Just to get this out there, this album is scarily prophetic. Quite how two-time GRAMMY™-nominated singer Eliza Gilkyson knew to write this and call it simply ‘2020‘ is beyond me. The first listen to it was pre-virus and it was frightening enough then: there are plenty of references to racism, gun violence, terrorism, and climate change. But now, in our new world of illness, fear and panic, the songs are even more arresting. Continue reading “Eliza Gilkyson “2020” (Compass Records, 2020)”
Last time the chain gang song was ‘The Rock of My Soul’ by Rodney Crowell. This week’s link is quite simply the word ‘soul’. This track: ‘House of My Soul‘ is taken from Langhorne Slim’s 2017 album ‘Lost at Last Vol 1‘. It’s a simple love song and is so upbeat you can’t help but feel better once you’ve listened. Langhorne Slim lives in East Nashville, the area devastated by the tornado a few weeks ago. His home was unaffected although Dualtone Records (his label) was badly hit. So this song is a shout out to those musicians out there who need our support more than ever.
‘Undercover’ is the third album from Mississippi-born Bronwynne Brent. It’s a shift away from the folky Americana sound of her previous albums, ‘Deep Dark Water’ (2011) and ‘Stardust’ (2014) into the jazzy sounds of a cocktail-soaked New Orleans club night. Brent’s voice really shines through for this style of music: she’s been compared to Amy Winehouse, Peggy Lee and Billie Holiday. Continue reading “Bronwynne Brent “Undercover” (Independent, 2020)”
Having accidentally started playing the title track ‘Judas’ from Gary Fulton’s 2014 album of the same name on Spotify, the immediate thought was “ooh this reminds me a bit of Mercury Rev”, a catchy melody and some Rev-esque vocals, not quite as unique as Jonathan Donahue but heading the right way. Realising the error, fast forward five years to Cheshire-based Fulton’s sixth album ‘Blood and Dust’. Continue reading “Gary Fulton “Blood and Dust” (Independent, 2019)”
Arborist started as a solo project for singer Mark McCambridge but evolved into a five piece band for the recording of their first album ‘Home Burial’. The addition of guitars and piano enriched their sound. Now, on ‘A Northern View’ the line-up has been completed by the addition of a violinist. What results is a sweeping sound, complex with melody, all held together by McCambridge’s poetical approach to songs. It’s also a political statement about the position of Northern Ireland, in an increasingly not United Kingdom (the northern view in question). Continue reading “Arborist “A Northern View” (Rollercoaster Records, 2020)”
This is not a beginner’s guide to anything. From the outset it’s clear that David Keenan is an accomplished singer, nay poet, who is confident in his style and ability. Every song on ‘Beginner’s Guide to Bravery’ bursts with emotion and Keenan gives his all throughout. Keenan hails from a small Irish county town called Dundalk, just south of the border with Northern Ireland. Many of the songs on this album feature stories about the town’s imagined (and occasionally real) past. Continue reading “David Keenan “A Beginner’s Guide To Bravery” (Rubyworks, 2020)”
Gabriel Birnbaum takes us down a mellow path on his first solo record: ‘Not Alone’. This is a stripped back and low key album when compared to Birnbaum’s indie-rock style as part of band Wilder Maker and his work as a jazz and avant-garde saxophonist. Exploring themes of loneliness and solitude throughout, the album is tinged with melancholy. Birnbaum quickly establishes his sound, and most markedly through his occasionally raspy vocal delivery.
‘Parts and Labor’ is the first solo album from Big Medicine Head’s singer-songwriter, Bob Gemmell. It’s packed full of tales of the road, the struggles of working people and themes of personal redemption. Ranging from banjo-led songs to tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in a speakeasy piano bar, it’s a bit of a genre mix. Gemmell has a unique vocal delivery and songwriting style that could have held it all together, but sadly serves to make the whole thing feel a bit disconnected. Continue reading “Bob Gemmell “Parts and Labor” (Sterno Bums International, 2019)”
Charlie and the Rays is a duo comprised of sisters Jordan and Rebecca Stobbe. The sisters hail from Seattle but this most recent record was recorded in New York and produced by Johnny Sangster (Mudhoney, Mark Lanegan, The Posies, Neko Case). The EP ‘That’s Where You Were Born’ also includes support from Gracia Bridges on lead guitar and Jack Brady on drums. Continue reading “Charlie and the Rays “That’s Where You Were Born” (Independent, 2019)”
‘First EP’ is, um…, the first EP from Portland Brothers. However, this is not their first time making music together as band members Steven Adams and Timothy Victor are alumni of the The Broken Family Band which formed in 2001. Their meeting back then at The Portland Arms has surely played a part in the naming of this new venture. Over the years they’ve played together on various projects including indie-rock and folk bands and these influences from over the years are keenly felt in this lovely little EP. Continue reading “Portland Brothers “First EP” (Sunday Mourning Records, 2019)”