There must be something in the water over in Ireland – following on from the excellent Fontaines DC and Silverbacks, we now have some intense, brooding post-punk from Dublin’s The Murder Capital. New single Feeling Fades is a song with menace aforethought…

Have a listen.

 

We’re very much looking forward to Sharon Van Etten’s upcoming album Remind Me Tomorrow (out next week) and the latest track from it is Seventeen, a warm, fuzzy folk-rocker that reflects on her experiences of New York, now and back when she was a teenager.

It is a kind of love letter to the city – nostalgic and romantic, but also touched with the cynicism that comes with growing older.

Down beneath the ashes and the stone
Sure of what I’ve lived and have known
I see you so uncomfortably alone
I wish I could show you how much you’ve grown

Listen below.

 

A name like Snakerattlers can surely only mean one thing – sleazy, mutant rockabilly and garage rock.

And so it proves with this duo’s new album All Heads Will Roll, out on 8th February via the marvellous Dirty Water Records.

Listen to the excellent proto-punk tub-thumping of Snake Rattle Rock, Snake Rattle Roll, complete with reverb-drenched double-amped guitar, aggressive and haunting vocals, it is a screaming, wailing, terrifying version of the rockabilly genre.

You can order the record via Bandcamp here.

 

Live Dates

The marvellous Fat White Family are back with a new album and have shared the first track from it, Feet.

The album is titled Serfs Up! and features, amongst other things, Gregorian chants, jackboot glam beats, string flourishes, sophisticated and lush cocktail exotica, electro funk, the twin spirits of Alan Vega and Afrika Bambaataa, traces of blissed-out 60s Tropicalia, Velvets/Bowie sleaze-making and star-gazing, 80s digital dancehall. Throw in some acid house, post-PIL dub, metropolitan murder ballads, doom-disco and mouth-gurning, slow-mo psychedelia and you’ll be getting a sense of just where the band is heading next…

The single, and album lead-off track, locks immediately into a lush, irresistible groove and although the sleaze is still there (“I could not believe, could not believe my eyes, the thing that I saw down there, down between your thighs“), it has mutated into something sharper and brighter, giving the song a sheen of sophistication that bodes very well for the album indeed.

Stream it here. Pre-order the album here.

 

Steve Earle & The Dukes have announced the release of new album GUY on 29th March. The 16-song set is comprised of songs written by one of his two primary songwriting mentors, the legendary Guy Clark, and appears ten years after his Grammy Award winning album TOWNES, his tribute to his other songwriting mentor, Townes Van Zandt.

Steve Earle first met Guy Clark after hitchhiking from San Antonio to Nashville in 1974. A few months after his arrival, he found himself taking over for a young Rodney Crowell as bassist in Guy’s band. “No way I could get out of doing this record,” says Earle. “When I get to the other side, I didn’t want to run into Guy having made the TOWNES record and not one about him.”

The album’s first single, and lead-off track is Dublin Blues. You can stream it below.

 

Round Up

Here is a quick round up of some new tunes and videos to start the year properly.

First up, Los Angeles duo Girlpool has shared the title track from their upcoming album, What Chaos Is Imaginary, featuring strings, synths, drum machines and stream-of-consciousness lyrics.

 

Australia’s Press Club have emerged from the underground punk scene, to become one of the country’s buzziest new bands. This is new single Suburbia, which comes from upcoming long player Late Teens.

 

Similarly born out of a staunchly independent Melbourne scene, The Stroppies meld brash post-punk and highly melodic, catchy indie guitar pop. Drawing on the classic Flying Nun catalogue as well as local pals The Goon Sax and Twerps, their debut was recorded in two days under tight monetary conditions, hammered out in between shifts at the local operating theatre, Turkish kebabs, bouts of existential dread and corporate sabotage. Check out the video for Cellophane Car.

