Songs for the apocalypse: Billy Bragg “Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards”

Tomorrow feels like the most important day this country has faced in many decades – more on that tomorrow – so for this week’s voyage to americanageddon, there couldn’t really be any other choice. Billy Bragg has adapted the song at live shows over the years to keep up with the times and whatever latest villain we’re having to endure, but some of the lyrics feel as apt now as they did 31 years ago when the song first featured on the classic ‘Workers Playtime’ album. “Jumble sales are organized and pamphlets have been posted, Even after closing time there’s still parties to be hosted. You can be active with the activists or sleep in with the sleepers while you’re waiting for the great leap forwards.”  Here’s hoping the wait is over any day now.

AmericanA to Z – Emmylou Harris

As a renowned singer, songwriter and musician, Emmylou Harris will no doubt need little or no introduction. Harris is, without doubt, one of the all-time greats. Her contribution to music over the years is summed up magnificently in the notes accompanying her 2005 compilation album ‘The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches and Highways’ as “a cornerstone of the country-rock genre, who led country music back to its roots, who was a trailblazer for female musical collaborations, who prefigured the resurgence of bluegrass, and who became a key artist of the Americana movement”. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Emmylou Harris”

Pick of the Political Pops: Jack Greene “Statue of a Fool”

Our Americana-UK election – a sort of microcosm of the country at large’s descent into folly – is going swimmingly and as the big day approaches we become more half-arsed about it by the minute…er…sorry that should read ‘we become more engaged with it by the second’. I suppose we should be grateful that existing in our own little bubble as we do we aren’t subjected to the daily torrent of lies, obfuscation and cant from the majority of those up for election and that the smears, character assassinations and foaming-mouth scare stories from the (billionaire right wing-owned) press have little effect on us. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Jack Greene “Statue of a Fool””

Van Life – Sunday Morning

Italian roots renegades Sunday Morning’s excellent new album ‘Four’ sounds much like a sunglazed heartland rock US road movie soundtrack. With the best part of ten years behind them in terms of touring and making records, this is a band that are totally at one with each other. It’s uplifting roots music that nods its cap to all manner of influences from The Replacements to Springsteen. Yet, far from a nostalgia trip Sunday Morning depicts a band refining their sound, with ‘Four‘ they have made a record that I’m sure will make a ‘Van Life’ piece in future months. It’s a perfect accompaniment to any trip! Americana-UK caught up with the band to see how life on the road works out for them.  Continue reading “Van Life – Sunday Morning”

Songs for the apocalypse: Toad the Wet Sprocket “Something’s Always Wrong”

In what feels like another lifetime ago these days, I lived in Sydney for a year after I left school, and one night after coming home from a late shift at the restaurant I worked in (as an appalling waiter) a band called Toad the Wet Sprocket named after a Monty Python sketch appeared on TV and I was spellbound. Thus began a three decades love affair with this Californian act which continued when I returned to the UK thanks to Bob Harris, and they remain one of the few “artists to see before I die” still on my list. Whenever I introduce them to friends (not literally), the track ‘Something’s Always Wrong’ is always the first track I reach for. 23 years on from its original release on the ‘Dulcinea’ album, and with all its magnificent chord changes and the arrangement, this still ranks as one of my favourite songs of all time.

AmericanA to Z – Iris DeMent

When the current vinyl revival started and I switched from CD to once again buying vinyl records, one thing I swore that I wouldn’t do, was to re-purchase my CD collection as titles were inevitably re-issued on vinyl.  But then Iris DeMent’s 1992 debut ‘Infamous Angel’ was re-issued on vinyl and in true country style, promises made, became promises broken. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Iris DeMent”

Another reminder to vote in this year’s Americana UK readers poll!

The votes are still trickling in for our poll of the year and while trickles are normally better than floods, in this instance your favourite artist might not be getting the exposure they deserve because YOU can’t be bothered. OK not you, the person sitting next you. Both of you – Head over to our voting page to make your choices – as always, some of these categories do come down to a handful of votes, so every one really will count. You can vote until December 15th 2019.  Happy votings!

Songs for the apocalypse: Great Lake Swimmers “When It Flows”

Two of my favourite bands in the world are Great Lakes (Ben Crum’s indie-americana project from Georgia) and Great Lake Swimmers, the quintet currently based in a little known village north of Athens called Toronto. I often go to play one and then plump for the other. This happened on the weekend where I reacquainted myself with the Swimmers’ ‘Bodies and Minds’ record from 2005 which was quiet and melancholic, but left me feeling euphoric at times. The track ‘When It Flows’ was a highlight with its reflection that “The roar of an action silences all the words, The cry of an accomplishment Drowns the whimper of ten thousand words”. 

AmericanA to Z – Centro-matic

Centro-Matic were a rock band formed in Denton Texas in 1995 who continued with the same four members, releasing 11 LPs and numerous singles & EPs until they disbanded in 2014. Seeing them was like hanging out with your older brother’s cool mates on a dreich school night. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Centro-matic”

Pick of the Political Pops: Big Star “Don’t Lie To Me”

 

Mirroring the country at large our own election process is in full swing as you know and the position of Editorship is up for grabs. We have had the ballot papers printed – featuring just the one name obviously – and we have been having a fulsome and detailed hustings. Unfortunately The Editor was unable to attend citing reasons of utter apathy but we like to think that we carried the torch in his absence and that our democratic process is going swimmingly. So swimmingly that we have decided to let you, our dear reader, have a vote or votes of your own. You can’t vote for The Editorship but you can let your feelings be known about other stuff that has happened this year by heading over to our Official Best Of Year page. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Big Star “Don’t Lie To Me””