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

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 4: 40-21

MM's Best of 2012 Part 4 40-21

Today we countdown songs 40-21 in the Mad Mackerel Favourite 100 tunes of the year. You can check out the previous days entries here: 100-81, 80-61, 60-41.

40 ALABAMA SHAKES – HOLD ON
Almost a head-banger done country style, love the underlying guitar rhythm. (SB)

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39 LOWER DENS – BRAINS
When I picked this song out in June I said it was like a child pulling at your sleeve after it’s seen the ice cream van. Incessant and under no circumstance will it be ignored. There is also a sense of chaos, which I always find agreeable – a feeling it‘s not entirely sure where it’s going but doesn’t actually care too much. A stalwart of the year’s playlists for me and still listened to as often as it was six months ago. Can’t give it a bigger tribute really. (CP)

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38 PATTERSON HOOD – 12.01
Great story song about a guy going across the border to buy liqor instead of going home to his empty shell of a relationship. The tune picked out on the guitar and the drums have that metronomic sound that reminds me of being in a car late at night with no music, say, around “12:01, The rain and the wipers play a spooky song”. The cello sounds like other vehicles morbidly passing, heading to where you have come from, or maybe where you should be heading? (DR)

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37 TUNNG – JENNY AGAIN (BBC SESSION)
Released from 2012′s BBC Sessions, this murder ballad is set to a really jaunty, cheerful tune and sees the deceased telling us about how he was stabbed and left to die whilst his girlfriend (the lovely Jenny) buggers off with the fella who killed him. He goes on to tell about how his Jenny and the murderous ‘other man’ go on to live perfectly normal lives whilst keeping their secret. I love the fact that Tunng have crafted a really sad story around a cheerful, jog-along tune. (BSF)

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36 FIRST AID KIT – BLUE
So beautiful and so sad. Its about a girl whose only love dies in an RTA when he’s twenty-two and from that moment on she decides not to love anyone else. Yep, its another feel-good corker! (BSF)

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35 WAKE UP LUCID – FEEL IT
Loud, brash and all the better for it. Considering my changing (or is that evolving…) taste in music it genuinely fills me with joy that I still love a proper hard as nails guitar frenzy. The feedback is utterly magnificent, as is the drawled out vocals snarling over the fuzz. Sort of song I would listen to before I had to have a fight. (CP)

Download Wake Up Lucid – Feel It mp3 (from Feel It)

34 WE ARE AUGUSTINES – BALLAD OF A PATIENT MAN
This song was my live gig moment of the year, amongst many great gigs. Fantastic guitar wig out and drummy bit in the middle, sung with the emotional intensity that’s trademark Billy McCarthy. Awesome song, bloody awesome band. (Mrs M)

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33 GRAVENHURST – THE FOUNDRY

The Foundry is played out over a backdrop of acoustics so profoundly beautiful that the sourness of the lyrics pack an even greater punch. “And you won’t know when evil comes, evil looks just like anyone, and I blame, I blame, I blame anyone but me“. Like having your first French kiss and finding your tongue’s been bitten off.  (MM)

Like a modern-day story from The Brothers Grimm, the whole song carries with it a threat and a sense of foreboding. I think the meaning might lie in the rise of Nazi Germany and how ordinary people can get swept up in a rising tide of violence and persecution. That’s my interpretation but I’ve been known to be wrong. Anyway, have a listen and heed the message well. Just in case you had it in mind to burn some books and persecute some unfortunate section of our society. (BSF)

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32 HOUNDMOUTH – PENITENTIARY
An old fashioned, whiskey drinking, tobacco chewing kind of a song and its a song sung well. (PP)

Such a great intro to this song. The melody picked out on the guitar and a Hammond organ providing the chords that pull you into this tale of a man who much like Fletcher from Porridge “Accepts arrest as a occupational hazard”. Throughout what is not to beezer a time, the song never once turns melancholy, if anything it rouses the spirit with its beautiful harmonies and soporific melody. A sort of Country, I Fought The Law?  (DR)

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Download from Rough Trade for free here.