 

Meg Duffy grew up in a small town in Upstate New York and cut her teeth as a session guitarist and touring member of Kevin Morby’s band. The Hand Habits project emerged after Meg moved to Los Angeles; it started as a private songwriting outlet but soon evolved into a fully-fledged band with Meg at the helm. Hand Habits’ debut album, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), was released by Woodsist Records in 2017. Two years later, Hand Habits has returned with their sophomore album, placeholder, due out March 1st on Saddle Creek. This is the video for the title track, which on its surface is about a break-up. “Oh but I was just a placeholder/ A lesson to be learned,” a scorned Meg sings over a lush bed of twangy guitars. The blame quickly shifts, though, as Meg begins to take on partial responsibility for the partnership’s collapse: “Oh but now you are just a placeholder/ Blinded by desire/ Oh now you’re just a placeholder for someone wasting time.”

 

Following the release of singles New Moon and Stonehurst Cowboy, Steve Gunn has shared a third song off of The Unseen In Between (out January 18th on Matador Records). The gorgeous Vagabond is named after Gunn’s favourite Agnes Varda film, and could almost be the soundtrack to a Denis Johnson short story or Sam Shepard play, with its rich cast of characters whose lives have gone astray – like Mona who “camped out in a graveyard” and Jean-Pierre who “came from the road, his artwork remains unsold.” Accompanied by gorgeous harmonies from Meg Baird, the song is a meditation on our restless times, an ode to the runaways, drifters, and vagabonds trying to make ends meet. Watch the stylish black and white video for the track.

 

Don’t Hesitate comes from Rat Boy’s upcoming new release Internationally Unknown. It is a blend of anthemic aggro punk with boisterous hip-hop beats, all the while maintaining the personality and attitude that first earned him attention. Meanwhile, the lyrics explore a conflict between outlaws and the police during a post-apocalyptic disorder.

 

The Wave Pictures have shared the video for their new single Shelly, which is taken from their recent album Look Inside Your Heart (out now via Moshi Moshi). Singer and guitarist Dave Tattersall describes the track as, “A love song in the laid back style of late 70s Grateful Dead only with even better lyrics.”

 

Ånge Teenage Angst have released Hanging Party a rather tasty debut single of taut anxiety, angst and darkness from the north of Sweden.

 

Oxford has long had a vibrant and eclectic music scene and our good friend Ronan at Nightshift has been documenting it every single month since before we can remember – ever since Mrs Mackerel introduced us more than quarter of a century ago, he has shared some of our favourite music, film and books with us and even taken us to some Wycombe Wanderers games…

Anyway, here is his track of the year from a brilliant Oxford band called Self Help, and an absolute belter it is too.

Last month Self Help were on the cover [of Nightshift], grinning like the kids who got all the cake and deservedly so, since no other band caused such a frenzy of excitement locally in 2018 as this quartet, who could mix pure, unadulterated exuberance with pure, unadulterated noisy bastardness and make it look and sound like it was as easy as breathing and as much fun as a box of kittens. While their live shows were ebullient celebrations of youthful musical zest and belligerent displays of firepower all at once, the band’s new EP showed they could write cracking pop songs into the bargain, and this track, released as a single in November, was everything we love about Self Help: joy as a musical weapon. A song to leap around your living room to, hug complete strangers in the moshpit to, break all your furniture to and sing along to from the top of mountains or tall building. It’s an absolute blast from start to finish, and since it’s just three minutes long, you can rewind and play it again and again til they come to take you away.

Have a listen. Get the EP here.

 

And here, finally, are MM’s own choices for favourite tunes of 2018.

Happy New Year one and all…

 

10 Frog – American
Just love the weary, resigned vocals, the profanity, the irresistible guitar jangle, the gradual build and swell into a furiously strummed coda – it sounds like Americana for the unhinged, which is exactly and precisely why we love it so much.

 

9 Gretchen Peters – Wichita
I have a thing for a southern country drawl and for murder ballads too. On Wichita you get both as Gretchen Peter’s narrates a tale of revenge for a twelve year old girl desperate to protect her sister from what has already happened to her. It’s unflinching and its strong, and its delivered with a gorgeous mix of country twang and smoky, defiant vocals.

