Songs for the apocalypse: The Tyde “Your Tattoos”

Tracing their roots to early 1990s LA indie band Further, formed by Darren Rademaker and brother Brent (who went on to form another classic americana band Beachwood Sparks), The Tyde cite Felt, The Beach Boys and The Byrds as major influences and you can hear them and more all over this track from their debut album ‘Once’ from 2001 which still sounds as fresh today as when it came out 18 years ago.  Listen to that sublime instrumental break at 2.22 and the refrain that follows: “You made me wish I was your man”. A timeless sentiment but one that rarely sounds as heartfelt as the last minute of this song. I still love it more than life itself (and it taught me how to spell the word “tattoos”).

AmericanA-Z – The Jayhawks

Though the roots of Americana go back decades, it was the early 1990s when the sounds we love started to coalesce into a proto-genre. Generally viewed then as alt-country, two bands on the same circuit emerged and got picked up by major labels, and sparked the alt-country boom in the late 90s from which Americana emerged as the 21st Century force that we love. If Uncle Tupelo were more alt than country and carried the cool edge, the The Jayhawks were more country than alt, and gloriously had the harmonies. Continue reading “AmericanA-Z – The Jayhawks”

Pick of the Political Pops: Chairmen of the Board “Give Me Just A Little More Time”

Oliver Cromwell (April 1653): It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue and defiled by your practice of every vice. Ye are a factious crew and enemies to all good government. Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches and would, like Esau, sell your country for a mess of pottage and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Chairmen of the Board “Give Me Just A Little More Time””

Songs for the apocalypse: Loudon Wainwright III “Pretty Good Day”

In 1999 Loudon Wainwright released an album which was comprised of various topical and satirical songs, originally produced for National Public Radio and based upon then-current issues and events, such as the Tonya Harding scandal, the O. J. Simpson murder trial, and the lead-up to Y2K. The last track on it was perhaps the most evocative and it hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I heard it, a satire on the ordinariness of life without war which many in the West take for granted: “I turned the tap, there was cold there was hot. I put on my coat to go to the shop. I stepped outside, and I didn’t get shot. It’s a pretty good day so far.”  It still resonates today, perhaps more than ever in these frightening times.

Van Life – William the Conqueror

West country trio William The Conqueror have been making steady inroads on the Americana scene for a few years now with their latest album ‘Bleeding On The Soundtrack’ just released on Loose Music. Headed by singer-songwriter Ruarri Joseph, who released a number of albums ten years ago under his own name and was quite a favourite on the folk scene, William The Conqueror are altogether a different beast.  Blues-driven riffs, building beautifully to full-on glorious crescendos, this is a band that utilises all three musicians to their full potential. Their sound is simple yet completely mesmeric. There is a certain bond between these guys that has clearly been built on the road. Americana UK asks Joseph how things shape up as the miles pass.  Continue reading “Van Life – William the Conqueror”

AmericanA to Z – Indigo Girls

Even within such a broad church as Americana, “whatever that is”, as No Depression magazine accurately put it aeons ago, some may be exercised as to whether or not Indigo Girls qualify or should instead fit into folk, folk-rock, alt.something or other or whatever the latest pigeonhole is called.  As far as this writer is concerned however Indigo Girls are Americana; what particular flavour is for discussion by those who enjoy dancing on the head of a pin. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Indigo Girls”

Pick of the Political Pops: The High Llamas “Checking In and Checking Out”

“It’s been a quiet week in politics and we don’t really have much to say…” …said no one ever. When the ‘leader’ of a ‘government’ suffers two of the three most catastrophic defeats in the history of Parliament one would probably expect them to resign. Not so PM Terry Might. Here is a person who has had two years to come up with a decent agreement to leave the European Union but couldn’t manage it. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: The High Llamas “Checking In and Checking Out””

Songs for the apocalypse: Fruit Bats “From a Soon to be Ghost Town”

Occasionally, very occasionally, you come across a song where the first time you hear it you know it’s going to be one of those Desert Island Disc tracks which stays with you for the rest of your life. I first heard this song by Chicago’s Fruit Bats only 2 years back in the middle of a very wet field in the Brecon Beacons, and almost wept for joy at the melody and arrangement which had echoes for me of the Jayhawks at their best. As the line goes, “It’s hard to be a queer one in a place with no queer ones, At least none who’d admit that they were.” Which made me think, where has this track been all my life?

Pick of the Political Pops: Sparklehorse “Knives of Summertime”

It would appear that PM Terry Might is conducting the political equivalent of fiddling whilst Rome burns. There are of course many problems facing the country – there always are – but one particular bête noir of the moment is knife crime. We don’t have knives here at Americana-UK Towers because we can’t be trusted with them (except plastic ones) but news has filtered down to us that attacks featuring the use of knives are on the rise. It appears that the conversation round this has gone something like: Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Sparklehorse “Knives of Summertime””