Flagship Romance “Tales from the Self-Help Section” (Gatorbone Records 2017)

Great band name; awesome title for a record, pregnant with wholesome introspection and whimsy; cool artwork… Knowing nothing about a band at all, one is too often tempted to judge a book (or in this case, CD) by its cover. This was, of course, an approach to music shopping that had some credence back in the days when the music industry wasn’t absolutely saturated with everyone and anyone with an internet connection and the capacity to record a song or two. Continue reading “Flagship Romance “Tales from the Self-Help Section” (Gatorbone Records 2017)”

Lord Youth “Gray Gardens” (Shellshock, 2017)

Creeping its way into your ears with a dirty, slightly otherworldy cha-cha that sounds like a wantonly peculiar outtake from a Richard Hawley record, Lord Youth’s ghoulish novelty-noir is brilliantly uncomfortable listening. Micah Blaichman’s dead-pan tenor, sometimes reminiscent of Johnny Dowd’s unnerving vitriolic intoning, drawls across a raft of 1950s style Americana that is full of creaking, wining guitar, junk-yard percussion and demented honky-tonk piano (nowhere more evident that on “Someone Was Singing Hi Ho Silver”). Continue reading “Lord Youth “Gray Gardens” (Shellshock, 2017)”

Robert Earl Keen “Walking Distance / Picnic” (Floating World, 2017)

Ever a songwriter of distinction, the reissue of two mid-period Robert Earl Keen albums prove a forceful reminder of exactly why Keen’s formidable reputation as a songwriter precedes him. Having not quite gained the notoriety of Steve Earle or the ‘legend’ label pinned so readily to Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen is no less deserving of your attention.  Continue reading “Robert Earl Keen “Walking Distance / Picnic” (Floating World, 2017)”

Peter James Millson “Mobile” (Haven, 2017)

Produced by the acclaimed songwriter, Boo Hewerdine, this record is the third by photographer Millson (who has worked for no less than the NME and the Guardian). Clearly an unassuming chap, he plays down his music-making credentials with offhand comments on his website which point to his agenda being far more ‘cottage industry’ than ‘world domination’. Notwithstanding, Millson keeps good company – Hewerdine, Martha Tilson, Adrian McNally (of The Unthanks). His evident tendency toward humility, however, rather belies his deft knack for a melody as is capably demonstrated throughout “Mobile”. Continue reading “Peter James Millson “Mobile” (Haven, 2017)”

David Ramirez “We’re Not Going Anywhere” (Thirty Tigers, 2017)

Given the current climate, this is, at least in part, an album that resonates by painting a picture of a broken, divided world which is conflicted and uncertain. David Ramirez is a clever fellow though and approaches the task at hand by distilling the hurts of modern America into a series of songs that tell its story through 10 songs that re-imagine recent history, dysfunction and dissatisfaction as though they are the defining attributes of a relationship that’s falling apart. Indeed there are some bewildering truths buried in this record that are chilling and desperate. Continue reading “David Ramirez “We’re Not Going Anywhere” (Thirty Tigers, 2017)”

Harbottle & Jonas “Anna is a Dancer” (Independent, 2017)

A descending, modal chord progression plucked out on what sounds like a 12 string guitar, the twang of a string bent here and there – with the first few bars, any listener with a penchant for bluesy American roots music will be frothing at the mouth with excitement.  Surely, this must be one of those songs about Dust Bowl wanders from the ’20s or backwoods murderers living beyond the law. Continue reading “Harbottle & Jonas “Anna is a Dancer” (Independent, 2017)”

The Americans “I’ll Be Yours” (Loose, 2017)

With a CV as long as your auntie Susan’s shopping list, The Americans certainly win the prize for putting in the effort: previously serving as the backing band for Luncinda Williams, Nick Cave and Courtney Love at the David Lynch Foundation’s 60th Anniversary of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, they have also recently made friends with Jack White, T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford to land a spot in the forthcoming PBS documentary series American Epic (airing on the BBC from 16 May 2017).  Continue reading “The Americans “I’ll Be Yours” (Loose, 2017)”