 

8 Stick In The Wheel – Over Again
Handclaps, a sing-along chorus, looping guitars and a relentless driving rhythm. Over Again is a modern, follow-no-rules, classic of traditional folk storytelling that evokes bearded men and women in muesli knit jumpers stomping hobnailed boots onto a wooden pub floor and roaring along – all in a very, very good way. Takes a stick of dynamite and rams it up the haemorrhoid ridden arse end of over precious, finger in the ear folkies and deposits rectal shrapnel far and wide.

 

7 Oh Sees – Nail House Needle Boys
What else can I add that Dr. Roddy and Chris T Popper haven’t already said. Overall the worthy song of the year for MM and I’ll stick with my original description: a deliriously scorched excursion around the outer limits of prog-rock and glam, sucking in great gulps of Can, Deep Purple and King Crimson and exhaling them as little more than smoke and ash, drifting down on to the still twitching corpse of psychedelic rock.

 

6 Silverbacks – Dunkirk
Our second favourite Irish band discovery of the year. Dunkirk has one of those insistent, needling guitar melodies that we can never resist. Throw in some laconic, half-spoken vocals and some hypnotic percussion and we’re like a kitten that has just discovered catnip. Thirty seconds in we’ve rolled over and exposed our tummy for a little stroke – it’s that damn good.

 

5 Parquet Courts – Tenderness
I’ve loved following the evolution of Parquet Courts, from scrappy speed-punk to twitchy art-rock and even drawing in elements of rap and dance. Tenderness feels like the culmination of the journey so far – a toe-tappingly catchy slice of upbeat indie-punk built on an irresistible choppy guitar and buoyant piano that, like all the very best songs, seems both simple and effortless when it is far from either!

 

4 Drenge – Bonfire Of The City Boys
Until now Drenge had always seemed to me to be one of those noise-punk duos that seemed to be following rather than leading, just lacking some tiny spark that would properly set them apart from the crowd. Well this is it – Bonfire of the City Boys takes the Big Black template and runs it through a Future of the Left filter to provide a brilliantly menacing and oppressively constant slab of noise punk that is exactly as incendiary as its title suggests.

 

3 FEWS – Business Man
FEWS
are a criminally underrated band. Thankfully they seem to take a healthy dose of resentment and cynicism and channel it into some of the most furious, blistering psych-punk noise that you could ever hope to hear. While other, lesser, bands hog the limelight, FEWS are chipping away at the foundations, creating their own blend of caustic sonic mayhem that in another, better, world sees them headlining Jools Hollands’ fucking Hootenanny and turning all the B and C list celebrities into blubbering cry babies. Business Man is the song that would do it. Just unstoppable: pulsating, discordant, spastic, and violent. Happy New Year!

 

2 Dr. Dog – Listening In
No one does this kind of pastoral, psych-infused Americana as well as Dr. Dog. For years they’ve been cranking out classics with little fanfare and this is just the latest. From the opening verse, we’re on a slightly surreal, kaleidoscopic journey that feels like it would be perfectly at home in Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka world, floating downstream on a chocolate river in a haze of twinkling lights and swirling vanilla flavoured fog, “I can hear the animals talking, I can hear the animals talking, But they ain’t talking to me, Are they talking to you? No, they ain’t talking to me, Who they talking to?

 

1 Fontaines DC – Chequeless Reckless
Let’s be honest 2018 was shit from a global perspective. From the vacuous lies of Trump to the frothing, swivel-eyed racists of our own political right who are hellbent on “taking the UK back” (from whom exactly?) into their halcyon vision of casual racism and colonial fuckwittery. Thank God then for small mercies like Fontaines DC – our favourite discovery of the year – who released two singles of unrivalled brilliance to announce themselves to MM. Chequeless Reckless is the song that summed up all our frustrations and misery of the year in a howling, visceral protest that at least gave us something to thump the steering wheel too as we careered through a year of driving to bloody Peterborough every week.

