Parkland Music Project “Eminent Ghosts” (Offseason Records, 2020)

Eminent Ghosts‘ is a concept album roughly located where psychedelic rock intersects with alt-country. The whole album consists of only five extended tracks which collectively form around a central narrative using avant-garde sonic landscapes. Parkland Music Project is a Vancouver based group led by Rob Malowany, with a regular lineup additionally featuring Neko Case collaborator Paul Rigby on pedal steel and acoustic guitar. The recordings are a labour of love where the tracks feature live takes with minimal overdubbing, most notably with the vocals as Malowany responds to and inspires the direction of a given performance. The album is not exactly a singalong, but the efforts are unmistakably sincere, with an emotional intensity reminiscent of Jason Molina. Continue reading “Parkland Music Project “Eminent Ghosts” (Offseason Records, 2020)”

The Nude Party “Midnight Manor” (New West Records, 2020)

It seems like a long two years since the release of their eponymous album, so it is a considerable relief to find that The Nude Party have lost none of their enthusiasm despite relocating to a farm in the Catskills and spending a huge amount of the intervening time on tour. Their latest release swaggers into the room with the self-assured sound that only a young band can make, this is not a thing that can be easily imitated – somewhere along the way age mitigates the optimism. They continue to generate their own classic rock and roll sound, with just the right amount of indie influence to impart a sense of development and continuity. If you dissect their efforts, the most obvious comparisons are to the Rolling Stones, the Velvet Underground and glam era T. Rex or Bowie with a smattering of country-rock steel guitar on top. Continue reading “The Nude Party “Midnight Manor” (New West Records, 2020)”

Felix Hatfield “False God” (Fangbite Records, 2020)

Felix Hatfield is the type of artistic polymath that you don’t meet every day. His creative works of madcap art and surrealist music over the last 25 years are unconstrained by genre and comprise of silent films, cardboard characters, junk robots and music that has ranged from jug bands to punk bands. His latest work ‘False God’ has been recorded in “The Batfield Library”, his basement studio in Portland with the help of some passing friends. Continue reading “Felix Hatfield “False God” (Fangbite Records, 2020)”

Bill Brimer “A Genealogy of Ghosts” (Independent, 2020)

A Genealogy of Ghosts’ is the debut solo album from Bill Brimer. In early 2018 he challenged himself as a songwriter to release an original song a month, which resulted in a significant musical canon to support a regular touring schedule of “bars, coffee shops, festivals, conferences, weddings, funerals and churches”. Covid-19 inevitably put a stop to that, but it has lead to him recording the songs for this release. Continue reading “Bill Brimer “A Genealogy of Ghosts” (Independent, 2020)”

Bob Hillman “Inside and Terrified” (Lap Cat Music, 2020)

It is still novel to see songwriting directly addressing our experiences surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and its relationship with the rapidly changing natural environment. ‘Inside and Terrified’ was home-recorded over a six month period during lockdown in a process whereby the band never got to play in the same room. It has deliberately been released while that memory is fresh. Continue reading “Bob Hillman “Inside and Terrified” (Lap Cat Music, 2020)”

Nick Costa “Tell My Mother I Love Her” (Nick Costa Music, 2020)

Pain, loneliness and despair have often driven the creative muse and this is currently the case for Nick Costa. The end of a long term relationship provides the point of reference for his latest work. ‘Tell My Mother I Love Her’ is his second album of original songs, with his previous releases being ‘Devastator’ and a moody covers version of Blink 182’s ‘Enema of the State’. On this recording Nick flexes his multi-instrumental musical talents by performing all vocals, guitars, bass, piano, organ, synth, mellotron, and even some of the percussion. The resultant sound is slow tempo, dark indie-pop. Continue reading “Nick Costa “Tell My Mother I Love Her” (Nick Costa Music, 2020)”

Sleepy Gaucho “Morning Light” (Hear Here Records, 2020)

Morning Light’ is the second album by multi-instrumentalist Andy Goitia. This essentially appears to be a solo album giving Andy the space to explore sonic opportunities with the aid of friends, session musicians and most notably, Patrick Sansone of Wilco. Sleepy Gaucho is appropriately self-described as contemporary cowboy music, with their style being consistent with their name. The resultant sound is fuzzy-edged, dreamy psychedelic country music which sounds like it might have resulted had Gomez ever recorded a session with George Harrison. Continue reading “Sleepy Gaucho “Morning Light” (Hear Here Records, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Wilco “Via Chicago”

The previous Chain Gang offering was Dale Watson’s ‘Tucumcari Here I Come’ which required a search to learn was on ‘More Songs of Route 66: Roadside Attractions’. The choices available to link to songs relating to US routes and highways in Americana must be almost infinite. Obviously one option would be to revisit Highway 61 but even if you choose to stick on Route 66 then you have a choice of classics like ‘Well I’m Standing on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona’ which now has a park dedicated to it. Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: Wilco “Via Chicago””

Robert Francis and The End Times “Vol. 1” (Aeronaut Records, 2020)

Vol. 1’ is a curious title for an album by an artist with such a long track record, giving fair warning that there is a new avenue that Robert Francis is going to explore. With the release of ‘Amaretto’ and ‘Vol. 1’ being only months apart it is perhaps inevitable that there is relationship between these two records. The former is Americana recorded in Nashville, the latter is firmly rooted in nineties indie-rock. Continue reading “Robert Francis and The End Times “Vol. 1” (Aeronaut Records, 2020)”

Jenny Reynolds “Any Kind of Angel” (PrettyOkay, 2020)

Jenny Reynolds relocated from New England to Texas in 2003. This is her fourth release and it affirms her status as an integral part of the Austin music scene. Her latest work sits effortlessly within the Americana genre combining strong storytelling lyrics with fingerpicking folk guitar and sublime vocals. The supporting cast of musicians includes Jaimee Harris (harmonies), Scrappy Jud Newcomb (strings), BettySoo (harmonies and mandolin) and Warren Hood (fiddle) amongst numerous others. All the players fit comfortably together to provide an easy structure where the songs unfold without ever feeling too controlled or driven. Jenny observed that “Generally the people I like to play and record with are people who listen to others as much as they listen to themselves, much like jazz musicians do. We may not be playing jazz, but we are responding to each other with that kind of attentiveness and creativity”. Continue reading “Jenny Reynolds “Any Kind of Angel” (PrettyOkay, 2020)”