Owen Meany’s Batting Stance “Owen Meany’s Batting Stance” Independent, 2016

Self-consciously literary songs that owe a debt to the Mountain Goats, a name that is self-consciously of literary genesis and self-conscious references to the Mountain Goats; by now you’re either engaged and ready for what comes next or you’ve already gone. Stick around, for the songs have a bounce and humour that saves them from preciousness or pretension. It’s mainly the work of one man – Daniel Walker – but you’ve probably guessed that. Dissonance gets the Mountain Goats homage out of the way right off the bat, the percussive piano bouncing the song along with a force that is equalled by Walker throwing out the lyrics like they really matter. It’s disarming and charming. Continue reading “Owen Meany’s Batting Stance “Owen Meany’s Batting Stance” Independent, 2016”

Massy Ferguson “Run It Right into the Wall” (At The Helm Records, 2016)

There are few surprises on a MF record. They plough the same furrows year after year sprinkling the seeds of REM and Uncle Tupelo and reaping their own brand of Americana flannelled jangle. It is perhaps useful to think of REM without Mike Mills and UT without Jeff Tweedy (OK, Son Volt). It’s a sweet enough spot to be in especially from an Americana perspective, and this is an enjoyable listen, only it could have been from any of the past thirty years. Continue reading “Massy Ferguson “Run It Right into the Wall” (At The Helm Records, 2016)”

Butch Walker “Stay Gold” (Lojinx, 2016)

This is Butch Walker’s eighth album and its one where he’s really let things go and made a record that’s unashamedly in love with classic rock n roll, with Springsteen, Billy Joel, Don Henley and quite likely Ryan Adams (who produced his last record). The result is a stirring high-octane ride; it’s like a kinetic movie switching from scene to scene, with plenty of action and moments of epiphany and reflection. It never lets up – each song is larger than life, chock full of hooks and built from a storytellers perspective with little details that elevate the songs above the workaday. He’s like a frayed blue-collar Jim Steinman pumping out songs that are meant to be enjoyed and which carry a narrative weight. Continue reading “Butch Walker “Stay Gold” (Lojinx, 2016)”

Kodiak Island “The Golden Section” (Musical Bear Records, 2016)

Despite a promising beginning, this latest record from Jo Bartlett (this time with a band in tow) quickly descends into little more than a genre exercise. The opener Frozen In Time and Remembered Days are both efficient and decent efforts with Bartlett’s voice being the beacon. By the time they get to Spanish Steps there’s little if anything to lift it above what you might hear at any folk club around the country on any given night. Yes there’s some curlicues of Spanish guitar that fleck the song with some sunshine but it’s pedestrian at best. Continue reading “Kodiak Island “The Golden Section” (Musical Bear Records, 2016)”

Modern Studies to support King Creosote on upcoming tour

Modern Studies the Glasgow-via-Yorkshire chamber pop band fresh from the positive Americana UK review of their debut record are to support King Creosote (whose recent record can also be heartily recommended) on his upcoming tour. Catch them and their eccentric instrumentation (wine glass orchestra, Victorian pedal harmonium) at one of the dates below. Continue reading “Modern Studies to support King Creosote on upcoming tour”

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children “For The Ages To Come” (Haldern Pop Recordings, 2016)

Lundberg’s past as frontman for Soundtrack Of Our Lives (and the much missed Union Carbide Productions) gives us some clues as to what to expect from this solo effort. UCP were heavily indebted to the Stooges and MC5 but it’s another 60’s icon that this set sidles up to; there are definite vapour trails of Love throughout these songs, the strong melodies and the meandering freewheeling flights of fancy straight out of Arthur Lee’s playbook. ‘Beneath the Winding Waterway‘ is a gentle semi-psychedelic trip which is instantly memorable with enough complexity to reward repeated listens. The chief attraction of this record is letting the songs worm their way into your mind – it’s the kind of record that inserts little shards in your memory so you go back to complete the mirror and go through it. Continue reading “Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children “For The Ages To Come” (Haldern Pop Recordings, 2016)”

Arborist “Home Burial” (Kirkinrola Records, 2016)

This is a most impressive debut by the Northern Irish band. It’s an Americana soufflé wearing its graft and craft lightly, the apparent effortlessness coming at the price of hard work and talent. There is substance and quality at work here. The word artisan is apposite, the songs flowing like an Anthony Hopkins performance, art without artifice, a direct connection, no obfuscation, just an immediate contact with the essence of the songs. There’s no barrier between the listener and the pleasure to be had from the songs. Continue reading “Arborist “Home Burial” (Kirkinrola Records, 2016)”

Tim Houlihan “Another Orion’ (Independent, 2016)

Tim Houlihan has a voice made for country music and a grasp of a broad range of Americana styles. If he wasn’t a veteran of the scene this would sound like a perfect calling card for Nashville. ‘I Get Lonesome Too’ is the type of song that would be an enormous hit if it reached the right artist and featured in a film or on TV. ‘Send Me Back To You’ puts pedal to metal and Houlihan sounds uncannily like Billy Joel belting out a country rocker. The title track gets a little bit experimental (within limits) with the burble of electronics before hushed acoustics bring on the big ballad. Houlihan does everything without affectation, with enthusiasm and skill; it’s almost enough to sweep the listener away. Continue reading “Tim Houlihan “Another Orion’ (Independent, 2016)”

AmericanA to Z: The Accident That Led Me To The World

TATLMTTW are exactly the kind of band that gave rise to the idea for this column , they made a couple of really good records and then disappeared. Firstly the self-titled release from 2005 that we reviewed here and the follow-up ‘The Island Gospel‘ that we also loved from 2008 (both on Nobody’s Favourite Records). Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: The Accident That Led Me To The World”

AmericanA to Z: A.A. Bondy

aabondyWelcome to the first in an ongoing series of explorations of Americana UK’s digital library. We’re going to explore our digital music collection to try to unearth some hidden gems and to remind everyone of artists that may have fallen off the radar. We’re only looking at digital because that means that there’s already been some filtering and I really can’t be arsed to go up into the loft and sort everything into alphabetical order, listen to everything and then write about it. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: A.A. Bondy”