31 TWO GALLANTS – BROKEN EYES
“Hey there girl with the broken eyes”, this startling imagery starts Two Gallants most nostalgic song on The Bloom And The Blight. Poignant without ever being cloying, it is a perfectly judged slice of wistful Americana. (MM)

Download Two Gallants – Broken Eyes mp3

30 JAKE BUGG – LIGHTNING BOLT
Awesomely twangy guitar and a Sun-era rockabilly rhythm. The ghost of Johnny Cash is alive and well and comes from Nottingham. (MS)

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29 FATHER JOHN MISTY – WRITING A NOVEL
Carried along on a jaunty, rolling rhythm and spewing forth a lyrical stream of consciousness that borders on genius, and contains one of the years simplest and best lines, “I”m writing a novel, because its never been done before”. (MM)

Download Father John Misty – Writing A Novel mp3

28 BAND IN HEAVEN – SLEAZY DREAMS
I am a 50p head when it comes to musical tastes: I like to mix it up big time. Heavy, bassy, pounding rhythm, wall of guitar noise, this is my (kitchen) dance floor number of 2012. Rock on. (Mrs M)

Download Band In Heaven – Sleazy Dreams mp3

27 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. (PP)

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26 KING CHARLES – LOVE LUST
This great indie-pop song always has me dancing. I love the lyrics and the fizzing, funky beat it has going on. My favourite song off one of my favourite albums of 2012. (MS)

Download King Charles – Love Lust mp3

25 MONUMENT VALLEY – THE VERY FIRST ALARM
I adore the hopeless feel to this song. I could write endlessly about my love for this song but honestly It’s simplicity, beauty, deftness of lyric and the mesmerizing sound of Ned Youngers voice that coats the lyrics of this bitter song with a sweet syprupy glaze (for the Masterchef fans out there), that keeps pulling me back to it over and over again. (DR)

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24 STRAND OF OAKS – TRAP DOOR
I’ve fallen through the Trap Door that Tim Showelter sings about many, many times. I’m getting home late again, been looking for old friends, been looking for anything… He obviously has too. It builds to a fabulous vocal performance leaving me a bit spellbound every time I hear it. The repeated cries of ‘giving it all away’ at the end can find me with eyes screwed tightly shut while mouthing along in a ‘we’re brothers in arms’ kind of way! And that’s when I’m sober!  (CP)

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23 THE WALKMEN – SONG FOR LEIGH
The phrase chiming guitars was invented for this song. And boy do they chime, setting a hypnotic pace to the song before the pleading, soaring, chorus threatens “I’ll sing myself sick, sing myself sick, sing myself sick about you”. I hope its enough. (MM)

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22 LORD HURON – TIME TO RUN
An epic Western of a tune: a story song with a foot-tapping rhythm that mimics the flight of yer man and a great mid point when the bells of doom literally ring for our outlaw friend on the run. He did it all for love, silly boy, ‘cause when they catch him, he’s toast. (Mrs M)

Download Lord Huron – Time To Run mp3

21 BETH JEANS HOUGHTON – LILLIPUT
A storming phantasmagoria of a song, guided by the soaring vocals of BJH, a sweeping string arrangement and a drumming tattoo of percussion. When I grow up I want to be just like Beth Jeans Houghton. Lili put your hands in mine and let’s dance: hoof power rules. (Mrs M)

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Check back tomorrow for the final countdown (as Europe might say). The favourite twenty songs of the year according to the MM contributors - 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).

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.

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.

2012 MAD MACKEREL’S 100 FAVOURITE SONGS PART 1: 100 – 81

MM's Best of 2012 (100-81)

So the waiting is over, and here are the first twenty entries in our Top 100 of 2012, part of MM’s much expanded Best of the Year review. Over the next five days we will reveal our favourite songs and those of our contributors: Mrs Mackerel, Christy Popper, Barry-Sean, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Middle Sprat, Starbie, and Toy Steve. These are not the most “popular” songs of the year, nor do they lay any subjective claim to being the “best”, but they are without doubt the favourites of all those who have written for MM one way or another this year.

So without further ado…

100 GRASSFIGHT – NASSAU
With shades of Interpol in the hypnotic, propulsive percussion, echoes of Dinosaur Jr in the swirling guitar, and a classic indie deep, monotone vocal, Nassau successfully ticks all the necessary boxes for a post-punk extravaganza.

Download Grassfight – Nassau mp3

99 FUTURE OF THE LEFT – CITY OF EXPLODED CHILDREN
Humming, hypnotic , menacing krautrock rumble over which Andy Falkous intones possibly the best opening lyric of the year:  “Chicken tikka bathsalts found at bus stops

(No stream or video available)

98 WELL HUNG HEART – DEVIL
Like the feral lovechild of Howling Wolf, Mick Jagger, Joan Jett and Suzi Quattro fronting a hybrid of Nirvana and the Black Keys. All in a good way. A very good way.

