Another From Wooden Wand’s Farmer’s Corner

More From Wooden Wand's Farmer's Corner

Farmer’s Corner, the new album from Wooden Wand promises to be a rawer, more personal affair than the brilliant Blood Oaths Of The New Blues and we have already shared the wonderful Dambuilding with you here.

Now we have Alpha Dawn for your listening pleasure, another sublime cut of relaxed, informal, wandering folk that evokes all those classic intimate campfire and back-porch scenarios, as acoustic strings meander sweetly beneath James Jackson Toth’s gently sung vocals.

Absolutely gorgeous. Listen/download it below.

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Wooden Wand Announces Farmer’s Corner

Wooden Wand Announces Farmer's Corner

We’re putting up the bunting at Mackerel Towers because long-time favourite, Wooden Wand will release a new album, Farmer’s Corner on May 5th via Fire Records.

This time it is an album recorded on his travels, in fits and starts, and wherever and whenever he felt like it. It means nine new songs captured in six sessions in four studios in three different states.

Amongst them is Dambuilding, a beautifully judged slice of acoustic melancholy unhurriedly delivered with a slightly crestfallen air that imbues the narrative with a gorgeous poignancy.

Appetites are well and truly whetted, 57 days to wait.

Grab it below.

Mad Mackerel’s Favourite Albums Of 2013 (Part 3: 10-1)

And to complete our Best of Year postings, we have our favourite ten albums from 2013. Every single one is superb…

10 Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

New Song From The Black Angels

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9 Wooden Wand – Blood Oaths Of The New Blues

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8 Vandaveer – Oh, Willie, Please

More From Vandaveer

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7 Jus Post Bellum – Oh, July

Another Track From Jus Post Bellum

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6 Wooden Shjips – Back To Land

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5 T. Hardy Morris – The Audition Tapes

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4 Water Liars – Wyoming

New Track, New Album From Water Liars

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3 Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

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2 Jesse Woods – Get Your Burdens Lifted

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1 Phosphorescent – Muchacho

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Check out numbers 50 – 31 here, and 30 – 11 here.

Mrs Mackerel’s Top Songs of 2013

Mrs Mackerel's Top Songs of 2013

As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year that we’ve posted over the past few days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. Today it is the turn of Mrs Mackerel.

20. Steve Mason – A Lot of Love
Love the piano on this song and the catchy, sing-a-long chorus – a guaranteed earworm if I had any (ears that is… being a fish, of course.) Steve Mason’s gentle vocals reflect on love lost and the hope of finding it again.

19. The Villagers – Nothing Arrived
I’m loving the piano this year and there’s a good bit of gutsy playing here. What were we hoping to get out of this boys? Nothing actually. People are so bloody disappointing aren’t they?

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 18.  Junip – Line of Fire
Sold to me in wistful and reflective mode; there’s more than a kernal of truth in these insightful lyrics: You realise it’s just a whim/And you notice it matters/Who and what you let under your skin.

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17. Sisters – Clearhead
Here are my shoes. See how I gaze at them. It says 2013 on the label, but I’ve gone back to the early 90s. Lovely.

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16. Foxygen – No Destruction
It’s the lazy, laconic drawl and the finger-clicking rhythm – just one hand if you’re me, as the other doesn’t seem to work – and the way you can sing along to ‘No destruct-shaan’ quite happily, even in modest company.

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15. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Wide Lovely Eyes
Oh clever, clever Nicholas Cave and his voice so hypnotic, deep and dark. You could imagine this as part of a recruitment drive to join a cult (yes you, with your wide lovely eyes). With a teasing yet subdued musical arrangement, this is the gospel according to St Nick.

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14. Head & the Heart – Shake
The bass drum kicks this one into action, then a little bit of clapping and the rest of the band follows. There’s a sweet change of tempo for the chorus: ‘And the memories we made will never be lost, no.’ Maybe not with the ink, pens, and prevailing wind and all that shaking.

13.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor
We are right in the mix here: a bit of dance therapy needed. Remember the hypnotic triangle of cooker/fridge/sink? Throw some shapes, make a curry, go knock yourself out; I didn’t want to dance, but they made me.

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12. Laura Marling – Devil’s Resting Place
There’s menace and a brooding darkness in this devil’s resting place as LM returns to the pared back sound of Alas I Cannot Swim.  But there are many layers to this music and her latest album has an intensity and intelligence that means she’s still my number one gal.

