Johnny Parry “An Anthology of All Things” (Songs & Whispers, 2017)

Most records we get have such a limited scope and ambition that we can at least attempt to encapsulate them within a few hundred words. This record is of such ludicrous sweep and ambition that I doubt I could ever even start to detail its borders. It contains a chamber orchestra, a soprano (Donna Lennard) and the Bedford Arts choir. It consists of eight movements with the lyrics constructed from short statements submitted by the local community. It appears to be both a logistical nightmare and one of those projects that seem worthy of approbation but are seldom enjoyed. If it were American I’d be talking about Charles Ives, John Adams, Saul Chaplin, Michael Daugherty and how it fits into Americana in its broader sense. I have fewer British reference points, possibly Benjamin Britten, then I’m at the limits of my knowledge. Continue reading “Johnny Parry “An Anthology of All Things” (Songs & Whispers, 2017)”

Stanley Brinks and the Old Time Kanicks “Vielles Caniques/Nouvelle Caniques” (Fika Recordings 2017)

I don’t know how many records Stanley Bring aka Andre Herman Dune has been involved in or how many gigs he’s played, hundreds for the former and thousands for the latter. He’s completely at ease as a performer and these songs, like much of his catalogue (at least that much known to me), ooze a kind of infectious convivial bonhomie that immediately put you at ease, constantly referencing social situations, friends getting together and drinking and the love songs are everyday tales told from the perspective of a courtly lover, a man full of respect for his audience, his peers and the objects of his desire. Continue reading “Stanley Brinks and the Old Time Kanicks “Vielles Caniques/Nouvelle Caniques” (Fika Recordings 2017)”

The Nightjar “Objects” (Independent, 2017)

A few years ago Americana-UK commissioned the renowned musicologist Dr Fred Dineage at Goldsmith’s University to construct a continuum of ethereality – known as the Bush Scale – in order for us to more easily classify records like this one. Towards the top end of the scale sits Julianna Barwick and just below is Grouper. The Unthanks sit somewhere in the middle and at the other end of the scale sits Lucinda Williams (at one point the scale was posited as the Williams scale with Lucinda to Victoria being the breadth, but then events overtook). The scale runs from 0 to 9 and this sits somewhere around a 6. Continue reading “The Nightjar “Objects” (Independent, 2017)”

Looking forward to New Year ‘Snow’

Something to warm your hearts in this bleak winter, for it will be a great New Year as New Year (the Band) are releasing their first new material for 9 long years. On April 28th Snow will be released. For fellow devotees of the work of the Kadane brothers (Bedhead, New Year and Overseas with Will Johnson and David Bazan) this is news that will bring Spring just that little bit closer. There is a short teaser for the album on YouTube but bugger that, let’s just bask in The End’s Not Near from 2008.  Continue reading “Looking forward to New Year ‘Snow’”

Frontier Ruckus “Enter The Kingdom” (Loose, 2017)

Frontier Ruckus are a band that I should love: they have all the ingredients to draw me in with an agreeable blend of Americana stylings with lively dashes of power pop, literate lyrics and fine melodies. What’s not to love? The lyrics, no not even that, the subject and the settings are fine. It’s the formal structures, the rhyming schema, too clever by half buried rhymes, or laboured trowelled on poetry, the kind that says I’ve paid for my education and I’m going to use it. It irks me because they are so close to something really wonderful. Gerunds is melancholic with a swooning squadron of strings – sure the vocals are a little underpowered but that doesn’t bother me, just the highlighted lyrical flourishes that grate. Continue reading “Frontier Ruckus “Enter The Kingdom” (Loose, 2017)”

Jordan Burchel “Vowel Sounds” (Independent, 2016)

Floridian Burchel is on his second record; he is one of the disaffected that communicates through their music, one of many, songwriters and bedroom musicians are as plentiful as sardines in a shoal. It’s hard to break out from the mass and forge your own identity, though every so often there’s a Will Toledo to give hope. Burchel has plenty going for him his songs are well constructed and his voice can carry a tune. There’s nothing to suggest that these songs were put together pretty much by one man. If I were forced to make a comparison I’d go for Jason Anderson after he dropped the Wolf Colonel name and began to erase the characteristics that made him distinctive. Continue reading “Jordan Burchel “Vowel Sounds” (Independent, 2016)”

Sky Coloured “Starting Time” (Independent, 2016)

Challenging is good and this is a record to challenge. It starts like a straightforward jazz record, possibly contemporary Norwegian, a propulsive beat driven by brass. It takes a couple of minutes for the vocals to arrive and they are matter-of-fact; the brass stops and leaves a gap, then it flits back in and the strings flash like a Philadelphia soul record, and the vocals are kitchen-sink, downbeat, describing the day when Thatcher was buried. Then comes Dust that moves from jazz to funk  it feels like Cathy Come Home meeting Bootsy Collins – it’s that strange mix of dour British observation with vibrant American musical forms, ia fascinating contrast. Continue reading “Sky Coloured “Starting Time” (Independent, 2016)”