“An idiot is someone who lets their education do all of the thinking
A phony is someone who demands respect for the principles they effect”

Nothing phony about these boys. Song of the year. Fact.

 

Check out Dr. Roddy’s choices here and Chris T Popper’s here.

Back again like a carrion crow to roadkill. Every year since 2009, Chris T Popper has shared his favourite tunes of the year, and we love him all the more for it…

 

10. Death Valley Girls – Disaster (Is What We’re After)
Whilst the video for this song featuring Iggy Pop eating a hamburger garnered plenty of attention it shouldn’t detract from an absolute belter of a tune. A cracking hook and melody compliment Bonnie Bloomgarden’s raucous vocals. It barrels along like a proper foot stomper should.

 

9. Decemberists – Cutting Stone
I am a big fan of folk horror and this one conjures up dreamy visions of green fields, vales and vistas. Oh and lots of blood. Hats off to Decemberists who consistently serve up this unsettling fare. The album this song (and the excellent Severed) comes from, I’ll Be Your Girl, wasn’t particularly well received, but I love the backdrop of sweeping synths exuding tales of wayward children and a heartbroken lover falling under the Cutting Stone’s spell.

 

8. Silverbacks – Dunkirk
Produced by Girl Band’s Daniel Fox (a good start) this catchy, jittery little number from Silverbacks imagines a future dystopian Dunkirk which despite it’s iconic historical status now exists as a private holiday resort. A marvellous conceit and they follow through with an effective, unsettling moody treat that’s as tight as a gnat’s chuff.

 

7. Ought – Disgraced In America
Disgraced In America by the marvellously monickered Ought caught my ear with absolute gems like ‘I floated round downtown, I floated round Spain. I was like a Dentist, rooting for pain’. The entire vocal by Tom Darcy is brilliantly inventive and engaging while the song’s meandering lack of structure is the ideal accompaniment. You can’t help but follow where he goes.

 

6. Western Scene – Strange But True
The uplifting feel of optimism in Strange But True is impossible to resist. And considering what 2018 has been like let’s be thankful for that. A heartwarming and affecting song that has lifted the spirit crushing gloom of a morning drive to work on many occasions. The message that amazing things can happen outside of your comfort zone is one I’ll try to adhere to a little bit more in 2019.

 

5. Oh Sees – Nail House Needle Boys
Ah man, what a frazzling opening guitar that is. It slithers in to your ears accompanied by the mellow tones of John Dwyer. It’s the song I’ve had most reaction to when I’ve played it to friends. It seems to have an instant effect, the riff is so hypnotic the famous mind bender Derren Brown is suing. Allegedly.

 

4. Ron Gallo – Always Elsewhere
The start of the song sounds like an alarm going off and what follows is a rage against the shallowness that seems to occupy the world, always looking elsewhere and never sated. The shame of FOMO. It’s so packed full of stuff it can take a bit of getting used to. It rushes around against a fiery backdrop of jangling guitars and Gallo’s exhortations to ‘feel what’s real’. Chaotic and unrestrained, top marks Mr G.

 

3. Superorganism – Everybody Wants To Be Famous
A dream of a hook, lazy synths and the deadpan innocence of Orono Noguci’s delivery combine to make this an absolute peach of electronica. Little samples pop up and float off complimenting the melody perfectly; which after one listen is scorched in to your brain long after the final till rings shut. Noguci has some wonderful lines poking fun at our wholesale desperation for fame, whatever the cost.

 

2. Drenge – Bonfire Of The City Boys
Rob Graham’s growling basslines starts up the madness and invites you in – you can keep your boots on. When a song gets aggression right my synapses light up like a Christmas tree and this has oodles of it. The spoken word lyrics keep the fuse burning until it erupts in to a cacophony of drums and guitar. Class war has rarely sounded so good which is useful as it’s probably happening soon.

