Boathouse Keepers “Emperor of Oranges” (Backwater Records 2017)

If the lyrics to most popular music can usually be reduced to the essentials of “Baby I love you,” or “why did you leave me?” then you have to applaud the efforts of any musical act which chooses to put its songwriting focus on literature and history instead. Such is the case with Suffolk folk duo, Holly Johnston and Jonathan Coy, A.K.A. Boathouse Keepers, on this, their debut album, ‘Emperor of Oranges.’ Continue reading “Boathouse Keepers “Emperor of Oranges” (Backwater Records 2017)”

Album premiere: Whiskey in the Pines “Sunshine From the Blue Cactus”

While Whiskey in the Pines hail from Florida, synonymous with endless sunshine and miles of beaches, the ocean is still a long way from the band’s hometown Tallahassee (not so far from us here in Liverpool, although maybe without the endless sunshine). We’ve got a preview for you today of their new record: “Sunshine From The Blue Cactus” weaves together alt-country, folk and classic rock influences, with echoes of Son Volt and the Drive-By Truckers.  Continue reading “Album premiere: Whiskey in the Pines “Sunshine From the Blue Cactus””

Steve Hartsoe “The Big Fix Deluxe Edition” (Independent 2017)

Crashing into life with the big Pettyesque footstomper ‘Said and Done’ this album bursts forth on a wave of Californian country rock, a breezy West Coast sound from a breezy West Coast resident. A former rock journo returning to the music he used to make. ‘If I Had One Song’ is next up still ticking all the boxes and sounding very much like Bruntnell’s ‘Shot From a Spring’ but not quite as compelling and it’s probably the voice. The production is fine. Everything’s turned up to 10 .5 and mixed with a lovely sheen that does not stray into 80’s over production but keeps the guitars honest and the rhythm front and centre. Continue reading “Steve Hartsoe “The Big Fix Deluxe Edition” (Independent 2017)”

The Good Graces “The First Girl” – Listen

The Good Graces is the folk collective formed by Kim Ware in Atlanta back in 2007. The First Girl is taken from the band’s latest release, The Hummingbird EP, and takes a bold and unflinchingly honest view of relationships and how they can have a tendency to end. It’s open and unfiltered and if there’s blame on both sides well Kim Ware takes her share “I’m a sucker for a good story / But I always make a mess of my own / And I wish I could rewrite the ending / So nobody ends up all alone”.

The Americans @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 28th January 2018

“Where are they from?” asks a friend, when I announce that I’m going to see a band called The Americans. Not such a surprising question especially when so many Scottish acts name check former colonial places – Idlewild, Texas and the rest.  These Americans, from, er, California are on their first visit to Scotland, on a rainy Sunday night , playing Celtic Connections in the old church crypt at Oran Mor in Glasgow’s West End. They are promoting their 2017 album I’ll Be Yours and 2016 EP First Recordings on the Loose label. Continue reading “The Americans @Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 28th January 2018”

Ewan Cruickshanks “A Glasgow Band” (Armellodie Records 2018)

Ewan Cruickshanks is a keen supporter of the Glaswegian roots music scene, with a radio show affiliated to the local university, and February sees the release of his debut album. ‘Y.N.D. (Youth Never Dies),’ the instrumental only opening track sounds something like a collaboration between Sonic Youth and the Pixies, although it’s not typical of the rest of the album which could generally be filed under the heading ‘alternative/indie.’ Continue reading “Ewan Cruickshanks “A Glasgow Band” (Armellodie Records 2018)”

Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver lay into Bruno Mars

Well it’s always nice on a Tuesday morning to see bands falling out. Stereogum report: “Beardy folk men are apparently not big Bruno Mars fans. Earlier today, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver responded to Mars’ surprising Album Of The Year win at last night’s Grammys by tweeting, “Absolutely NO offense to Mr Mars, but you absolutely have to be shitting me.” Continue reading “Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver lay into Bruno Mars”

Glen Hansard “Between Two Shores” (Anti, 2018)

This is the third solo album from Glen Hansard, singer/songwriter, frontman for excellent Irish rockers The Frames and actor, forever famous as Outspan Foster, the guitar player in the film “The Commitments”. This is a man who gets around a bit. The Frames have been a big part of the Dublin music scene for many years, have put out seven well-received albums and have even toured as support act to Bob Dylan himself. He is also one half of The Swell Season, along with pianist Marketa Irglova.  In 2007 they wrote the music for and starred in the movie “Once”.  The song, Falling Slowly, from the film won the Academy Award for Best Original song. Glen Hansard has some serious musical credentials. Continue reading “Glen Hansard “Between Two Shores” (Anti, 2018)”

The Hanging Stars “On a Sweet Summer’s Day” – Listen

With four-part-harmonies and luscious twelve-string guitars London’s The Hanging Stars borrow a musical feeling from The Byrds for this perfect slice of psychedelic folk-rock.  On a Sweet Summer’s Day is from the band’s new album Songs For Somewhere Else which will hit the shops 9th of February.