Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Polly Pocket Picks Her Favourites

MM The Last Five Years - Polly Pocket

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.

20) Ben Howard – Old Pine

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3

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19) Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning

Download The Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning mp3

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18) One Eskimo – Hometime

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17) Annie Williams – Roll On Hills

Download Annie Williams – Roll On Hills mp3

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16) Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo

Download The Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo mp3

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15) The Cave Singers – Swim Club

Download The Cave Singers - Swim Club mp3

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14) The Low Anthem – To Ohio

Download The Low Anthem – To Ohio mp3

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13) First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

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12) The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found (Daytrotter Session) mp3

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11) Alt-J – Taro

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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.

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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.

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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.

Download Bon Iver – Blood Bank mp3

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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.

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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!

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Watch it here.

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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.

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3

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Three much loved discoveries:

A.A Bondy
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.

Laura Marling
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.

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums of 2012 Part 1: 30-16

To finish off our favourites of the year, here are numbers thirty to sixteen 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.

Joe Pug GD

30 Joe Pug – The Great Despiser

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dcw

29 David Cronenberg’s Wife – Don’t Wait To Be Hunted To Hide

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boh mirage rock

28 Band Of Horses – Mirage Rock

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lord huron ld

27 Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams

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jbm stray ashes

26 JBM – Stray Ashes

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mama rosin bbb

25 Mama Rosin – Bye Bye Bayou

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red river dialect awell

24 Red River Dialect – Awellupontheway

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damon moon lungs

23 Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams)

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Loose Ends mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt, & Dreams)

diamond rugs

22 Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs

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gravenhurst gid

21 Gravenhurst – The Ghost In Daylight

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daughn gibson ah

20 Daughn Gibson – All Hell

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wof thirst

19 Waves Of Fury – Thirst

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felice bros gbya

18 The Felice Brothers – God Bless You Amigo

Download The Felice Brothers – Lincoln Continental mp3 (from God Bless You Amigo)

bjh ytcn

17 Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – Yours Truly Cellophane Nose

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simone felice album

16 Simone Felice – Simone Felice

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tmoe tnln

15 The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 3: 60 – 41

MM's BEST OF 2012 Nos 60-41

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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

Download The Pines – Cry Cry Crow mp3

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)

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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)

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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)

Download The Mountain Goats – Cry For Judas mp3 (from Transcendental Youth)

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)

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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)

Download Ray Wylie Hubbard – Drunken Poet’s Dream mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

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)

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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)

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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.

Daytrotter Reaches 2,000

Daytrotter Reaches 2,000 Sessions - Free Mix.

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.

Download We Are Augustines – Ballad Of A Patient Man mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Cave Singers – Cold Eye mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Felice Brothers – Marlboro Man mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Phosphorescent  - Cocaine Lights mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Father John Misty – I’m Writing A Novel mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download A.A. Bondy – Witness Blues mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Justin Townes Earle – Lone Pine Hill mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – Shallow Grave mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Gabriel & The Hounds –  When We Die In South America mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Jessica Lea Mayfield – Our Hearts Are Wrong mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Liars – Scarecrows On A Killer Slant mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Low Anthem – Ticket Taker mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Bill Callahan – Eid Ma Clack Shaw mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Middle Brother – Portland mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Arborea – Black Is The Colour mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Heartless Bastards – Got To Have Rock ‘n’ Roll mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Port O’Brien – A Bird Flies By mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download The Dutchess & The Duke – Scorpio mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download KaiserCartel – Carroll Street Station mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Ray Wylie Hubbard – Drunken Poet’s Dream mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Download Sandman The Rappin’ Cowboy – White Line Highway mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Mad Mackerel’s Best Of The Month: May 2012

Mad Mackerel's Best Of The Month: May 2012.

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 LibraryFaith 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.

Download Sun Kil MoonThat Bird Has A Broken Wing mp3 (from Among The Leaves)
More starkly beautiful folk.

The Wind-Up Birds – Cross Country

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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

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Shimmering slice of indie rock played out against a backdrop of old-school punk attitude.