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11.  Jus Post Bellum – It’s a Shame
Cowboys! Gunfight! This is an upbeat folky number with a wicked drum backbeat that pulls it all together like a rolling canter. He’s a bad ‘un and it’s a shame.

10. Waxahatchee – Swan Dive
The rhythmic drumming and finger picking guitar counter balance Katie Crutchfield’s rich, husky vocal in this short, melancholic lament: you hold on to the past, you make yourself miserable/and I’m ruled by seasons and sadness that’s inexplicable. So there.

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9.   Shovels & Rope – Johnny 99
Yes, it’s a Bruce Springsteen cover, but quite frankly, so what? This is a damn fine tune and that’s one hell of a Marlboro red voice she’s got there. And did I mention the piano (again)?

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8.   Alela Diane – Colorado Blue
Sharply observed lyrics float over a gently strummed backdrop, this song is plumbed from the emotional depths of her divorce album. Might not get you in the Christmas spirit but is sure to bring a lump to your throat.

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7.   Night Beds – Even If We Try
It starts off acappela, and finishes somewhere around dawn. Yes, this is indeed a late night/wee small hours tune if ever there was one. Recorded Bon Iver-style in a self-built studio, this is an intimate song of longing and reflection:  As you watch the colours/Fleeting with the cover/Nature set on fire/Truth found in the mire. There’s space under my wing, Winston.

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6.   Water Liars – Linens
Pull up a chair, I wanna tell you a story about tormented man. To be honest, he’s too much trouble for me (cook your own bacon, change your own sheets boyo), but I like a good yarn and a telling verse: The mind is a place unto itself/ And in it makes a heaven of hell/And a hell of heaven. Quite.

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5.   Jesse Woods – Cold Blood
This one’s a bit of a swayer and despite the title, Cold Blood is lyrically beautiful and uplifting. You can drift into the rise and fall of the music and the harmonies – and, like the man says, we’ve got places to be and nothing to prove.

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4.   James Yorkston – Just As Scared
Every couple of years I seem to find the perfect smoky bar song. Here’s just such a tune: a cheek-to-cheek intimate duet that shuffles around the piano with a bluesy feel that gets my foot a-tapping. Now where’s your shoulder, let me very gently lay my head…

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3.  Wooden Wand – Southern Colorado Song
I could rename this Southern Devon song: late July, lying on the beach with the waves rushing into my ears.  Can you hear the cymbal tremor throughout this song? Nowhere seems the only place to go; aye, Captain.

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2.   Georgia’s Horse – Thistlebomb
Tales from the battlefield: an unusual, almost discordant arrangement with sublime vocals. If I was looking for an influence, maybe a hint of Kate Bush? Quite unique and utterly brilliant.

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1. Phosphorescent – Song for Zula
Matthew Houck’s ragged voice was not always to my taste. But time has altered us both and it’s his strong yet fragile vocals that stitch together Zula’s imagery, which cuts far and deep. Intensely poignant lyrics, sweeping strings, pulsing drum machine: it all weaves together to form an emotional testament to the end of a relationship. Ever had your heart broken? This is what it feels like.

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Special mentions:

School Anthem 2013

Woody Pines – Hobo and his Bride
What’s a five mile trip to school without a bit of crooning about a hobo? It’s just me and the littlest Sprat in the Minner now and it’s often a power struggle over the play list. Joe, you win: your sing-along to this is top banana.

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Best Covers:

Deep Red Sky – Kids

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Eddie Berman with Laura Marling – Dancing in the Dark

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Jessica Lea Mayfield – I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)

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Best gig:

Phosphorescent, Village Underground, London (15 May 2013)
Fab acoustics and great sound, and, of course, the warm-up for his Muchacho tour. For me, there was no finer album of 2013. Perfect.

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Wooden Wand – Winter in Kentucky
Most. Favourite. Song. Ever.

If I had to explain, you wouldn’t understand.

MAD MACKEREL’S TOP TRACKS OF 2013: 25 – 1

MM's Favourite Tracks Of 2013: 25 - 1

So this is it, the final countdown of our favourite tracks of 2013…

As voted for by MM luminaries: the luminous Mrs Mackerel (Mrs M), the newly teenaged Middle Sprat (MS), Marston’s Mr Big, Chris T Popper (CP), the criminally insane Dr. Roddy (Dr R), and patricide obsessive Polly Pocket (PP). A motley crew it is true, but all united by their love of a damn good tune.

