Hillfolk Noir “Junkerpunch” (Independent, 2017)

An obscurely entitled 5th outing if ever there was. “What is a ”Junkerpunch?” we hear you cry. Even good old Google appears to be bereft of answers on that one. Thankfully, the press release accompanying Hillfolk Noir’s 5th album makes it clear – it’s slang for a ‘cheap shot’… the kind of punch that results in the boxer’s break that hampered Travis Ward’s guitar playing for a lengthy 9 months on 2016. As the adopted name of this immense collection of no less than 17 songs and instrumentals, Junkerpunch is also a title that says a lot about the approach adopted by Hillfolk Noir who, let’s face it, write songs like someone thumping, with quite some aggression, at the proverbial door of old time authenticity whilst simultaneously hiding behind a thin veil of playful irreverence like a child hiding behind a curtain, desperate to be noticed. Continue reading “Hillfolk Noir “Junkerpunch” (Independent, 2017)”

Sound of the Sirens “For All Our Sins” (Independent, 2017)

The press release for the debut album from Exeter-based duo Sound of the Sirens paints a rather misleading picture of an (incredibly English) take on Americana. To suggest there is any parallel to be drawn between Sound of the Sirens and The Everly Brothers, George Jones or Tammy Wynette is simply bizarre and will have anyone with a penchant for vintage country raising at least one eyebrow, if not two. Championed by no less that Chris Evans and sharing stages with the likes of (dare I say it…) Rick Astley, the duo have certainly found favour in an increasingly fickle and frustrating industry, but country music this ain’t.  Continue reading “Sound of the Sirens “For All Our Sins” (Independent, 2017)”

Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)

Juxtaposing comparisons with Regina Spektor and Laura Marling against kind words from BBC Cornwall perhaps paints, somewhat immediately, a picture of rural English gentility. And quaint though this, Little Lapin’s third outing, undoubtedly is… unfortunately, it’s also a touch inconsistent. Continue reading “Little Lapin “Wake Up With The Sun” (Independent, 2017)”

Beth Bombara “Map & No Direction” (At The Helm Records, 2017)

St Louis resident and punk rock refugee, Beth Bombara, might lack some of the credentials and accolades of her long-serving influences, Gillian Welch and Aimee Mann, but on this, her fifth album (sixth if you count her release with The Robotic Foundation), she delivers a collection of songs that strongly suggest that she deserves attention. Continue reading “Beth Bombara “Map & No Direction” (At The Helm Records, 2017)”

Jason Eady “Jason Eady” (Old Guitar Records, 2017)

Six albums in and Jason Eady goes eponymous… could there be a hint of self-reflection and insularity in the mix? This album is certainly a distinct departure from the overt twang and clatter of his previous work, and the subtlety and far more gentle vein prove a welcome relief. Acoustic throughout (pretty much without exception) and deviating little from the ‘original Nashville sound’ (think Willie Nelson meets Kris Kristofferson meets [albeit latterly] Lyle Lovett),  the record presents the artist as a purveyor of familiar musical staples – indeed there are no rules that come even close to being broken here. Continue reading “Jason Eady “Jason Eady” (Old Guitar Records, 2017)”

Mandy Rowden “1000 Miles” (Independent, 2017)

Sometimes some records just don’t hit the mark… and from the drab artwork  to the confusion of the songs that dwell within, that seems to be the case here. It’s a dreadful shame – given some of the names Rowden has worked with in the past, this is a record that should have presented far more in the way of highlights. This, Mandy Rowden’s second album, owes much to Lucinda Williams and a bit to Tift Merritt, but lacks the conviction of either. The songs are relatively well put together and in the most part, decently executed, but just not exciting enough. Moreover, the apocalyptic imagery of a couple of songs, notably Flood Song and No Greater Silence,  and the social commentary and ramshackle romp of 5 O’clock World are difficult to take seriously. Continue reading “Mandy Rowden “1000 Miles” (Independent, 2017)”

Nadine Khouri “The Salted Air” (One Flash Records 2017)

With a list of influences that are as broad as they are intriguing, the debut by Nadine Khouri, promises a great deal: interesting Lebanese heritage, production by John Parish (the chap that made PJ Harvey, messed with Giant Sand and confused Sparklehorse), all recorded in a dimly-lit Georgian vaulted basement in Bristol, and rendered with the help of Adrian Crowley, Parish and Emma Smith (of James Yorkston’s band)… the record doesn’t exactly scream ‘Americana’ from the rooftops, but I guess you should never judge a book by its cover (or a CD by it’s press release?). Continue reading “Nadine Khouri “The Salted Air” (One Flash Records 2017)”