Posts Tagged ‘Mathew Sawyer And The Ghosts’

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's Best of April 2012 - Free Mix. So we exit April, which true to form turned out to be wetter than a Mackerel’s handshake. No matter, banish the blues with this scorching mix of some of the best downloads we offered in the month, plus a few new ones to get to know and love too.

Download Alexander TuckerWindow Sill mp3 (from Third Mouth)
Minimalist string arrangements with electronic manipulations and drones to produce a doom chamber-pop song.

Download Amanda Jo WilliamsThe Bear Eats Me mp3 (from The Bear Eats Me)
Dusty jukebox rock that will wake the kids in the middle of the night for a boot-stomping, moon-invoking dance party on the back porch.

Download Kyle AdemBrother Follow mp3 (from Armour)
A tireless storyteller with a whole lot of questions who marries his own blend of orchestral and reflective folk, with a punk edginess.

Download Johnny Bertram & The Golden BicyclesMistake mp3 (from Neon City)
Robust, but still melodic indie rock with some folky undertones.

Download Dubious RangerThe New Eve mp3 (from Found Recordings From The Panda Valley Mining Company c.1931)
Sounding like a blend of Tom Waits and Beck, this is a peculiar brand of art-rock that defies definition.

Download Mathew Sawyer – Children In The City
One of the very best singer-songwriters around. Wonderfully skewed view of the world, obstinate refusal to conform, and exceptional wordplay.

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Download The Flaming LipsGod Only Knows mp3 (from Pet Sounds Revisited)
Indie rock surrealists take on the Beach Boys.

Download Black CreekNot For The Faint Of Heart mp3 (from Not For The Faint Of Heart digital single)
Another muscular example of their ragged, raw take on Americana, a sound they describe as “riffs and revelations”.

Download Coke Weed – Jimmy
Chugs gently along, all woozy charm and gentle folky psychedelia behind which the occasional acerbic lyric hides in wait.

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Download Hiss Golden MessengerJesus Shot Me In The Head mp3 (from Poor Moon)
Classic back-porch folk and country with echoes of gospel and blues, which is often accompanied by warm organic sound effects such as cicadas or the patter of rain.

Download Old BricksAnthem mp3 (from City Lights)
Earnest and pensive folk.

Download Wooden WandWither Away (demo version) mp3 (from Briarwood Deluxe Edition)
Gorgeous demo version of Briarwood album standout.

Download Diamond RugsCountry Mile mp3 (from Diamond Rugs)
Loose countrified rock from new indie ‘supergroup’.

Download Tiger HighDon’t Want To See You Till You Go mp3 (from Myth Is This)
Excellent garage-psych.

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering DriftersRestless Roads End mp3 (from Lungs, Dirt & Dreams)
Muscular Americana, a song that slowly stretches, flexes and simmers over five minutes while the band keep expertly keep a lid on the instrumentation and don’t allow it to escape its restraints completely.

Download MV & EEToo Far To See mp3 (from Space Homestead)
Off-kilter Americana. Plaintive, almost elegiac and builds up to some guitar histrionics than recall Neil Young in a most pleasing way.

Download The Fresh & OnlysDo What I Came To Do mp3 (from Stash Rituals)
High octane garage punk, thump and clatter.

Download The Plastic Pals – Leave It Til Tomorrow (from Leave it ‘Til Tomorrow Digital Single)
This is heroin disco chic in the style of the Velvet Underground and Berlin-era Bowie.

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Download Young HinesCan’t Explode mp3 (from Give Me My Change)
Confrontational and trigger-happy punkish blues.

And no fewer than five new tracks to try out. We have the raw, early 70s punk vibe of The Dirty Fences, a brilliant track of chugging psych-rock from The Lead Stones (another discovery via Rollo & Grady), the uniquely catchy indie rock of The Wave Pictures, a visceral slab of slowed down garage rock from the Ty Segall Band and to finish a sweetly charming slice of Americana from Cowgill with its quiet, upbeat guitar and gorgeous violin.