So, here then are their final selections from 25 down to top spot.

25 Big Sun – Pants
Quirky, frothy and sardonic. Sung with tongues so far in cheeks it should have sounded funny. Instead we got idiosyncratic indie-pop genius.

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24 James Yorkston – Just As Scared
Every couple of years I seem to find the perfect smoky bar song. Here’s just such a tune: a cheek-to-cheek intimate duet that shuffles around the piano with a bluesy feel that gets my foot a-tapping. Now where’s your shoulder, let me very gently lay my head…(Mrs M)

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23 Martha’s Vineyard Ferries – Blonde On Blood
Like the best ever Fall single played at 78rpm. This is, of course, a very good thing indeed. (MM)

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22 I See Hawks In L.A. – One Drop Of Human Blood
Hypnotic, trippy, country rock par excellence.

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21 Augustines – Cruel City
Of course Augustines feature in my Top Ten again – how could they not? Their voices are my favourite of all. The music fits with the lyrics and their voices, and the whole of it captures the mood of the song perfectly! I can’t wait for to hear more songs by them! (MS)

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20 Cave Singers – Have To Pretend
What a groove this song has – it chugs away happily. Down the line the drums are pounded relentlessly, their only company is a bass line that seems to have the demeanour of a drunken Sunday afternoon. Pete Quirk’s voice is a wonderful accompaniment and his lackadaisical delivery of lyric, it’s as if it would kill him to pronounce any word properly. This just adds to the song’s swagger. (Dr R)

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19 Southerly – Desolation Low
Now I mean this in a good way, but I just love the damn ‘seriousness’ of this song. Serious without being shit that is. And for that Southerly must be congratulated and lauded. Instead we have a climatic build up and an epic finale that gave it a deserved top 3 status in my songs of the year. It just picks me up and carries me away no matter how many times I hear it. (CP)

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18 Cash Savage & The Last Drinks – Hypnotizer
Full of attitude and lots of swagger. This is definitely a Friday night cocktail favourite (goes particularly well with a Dirty Martini). If you don’t end up singing along with the gospel choir you are not listening to it right. (PP)

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17 Georgia’s Horse – Thistlebomb
Tales from the battlefield: an unusual, almost discordant arrangement with sublime vocals. If I was looking for an influence, maybe a hint of Kate Bush? Quite unique and utterly brilliant. (Mrs M)

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16 Nick Cave – Jubilee Street
It has taken me longer to love Nick Cave than it should and I am sorry to those who have tried to show me the right path in the past. Thankfully I have learnt the error of my ways and it is Jubilee Street that helped me see the light. Storytelling at its best. (PP)

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15 Phosphorescent – Ride On/Right On
While I might be at odds with my shoalmates, this track from Phosphorescent’s peerless Muchacho album was my tune of the year. A little bit of funky rhythm and a whole lot of country grit combined to make the most compelling and enduring song of 2013. (MM)

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14 Houndmouth – Casino
This song is my favourite of the year, only just though. It always has me awkwardly singing and bopping when I can! With the country twang in their voices and the electric guitar in the background, I can’t help but love this song. (MS)

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13 Wooden Wand – Southern Colorado Song
I could rename this Southern Devon song: late July, lying on the beach with the waves rushing into my ears.  Can you hear the cymbal tremor throughout this song? Nowhere seems the only place to go; aye, Captain. (Mrs M)

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12 Laura Marling – Devil’s Resting Place
There’s menace and a brooding darkness in this devil’s resting place as LM returns to the pared back sound of Alas I Cannot Swim.  But there are many layers to this music and her latest album has an intensity and intelligence that means she’s still my number one gal. (Mrs M)

I couldn’t have a top ten without Ms Marling featuring in it somewhere (23, how can she be just 23 and getting better with every album?).  I love the exotic, dark sound to this song. Once I Was An Eagle is a very fine album, if you don’t own it you should. (PP)

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11 Junip – Line Of Fire
Sold to me in wistful and reflective mode; there’s more than a kernel of truth in these insightful lyrics: You realise it’s just a whim/And you notice it matters/Who and what you let under your skin. (Mrs M)

