Austin Lucas “Immortal Americans” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)

‘Immortal Americans’, the seventh studio album by Indiana native Austin Lucas, arrives on the back of several challenges and changes faced in his personal life. Having moved back to his hometown of Bloomington after a twenty-year absence, Lucas broke free from his record label, and also got sober. During this period, his partner discovered she had cancer, leading to an extended period in which he was the primary career for her. His songwriting, however, did not cease. The writing sessions on his acoustic guitar while his suffering lover was asleep in the next room has led to the more intimate feel of this calmed-down punk’s new record. Continue reading “Austin Lucas “Immortal Americans” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)”

Timber “The Family” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)

‘The Family’ is the debut release from Nashville-based Alabama duo, Timber. Formed almost by coincidence when Janet Simpson of the Delicate Cutters was recommended to Will Stewart of Willie & The Giant as a potential contributor, the collaboration went so well that they decided to write together, which led to the formation of this new project. The record begins promisingly with the melodic ‘Burying Ground’, as Stewart’s effortless croon combines with Simpson’s accompaniment on a beautiful chorus. The result is an alt-country classic in waiting. Continue reading “Timber “The Family” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2018)”

Jim Clements “A Failure” (Independent, 2018)

A record titled ‘A Failure’ is hardly likely to be brimful with positivity, however, Canadian singer-songwriter Jim Clements clearly prefers to deal with the darker side of life.  His fourth record is a completely introspective affair, and Clements has had total control over the creative process with this being his first self-produced release. The writing style is almost entirely delivered from a first-person perspective, and Clements adopts various personas over the eight tracks. Continue reading “Jim Clements “A Failure” (Independent, 2018)”

O&O “Truth Comes Out” (Independent, 2018)

‘Truth Comes Out’ is the debut EP from London-based duo O&O. Comprising of Orian Peled and Obadiah Jones. The pair, who originally hail from Israel and Colorado respectively, have an interesting backstory from meeting at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and getting a one-on-one songwriting session with Sir Paul McCartney, through performing on Caribbean cruise ships while they sorted out visa issues, to performing at the O2 Arena in their current home city, Peled and Jones have experienced more in their thus far short existence than most acts experience in their lives. Continue reading “O&O “Truth Comes Out” (Independent, 2018)”

Matt Krahula & The Nightmare River Band “Stormville” (Independent, 2018)

‘Stormville’ is the third release from New York City’s Matt Krahula & The Nightmare River Band. The three-piece already have a diverse back catalogue, having covered punk on their debut ‘Call The Cops!’, before going a tad more melodic on sophomore record ‘Last Goodbye’. Their latest record follows on in the vein of the latter and settles on an alt-folk style with dashings of Americana. Opener ‘Tonight’ stomps into action, delivering a choral singalong chorus. ‘Arkansas To NYC’ is the first real genuine highlight, gradually building before a grandiose chorus featuring a brass section. The horns remain on ‘Hey Now’ which follows, however, do not give the same effect. Let down by a simplistic melody, it is a poor man’s Lumineers. Continue reading “Matt Krahula & The Nightmare River Band “Stormville” (Independent, 2018)”

Kris Gruen “Coast & Refuge” (Mother West, 2018)

‘Coast & Refuge’ is the fourth studio album from Vermont native Kris Gruen, following 2013’s critically-acclaimed ‘New Comics From The Wooded World’. It’s been an eventful few years for the singer-songwriter, sharing stages with the likes of Jesse Malin and Alejandro Escovedo, as well as contributing a track to feature film All These Small Moments, which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Continue reading “Kris Gruen “Coast & Refuge” (Mother West, 2018)”

Deep Gold “Deep Gold” (Independent, 2018)

Singer-songwriter Deep Gold already has some reputation to live up to ahead of the release of his self-titled debut record. The former JOAN frontman has received comparisons to a holy trinity of legendary artists – Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. The record begins brightly, with the initially upbeat ‘Don’t Worry’, drifting along unassumingly before reaching a grandiose chorus featuring a brass section triumphantly blaring over a hollering chorus. The bluesy stomp of ‘Hot Dogs For Sale’ follows, and is an early highlight. It oozes a dive bar sleaziness, perfectly suiting Deep Gold’s raspy delivery. Continue reading “Deep Gold “Deep Gold” (Independent, 2018)”

Nickel & Rose “Americana” (Independent, 2018)

‘Americana’ is the latest release from Milwaukee duo Nickel & Rose, following on from last year’s acclaimed ‘Oh Sweet Love’ EP. The new record sees the duo follow a more introspective path, which garners some interesting results. The title track sees co-vocalist Carl Nichols questioning where he belongs within the parameters of Americana – being a racially-diverse artist coupled with the love/hate relationship with performing the music that he loves. He sings “I thought this was for everyone, not just the few, but I guess you won’t be satisfied until it all belongs to you” in a stinging tirade against the barriers facing him within the genre. Using art to vent his anger, the track itself is a sonically gorgeous Americana song, with glorious finger-picked guitar, in contrast to the anger which emanates from the lyrics. Proof, if it was ever needed, that race has zero relevance to authenticity within the genre. Continue reading “Nickel & Rose “Americana” (Independent, 2018)”

Treetop Flyers “Treetop Flyers” (Loose Music, 2018)

Londoners, Treetop Flyers, return with their eponymous third album, continuing where they left off with their excellent 2016 release ‘Palamino’.  The decision to make this record self-titled is more than apt, as it is the most confident that Treetop Flyers have sounded in themselves yet, largely following a formula of dreamy, mellow 60s-style melodies interspersed with dashings of psychedelia. Continue reading “Treetop Flyers “Treetop Flyers” (Loose Music, 2018)”

Sarah Streitz “Yesterday’s Child” (Independent, 2017)

‘Yesterday’s Child’ is the sophomore release from Minneapolis singer-songwriter Sarah Streitz. Produced by Greg Schutte, whose previous credits include Ryan Bingham, Streitz looks to build on the reputation garnered from her solid 2015 debut ‘Take One’. What is immediately striking is Streitz’s defiant, piercing vocal. The type of commanding vocal which grabs the listeners attention instantaneously. On the opening ‘Baggage Claim,’ this is complemented by some excellent pedal steel and harmonious backing vocals, getting the record off to a strong start. Continue reading “Sarah Streitz “Yesterday’s Child” (Independent, 2017)”