Picnic Area “No Country For Young Men” (Limefield, 2018)

No Country For Young Men’ is the third album from Mancunian alt-country rockers Picnic Area – and it’s a good one. Writing in the shadow of Brexit and the rise of Trump has given this band subject matters to really get their teeth into and they’ve risen to the challenge with some enthusiasm. Kicking off with the title track you can hear the anger and frustration: “There is no country for young men; Generations leading to despair….there is no country for young men, do we really take care of our own”? This is delivered against a bleak, stripped back drone of harmonica and harsh, grating guitar. It’s a powerful start to an album that lays down the marker of a band who seem to have a lot to say about world events and the current situations we find ourselves in. Continue reading “Picnic Area “No Country For Young Men” (Limefield, 2018)”

The Pinkerton Raid “Where The Wild Spirits Fly” (Independent, 2018)

Hailing from Durham in North Carolina ‘The Pinkerton Raid’ (great name!) produce an Indie/Americana sound based around the writing of the band’s frontman, Jesse James DeConto. This is their fourth full-length album and is based on a band philosophy that the answer to many of our problems lies in the importance of singing together. Not a bad philosophy really – we could all do with a bit more time spent singing together, a bit more time spent being a community. The songs on ‘Where the Wildest Spirits Fly’ have that community ethic; they sound like songs to be sung along with. As the band describes them, these are songs about hope against all odds and listening to songs like ‘Windmills in the Fog’ and ‘Sweet Pitchers of Mercy’ you can hear the positivity spilling out of your speakers. Continue reading “The Pinkerton Raid “Where The Wild Spirits Fly” (Independent, 2018)”

Marla and David Celia “Daydreamers” (Elite Records, 2018)

This album sounds so much like it was made sometime in the late sixties/early seventies that there’s a kind of time capsule feel to it; a little glimpse into a forgotten world. You can almost see Marla & David Celia sitting in a coffee shop discussing their latest gigs with Arlo Guthrie while they wait for Joni Mitchell to come and join them!  Daydreamers’ is an album that invokes the Hippy spirit. This is Laurel Canyon folk music dressed up for the 21st century – a sound infused with nostalgia for simpler times. ” Continue reading “Marla and David Celia “Daydreamers” (Elite Records, 2018)”

Various Artists “Restoration” (Universal Music Nashville, 2018)

Now this is a really interesting album. To give it its full title it is ‘Restoration: Reimagining the Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’ and it does exactly that. Sixteen different acts from a country music background re-interpret thirteen songs from the massive back catalogue of two of the most prolific writers in popular music. The combination of country and Elton John could’ve been really cheesy but it’s actually quite glorious and the reason for that is the songs they’ve chosen and the artists selected. Continue reading “Various Artists “Restoration” (Universal Music Nashville, 2018)”

Parker Millsap “Other Arrangements” (Thirty Tigers, 2018)

One of the interesting things about reviewing new music is that, every so often, an artist will throw a real curve ball with a new recording; and that’s exactly what we have here on the latest release from Parker Millsap, ‘Other Arrangements’. In 2014 Millsap was hailed as one of the Emerging Artists of the Year by the Americana Music Association. He has been feted for his traditional approach to roots music, with his last two albums both going to number one in the US Americana charts and his 2016 album ‘The Very Last Day’ being nominated for Album of The Year at the Americana Music Honours & Awards. To date all his recordings have been about a simple acoustic guitar, bass and fiddle combination. Continue reading “Parker Millsap “Other Arrangements” (Thirty Tigers, 2018)”

Mashville “Another Place” (Coastguard Records, 2018)

The UK Americana scene really is in very good shape right now. We’ve seen a number of excellent UK produced Americana albums so far this year and here’s another one. Mashville hail from Kent and their latest release, ‘Another Place’, is their third album since forming back in 2012 – quite a substantial output for a relatively new band. At the heart of this outfit is the songwriting duo of Berin Riley and Graham Loft and this is the band’s great strength, as it’s the quality of their songs that stand out. The standard of their songwriting really is impressive and to have sustained it over three albums in a six-year period is quite something. Continue reading “Mashville “Another Place” (Coastguard Records, 2018)”

Johnny “Chops” Richardson “Johnny Chops and the Razors” (Independent, 2018)

Johnny “Chops” Richardson is a member of established Texan outfit the Randy Rogers Band, where he’s held down the bass player role for the last sixteen years. Here he steps away from the bass guitar role to front his own band as guitarist, vocalist and writer on what is his second solo outing. It’s a solid, competent recording, as you’d expect from a band of all star musicians – drawn from the likes of Reckless Kelly, the Miranda Lambert Band and John Fogerty’s touring outfit – well produced by Johnny Chops himself and Reckless Kelly guitarist David Abeyta. Continue reading “Johnny “Chops” Richardson “Johnny Chops and the Razors” (Independent, 2018)”

Various Artists “The Self Preservation Society” (ECC Records/Lush 2018)

What we have here is a batch of songs from the late sixties and early seventies re-interpreted by various artists, the majority of which are most closely associated with the Nu-Folk genre. This is a real old-school style compilation album; lots of recognisable tracks covered by artists you wouldn’t usually associate with the song’s original musical style. And it’s a great batch of songs from artists like Cream, The Zombies, The Nice, Led Zeppelin, The Byrds, Leonard Cohen…the list just goes on and on. And then there’s the artists doing the covers – Eliza Carthy, Teddy Thompson, Jackie Oates, The Imagined Village, Marry Waterson; again, the list goes on and, again, it’s an impressive one. Continue reading “Various Artists “The Self Preservation Society” (ECC Records/Lush 2018)”

Glenn Frey “Above The Clouds” (Geffen/USM 2018)

Glenn Frey will forever be associated with the Eagles, the band he formed with Don Henley and which came to define Country Rock in the 1970s. Sadly, Glenn was one of the flurry of musicians that left us recently, dying just over two years ago, and Geffen/USM have now decided to celebrate his solo career with a four-disc retrospective,  ‘Above The Clouds’. Continue reading “Glenn Frey “Above The Clouds” (Geffen/USM 2018)”

Suburban Dirts “I Want Blood” (Old Jank Records, 2018)

This is an album that asks a big question. That question is, how does a band from Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, UK manage to get such an authentic Americana sound?! Listening to this album you would swear this band had southern States dirt under their fingernails – it’s dark, broody and moody in all the best possible ways and it has American gothic influences running all the way through it! Continue reading “Suburban Dirts “I Want Blood” (Old Jank Records, 2018)”