This has been in the top spot since the beginning of the year. Beautiful vocals courtesy of Jose Gonzalez, it all sounds so effortless whilst building up to that epic finish. Unfortunately, this song also reminds me of seeing Junip this Autumn where, having got Mr Gonzalez to sign my album I then proceeded to tell him that he and the band were ‘awesome‘. He was a gentleman about it but it remains embarrassing. (PP)

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10 John Grant – GMF
This song was a real grower upon first hearing it I thought “Oh that’s alright”, then I carried on about my business. Then one day I properly listened. Any song that has the line “Half of the time I think I’m in some movie / I play the underdog of course / I wonder who they’ll get to play me, maybe / they could dig up Richard Burton’s corpse” is a winner in my book. This song really is a lyric driven tune – the melody underneath is a vehicle for some wonderfully arrogant word play but what would you expect from a song entitled GMF (Greatest Mother Fucker). (Dr R)

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9 Wild Child – Crazy Bird
Never whistle in songs goes the old adage, well tell that to Otis Redding and these guys, fuckos! This tune has a such a feelgood factor to it, it positively bristles with fun and bounce. The melancholy sound of the fiddle in the background gives it some real gravitas, so you can feel serious when you are whistling along to it. You know you will! (Dr R)

I love this song. The catchy, tuneful whistling and always get stuck in my head and the harmony in their voices when they sing together are my favourite factors of this song. This means that this song is placed at number two in my top ten. (MS)

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8 Jesse Woods – Cold Blood
This one’s a bit of a swayer and despite the title, Cold Blood is lyrically beautiful and uplifting. You can drift into the rise and fall of the music and the harmonies – and, like the man says, we’ve got places to be and nothing to prove. (Mrs M)

As traditional as the aching sadness of yet another year wasted Christmas always brings, there will undoubtedly be a latecomer to my top 10. Step forward Jesse Woods. I was listening to this song in the car when I first got the CD and when I finally heard to it on a ‘proper’ music system it blew me away. Woods has great timing to his delivery and an even better voice. It’s bloody magnificent. (CP)

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7 Water Liars – Linens
Pull up a chair, I wanna tell you a story about tormented man. To be honest, he’s too much trouble for me (cook your own bacon, change your own sheets boyo), but I like a good yarn and a telling verse: The mind is a place unto itself/ And in it makes a heaven of hell/And a hell of heaven. Quite. (Mrs M)

I don’t think I have the vocabulary to describe the beauty of this song, so I’m not going to try. If you know this song then you will know that at some point everyone has, or does, share this song’s wants, needs and ideology. If you don’t know the song, catch yourself some quiet time, a good whisky and indulge….. (Dr R)

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6 Terry Malts – I Was Not There
As my previous top 10’s bear out I do like a proper modern punk song. Terry Malts can do that. Heavy drums and a real hurry-up guitar combine to great effect. It’s an enjoyably unforgiving song.  And ‘I was not there’ are four words that have constantly come in useful throughout my own life. (CP)

To do simple, balls-to-the-floor, screw-you punk rock this brilliantly well takes real talent. Terry Malts have it. (MM)

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5 Burning Hell – Grown Ups
An instant hit. From the very start Grown Ups is a treat, with the most arresting opening lyric I’ve heard for some time. Guitar meanders along as the tale unfolds about nostalgia and the joy of hanging around graveyards being ‘little goth idiots’. I had a goth stage in my teens – trench coat, skinny black jeans, miserable outlook and an utterly appalling haircut. The quintessential goth you might say and a really great effort from me. (CP)

You were a Nazi hunter / I was a cockney punter” sings Mathias Kom. After hearing that opening line I thought, “Hello, that’s different, that’s got my attention”. A wonderful singalong track that has the sound of a heavily stoned grunge record. I still feel guilty that it isn’t higher in my list. (Dr R)

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4 T. Hardy Morris – OK Corral
Sad, sad songs eh? Love ‘em myself and T. Hardy Morris delivers a tour de force with OK Corral. You can’t help it as you’re dragged in to the drowsy chorus and it’s tangible sense of sorrow. It’s also another song from this year with a great opening line, “Swear me in / I’m pretty good at making promises“…(CP)

The sound of a ghost town set to song. (MM)

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3 Foxygen – No Destruction
It’s the lazy, laconic drawl and the finger-clicking rhythm – just one hand if you’re me, as the other doesn’t seem to work – and the way you can sing along to ‘No destruct-shaan’ quite happily, even in modest company. (Mrs M)

