Posts Tagged ‘Ha Ha Tonka’

It has been nearly five years since Ha Ha Tonka appeared on MM and even longer since The Usual Suspects featured in our Best of Year listings.

They will be releasing a new album Heart-Shaped Mountain via Bloodshot Records on the 10th March and the first track from it is the upbeat, jaunty folk-rock of Race To The Bottom – a veritable toe-tapper if ever there was one…

Listen.

 

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Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.

Next to share their favourites of the year is part man part canine Barry-Sean…

What a fantastic year for music this has been for me. I don’t just mean for music that has been produced this year but more about the music that I’ve discovered from previous years (or, more accurately in most cases, music that has been discovered for me). And, because I’ve spent a lot of time going backwards and forwards to London on the train, I’ve had loads of listening time. Hurrah!

So here we go. Here’s my top ten songs of 2011.

10. Sissy & The Blisters – Let Her Go

When MM first introduced me to Sissy & The Blisters, I wasn’t too fussed. But they’ve grown on me over the past few months. Let Her Go starts off sounding like the Editors covering Placebo. But it does remain a truly S&tB song throughout and has a wonderfully catchy chorus. A great start to my top 10, I think.

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9. Tom Williams & The Boat – See My Evil

My favourite track from the fantastic Too Slow, released early in the year. It’s an album that’s so good I could have easily included at least one more track from it in my top ten songs of the year. But no, let’s keep things varied.

Tom Williams & The Boat produce some pretty dark songs and this one bounds from one grim situation to another with a vocal that flicks between contempt and resignation accompanied by a tortured but catchy guitar riff. Pure brilliance!

Download Tom Williams & The Boat – See My Evil mp3 (from Too Slow)

8. Roadside Graves – Double Feature

I’m well behind the mackerel shoal in getting to love the Roadside Graves. While the other mackerels were waxing lyrical about songs like Far And Wide and Liv Tyler, I just wasn’t getting it. And then Double Feature came along and it was like having a bucket of water thrown over my head. Suddenly everything made sense and I understood what all the fuss was about.

Double Feature is from the concept album We Can Take Care of Ourselves and feels like a story … its just I’m not really sure what its about. But it builds beautifully and transported me to a drive-in on a middle-America summer evening. Atmospheric and tuneful with a great pace and vocals. If you’ve not listened to Roadside Graves before, please do try this first … then go and buy the album.

Download The Roadside Graves – Double Feature mp3 (from We Can Take Care Of Ourselves)

7. Cage the Elephant – Shake Me Down

Another band I didn’t really ‘get’ but Shake Me Down from the album Thank You Happy Birthday caught my attention and held it from the opening chords. And I’ve carried on playing regularly since I first heard it in March.

I couldn’t tell you what musical genre this track fits into but its somewhere between rock and Americana. I’m just not sure where.

Download Cage The Elephant – Shake Me Down mp3 (from Thank You Happy Birthday)

6. Deer Tick – The Bump

I love Deer Tick. They’re a really talented bunch of chaps who can switch between songs about the painful side of love (listen to Ashamed from their War Elephant album) to rollocking, lets-just-have-a-beer-and-party singalongs. The Bump falls well and truly into the latter category. Any song that can make me smile and stamp my foot along to it every time I hear it has got to be worth a place in my top ten, hasn’t it?

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5. Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects

I’m not really a ‘fun song’ sort of bloke but from the opening, jangly chords I fell in love with this. It’s just three and a half minutes of fun and it never fails to give me that feel-good feeling. If you’re ever a bit down in the mouth, this is sure to pick you up.

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

4. Lanterns on the Lake – Ships in the Rain

Pure atmosphere … a bit like a modern day Ocean Rain (for younger readers that’s an Echo & The Bunnymen track from their sublime album of the same name).

This songs meanders gently along with breathy, haunting vocals that takes you to a place where you can almost feel the creak of wood beneath your feet and feel the rain on your face. Beautiful.

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3. Richmond Fontaine – Lost in the Trees

Now we’re into the really serious stuff. This track has been on so many of playlists this year and I’ve never tired of it. A dark tale of a party in the woods that goes badly wrong.

The backing riff is as moody as the lyrics and, sorry to namedrop the Bunnymen again, brings to mind the brilliant Do It Clean. To be honest the only reason this isn’t at number one is because I couldn’t make my mind up between my top three songs of the year and not all of them can be number one. It is a great, great track though.

