Posts Tagged ‘Ben Howard’

MM The Last Five Years - Polly Pocket

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, then Chris T Popper and now we have the choices of the fragrant, but often blasphemous Polly Pocket.

20) Ben Howard – Old Pine

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3


19) Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning

Download The Barr Brothers – Beggar In The Morning mp3


18) One Eskimo – Hometime


17) Annie Williams – Roll On Hills

Download Annie Williams – Roll On Hills mp3


16) Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo

Download The Dead Weather – I Cut Like A Buffalo mp3


15) The Cave Singers – Swim Club

Download The Cave Singers – Swim Club mp3


14) The Low Anthem – To Ohio

Download The Low Anthem – To Ohio mp3


13) First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar


12) The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found

Download The Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Found (Daytrotter Session) mp3


11) Alt-J – Taro


10) Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum
Never fails to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It really does capture that feeling when you fall utterly head over heels and there is nothing to be done about it.


9) Laura Marling – Sophia
I love that this song seems to have two such distinct parts to it but they work so beautifully together. Such an incredible voice. Laura can do no wrong in my eyes.


8) Bon Iver – Blood Bank
A timeless beauty, much loved since 2009. So far it has proved impossible to listen to without singing the end part of the song ‘I know it well’ for hours afterwards.

Download Bon Iver – Blood Bank mp3


7) Junip – Line Of Fire
A 2013 tune and already Line of Fire is a song I’d rather not live without. I love Jose Gonzalez’ effortless vocals. Utterly emotional, a bit bleak in places and all consuming. It has a cracking (and very odd) video to go with it too.


6) Shearwater – You As You Were
A lovely discovery for 2012. This song just gets bigger and bigger until you realise you are no longer singing along but shouting like a crazy person!

Download Shearwater – You As You Were mp3


5) Blitzen Trapper – The Man Who Would Speak True
If you like a song to tell you a tale then this is the one for you. It will also make you want to learn to play the harmonica.


4) A.A. Bondy – The Twist
From 2011’s top ten, a beautiful track. Very dark and brooding, like a lovely storm overhead. No idea what it’s all about but it feels most profound.


3) We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
It was my number 1 from 2012 and it certainly deserves its place here. Is it the voice or the lyrics that are most heartbreaking? Always a stand still and listen to all the way through tune.


2) Willy Mason – What Is This
Timeless, effortless and to my mind perfect. I have yet to find a time or a situation where this tune doesn’t fit the bill.  That pretty much sums up the entire album for me, Carry On is a masterpiece.

Watch it here.


1) The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight
I remember the car journey when I first heard this song – it was a bit of a mind blower and hearing it live the next year cemented it as a firm favourite. The moment the strings start you know its going to be epic and it never disappoints.

Download The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight mp3


Three much loved discoveries:

A.A Bondy
You know an artist is that good when you kick yourself for not having found them sooner – I could have been listening to ‘When The Devil’s Loose’ since 2009 but only came to it in 2011 having fallen in love with ‘Believers’.

The Tallest Man On Earth
There is a real honesty to Kristian Matsson’s songs, I think that is what I love best. He has an incredible voice and writes songs you just can’t help but sing a long to. Always a treat.

Laura Marling
An unbelievable talent. I was privileged enough to have heard Laura Marling sing in Gloucester Cathedral in 2011 – a very fitting venue for the purest of voices. If she is this good now, what will she be like in years to come? I look forward to finding out.

MM's Top Songs Of 2012: Polly Pocket

As well as our Top 100 tunes of the year posts over the past five days, each of the MM contributors have put together their own lists. Kicking us off is Polly Pocket

This has been the hardest year ever to pick the best of – it has been a cracking year for top tunes but here goes…..

30. Sinead O’Connor – The Wolf Is Getting Married

29. Two Gallants – Broken Eyes

28. Tame Impala – Elephant

27. Sera Cahoone – Deer Creek Canyon

Download Sera Cahoone – Deer Creek Canyon mp3

26. Sun Kil Moon – The Bird Has A Broken Wing

Download Sun Kil Moon – That Bird Has A Broken Wing mp3

25. The Dandy Warhols – Sad Vacation

24. Rachel Sermanni – The Fog


23. Matthew Perryman Jones – Land of the Living

22. Fort Atlantic – No One Will Know

Download Fort Atlantic – No One Will Know mp3

21. Dubious Ranger – 1999

Download Dubious Ranger – 1999 mp3

20. The Wilderness of Manitoba – The Ark


19. Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon and Ethan Schmid – Love In Vain