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97 FIELD REPORT – I AM NOT WAITING ANYMORE
Haunting, poignant and fragile first single that heralded a stunning debut album of more than five years in the making.

Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3

96 THE WAVE PICTURES – SEAGULLS
With an infectious guitar jangle and clever lyrics – reminiscent of classic 80s UK indie bands like The Brilliant Corners – this year The Wave Pictures finally became the UK’s answer to the brilliant Mountain Goats. (BSF)

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95 JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – LOWER EAST SIDE
In the Spring of 2012 Justin Townes Earle released Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now. His best record to date, this song, tucked away in the middle of the album perfectly captured how it feels to be in a city of millions yet to be completely alone.

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94 BECK – I JUST STARTED HATING SOME PEOPLE TODAY
A track of three very distinctive parts. The first to the twang of country guitar and cowboy vocals telling us that he’s seen the light and that people really aren’t very nice at all. He hates them all. Then ears are suddenly assaulted by a volley of Jack White’s fury reminiscent of late 70s punk before finishing on smooth, jazzy notes as Karen Elson,with silky tones, lets a bloke called Randy know that he is “Sooooooooooo dead“. Insane but brilliant. (BSF)

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93 DAUGHN GIBSON – ALL HELL
Rarely can the opening “insane preacher monologue” approach been used as effectively as this. Yet 45 seconds of spittle-flecked insanity is taken far, far deeper into black, murky waters as over  a humming bassline and fragmented crackles and loops, Gibson’s unflinching baritone reminds us over and over again “its a long way down“.

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92 CALEXICO – FORTUNE TELLER
Gorgeous standout from the Algiers album with the ghostliest of vocals.

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91 THE MARK LANEGAN BAND – GRAY GOES BLACK
Gravel voiced soul-searching carried out over a motorik rhythm.

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90 THE MAGNETIC FIELDS – ANDREW IN DRAG
This song is really a bit of fun and it makes me smile every time I hear it. A guy turns up to see his mate, Andrew, dress up in drag. He does it on a whim for a laugh but ends up fancying him. An amusing story that bobs along with a catchy, but low-key tune. (BSF)

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89 BEN HOWARD – ESMERELDA
Murkier, darker waters abound for this highlight from this year’s Burgh Island EP. Howard’s lonely voice struggles to break free from a claustrophobic and ominous backdrop.

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88 SHOVELS & ROPE – BIRMINGHAM
Much like The Lumineers, Shovels & Rope deal in unashamed folk anthems whose harmonies effortlessly evoke good-time, back porch sing-a-longs amongst the fireflies and the moonshine.

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87 LAST AMERICAN BUFFALO – BREAK MY HEART
At the turn of the year, Last American Buffalo released a short series of free-to-download digital signals that were uniformly brilliant. The first of two entries in our Best Of listing, Break My Heart is exquisitely blended folk, blues and classic country rock with a bitter edge that spits and snarls its discontent with the world.

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86 FATHER JOHN MISTY – ONLY SON OF THE LADIESMAN
What a voice. This song is worth a listen just for Father John Misty’s delivery. It’s like bubble bath without the bathwater – a hymn to the dead ladies man. Try sitting back with a cup of coffee, closing your eyes and letting this track soothe away your mental aches and pains (BSF)

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85 S T E A K H O U S E – SPIDER BITE
Somehow crossing 70s krautrock with desert blues and a stoned rockabilly twang to create a mesmerising journey through a venom-induced surreal otherworld.

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84 THE LUMINEERS – HO-HEY
As winning a combination of catchy folk-stomp and hollered vocals as it is possible to imagine. A deserved break-out hit for one of the most heartwarming success stories of the year.

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83 THE WALKMEN – HEARTBREAKER
The first of four entries from one of the finest albums of the year. Heartbreaker is the sound of a band in complete control of their own destiny, who know their destination and exactly how they’re going to get there. Thrilling, urgent and vital. It’s not the singer, it’s the song.

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82 FREEDOM FRY – SUMMER IN THE CITY
If there was any justice, Summer In The City would have been the soundtrack of barbecues and bakeouts the world over. It was as perfect as indie-pop is able to get, it made you want to pop the top off a cold one and party on the rooftops all day long.

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81 KESTON COBBLER’S CLUB – FOR WORDS
A truly beautiful folk composition, light of touch and sure of foot.

Download Keston Cobblers’ Club – For Words mp3

Leave a comment to us know what you think.

CHECK BACK TOMORROW FOR TRACKS 80 – 61

Mrs Mackerel’s TFI Friday (2nd November)

Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (2nd November).