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2. The Decemberists – January Hymn

Again, this could have been number one (but equally could have been number three) but just got pipped at the post.

January Hymn is a beautiful, atmospheric song that tells of a fella who goes out clearing his drive of snow on a snowy day. He thinks of his love who has left him and all the things he should have said before she left.

You’d expect the Decemberists to come up with quality tunes and lyrics but this is so good you can picture the scenes as Colin Meloy sings them. Genius.

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Twilight Hotel – Mahogany Veneer

A moody (and slightly sad) road trip as Twilight Hotel take us across America, visiting some of the places you wanted necessarily want to see, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina being a great example.

The entire song conjures up so many images in the mind to a backdrop of a melancholic melody. I do love story songs and this has become one of my favourites. Not necessarily for the story itself but for the intelligent way Twilight Hotel have matched lyrics with tune and brought them together to create a dark, dark journey.

Download Twilight Hotel – Mahogany Veneer mp3 (from When The Wolves Go Blind)

Bubbling Under

Young the Giant – My Body

A thumping, foot-tapping tune that seems to push the buttons of the fellas in our office more than the ladies. Great tune … enough said.

Lovely Eggs – Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)

This got in my head back at the start of autumn and just stayed there. Daft lyrics set to a late seventies punky tune with a distinctive and quite addictive vocal. Great fun.

Mr Plow – Typhus

Not such great fun but you’ve got to love a song about a killer disease haven’t you? If you’re mad enough not to want to listen to this all the way through … just about everyone dies in the end! Don’t listen to this is if you’re feeling low though, eh?

Download Mr Plow – Typhus mp3 (from Joyful In Song We Are)

Missed it!

The Whalers – That Rabbit

If this had been a 2011 song, it would have been top five. I love this.

Download The Whalers – That Rabbit mp3 (from How The Ship Goes Down)

Walkmen – Juveniles

This would have been my number two if it had been this year. It conjures up memories of sitting on a Friday evening train on the way back from London and marvelling at the Berkshire countryside in early spring. For me, this tune will always remind me of the coming of lighter evenings and warmer days.

Download The Walkmen – Juveniles mp3 (from Lisbon)

White Buffalo – Black and Blue

And this would have been my number one. Brilliant lyrics that starts with the storyteller’s girlfriend storming out after a row. The storyteller goes on to reflect on the downside of being in love. I‘m not going to say anything else. Just that if you only listen to one of the songs I’ve talked about here, please make it this one.

Okkervil River – John Allyn Smith Sails

Aaaaah, Okkervil River. Why didn’t I know about you before this year? These guys were one of my highlights of End of the Road 2011. This is another dark tale but without the moody tune to go with it. There’s also a brilliant cameo by a well-known tune towards the end of the song that I absolutely love.

Modest Mouse – Doin’ the Cockroach

I love Modest Mouse and I think this is as good as the brilliant Float On. It might be an acquired taste, I don’t know, but it has dominated my playlists for much of the year and I truly wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get past the aforementioned Float On and into some of MM’s other tunes.

Ray Wylie Hubbard – Choctaw Bingo

And lastly, a song from way, way back that seems to have passed me by. Shame on me and shame for me. I’ve put the Ray Wylie Hubbard version here but I love the live version by James McMurtry & The Heartless Bastards too. Its eight and a half minutes of roister-doistering, foot-stomping that will have you hooked as quickly as the crystal meth that Uncle Slayton cooks up. Great story, great song, glad its in my ITunes collection.

Covers

Siskiyou – Revolution Blues

My favourite Neil Young tune covered perfectly. Perhaps even more tortured and paranoid than the original vocal, Siskiyou have really done the brilliance of Revolution Blues proud.

Black Keys – Ummm Oh Yeah (Dearest)

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This is a standout track from an outstanding album of Buddy Holly covers. I was brought up on Buddy Holly and have come to love his music almost as much as my dad loves it. I could have easily picked out half a dozen tracks from the sublime Rave On Buddy Holly album but Ummm Oh Yeah (Dearest) is my favourite Buddy Holly original so this is the one I’m putting forward in my favourite covers of the year.

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.For the second of our ‘guest’ top ten posts we are pleased to welcome the finger-choppin’ Banner to the roster with his first contribution to the end of year best of lists.

It’s been a great year musically and especially as this year I became a dad. I’d like to thank Doctor Roddy and Chris T Popper for their steady supply of CDs this year and especially for little Max’s mega mix from which I’ve selected some of my top ten tunes.  I would like to have written a bit more about the songs but unfortunately I tried to remove my finger with an axe earlier this week.