This was pretty much nailed on. With the opening line of “I’m sending you this photograph / Of me in my new car“, I had already signed up on the Foxygen dotted line and was awaiting further instruction. A subversive laid back and slightly peculiar song. Kept me thinking all year, as I never knew where I really had it. (CP)

We may have lost Lou Reed this year, but his spirit lives on in No Destruction, a natural pretender to his throne, and this song has the best use of “weaseled” in any song we’ve heard. (MM)

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2 Low – Plastic Cup
I haven’t met anyone who didn’t like this song after the very first listen. I think Low may have cracked it. There’s a dreamy kind of stillness to it and a perfect example of the genius of simplicity. It never tries too hard because it doesn’t need to. (CP)

One of those few songs that feels like it could have been written any time in the past 40 years. Timeless is over-used, but this really is that good. (MM)

From the first listen this song has been a real contender. Lyrically a tour de force, witty, poignant, accompanied by some beautiful harmonies and a vast yet warm soundscape. I love the song’s theme of having to piss into a plastic cup then it being dug up In a thousand years and heralded as the cup the king drank from every night. It is the kind of faux pas that wouldn’t look out of place in a Python sketch. A truly wondrous piece of work that has welded itself to my brain and is having a sit-in. (Dr R)

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1 PHOSPHORESCENT – SONG FOR ZULA
Matthew Houck
Matthew Houck’s ragged voice was not always to my taste. But time has altered us both and it’s his strong yet fragile vocals that stitch together Zula’s imagery, which cuts far and deep. Intensely poignant lyrics, sweeping strings, pulsing drum machine: it all weaves together to form an emotional testament to the end of a relationship. Ever had your heart broken? This is what it feels like. (Mrs M) 

In a recent interview Matthew Houck talked about Song For Zula and how he felt he had achieved something with the song that he thought was beyond his ability. An almost unconscious level of quality he hadn’t perceived was there. I know exactly what he means… apart from never having achieved anything to my ability or beyond it. But I can imagine, so I won’t let it hold me back. Just the best song I’ve heard in ages. (CP)

What an epic tune this is with its fine strings and heartbreaking lyrics to match. A timeless classic. (PP)

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Check out the rest of our top 100 here: 100 – 76, 75 – 51, 50 – 26.

Mad Mackerel Recommends…Doc Feldman & The LD50

MM Recommends...Doc Feldman & The LD50

Doc Feldman & The LD50 officially released Sundowning At The Station a few days ago via This Is American Music.

It was recorded in Lexington, KY with help from friend and sometimes collaborator (and oft-celebrated MM fave), James Jackson Toth aka Wooden Wand. The album is the singer-songwriter’s first since the breakup of his last band Good Saints.

After a few listens we are willing to stick our necks out and say if there is any justice in the musical word then this is destined to become a masterpiece of its kind. A classic of bruised, bleak, folk and Southern gothica that begs for company in the shape of a bottle of liquor and a dark, lonesome night of what-might-have-beens.

It runs the full gamut of emotions from the beautiful Let It Go to the weary Battle Hymn and the uncompromising Cold Tile Floor – in fact the whole record, from first to last, grips like a musical vice, demanding attention and rewarding in turn through every little nuance of sound.

In fact, this may be damn near perfect…Order via Bandcamp here or This Is American Music here.

 

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Wooden Wand – Supermoon (The Sounding Line)

New From Wooden Wand (Mad Mackerel Rejoices).

Wooden Wand’s Blood Oaths Of The New Blues is firmly cemented in place as one of our albums of the year – a reflective, mysterious collection of smoky Americana that is as thought provoking, illuminating and imaginative as anything you are likely to hear.

Fire Records are streaming another track from it, (yet) another of our favourites, Supermoon (The Sounding Line) tells the tale of the suicidal yearnings of the protagonist seeking to drown himself.

“I was always holding my breath as if there wouldn’t be any left
After you took to mine, siphoned my blood and my time
I don’t believe I will climb this sounding line”

Listen below. Buy the record here.

Mad Mackerel The last Five Years – Chris T Popper Picks His Favourites

MM The Last Five Years - Chris T Popper

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 and now the ultra-punctual and fastidious Chris T Popper offers up his selections.