Download The Dirty Fences – Sid mp3 (from Dirty Fences)

Download The Lead Stones – Heaven mp3 (from Heaven Digital Single)

Download The Wave Pictures –Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens mp3 (from Long Black Cars)

Download Ty Segall Band – Wave Goodbye mp3 (from Slaughterhouse)

Download Cowgill – Extra Gravity mp3 (from Side One Of Planted)

Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts Box Set.

We’ve been big fans of Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts since the release of the exceptional How Snakes Eat back in 2010. His wonderfully skewed view of the world, obstinate refusal to conform, and wonderful lyrics marked him out as one of the very best singer-songwriters around. It is fair to say he was for us, on a par with the MM standard setters – Wooden Wand and Withered Hand.

Sad to say then that it appears this summer will see the last ever release from The Ghosts. On the ever reliable Fire Records, it’ll be a box set called Death of The Ghosts and will include an unreleased home recorded album of about 40 songs called Mathew Sawyer Is In Love plus their debut Blue Birds Blood and the aforementioned How Snakes Eat. Apparently there will also be a bunch of artwork and trinkets etc.

For now console yourself with downloads of Children In The City from the new release and the wonderful Diamonds from How Snakes Eat.

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Another bonanza month. Another round up of the very best tracks we posted in March. Another selection of new tunes to get your teeth into too.

So without further ado…

Download White Denim – Drug mp3 (from D)

First taste of rockers new album. Bodes well. Very well.

Download The Everymen – Ballad Of Sarin mp3 (from Hello, Nice Evening. We Are The Everymen)

Cocksure but not arrogant, intense without being overwhelming, and high on the sleaze factor as the shredded vocals of Sarin McHugh gleefully sit astride pounding drums and thunderous guitars.

Download Strand Of Oaks – Wolves mp3 (Phosphorescent Cover via Folkadelphia Session)

Cover song heaven?  (MM faves) Strand of Oaks covering the sublime Wolves by (MM faves) Phosphorescent.

Download The Rural Alberta Advantage – North Star mp3 (from Departing)

A perfectly pitched tale of longing and desperation.

Download Widowspeak – Harsh Realm mp3 (from Harsh Realm 7″)

A nicely hazy, dreamy pop nugget that makes those Mazzy Star comparisons completely understandable.

Download Tyburn Saints – You’ve Gone Stray mp3 (from For The Benefit Of Strangers)

The theme tune to a slasher film written by Nick Cave? It could well be the sexiest serial killer based love song ever written.

Download Cult of Youth – New West mp3 (from Cult of Youth)

The dramatically deep baritone of vocalist Sean Ragon is enough to create a palpable sense of menace and foreboding which we’re quite fond of here at MM.

Download Obits – Shift Operator mp3 (from Moody, Standard and Poor)

Surf influenced, stripped back, garage rock.

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

A slow, pulsing blues riff and a plaintive vocal combine perfectly to give us a song so authentic that it sounds like it was made to be sung in the cottonfields and on backwoods porches throughout the South.

Download The Diamond Center – Caraway mp3 (from Caraway 7″)

A haunting, echoing melancholy feel that spreads over almost six and a half pulsing minutes and somehow manages to soothe and surprise in equal measure.

Download Generationals – Ten-Twenty-Ten mp3 (from Actor-Caster)

Hands down the catchiest slice of indie-rock we’ve posted in a good long while.

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge of The Extra From Zulu mp3 (from How Snakes Eat)

Fragile folk gem married to caustic lyrical venom. Result: a winner.

Download Alela Diane – To Begin mp3 (from Alela Diane & Wild Devine)

Bold and self-assured with more of a countrified twang than her usual sparser, pastoral folk feel.

Download The Lumerians – Gaussian Castles mp3 (from Transmalinnia)

Meditative drones, murky ritualistic rhythms, and layered vocals populate and abound. Dive in!

Download Josh T Pearson – Woman When I’ve Raised Hell…(Alternative Version) mp3

Seven heart wrenching minutes of the most despairing ballad in a long, long time documenting the relentless pain and suffering caused when a relationship passes from failing to broken.

Download The Donkeys – Don’t Know Who We Are mp3 (from Born With Stripes)

A perfect slice of twangy relaxed sunshine rock.