Here we are again. Friday strikes again: half term is nearly over; would you believe the sun shone in Wales; Joe Sprat put in a star turn in goal at Coventry in conditions that would have hardened Mackems reaching for their thermals; went gigging last night with Big Sair; supper with HP this evening; watching the fireworks fly tomorrow; Bingley D and a cup of tea Sunday. Lucky gal am I.

Back to the gig. We arrived in time for the support, more’s the pity. I was bored, they were boring; the keyboard player wore a freakishly nasty jumper that frankly my Dad would have rejected. Wild Nothing: dull, dull, dull. Ended up counting the swirls on the ornate ceiling and playing Whirly Word on my phone. Bring on The Walkmen. Über cool, super stylish, looked like they’d just walked off the set of Mad Men. Original vintage guitars; tight set; brass ensemble brought on for two beautifully melodic encore numbers, swoon. You get the gist: they were rather fabulous and Mr Leithauser has stage presence in spades. Spades that should have been used to bury Wild Nothing. Permanently.

Anyway, I’ll get off the fence. Just in time for a quick soak in the bath, make some pizzas and swim up the road. Maybe a table photo or two tonight?

Hey MON, how about a home win tomorrow, please?

Mrs Mackerel x

Download The Walkmen - Canadian Girl mp3 (from You & Me)

Download The Walkmen – Juveniles mp3 (from Lisbon)

Download The Walkmen – Angela Surf City mp3 (from Lisbon)

Download The Walkmen – Heartbreaker mp3 (from Heaven)

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Guest Post: Big Sair’s TFI Friday (5th October)

Mrs Mackerel has decided to take a short sabbatical and invite some friends, relatives and countrywomen to takeover her Friday night post, a Friday routine as regular in this household as a G&T with lime, or pizza Margherita for the sprats.

For week three, we hand over the reins to Big Sair…

Guest Post: Big Sair's TFI Friday (5th October).

And with a flourish of my long fishtail, I take the baton for this third week of Mrs M’s sabbatical.

We had joy, we had fun, but no season in the sun in 2012 – I’m with High Priestess on the heating and cardi.  The year end looms and with it, changeover and return to more certain seasonal traditions. We swim our way downstream towards the winter solstice, a frighteningly close prospect for a cold-blooded shoal-dweller.

Mrs M and I trafficked – as always, directionally challenged – with a new entertainment Saturday last, venturing from the Wolds to the Southbank Centre to see Cantina. With tight-rope highs, plunging lows, and a definite fish-eye lens on the male form, we enjoyed the change of tack, but are happy to return to the usual musical format for our next outing: the Walkmen (whose rightful responsibility is to make girls cry, according to Mojo) on 1 November. Pass the Kleenex.

Autumn always makes me slightly melancholic – change can be good, but unsettles my scales. Mrs M’s Sprat 1 and my D1 both celebrate more years than we care to acknowledge in the first half of October: slip sliding away. Casting my mind back to when they were little, my thoughts wander off to the safety of the four corners of old, new, borrowed and blue …  and a silver sixpence in her shoe. Not just for weddings, methinks. … For me, there is safety in numbers and music, the latter having the uncanny ability to transport me back and forth in time like the tide. My repertoire may be slightly shallower than the bigger fishies, but as the longest fish in the shoal, my waters run slightly deeper than may first appear.

With love

Big Sair (tall, not wide) xx

Old: Download This Mortal Coil – Song To The Siren mp3 (from It’ll End In Tears)

New: Renny Field – Doin’ the Time (from Fieldnotes)

Borrowed: Download Neil Finn – Throw your arms around me mp3 (from Hunters and Collectors cover)

Blue: Download Indigo Girls – Power of Two mp3 (from Swamp Ophelia)

A Silver Sixpence in her Shoe: The Walkmen – Dance with your Partner (from Dance With Your Partner 7″)

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New Limited Edition Walkmen Single

MM Shorts 236: New Walkmen Single.

Fat Possum Records has announced that The Walkmen are releasing a limited edition 7-inch single, featuring the previously unreleased tracks, Dance With Your Partner and Vermeer ’65.

The release is limited to 1,000 copies and will be available on Tuesday, November 6th. Additionally the first 100 people to be at The Walkmen’s Terminal 5 show (support from the Dum Dum Girls) on Thursday October 18th will snag a free 7″.

Show tickets here. The 7″ pre-order is now available at Insound and Fat Possum.

Have a listen to both tunes.

