Nikki & the Phantom Callers “Everybody’s Going To Hell (But You and Me)” (Tiny Tornado Records, 2020)

Nikki Speake is from Alabama, Nikki and the Phantom Callers is her band and they currently make Atlanta their home. These are not just simple biographical facts from the PR notes as a way in to the review – well actually they are, but they have more meaning here than just that. The notion that this is her band and that the heritage that built it (and her) is deeply Southern is fundamental to the sound of this record. Ensuring that it is as close as Speake has yet come to delivering her vision of the music she wants to create. Continue reading “Nikki & the Phantom Callers “Everybody’s Going To Hell (But You and Me)” (Tiny Tornado Records, 2020)”

Classic Americana Albums: Robbie Fulks ‘”Country Love Songs” (Bloodshot, 1996)

It’s late July 2019 and my latest Bloodshot records update drops through the electronic mailbox. My excitement is palpable. Finally, after 23 years, one of the finest records ever to pass through my CD laser beams was coming out on vinyl and I would be able to hear (and smell!) it in its full glory.  Robbie Fulks’ ‘Country Love Songs’ was about to become only the third album in my entire accumulation deemed so special as to be purchased on more than one format*. Continue reading “Classic Americana Albums: Robbie Fulks ‘”Country Love Songs” (Bloodshot, 1996)”

Songs for the Rehearsal

As AUK’s resident miserabilist (self-appointed, though there is clearly plenty of competition) I feel it is incumbent on me to offer some kind of alternative background music for the approaching doomsday scenario. Now I’m not saying that we are heading for the end of days, just that sometimes when you wake up and your day slowly blurs into focus, as you re-calibrate your circumstances it can certainly feel like it. Continue reading “Songs for the Rehearsal”

Alpha Mule “Blue Sky Blue” (Giant Meteor Records, 2020)

Alpha-Mule-2020So, is it possible to ‘do music’ as a side-line? Alpha-Mule are a self-identifying “Californian Americana band” – essentially the duo of Joe Forkan on guitars and vocals, and Eric Stoner on banjo and guitar. They have produced new music, spread over two lps, whilst pursuing actual full time salary paying careers in the visual arts and education. So a listen to these records may give some clue as to the answer to that question. This new music is their second outing following well received debut ‘Peripheral Vision’, released over two years ago. Continue reading “Alpha Mule “Blue Sky Blue” (Giant Meteor Records, 2020)”

Daddy Long Legs + Thee Windom Earles, The Lantern, Halifax, 2nd February 2020

Halifax has come up in the world don’t ya know, such that it has reached the giddy heights of (almost) favourable comparison to a minor neighbourhood in the eastern fringes of London; having been dubbed ‘Shoreditch of the North’ by Northerners who ought to know better. This moniker seems to rest on the availability of significant quantities of eye wateringly expensive DDH NEIPA and Imperial tonka bean, vanilla, chocolate and hazelnut Russian breakfast stout, together with a growing live music scene that is well stocked with both local and touring acts. One benefit of this seems to be that whilst independent venues may well be facing significant challenges across the country, in the Calder Valley we seem to get a new one each month. Continue reading “Daddy Long Legs + Thee Windom Earles, The Lantern, Halifax, 2nd February 2020”

Vera Van Heeringen “Won’t Be Broken” (Wood & Steel, 2020)

Look, there are a lot of acoustic-based female singer-songwriters out there who are recording and performing in the same arena as Vera Van Heeringen; no need to name them here as this review is part of VVH’s 15 minutes, not about them. Just check out the album reviews on AUK for 2020 so far if any confirmation is required. That Van Heeringen has made it to album number three must therefore count for something. ‘Won’t Be Broken’ has reached us via her birthplace and childhood home of the Netherlands, her current home in the English and Welsh borderlands and recording studios of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. It was produced and engineered by Dearne Valley legend Andy Seward, emphasising its zeitgeisty Northern Powerhouse credentials.
Continue reading “Vera Van Heeringen “Won’t Be Broken” (Wood & Steel, 2020)”

The Haden Triplets “The Family Songbook” (Trimeter Records/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

That ‘Family Songbook’ sounds so routinely Haden Triplets; just like we might expect it to if we’d heard (and enjoyed) their first album on Third Man Records, is perhaps something of a wonder. Despite the heft of the history, influences and associations that the sisters lug around with them their character still manages to shine remarkably brightly through the haze of the record. This has to be something that we would welcome from any artist and any record, indeed if it weren’t verging so close to being a ‘management speak’ cliché we might laud the LP’s ‘authenticity’. In this case however it is perhaps not always to the benefit of the record, but more of this later. Continue reading “The Haden Triplets “The Family Songbook” (Trimeter Records/Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets “When the Well Runs Dry” (Independent, 2020)

When the Well Runs dry’ is the debut album by Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets. They’re probably new to you (and me) but before we go into detail about them and the record let’s get three things clear: 1. This is a damn fine record. 2. It is not a concept record. 3. It is not a country record. We will get back to these in a moment but first a bit of bio. They were formed in 2017 in the town of Boon, nestled away in the mountains of North Carolina, by chief songwriter Jack Marion (vocals/guitar) along with college buddies and fellow Music Business Majors Chandler Bell (bass), and Marcus Clonts (drums). Since forming, they have added Owen Myers (Lead Guitar) and Matt Guard (Keyboard) and released an EP ‘The Devil and Me’ in 2018.
Continue reading “Jack Marion and the Pearl Snap Prophets “When the Well Runs Dry” (Independent, 2020)”

Beans on Toast “Inevitable Train Wreck” (Beans on Toast Music, 2019)

Beans on Toast may be a creature of habit, releasing, as he does, a new record each year on his birthday, December 1st. He’s been doing this for over 10 years now with his latest instalment, ‘The Inevitable Train Wreck’ being his 11th album. Over this time, Beans (or Jay McAllister as his mother probably calls him when she needs to give him a telling off) has recorded in a range of different studios with different producers, including Frank Turner and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons. Continue reading “Beans on Toast “Inevitable Train Wreck” (Beans on Toast Music, 2019)”