AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Mark Johnson

Last week we were considering the wide diversity of tastes that our writers have shown in their selections. As if to emphasise the point Manchester based AUK writer Mark Johnson has produced our first list where all ten artists are either female or partly female. The under-representation of female artists in these lists has been debated before and there are legitimate historical reasons for it. In a nutshell, women have for far too long been under-represented in all forms of music and americana is no exception. Therefore there are simply fewer female artists to choose from. I suspect that if we were to choose the top 10 albums of the 21st century there would be a far greater female representation and Mark’s list, all taken from the last twenty years, reflects that. It also goes a little way towards addressing another common criticism that there have not been enough more recent releases included, but that’s a whole different debate…. Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Mark Johnson”

‘The Twang Factor’ presents: Phil Hooley

Sadly we are coming to the end of our present series of ‘The Twang Factor’. Next week we will be giving you the opportunity to vote for your favourite act from the present series. The act receiving the most votes will then be invited to record a Twang Factor winner’s slot for us. ‘The Twang Factor 2’ will be launching in February 2021 with more great new and under-recognised acts. Continue reading “‘The Twang Factor’ presents: Phil Hooley”

AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Sean Hannam

Back in May when this series started, I kicked it off myself on the basis that you can’t ask colleagues to go through this hell without doing it yourself first. Looking back at that top 10, would I still pick the same records today? Some of them most definitely, others possibly not. Not because they are not great records, but because there are very many more great records that I would equally have been at home with including. Each writer has taken a different view on what to include; should it be a widely recognised classic or that personal record that may not have been so widely recognised, but does it for you? There are no wrongs or rights here. What is for certain, is that its been a fascinating process and frequently an education. Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Sean Hannam”

10 cool songs featuring The Devil

Back in April we published ’10 cool songs about Jesus’ and it proved to be immensely popular. So, in the spirit of our well-renowned adherence to,  ahem … the principles of balance and impartiality – or alternatively a naked attempt to garner more clicks, we now bring you ‘10 cool songs featuring The Devil’. Yes, we know that the blues is the devil’s music but fortunately for our purposes americana artists have also dabbled with demons, flirted with fire and brimstone, befriended Beelzebub, laughed with Lucifer and sung with Satan. So here are just 10 (ish) of the many that we had to choose from. Please add tour own fiendish suggestions in the comments box at the foot of the page. Continue reading “10 cool songs featuring The Devil”

‘The Twang Factor’ presents: M. Butterfly

Welcome to the penultimate edition of the first series of ‘The Twang Factor’.  This week’s artist is Martyn Moss from Brighton who performs under the name M. Butterfly.  In Martyn’s own words: “M. Butterfly is from Brighton and he plays very sad Americana songs very slowly. He has recurring nightmares of nuclear fallout. He is bisexual. He writes the words at the same time as the music. He thinks he’s a poet. He feels too much. He likes survival horror video games. He believes in UFOs. He thinks he can speak a lot more French than he actually can. He is often the support act. He loves Townes Van Zandt, PJ Harvey and Low and he might just be the man of your dreams.”

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AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Russell Murphy

Our unrelenting quest to identify the ‘top 10 americana albums ever’ moves unstoppably on. We have more road behind us than is left in front, but the last miles are set to be as thrilling and enthralling as anything that has gone before. No doubt we will see familiar and celebrated landmarks and the journey is also sure to unearth some little known beauty spots too. Only when this adventure is completed will we be able to look back, count the miles and pick out the highlights. Taking the wheel this week is Russell Murphy who drives himself around the bend, whilst expertly guiding us to some fascinating destinations: Continue reading “AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Russell Murphy”

Wills and the Willing “London Country” (Absolute Records, 2020)

Ian Wills, the driving force behind Wills and the Willing, has certainly led a colourful life. A heroin addict at 13, he survived a suicide attempt at 15. Later he made money as a wheeler-dealer, including famously flying to the USA to buy up a job lot of Former MI5 agent Peter Wright’s ‘Spycatcher’ book that the 1980s Thatcher government had banned in Britain, and then selling them on to people prepared to pay “stupid money” to obtain a copy. He is now an established business figure. Wills’ money and contacts have enabled him to assemble an impressive array of musicians to play on this his fourth album, including ex-Style Council member Mick Talbot. There are also guest appearances from ex-Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech on drums and footballer turned Hollywood actor Vinnie Jones on backing vocals. All very well I hear you say – but is it any good? Continue reading “Wills and the Willing “London Country” (Absolute Records, 2020)”

‘The Twang Factor’ presents: Marsh & The Reluctant Friends

This week’s ‘Twang Factor’ is the eighth in our first series of ten. Once all ten have been published, we will be asking our readers to vote for their favourite featured artist (don’t worry we’ll give you a reminder) to decide our first ever ‘Twang Factor’ winner.  The winning artist will then be invited to celebrate by recording a special winners slot for AUK. Continue reading “‘The Twang Factor’ presents: Marsh & The Reluctant Friends”

Otis Gibbs “Hosier National” (Wanamaker, 2020)

In the eighteen years that have passed since the 2002 issue of his debut album, ‘49th and Melancholy’ Otis Gibbs has released a succession of albums showcasing his witty, observational, political and storytelling songs that along with his superbly engaging live shows, have established him as a highly respected stalwart of the folk/americana genre. Paradoxically, it has perhaps been Gibbs’ adherence to the acoustic troubadour approach that has also limited his appeal and prevented his songs from being brought to a wider public. The release of ‘Hoosier National’ sees Gibbs move out of that particular niche by recording his first-ever, all-electric album which is arguably more accessible, whilst losing none of the craft or artistry of his distinctive songwriting. Indeed, the ease with which Gibbs transmutes from acoustic folkie to, melodic, soulful, blue-collar rocker only raises the question as to why he hasn’t dipped his toes into that particular pond somewhat sooner.

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AUK’s top 10 americana albums ever: Paul Campbell

In case you’ve joined us late, or just simply forgotten, here’s just a little reminder of what is going on in this feature. For the last few months the AUK writers have been scratching their heads, whittling down lists before changing them again one more time, in order to bring you their own personal selections of the ‘top 10 americana albums ever’. Once each writer  has had their say, a shortlist will be drawn up of the most commonly selected albums from which the writers will then choose our collective choices of the ultimate AUK top 10. This week’s selections come from one of our newer writers, Paul Campbell, who’d like to take you down the pub – if only!

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