Bottle Rockets “Bit Logic” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)

Have you ever looked around you, conversed with your peers and concluded that you’re out of touch with society; marginalised on the fringes of a world obsessed with just about everything and everyone that you are only vaguely aware of? The great Guy Clark put it out there post-tech revolution with ‘Analog Girl‘ back in 2006 and fourteen years later Clark’s fellow country outlaws, Bottle Rockets, have taken up the theme and taken it to another, glorious level. Not that Brian Henneman, Mark Ortmann and the Rockets are new faces singing old tunes. The great thing about ‘Bit Logic‘ is that these outlaws are embracing the changing face of the music business and injecting a freshness into an ancient art form that would have Waylon raising a wry eyebrow in silent approval. Continue reading “Bottle Rockets “Bit Logic” (Bloodshot Records, 2018)”

Ben Kunder “Better Human” (Independent, 2018)

Canadian singer/songwriter Ben Kunder is not one to be boxed in. While discussing ‘Better Human’, his second independent release, he ventured, “I realise it’s hard to know where to put me. I just write songs and hope people relate to them…. I really just want to connect to as many people as I can in any way possible.” With such wide margins to work in you might wonder if you’re about to hear a collection of songs with nowhere to call home. That’s not how ‘Better Human’ comes across. Instead, the storytelling is the glue while the music takes inspiration from a range of sources but stays true to the Ben Kunder style. So what is the Kunder style?  Continue reading “Ben Kunder “Better Human” (Independent, 2018)”

The Whispering Tree “Invisible Forces” (Independent, 2018)

At just under thirty-one minutes ‘Invisible Forces’ is an example of big things coming in small packages. There is a lot of ground covered here. The Whispering Tree, led by multi-instrumentalists/ songwriters/producers Eleanor Kleiner and Elie Brangbour are many things to many people. In their ten years, two albums and two EPs they have secured a loyal following who, incidentally, funded the album, which was produced by Kleiner and Brangbour at their home studio in  Beacon, NY. Continue reading “The Whispering Tree “Invisible Forces” (Independent, 2018)”

The Mighty Bosscats “God Bless America” (Eigen Beheer, 2018)

The poisonous attitudes within the American political climate continues to divide the nation and whip up unrest everywhere you turn. Protest remains consistent among the liberal americana scene and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Well known UK based artists are getting in on the act, the latest being prolific exponent of blues-based rock n roll Richard Townend and his band The Mighty Bosscats. Continue reading “The Mighty Bosscats “God Bless America” (Eigen Beheer, 2018)”

Fender Undiscovered Artist of the Year 2018, Globe, London, 10th July

The bright future of our young acoustic talent was  showcased in north London tonight as the finalists of the Fender Undiscovered Artist Of The Year awards gathered to battle it out at the Globe. And they WERE all rather bright and rather young – almost disagreeably so – including the hosts and the judges and the compères. And as they introduced the evening’s entertainment, clarifying their position on everything from use of e-cigarettes to the #metoo campaign, your forty-something AUK representative who had somehow sneaked past the beauty police inched closer to the free bar in the knowledge that it could be a longer evening than anticipated. Continue reading “Fender Undiscovered Artist of the Year 2018, Globe, London, 10th July”

Ruen Brothers “All My Shades Of Blue” (Ramseur, 2018)

Ruen Brothers aka Henry and Rupert Stansall are Scunthorpe’s very own success story. Having been catapulted from boozy ‘Sunny Scunny’ dives to Rick Rubin’s Malibu Shangri La studios they could be forgiven for being a little bewildered at the fanfare surrounding their Roy Orbison and Everly Brothers -inspired take on rock n roll. Instead, their starched shirts remain as crisp as ever and there’s still not a hair out of place while debut album ‘All My Shades Of Blue’ continues to take the US by storm. Continue reading “Ruen Brothers “All My Shades Of Blue” (Ramseur, 2018)”

Hadnot Creek “Winter” (Independent, 2018)

Hadnot Creek released ‘Winter’ back in February for those of you wondering why this bleak and desolate collection of spit and sawdust Americana appears on these pages to coincide with some of the hottest days in recent memory. We might be breaking out the strawberries and cream for Wimbledon over here but Cliff Richard this is not. Formed in 2016 by Charlottesville, Virginia’s self-confessed shoegazer Rober Sawrey, Hadnot Creek brings to mind windswept log cabins on lonely mountains. Opener ‘Everyone Is Guilty Of Something’ sets the mood. It’s not just the Cash-esque depths of Sawrey’s vocals, the whole vibe is lo-fi, the lyrics harsh and the guitars delightfully fuzz-boxed in the style of Beck or early Radiohead. Acoustic guitar also plays a large part on the album, you can feel the frostbite on tracks like ‘I’m Never Far Away’ as Sawrey uses his unique talent for melancholy to suck the listener into his Neverland of unrequited love and twist the powers of sonic interpretation to make the listener hear rather an unholy perversion. Oh, the power of a well-timed violin draw! Continue reading “Hadnot Creek “Winter” (Independent, 2018)”

We Are Muffy “The Charcoal Pool” (Tapete Record, 2018)

Listening to the distant Cornish trappings of We Are Muffy is like stepping into a time capsule of Brylcreem, pinstripes and windy seaside shingle. The listener is taken on a journey of random droll observations on urban Albion life, inspired by Nick Duffy and Angeline Morrison’s shared Birmingham past. It’s heavy to the point of comical on trombone, music box, bottle tops, broken china…the list goes on and serious traditional folk it may be, but there’s more than a cursory tip of the bowler hat to The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and other eccentrics on the liberal wing of the sixties folk revival to be found here. Continue reading “We Are Muffy “The Charcoal Pool” (Tapete Record, 2018)”

Ben Bostick “Hellfire” (Independent, 2018)

Easy to dismiss at first listen as the kind of low-grade dirty country rock mastered and simultaneously lampooned by Jeff Bridges in his 2009 Oscar-winning performance as ‘Bad’ Blake in Crazy Heart, ‘Hellfire’ should not be so quickly thrown to the dive bar wolves. Just as Blake, with the help of T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham actually had some fine songs, so has South Carolina’s Ben Bostick, once you overcome any initial misgivings based on the drinking and shagging first impressions of the song content and dig a little deeper. He has some killer riffs, not to mention genuinely dark moments of disenfranchisement and what it means to be marginalised in the American South. Continue reading “Ben Bostick “Hellfire” (Independent, 2018)”

Curse Of Lono, Dot To Dot Festival, Mr Wolfs, Bristol, 25th May

Most fans of Americana music should by now be familiar with the works of Felix Bechtolsteimer, whether that be from his groundbreaking British country blues revivalists Hey Negrita or the more recent murky window into his soul that is his latest venture, the dramatic rock’nroll caravan that is Curse Of Lono. Continue reading “Curse Of Lono, Dot To Dot Festival, Mr Wolfs, Bristol, 25th May”