TEAM GENIUS – SEVEN YEARS
Although flirting dangerously close to novelty Seven Years certainly helped put a smile on my face with its blatantly narcissistic lyrics and thumping beat. This may be a bit of an indulgence on my part, but I have to be true to what I like. And boy I like this song – anything that begins with the line “I’m half drunk again, full of words, full of piss and wind’ was bound to become one of my favourite songs of the year. (CP)
56 WAVES OF FURY – BUSINESSMAN’S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT
If there was a more tribal drumbeat this year then we didn’t hear it. The genius came in mixing this primal menace with Stax horns and a hoarse, scorched vocal – the musical equivalent of Marvin Gaye smashing Gary Glitter’s face into a wall. (MM)
55 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – HEADLONG INTO THE ABYSS
One of the best songs from a great album which deals with lots of heavy subjects like depression and suicide and turns them into triumphant and emotional tunes like this with singer Billy McCarthy screaming out lyrics like “call the police, call your shrink, call whoever you want cos I ain’t gonna wait around for some pill to kick in”. It grabs you by the ear right from the start and marches you all the way to the front of the class. (TS)
54 RICHARD HAWLEY – SEEK IT
A really beautiful love song with a simple melody like a nursery rhyme and darkly comic lyrics. It sounds like an old classic that you’ve known all your life and just goes to show, sometimes less is more and the simplest things are often the best. Perfect with a brew and a biscuit at any time of the day or night. (TS)
53 THE RAPTURE – CHILDREN
Just love the sort of electro pop bass-line running through this and for me a good sing and dance along song. (SB)
52 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. (PP)
51 KING KRULE – ROCK BOTTOM
Smitten with this song right from the get go. A Johnny Marr-esque guitar riff is the lead in, then from nowhere comes this fantastical delivery of words half sung half spoken, that leave you in no doubt that King Krule has been Rock Bottom. Despite looking like the kid you would steal lunch money from, the lyrics are delivered with passion and a sense of a life lived. The drums in this song are off-kilter and almost sound out of place when first heard. This off beat style works perfectly when the song comes together and leaves the head nodding and the feet tapping. Perfect. (DR)
50 EUGENE MCGUINESS – SHOTGUN
What a great song over the top of Duane Eddy’s Peter Gunn, with the catchiest chorus of the year: “Every time I dance, every time I dance with you, I”ll stagger out the night club black and blue, battered and bruised…”(MS)
49 THE LOLLIPOPS – BLACK TAR CARPET RIDE
“We’ll shoot some heroin, and take to the skies”. Told over a simple acoustic strum, this is an unapologetic, woozy, hypnotically brilliant paean to the delights of chasing the dragon. The best addition to the Sex and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll mantra we’ve heard all year. Their only apology? For “the times we almost died”…(MM)
48 THE PINES – CRY CRY CROW
I love this song’s eerie feeling, with the tune being played on guitar in the background, and the singer’s voice, they all blend together really well to make a great song. (MS)
47 THE LOST BROTHERS – NOT NOW WARDEN
Sounding like the long lost ghost of the Louvin Brothers, Not Now Warden is a perfect companion piece to The Knoxville Girl. A gently insistent guitar refrain anchors aching lyrics of regret and despair. Classic Nashville all the way from…Liverpool. (MM)
46 SAVAGES – HUSBANDS
With a great beat and an awesome chorus of “My house/ my bed/ my husbands/ husbands…”, this song always has me dancing (badly) and singing along. Husbands is punk rock. Full stop. (MS)
45 MOUNTAIN GOATS – CRY FOR JUDAS
Such a great feel to this. A truly outrageous pop arrangement acts as a perfect optimistic backdrop to a song about surviving the worst and adding that experience to your armoury. These opposites work in perfect harmony. Mountain Goats have long been a favourite of mine their output is prolific and never diluted, and lyrically sharp as a tack. (DR)
44 SPECTOR – CHEVY THUNDER