20) Strand of Oaks – Trap Door

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19) Avett Brothers – January Wedding

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18) Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer

Download Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer mp3

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17) Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl

Download Toby Burke – Cantina Crawl mp3

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16) Wye Oak – Civilian

Download Wye Oak – Civilian mp3

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15) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3

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14) Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge of The Extra From Zulu mp3

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13) Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill

Download Wooden Wand – Uncle Bill mp3

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12) Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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11) Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank)

Dowload Howling Owls – Snake Charmer (No Money In The Bank) mp3

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10) Sonny + The Sandwitches – Through The Fog And Haze
Over the years I have never forgotten how much this song meant to me; if anything it gets stronger like an addiction (and considering this is a personality trait I’ve developed over the years I will happily succumb). I can be in the shower/waiting in a queue/at a meeting with senior management and I’ll randomly sing the first line. Sometimes that doesn’t work out so well when someone is talking flow charts and I’m singing ‘through the fog and the haze…’ at them. But it makes more sense than what their flapping mouths are coming out with. It’s just going to happen.

Download Sonny + The Sandwitches – Through The Fog And Haze mp3

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9) Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano
Not a single mackerel swam my way on this one. I was denounced as an absolute arse but I cared not. Hayman wrote this song after suffering a fractured skull; which opened up the idea to him of writing a song gentle enough to listen to with brain ache. There is nothing wrong with gentle in this age of incessant noisy shit. It is a beautiful soliloquy telling the story of a piano’s life (something I always wanted to hear) luckily I was able to understand – they didn’t. Their fault not mine.

Download Darren Hayman – The Ship’s Piano mp3

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8) Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Colour Television
Passed me by initially. Found it by simply playing my iTunes on shuffle one night a couple of years ago and was instantly hooked… and what a revelation. The insistent guitar is ravaged with a punk attitude I thought was long dead. By that I mean talent. Could have come from 1976 and share a gob full of spit with the best of that era, by that I mean the Clash and there is no greater praise I can bestow. Another story televised, another billion hypnotised. Quite.

Download Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Colour Television mp3

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7) Dennis Hopper Choppers – Good To Me
As soon as that horn blast announces its arrival I’m in. It builds with a rhythmic hypnotism that refuses to let go. Evoking the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone with an outstanding vocal from Ben Nicholl (I was lucky enough to catch this live and it didn’t disappoint) it’s never been off the ‘best of’ playlists since I heard it.

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6) The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind
A timeless guitar riff that immediately sends my brain synapses in to electrical overdrive. Everything else becomes secondary to tapping my foot and grinning inanely. To be fair though, grinning inanely comes fairly naturally…

I went to see the Cave Singers live and they didn’t even perform this song (and it’s still in my top ten!). Now I know their back catalogue is good, but next time I’ll write the set list for fucks sake.

Download The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind mp3 (from Welcome Joy)

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5) Lower Dens  – Brains
In the language of common parlance may I just say one thing? OMG. In fact I’ll go even further… OMFG! I swear down. Now I’ve totally alienated you I’ll continue… There is a subtlety to this work you have no idea about unless you have included it in your own top 5 (which you haven’t). Opens with a drumbeat that grips your lapels up like a rottweiler on heat.  And then… well, it just gets better of course. I suggest you go and listen to it and then come back to me and we’ll talk about it over a large gin & tonic and a ridiculously large bifta.

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4) Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes
Smashed in to my number one spot last year and who could stop it? I have no idea what it’s about and neither do I care. It’s just not important to me because I can put this song on at any time, in any mood (and by jingo I can be a moody bastard) and find myself singing the chorus loud and proud – without getting a single word right. But hey that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? The sheer momentum carries you along like a crazed right wing Chancellor at a witch’s funeral – enough to shed a tear for the right reasons.

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3) Phospherescent – Song For Zula
When Mr Mackerel asked us to put together our favourite songs of the last five years I was a little cautious of including any recent favourites. It’s difficult enough to pick 20 of the best at any time… but Song For Zula transcends the conundrum. The impact of the opening bars/violins/first line (referencing Johnny Cash no less) is timeless. I have a special place in my heart for Phossie and the Red Eyed Fly in Austin when I first saw them live (get me!) – opening with a Radiohead cover and then converting me to country music by channelling the great Willie Nelson. Met him (Phossie not Willie!) by the way. I want to be his best friend. He doesn’t.