Dog Moon Howl – Blues Like A Hammer

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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 NadlerThe 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 BuffaloCold 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 MarshallsHere 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 Hallelujah The HillsHungry Ghost Extraordinaire mp3 (from No One Knows What Happens Next)
Wholly absorbing and lyrically scalpel sharp track.

Download Duquette Johnston & The Rebel Kings – Roll Baby Roll mp3 (from Communicating Vessels 7″ Series)
Driving boogie and infectious holler-along refrain.

Download Spacin’Sunshine No Shoes mp3 (from New Directions Home- Uncut 2012 07)
Mangled graft of Velvets chug and Stones insouciance.

Download The Agnostic-Phibes Rhythm & Blood Conspiracy – Neckin’ Party mp3 (from Campfire Tales)
Hypnotic swamp rock tale of teenage lust and voyeurism gone horribly awry.

Download The Crocodiles – Endless Flowers mp3 (from Endless Flowers)
Snaking, noise pop.

Download Purling Hiss – Lolita mp3 (from Shaking Through Volume 3)
Huge slab of fuzzed-up riffage.

Download Holograms – Chasing My Mind mp3 (from The Holograms)
Clattering, garage-punk.

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 Ranger1999 mp3 (from Found Recordings From The Panda Valley Mining Company c.1931)
Gloriously mournful and hypnotic Americana.

Two Wounded Birds – To Be Young

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Exquisitely crafted pop gem full of their trademark surf-twang and velvet vocals – it drips with vacation nostalgia.

Download The Broken NeedlesSaltflat 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 moanas elegant and moving as anything you’ll hear for a long, long time.

Red Cosmos – England’s Glory

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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. 

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Download Broken Water – Drown mp3 (from Tempest)

Download Broken Water – Underground mp3 (from Tempest)

Download Dent May – Home Groan mp3 (from Do Things)

Download The Imagineers – The Legend Of John The Terror (Notorious) mp3 (from The Legend Of John The Terror (Notorious))

Download The Silver Jews – Secret Knowledge Of Back Roads mp3 (from Early Times)

Don’t forget to check all our previous monthly Best Of mixes in the sidebar too.

New Single From The Tallest Man On Earth

New Single From The Tallest Man On Earth. 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.

Brilliant.

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – 1904 mp3 (from There’s No Leaving Now) via Rolling Stone.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Lykke Li – Get Some  (Download here)

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

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

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

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

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

5. The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio

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

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

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

3. Stornoway – I Saw You Blink

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

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2. Laura Marling – What He Wrote

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

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

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

This year’s honourable mention goes to…

Jason Ward – Bless You  (Download here)

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

Bubbling Under:

5. Isobel Campbell & Willie Mason – Cool Water

4. Gorillaz – Melancholy Hill

3. Pancake BreakfastBallad of Maynard Noe

2. Mumford & SonsUnfinished Business

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

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

She Keeps Bees & Sharon Van EttenCuddle Alone

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

The Dutchess & The DukeScorpio

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

Mad Mackerel’s 2010 Top Ten Series: No 5, Christy-Popper

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.

Fifth in line is the indomitable lion of Hixet Wood…Mr Christy-Popper.

10. Local Natives – Airplanes  (Download here, Daytrotter Session)

The first big tune of the year for me, I sort of rediscovered this while compiling my top ten. A classic sing-a-long chorus shouldn’t, and doesn’t thankfully, overshadow the rest of the song, which is arranged perfectly.  All of it fits in so seamlessly – as comfy as an old pair of slippers (and responds very well to be playing loud after a night out). Is there any greater praise?

9. Sheepdogs – I Don’t Know (Download here)

As infectious as Rabies it bumbles along with a great hook and a kind of 70s’ feel. I imagine the lead singer looking like a young Lemmy without the warts. This is of course no bad thing. I can vaguely remember (through the smoke and wine) the sudden realization I loved this song. A real foot stamper, get me to that barn dance and put the Sheepdogs on!

8. Vanish Valley – Become The Night  (Download here)

This song seems to have an indefinable quality to it, not that I’ll let that stop me…I could mention the honey-laden chorus, Andrew McAllistair’s perfect vocal or the understated but utterly brilliant guitar. It just instinctively hits the spot like music does sometimes. Truly a sum of its parts.