Download Dead Gaze – Fishing With Robert mp3 (from Dead Gaze 7″)

A marvellous combination of fuzzy vocal dischord over a folkish guitar strum, and a side order of New Order poppiness.

Download Erland & The Carnival – Nightingale mp3 (from Nightingale)

The reinventing of old folklore into sinister modern day fairytales.

Download Arborea – Careless Love mp3 (from Red Planet)

Mixing folk, some floating, spacey drone and minimalist percussion with Shanti Curran’s gorgeous vocals to mesmerising effect, the spine tingling results are stark, but beautifully compelling.

Download Paleo – In The Movies mp3 (from Fruit Of The Spirit)

Two minutes of indie folk perfection with a melody so catchy you’ll be humming it for days.

Download James Leg – Drowning In Fire mp3 (from Solitary Pleasure)

Imagine if the Black Keys sold their souls to the devil – they’d probably end up playing like this.

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

A brilliant combination of alt-country and spaghetti-western desert twang that moves languidly to conclusion via poignant, scalpel sharp lyrics.

Download Bill Callahan – Baby’s Breath mp3 (from Apocalypse)

First taste from new album. More classic singer-songwriting!

Download Thurston Moore – Benediction mp3 (from Demolished Thoughts)

Personal and slightly brooding piece of work from the quieter, more introspective end of his musical spectrum.

Download Psychedelic Horseshit – French Countryside mp3 (from Laced)

Bustling, uptempo, hook-laden, melted outsider pop song.

Download Marissa Nadler – Baby I Will Leave You In The Morning mp3 (from Marissa Nadler)

Ethereal songwriting, rich with imagery and beautiful textures.

Download Fucked Up! – The Other Shoe mp3 (from David Comes To Life)

Punk rockers find a mellower more introverted side.

Download The Limianas – AF3548 mp3 (from AF3548 7″)

More authentic garage rock’n’roll done to perfection.

Download Damon Moon & The Whispering Drifters – Heaven Was A Glass Of Wine mp3 (Merle Haggard Cover from Snowed In Sessions EP)

Gorgeously cracked and bleeding version of Merle Haggard’s despairing original.

Download James Irwin – Blue Dust mp3 (from Blue Dust Digital Single)

A fine example of indie-folk of the very best kind.

Download The Builders & The Butchers – Rotten To The Core mp3 (from Dead Reckoning)

Calls to mind the blood and thunder preachers in dusty pulpits, the hellfires and the brimstone, and the intense fury of both the righteous and the scorned.

Download Brown Bird – Bilgewater mp3 (from The Sound of Ghosts EP)

A mix of sparse, haunted folk, outlaw country and gypsy riot!

And to finish off, here is another Strand of Oaks cover, this time of Joe Pug’s wonderful Hymn 101, a rare remix (for us anyway) of Moon Duo, a wonderful new band in the shape of rootsy trio Cowboy And Indian, the title track from blistering blues-rock duo White Mystery’s new album Blood & Venom and in the krautrock rhythms and pyschedelia of Echo Lady, probably Wet Hair’s finest release to date.

Download Strand Of Oaks – Hymn 101 mp3 (Joe Pug cover)

Download Moon Duo – In The Sun (Purling Hiss Remix) mp3

Download Cowboy And Indian – Ledbellies (Hurt My Pride) mp3 (from Cowboy And Indian)

Download White Mystery – Blood & Venom mp3 (from Blood & Venom)

Download Wet Hair – Echo Lady mp3 (from In Vogue Spirit)

Last year How Snakes Eat by Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts was one of our favourite albums – a quirkily brilliant expedition into idiosyncratic folk of the most original kind where the vision and inspiration seemed almost otherworldly.

Back then we said, “Quivering, quavering vocals, violins, a throbbing cello, guitars that flit from the minimal to the staccato and all overlaid with some of the most surreal (and entertaining) lyrics we’ve heard all year. There is a sly, knowing humour to the songs as well as regret, bitterness and a healthy dose of the macabre. Mathew Sawyer is simply one of those rare individuals who sees things differently from the rest of us and can turn it into musical gold.”

