Dylan Menzie “Lost in Dreams” (Independent, 2020)

Canadian singer-songwriter Dylan Menzie has been cooking up a storm over the past few years, picking up two nominations at the 2017 East Coast Music Awards as well as one more at the Canadian Folk Music Awards the following year. His latest album, Lost in Dreams’, is an inviting mix of vintage-tinged pop and some more classical-sounding Americana (or should that be ‘Canadacana’?). Continue reading “Dylan Menzie “Lost in Dreams” (Independent, 2020)”

AmericanA to Z: Simone Felice

When Simone was thirteen, he died. He flatlined in a frozen New York state January after suffering a brain haemorrhage. No one expected him to make it, but somehow he did. The doctors had to remove a part of his brain associated with music, art, and creativity. He should never have been able to play music, but somehow he did. Felice has spoken about this experience on stage, and about the resultant feeling that his life is borrowed, or somehow not his own. He speaks with a strangeness and intensity that seems to flow out of the depths of his very being. This same, almost spiritual, intensity is embodied in all his music, from the frenetic, joyful caterwauling of The Felice Brothers, to the intimate vulnerability of his solo records. He is Lazarus Presley. Risen from the dead to play rock’n’roll. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Simone Felice”

The Nautical Theme “Lows and Highs” (Independent, 2020)

The Nautical Theme are an indie-folk duo from Deyton, Ohio. Their second album ‘Lows and Highs‘, continues to develop the sound they established on the 2018 record ‘Float‘. That sounds is a fairly traditional indie-folk offering; piano, guitar, shuffling drum beats and harmony vocals. The whole thing has a nice pop polish to it without being too commercial. The harmonies in particular really lift the overall sound into something more than the sum of its parts.  Continue reading “The Nautical Theme “Lows and Highs” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: Caitlin Rose “Dallas”

Last week’s chain gang song was ‘House of my Soul‘ by Longhorne Slim. Longhorne Slim lives in Nashville, so I’ve gone for a geographical connection. As you can imagine, this opens up quite a lot of options… The track this week is ‘Dallas‘ by the brilliant Caitlin Rose, taken from her 2013 album ‘The Stand In‘. The song was written by the Felice Brothers and first appeared on their 2011 album ‘Celebration, Florida’. Plenty of potential connections there!

Arbouretum “Let It All In” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)

Baltimore based band Arbouretum’s latest offering is an eclectic mix of folk, blues, Americana and 70’s psychedelia. At its best it is fresh, nuanced and absorbing. At its worst it is a so-so retreading of well worn musical paths. Opening track ‘How Deep It Goes’ is a stylish political statement. Jangly guitars give the feeling of sun-dappled forests and reverb galore increases the trancelike atmosphere. This is Arbouretum at their best. Dave Heumann’s vocals pierce through the wall of sound but don’t overpower it. Everything sits in a perfect balance and the song clicks along wonderfully. Continue reading “Arbouretum “Let It All In” (Thrill Jockey, 2020)”

Your first week in isolation: Seven songs about loneliness

With working from home and self-isolation the new normal for the foreseeable, we’ve put together a soundtrack of daily tracks to get you through the first week. Feeling lonesome and blue? These artists are too… Continue reading “Your first week in isolation: Seven songs about loneliness”

KaiL Baxley “Beneath the Bones” (Antifragile, 2020)

“I’ve been running for such a long time”, sings KaiL Baxley on ‘Beneath the Bones’, the title track from his latest album. Indeed, it seems that he has, having lived a life that is almost filmic; full of highs and lows, strange characters and, finally, redemption. When he was a child his father ran out on him and his mother went to prison. He was raised by his grandfather. He came to know James Brown as a child as Brown was incarcerated in the same prison as his mother. They used to sing in the prison church. Continue reading “KaiL Baxley “Beneath the Bones” (Antifragile, 2020)”

Bonny Light Horseman “Bonny Light Horseman” (37d03d, 2020)

Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats), and Josh Kaufman (Josh Ritter, The National) formed Bonny Light Horseman in 2018 after being invited to play at the Eaux Claires festival in Wisconsin. The success of this show led them to an artist’s residency in Berlin, during which their self-titled debut began to take on a more solid form. Continue reading “Bonny Light Horseman “Bonny Light Horseman” (37d03d, 2020)”

The Epstein “Burn The Branches” (Zawinal Records/PinDrop Records, 2020)

the epstienOxfordshire natives The Epstein return for their third album, which transcends genre-limitations with surety and flair. To say they are an alt-folk band or an indie-rock band is probably accurate, but to put them in either of these pigeon holes is to overlook one of the best qualities of the band. Their ability to effortless combine and alter genre conventions makes this album brilliantly listenable – it manages to sound genuinely fresh in an immensely oversaturated part of the sonic-landscape. Continue reading “The Epstein “Burn The Branches” (Zawinal Records/PinDrop Records, 2020)”

Buffalo Jones “Standing By” (Independent, 2019)

Buffalo Jones have been releasing music and playing together for over ten years now, and their latest release is shot through with a suitably reflective tone. There are songs about loss, heartbreak, the realities of touring, and, through it all, the hope and joy of playing music with your friends. The band describes itself as a rock band with “just enough twang to keep it interesting”,  and they are in danger of selling themselves short.  Continue reading “Buffalo Jones “Standing By” (Independent, 2019)”