Happy Abandon “Severed Seams” – Listen

Is Happy Abandon the point where Mumford & Sons meet Mogwai ? Perhaps, but Severed Seams – the latest track to be released from Happy Abandon’s upcoming album Facepaint – is a stirring blend of banjo and drum indie-folk mixed with enormous crescendo hitting orchestral rock. However, Peter Vance (vocals & guitar) is quick to point out that Facepaint is not a breakup album. He explains “if the album were to have a subject, it would be the relationship a person has to loss and loneliness, which can manifest itself through breakups, homelessness, familial abandonment, and death”. In other words – it’s just the kind of cheerful stuff that’s food and drink to the Americana-UK crowd.  The album is out on 25th August 2017 via Schoolkids Records.

 

Viper Central “The Spirit of God & Madness” (Independent, 2017)

Viper Central have been known as a first-rate Bluegrass band since their debut album The Devil sure is hard to please appeared in 2008, but this latest release – Viper Central’s third album – sees them heading off in some new directions. The Canadian quintet have taken the bold step to incorporate a more modern folk band feel onto several new tunes, as well as some western swing (the Mariachi trumpet infected Losing My Mind) and country-folk, it certainly makes for an eclectic mix and something quite different from their previous offerings. Continue reading “Viper Central “The Spirit of God & Madness” (Independent, 2017)”

Rainbrother, Paper Dress Vintage, London, 31st July 2017

Paper Dress Vintage is a relatively new venue in Hackney, downstairs is a vintage clothing shop cum bar, by day upstairs is more clothing and a yoga studio but by night it’s an intimate venue to catch a mix of new and upcoming bands as well as the occasional better known visitor. Like Rainbrother. Continue reading “Rainbrother, Paper Dress Vintage, London, 31st July 2017”

Minor Poet “Judith Beheading Holofernes ” – Listen

Minor Poet is Richmond (Virginia) based musician Andrew Carter who has recorded an album – And How! – which is a testament to the beauty of music found in the most unexpected places.   It’s his debut solo album and was written, performed, and recorded entirely by him over roughly two months.  Judith Beheading Holofernes is the first track to be shared – there are hints of the harmonies of the Beach Boys or The Zombies, and more than a touch of Josh Ritter in the lyrics.  It’s lethargically melodic, and completely devoid of graphic descriptions of head removal (which is something of a bonus).

Scott Vestal Wins Steve Martin Banjo Prize

As reported in the truthful and successful New York Times, the recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass was announced last weekend as being Scott Vestal. Scott Vestal took to the music in the time honoured manner – from his grandfather, a fiddler, and began his professional career at age 18 playing with the bluegrass musician Larry Sparks. In the almost 40 years since, he has played banjo in a number of influential bluegrass bands. Continue reading “Scott Vestal Wins Steve Martin Banjo Prize”

Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers “Caroline” – Listen

Steve Martin – officially the world’s coolest banjo player and the only one to sponsor a major annual Banjo music prize whilst also holding down other day jobs such as acting, writing books and collecting modern art – has a new long awaited album coming soon.  It’s called The Long Awaited Album, and also features Steve’s good bluegrass buddies The Steep Canyon Rangers.  The first song to be released from this is Caroline which is a typically idiosyncratic take on a break-up song.  It doesn’t rock, but it does Bluegrass.

Storm the Palace “The Moon above Villiers Street” – Listen

Sometimes music doesn’t come quickly – it takes time to mature, to be just right.  Sophie Dodds knows this, having spent nine years getting the songs on Storm The Palace’s debut album Snow, Stars and Public Transport just so very right – as this song demonstrates so admirably. Originally from Edinburgh, Sophie used her time in London to write and create vignettes of her life; snapshots of the people who passed through it and how the city’s unfolding narratives impacted upon her.  The Moon Above Villiers St creates a tension-filled atmosphere through the use of a 7/8 time signature and fills the space with some hard-hitting lyrics “The politics of envy / The politics of greed / never lift a finger until you’re the one in need”.  It’s a memorable song.

Dickey Betts & Great Southern “Southern Rock Jam” (Retroworld Records, 2017)

Southern Rock Jam is a compilation of ten tracks, five each from Dickey Betts’ two albums for Arista – Dickey Betts & Great Southern and Atlanta’s Burning Down. These date to Betts’ first time out from the Allman Brothers Band in the late 1970’s, and the music is very much in the vein of his previous band. That’s to say Southern Rock with a touch of the electric blues – with twin lead guitars, one of them a slide. Dickey Betts made the smart long term decision to stick close to the formula and not be side-lined into pop-rock production. It may not have helped so much at the time – Dickey Betts & Great Southern performed reasonably well hitting the number 37 spot in the US charts but Atlanta’s Burning Down only crawled to 157 before stalling. The times, as they so often are, were a-changin’ and Southern Rock was already past its glory days. Taking the long view though there’s plenty of enjoyable moments on this best of selection.  Continue reading “Dickey Betts & Great Southern “Southern Rock Jam” (Retroworld Records, 2017)”

Hammydown “Automatic Sweetheart” – Listen

Driven to ditching her acoustic guitar by an endless series of broken strings, Abbie Morin switched from her folk-rock persona to the Fender Jazzmaster sound of new project Hammydown.  It’s the quirky garage-pop that could get filed alongside the B-52s or They Might Be Giants .  The new EP – Pizzaface – captures the sound of the millennial slacker – those who button up and drag their way through the working week whilst trying to pursue creative passions, but still just feel like losers who are stuck in a series of service industry jobs and a rotating roster of bosses who helpfully tell you “it doesn’t cost anything extra to give service with a smile”.  Happy Monday!  

The Sadies land in the UK this Fall

On the back of their most recent release, Northern Passages, The Sadies will be returning to the UK for a short series of dates at the end of October.  The Sadies – singer/guitarists Dallas and Travis Good, bassist Sean Dean and drummer Mike Belitsky – exploded onto the North American music scene 20 years ago and were instantly raised to the rarefied pantheon of alt-country greats.  It’s a position they’ve maintained with the release of every new collection of songs – and Northern Passages (granted 8/10 right here on Americana-UK) does nothing to stop this stream of deserved adulation. Continue reading “The Sadies land in the UK this Fall”