Like Howler, Spector barrelled their way into the New Year with a classic indie anthem full of girls, cars, and teenage rebellion whilst boasting a chorus so classically simple that it defies you not to sing along within seconds. (MS)
43 RAY WYLIE HUBBARD – DRUNKEN POET’S DREAM (DAYTROTTER SESSION)
Originally a 2011 track, but this version is from a 2012 Daytrotter Session and it’s just too good a song to overlook for a second year running. A brilliant tune perfectly matched with simple lyrics and Ray Wylie Hubbards’ ‘gargling-with-gravel’ voice. The story is told from the perspective of the drunken poet who introduces his girlfriend (who sounds like she’s quite a character) and tells us of his Bohemian lifestyle. And of course, he provides some brilliant drunken poetry as a chorus. Simple, contemporary country from the man who brought us Choctaw Bingo. (BSF)
42 THE WALKMEN – LOVE IS LUCK
My favourite track from the sublime Heaven album. I never really know exactly what The Walkmen are singing about but, truth be told, I couldn’t care less. Their music makes me feel good about life and that’s enough. (BSF)
41 JANICE GRAHAM BAND – MURDER
The Specials got the Arctic monkeys drunk one night and roofied them. The child that came from this unholy union is The Janice Graham Band. It has a knowledgeable lived in feel to it. As we step over the half way mark it breaks, not becoming faster just fuller with some great sounding horns giving these boys a swagger all of their own. (DR)
Remember…check back for numbers 40 – 21 tomorrow…
Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Chris T Popper (CP), Barry-Sean (BSF), Polly Pocket (PP), Dr Roddy (DR), Starbie (SB) Middle Sprat (MS) and Toy Steve (TS) for their contributions.
The wonderful Daytrotter recently announced their 2,000th session and managed to get none other than Country music legend Glen Campbell in to record it, followed swiftly by a new session from the brilliant Delta Spirit.
For those that don’t know Daytrotter sessions are typically four songs in length, recorded live to quarter-inch tape in a matter of a couple hours, with no overdubs. They are then made available for download and streaming on the site and its various apps. Since beginning in February of 2006, Daytrotter has given away tens of millions of downloads and countless many more streams. In addition to studios in Rock Island and London, Daytrotter sessions are also occasionally taped in San Francisco, CA, Asheville, NC, Nashville, TN and Montreal.
Accessing all these sessions plus all the upcoming ones by all the bands you know and love costs a paltry $2 per month. For your ongoing listening pleasure we can’t think of anything anywhere that will give you better value than that. Below are just a very few highlights from some of the sessions we have loved – listen (they should fit neatly onto a CD), and if you haven’t done it yet, go and sign up here.
Another crackerjack month of new tunes on MM, all lovingly compiled and packaged up for you in one sweet playlist ready to download.
Here are 33 of our favourite tracks from our May postings and 6 new songs too. No need to thank us.
Download Virals – Gloria mp3 (from Coming Up With The Sun EP)
Shines bright with an insanely hooky vocal and charged guitar riffs, taking cues from the sunny California coast yet retaining a suitably English feel.
Download Blasted Canyons – Holy Geometry mp3 (from 2nd Place 12″)
Infectiously driven by a brilliant needling guitar refrain that is guaranteed to stick with you long after the song has finished.
Download Michael J Epstein Memorial Library – Faith In Free Part 1 mp3 (from Faith In Free EP)
Military stomp that comes across like a brilliantly vicious hybrid of Siouxsie & The Banshees and Sparks.
a Skilfully blends influences from folk to punk to create a restless, hybrid sound that has feet in many camps, but a home in none.
Beast make Bomb – Coney Island
Shimmering slice of indie rock played out against a backdrop of old-school punk attitude.
Dog Moon Howl – Blues Like A Hammer
Full on sleazy blues and desert rock – imagine if you will Mark Lanegan duelling with Howling Wolf…
Download The Ruminaters – Timmy mp3 (from Timmy Digital Single)
Beatnik, barnyard, hillbilly swamp rock.
Download GravelRoad – Devil’s Eyes mp3 (from Psychedelta)
Sinewy, swamp inspired grooves with a rough and raw blues groan.