Download Zachary Cale, Mighty Moon and Ethan Schmid – Love In Vain mp3

18. Shovels & Rope – Birmingham

17. Strand Of Oaks – Little Wishes


16. Ben Howard – Oats In The Water


15. Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait


14. Magic Arm – Put Your Colour Up


13. Trampled By Turtles – Keys To Paradise


12. Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore

11. Grassfight – Nassau

10. Wild Nothing – Paradise
Well, this is way more retro electro pop than I was anticipating having in my top ten, but damn it, I just like it. Whenever I hear it I feel I have gone back about 20 years, sitting round the edge of a village hall hoping not to dance. I never thought it would end up at number ten, but I admire it for doing so.

9. Houndmouth – Penitentiary
Just when I thought I might have found a tune before MM I was of course put right, but I was happy to share my love of Penitentiary nonetheless. Its an old fashioned, whiskey drinking, tobacco chewing kind of a song, and its a song sung well.

8. Angel Snow – Lie Awake
This was a late arrival into my top ten and I am thrilled to have it here. Those beautiful haunting vocals stay with you long after listening – its a sad story perfectly told and I love it. Not the happiest song in my top ten but certainly one of the most beautiful.

7. Tom Williams and The Boat – Too Young
For me, this tune has all the energy of being young with the class of being a little older! I have loved it for months and it does what a good song should – makes you smile, makes you get up and dance or certainly tap a foot. Lovely guitars and violins, with nice gentle vocals – great stuff.

6. The Tallest Man On Earth – Wind And Walls
Why this song? I guess it just makes me happy. When Kristian Matsson starts to sing, its hard not to smile, such a powerful voice. There is no place to hide with this tune – just a guitar, some words and a man telling a story. Nothing wrong with that combination in my mind.

5. First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
This has been in with the best since the beginning of the year, and rightfully so. Brilliant vocals – all pure and clean and I still marvel at the number of words you can get into one sentence and still sound melodic. Certainly one of the best of the year.

4. Shearwater – You As You Were
I only found Shearwater this year, and what a lovely band to find. Animal Joy is a very fine album and to me, You As You Were is the stand out track. It a massive song, full of energy from start to finish. I kind of wish I’d had this song with me a decade or so ago, it would have suited me down to the ground.

3. Emil Friis – Sand In Your Eyes
A very elegant tune, a quiet beginning and then the dark and brooding piano arrives slowly building before the lyrics kick in. It feels like it should be the soundtrack to a very brilliant film (is it?) Any how, it’s worth several listens, especially with a glass of wine or a cocktail or two.

2. Alt-J – Taro
It was a hard to know which track to pick from (in my humble opinion) the album of the year, An Awesome Wave. In any given situation this song always sounds perfect. I understand none of it but love all of it, particularly the instrumental twiddly middle which always takes me to far away lands, even when stuck on the M4. This song, like much of the album creates something brilliant.

1. We Are Augustines – Chapel Song
This song certainly stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it earlier in the year and continues to do so – always something new to ponder over in those heartbreaking lyrics. Thankfully I am normally left feeling more upbeat than melancholy but its a close call. This has held the no.1 spot for many months now, and rightly so. A song of genius

You can find downloads, streams, or videos for all the other tracks above by checking out MM’s Top 100 tunes here: 100 – 81, 80 – 61, 60 – 41, 40 – 21 and 20 – 1.

MM's Best of 2012 (100-81)

So the waiting is over, and here are the first twenty entries in our Top 100 of 2012, part of MM’s much expanded Best of the Year review. Over the next five days we will reveal our favourite songs and those of our contributors: Mrs Mackerel, Christy Popper, Barry-Sean, Dr Roddy, Polly Pocket, Middle Sprat, Starbie, and Toy Steve. These are not the most “popular” songs of the year, nor do they lay any subjective claim to being the “best”, but they are without doubt the favourites of all those who have written for MM one way or another this year.

So without further ado…

With shades of Interpol in the hypnotic, propulsive percussion, echoes of Dinosaur Jr in the swirling guitar, and a classic indie deep, monotone vocal, Nassau successfully ticks all the necessary boxes for a post-punk extravaganza.