So here they are:

Best Songs

10. Felice Brothers –Ponzi

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9. Grass House – A Cradle, A Short breath

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8. Ha Ha Tonka – The Usual Suspects

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

7. Vacant Fever – Heavy Leather

Download Vacant Fever – Heavy Leather mp3 (from Heparin And Saline)

6. Owsley Brothers –Under The Shade Of A Live Oak Tree

Download The Owsley Brothers – Under The Shade Of A Live Oak mp3 (from Separated At Birth)

5. Deer Tick – Miss K (this one reminds me of the missus)

Download Deer Tick – Miss K. mp3 (from Divine Providence)

4. Mummy Short Arms – Cigarette Smuggling

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3. Henry’s Funeral Shoe –Dog Scratched Ear

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

2. Wooden Wand – Motel Stationary

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1.Dennis Hoppers Choppers – Good To Me

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Bubbling Under

5. Brown Bird – Fingers To The Bone (good music to chop off your finger to)

Download Brown Bird – Fingers To The Bone mp3 (from Salt For Salt)

4. Beirut – The Rip Tide

Download Beirut – The Rip Tide mp3 (from The Rip Tide)

3. Kurt Vile – The Creature

2. Wooden Wand – Nails And Spikes

Download Wooden Wand – Nails And Spikes mp3 (from Archives Vol 3)

1. Mr Mother Fu*ka  exquire – The last Huzzah

MM Shorts 52: Ha Ha Tonka

Posted: December 2, 2011 in Country, Folk, Indie, Music, Rock
Tags:

MM Shorts 52: Ha Ha Tonka. Mark Twain turned 176 the other day – this is Ha Ha Tonka’s birthday tribute. A song about him.

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Mad Mackerel's Best Of The Month: September 2011. Another bonanza month of top tunes, all rounded up for you in one perfect download mix. Here are the September highlights together, as always, with a couple of top-notch new tracks too.

Download The Migrant – The Hurricane mp3 (from Amerika)

Distinguished by a slow blues refrain, handclaps and a mournful vocal, it is one of those tunes that sounds like it has been around forever.

Download Diarrhea Planet – Warm Ridin’ mp3 (from Loose Jewels)

A magnificent cacophony of guitars, pounding bass, thundering drums and begs for an open road, a booming car stereo and a warm night.

Download Black Pussy – Marijuana mp3 (from On Blonde)

Another track crying out for the open road, beer, and a bag of weed. This one comes barrelling down the road a whoopin’ and a hollerin’, wearing a shit-eatin’ grin and its anthemic heart firmly on its sleeve.

Download Vanish Valley – The Bottom mp3 (from Get Good)

Perfectly blending elements of folk, country and psychedelia into a roll-your-window-down backcountry cruise.

Download Kurt Vile & The Violators – The Creature mp3 (from So Outta Reach EP)

Another cracking slice of woozy, indie rock.

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Made Example Of mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

Country rock par excellence.

Download Brown Bird – Thunder And Lightning mp3 (from Salt for Salt)

Darkly dramatic folk.

Download Acid Baby Jesus – Oh, Aurelia mp3

Full throttle, scuzzy garage rock.

Download Sic Alps – Breadhead mp3 (from Breadhead 7″)

A lo-fi, garage gem of tambourine, guitar squall and hippy vocals.

Download Icarus Himself – On Your Side mp3 (from Career Culture)

Built on a loop of a drum machine hi-hat and a fuzzed-out Casio synth and recalling artists like Kurt Vile, Deerhunter, and David Bowie.

Download Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Dog Scratched Ear mp3 (from Donkey Jacket)

Raw blues boogie, and song of the month for us!

Download Thee Oh Sees – Carrion Crawler mp3 (from Carrion Crawler / The Dream)

Loose, rattly garage with sneering vocals and a sinewy riff.

Download The Soft Moon – Total Decay mp3 (from Total Decay EP)

Ominous, swirling, bleak and nihilistic.

Download Acid Glasses – My Pale Garden mp3 (from My Pale Garden 7″)

Tripped out psychedelia in an outlandlishly hallucinogenic world.

Download Wooden Wand – Nails And Spikes mp3 (from Archives Vol 3)

Another gem of lo-fi folk genius from the most underrated lyricist around.

Download The Skeleton Dead – Keep Your Eyes To The Ground mp3 (from The Skeleton Dead)

Pure, mesmerising folk melancholia.

