John Guliak “Fluke or Flounder” (Independent, 2016)

Dust, the first track on this outstanding album, is up there with the best of them. It has, all over it, the care and confidence of an expertly produced record. Here is homage to the dust and rain and the riven days on the Canadian prairies. John’s gentle voice centres movingly on the remembered details of small life there “where a girl’s eyes were the stars. /No need to look far for the sky”. Such understated storytelling, and simply expressed detail abounds in John Guliak’s songs. Continue reading “John Guliak “Fluke or Flounder” (Independent, 2016)”

Rab Noakes “The Treatment Tapes EP” (Neon Records 2017)

This is an outstanding and unforgettable record for two reasons: Firstly, it shines musically, and secondly, it tells the specific story of the discovery and treatment of Rab’s tonsillar cancer, diagnosed early in 2015. For both reasons the EP will appeal to most peoples’ inner sensitivity, drawing them in, in a particular and very personal way. This, musically and lyrically, is a short collection, but it takes you firmly along what could be a difficult path, where a “howling ghost” lurks, but ends up somehow in a place where a sense of hope survives, in whatever context you would allow it to blossom in. Continue reading “Rab Noakes “The Treatment Tapes EP” (Neon Records 2017)”

Wayne Graham “Mexico” (K & F Records, 2016)

Wayne Graham is a duo, Hayden and Kenny Miles, brothers from Whitesburg, South-East Kentucky, where their father founded a church and they backed the services on drums and bass. Wayne Graham is a composition of both their grandfather’s first names. Both were coal miners, as were their father and uncle, until the closure of the mines, following the strikes of the United Mines Workers in the 1970’s. Barbara Kopple’s Oscar winning film “Harlan County USA” depicts the area at the time – a reminder of the miners strikes in the UK. Continue reading “Wayne Graham “Mexico” (K & F Records, 2016)”

Chuck Prophet “Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins” (Yep Roc, 2017)

“One Two Three Four,” Chuck chimes in. And we are away! This is his fourteenth album, as always, catching you unawares. The origins of the first, title track explain a lot: One day, sitting in his “office,” South of Market, San Francisco, listening to old records with poet friend, klipschutz, apparently, he picked up his guitar with the words, “I hear that record crackle, the needle skips and jumps,” and klipschutz, spontaneously filled in the rest: “Bobby Fuller died for your sins.” Continue reading “Chuck Prophet “Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins” (Yep Roc, 2017)”

Curse of Lono “Curse of Lono” EP (Submarine Cat Records, 2016)

When you see and hear Curse of Lono for the first time, you know that here is a band that is special. They are from London, formed by Felix Bechtolsheimer (ex Hey Negrita) in 2015, with the addition of drummer Neil Findlay, also from Hey Negrita. The rest of the group consists of Joe Hazell, lead guitar, Charis Anderson, bass and Dani Ruiz Hernandez, keyboards. Continue reading “Curse of Lono “Curse of Lono” EP (Submarine Cat Records, 2016)”

Riddle & The Stars “New Coastline” (Songs and Whispers 2016)

Here is true international Americana collaboration of the highest order. Playing together are Ben Riddle, established singer songwriter from Australia, and Bobbo and Tracy Byrnes also well established musicians, from Southern California where they called themselves The Fallen Stars. They all met while touring in Germany. This is their second album and with them on drums is Tom Bremer. Continue reading “Riddle & The Stars “New Coastline” (Songs and Whispers 2016)”

Lonely Avenue “Lonely Avenue” (Aum Studio Music, 2016)

lonelyHere is a winner, an unforgettable record with its American buffalo cover that takes you securely into thoughtful, rocking Americana territory. This is the band’s first full length studio album. The first, unforgettable, track, has a winning hook line “You got a heart of stone. / Where’s your mamma gone wrong?”  With strings in the back ground (courtesy of Paul Cartwright who has toured and recorded with a vast spectrum of artists), building to a crescendo and the resolution “I’ll stand free”, the band who have written all the songs themselves, are making a clear statement: Listen. We’re from Bakersfield, California. To be taken seriously! Continue reading “Lonely Avenue “Lonely Avenue” (Aum Studio Music, 2016)”