Download Grassfight – Nassau mp3

Humming, hypnotic , menacing krautrock rumble over which Andy Falkous intones possibly the best opening lyric of the year:  “Chicken tikka bathsalts found at bus stops

(No stream or video available)

Like the feral lovechild of Howling Wolf, Mick Jagger, Joan Jett and Suzi Quattro fronting a hybrid of Nirvana and the Black Keys. All in a good way. A very good way.


Haunting, poignant and fragile first single that heralded a stunning debut album of more than five years in the making.

Download Field Report – I Am Not Waiting Anymore mp3

With an infectious guitar jangle and clever lyrics – reminiscent of classic 80s UK indie bands like The Brilliant Corners – this year The Wave Pictures finally became the UK’s answer to the brilliant Mountain Goats. (BSF)


In the Spring of 2012 Justin Townes Earle released Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now. His best record to date, this song, tucked away in the middle of the album perfectly captured how it feels to be in a city of millions yet to be completely alone.


A track of three very distinctive parts. The first to the twang of country guitar and cowboy vocals telling us that he’s seen the light and that people really aren’t very nice at all. He hates them all. Then ears are suddenly assaulted by a volley of Jack White’s fury reminiscent of late 70s punk before finishing on smooth, jazzy notes as Karen Elson,with silky tones, lets a bloke called Randy know that he is “Sooooooooooo dead“. Insane but brilliant. (BSF)

(No stream or video available)

Rarely can the opening “insane preacher monologue” approach been used as effectively as this. Yet 45 seconds of spittle-flecked insanity is taken far, far deeper into black, murky waters as over  a humming bassline and fragmented crackles and loops, Gibson’s unflinching baritone reminds us over and over again “its a long way down“.


Gorgeous standout from the Algiers album with the ghostliest of vocals.


Gravel voiced soul-searching carried out over a motorik rhythm.


This song is really a bit of fun and it makes me smile every time I hear it. A guy turns up to see his mate, Andrew, dress up in drag. He does it on a whim for a laugh but ends up fancying him. An amusing story that bobs along with a catchy, but low-key tune. (BSF)


Murkier, darker waters abound for this highlight from this year’s Burgh Island EP. Howard’s lonely voice struggles to break free from a claustrophobic and ominous backdrop.


Much like The Lumineers, Shovels & Rope deal in unashamed folk anthems whose harmonies effortlessly evoke good-time, back porch sing-a-longs amongst the fireflies and the moonshine.


At the turn of the year, Last American Buffalo released a short series of free-to-download digital signals that were uniformly brilliant. The first of two entries in our Best Of listing, Break My Heart is exquisitely blended folk, blues and classic country rock with a bitter edge that spits and snarls its discontent with the world.


What a voice. This song is worth a listen just for Father John Misty’s delivery. It’s like bubble bath without the bathwater – a hymn to the dead ladies man. Try sitting back with a cup of coffee, closing your eyes and letting this track soothe away your mental aches and pains (BSF)


Somehow crossing 70s krautrock with desert blues and a stoned rockabilly twang to create a mesmerising journey through a venom-induced surreal otherworld.


As winning a combination of catchy folk-stomp and hollered vocals as it is possible to imagine. A deserved break-out hit for one of the most heartwarming success stories of the year.


The first of four entries from one of the finest albums of the year. Heartbreaker is the sound of a band in complete control of their own destiny, who know their destination and exactly how they’re going to get there. Thrilling, urgent and vital. It’s not the singer, it’s the song.


If there was any justice, Summer In The City would have been the soundtrack of barbecues and bakeouts the world over. It was as perfect as indie-pop is able to get, it made you want to pop the top off a cold one and party on the rooftops all day long.


A truly beautiful folk composition, light of touch and sure of foot.

Download Keston Cobblers’ Club – For Words mp3

Leave a comment to us know what you think.


Mrs Mackerel's TFI Friday (9th November). Just call me the Hoarse Whisperer. This week a suitably seasonal cold virus left me a muted, aching snot monster, forced to communicate via hand and arm signals that cast me somewhere between a (somewhat troubled) cricket umpire and a football referee. It has also rendered me powerless to children and animals, not necessarily in that order. HP suggested helpfully that I might like to supplement my income by becoming an 0845 husky woman of the night. Frankly, I don’t think I possess the patter or the underwear, and any callers may have needed an ear trumpet and a good sense of humour to get anything out of it.

