AmericanA to Z – The Replacements

I’ll admit to not knowing what is and isn’t Americana. If I thought it was cowboy boots and Southern charm, I’d not be here. What I think of as Americana is more than that, and you know, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, so it’s a subjective thing. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – The Replacements”

Arik Dov “The Man” (Independent, 2020)

I saw a t-shirt once that said “there are too many bikes, said no one ever” and I thought that was funny. Not laugh out loud funny, but funny cos it’s true funny. I’d wear one that said “we need more melancholy solo acoustic records by singer-songwriters, said no one ever” cos, you know, it’s also funny cos it’s true. We do not need more melancholic records by singing and songwriting men. We just need the occasional one. Continue reading “Arik Dov “The Man” (Independent, 2020)”

The Saxophones “Eternity Bay” (Full Time Hobby, 2020)

Sometimes I get passed an album that is so well written, so beautifully put together and so perfectly delivered, that it makes me feel like a couch potatoes whose corpulence has forced him to wear slip-on shoes for a decade or two, angrily telling their TV that the 21-year-old athlete playing for the team he supports isn’t fit to wear the shirt. I mean, c’mon. I don’t even like saxophones. Continue reading “The Saxophones “Eternity Bay” (Full Time Hobby, 2020)”

David Dondero “Filter Bubble Blues” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2020)

What does it say about me that I hadn’t heard of David Dondero before this LP? Especially given that in 2006, NPR’s All Songs Considered named him one of the best living songwriters alongside similarly underrated names like Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Tom Waits. Who knew? Well, lots of people, it seems. So here I am, a Johnny-Come-Lately telling you all what I think of this veteran singer songwriter’s new album – his. I know. The neck.
Continue reading “David Dondero “Filter Bubble Blues” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2020)”

Neil Hamburger “Still Dwelling” (Drag City, 2019)

Neil Hamburger is the anti-comic creation of Greg Turkington, a thoroughly despicable and creepy looking individual who you wouldn’t want to see talking to anyone you cared about. It’s a brilliant creation whose characteristics and persona are presumably why these songs were chosen for covers, along with the couple of originals thrown in for good measure, but ultimately, your enjoyment of this album rests heavily on how you feel about Hamburger’s shtick. Continue reading “Neil Hamburger “Still Dwelling” (Drag City, 2019)”

Burly “Self Titled Demon” (Five Kill Records, 2019)

I hate saxophones. I hate even writing the word saxophone. It’s Baker Street’s fault. I have a near pathological hatred of that song and for a while, thanks to a Stuart Maconie penned urban myth, I hated Bob Holness.  But I think my sax life might be about to improve. Burly give good sax, see. And vibes, and jazzy drums and breathy guitar. They’re a jazz ensemble playing indie rock, basically, and it’s niiiiice. Doesn’t harm that the lyrics read like poetry, are delivered with real emotion and there’s a sense that these songs were composed, rather than written which, given their two-year gestation, this makes perfect sense and is in line with their self- described  ‘non-urgency’ style. Continue reading “Burly “Self Titled Demon” (Five Kill Records, 2019)”

Wanderingted “I Could Be You” (Independent, 2018)

Wanderingted is both the alias of the singer-songwriter Ted Schmitz and the clue to what he sounds like. His debut album ‘I Could Be You’ is a folk-rock journey to a new place somewhere between Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he was born; a garden shed in London where he wrote the album; and his current abode and band location, Berlin. Through his downplayed, disarmingly beautiful voice over the ground of Midwestern twang from banjo picking and guitars, along with poetic elegance from the piano, Schmitz takes the listener on a wandering journey that evokes all of these places and somehow, a new place for the listener to dream of. Continue reading “Wanderingted “I Could Be You” (Independent, 2018)”

Micah P. Hinson “When I Shoot At You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy You” (Full Time Hobby, 2018)

It begins innocently enough. The sound of musicians setting up, and given the album was recorded in 24 hours, it’s an apposite scene setting. Then it starts. If you’re unfamiliar with Hinson’s voice, think of the saddest, most mournful sound you can and double it, but even with that knowledge, he’s never been as jaded and forlorn as he is here. Continue reading “Micah P. Hinson “When I Shoot At You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy You” (Full Time Hobby, 2018)”

The Burning Hell “Baby” (BB*Island, 2018)

Frank Zappa asked the question in 1986, “Does Humour Belong In Music?” I don’t know if that was a rhetorical question or not, but to head uncertainty off at the pass, the answer is yes. Flight of the Conchords and the national treasure (TM John Peel) that is Half Man Half Biscuit, are just two that justify an affirmative answer to that question. That said, Weird Al Jankovic and Tenacious D also make ‘humorous’ music but, to compare such acts to The Burning Hell, is to compare Cannon & Ball to Stewart Lee, so, like music of any genre, there’s some good and there’s some not so good. Continue reading “The Burning Hell “Baby” (BB*Island, 2018)”

Kurt Vile “Bottle It In” (Matador, 2018)

I wrote five separate reviews for this, changing every time I listened to it, liking the tracks that are likeable more with every listen. But, you know, four songs make up 37 minutes of it, so the tracks and the bits that aren’t as likeable, just get less so. I’m explaining that away with how great the likeability of the likeable songs is. I was talking to a friend about Kurt Vile the other day, and War on Drugs, and I wondered if you could really like Kurt Vile if you already liked Dinosaur Jr and yes, I know he’s likely heard that a million times, but still. It’s why I never really liked War on Drugs. I’ve never been a fan of Springsteen. Continue reading “Kurt Vile “Bottle It In” (Matador, 2018)”