Eric Westbury “Atomic Wilderness” (Barreltown Records 2017)

There is something immediately striking about this album; that feeling of familiarity and reassurance you only really get when hearing something for the first time that just “sounds right”. And Atomic Wilderness certainly sounds right. It’s the third release by the Vancouver-based artist Eric Westbury, a gravel-voiced purveyor of Americana with a hint of Punk and a lot of keen social observation. If you like your songs tight, well-crafted and punchy, Eric Westbury is your man. First track The Cavalcade is a bouncing, easy melody that sets the scene for a hugely impressive group of songs.  Continue reading “Eric Westbury “Atomic Wilderness” (Barreltown Records 2017)”

Matt Patershuk “Same As I Have Ever Been” (Black Hen Music 2017)

The back cover portrait photo for Matt Patershuk’s new album may make you recoil in horror at the super clichéd Americana-ness on display. Farmyard, haystack, dogs, Telecaster, beard and hat. All are squeezed in. Fear not – they’re actually his own dogs and his own rural Alberta farmyard. Safe to assume the guitar and beard belong to him too. Despite this early alarm, Same As I Have Ever Been is a damn fine record. Continue reading “Matt Patershuk “Same As I Have Ever Been” (Black Hen Music 2017)”

Jon C Butler “Universal Stranger” (Strataville, 2017)

Jon C Butler has had a lengthy career with his band Diesel Park West most noted for their critically acclaimed debut ‘Shakespeare Alabama’ released some 25 years ago. His newest output and debut solo album ‘Universal Stranger’, puts a modern spin on a retro sound – using lyrics and themes from 2017 against a backdrop of 70’s or 80’s sounding production and as a whole, that sound works. First track When The Walls Went Down is reminiscent of Dylan’s work with the band, kicking out with a purposeful almost spoken-word vocal and slides into the more melodic Each Other a steady paced song that is lyrically, highlighting the importance of realising we are all in this together which seems to be a message threaded throughout the record as a whole. Continue reading “Jon C Butler “Universal Stranger” (Strataville, 2017)”

Jim McHugh “Noise Machine” (Independent, 2017)

A native of Monaghan, Ireland, Jim McHugh is, as the name of his debut album suggests, a bit of a thrash merchant at times. The opening song, Hills Of Mullyash crashes into view with distorted guitar blasts before heading off in a power trio direction as McHugh sings of a freedom fighter gunned to death and the song thrashes around as if reflecting his death throes. Continue reading “Jim McHugh “Noise Machine” (Independent, 2017)”

Valparaiso “Broken Homeland” (Zamora, 2017)

This French collective rose from the corpse of Jack the Ripper (the French Band – named for the Nick Cave song) and provide a particularly Gallic flavoured brand of Americana. The four corners of their world are populated by Giant Sand, Spain (both Howe Gelb and Josh Haden guest), PJ Harvey and the Tindersticks, so it’s slow burning Desert rock with an overcoat and a bucketful of attitude. It’s produced by John Parish (who also appears) and it sounds beautifully organic, suffused with as much atmosphere as a Joseph Conrad novel. Continue reading “Valparaiso “Broken Homeland” (Zamora, 2017)”

The Wynntown Marshals “After All These Years” (Independent, 2017)

After almost ten years since their formation and three full length albums as well as countless EP’s into their career, The Wynntown Marshals have decided to stop and celebrate their output in the form of half-retrospective, half-greatest hits ‘After All These Years’ whilst treating us to two new tracks and a re-recorded version of an older track with the groups most current line-up. Continue reading “The Wynntown Marshals “After All These Years” (Independent, 2017)”

Mo Kenney “The Details” (Pheremone Records, 2017)

“The Details” is the fascinating third album from multi award winning Canadian singer-songwriter Mo Kenney. Kenney was discovered by noted Canadian rocker, Joel Plaskett, while she was still at school and released her debut eponymous album in 2012. While that album was still groaning under the weight of awards and award nominations she put out her second album, 2014’s “In My Dreams”, which also attracted awards nominations by the bucket load, including a Nova Scotia Music Award Winner for Recording of the Year. At a tender age it’s fair to say that Mo Kenney is already a well-established name in her native Canada, even if she’s yet to make a major impact wider afield. Continue reading “Mo Kenney “The Details” (Pheremone Records, 2017)”