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)”

A Box of Stars “Days Drunk Off Heat” (Independent, 2018)

Weird times, man. We live in bizarrely binary times, defined by what we are not, rather than what we are. Or so it feels a lot of the time. We’re either anti, or pro and on both sides of the Atlantic even more so, even if we only had a passing interest until fairly recently. We all know what everyone is talking about in the UK and we all know what everyone is talking about in the US. What did we talk abut about before this loss of humanity and basic decency? Continue reading “A Box of Stars “Days Drunk Off Heat” (Independent, 2018)”

Twain “Rare Feeling” (BB*Island, 2018)

I started and stopped writing about this LP a bunch of times. Too smart arse. Too gushing. Too esoteric. Trying too hard to sound clever about an album I’ve grown to genuinely love, in the hope it will make anyone reading it curious enough to track it down and (hopefully) fall for it themselves. Then I listened to it one more time and came to realise it’s the finest album I’ve been passed since I first started reviewing albums for this site some 10 years ago, and there’s simply no way to adequately express how much I adore and obsess over it; or how much I want it to be lauded and known by all, but also how much I want to keep it to myself too. Continue reading “Twain “Rare Feeling” (BB*Island, 2018)”

Ivan Moult “Longest Shadow” (Bubblewrap Records, 2018)

Throw a dart in the air of any hamlet, village, town or city in the UK and the chances are it’ll land on the head of an introverted and melancholic singer-songwriter with an acoustic guitar, a sad face and who in all likelihood, will be more Charlie Drake than Nick Drake. Happily, Ivan Moult falls into the latter category and though clearly a fan of Nick Drake, and John Martyn for that matter, there are hints of Iron & Wine too. Continue reading “Ivan Moult “Longest Shadow” (Bubblewrap Records, 2018)”

Woods End “II” (Independent, 2018)

Brendan Behan said ‘critics are like eunuchs at a harem; the know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.’ While I’d stop short of referring to myself as a critic, it’s a valid point, and as much as everyone’s a critic these days, not everyone has the right to be. Perhaps I don’t either, but that’s another pointless discussion. It was submitted, I received it, so here’s my critique. Continue reading “Woods End “II” (Independent, 2018)”