Hoth Brothers “Workin’ and Dreamin’” (Independent, 2019)

When you harness the old mountain sounds of roots music (banjo, fiddle, mandolin etc.), it better be underpinned by some really good songs, or have something really worthwhile to say. Otherwise your offerings are little more than those of a ‘denim dungarees and hay bales’ variety show turn. New Mexico’s Hoth Brothers (spoiler alert: one of the brothers is clearly female) save us from any such suffering – they’ve got simple, unfussy songs with strong lyrics in abundance. Continue reading “Hoth Brothers “Workin’ and Dreamin’” (Independent, 2019)”

Ryan Traster “Choses Obscures” (Independent, 2019)

Minneapolis based Ryan Traster plies his trade with a super laid back, woozy, indie, country-pop sound. On ‘Choses Obscures’ (French for ‘unusual things’) you can hear the ghost of Tom Petty nodding sagely as the tunes roll past. Vocally there’s a lazy J. Mascis/Evan Dando feel that rolls from Traster; sometimes with lugubriousity, sometimes a weary optimism. Continue reading “Ryan Traster “Choses Obscures” (Independent, 2019)”

Zervas & Pepper “Endless Road Restless Nomad” (Zerodeo, 2019)

Folk rock from South Wales, with a (press release-claimed) Laurel Canyon state of mind. As a consequence this record has a distinct 1970s feel; the rock is very soft, very easy listening, perhaps too easy – there’s very little edge. Late night Radio Two springs quickly to mind. The band have played in and recorded for many esteemed places and people. This is their fifth album, so they are no meagre beginners in the game; they must be doing something right, right? Continue reading “Zervas & Pepper “Endless Road Restless Nomad” (Zerodeo, 2019)”

Who? What? Where? Why? & Werewolves “Greatest Hits” (Independent, 2019)

Indie bluegrass from Philadelphia? Complicated moniker? Super ironic album title? Hipster alert senses are tingling with this reviewer. However, let’s not judge a book by its cover. These guys (Andrew Fullerton and Matt Orlando) were formerly the crux of Philly rock scene stalwarts The Tressels, which is a much shorter, manageable band name. Continue reading “Who? What? Where? Why? & Werewolves “Greatest Hits” (Independent, 2019)”

Alanna Matty “This Past Year” (EP) (Independent, 2019)

Intimate. A word overused, often lazily, to describe the elemental voice and acoustic guitar approach to song presentation that is pretty much omnipresent nowadays. However, Torontarian (yes that’s a real word) Alanna Matty really does serve up the most intimate of sounds on this four-track EP. You can hear the faint rumble of the world outside as the home-recorded acoustic guitar parts herald each song, the bass threatening to overload the mic. Clicks, stomps and whispered count offs are also to be heard – the flotsam and jetsam of recording that are normally discarded in the mixing and editing process. Continue reading “Alanna Matty “This Past Year” (EP) (Independent, 2019)”

David Banks “Until The End” (Independent, 2019)

This is the first solo album from former Whybirds guitarist and co-writer David Banks. It’s an ambitious sound –big, big ballads; to some extent picking up where the Whybirds left off in 2017. They returned to Bedfordshire to ponder their next moves, the joy of Clangers and the legacy of Luton box vans. Banks has found the time to give us own manifesto Opener ‘Someone To Lean On’ has crashing guitar chords and pounding drums, with Banks’s gentle voice pleading to be, err, leaned on. Continue reading “David Banks “Until The End” (Independent, 2019)”

The Honey Dewdrops “Anyone Can See” (Independent, 2019)

The Streets of Baltimore may have proven the downfall of Bobby Bare and Tompall Glazer but they’ve struck lucky for us, dear AUK reader, with the sweet nectar sounds of The Honey Dewdrops. There are scant more than acoustic guitars and vocals throughout this, their fifth album. However, when you’ve nailed the blend as well as duo Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish clearly have, scant else is required. Continue reading “The Honey Dewdrops “Anyone Can See” (Independent, 2019)”

AmericanA to Z – The Delmore Brothers

Before Americana, before Outlaw Country, before Nashville even; there was Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family and importantly The Delmore Brothers. From a dirt poor Alabama farming family, these boys fused blues, folk and gospel to create their close vocal harmony sound and help define a genre which came to be known as country music. Unlike their contemporaries, they also mixed in a tenor guitar, giving perhaps the first example of heavy twang – a cornerstone of what we all love about Americana. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – The Delmore Brothers”

Angus McOg “Beginners” (Independent, 2019)

A hearty helping of warming indie folky Americana from Modena, Italy. Though it could easily be from the USA or anywhere else one might care to mention. The band (Angus himself plus two sidemen collaborators) draw overt influences from the likes of Wilco, The National and Father John Misty. Perhaps a little Teenage Fanclub in there too. It wouldn’t be much of a spoiler alert to tell you that Angus McOg is not this Italian songster’s real name. Continue reading “Angus McOg “Beginners” (Independent, 2019)”

Darren Hayman “Thankful Villages Volume 3” (Independent, 2018)

Released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, this final instalment of the former (indie-folksters) Hefner main man’s triptych focuses not only on the aforementioned villages, but also rural stories in general. As such it contains interviews, field recordings, soundscapes and original songs, running much like a radio show. Given this, it’s very much an ‘English’ folk offering and quite removed from what we might consider to be Americana. Continue reading “Darren Hayman “Thankful Villages Volume 3” (Independent, 2018)”