Moving swiftly on. Our last remaining cat, a Siberian Forest cat if you will, appears not have deduced that the climate of West Oxfordshire does not match that of Siberia. Every autumn his appetite, weight and fur increase tenfold (like mine – without facial hair thankfully – for chocolate at Easter), leaving him struggling to squeeze through the cat flap and hitting the fence with such force and lack of grace that it reverbs through the house. It’s surely only a matter of time before he eats Joe.

In fact, I’ll leave the last word to Sprat 3, who on celebrating the re-election of Barack Obama enquired about what would happen to Mick Wrong-Knee now? That is an answer that we would all love to know, I’m sure…

About turn patellas and rejoice, for it’s Friday.

Mrs Mackerel x

New songs from Willy Mason whose long overdue new album I am looking forward to a lot and from Ben Howard who released his new EP, Burgh Island, on Halloween. I’ve been playing it on a loop ever since; it’s much darker than his earlier stuff. I love it.



Video of the Day: Ben Howard | Sami The Great



Ben Howard - New Videos & Signed Giveaway Competition.

Ben Howard has become a particular favourite of Mrs Mackerel’s since the release of his excellent Every Kingdom album last year. Despite its clear folk footprint, it proved him to be a gifted and exceptional singer-songwriter with a core of steel rather than anything more fey or whimsical.

We are delighted to be able to bring you two new videos for Only Love and from the BBC Live Lounge as well as some US tour dates and a free competition to win a signed lithio giveaway with CD.

To enter, all you need to do is send an e-mail to with Ben Howard Competition in the subject header, and simply tell us what four words are printed on the red, octagonal sign on the brick wall in the Only Love video. Easy.

Closing date for entries is the 10th June. Winner chosen at random from the correct e-mails received. One entry per person. Winner will be announced on Mad Mackerel after the closing date.

Without further ado, here is the new video for Only Love.


And here he is in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge with a simply stunning version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe.


Catch him on the remainder of his tour in the USA.

June 2 – The Loft @ UCSD, La Jolla, CA (SOLD OUT)

June 5 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA (SOLD OUT)

June 6 – Troubadour – Los Angeles, CA (SOLD OUT)

June 7 – Bonnaroo Music Festival, Manchester, TN

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3 (from Old Pine EP)

Mad Mackerel's Best of 2011.As with previous years we will be posting over the next few days the Top Ten track selections for 2011 of various MM friends and contributors, as well as our Best Albums of 2011 and own best of the year list.

To kick us off we have Polly Pocket.

10. Friends – I’m His Girl

A great getting ready to go out kind of a tune.


9. Ben Howard – Old Pine

A happy and warm glowing song, it just makes you feel good and there is nothing wrong with that.

Download Ben Howard – Old Pine mp3 (from Old Pine EP)

8. Sunparlour Players – Green Thumb

How can anyone resist a song that starts with Christmas slay bells? Impossible to listen to without singing along.

Download The Sunparlour Players – Green Thumb mp3 (from Us Little Devils)

7. Laura Marling – I Was Just A Card

Hard to choose which Laura track to include. The good thing is they all remind me of a fabulous lunchtime not so long ago in a Cathedral with Mrs M.


6. Arcade Fire – Speaking In Tongues

I have no idea what this song is about but that doesn’t stop it from being great. Nice to have David Byrne cropping up in it too.


5. Meredith Adeliade & Josh Schroeder – So It Goes

I find myself frequently humming this tune, simple, stripped back, catchy, great.

Download Josh Schroeder and Meredith Adelaide – So It Goes mp3

4. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks

Dealing with dark matter whilst sounding all happy and light, just my cup of tea.

Download Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks mp3 (from Pumped Up Kicks single)

3. Annie Williams – Roll On Hills

Beautiful voice, beautiful song, timeless.

Download Annie Williams – Roll On Hills mp3 (from This Mountain)

2. A.A Bondy – The Twist

This is such a massive song, all dark and rich, just lovely.


1. Cave Singers – Swim Club

Its been in the number one slot forever, a simple and brilliant tune in my humble opinion!

Download The Cave Singers – Swim Club mp3 (from No Witch)

Bubbling Under

5. Elbow – Lippy Kids

4. Sand Band – Song That Sorrow Sings


3. Tallest Man On Earth – I Won’t Be Around

2. Noah And The Whale – LIFEGOESON

1. Bored Man Overboard – Abigail

Check out her 2010 Top Ten here.