Download Marissa Nadler – The Wrecking Ball Company mp3 (from The Sister)
Haunting and ethereal folk that mixes melancholy with yearning in a wonderfully unique way.
Download Hunx – Let Me In mp3 (from Hairdresser Blues)
Flamboyant 60s inspired doo-wop garage-pop.
Download Lord Buffalo – Cold Bones mp3 (from Lord Buffalo EP)
Unsettling and haunting, a blend of darkly shrouded Americana as fiddles moan and guitars ominously brood and slash.
Download Old Bricks – Waves mp3 (from City Lights)
A night’s ride through a dark, sparkling desert.
Download The Doc Marshalls – Here They Come mp3 (from Look Out, Compadre)
Crooked, shimmering folk; evocative and nostalgic.
Download The Tallest Man On Earth – 1904 mp3 (from There’s No Leaving Now)
Characterised by his trademark strum and those wonderful Dylanesqe pipes, but there is a darker twist and turn to the lyrics than we’ve been used to.
Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Ode To John And Yoko mp3 (from Look Out Mama)
Gorgeous bluesy folk with a slightly retro-feel.
Download Dubious Ranger – 1999 mp3 (from Found Recordings From The Panda Valley Mining Company c.1931)
Gloriously mournful and hypnotic Americana.
Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young
Exquisitely crafted pop gem full of their trademark surf-twang and velvet vocals – it drips with vacation nostalgia.
Download The Broken Needles – Saltflat Baby mp3 (from Terra Nullius)
Mix of country balladry and spit ‘n’ snarl punk rock that is a little like Tom Waits fronting the Mekons.
Download Jaill – Waste A Lot Of Things mp3 (from Traps)
Their signature slack yet tightly wound musical style and self-deprecating humor retains all its charm.
Download The Virgins – Venus In Chains mp3 (from Venus In Chains single)
Charmingly nonchalant slab of garage inspired rock oozing with glam undertones.
Download Stagnant Pools – Dead Sailor mp3 (from Temporary Room)
Heavy, distorted, squally and reverb heavy, pierced with shafts of melody; would probably be prime candidates to soundtrack the end of the world.
Download The Shrouded Strangers – Drinking The Spider Silk mp3 (from Lost Forever)
Masterclass in whiskey-soaked hillbilly stompers, fuzzed-up psych freak outs, and white-noise wigouts.
Download Rainer & Calexico – Be Prepared mp3 (from The Inner Flame: A Tribute To Rainer Ptacek)
Achingly gorgeous dusty Arizona blues and moan, as elegant and moving as anything you’ll hear for a long, long time.
Red Cosmos – England’s Glory
Tale of a mother visited in the middle of the night by the pale spectre of her son dying alone, somewhere far away on a battlefield.
Download Grave Babies – Nightmare mp3 (from Gothdammit EP)
Gloomy, drone-filled Goth that manages to keep its tongue firmly in its cheek.
And here are a few new ones to round off your day and set you up for the weekend nicely. First is another taste from the forthcoming Sonny & The Sunsets album, Longtime Companion in the shape of Be The Void. We also have two tracks from our new favourite band, Broken Water: Underground and Drown are good enough to strip the paint from the walls and come from just released new album Tempest.
We have the melodic indie pop dusted with notes of surf rock from Scotland’s The Imagineers and their track The Legend Of John The Terror (Notorious) and Home Groan, a new taste from Dent May’s much anticipated new album. Finally, we have a welcome reissue of some early Silver Jews recordings by Drag City Records to celebrate, from it comes this track Secret Knowledge of Back Roads.
For anyone who missed it, the Tallest Man On Earth has made his new single 1904 available for free download via Rolling Stone. We’re posting it here too, though fully expecting it to be taken down as we’re sure the powers that be will decree it should only be free from one place on the web. If so use the link provided to grab it.
Anyway, much more importantly, it comes from his much anticipated (certainly by us) new album, There’s No Leaving Now (out June 12th) and is characterised by his trademark strum and those wonderful Dylanesqe pipes, but there is a darker twist and turn to the lyrics than we’ve been used to.
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.
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.
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.