Nicholas Altobelli “Vertigo” (Dalton Records, 2019)

“My name Nicholas. I write sad songs”. It’s an honest salutation written by the man himself on his Bandcamp page. And if first impressions stick, it seems to be the light in which Altobelli feels comfortable being illuminated; read past interviews and a certain self-deprecating melancholy figures almost as much as people conversant with his music throw in Woody Guthrie as a comparison and reference point. Continue reading “Nicholas Altobelli “Vertigo” (Dalton Records, 2019)”

Karen Jonas “Lucky, Revisited” (Independent, 2019)

“Hang on to your hats boys”… and so begins the first bit of advice from Karen Jonas at the start of ‘Ophelia’ the first song on ‘Lucky, Revisited’. It would be well to take heed because what follows is a rip-roaring hoe down played with the sort of gusto any thrash-metal band would be proud of. But instead of de-tuned distortion imagine Albert Lee circa ‘Country Boy’ backing the hollering lungs of Maria Mckee. The song offers guidance (Jonas’ second piece of advice on the album) to one of Shakespeare’s ‘you fell for a wrong’ un girl’ characters: Ophelia + Hamlet with enough fervour to make the bard’s quill quiver. The question to Ophelia “But honey, didn’t you read Romeo and Juliet?” is smart, funny and indicative of Jonas’ writing quality.
Continue reading “Karen Jonas “Lucky, Revisited” (Independent, 2019)”

Jim Lauderdale “From Another World” (Yep Roc, 2019)

‘From Another World’ is Jim Lauderdale’s, wait for it.. thirty-second album release. It is an astonishing accomplishment. Since releasing his first solo album 1991 he has released an album almost every year and sometimes more (there were three in 2013). Other artists with nigh on thirty-year recording careers take up much less shelf space with their back catalogues. And how many times have you perused the recording output of long-established artists lamenting that they haven’t made a really good album for years? The corollary of course is the much-respected songwriter who pumps out albums a little too regularly when an honest reflection might acknowledge that ever two or three records might condense into one that could have been a classic. So, hats off and three cheers for Jim Lauderdale for ‘From Another World’ – it’s consistently magnificent from start to finish; 12 original songs and forty-six minutes of top quality listening pleasure. Continue reading “Jim Lauderdale “From Another World” (Yep Roc, 2019)”

Remnose “Waiting On The Wind” (Independent, 2019)

Waiting On The Wind’ is the new album from Remnose, an indie-folk/rock band based in Detroit. The band are made up of brothers Morton (Marlon on lead vocal and rhythm guitar and Carson on drums) plus Alex Wildner on bass guitar Sam Sparling on piano and lap steel. Collectively their sound can be broadly characterised as the indie/folk. Theirs is a dreamy delivery of what, on first listen, seem to be quite simple arrangements. What you hear is the band and their instruments without a lot of unnecessary fuss which is rather clever because actually there is much more going on here than it seems. Marlon has an easy and yet emotive voice effortlessly carrying tunes that lilt like a gentle breeze or an early morning iridescent sun glimpsed through the trees. Continue reading “Remnose “Waiting On The Wind” (Independent, 2019)”

Buddy and Julie Miller “Breakdown on 20th Ave. South” (New West, 2019)

The husband and wife songwriting team reunite here for their first set of new songs in ten years. In truth the songs have been written by Julie in the period Buddy was busy working with a host of luminaries from the world of Americana. Back in 2009 the duo released ‘Written In Chalk’ and eight years before that their ‘Buddy and Julie Miller’ album won the “Album of the Year” Award from the Americana Music Association. The 2010s have seen the couple have quite different experiences. Continue reading “Buddy and Julie Miller “Breakdown on 20th Ave. South” (New West, 2019)”

The Felice Brothers “Undress” (Yep Roc, 2019)

Undress’ is the Felice Brothers’ 14th album, the first album of new material for three years and something of a treat. Another of those ‘recorded live’ records (though not quite, this one has minimal overdubs), it does capture a band channelling a vital energy and clearly enjoying themselves. Continue reading “The Felice Brothers “Undress” (Yep Roc, 2019)”

The California Feetwarmers “Gloryland” (Independent, 2019)

And, now for something completely different. Instead of travelling the usual dusty highways, we are going to take a sidestep, shimmy and jitterbug off the beaten track and into the world of the California Feetwarmers. Their toes may be tapping in Los Angeles but their hearts are beating in New Orleans. For these guys 1950 is somewhere in the future, and polishing your wing tips is as important as polishing your trombone. So adjust those braces (err,  suspenders), apply the pomade and dive into ‘Gloryland’, the Feetwarmers’ new 11 track album. Continue reading “The California Feetwarmers “Gloryland” (Independent, 2019)”

Brad Armstrong “I Got No Place Remembers Me” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2019)

‘I Got No Place Remembers Me’ is Brad Armstrong’s second solo album after 2016’s ‘Empire.’ Having previously been in 13 Ghosts who existed for twelve years on indie cred and not much else, he also joined Dexateens in 2008 (which also featured Matt Patton of Drive-by Truckers). ‘I Got No Place Remembers Me’ reflects both of those projects carrying an indie punk ID while wearing its southern-infused garage heart on its sleeve. Armstrong casts his line into the pool of Americana alt verity to deliver stories chipped from rock, hewn from Bald Cypress, dug from dirt, ploughed in the fields and infused with rock n roll poetry and grit. Continue reading “Brad Armstrong “I Got No Place Remembers Me” (Cornelius Chapel Records, 2019)”

AmericanA to Z – Lone Justice

Back in 1985 ‘The Elite’ to me was anyone with access to MTV or a video cassette recorder, or both. Exploring new music was not easy, you could read about new bands in the weekly inkies, but getting to hear them was another matter. So thank heavens for Whistle Test. By ’85 it had dropped the ‘Old Grey’ and my memories are of Hepworth and Ellen and that young buck Andy Kershaw. REM were getting some airplay and they had impressed me so much that my attention was pricked by any mention of Athens, Georgia or ‘the Paisley Underground’. And a mid-evening Whistle Test appearance of a band in plaid pretty assured their guitar and my heartstrings were beating a similar rhythm. And so I marvelled at the Long Ryders and was bowled over by Rain Parade. Soon I was searching for the records by the likes of Beat Farmers, Dream Syndicate, Green on Red, Let’s Active. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Lone Justice”

LoMB “Cuts” (Seahorse Recordings, 2019)

Cuts’ is nine tracks of avant-garde musical exploration from Giuseppe Lombardo – LoMB – a graphic artist and photographer who has been around the music scene since the early ‘90s in various incarnations. Back then his vehicles were post-punk and new wave bands – sharing stages with the likes of Sonic Youth and Wire give an indication of his pedigree. That influence is still evident and why this nine album is something of an interesting challenge. What LoMB offers on ‘Cuts’ will resonate with some readers on this site but it is fair to say that this is probably not his natural habitat. Continue reading “LoMB “Cuts” (Seahorse Recordings, 2019)”