Download Woodsman – Specdrum mp3 (from Mystic Places EP)

Another cut of sublime spacey, psychedelia from their forthcoming Mystic Places EP.

Download The Felice Brothers – Behind That Locked Door mp3 (from Mojo Tribute To George Harrison)

The ramshackle Americana of The Felice Brothers take on George Harrison. Win.

Download Real Estate – Green Aisles mp3 (from Days)

Spacious, fluid, psych-tinged pop from the new album.

Download Sick Figures – Whiskey Song mp3 (from Two Ghosts)

Military beat, chaotic sounds and chanted lyrics that calls to mind a nursery rhyme composed by Charles Bukowski at his most pissed (and pissed off).

Download A.A. Bondy – Surfer King mp3 (from Believers)

First cut from folk troubadour’s eagerly awaited new album.

Download Bleached – You Take Time mp3 (from Carter 7″)

Ultra-catchy garage goodness.

And the new ones: we have a taste from Giant Sand’s Chore of Enchantment anniversary reissue in the shape of Music Arcade (which originally appeared on the tour only CD The Rock Opera Years), an epic slice of alternative rock Aussie style from Eddy Current Suppression Ring, a new one from unusual Welsh folkie Cate Le Bon, and punk rock ‘supergroup’ Wild Flag’s single Romance.

Download Giant Sand – Music Arcade mp3 (from Chore Of Enchantment 25th Anniversary Edition)

Download Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Walking In Unison mp3 (from Walking In Unison)

Download Cate Le Bon – Puts Me To Work mp3 (from CYRK)

Download Wild Flag – Romance mp3 (from Romance single)

New From Ha Ha Tonka

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Alternative, Country, Folk, Indie, Music, Rock, Soul
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New From Ha Ha Tonka. Ha Ha Tonka’s latest album Death Of A Decade is a gem and one we find ourselves playing more and more often. Original giveaway track, Usual Suspects has been hugely popular with all the Mackerel clan and associates ever since we first posted it, and to celebrate a new run of tour dates, the band have made a second single available for free download.

So, grab yourself Made Example Of below and stick it on your next playlist – it is another cracker. Order Death Of A Decade here.

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Made Example Of mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

And all those tour dates too:

September 9 @ Dickinson Theater at PVCC in Charlottesville, VA – WNRN’s 15th Anniversary Celebration w/ Elizabeth and the Catapult, Morwenna Lasko and Jay Pun
September 10 @ Concordia College in Moorhead, MN
September 16 @ Austin City Limits Festival in Austin, TX
September 17 @ La Grange in Dallas, TX – FREE SHOW
September 21 @ Vaudeville Mews in Des Moines, IA
September 22 @ Crunchy Frog in Green Bay, WI
September 23 @ Club Garibaldi’s in Milwaukee, WI
September 24 @ The House Cafe in Dekalb, IL
September 25 @ PK’s in Carbondale, IL
September 26 @ Cubby Bear in Chicago, IL – WXRT FREE SAMPLE SHOW
September 27 @ Castle Theater in Bloomington, IL
September 28 @ The Bishop in Bloomiington, IN
September 29 @ Founders Brewing Company Taproom in Grand Rapids, MI – FREE SHOW
September 30 @ Frankie’s in Toledo, OH
October 1 @ Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, NY
October 3 @ TBA in Toronto, ON
October 5 @ Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY
October 6 @ Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia, PA
October 7 @ Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, DC
October 9 – Mountain Stage Radio Taping @ Templeton-Blackburn Auditorium in Athens, OH
October 11 @ Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh, NC (supporting Jill Andrews)
October 12 @ Visulite Theatre in Charlotte, NC (supporting Jill Andrews)
October 13 @ Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC (supporting Jill Andrews)
October 14 @ The Earl in Atlanta, GA(supporting Jill Andrews)
October 20 @ Lindberg’s in Springfield, MO
October 21 @ The Blue Note in Columbia, MO
November 23 @ The Record Bar in Kansas City, MO
November 25 @ The Firebird in St. Louis, MO
November 26 @ Avenue Theater in West Plains, MO

Co-Headline dates w/ Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin
November 30 @ Hi-Dive in Denver, CO
December 1 @ Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, UT
December 2 @ Neurolux in Boise, ID
December 3 @ Tractor Tavern in Seattle, WA
December 5 @ Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver, BC
December 6 @ Mississippi Studios in Portland, OR
December 8 @ TBA in San Francisco, CA
December 9 @ The Bootleg Bar in Los Angeles, CA
December 10 @ Soda Bar in San Diego, CA

Another month, another mix. A collection of twenty or so of the best tunes we posted in April plus a couple of tasty new ones. Download, hit play, relax.

