Fabrizio Cammarata “Lights” (800A Records, 2019)

Fabrizio Cammarata, from Palermo, Sicily is not a well-known name on the UK circuit. It’s an outdated inequity that our continental neighbours are not given the attention here that our American cousins enjoy when it comes to the genre. Having said that, it’s a debate for another day (and one that I know is close to our cosmopolitan editor’s heart). But to dig a little into the journeys that influence this Mediterranean singer-songwriter and to understand a little of the mystique that drives his craft, backs up the first impression of a class act creating a portfolio of dark, cinematic insights into a Hispanic style of alternative folk.
Continue reading “Fabrizio Cammarata “Lights” (800A Records, 2019)”

Mules & Men “Thinking Sideways” (Independent, 2019)

There’s no disputing the talent, energy and togetherness that this unique band bring to the table. You can argue over the genre – they call it ‘Acid Celtgrass’. What that means is open to interpretation, pigeonholing was never an AUK preference. What matters is that Luke Coffey and his gang of Irish reprobates sting the listener with razor- edged hoedowns not heard from the Emerald Isle since The Pogues last raised hell . Continue reading “Mules & Men “Thinking Sideways” (Independent, 2019)”

Jess Klein “Back To My Green” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)

Just as the generations have always offered up explosions of outstanding peer collectives down the ages,  so it seems that lately there has been an outbreak of gifted female americana singer-songwriters. Not that Jess Klein is exactly hot off the press – her career spans nearly two decades. She does, however, have an uncanny knack of reinventing herself and is a modern day inspiration for the newcomers that have flooded the scene in the last couple of years. Continue reading “Jess Klein “Back To My Green” (Blue Rose Records, 2019)”

Rachel Baiman, The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol, 22nd January 2019

Bristol’s Wardrobe Theatre is a bohemian gem of a venue in a neglected but vibrant corner of the city, offering up a mix of independent productions and cutting edge Americana to an audience made up of old and young. A taste for low key performances and local craft ale seems to be a prerequisite for this minimalist Victorian dance hall setting and tonight Rachel Baiman and friends touched down from Nashville to a seasonal West Country welcome. Continue reading “Rachel Baiman, The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol, 22nd January 2019”

Straw Bear “Fiction” (Independent, 2018)

Straw Bear named their band after a “bizarre” festival in the home counties during which a single participant is dressed as yep, a straw bear, in celebration of the start of the agricultural year. This says more about frontman and founding member Ian Ray’s sense of the offbeat than it does about any association with crop rotation schemes among their members. This is mirrored in the quirky lyrics and weaving melodies of ‘Fiction’ – the third album and by far the most psychedelic release by this unorthodox, intriguing fellowship. Continue reading “Straw Bear “Fiction” (Independent, 2018)”

Kramies (ft. Grandaddy, Guided By Voices, Train) “Of All The Places Been & Everything The End” (Hidden Shoal, 2018)

Since signing with Australian label Hidden Shoal Records, Colorado-based Kramies Windt has forged a critically, if not necessarily commercially successful career by drawing on his European (Dutch) background, adding this to his own Appalachian roots and teaming up with indie producer, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle. The result is a unique blend of the new world and the traditional; the medieval hipster who, through the delicate spells he weaves, creates a mellow trip to a sonic netherworld. Continue reading “Kramies (ft. Grandaddy, Guided By Voices, Train) “Of All The Places Been & Everything The End” (Hidden Shoal, 2018)”

Chase McBride “Pink Lemonade” (Independent, 2018)

‘Pink Lemonade’ might sound like a flavour your pesky nephew might ‘chuck’ over you from his mechanical mod vape kit but is in fact the second album this year from Montana’s ‘dream-folk’ smoothie Chase McBride. Both music and visual art are the stock in trade for McBride, who follows his muse up and down the West Coast of California, as sporadic in his output as he is uncertain of his schedule of inspiration. It’s made for the classic troubadour existence over the last decade since he first arrived in the counterculture state to record debut album ‘From The Mountains To The Sea,’winning “Best Solo Artist” from the New Times along the way. Continue reading “Chase McBride “Pink Lemonade” (Independent, 2018)”

John Oates and The Good Road Band “Arkansas” (PR Records, 2018)

As Hall and Oates wind down from their latest supersize tour of America’s arenas, John Oates has indulged in a novel form of relaxation – he’s formed a band and gone back into the studio! Actually, unable to fully resist the lavish excess that accompanies the day job,  it’s more of a blues supergroup. Guthrie Trapp (electric guitar), Sam Bush (mandolin), Russ Pahl (pedal steel), Max Smith (cello), Steve Mackey (bass) and Josh Day (drums) completing the all-star cast in Oates’ tribute to one of his great influences – Mississippi John Hurt. Continue reading “John Oates and The Good Road Band “Arkansas” (PR Records, 2018)”

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)”