Mookie Brando & The Second Cousins “Do It In Joeville” (Independent, 2018)

Mookie Brando & The Second Cousins might just be the best Americana band in Hungary – to be honest we’re not that familiar with the Americana scene in Budapest but if there is a better band then they must be damn good. Because Mookie Brando (Toronto born Frank Zsigo) and his not so close relatives hit the sweet spot of ragged-vocalled roots-rock on this, their third album release. ‘Do it in Joeville‘ is a concept album of sorts, with the songs drawing out a series of characters and situations who are tenaciously carrying on in a town that’s not currently at its best. Continue reading “Mookie Brando & The Second Cousins “Do It In Joeville” (Independent, 2018)”

Phil Madeira “Providence” (Mercyland Records, 2018)

Nashville resident Phil Madeira is an almost perfect example of those “cats” John Sebastian sang about all those years ago. A multi instrumentalist, an in demand session musician, hit songwriter (for Keb’ Mo’, Alison Krauss and The Civil Wars among others) and producer, he’s probably best known as a member of Emmylou Harris’s Red Dirt band and more recently for having helmed (with Harris) two volumes of ‘Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us’, collections of faith based songs sung by several of his famous friends. Continue reading “Phil Madeira “Providence” (Mercyland Records, 2018)”

Mia and Jonah “Spin as One” (Independent, 2018)

‘Spin as One’ is Los Angeles based duo Mia Mustari and Jonah Blumstein’s fourth album and perhaps it is the confidence of a musical marriage of 15 years together that has allowed them to deliver such a confident and compelling listen. If there were any preconceived notions that this songwriting duo would offer up a gentle laid-back acoustic listen then the opening title track puts those thoughts on hold. Mia and Jonah have recruited able musical support to produce a full band sound with the strings of Alan Grubner and Stevie Destanislao’s insistent drums joining forces with Jonah’s harmonica for a joyously upbeat starter. Continue reading “Mia and Jonah “Spin as One” (Independent, 2018)”

Luke Tuchscherer “Pieces” (Clubhouse, 2018)

Once of Bedford and The Whybirds, now of New York and with his band the Penny Dreadfuls), Luke Tuchscherer has cooked up a gloriously unholy racket on his third album. Full of the sort of muscular heartland rock’n’roll that’s replete with hooks, chunky guitar work and big choruses, it’s a delight from start to finish. He sets out his stall from with off with the pin your ears back ‘Sudden Getaway’, moves on to ‘The MF Blues’, which is unabbreviated on the vocal, and driven by one of those riffs you’re sure you’ve heard before but actually haven’t. ‘Ain’t That What They Say’ brings the melody without sacrificing the muscle and features a blistering guitar solo. It’s not all full-on though as evidenced by the tender and reflective too ‘Ghosts’. Continue reading “Luke Tuchscherer “Pieces” (Clubhouse, 2018)”

Giant Sand + Patsy’s Rats, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10th June 2018

Never a man to resist a whim, Howe Gelb has resurrected the band title he retired a few years back and re-recorded the first album which came out under the Giant Sand name, 1985’s ‘Valley of Rain’. The whys and wherefores for this are myriad perhaps but Gelb reasons that the original album suffered from being too clean, his Roland amp being one of the guilty culprits, preferring the final three songs he recorded for the album using an old Fender Tube amp (previously owned by Robbie Krieger, trivia fans). So, having secured an old 80’s Fender 30 amp late last year, Gelb set about recording ‘Return to The Valley of Rain’ and even managed to round up the original band to play on several of the songs. Job done, Giant Sand then set about a European tour to play the album live, tonight’s show the second last in the UK after a swirl around Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Continue reading “Giant Sand + Patsy’s Rats, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10th June 2018”

Gregory Page “A Wild Rose” (Independent, 2018)

Gregory Page’s new album ‘A Wild Rose’ draws on a rich heritage. Page is a Londoner by birth, Irish-Armenian by heritage; his mother was the singer in a band that toured with the Beatles, his uncle the drummer on Tom Jones’ What’s New Pussycat? He counts Jason Mraz among his friends, has supported Dylan and had his music featured on TV and films, while Amnesty International used his 2017 song ‘Say A Prayer’ in a recent campaign. Continue reading “Gregory Page “A Wild Rose” (Independent, 2018)”

Johnny “Chops” Richardson “Johnny Chops and the Razors” (Independent release, 2018)

Johnny “Chops” Richardson is a member of established Texan outfit the Randy Rogers Band, where he’s held down the bass player role for the last sixteen years. Here he steps away from the bass guitar role to front his own band as guitarist, vocalist and writer on what is his second solo outing. It’s a solid, competent recording, as you’d expect from a band of all star musicians – drawn from the likes of Reckless Kelly, the Miranda Lambert Band and John Fogerty’s touring outfit – well produced by Johnny Chops himself and Reckless Kelly guitarist David Abeyta. Continue reading “Johnny “Chops” Richardson “Johnny Chops and the Razors” (Independent release, 2018)”

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)”

Jarle Skavhellen “The Ghost in Your Smile” (Nettwerk, 2018)

Scandinavian Alt Folk is a subgenre known only to a select few. However, Norwegian Jarle Skavhellen ably demonstrates that it warrants a far wider audience. This is a quirky, often dark collection of songs. Considering that it’s a debut album (albeit by an experienced musician) makes the record all the more intriguing. The opening, titular track is beautiful and disturbing in equal measure – if you poke my glass eye, I’ll be the ghost in your smile. Continue reading “Jarle Skavhellen “The Ghost in Your Smile” (Nettwerk, 2018)”

Brent Cobb “Providence Canyon” (Low Country Sound/Atlantic, 2018)

Touring his previous album, Brent Cobb rolled into Manchester to play the day after the Ariana Grande massacre. As effectively the next American up, his decision whether to play attracted a lot of attention Stateside, especially at Rolling Stone. He posted on Facebook “While we do not want to be insensitive to your tragedy, we also refuse to let terrorism win. Our hearts break for your loss and we will be there with you tonight to mourn and help heal.” He started warily, and the depleted crowd, many of whom had walked to the gig straight from the highly emotional vigil, were raw. Continue reading “Brent Cobb “Providence Canyon” (Low Country Sound/Atlantic, 2018)”