Now the wonderful Fire Records will be properly releasing this most British of albums in the USA (officially out today), and for anyone who has ever succumbed to the charms of pre-Floyd Syd Barrett then this record is a must. We’ve posted Mynah Birds Call previously, but now we also have the superb Revenge Of The Extra From Zulu – unquestionably one of the best songs of 2010.

Visit their MySpace here.

Visit their website here.

In the UK you can still buy How Snakes Eat from Amazon here.

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3 (from How Snakes Eat)

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Revenge of The Extra From Zulu mp3 (from How Snakes Eat)

So after much deliberation, head scratching, discussion, and more head scratching, we have MM’s favourite albums of 2010. And we choose our words very carefully here, because we would not presume them to be the best, only those that have given us the most pleasure and enjoyment, records that we have returned to again and again, and for whatever reason have captured a moment or special place in our hearts.

And while we have limited our selection to 25 albums there were many, many more that could have, and maybe should have, featured. But there that’s the beauty of music, entirely subjective and based on individual opinions not fact.

So without further ado, here are our 25 favourite albums of 2010.

25 Sharon Van Etten – Epic


Haunting, ethereal and stunning album from a modern day siren. Sad prairie folk music indeed.

Download Sharon Van Etten – Love More mp3

24 Haunted Windchimes – Honey Moonshine


Traditional, old-timey backwoods, backporch music that burrowed its way into your head and then refused to budge.

Download The Haunted Windchimes – Don’t Take My Baby Away (Baby Back) mp3

23 The Streets On Fire – This Is Fancy


High voltage, good time, bad boy rock ‘n’ roll that was as good and as unashamedly fun as it was simple. Garage rock reclaimed.

Download The Streets On Fire – That’s Hard To Find mp3

22 Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues


The son of the peerless Steve Earle comes of age with a perfectly judged set of tales that in their honesty and unashamed frankness are worthy of Townes himself.

Listen to Harlem River Blues.

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21 Titus Andronicus – The Monitor


With repeated listens the sheer power and passion of The Monitor becomes overwhelming. So what if it is a concept album about the American Civil War, its ambitious, rebellious, and rousing. Just play it loud!

Download Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union mp3

20 Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk


Another perfectly judged record from the perfectly matched duo. Campbell’s lovely whispering tones offset by Mr Lanagan’s threatening growl.

Listen to Snake Song.

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19 Lower Dens – Twin Hand Movement

An album of dreamy, unsettling rock melded with freak-folk to provide one of the year’s most unusual and most rewarding listens. At times it sounds like an evil Beach House and at others spare and caustic where hope is slowly, but firmly drowned in a swirling, atmospheric mix of twinkling guitars and alluring voices.

Download Lower Dens – Hospice Gates mp3

18 The Tallest Man On Earth – The Wild Hunt


A fine follow up to the outstanding Shallow Grave, the trademark Dylanesque vocals allied to a set of cracking tales from the bible to bullfighting.

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – The King Of Spain mp3

17 The Migrant – Travels In Lowland


With its dreamlike journey into psych-indie, the debut album from The Migrant was one of the most surprising and engaging folk records of the year.

Download The Migrant – The Organ Grinder mp3

16 Tweak Bird – Tweak Bird


In the vein of the much lauded and genuinely good Tame Impala, Tweak Bird were louder, faster, and simply rocked harder. A superb mix of motorcycle rock riffs with dirty fingernail blues and even a hint of jazz. This was stoner rock for the 21st century and it was brilliant.

Download Tweak Bird – A Sun Ahh Ahh mp3

15 Deer Tick – The Black Dirt Sessions


In Christ Jesus from the Black Dirt Sessions, Deer Tick delivered one of the truly primal and affecting moments of musical recording in 2010, and the rest of the album wasn’t half bad either.

Download Deer Tick – Twenty Miles mp3

14 Delta Spirit – History From Below


Indie rock with a country inflection, Delta Spirit packed History From Below full of dusty, rural Americana and bar room blues boogie. With the impassioned and distinctive voice of Matt Vasquez backed by a rumbling juggernaut of percussion and rhythms, the album was a welcome addition to the long tradition of classic American rock.

