Interview: Russ Tolman. From Paisley Underground to Laurel Canyon vibes

The so called Paisley Underground has been back in the news recently with The Long Ryders releasing a new album and touring while a Record Store Day release of an album, ‘3X4’, featured The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock and The Rain Parade. And now Russ Tolman, a founding member of another Paisley Underground band, True West, has released his first solo album in many moons and will be touring the UK for the first time since the 1990’s. Tolman, a native Californian, formed his first band, Suspects, in 1978 along with Steve Wynn and Kendra Smith. Considered the first new wave Californian band, they foundered when Wynn and Smith moved to LA and formed their own band, the Dream Syndicate. Tolman then moved on to True West, a band noted for their twin guitar attack and blend of American and English rock styles (even recording a version of Syd Barrett’s ‘Lucifer Sam’). Despite several close brushes with fame True West called it a day in 1985 and Tolman went on to forge a solo career releasing several acclaimed albums. Continue reading “Interview: Russ Tolman. From Paisley Underground to Laurel Canyon vibes”

The Church announce a trio of shows celebrating 30 years of their album, Starfish

On the thirtieth anniversary of what was their break out album, ‘Starfish’, the Australian band who surfed the waves of neo-psychedelia and dream like pop anthems return to UK shores to perform the album in its entirety. ‘Starfish’ was their entry into the US charts and for a while the band seemed poised for huge success but, as always, internal disputes and record company shenanigans got in the way. For many it remains their favourite album from The Church and an appearance of the song, ‘Under The Milky Way’, in the movie ‘Donnie Darko’ gave it a new lease of life. Now the band are poised to revive the album at three live shows in London, Manchester and Edinburgh where they will perform it along with other songs from their celebrated back catalogue. Continue reading “The Church announce a trio of shows celebrating 30 years of their album, Starfish”

Jeff “The Horse” Horsey “Rattlesnakes and Heartstrings” (Hookah Records, 2019)

Based in Cornwall, Jeff “The Horse” Horsey is a veteran practitioner of old time blues music, often to be found with his acoustic guitars and harmonica on stages here in the UK and in Europe. This latest venture, a limited edition 10” vinyl EP, finds him branching out somewhat with the focus of the disc a ten-minute long version of a song he originally released on his last album, ‘Songs From The Old West’. ‘Rattlesnakes’ takes up the first side of the disc with side two (yip, I said it was vinyl) occupied by three songs, one of which, ‘Heartstrings’, is the first of a projected song cycle inspired by the characters who populate ‘Rattlesnakes’. Continue reading “Jeff “The Horse” Horsey “Rattlesnakes and Heartstrings” (Hookah Records, 2019)”

Josh Ritter announces July UK tour dates

Josh Ritter’s latest album, ‘Fever Breaks’, produced by and featuring Jason Isbell, has been critically acclaimed with many commentators calling it a highlight of his 20 year long career. We here at Americana UK agree with that, our review awarding the disc a whopping 9/10. To support the album release Ritter has just announced a European tour including several dates in the UK and Ireland. Continue reading “Josh Ritter announces July UK tour dates”

The Strumbrellas “Rattlesnake” (Glassnote Records, 2019)

This Canadian six piece seem to be popular on the US festival scene and even a cursory listen to ‘Rattlesnake’ will tell you why. The songs have a danceable quality to them while singer Simon Ward uses the popular Nashville pop trick of autotune from time to time. Add to that a kitchen sink full of massed vocals, crashing percussion and simplistic sing along choruses and you have a party band but what you don’t have is, in any sense, a country, folk or, God forbid, an Americana band. Continue reading “The Strumbrellas “Rattlesnake” (Glassnote Records, 2019)”

Son Volt “Union” (Transmit Sound, 2019)

While Jay Farrar might be considered as being pretty grounded when it comes to singing about familiar folk themes he’s never been a political writer. On ‘Union’ that changes as he here turns to topical concerns, setting out what is essentially his state of the union address. ‘Union’ is not a protest album, there are no street fighting anthems here and the names of the guilty are not mentioned, but when he sings, “Proud to serve but not this president,” on ‘Reality Winner’, it’s not hard to guess his inner thoughts even though the song is ostensibly about a whistleblower jailed for leaking classified documents. Continue reading “Son Volt “Union” (Transmit Sound, 2019)”

Interview: Phil Lee on how he finally saddled up with Crazy Horse

It’s taken a hell of a long time for Phil Lee to get in the saddle and corral his Crazy Horse buddies, Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot, into the studio to record an album with him. His online notes for his 2013 album ‘The Fall And Further Decline Of The Mighty King Of Love’ state, “This was to be the album I was going to make with Ralph and Billy of Crazy Horse. We had a couple of great rehearsals and could’ve done it if we had a mobile unit in Ralph’s garage. Logistics didn’t help as they live in California. Continue reading “Interview: Phil Lee on how he finally saddled up with Crazy Horse”

Crooked Weather “Are We Lost” (Independent, 2010)

Had this arrived in a vinyl format we would not be surprised to see a small palm tree on a grassy island decorating the label. Crooked Weather, a Yorkshire based duo, are unashamedly influenced by the folk rock sounds of the late sixties and early seventies as purveyed back then by the likes of the Island, Harvest and Transatlantic Record labels. As such, they can be compared (slightly) to the Pentangle family, John & Beverly Martyn and Michael Chapman along with some American contemporaries. However, much like, for example, Doghouse Roses, they don’t attempt to recreate their forebears’ sounds but use their influence as a starting point for their own singular music. Continue reading “Crooked Weather “Are We Lost” (Independent, 2010)”

Blue Rose Code + Roseanne Reid, The Fallen Angels Club, St. Lukes, Glasgow, 7th March 2019

The always mercurial Ross Wilson brought his latest incarnation of Blue Rose Code to Glasgow for a sold out show which was both a pleasure and a delight to be present at. One thing you can be guaranteed at a Blue Rose Code show is that familiar songs will be prodded, poked and bent into unfamiliar patterns. Not in a challenging or offhand manner (as can be the case with an artist like Dylan) but rather that Wilson’s songs are his offspring and we are privileged to see them grow and develop, all the while retaining their personality. A case in point tonight was the original gospel element of ‘Grateful’ transformed into a spongy reggae lilt, lovers rock almost with Wilson proclaiming, “I and I are grateful” towards the end. Continue reading “Blue Rose Code + Roseanne Reid, The Fallen Angels Club, St. Lukes, Glasgow, 7th March 2019”

Harmony Rockets with Peter Walker “Lachesis/Clotho/Atropos” (Tompkins Square, 2019)

Harmony Rockets is kind of a sideline project for Mercury Rev’s Grasshopper and Jonathan Donahue, allowing them to go off-piste as it were and indulge themselves. Here they team up with the little known but well respected sixties raga guitarist Peter Walker, an associate of Timothy Leary, for an album composed of three instrumental pieces which hark back to the times when Jerry Garcia was known as Captain Trips and flute players could record albums within the Taj Mahal. Continue reading “Harmony Rockets with Peter Walker “Lachesis/Clotho/Atropos” (Tompkins Square, 2019)”