There, I tried.

7. Wooden Wand – Ragtop Ruby

Ahhh, Wooden Wand. At nearly 6 minutes this is a rare ‘long’ song (my attention span isn’t great) but it still makes number 8. You have to adapt for a genius… From the start we know we’re in Wooden Wand territory. Lonesome guitar and his familiar drawl, along with the line of the year – “with just enough rope in his trunk to make you uneasy”. We’ve all been there I think, although my own personal memory is a man with a lump hammer on his dashboard when hitching a ride at 15 years old. But hey that’s another story.

6. Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do  (Download here)

True, it’s simple country… basic some would say (shame on them). And I say, so what. It’s a magical song, with all the right ingredients for a country classic. Strayfolk let the song do all the work, while I sit with drunken tears streaking my puffy face, asking where it all went so wrong. Don’t you just love songs that have no happy ending? If Kenneth Williams was here today he’s commit suicide all over again after hearing this… what’s the bloody point!

5. Tallest Man On Earth – King of Spain  (Download here)

Throughout 2010 I have never tired of listening to this song. Manic strummed guitar like a cracked out flamenco dancer it spins and twists whilst TMOE sings in ‘that’ voice. Despite my best efforts it never annoyed me, unlike so many others. The combination of the voice and guitar gives it a unique quality, the most distinctive sound of the year for me and well deserving of a top 5 place.

4. Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill  (Download here)

Mr Wand’s second entry is an absolute beauty. I am an Uncle. I think I may be a bit like Uncle Bill. I certainly hope so. I can remember as a small person sneaking in to my brother’s record collection, although I never picked ‘Heroin’ or ‘Cocaine’. That came later. I am genuinely in awe of WW, he is without doubt my man of the year (bollocks to Mr Facebook). It’s all so effortless, with lyrics that are poignant yet laced with the darkest humour. I make no apologies for picking out another of his brilliant lines (which always makes me wince/smile in silent acknowledgement) “I seen you when you think I ain’t looking son, you don’t need no help doing bad…”

3. What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge  (Download here, live version)

On first listen I loudly declared this would be my number 1 so it is with a heavy heart I place it third. And it’s a belter. I love the back and forth insults with that brutal guitar riff, frankly the best I’ve heard all year (at least it won something). A twisted Islands In The Stream for people like me. That’s cynical and sarcastic and exactly how I like it. Also what would Jesus drive..? My guess is a Hillman Avenger.

2. Common Prayer – Us Vs Them  (Download here)

This is my song okay. No one else is allowed to like it as much as I do. The change of key just before the first chorus… That’s just for me alright. I can only suggest Common Prayer got together and discussed how to get in my head before writing this masterpiece. I know that word is banded around lightly and I freely admit to doing it now. Who knows I’ll probably read this in June and think what the hell was I saying. But right now… well it’s a masterpiece with a tinkly piano and a snare drum to die for. Just remember it’s mine, all mine.

1. Avett Brothers – January Wedding

This is indisputably the best song of the year. I wouldn’t be so short sighted as to accuse my fellow Mackerel scribes of being wrong, but… you know, they are. I got married in June, what a clutz! If I had my time again I would obviously have gone for January, then I would have made 18 months instead of the frankly disappointing 14. By the end of the song I find myself genuinely hoping they live happily ever after. This is the complete opposite to how I usually feel, so just for that it’s unique. A beguiling song, complete with Audrey Hepburn name check and the laid back tempo of a country classic. Perfect.

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Bubbling Under – 5 that just didn’t make it…

5. Elf PowerStranger In The Window

4. Fist FamSF Bay

3. Nathaniel Rateliff – Brakeman

2. Vitamin SeesIlluminati Mind Control

1. Tapes ‘n’ TapesFreak Out

Best Songs first heard this year, but not 2010

3. Wilco – Handshake Drugs

2. Felice Brothers – Whiskey In My Whiskey

1. Knife In The Water – Young Blood In The River

Guilty Pleasure

Brian Jonestown Massacre – Lets Go Fucking Mental