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2) Howling Owls – A Wordsmith’s Reverie
You know when you read a book and think ‘shit I could never write that beautifully’ (I’m a frustrated author as well as human being) – Howling Owls does that musically. There is a self-aware yet peaceful desperation to this; and not a single word is wasted. The lament of ‘I will change everything about me for you – except for the fact I can never be what you want me to be’ is heartbreaking. It also makes you realise how shit this world is. Far more people know about Kim Kardashian than Howling Owls and Wooden Wand put together. Just think about that for a moment- done that? Good. Now try not to wail in utter sadness…

Download Howling Owls featuring Maximino – A Wordsmith’s Reverie mp3

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1) Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed
This is my favourite song of the last five years of Mad Mackerel. It’s actually hard to write anything that can really do it the justice it deserves… I love music so much that a work of this sheer magnitude can leave me running on empty, even when it comes to my typical hyperbole. So, deep breath… here goes. From the moment I heard it I knew it was special. And it’s never lost its impact or the way it moves me like no other song. I know people like me say ‘genius’ a lot (and that people say that people say ‘genius’ a lot when they shouldn’t). This is genius.

Download Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson – Buriedfed mp3

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And my 3 favourite bands…

3) Jeff The Brotherhood
2) Wooden Wand
1) Phosphorescent

Needs a mention

Best Cover:
Download Port O’Brien – Halo mp3 (Beyonce Cover)

My favourite Live Act of 08-13
Phossie – Red Eyed Fly, Austin, Texas 2009
I suddenly and quite unexpectedly understood country music.

Mad Mackerel The Last Five Years – Dr Roddy Looks Back

MM The Last Five Years - Dr Roddy

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, but first up with their personal top twenty is the right honourable Dr Roddy.

Through good fortune and fine sailing I have been lucky enough to be involved with this blog and it has provided me with some of the finest music in genres I maybe wouldn’t have looked in. So when asked to compile a top twenty of tunes from the last five years, I kicked aside the memories of musical turmoil that is involved with the yearly top tens, poured a stiff drink and set about it with relish.

20 Dan Auerbach – Heartbroken, In Disrepair

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19 Dirty Bourbon River Band – Train Is Gone

Download Dirty Bourbon River Show – Train Is Gone mp3 (from Volume 2)

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18 Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine

Download Tame Impala – Half Full Glass Of Wine mp3 (from Tame Impala EP)

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17 Janice Graham Band – Front Door

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16 Ox – Midnight On The Island

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15 Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

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14 Timber Timbre – Bad Ritual

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13 Nathaniel Rateliffe – Brakeman

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12 William Elliot Whitmore – Old Devils

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11 What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge

Download What Would Jesus Drive – The Girls Are In Charge (live) mp3 (from What Would Jesus Drive EP)

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10 The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind
Wonderfully carefree and happy song that could so easily be heard drifting out of a doorway in Haight Ashbury with some interesting smelling smoke circa 1967. Yet this song never bows or becomes a pastiche of that, it rises above it all with its own verve and character.

Download The Cave Singers – I Don’t Mind mp3 (from Welcome Joy)

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9 Brown Bird – Wrong Black Mare
Sullen, desperate story songs are a bit of a fave of mine and to be honest I think I can trace it back to this song. A tale of woe, desperation and unpaid debts are told here with such clarity, it’s as if you’ve got drunk with Brown Bird and they have decided to spill their guts to you. You understand though, ‘coz at some point we have all backed the “Wrong Black Mare”

Download Brown Bird – Wrong Brown Mare mp3 (from

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8 Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling
When I wrote my first review of this song I thought I had described quite well. Upon re-reading it, I can safely say that my view has changed and will probably change on my next listen to it. The insanity, confusion, and babbling of this song are what holds my love for it. It’s an enigma wrapped in a riddle, all encased in a funky B-line, foot tapping beat, gravel throated, roister of a song.

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7 Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do
This is such a beautifully crafted song. Simple, but packed with a rich warm sound that feels like it lends weight to the honesty of this tale of lost and forlorn love. Perfect Americana direct from Sweden.

Download Strayfolk – What Wouldn’t I Do mp3

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6 Withered Hand – Religious Songs
A piece of lyrical mastery is on display here. A fantastic sing-a-long arrangement supports the witty word play that Dan Wilson sings with a vulnerability to his voice. This doesn’t stop him from punching the words that need emphasis. This song also ask the obvious question “How does he really expect to be happy, when he listens to death metal bands?”

