James Edwyn & the Borrowed Band “High Fences” (Dead Records Collective, 2017)

January is a miserable month. The weather’s terrible, nobody has any money, everyone’s back at work for another year’s grind and there’s next to nothing happening musically. Which makes the release of ‘High Fences’ something to celebrate and then some (ok, it was actually released in mid-December but just go with it ok). Continue reading “James Edwyn & the Borrowed Band “High Fences” (Dead Records Collective, 2017)”

Hunter Muskett “That Was Then This Is Now” (Limefield, 2013)

In 1969 The Beatles released Abbey Road, 150,000 attended the second Isle of Wight Festival, Lulu shared first place in the Eurovision with Boom Bang-a-Bang and, somehow absent from the Wikipedia entry for that year, Chris George, Terry Hiscock and Doug Morter formed Hunter Muskett. A year later, following a signing to Decca and the release of their first album, bass player Rog Trevitt joined to become the fourth musketeer. A second album followed in 1973 before the band called it a day the following year. Continue reading “Hunter Muskett “That Was Then This Is Now” (Limefield, 2013)”

The Deportees “The Birth Of Industry” (Independent 2017)

A foreboding vintage photograph of a grounded ship in an estuary adorns the cover of this, the debut release from Scotland’s The Deportees (who, after some momentary confusion, I realised are not to be confused with the Swedish indie band, Deportees… note the absence of the ‘The’). A bleak and arresting image, the photograph is fitting, offering an appropriate visual for the tone struck by the band throughout “The Birth Of Industry” – a desperately sorrowful collection of songs if ever there was. Continue reading “The Deportees “The Birth Of Industry” (Independent 2017)”

No Thee No Ess “California” (Folkwit Records, 2017)

The Welsh psychedelic wizards relax the weirdness (a bit – the opener Mind Flow Bender is still far out into a universe where Hawkwind are a little bit tame) and head towards Americana. California (the title song) is all harmonies and restraint, the music remaining mannered, bubbling away without boiling over into a soup of noise but with enough seepage towards another dimension to keep things interesting. Florid Peaks is even gentler; it simmers, the vocal melody is full of sunlight and when we reach the instrumental interlude, again though, there are enough hints that things could get weird, so that they don’t have to, it can just be pretty without having to apologise for it. Continue reading “No Thee No Ess “California” (Folkwit Records, 2017)”

Various “Sing And They’ll Sing Your Song” (Megaphone, 2018)

This album provides a retrospective of the twenty years of Megaphone records, founded by Stephane Bismuth after putting together Shack and Arthur Lee for a tour. The label released The Magical World of the Strands and a host of other eclectic artists. This record provides a cross-section and starts quite rightly with Something Like You by Michael Head, which I’m assuming you are all familiar with. You are, aren’t you? Continue reading “Various “Sing And They’ll Sing Your Song” (Megaphone, 2018)”

Mary Gauthier “Rifles & Rosary Beads” (Proper Records, 2018)

Mary Gauthier wrote this record with US Army veterans as part of a program to help those affected by their experiences of war – with those for whom wars do not stop when they come home, those for whom the scars and the horrors endure. These honest raw songs push right into the dark hearts of these veterans, the problems that war brings and the wars they continue to fight once they get home, also giving a voice to the wives and partners who also serve but are unrecognised, those who deal with their broken loved ones. There’s a line from the opener Soldiering On, which sums up the record: ‘what saves you in the battle can kill you at home’. The song drives this home with slabs of drums, guitars and strings, teetering on the ugly as befits the subject matter. These aren’t simple issues and Gauthier never treats them as such; this is a nuanced stripping bare of the problems faced by veterans. Continue reading “Mary Gauthier “Rifles & Rosary Beads” (Proper Records, 2018)”

The Novel Ideas “The Novel Ideas” (Independent 2017)

The Novel Ideas are a country-folk four-piece from Brighton, Massachusetts and their self-titled album was released in the UK in November. Having been playing together for around six years and featuring three different song-writers in their ranks, the Novel Ideas certainly don’t lack experience or creativity and it shows in a mature album that demonstrates all that is good about the Americana genre. Continue reading “The Novel Ideas “The Novel Ideas” (Independent 2017)”

The Sideshow Tragedy “The View From Nowhere” (DixieFrog/Borderline Blues, 2017)

Listening to The View From Nowhere it is extremely difficult to come to terms with the fact that The Sideshow Tragedy comprises just two members in Nathan Singleton and Jeremy Harrell. The sound created by Singleton’s guitars and Harrell’s drums and percussion is akin to that of a full four or five-piece outfit. Heavily influenced by his father’s fanatical devotion to acoustic blues and National resonator guitars Singleton grew up playing in blues clubs in East Texas. Whilst devouring old blues music Nathan found himself similarly drawn to rock, punk, funk, new wave and, with influences such as Dylan, Iggy Pop and Keith Richards, the result is a duo with a heavy indie, blues, rock, roots sound. Continue reading “The Sideshow Tragedy “The View From Nowhere” (DixieFrog/Borderline Blues, 2017)”

Daniel Carlson “Not A Drawing” (Folkwit Records, 2017)

This third album from New Yorker, Daniel Carlson, is sure to delight anyone who believes that Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson are the bee’s knees, the best, the topper most. Carlson, like them, writes sweet songs, melodic, occasionally quirky, and on this album, uses a panoply of instruments which very much recall the Beach Boys’ head honcho’s “teenage symphonies.” Continue reading “Daniel Carlson “Not A Drawing” (Folkwit Records, 2017)”

The Hazey Janes “Hands Around The City: Live” (Armellodie Records, 2017)

Dundee’s Hazey Janes have been around for over a decade, so releasing a live album would seem well overdue. This one’s different from the norm though as it’s a complete performance of their “lost” (unreleased) album Hands Around the City, originally recorded in 2008 but never seeing the light of day until now. Details of its derailment are hard to come by – a legal dispute of some sort it would appear – but whatever the cause this live version plugs the gap and rather good it is too. Continue reading “The Hazey Janes “Hands Around The City: Live” (Armellodie Records, 2017)”