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Mad Mackerel’s Best of the Year (so far)

Mad Mackerel's Best of the Year...so far!

So then, half way through the year already. Time to take stock and see what the first six months have delivered up in terms of new tunes and bands. We asked some of the regular MM contributors to pick three songs that have particularly struck a chord (sorry) with them in the first part of 2012.

Kyle Adem – Brother Follow 
Unlike Brains by Lower Dens this was an instant hit.  A real earthy campfire ditty with a grotesque sentiment I fully approve of. I make no apology for repeating the line MM brought to our attention in late April. ‘So our sisters became whores, and our brothers savage carnivores, devouring the bodies of our fathers’. Well that got my attention… and I’m pleased to report the quality of musicianship effortlessly matches the lyrics. Building in to a stomping climax sung with a equal parts desperation and aggression it may well be my song of the year so far. Kyle Adem I salute you sir.  (CP) 

Download Kyle Adem – Brother Follow mp3 (from Armour)

Aesop Rock – Zero Dark Thirty
What a start. What a tune, The bassline holds you down, whilst the drums jump on your chest. Lyrically Aesop Rock is head and shoulders above most of his competitors in this genre. His delivery, subject matter and phraseology is so unique and fresh it’s no wonder he has won such plaudits from his peers. The lyric “Spinning in the shadows of immoral magnets / are we supporting the artist or enabling the addict” shows great skill. This kind of poetry is sadly lacking in most of the so called Hip Hop that is touted round the charts, like music in a gimp suit. However it is the music that backs up all the wordplay that had me all over this track like White on rice.  (Dr R)

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The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose
A great summer song with a real laid back feel to it The line “Hang loose / let the ocean worry about being blue” sums up the vibe of this track perfectly. I love the guitar intro that meanders along through the song providing a nice country accent to it. The drums are hard edged and drive the song along beautifully. There are also elements of soul to both the track and definitely to Brittany Howard’s vocals that seem to drape around this song effortlessly. To be honest on a sunny day, with a cold beer and this track, you can drift off to anywhere in the world.  (Dr R)

Download The Alabama Shakes – Hang Loose (Hear Ya Session) mp3 (from Hear Ya Session) Grab whole session from Hear Ya here.

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – Liliputt
In what should be Liz’s year, I say all hail the coronation of Queen B. From the sweeping string arrangements, to her falsetto harmonies, to the thrumming hooves of percussion that build the momentum, here is a tune that marks the musical originality – and arrival – of the one and only BJH. “I might die without these words having left my mouth” – OK then, I’ll say it: genius. (Mrs M)

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Richard Buckner – Willow
Ballad is sometimes a bit of a bastardised term, but don’t let Bonnie Tyler et al put you off. This is the real deal. “I can still remember…” so much melancholy and longing hinted at, both lyrically and musically. The simple arrangement dips and sways, well, like a willow tree actually, and is broken by a lovely twangy guitar bit, two verses in. I have always been a sucker for a man with a sad song and a guitar. Tick, tick. (Mrs M)

Download Richard Buckner – Willow mp3 (from Willow EP)

Father John Misty – Writing A Novel
Father John Misty’s album Fear Fun has been one of our most played of the year. It is lewd, bawdy, irreverent, frank and honest. Picking just one track is near nigh impossible, but in the end I went for Writing A Novel, carried along on a jaunty, rolling rhythm and spewing forth a lyrical stream of consciousness that borders on genius, and contains one of the years simplest and best lines, “I”m writing a novel, because its never been done before“. (MM)

Download Father John Misty – Writing A Novel mp3 (from Fear Fun) via R&G

Simone Felice – Hey Bobby Ray
Simone Felice is brother to the wonderful but ‘dark’ Felice Brothers. While his brothers sing about tragic lives and deaths, murders and gun-toting alcoholics, Simone … well Simone does the same. Just on his own. Hey Bobby Ray is the story of a sex attacker who is going to get what is coming to him. It starts slowly with Mr Felice’s slightly tortured vocals and builds to a point where a gospel choir chips in. It’s brilliant!  (B-SF)

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Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Any More
I nearly chose Fergus Falls by Field Report for a place in my top three, but this tune just has the edge. There are some songs that stop you in your tracks and some that creep up slowly – this one is definitely a track stopper. A beautiful tune – understated, haunting and melancholy – a perfect combination I reckon!  (PP)

Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3 (from Field Report)

First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
What is not to love about this tune? For me its the stunning vocals and those harmonies that get me every time, and lyrics that deserve to be listen to several times over but still leave you wondering just how do you get so many words into one sentence? Overall its a cracker and I am sure it will remain a favourite throughout the year.  (PP)

Download First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar mp3 (from The Lion’s Roar) Taken down under DMCA notice due to some retarded fuckwit not knowing the song was given away as a free download everywhere. Contact us first you muppet and we’ll show you the authorisation we have to post. Anyway, you can get it via Soundcloud instead.