Download Delta Spirit – Bushwick Blues mp3

13 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs


Indie gods manage to live up to, and then surpass the hype with The Suburbs, an album full of outstanding tracks that demand they be listened to as a whole – a proper music album.

Watch Ready To Start.

12 Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms


Despite some occasional iffy AOR moments, Infinite Arms was like the girl with the curl, and when it was good (which it mostly was), it was brilliant.

Watch Laredo.

11 Black Keys – Brothers


Authentic blues duo cranked out their best yet and in tracks like Sinister Kid and Howlin’ For You added some more classic cuts to their catalogue.

Watch Tighten Up.

10 Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can


Showcasing her incredible natural talent despite such tender years, I Speak Because I Can truly marked Laura Marling out as a worthy heiress to Joni, Emmy Lou and the like. Darker, stronger, and more confident than her debut, she is surely poised for great things.

Watch Rambling Man.

9 Liars – Sisterworld


A brilliant collection of crushing guitars, machine gun percussion and soaring vocals that retained its experimental art-noise edge but became much more accessible and much more listenable – welcome to the big league time?

Listen to the superb Proud Evolution.

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8 The National – High Violet


Overcoming the music blogger’s ‘big band’ prejudice with ease, High Violet was bigger, better and more affecting than anything the National have done to date.

Listen to Conversation 16.

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7 Strand Of Oaks – Pope Killdragon


Having caught our attention with their wonderful Springsteen cover on Hear Ya, Strand of Oaks more than lived up to our expectations with Pope Killdragon. Sparse folk tunes mixed with occasional and abstract guitar wigouts and also showcased Tim Showalter’s ability to grab the attention with some of the best lyrical couplets of the year. Stand out track Alex Kona a case in point, starting “Alex Kona was twelve feet tall, his mother was killed by a bowling ball” – what’s not to like?

Download Strand of Oaks – Bonfire mp3

6 Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – How Snakes Eat


Spare, beautiful, mournful and melancholic, the fragile folk of Mathew Sawyer hid whiplash lyrics and biting black humour that revealed and revelled in a bittersweet world where daydreams and nightmares fought to the death for supremacy.

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3

5 Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart

Backwards-looking it maybe, but that’s to miss the point of Black Mountain. This was an album bursting with rock riffs that were so good you thought they must have been invented in the classic age of rock, and in Let Spirits Ride, the band provided the headbanging anthem of the year.

Download Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3

4 Dr Dog – Shame, Shame


Another wonderful record of rousing, country infused tunes. Each listen revealed more of its anthemic charms and spirited, rugged rock on an album full of top notch tunes from start to finish.

Watch Shadow People.

3 Blitzen Trapper – Destroyer Of The Void

A brilliant and worthy follow-up to the exceptional Furr, and in songs like The Man Who Would Speak True, Blitzen Trapper showed they had worthy successors to classics like Black River Killer and the like. Full of prog-folk, dusty rural ballads, sci-fi synths and more, Destroyer of the Void was a stunning record.

Download Blitzen Trapper – Heaven And Earth mp3

2 Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It Easy

After the sublime To Willie tribute last year came the originals. From the loose, ramshackle rock of It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama) to cowboy ballads, transcendental homages, and the climactic, Neil Young like, epic album closer L.A.

Download Phosphorescent – The Mermaid Parade mp3

1 Wooden Wand – Wither Thou Goest, Cretin

Despite Wither Thous Goest, Cretin only receiving an initially limited release, and despite it being overshadowed by the subsequent release of (the also excellent) The Death Seat on Michael Gira’s label, Wooden Wand delivered an album of stunning simplicity, in equal parts poignant, heartbreaking, and redemptive.

With lyrics that are the match of any songwriter we know (“He had just enough rope in his trunk to make her nervous”) allied to sparse, plucked folk on the one hand and footstomping barnyard rhythms on the other, there is not a wasted moment, nor a false step on the entire album.

Download Wooden Wand – The Fly mp3

Here is our regular monthly round up of 25 of the best tracks posted on Mad Mackerel in the past month, and three new gems too. That’s a more than decent mixtape sorted even if we were crap in the World Cup!

