Songs for the apocalypse: Richard Shindell “State of the Union”

Richard Shindell writes songs that often break your heart more than once before the song has ended – this track taken from his ‘Not Far Now’ album from 2009 is one of those classic folk storytelling pieces that involves you with the character as much as a Raymond Carver short story, with the grand climax of the song focusing on one of Bush Jr’s state of the union addresses from the last years of his presidency: “The President’s up there grinning that grin, Thinking he’s some kind of John Wayne, We’re howling and jeering all his talk about shooting, And drilling our way out of this.” Lest we forget.

Bear’s Den are back with a new album and UK dates in April – Listen

Bear’s Den have announced details of their third studio album ‘So That You Might Hear Me’ which will be released on 26th April in the UK. The new record was recorded at several studios in Seattle with the producer Phil Ek (The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty) and was mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Metronomy). Continue reading “Bear’s Den are back with a new album and UK dates in April – Listen”

What is this Americana thing anyway…?

This month long-serving staff writer Paul Kerr gives us the lowdown on his introduction to Americana: Jim Reeves was the country crooner of choice in my household as I was growing up and it wasn’t until my pimply adolescence that Top of The Pops and Alan Freeman’s top 20 countdown entered my life. Continue reading “What is this Americana thing anyway…?”

What is this Americana thing anyway… an introduction

Anybody who is a fan of the genre – by which we mean you our dear readers – is bound to have been asked at some point: “What kind of music do you like?” Your reply will have been “I really like Americana”. You will all, no doubt, have been met by the same blank faces or quizzical looks or maybe the classic question “What the hell is THAT?”. We’ve all been there. In this, a new occasional series, we attempt to get to the bottom of what the genre is (if indeed it is one thing) and how our particular love for it as writers for Americana-UK came about. As usual, your thoughts, comments and observations are warmly welcomed.

AmericanA to Z – Peter Bruntnell

Since his 1995 solo debut ‘Cannibal‘ Peter Bruntnell has slowly built a canon of songs that would stand up next to the best of best within the Americana genre and way, way beyond. Sensible folk scratch their heads with incredulity at his lack of mainstream commercial success and marvel at the thrill of witnessing such a talent in small venues around the country on a regular basis. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Peter Bruntnell”

Pick of the Political Pops: Josh Turner “Why Don’t We Just Dance”

The Editor, in his infinite wisdom, suggested that this week we don’t go with a Brexit themed Political Pops. Eagle-eyed viewers will understand that we didn’t go with this last week and that the majority of ‘Political Pops’ aren’t solely focussed on the most important political decisions facing our people since world War Two. That said, it’s quite difficult to ignore. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Josh Turner “Why Don’t We Just Dance””

Songs for the apocalypse: Darren Smith “Dogtown Mines”

It’s fair to say right now that the world has never seemed such a volatile place: with events in both the UK and the US (and beyond) making a complete meltdown at some point in the not too distant future seem ever more likely, we’re starting a new series today called ‘Songs for the Apocalypse’ – those songs that come the end of the world you should take into your bunker with you. Americarmageddon if you will. Today’s track is by Seattle based Darren Smith who released an album called ‘Last Drive’ in 2006 which was more phenomenal than a debut had any right to be, the opening track ‘Dogtown Mines’ a six-minute epic that still doesn’t even come close to outstaying its welcome. With lines like “Misfortunes fell down like a cold dark cloud” it’s a song for our times, but with not without redemption. A new album promised for last year hasn’t materialised yet but we live in hope.

AmericanA to Z: Terry Allen

Today we’re re-starting a series we got going with a while ago before it abruptly came to a halt. Our favourite not so well known artists, going through the alphabet, week by week, starting this week with Terry Allen:  A conceptual artist, sculptor and painter as well as being a tremendous songwriter, Texan Terry Allen is perhaps the most “outlaw” of all the Texan musicians we regularly celebrate here at Americana UK. Much of his music is allied to his artworks with his debut album, Juarez, a suite of raspy bare boned songs telling the tale of four losers on the run from the law, beginning life as a series of lithographs, the songs added when a Chicago print company offered to print them with an LP telling the story with 50 copies eventually printed. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z: Terry Allen”

Pick of the Political Pops: Tracy Chapman “Talking About A Revolution”

This week sees the one-hundredth anniversary of the murder of Rosa Luxemburg (and her political ally and co-founder of the anti-war Spartakusbund Karl Liebknecht). Luxemburg was Polish by birth but became a naturalised German citizen. She was variously a member of several progressive political parties including The Social Democratic Party of Germany, the Independent Social Democratic Party and The Communist Party of Germany. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Tracy Chapman “Talking About A Revolution””

Pick of the Political Pops: Whiskeytown “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight”

Righty-ho. That was the festive season that was then. This week (ish) we have unsealed The Bunker and emerged from our temporary hibernation unusually sober and full of anticipation for the year ahead in politics and music. Vim, Vigour and Victory V’s have been our companions as we stared bright-eyed into the blindingly brilliant future. Things, we mused, can only get better. Then, after a full five (maybe six) minutes, we realised that actually things are just the bloody same. Curses. Still – this allows us to carry on with the heavy drinking and spinning those great melancholy tunes. Every cloud…