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5 Tweak Bird – Weight
I love the in-your-face nature of this song. Right from the start, it sets its stall out – flat out, foot on the amp rock, and proud of it to boot. The guitar plays a gritty riff that sounds angry and frustrated, while the drummer is hell bent on punishing every bit of his kit.

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4 Grass House – A Cradle A Short Breath
The deep sombre tones that lay across this song act as a perfect partner to the bass as it pounds along at a merry old pace. It never fails to make me give a wry smile as I bob along to it’s woeful chorus of “A cradle, a short breath”.

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3 Roadside Graves – Far And Wide
I still think Roadside Graves is the best band name of this century and Far And Wide is a song that has stayed with me since my first listen – I was hooked. A great country riff lures you in and you hardly notice that the song fills with more and more sound and pleasure until it finishes and you’re left with a hole where the music once was, so you reach for the replay button, you know like musical heroin.

Download The Roadside Graves – Far And Wide mp3 (from My Son’s Home)

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2 Wooden Wand – Servant To Blues
As this track rolls effortlessly on, Wooden Wand spills his bleak melancholy tale of a servant to blues. In other words, the relationship equivalent of the Church’s pious man. I love the rhythm of this track, it almost seems to tick along like a clock. The peacefulness of this song is speared through the heart with a great screeching guitar solo, this then just seems to ebb back into the shadows it leapt from, only to be covered by the warm sound of the organ. Truly blissful…

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1 Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Stranger Dig (Everything’s For Sale)
For just two guys damn! They make some noise. Great heavy blues tinged riffs and rolling drum beats – I’m loving that all day long. There is talent and passion in abundance here. I’m sat here trying to write something for this whilst listening to it, that has had to stop, as when it plays it just grips me up and I can’t do anything other than get right into it. If you’re looking for something new rock wise I beg you to check them out, live if possible. Disappointment won’t be on the menu.

Wooden Wand: Live Review

Live Review: Wooden Wand

Wooden Wand | Hoxton Underbelly, London | 26 April 2013

At last a chance to see MM’s most blogged about artist, the wonderful Wooden Wand, whose excellent latest releases Blood Oaths Of The New Blues and The Briarwood Virgins are just the most recent examples from his extensive catalogue of idiosyncratic Americana mixing stripped back folk, alt-country, psychedelia and sprawling indie rock.

The venue was (as a late switch from the scheduled Water Rats) the Underbelly in London’s oh-so-trendy Hoxton Square, spilling over with look-at-mes and look-at-thems clutching tiny bottles of imported lager. Innocently travelling down from own rural idyll, it was clear that a plaid shirt and a bottle of cider wasn’t really cutting the mustard for these cool cats. No matter, downstairs the chatter of the desperate-to-impress was at fever pitch, but there was the welcome refuge of a full MM contingent already in attendance, and at least Dr Roddy was making me look good.

Enter the man and his band. A few whoops, some applause, I waited for the hum to die down. They tuned up, and started to play. Next to us the office party group didn’t look once at the stage, they just adjusted their volume…up. Shouting even louder to make themselves heard, they were oblivious to the music other than as another noise to overcome with their own, and all around me it was the same.

Wooden Wand: Live ReviewIt was clear that Wooden Wand or no Wooden Wand, a good proportion of the “audience” seemed to be regulars, oblivious to what was happening musically other than as a minor irritation. For me, and the MM clan, they in turn were a major irritation. Not helped by a weak, slightly muddy sound the only way of knowing one of America’s finest, most original, latter day wandering minstrels was on stage was by virtually joining him up there.

Manfully struggling to the front to join the rest of a similarly frustrated audience that knew what they were there for, it was at least a pleasure to watch him and his band deliver a set of highlights that included Scorpion Glow, Wither Away, Passin’ Thru and a majestic Winter In Kentucky before closing with the outstanding Servant To Blues.

They exited stage left, around me the crowd cheered. Behind me the Friday night crew chatted on shiny eyed and vacuous and supremely ignorant of what they’d just missed…or perhaps just supremely ignorant.

Don’t look-at-me or look-at-them, look at him. And more importantly listen to him.

Oh, and a gig at the Underbelly – don’t bother.