The FuturebirdsBattle For Rome mp3

Glorious, up-tempo alt-country gem that recalls Neil Young at his finest

Puro InstinctCalifornia Shakedown mp3

Dreamily seductive slice of icy pop

Burnt OnesBury Me In Smoke mp3

Sleazy, dirty, hook-laden surf rock and heavy doses of 7os glam

Mississippi ManMountain mp3

Superb blend of Americana and country-folk

The Vitamin Sees Illumanati Mind Control mp3

Mesmerising and hypnotic, with repetitive guitar riff and laconic vocals. Our discovery of the month!

Black Mountain – Old Fangs mp3

Scorched, driving, desert blues

HollowbellyLong Road mp3

Raw, stomping, hellfire and brimstone blues

Sharon Van EttenI Couldn’t Save You mp3

Languid, lonely and desolate. As stark and as stunning a heartbreaker as you could imagine

Ferocious FewKathleen mp3

Joyous raiding of the rock’n’roll cupboard to produce a two-minute classic

Elf PowerStranger In The Window mp3

Gentle, pensive, country-tinged, psych-pop. Gorgeous

Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3

Fragile, Syd Barrett influenced unorthodox folk whimsy

All Saints DayYou Can’t Be Alone mp3

Pop overdosing on distortion and reverb

Lail AradEveryone Is Moving To Berlin mp3

Wonderful blend of sharp-tongued pop and lovely folk overtones

The WhigsDying mp3

Visceral, slow burn of a track, builds into crescendo of guitars, drums and feedback

Tame ImpalaSolitude Is Bliss mp3

Bold, fuzzed up blues standout from recent album Innerspeaker

Karen ElsonThe Ghost Who Walks mp3

Gothic-tinged, country murder ballad

TennisMarathon mp3

Sweet and catchy pop gem

Tweak BirdA Sun Ahh Ahh mp3

Brilliant mix of full-on old-school metal riffing and psychedelic overtones

The MinksFuneral Song mp3

Vintage Cure bassline, icy synths and shadowy, sombre lyrics

The Black LipsBefore You Judge Me mp3

Typically swaggering boozy cut of garage rock

We Are Country MiceFestival mp3

Garage goodness, awash with reverb, duelling guitars and a tinge of psychedelia

The Local NativesCareful mp3

Chiming cover of Television album track

SalemKing Night mp3

Ghostly leanings and haunting, desolate beats

CrocodilesSleep Forever mp3

Full on indie rocker in the spirit of the Bunnymen

Emily ReoWitch Mtn Pt. 2 mp3

Dreamily seductive and captivating fuzzy Beach House style pop

And  three new ones for you to finish off:

The Vitamin SeesEvil Eye mp3

More tripped out, pulsing krautrock from our new band discovery of the month

Port O’BrienMy Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg) mp3

From the wonderful Buffetlibre/Amnesty Peace project (180 tracks for $5 minimum) comes this brilliant Ramones cover by MM faves Port O’Brien. Buy this compilation here now!

Wild NothingYour Rabbit Feet mp3

Latest chilled (and chilly) dream pop from new indie-wunderkind

Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts are from North London, but frankly sound like their inspiration comes from another world, one that you and I have no experience of at all. New album How Snakes Eat was released late last month and is a startling record that demands your full attention from the very first moment.

Quivering, quavering vocals, violins, a throbbing cello, guitars that flit from the minimal to the staccato and all overlaid with some of the most surreal (and entertaining) lyrics we’ve heard all year. There is a sly, knowing humour to the songs as well as regret, bitterness and a healthy dose of the macabre. Mathew Sawyer is simply one of those rare individuals who sees things differently from the rest of us and can turn it into musical gold.

Try Mynah Birds Call, the opening track from the album that while beguiling and utterly unique, still calls to mind Syd Barrett and (another MM fave) Withered Hand in equal measure. Superb.

Visit their MySpace here.

Visit their website here.

Buy How Snakes Eat from Amazon here.

Download Mathew Sawyer & The Ghosts – Mynah Birds Call mp3 (from How Snakes Eat)