Eric Westbury “Atomic Wilderness” (Barreltown Records 2017)

There is something immediately striking about this album; that feeling of familiarity and reassurance you only really get when hearing something for the first time that just “sounds right”. And Atomic Wilderness certainly sounds right. It’s the third release by the Vancouver-based artist Eric Westbury, a gravel-voiced purveyor of Americana with a hint of Punk and a lot of keen social observation. If you like your songs tight, well-crafted and punchy, Eric Westbury is your man. First track The Cavalcade is a bouncing, easy melody that sets the scene for a hugely impressive group of songs.  Continue reading “Eric Westbury “Atomic Wilderness” (Barreltown Records 2017)”

Deer Tick “Deer Tick Volume 1/Volume 2” (Partisan Records 2017)

In what is a slightly unusual move, Deer Tick have simultaneously released two albums of contrasting styles, their first for four years. Whilst being massively diverse in sound, both records actually do sit together very well to offer a full insight into a band in full creative flow. Volume 1 is acoustic with some folk edges and opens with a full-on John McCauley vocal on Sea of Clouds that certainly shakes the listener out of any preconceptions that this may be the “quieter” of the two albums. Continue reading “Deer Tick “Deer Tick Volume 1/Volume 2” (Partisan Records 2017)”

Paul Kelly “Life is Fine” (Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl 2017)

‘Life is Fine’ as in ‘hanging by a thread’ rather than ‘great’, is a powerful return by Aussie songwriting royalty Paul Kelly. The Australian singer-songwriter is so pleased with it that he is about to embark on his first full band tour of North America to promote it. First listen to opening track Rising Moon will demonstrate why Kelly has such faith in “Life is Fine” as it’s a pretty irresistible R and B number and when the following tracks of Finally Something Good and the rocking Firewood and Candles kick in you can see how the variety of styles reflects the cohesiveness of the full band set up. Continue reading “Paul Kelly “Life is Fine” (Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl 2017)”

Dai and the Ramblers “Bon Bon” (Just Peachy Records 2017)

In 2014, debut album, the Zydeco-influenced “Duw Duw”, saw London-based Dai and the Ramblers gain widespread praise and this follow-up will be eagerly awaited.“Bon Bon” is a continuation in part of the style of their debut, but it also sees the sound evolve with elements of soul, country and even a hint of gospel in Up Above My Head. The album was recorded at a series of live sessions in Rupert Gillet’s Walthamstow studio and this definitely gives a vital edge to the sound. Song writer and front man Dai Price deals in tight and trim vignettes in a range of genres, all delivered in a rich vocal style and backed by an experienced team of musicians who have worked with the like of Van Morrison, Jeff Beck and Richard Thompson. Continue reading “Dai and the Ramblers “Bon Bon” (Just Peachy Records 2017)”

Kev Minney “Stories of the Sky” (Independent, 2017)

An astronomically-themed album cover heralds an interesting debut from Northampton-based acoustic virtuoso Kev Minney. Working closely with Mercury-nominated producer Jag Jago, Minney has crafted an album of dreamy soundscapes, often based around the themes of space. As an admirer of Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Nick Drake, the songs are driven by personal storylines and given the precious time to develop and breathe. This is helped by an impressive range of contributing musicians and measured production that ensures the acoustic nature of the songs is never swamped. Continue reading “Kev Minney “Stories of the Sky” (Independent, 2017)”

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires “Youth Detention” (Don Giovanni Records 2017)

This is the album that, despite the title, sees the combative and essential Alabama rock outfit who are more ‘punk’ than many of the modern bands who claim to be, hit full maturity. It is also an album that goes beyond any “protest” label and instead paints a picture of a fractured society from within, albeit one that offers no little optimism. Continue reading “Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires “Youth Detention” (Don Giovanni Records 2017)”

Suntrodden “Suntrodden III” (Independent, 2017)

Austin-based Erik Stephansson releases the third of his Suntrodden collection. He describes this five track EP as being “about rediscovering your core and not succumbing to the distractions that put you at risk” which is a noble sentiment. Even nobler when you discover that Stephansson has eschewed much of the modern recording technology in favour of a stripped back lo-fi approach that lets the songs say it all. Continue reading “Suntrodden “Suntrodden III” (Independent, 2017)”