Brand New Trash “Right in Front of You” (Independent, 2020)

With their new album ‘Right in Front of You’ Brand New Trash have fashioned a career-defining statement. Over the course of 34 short minutes the record morphs from making out like it wants to be the centrepiece of the jukebox in The Double Deuce into something much, much more interesting, provocative and genuinely exciting than that. This record offers a powerful account of the joy these guys clearly get from making music while also managing to take us on a journey to experience again the desires, yearning, disappointments and memories of our precious heart and soul. Continue reading “Brand New Trash “Right in Front of You” (Independent, 2020)”

Jason Molina “Eight Gates” (Secretly Canadian, 2020)

There’s a lot that could be said about this record; the fascinating and moving chronicles of Jason Molina that lead to its recording, the myths and tales Molina told (liaisons with Hendrix’s parakeets and poisonous spider bites for starters) to bolster its creation and the many personal and emotional echoes that inform its intensity.  That such a complex, simmering jumble of characters, stories and influences should yield such an unhurried, minimal and personally contemplative sounding record is testament to the artist that was Jason Molina. Continue reading “Jason Molina “Eight Gates” (Secretly Canadian, 2020)”

Ethan Daniel Davidson “Come Down Lonesome” (Blue Arrow Records, 2020)

Ethan Daniel Davidson’s latest album, ‘Come Down Lonesome’ is somewhere between his 8th and 11th LP (depending what you consider to be an actual LP) in a recording career stretching back to 1999. His output may have slowed somewhat in recent years with only three records since 2005 but it remains relatively stylistically consistent, drawing on standard country and folk-tinged Americana influences with washes of jazz, bluegrass and even vaudeville.  Continue reading “Ethan Daniel Davidson “Come Down Lonesome” (Blue Arrow Records, 2020)”

From one chord wonders to three chords and the truth: 10 artists who went from punk to country

I like to think that I’ve come to know Ramona well. Indeed I’d probably go so far as to say I’ve got a bit of a crush. Who wouldn’t carry at least a small torch for someone identifying as a ‘no-show Jones in Skateboard world’? It feels like she’s had a journey similar to mine, like we’ve made the same moves, thrashed around in the same mosh-pits, and used the same cheap eye-liner, badly. Continue reading “From one chord wonders to three chords and the truth: 10 artists who went from punk to country”

AmericanA to Z: Marah

It’s an age-old story; idealistic young things are awe-struck by the rhetorical and transformative power of rock n roll, which fills their head full of dreams and raises their eyes to the skies. They form a band and, with a burning belief in their own ability to communicate and connect through music, set out on their mission to conquer the world. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Marah”

Cinder Well “No Summer” (Free Dirt Records, 2020)

Getting to grips with ‘No Summer’, the distinctive second LP from Cinder Well is a tricky business, especially so if approaching it with little or no experience of the shadowy and complex underground scene from which it emerged. As such it takes time and effort to assimilate the experiences presented here and ultimately, after all this effort, what materialises is a record that can be admired for its commitment, artistry and emotional heft but remains stubbornly difficult to love. Continue reading “Cinder Well “No Summer” (Free Dirt Records, 2020)”

Barry Oreck “We Fit Together” (Ampersand Records, 2020)

Barry Oreck’s new EP; ‘We Fit Together’ is a ‘message’ record, which we know because he has told us so, in unequivocal terms. He has released the record earlier than planned because he believes in its ability to capture the zeitgeist and to speak ‘hard hitting’ truths to power “… five songs that are all highly relevant to the current situation”. Continue reading “Barry Oreck “We Fit Together” (Ampersand Records, 2020)”

Craig Gerdes “Tough as Nails” (Independent, 2020)

Make no mistake this is a country album, a no-nonsense, old fashioned honest to god working-man’s country record. And it’s as fine a one as you will hear this year: if not next year as well, and last year for that matter. It doesn’t flirt with other genres, it’s the sort of record about which people say things like (genuine but misappropriated quotes alert) “This is real country and this is what we’ve been yearning for” or Craig Gerdes has “saved us from Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and all the other sh*tty pop country garbage” or “At last, this young man is true country” or “why oh why don’t they make country like this anymore”. Or… whatever. Continue reading “Craig Gerdes “Tough as Nails” (Independent, 2020)”

Mike McKenna “At the Edge of the World” (Independent, 2020)

With his second LP Mike McKenna jr. has constructed an intricate and finely crafted piece of work that invites us to consider what he calls the “distinct local culture” of his home manor. Given that the location of the ‘manor’ in question is the island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada it seems entirely fitting that the record is called ‘At the Edge of the World’ and the soundscapes on offer perfectly capture the otherworldly yet hardscrabble nature of such remote locations. Continue reading “Mike McKenna “At the Edge of the World” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Lee Ann Womack “The Weight”

Jay Joyce is a reasonably well-travelled producer, a talented multi-instrumentalist and occasional songwriter who is perhaps, given his record, best suited to the first two of these activities rather than the third. He has worked with some cracking artists, some of our fav’s in fact cf. Radney Foster, Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Emmy-Lou and Gillian Welch as well as outside the genre with Iggy and Brendan Benson for example. Whilst he may not have been a part of the very finest work from any of these artists that’s still a potent career by anyone’s yardstick. Included in this list is the Brothers Osborne for whom he produced their 2017 LP ‘Port Saint Joe‘. Continue reading “AUK’s Chain Gang: Lee Ann Womack “The Weight””