 

1. Cold Soda – Anna May
Cold Soda is a side project of MM stalwarts The Cave Singers and they have produced a gem of a tune with Anna May. When the melody kicks in the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention and send the message for my goosebumps to immediately join them. This song does what all the best songs do – it instantly transports me to a different world. The arrangement is carefully constructed and deftly executed, the plaintive vocals of Pete Quirk blending in to give it just the right amount of pathos without spilling in to sickly sentimentality. A stunning song that despite repeated listening still works those goosebumps without fail.

 

Check Dr Roddy’s top ten choices here, and check in tomorrow for MM’s selections.

Dr Roddy had been gone for a while trying to make a new life on land. Fuckwit.

I have been absent from the house of Mackerel for a couple of years now, and have missed this time of year so it is nice to be welcomed back to the shoal. What a time to re-join, a bountiful year of boss tuneage.

10 Drenge – Bonfire Of The City Boys
Always nice to receive a playlist with Drenge on it. I have loved these noisy pair of scoundrels for years. Their mix of blues, heavy rock riffs and total noise is right up my alley. This track doesn’t disappoint. Metallic ear assault escorts shouted hate to just the right part of your brain.

 

9 Cass McCombs – Sleeping Volcanoes
The dreamy guitar intro soon gives into a lazy plodding bass line, which sets the scene nicely for this ambling piece of stoner heaven. It has a soporific quality to the vocal delivery. Perfect for lazy summer days or late winter nights.

 

8 Rod Picott – Coal
Great piece of foot stomping country. Rod Picott gets a menacing sound out of the acoustic guitar and delivers us a bleak portrait of life in and around the Pittsburgh industrial scene. I love songs about hard rural life, tough lives, and tough men. Of course I do. I live in Oxfordshire, I’ve got a beard and a plaid shirt….. (to be fair, Dr Roddy is a tough man and rule breaker himself – I once witnessed with my own eyes him lighting a roll-up whilst fielding on the boundary during a cricket match…)

 

7 Cabbage – Arms Of Pleonexia
The Manchester boys serve up a good wedge of fuzz, feedback and fuck you in this track. There are burning questions in the lyrics and the whole piece has a frantic feel about it. Just when you think it’s going to tip up, it gets pinned together by a chorus chanted straight from the terraces.

 

6 The Lost Brothers – Come Tomorrow
I love the feel of this song. It reminds me a bit of “Ruby don’t take your love to town”. Maybe not the most upbeat of tunes, but it seems resigned to its own melancholy and who doesn’t like to wallow in a bit of lost love. If you don’t, you’re probably not drinking on your own enough.

 

5 American Pets – Bad Bream
A perfect piece of 80s synth sounds draped around an upbeat pop arrangement. It belies the depth of regret and misfortune that our protagonist finds himself in. I mean, in the first verse we find that he has smashed his phone screen while “high as a kite”. Then there’s heartbreak and toxic love. All backed up by an awesome bass line.

 

4 Spiritualized – I’m Your Man
In my humble opinion this is a about as good a piece of modern day blues as you are going to get. Perfectly paced, it gathers momentum into a “foot on the speaker” guitar break, which never ebbs into corny, only to fall back into its solemn wonder through the “wasted, faded, permantly jaded…” life of the song.

 

3 Jon Spencer – Hornet
This is just a rollicking good piece of rock and roll. It has a razor sharp riff and a drumbeat that moves the head and feet. All of this with a bass line so cool it could be Rick James.

 

2 Oh Sees – Nail House Needle Boys
This song is the perfect amalgamation of loads of bands that I have loved, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Charlatans, Stone Roses etc…. That is the reason I love it. Many of my musical needs sated in one song. Delivered by a truly talented outfit.

 

1 Katie Toupin – Danger
The feeling that drips of every word that comes from Katie Toupin in this tune is astounding. You get the sense that what is happening is so fresh and that she is talking directly to you. The band seem to encompass the fragile lyrics before they fall apart. Don’t get it twisted though – this song is written from a strong perspective. Get a large drink, turn it up real loud and sit back.

 

Great to have you back Dr Roddy! Check in tomorrow for Chris T Popper’s selections.