William Blackart “Return” (Independent, 2018)

Opening in fine style with ‘Devil may Care’ this album promised much. A great opener, all discordant slashes of electric guitar and gravelly vocals set over a melancholy acoustic figure. Terrific. The following track lowers expectations with its anodyne acoustic offering wherein Blackart’s voice is the only outstanding highpoint. A treacly, old as the hills, lamenter. Continue reading “William Blackart “Return” (Independent, 2018)”

Jack Lukeman “Magic Days” (Independent, 2019)

A big sprawling album of styles and influences this is Lukeman’s latest foray into the album market in a career that is bejewelled with high points and successes. First breaking through in the late nineties he enjoyed great success Stateside and in Europe with a series of albums that took college radio by storm as well as producing an album of Randy Newman covers that he performed in a series of live shows with the Brooklyn Philharmonic and garnered praise from the man himself.  Continue reading “Jack Lukeman “Magic Days” (Independent, 2019)”

Laura Merrimen “This Time And From Now On” (Independent, 2018)

Laura Merrimen opens her third album in full on Lucinda Williams mode. A slow, smoky, southern gothic drawl which highlights some deft songwriting allied to some elegiac violin. Big on atmosphere, it lulls the listener into a false sense of intrigue. The following track is far more straightforward. ‘As the Crow Flies’ is a gallop, all country and folky splashes. Continue reading “Laura Merrimen “This Time And From Now On” (Independent, 2018)”

The Yearlings “Skywriting” (Sonic Rendezvous, 2018)

Hailing from that mecca of Americana …..Utrecht, I give you The Yearlings with their latest, long-gestating release – 3rd album in 16years! – “Skywriting“. Not an obvious location for an album chockful of big songs that speak of big skies and carry breezy melodies by the score. Think  – The Dunwells or The Whybirds – these are Pettyesque songs played with brio and verve and the harmonies really chime. But the joy is in the production details. ‘New Job’ features some subtle but highly effective pedal steel, ‘My Deliverance’ has vocals that bounce along as double tracked reverb-soaked harmonies whilst the guitars ramp up, ‘Evelene (You’ve Got To Know It)’ allows a Wilburyesque guitar line lead the listener to a Jayhawks/Byrds chorus.  Continue reading “The Yearlings “Skywriting” (Sonic Rendezvous, 2018)”

Jesse Matas ”Tamarock” (StoNote, 2018)

With its opening that feels like a lost track from Bill Callaghan on a song with Nicolai Dunger on the ‘Tranquil Isolation‘ sessions, the listener is immediately hooked. ‘Tamarack’ (the song concerned) is a delight that gently unfolds with stately vocals and the sweetest of piano highlights that play gossamerlike over the melody. So entranced are you that the chiming Youngesque guitar intro of track two ‘Walking Human’ comes as a real shock. Continue reading “Jesse Matas ”Tamarock” (StoNote, 2018)”

Nick Panken “Consequential Breach” (Independent, 2018)

Nick Panken hit these shores supporting Ian Felice on his recent jaunt through the UK and proved compelling as a lone troubadour with a simple rig featuring guitar, vocal and occasional harmonica – and this release follows that template. Available only on cassette (with download code) or via Bandcamp this guy is either wilful or commercially naive – or possibly both! However, that doesn’t detract from the stark beauty of this release. Continue reading “Nick Panken “Consequential Breach” (Independent, 2018)”

J.Mascis “ElasticDays” (Sub Pop, 2018)

J.Mascis is a familiar figure from the Alt-Rock scene of the 90s and noughties who latterly has started to produce a body of solo work that stands up very nicely against his more ragged glory of Dinosaur Jr. ‘Elastic Days’ raises the bar once again as the singer-songwriter comes to the fore. Opening with the bright and shiny ‘See You At The Movies’ the template is set – breezy arresting rhythms and Mascis’s affecting vocals – all melancholy and sanguine emotion combined with a beautiful high register guitar solo that bursts through the production – almost a second voice. Continue reading “J.Mascis “ElasticDays” (Sub Pop, 2018)”

Reverend Horton Heat “Whole New Life” (Victory Records 2018)

The good Reverend has been ploughing the furrow marked “furious rockabilly based rock ‘n’ roll” for decades now, and while this new offering is no game changer, it does carry the listener through its generous track listing on a glorious wave of exuberant, tightly constructed, wonderfully performed songs. Opening with the title track ‘Whole New Life’ the template is clear. This album is going to be a blast and despite the stylistic conventions being applied, each track is clearly defined and independent. ‘Hate to Cry’  drops the pace but not the intensity; similarly, ‘Don’t Let Go of Me,’ where the reverb is turned up on guitar and vocals to create a moody, desperate love song.  Continue reading “Reverend Horton Heat “Whole New Life” (Victory Records 2018)”

Martin Stephenson and the Daintees “Gladsome, Humour & Blue 30” (Barbaraville Records 2018)

Revisiting old glories is a tricky business. We all know of tracks re-recorded that fail to match treasured originals or albums where a revisitation of a classic is the loss leader for some rum stuff, so it was with a mixture of apprehension and intrigue that this reviewer picked up the copy of the Martin Stephenson and the Daintees ‘Gladsome, Humour and Blue’. Continue reading “Martin Stephenson and the Daintees “Gladsome, Humour & Blue 30” (Barbaraville Records 2018)”

Adam’s House Cat “Town Burned Down” (ATO Records 2018)

‘Any ful kno’ that the Drive by Truckers were founded in 1996 by Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley but 9 years before that came Adam’s House Cat, founded in a dank basement in Florence, Alabama. The band toured hard for 3 years playing original tunes in a region where covers bands ruled the bars. This album was recorded at Muscle Shoals studios in 1990/1 but was lost in the wake of the band’s demise, tornados and the studio being sold. Continue reading “Adam’s House Cat “Town Burned Down” (ATO Records 2018)”