Mount Song “Mount Song” (Suncave Recordings, 2017)

You know that hazy rock sound, the one where the songs seem to drift along on a kind of medicated meander? That’s what Mount Song do. They never push too hard the songs that aren’t suffused with energy; they’re more a close your eyes watch the patterns form on the back of your eyelids kind of a band. They are Swedish (I don’t think that matters) led by Jacob Johansson, but they could be from anywhere, they could be from Oklahoma. I think the Flaming Lips (pre Soft Bulletin) are an influence and there are also echoes of Radiohead – Wake Up has that feeling, it simmers along bursts into choruses, while Guitar on Fire is a smoulder rather than a blaze. Continue reading “Mount Song “Mount Song” (Suncave Recordings, 2017)”

Sarah Jane Scouten “When The Bloom Falls From The Rose” (Light Organ Records 2017)

Opening with the stately ‘Acre of Shells,’ this album sets its stall out from the very off, with crystal clear production illuminating each instrument and elevating the Patsy Cline like vocals to front and centre. This is even evident in the scuzzy, garage rock style second track ‘Bang, Bang’, a shouty, rocky nonsense that leavens the staid pill of track one. This is echoed by the similarly upbeat ‘Paul’ but otherwise this album is more about reflections in a traditional folky/ country style. Continue reading “Sarah Jane Scouten “When The Bloom Falls From The Rose” (Light Organ Records 2017)”

Matt Waldon ”Grow Up” (Independent, 2017)

In many ways beginning a record with an instrumental track is a big risk in the days of instant gratification and snap judgements on an artist. However, if you have stumbled across Matt’s music you are likely not to be the kind of listener who is so fickle, since Waldon’s craft is not of sexy radio singles, but of heavy-hitting music bordering on Rock. 7 Beers is our first taste of him as a vocalist, and with a driving electric guitar and drum rhythm, his grungy, gravely vocals match the style very well, much like Steve Earle can on some of his rockier tracks. Similarly, 14 Rooms has a rock vibe, albeit with a more melodic guitar backing and slightly softer vocals. Continue reading “Matt Waldon ”Grow Up” (Independent, 2017)”

Mekons “Existentialism” (Bloodshot, 2017)

It would be a terrible thing were you to be unfamiliar with The Mekons. Over almost 40 years they’ve recorded more than 20 albums of punky, post-punky and folky music that is at worst okay, generally very good and occasionally excellent (see 1989’s The Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll, for example). That said, if you are indeed unfamiliar with The Mekons, this is either the best place to start, or the worst. Recorded shortly after composition, these 12 songs were recorded in one take around a single microphone in July 2015 with 75 die-hard Mekons, fans who themselves become part of the process, at the Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn. Part performance art, part album.  Continue reading “Mekons “Existentialism” (Bloodshot, 2017)”

Dan Raza ”Two” (Independent, 2017)

Growing up in the Home Counties to British & Indian descent, Dan Raza is a soft-sounding songwriter of sincere disposition. His record ”Two” is an impressive mix of musical styles and instrumentation, from the electric organ to the accordion and fiddle. This creates an interesting listen and an intriguing record. Silent’s The Night Wind kicks off the record, with an acoustic, sincere vibe. This is a good introduction to Dan as a writer and musician, with a whole host of influences, from celtic folk to the classic rock organ. This erupts in Payday which is a blues-rock song with a slight twist of heavy fiddle in the verses and Dan’s vocals not quite possessing the depth or grit to make it quite as deep as Rock ‘n  Roll goes. Continue reading “Dan Raza ”Two” (Independent, 2017)”

Alex Seel ”Circles EP” (Independent, 2017)

Native of the UK, Alex Seel has been steeped in folk music, and this is audible in the guitar playing on this ”Circles EP”, especially in the title track kicking off the EP. With gorgeously rich picking and with vocals almost secondary, this feels quite authentic and without polish. There is more of a full beat on Broken Faucet, which adopts more percussion and bass to create a richer sound. There is also a bit more bounce and power in the vocals, particularly in the chorus which uses more different rhythms to keep the listener interested. Continue reading “Alex Seel ”Circles EP” (Independent, 2017)”

Alice Howe “You’ve Been Away So Long” (Fish Records, 2017)

Alice Howe’s journey as a musician takes in all points of the compass. Hailing from Boston, she recorded her new EP on the opposite coast of the US in Seattle. And while the record traces her time in the Pacific Northwest the influences she cites look hundreds of miles to the south to the Californian Laurel Canyon of Joni Mitchell. To her name could easily be added another – and with it a move back east to Nashville – Gillian Welch. In which case, the Dave Rawlings to Howe’s Welch is multi-instrumentalist Jeff Fielder whose plaintive guitar augments her songs’ emotions or articulates what the words cannot or dare not say.  Continue reading “Alice Howe “You’ve Been Away So Long” (Fish Records, 2017)”