Seth Faergolzia “High Diver” (Blang, 2016)

seth Faergolzia 2016When I received this, I was intrigued. A bunch of songs taken from a larger bunch of songs, the results of a period where Our Seth was writing a song a day for a hundred days. Wow! Get that!, I thought. Let’s go! Press ‘play‘, “High Diver”: title track, good, decent; though something’s definitely off. Then “Rubbing It In” happens and there it is. Two tracks in and he’s had himself off. It made me think of the imperious Chilly Gonzales jamming with Kiwi ledges, Flight of the Conchords but sadly, it’s not. It’s a bad thing, and the cod Celtic mess that follows is worrying – despite saving itself after a couple of minute, I was left thinking, after the third song, “this guy’s made 20 albums? How come he doesn’t know what he’s good at yet?” because the absence of cohesion and identity just makes it a mess and unbelievable.  Continue reading “Seth Faergolzia “High Diver” (Blang, 2016)”

Laish “Pendulum Swing” (Talitres, 2016)

laishThese songs are laced in equal measure with cynicism and charm – at his best Danny Green can produce songs that are lyrically and musically spot-on. ‘Vague’ is a world weary slightly melancholic exploration of ageing with an insidious tune that pushes its way into my affections. It’s a kind of post-millennial slacker-rock, Malkmus by way of Richard Ford. Continue reading “Laish “Pendulum Swing” (Talitres, 2016)”

The Handsome Family “Unseen” (Loose Records, 2016)

handsome-familyUnseen is a good word to describe the Handsome Family – they are ludicrously underappreciated and often their songs deal with the internal world or take place in the darkness that from time to time envelopes us all, there or in the natural world, away from our eyes. We’re lucky that they continue to pursue their idiosyncratic vision and serve up their worldview for us to share. Perhaps typical of them is ‘Tiny Tina,’ a song about ultimately regretting going to see the world’s smallest horse at the State Fair. Continue reading “The Handsome Family “Unseen” (Loose Records, 2016)”

Kemper Norton “Toll” (Front and Follow, 2016)

Kemper Norton 2016My old boiler used to sound like ‘Mladic’ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, so the musicality in machinery’s tonal shifts and sighs, and how it can create melody, isn’t new to me and is, I believe, in our DNA. Try watching Bjork in Dancer in the Dark (without bawling) for another example, and it’s perhaps because of this that I enjoyed much of this record, but inevitably with music like this, there’s a rub, because if you can’t hear sadness and a deep, inexplicable weariness in the hum of your fridge freezer, or find the sound of your boiler oddly beguiling, you should probably stop reading here.  Continue reading “Kemper Norton “Toll” (Front and Follow, 2016)”

Keegan McInroe “Uncouth Pilgrims” (Independent, 2016)

keegan-mcinroe-2016‘Uncouth Pilgrims’ is Texas-based singer-songwriter Keegan McInroe’s fourth studio album. The fourteen songs on show deliver some great storytelling and musicianship. At first listen, some of the songs maybe don’t appear that original, with relatively familiar chords structures and feel. It might also be said that Keegan’s vocals aren’t necessarily the strongest. However, whilst his pitching might not always be musically perfect, it is offset by the gruff charm and style of his delivery. That and some great lyrics carry the day and repeated listens highlight more depth to the songs than is first apparent. Continue reading “Keegan McInroe “Uncouth Pilgrims” (Independent, 2016)”

Andy Ferrell “At Home And In Nashville” (Independent, 2016)

"Ferrell-Andy-2016"As football commentators love to say, “It’s a game of two halves” and the same goes for North Carolina’s Andy Ferrell’s debut album. Comprised of 12 songs the first six were recorded in Nashville with a band complement while the remainder are a capture of a solo show in his home town of Boone effectively reminding this reviewer of the days when one had to flip a disc over midway through listening. It’s not only the reminder of this old ritual that recalls the “good old days” when listening to At Home And In Nashville as Ferrell is yet another of these youngsters who are looking to singers and songwriters from the seventies for inspiration. Ferrell notes Townes Van Zandt as one of his heroes but on listening to the album there are reminders of Arlo Guthrie and Loudon Wainwright to be heard while the live tracks span a tradition that goes back to Woody Guthrie. Continue reading “Andy Ferrell “At Home And In Nashville” (Independent, 2016)”

Albert Af Ekenstam “Ashes” (Kning Disk, 2016)

"Ekenstam-Albert-2016"Ashes is the debut album from Albert Af Ekenstam, a Swede who seems to have been in various bands prior to this including “post rock” instrumental band Tempel and who cites as influences Bon Iver and Mogwai. One can see the influence of both here, haunting soundscapes as heard on soundtracks such Les Revenants are evident on the two instrumental tracks while Iver’s early hushed rusticana breathes on (almost literally) several of the songs. Continue reading “Albert Af Ekenstam “Ashes” (Kning Disk, 2016)”

Christian Kjellvander “A Village: Natural Light” (Tapete Records, 2016)

christian-kjellvanderChristian Kjellvander has created quite a body of work. He’s acquired the aura and weight of a performer that has a catalogue that is to be admired. In short, he’s earned respect. He’s also honed and refined his craft and here again his dark narratives (somewhere between Tindersticks, Richard Buckner and latter period Nick Cave) drip with atmosphere as he controls every nuance to wring out maximum impact from the songs. Continue reading “Christian Kjellvander “A Village: Natural Light” (Tapete Records, 2016)”

Steve Grozier “Take My Leave” (Batcat Records, 2016)

steve-grozier-2016Steve Grozier has had the four songs which make up the Take My Leave EP knocking around unrecorded for more than a decade. Not stuffed, half forgotten, in a draw like some embarrassing half finished first draft of a novel. Nope these songs which document the part of his life spent living in Toronto have remained in the Scottish singer-songwriters’ set lists, it’s just that they’ve been newly polished up through being played in a band setting. The presence of a rhythm section and additional guitars has changed them enough to make Grozier keen to record them – and it’s easy to hear why. Continue reading “Steve Grozier “Take My Leave” (Batcat Records, 2016)”

Wovenhand “Star Treatment” (Glitterhouse, 2016)

wovenhandIt’s to his credit that David Eugene Edwards has chosen to make his most difficult record for some while. It is midway through the third track, ‘The Hired Hand’ before the unremitting weight is leavened and this is by a chorus which is ‘give up your dead’ repeated. ‘Crystal Palace’ takes the Cure’s ‘Pornography’ as a starting point and achieves the difficult task of matching it for oppressive gloom. Continue reading “Wovenhand “Star Treatment” (Glitterhouse, 2016)”