For our first ever Festive Feature on Mad Mackerel, we asked twelve of our favourite bands and artists of 2011 to answer twelve questions and we will publish them over the next twelve days taking us up to Christmas Eve.

MM's 12 Days Of Christmas No 4 Hurray For The Riff Raff.

The back story behind Alynda Lee Sagarra the creative force behind Hurray for the Riff Raff is one of running away from home at 17, hopping boxcars, and joining the Dead Man Street Orchestra. In 2011, after two previously self-released albums, the wonderful Loose Music released a compilation of the best of both of these into one self-titled debut for the UK and Europe.

And what an album it is – in turns poignant, provocative, subtle and delicate, it is a record of beautifully measured and constructed songs that should, all things being equal, go on to justify classic status. From the sparse, dispirited Daniella to the whiskey soaked lament I Know You, every track is anchored by Sagarra’s incredible voice that is as authentic and as elegant as they come.

1) Three iconic clashes. Who would you vote for in each of these?

a) The Velvet Underground or The Doors

The Velvet Underground. This is an obvious choice for me. As a Native New Yorker, I must choose them. 

b) Bob Dylan or Neil Young

It’s painful for me to choose between my two favorites, I must say Neil is still putting on incredible live shows so if it were up to who’d I see live I’d have to vote for him. But if you threw Townes Van Zandt in the mix he’d beat them both! 

c) The Sex Pistols or the Clash?

This is too easy, the Clash!

2) What has been your personal highlight of 2011?

My highlight was witnessing and following through alternative media the growing Occupy Wall St movement that is happening all across the United States and other parts of the world. It’s been incredible to watch people who felt helpless in my country educate and empower themselves using non violent protest. It makes me proud and inspired about the future.

3) What was your low point of the year?


Mad Mackerel music blog4) You can give one single album from 2011 to just one person for Christmas. What would you buy?

The new album coming out by the Alabama Shakes. They are going to save the soul of rock and roll.

5) Give us between two and five songs from 2011 that you’d recommend as the best of the year.

“Hold on” by the Alabama Shakes

“Wrong Time To Be Right” Sam Doores and the Tumbleweeds

“Give Me Your Love” by Extra Classic

“Hard Times” by Gillian Welch (Her best album yet!) 

6) Do you have a favourite Christmas Carol – why?

I can’t help but get a little emotional when I hear Bing Crosby’s version of “White Christmas”, it brings me back to my childhood. 

7) Imagine you are snowed in and stuck in an isolated house in the woods for Christmas with no way out. Wolves and bears are prowling outside.You need to recommend the following:

Mad Mackerel Music BlogA classic song to impress an ultra cool, know-it-all, teenager

Think by Aretha Franklin

A song to terrify Grandma

Rainy Day Woman No 12 And 35 by Bob Dylan

A traditional song to help send Grandad to sleep

Nobody Here But The Baby by Elizabeth Cotten

A song for someone just waking from a five-year coma

“A Day In The Life” by the Beatles

A book to frighten the children


An unforgettable film to watch

Fried Green Tomatoes.

8) What is top of your Christmas list this year? Why?

A 1960’s Gibson. Why not aim big?

9) What is the worst Christmas present you’ve ever given and/or ever received?


10) Will you be making a New Year Resolution? If so can you share it and will you keep it? What is the stupidest New Year resolution you’ve ever made?

I hope to start studying Spanish this year, though I’m Puerto Rican I never learned and it is a goal of mine. 

11) Imagine you’re headlining a Christmas Concert at your favourite venue. You can share the stage with three other artists or bands (past or present) for the final encore of the night. Who would they be and what would you play?

The Beatles, Neil Young, and Otis Redding. We’d play “Change Is Gonna Come.” followed by “All You Need is Love.” 

12) Can you write us a Christmas themed limerick?


Buy the album here, or download from eMusic here.

Watch the mesmerising Too Much Of A Good Thing from their SxSW eMusic showcase.


Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Take Me mp3 (from Hurray For The Riff Raff)

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Young Blood Blues mp3 (from Young Blood Blues)

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – Slow Walk mp3 (from Young Blood Blues)

Download Hurray For The Riff Raff – My Sweet Lord mp3 (from Mojo Tribute To George Harrison)

Get the free Loose Music sampler featuring more from Hurray For The Riff Raff as well as the Felice Brothers, Dawes, and the Handsome Family amongst others just by clicking here.

Tomorrow: Lonesome Wyatt & The Holy Spooks

Previously: Grass House (here), The Lovely Eggs (here), Twilight Hotel (here)

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