The Hellfire Club, The Troubadour London, 20th July 2017

Full credit to sound guy Stacey, the venue owners and the staff for their enthusiastic running of this basement bar of a music venue in London’s West Brompton, the easy option to have the premises solely as a bohemian cafe/bar in the increasingly by the day gentrified area. First of the acoustic support acts is Elliot Pritchard with a very fine vocal and mix of earnest songwriter with British indie melodies. He was followed by Anglo Aussie duo Hux whose dual guitar upbeat riffing combined with fine harmonies was received well by the sold out crowd. The Headliners, the Glasgow based Hellfire Club can only yearn for a wide stage but tonight the eight piece (vocals/guitars/bass/drum/keys/fiddle/saxophone) daren’t move too much due to the small stage limitations. Continue reading “The Hellfire Club, The Troubadour London, 20th July 2017”

The Mountain Goats “Goths” (Merge, 2017)

Whatever concept inspires John Darnielle is almost incidental to the progress that he has made as a writer and performer. The last record was predicated on the sad tawdry circus of wrestling and this one on Goths. Both continue his development into one of the great contemporary songwriters. The sonic palette continues to expand – you might expect a record about Goth to subculture to in some way ape the genre but Darnielle sidesteps this smartly. There are a few musical Goth references but mostly the songs eschew guitars and synths and rely on the subtle shading of woodwinds. Continue reading “The Mountain Goats “Goths” (Merge, 2017)”

Offa Rex “The Queen of Hearts” (Nonesuch, 2017)

This is a really fascinating album. A collaboration between classic English Folk Singer and instrumentalist, Olivia Chaney and American Indie Rockers, The Decemberists, this is a recording filled with fine musicianship and vocal work that seems to celebrate the heyday of British Folk/Rock – if you think back to the early recordings of Steeleye Span, Sandy Denny era Fairport Convention and the likes of The Albion Band, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from Offa Rex. Continue reading “Offa Rex “The Queen of Hearts” (Nonesuch, 2017)”

Susan Cattaneo “The Hammer & The Heart” (Jersey Girl Records, 2017)

For her fifth release Boston singer songwriter Susan Cattaneo has pushed the boat out with a double album comprising 18 tracks. With the two discs independently titled The Hammer / The Heart it will come as no surprise that each disc has a distinctive feel to it. With the majority of tracks being either self-penned or co-writes and, with production credits for the whole album bar one track, Cattaneo clearly lacks neither talent nor a work ethic. Continue reading “Susan Cattaneo “The Hammer & The Heart” (Jersey Girl Records, 2017)”

Dickey Betts & Great Southern “Southern Rock Jam” (Retroworld Records, 2017)

Southern Rock Jam is a compilation of ten tracks, five each from Dickey Betts’ two albums for Arista – Dickey Betts & Great Southern and Atlanta’s Burning Down. These date to Betts’ first time out from the Allman Brothers Band in the late 1970’s, and the music is very much in the vein of his previous band. That’s to say Southern Rock with a touch of the electric blues – with twin lead guitars, one of them a slide. Dickey Betts made the smart long term decision to stick close to the formula and not be side-lined into pop-rock production. It may not have helped so much at the time – Dickey Betts & Great Southern performed reasonably well hitting the number 37 spot in the US charts but Atlanta’s Burning Down only crawled to 157 before stalling. The times, as they so often are, were a-changin’ and Southern Rock was already past its glory days. Taking the long view though there’s plenty of enjoyable moments on this best of selection.  Continue reading “Dickey Betts & Great Southern “Southern Rock Jam” (Retroworld Records, 2017)”

Banditos “Visionland” (Bloodshot Records, 2017)

Bursting forth from the grooves with the dynamic opener ‘Fine, Fine Day’ this album announces its presence with brio and verve. A fantastic piece of Stooges like driving rock so breathless that the vocals appear to be struggling to keep up. Second track ‘Strange Heart’ is completely different; a gothic noirish delight with some keening vocals set over an insistent sharp backing with some delightful swirling guitar flourishes. A Southern delight that would not have been out of place soundtracking the first True Detective series. And then it’s gone Continue reading “Banditos “Visionland” (Bloodshot Records, 2017)”

Maverick Festival, Easton Farm Park, Suffolk, 30th June-2nd July 2017

Ten years and ‘still kickin’’ according to this year’s t-shirt, Maverick is THE festival on the Americana calendar. it’s the one everyone wants to play and the yard stick by which other festivals  have measured themselves (and been inspired by). Now firmly branded as ‘Americana & Roots’ it started using the much missed tag ‘alt country’. With three indoor (well in tractor sheds and barns) stages and an afternoon outdoor stage on which Albert Lee was the headline its family friendly, with good chow and a hotch-potch of stalls. It’s only failing is its early close every night. Continue reading “Maverick Festival, Easton Farm Park, Suffolk, 30th June-2nd July 2017”