Well that’s a wrap from us this week everyone. Enjoy the blistering weather, hopefully while listening to the wonderful new Charley Crockett album (but spare a thought for the poor folks in Abadan, Iran Climate change is “fake news” of course…) We leave you anyway this week dear reader with a clip of Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell playing three songs from the former’s album to kick off Literary Hub’s new video performance series in support of Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that teaches reading and writing to thousands of low-income and marginalized students every year. “One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was when I was studying at Sewanee University in the south,” Shires said. “My professor, Andrew Hudgins — who is a fantastic and wonderful poet — told me that a lot of times when you’re writing, the actual start of where you think the start is isn’t at the start.” Find out more in the clip. Have a good one.
Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US. It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores. Sounding like The Faces let loose on a drunken, cross-country, road-trip through the American heartland on acid is San Francisco’s Howlin Rain, whose live shows are a mind-bending journey with attitude to spare. Continue reading “Americana Roots: Howlin Rain”
Our final video of the week is the premiere of the gorgeous ‘Indian Sign’ from Ags Connolly. His voice is beautifully resonant and melodic on this acoustic recording. ‘Indian Sign’ is from ‘Wrong Again’, Connolly’s acclaimed third album, originally released in November 2019. The English singer-songwriter is considered to be one of the UK’s finest on the country and Americana scene, known for his distinctive vocal and well-crafted songs and for remaining true to the the music’s traditional roots. Continue reading “Video Premiere: Ags Connolly “Indian Sign””
If you were going to rank US states for their contribution to music over the years, North Carolina would be right up there and for fifty years, Carrboro’s live venue Cat’s Cradle has been at the heart of it, but like many independent venues across the US, it’s now in trouble as a result of the pandemic. As a response to this, a new compilation comes out today via Bandcamp called ‘Cover Charge: NC Artists Go Under Cover To Benefit Cat’s Cradle’ which brings together some of North Carolina’s most notable artists across multiple genres but with a notable americana bent to support the venue including Chatham County Line, Hiss Golden Messenger, Iron and Wine, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers, Superchunk, Tift Merritt and The Mountain Goats among others. Each artist performs a cover version of a favourite song of theirs, with many recorded during the pandemic. Continue reading “Mandolin Orange and Hiss Golden Messenger support new North Carolina fundraiser compilaton”
This week we have been remembering the Chicago Race Riots of 1919 which occurred over a period of several days starting on 27th July. The event was part of a wider summer of unrest in the USA generally known as “The Red Summer”. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Wilco “Via Chicago””
This double album promises to explore the “emergent theme of duality”. Taken together the two records probe the same concepts from different perspectives. ‘The Rabbit’ is joyful mix of indie rock, folk and some funk. ‘The Owl’ is an altogether more daunting experiment that at times veers towards 1970s prog rock. Mighty Brother is a five-piece indie/folk band based in New Orleans formed around founders and core writers Nick Huster and Ari Carter. Musically their comparators are as diverse as Grizzly Bear, Radiohead, Bon Iver, the Decemberists and the Avett Brothers. Continue reading “Mighty Brother “The Rabbit, The Owl” (Independent, 2020)”
Eamon McGrath has produced a finely disturbing and edgy song in “Yellow Sticker” which creeps along at a stealthy pace, with the ever present threat of some form of attack. It’s like a noire movie in a few minutes from the opening “He’ll come knocking when he’s ready, you’d better get the door” through to the implied threat of “make sure the liquor shelf is bursting and all the beer is cold.” This is a man it is dangerous to not placate. Continue reading “Eamon McGrath “Yellow Sticker” – Listen”
It’s retro Friday and here is Americana royalty, The Flying Burrito Brothers. This is, of course, from the classic debut album, ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’. Though not a commercial success at the time, it was critically well-received for the way the band blended country, folk, rock, psychedelia and other genres. Countless artists since would cite The Flying Burrito Brothers as an influence. What makes this wonderful song and video performance stand out is the emotional vocal delivery from Gram Parsons. Iconic.
At AUK we are on a quest to find the ‘top 10 americana albums ever’. Over the last few weeks our writers have been going through the mental anguish of trying to narrow the whole history of americana down to just ten albums. When every writer has had their say, a shortlist of the most frequently chosen albums will be drawn up and voted on, in order to generate the definitive AUK writers top ten. This week we turn to one of our most senior writers. During a recent AUK writers zoom meeting, collective jaws dropped as he told us all of having seen The Beatles and The Rolling Stones within four days of one another! Enjoy the selections of Alan Fitter. Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Alan Fitter”
My good friend and longstanding AUK comrade Keith Hargreaves and I had a debate recently about the best and worst of The Jayhawks. To be fair, there was agreement that there wasn’t much “worst” but of the best alas the waters between us got choppier. For me, ‘Smile’ is a patchy album but one with some of the best songs the band ever recorded – ‘Better Days’ and ‘A Break in the Clouds’ being two such examples, but the title track too for me just has a melody and arrangement that 20 years on from the first time I heard it still feels magical. “Wake up, put your shoes on, Take a breath of the northern air – And rub those eyes” – the song’s opening lines which are essentially my average day. And in a strictly Northern sense, it’s perhaps a more Beatlesy album than anything that came before or after it, but no bad thing for that. Chin up.