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Gravenhurst – The Foundry
A record of almost otherworldly, ambient folk, the world view of Gravenhurst is a deeply unsettling one. The Foundry is played out over a backdrop of acoustics so profoundly beautiful that the sourness of the lyrics pack an even greater punch. “And you won’t know when evil comes, evil looks just like anyone, and I blame, I blame, I blame anyone but me“. Like having your first French kiss and finding your tongue’s been bitten off.  (MM)

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Last American Buffalo – Baby I’m Alive
Just for a change, a love song has captured my imagination. It’s not one of those cheerful or smoochy love songs though. I don’t think this will ever end the night at the Stonesfield Disco. No, this song celebrates love but is sung in such a way that it relays the pain that even the most loving relationships can bring. And the guitar backing is just beautiful. (B-SF)

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Lower Dens – Brains
This one was definitely a grower, passing undetected until that magic eureka moment when you start glowing with the realisation you just love this damn song. Hypnotic and insistent – it keeps metaphorically pulling at your sleeve like a child who’s seen the ice cream van. It will not be denied. Lovingly textured with synth, drums while sung with a laid back approach that matches the music perfectly it doesn’t slip in to any particular category easily. I like that. There is something indefinable about what appeals and why I like it – which makes it fabulous in my book.  (CP)

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Lumineers – Ho Hey
I think the beauty of this song is its simplicity… From its rhythmic opening bars, steady beat and chanted ‘Ho Hey’ over a picked guitar you then realise it’s anything but simple. The composition is wonderfully subtle, far more thoughtful and precise than you first realise. It’s also a joyful record, the momentum sweeps you along until you find yourself yelping out the chorus far too loud and usually in public. Be careful if you go the gym and have it blasting out of your ipod – funny looks are certain to follow…(CP)

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Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive
With rumbling percussion, echoing guitars and an almost reggae-like rhythm, Willy Mason announced his return after a five year hiatus with Restless Fugitive, a dusty, world-weary hymn to moving on, and in doing so might have just provided us with the song of the year so far.  (MM)

Download Willy Mason – Restless Fugitive (Daytrotter Session) mp3 (from Daytrotter Session)

Monument Valley – The Very First Alarm
A gorgeous, melancholy tune, that describes the moment you properly understand that you’re not going to get your lover back, and the torrent of memories and emotions that comes with that realisation. This could have been a bit soppy, but it  is lifted by a haunting guitar sound and some dark lyrics, that make you smile. “You never minded too much being see through / Until you worked out who was behind you”. Don’t, however, play this to your little brother who has just split up with his girlfriend of six years, because the look in his eyes will make a bit of your soul die. Fact!  (Dr R)

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Rachel Sermanni – The Fog
Rachel Sermanni has such a beautiful voice with the most incredible vocal range. I love the violins throughout which help to give it such a rich, polished sound. To me, there is something really enchanting about this song, but not in a light hearted, frivolous way, it has a mischievous heart and carries with it an air of darkness (which to my mind should be encouraged!)  (PP)

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Tunng – Jenny Again
I’m a sucker for a story song. The more grim the story, the better I like it. Usually those songs are played out to menacing guitar riffs or slowly plucked blues strings. Not this one. This is a jaunty little number that trips along whilst the ‘narrator’ tells about how his life was ended by ‘the other man’ who then runs off and has a pretty nice life with his Jenny. You’ve really got to listen to it.  (B-SF)

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The Walkmen – Heartbreaker
The Walkmen might have been around for over a decade but this is a fresh cut for the men from NYC. It’s not the singer, it’s the song, sings Hamilton Leithauser – actually it’s both. Cue a deft guitar riff to start, bring in your pedal drum and I’m already out of my seat. Slight retro ambience, this tune just oozes style and cool. It really is the perfect tempo dance number for my ageing fins. How can you not? It would be rude. Love it, love it, love it. (Mrs M)

Download The Walkmen – Heartbreaker mp3 (from Heaven)

Thanks to Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), Christy-Popper (CP), Polly Pocket (PP), Barry-Sean (BS-F) and Dr. Roddy (Dr R) for their selections. Why not tell us whose choices you like best?