Songs for the apocalypse: Dar Williams “When Sal’s Burned Down”

If I had to choose one album that reminded me of my twenties more than any other record, I’d go for New Yorker Dar Williams’ ‘The Honesty Room’  released back in 93. It takes me back to little gigs in Telford’s, Chester with a painted lounge backdrop and Williams’ gentle played songs which as an angst-ridden twenty-something after 3 pints I struggled to get through without sobbing uncontrollably. As the song begins: “Are we the fools for being surprised that a silence could end with no sound?” Her lyrics are still exceptional.

Pick of the Political Pops: Dan Hicks “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away”

Down here in The Bunker of AUK Towers we are champions of pointless exercises. The Editor is fond of making us do physical jerks first thing of a morning to set us up for the day’s work. Then we’ll take the landfill (we like to think of it as ‘recycling’) out, then we’ll discuss the hot news of the day whilst simultaneously patting ourselves on the back for our progressive politicality, then we’ll perhaps have a spot of lunch – generally a quinoa salad washed down with a pint or two of IPA from the local Brewing Co-Operative, then we’ll wash up (recycling the washing-up water because its better tasting than the IPA) and then we’ll begin the day’s work of writing reviews/features/news snippets/videos. It is nothing if not a picture of Elysian goodness. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Dan Hicks “How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away””

Van Life – The Southern Fold

Ireland’s love of American roots music is something that has long been championed and applauded. There are any number of bands an artists who take inspiration both from the giants of the genre – Zandt, Clark, etc – and those that head a little further afield trawling the old alt.country archives. The Southern Fold are one such example. Led by guitarist and vocalist Emlyn Holden the band draw as much from Son Volt and Creedence for their guitar driven sound with the band making their UK debut at Red Rooster Festival at the end of May.  Americana-UK caught up with Holden at Kilkenny Roots Festival to chat about life on the road and those all important CD’s for the glovebox. Continue reading “Van Life – The Southern Fold”

Songs for the apocalypse: Tim Rogers & the Twin Set “I Left My Heart All Over the Place”

‘What Rhymes with Cars and Girls’ was the first solo album by You Am I frontman Tim Rogers, and the only release featuring the backing band The Twin Set. I grew to love the album with every bone in my body from the time when I first heard it in Australia back in 1999, and so it seems did a theatre company in Melbourne, the city where the album originated, who turned the whole thing into a musical in 2015. As the Director of that musical said, the record is “somehow a conversation between lovers about the tricky business of love” and few do it as well as Tim Rogers. Just lovely.

Pick of the Political Pops: Randy Newman “Short People”

There’s a TV in every room here at Americana-UK Towers (all fifty or so). None of them are connected, of course, but we need to be able to sell ourselves to visiting dignitaries to The People’s Republic of Liverpudlia and delegates attending the famous Americana–UK Towers ‘Phestival of Phun” – our annual event celebrating everything downbeat, miserable and featuring steel guitar. Our sister festival, the more ‘niche’ Phestivities of Phunnies, features everything downbeat, miserable and lap-steel is held every two years. This one is exclusive to musical pedants. If you haven’t yet received your invitation to either then please bear with us. There are two key reasons for any delay: (1) we phucking don’t like you or (2) we don’t give a phucking shit Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Randy Newman “Short People””

What Is This Americana Thing Anyway…?

Welcome back to our occasional series in which we ask the Americana UK staff writers and contributors to give us a handle on the what, whys and wherefores that got them into the genre and why they thought flares where a necessary fashion statement back in the day. This week we hear from master of brevity and king of eclectic lists Mike Elliott: Continue reading “What Is This Americana Thing Anyway…?”

Pick of the Political Pops: Ben Harper “Excuse Me Mr.”

As mentioned last week we enjoyed/endured local elections in England and Northern Ireland last week. The results were interesting… the Blues and Purples had a rubbish time of it with the Reds not doing as well as expected either. The Greens and Yellows and ‘others’ had a high old time though. What the winners have in common of course is their commitment to Remain and a determination to stop Brexit and hold a ‘People’s Vote’/confirmatory referendum. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Ben Harper “Excuse Me Mr.””

Songs for the apocalypse: Jason McNiff “I Remember You”

Way back when I first started running AUK back in the early 2000s, promos of CDs started to trickle through the letterbox – some were great, others were let’s say over-confident, but occasionally something would hit the doormat that just blew me away. London based Jason McNiff’s ‘Nobody’s Son’ was one such record, and one of my lasting memories of the first listen to the track ‘I Remember You’ was shortly afterwards visiting my auntie in New Brighton where I insisted she, my mum and various other members of the family crammed into my tiny car to listen to it. They were bowled over too of course, and its Dylan-esque structure still sounds as fresh today as when it was first released. Fittingly for the song, I’ve never forgotten it.

Pick of the Political Pops: Pete Seeger “Solidarity Forever”

A concise and to the point ‘Pops’ this edition folks as we recall that this week saw May 1st (or The First of May or May Day as you will). May Day is, of course, International Worker’s Day – an occasion on which you might think that the workers of the world would unite, having nothing to lose but their chains. Although it might not be obvious those of us beavering away on this internationally renowned web-magazine really do find it hard work at times so we stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of our working sistren and brethren in celebration of our labours and the sacrifice that our fellow workers have made over the millennia. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Pete Seeger “Solidarity Forever””

Americana A-Z – Lindi Ortega

The Americana A-Z is sometimes a means to celebrate a legend of the genre or it is often a way of reminding readers of a forgotten gem. This week, for the letter ‘O’, we’re shining the light on a contemporary act who deserves an audience. Lindi Ortega has been releasing music for almost twenty years and has become known for a mixture of foot-stomping country and traditional balladry, all of which showcases her powerful vocals and great range. She deserves her place here because of the sophistication of her song writing and the manner in which she continues to explore and grow and develop artistically so far into her musical career. Continue reading “Americana A-Z – Lindi Ortega”