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)

Soulful, catchy, country rock.

Download Sweet Lights – The Shortest Man On Earth mp3 (from Digital Single)

Beautifully judged excursion into the world of classic sunshine and psych rock.

Download Races – Big Broom mp3 (from Big Broom 7″)

Lush, brooding, with orchestral flourishes and a strong sense of melody.

Download Parlours – I Dream Of Chicago mp3 (from Parlours EP)

Indie / folk / pop of the very best kind.

Download Girlfriends – Cave Kids mp3 (from Cave Kids 7″)

Brilliant slab of psych infused, rumbling, garage rock.

Download Half Past Sun – Himalaya mp3 (from Trying To Reach Out EP)

Swirling, kaleidoscopic mix of psychedelia, indie rock and electronica with a naggingly insistent edge that burrows in through your ears and then settles in your brain.

Download Declan de Barra – Watch It Burn mp3 (from Fragments, Footprints & The Forgotten)

Sparse, haunting vocals, weary, deadpan and occasionally caustic lyrics, a genuine troubadour’s folk strum and a powerful sense of right and wrong.

Download The Antlers – Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out mp3 (from Burst Apart)

Eerie, mesmeric indie rock with spectral loops and electronics.

Download Sun Araw – December mp3 (from Houston Abstros 7″)

Cover of Teenage Fanclub’s December, bent and warped into a whole new blissed-out incarnation in the hands of the spaced out swamp cowboys.

Download Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray – Baby Blue mp3 (from Snake Oil Songs EP)

Standout from recent EP with a twangy, irrepressible, under-your-skin guitar lick.

Download Becca Stevens Band – My Girls mp3 (from Weightless)

Excellent smooth-as-velvet reinterpreting of Animal Collective.

Download The Great American Canyon Band – A Song For The Rest mp3 (from Wild Heart EP)

Folky and ambient with a bit of dream pop and rock and roll.

Download The Graceful Slicks – Bul Bul Tarang mp3 (Demo)

While heavy on the psych and drone there are pleasing surf twangs and some shoegaze to keep everyone happy.

Download Gardens – Maze Time mp3 (from Gardens)

A bluesy feel and swirling chorus line, with traces of early 70s punk attitude and even a soupçon of Motown style sweetness as well.

Download Zachary Cale – Hello Oblivion mp3 (from Noise Of Welcome)

Reflective, poignant and emotive, a true troubadour’s tale.

Download The Ganglians – Jungle mp3 (from Still Living)

Slice of dark claustrophobic psych rock.

Download Other Lives – For 12 mp3 (from Tamer Animals)

Galloping rhythms and Morricone-esque guitar conjures a feeling of uneasy expansiveness.

Download The Keys – The Colour Red mp3 (from Bitten By Wolves)

60s inspired psych rock and crunchy guitars with some more modern style jangle pop and some tasty reverb.

Download My Goodness – C’mon Doll mp3 (from My Goodness)

Reverb, greasy blues riffs, distortion, impassioned lyrics and attitude.

Download Okkervil River – Wake And Be Fine mp3 (from I Am Very Far)

Typically sinewy in composition but at its heart lays something bruised and fragile.

Download The Dark Mean – Happy Banjo mp3 (from The Dark Mean)

Contagious indie folk.

And to round things off we have the first track from An Horse’s forthcoming album Walls titled Trains And Tracks, some brilliant garage punk from Mexico in the shape of Le Butcherettes and the brilliantly intense and menacing Ashley’s Song by Des Ark.

Download An Horse – Trains And Tracks mp3 (from Walls)

Download Le Butcherettes – I’m Getting Sick Of You mp3 (from Sin, Sin, Sin)

Download Des Ark – Ashley’s Song mp3 (from Don’t Rock The Boat, Sink The Fucker)

Soulful, country rockers Ha Ha Tonka release their new album Death Of A Decade on 5th April via Bloodshot Records.

To be honest, we’d never really clicked with the band before now. However, lead track Usual Suspects has changed all that! So much so, that while we look forward to the new record, we’re going to be going back to the old stuff and listening again. This time properly.

Order Death Of A Decade here.

Download Ha Ha Tonka – Usual Suspects mp3 (from Death Of A Decade)