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”

Interview: Littlemen

Summer is approaching and the West Country is coming alive with festivals and events from all walks of the musical spectrum. Robert Plant is back in his old stomping ground, Glastonbury is just around the corner and soulful Americana combo Littlemen are still bringing their own unique brand of melodic country blues to their faithful Somerset following and beyond. ‘Brothers from another mother’, Simon and Nick Allen sat down with Tim Merricks at that last outpost of sanctuary for Bath musicians, ‘The Bell’ to chew over a life out west. Continue reading “Interview: Littlemen”

Vickers Vimy “Atlas Of Hearts” (Vickers Vimy Music, 2018)

For the record, the Vickers Vimy was a First World War bomber originally manufactured in County Mayo, Ireland and was the first aircraft to fly non-stop across the Atlantic. It’s also the name of this band of Galway alt-Celtic freewheelers, adopted to drive the patriotic point home. It wasn’t necessary. This collection of bittersweet jigs and ballads may embrace the vivid cinematics and vast soundscapes of faraway lands, but scratch the surface and it’s as green as the shamrock of The Emerald Isle itself. Continue reading “Vickers Vimy “Atlas Of Hearts” (Vickers Vimy Music, 2018)”

Keaton Simons “123-Go” (Independent 2018)

A friend stops by for a beer and asks casually what music you’ve got playing. Keaton Simons? Hmm, the name is kind of familiar and so is the feel but they just can’t place it. ‘123-Go’ is the new EP by the man from LA who, if Americana was a sound that could be nailed down and pinned to a mast then Keaton Simon’s version would be blowing in the wind for all to pay homage. So why is a man with Simon’s talent and connections not sharing platforms and sales with the Ryan Adams’ of this world? Continue reading “Keaton Simons “123-Go” (Independent 2018)”

David Celia and Marla, The Bell Inn, Bath, 17th April 2018

Toronto’s David Celia has seen it all touring extensively across Europe and North America in promotion of his latest album ‘Double Mind‘, so he’s picked up a trick or two along the way. Tonight’s turnout on a cold Tuesday night was below-par by The Bell’s standards but the Canadian singer/songwriter made the best of it early on, acknowledging the fact with a wry joke and pressing gamely ahead. He was joined by Marla, a fellow singer/songwriter from Germany and together they threw up images of a young Gram and Emmylou stepping out for the first time full of hope and fresh original songs of change. The venue lent itself to the atmosphere; The Bell is an intimate and dedicated shrine to the glory years of transatlantic musical heroes. Continue reading “David Celia and Marla, The Bell Inn, Bath, 17th April 2018”

Littlemen, The Bell Inn, Bath, 11th April 2018

"llittlemen-live-2018-1"Strange bedfellows are made in the western outpost of Bath, Somerset. It’s a small community, neatly split into three piles. The tourists, who come for the Georgian tea rooms and Roman spas, the students (Bath has two universities and several colleges) and the locals with their stout hearts and strong heads for scrumpy cider. Forget about the tourists, they don’t venture into Walcot – the ‘Artisan Quarter’ – after dark, but a characteristic feature of Bath’s premier good time bar and live music venue The Bell is the coming together of local middle-age rock ‘n’roll dinosaurs like this reviewer with the students, who hunt in packs out by the picnic tables. They are separate but united in their love of good music, which The Bell has developed a reputation for providing from far and wide down the years. Continue reading “Littlemen, The Bell Inn, Bath, 11th April 2018”

Gris-De-Lin “Sprung” (BB Island, 2018)

Gris-De-Lin, or Grey Linen should you prefer to translate from the groovy Gallic into the plain English of Bridgeport, Dorset is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with a sense of playful quirkiness evident on her hard-to-pin-down sound and artwork. New album ‘Sprung’ has an amusingly eclectic assortment of descriptors from our colleagues in the world of musical reviews which includes the likes of “skronky jazz and glitchy esoterica” (Uncut). Now, there’s no room in the AUK glossary for such interplanetary labels, but there’s no doubting the originality on show here or indeed the potential for honing a young British talent into something more tangible. Continue reading “Gris-De-Lin “Sprung” (BB Island, 2018)”

Oka Vanga, Green Note, London, 26th March 2018

The Green Note in Camden Town is always a pleasure to step inside. It’s one of those venues where the acts are chosen on the grounds of their pedigree and the atmosphere is always friendly. Tonight was no exception and while the audience settled in with bottled porter and locally made carrot cake, up stepped Oka Vanga to the stage. They were returning to familiar territory in a venue which helped launch their career and to where they find themselves drawn back like moths to the flame. Continue reading “Oka Vanga, Green Note, London, 26th March 2018”

Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)

Daniel Meade is many things but never dull. He’s been around in one form or another it seems forever, so prolific and varied is his work. Generally, that work would consist of rootsy music set to country beats but he has been known to deviate. It’s fair to say that’s the case with his latest release and this time he’s foregone that western flavour in favour of a more ballsy approach. Continue reading “Daniel Meade “When Was The Last Last Time” (Button Up Records, 2018)”