AmericanA to Z – Tom Petty

Tom Petty is one of the strongest and most resonant of all the artists connecting the 1970s to current Americana. In a desperately shortened career that still spanned over 41 years he wrote songs that appealed to the plaid wearing beer-drinking hell raisers, the shiny popsters with their beatboxes and hip shoes, the blue-collar workers heading out to their dead-end jobs singing to their dashboards about freedom and every other social grouping besides.  Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Tom Petty”

El Misti “El Misti” (Independent, 2020)

Much of the debut album from El Misti sounds as if it springs from a well sunk into the ground deep in the redwood forests of California or the scrublands outside Austin, Texas not the hinterlands of Liverpool and Cheshire. The tracks speak of a powerful love of acoustic Americana and blue-collar worker’s music from the dustbowl to the bleachers. Continue reading “El Misti “El Misti” (Independent, 2020)”

The Song Remains: David Roback 1958-2020

David Roback of Rain Parade, Opal and Mazzy Star amongst others died of cancer on February 24th. Born in Los Angeles, Roback was a mover and shaker within the Paisley Underground scene in the city in the ’80s with his band the Rain Parade following on from his first band which featured another mover of the scene, Suzannah Hoffs. It was a scene that produced Continue reading “The Song Remains: David Roback 1958-2020”

Grant Peeples “Bad Wife” (Independent, 2020)

A concept album of sorts as Peeples interprets songs written by women with a band of all men, by design, playing them. This is to mark the 100th Anniversary of women fighting for and gaining the right to vote in the USA and “was made in recognition of the courage and fortitude of those brave women, as well as the continuing struggle for women’s equal protections under the law.” An undeniably admirable concept and indeed starting point for a piece of work.
Continue reading “Grant Peeples “Bad Wife” (Independent, 2020)”

House Above The Sun “Time I Got Going” (Independent, 2020)

The London five piece’s second EP release opens with the glorious, propulsive ‘Trains’. Hanging on a repeated guitar phrase the song is brimming with ideas and excitement from the layered West Coast sound through to the delightful harmonies and breezy vocals – think The Fernweh or even Gerry Rafferty and you’ll be in the right ballpark. Marvellously upbeat and optimistic in tone and feel.
Continue reading “House Above The Sun “Time I Got Going” (Independent, 2020)”

Pond Diver “Flashbacks EP” (Independent, 2020)

Well, well, well, just occasionally something floats into the inbox that holds the attention and makes the misery of the post-Brexit world disappear into the ether. Pond Diver ( name needs work I respectfully suggest) are just that thing with their new EP. Coming from the thriving Muscle Shoals scene they kick off with the luminous ‘Loosen Up’ which springs from some beautiful guitar shapes and tones and sports a gorgeous vocal turn with production featuring organ and bells and whistles to spare. Continue reading “Pond Diver “Flashbacks EP” (Independent, 2020)”

AUK’s Chain Gang: The Jayhawks “I Hear You Cry”

Taking the massive helping hand from Mr Kerr last week, this link in the chain is forged of pure rock ‘n’roll gold. Gary Louris is a songwriter whose reputation should be far greater than it is (Jayhawks, Tedeschi Trucks, Dixie Chicks, Golden Smog etc.etc.) but how often have we said that about an artist operating in our particular sphere?  To illustrate the point this is a track that was a bonus only on the European original release of ‘Sound of Lies‘. Later editions did not even feature it until the remastering a few years back. It is a beautiful, melancholy delight that gives and gives. Enjoy it loud or hushed.

Wilco “Ode to Joy” (dBpm Records, 2019)

Approaching an album by Wilco is an interesting proposition for a committed Wilco fan. Is it going to be a magnum opus – ‘A Ghost Is Born‘ or ‘Yankee Hotel Foxtrot‘; a slight but fuzzy affair ‘Star Wars‘ or ‘Schmilco‘, or something different again – and there’s the rub. Wilco fans like different but not too different  – they are cut from the same cloth as Old Shakey.  They like it that he sticks the middle finger up to doing what’s expected but… but they’d really like to hear a new ‘On the Beach‘.
Continue reading “Wilco “Ode to Joy” (dBpm Records, 2019)”

Brady Harris “Keep Your Cover” (Independent, 2019)

This is a sweet and simple confection that punches above its short minute count on the strength of its songwriting, production and musicality. Opening with ‘Tell Me Why’, you could be fooled into thinking you’re getting a Neil Young cover, instead of which there’s a Macartneyesque ditty complete with whistling and some gorgeous harmonies and choruses.
Continue reading “Brady Harris “Keep Your Cover” (Independent, 2019)”

Josh Rouse “The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse (Yep Roc, 2019)

Josh Rouse is the master of intelligent soft rock with a West Coast twist. Over the last couple of albums he appears to have lost his mojo somewhat but this collection of songs, old and new, celebrating the festive season, really marks a return to form as he ploughs his traditional furrow of slightly jazz inflected guitar based songs.
Continue reading “Josh Rouse “The Holiday Sounds of Josh Rouse (Yep Roc, 2019)”