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)”

Mudcat Landing “Five Songs” (Pink Moon Records, 2016)

When you reach a certain age one tends to get sceptical of 20 somethings sharing their (limited) life experiences in a song. So, when the experienced Liverpool based 4 piece that makes up Mudcat Landing give us their insights wrapped up in a great musical package then it is time to celebrate the wit and wisdom of the well-travelled.  Continue reading “Mudcat Landing “Five Songs” (Pink Moon Records, 2016)”

Audrey Spillman “Thornbird” (Independent, 2016)

It’s a sultry slipcase that drops through the letter box following a Facebook conversation about the merits of sending out physical versions of an album to review, and it creates an element of wondering what the record will be like; the answer is simply, it’s a wonder. The Producer, Neilson Hubbard, is fast becoming the go to man for the musical traveller from the UK and a watch word in records of quality.  This is no exception.  It’s full of storm, naked emotion, passion, quirky musical stylings that leave you going “oh I love that”. Essentially a last shout before impending motherhood, Spillman has made a very modern, genre-bending record.  It will go on to be many things to many people, a returner, which 10 years from now you’ll slip from the rack and greet like an old friend. Continue reading “Audrey Spillman “Thornbird” (Independent, 2016)”

Various Artists “The Musical Mojo of Dr John” (Concord Records, 2016)

Mac Rebennack strolled on stage at the Last Waltz to the words “You all know the doctor, Dr, John ? Mac Rebennack. Come on Mac !” And if you didn’t, well you soon did as he gave one of the highest highlights of that evening. This is another evening – Saturday, May 3, 2014 to be exact – which saw a similarly high profile bunch of musicians come together at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre for a concert billed as “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music”. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Musical Mojo of Dr John” (Concord 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)”

James The Fang & Serious Sam Barrett “The Dime Horseshoe” (Independent, 2017)

Having spent a few months every year touring the States playing with the likes of Al Scorch, Charlie Parr and The Pine Hill Haints, Yorkshireman Barrett here is on great form with James The Fang (of the afore mentioned Pine Hill Haints) for their second release together.  They are very much old souls, and this could quite easily be a lovely scratchy 78. Continue reading “James The Fang & Serious Sam Barrett “The Dime Horseshoe” (Independent, 2017)”

Mikko Joensuu “Amen-2” (Svart Records, 2016)

Mikko Joensuu has set himself a daunting task – to release a trilogy of albums in the space of a year. Having been brought up in his native Finland with a strong religious background, the album series tells in sweeping terms the story of his gradual realisation that there is no deity, and the doubt, angst and anxiety that having this prop removed caused him. Which sounds very depressing – but Amen-2 whilst at the heart of this epiphany has a soaring gorgeous sound that carries the listener along like a starship sailing the solar winds. Continue reading “Mikko Joensuu “Amen-2” (Svart Records, 2016)”

Ruth Theodore “Cactus” (Aveline Records, 2016)

I know you shouldn’t judge a book by the cover, but this has been kicking about a while, the sleeve just didn’t want to make me play it.  I was wrong, it’s a sort of Alisha’s Attic does dustbowl blues, strange.  Wonky and slightly out of focus its wordy off kilter is like little else, refreshingly.  The cacophony of odd ball percussion and woozy ethereal voice is like the first time you hear Kate Bush, revelatory, we she sings “can’t help who you love” it recounts those pangs of teenage love in real clarity. Continue reading “Ruth Theodore “Cactus” (Aveline Records, 2016)”