Pete Gow “Here There’s No Sirens” (Clubhouse Records, 2019)

Pete Gow, veteran frontman of the acclaimed Case Hardin,  has recorded his first solo record ‘Here There’s No Sirens.’ Released on the same label as Case Hardin, Gow’s sound is a deliberate departure from the band’s usual fare. This album is stripped back, focused, and deeply personal. The songs are a mixture of an almost confessional style, with some character driven tracks and one good old fashioned story song, ‘Some Old Jacobite King’. Continue reading “Pete Gow “Here There’s No Sirens” (Clubhouse Records, 2019)”

Clockwork Carousel “Clockwork Carousel” (Tick Tock Records, 2018)

Who would have guessed it!  Americana is alive and well in the New Forest in the shape of Clockwork Carousel who have just released their self-titled debut album.  Normally at this stage – and certainly for a band that relatively few will have heard of – the humble reviewer has listened to the record a number of times, done some background reading and then gleaned all that he/she can from the press release blurb that almost invariably accompanies the music when it is submitted for review. Continue reading “Clockwork Carousel “Clockwork Carousel” (Tick Tock Records, 2018)”

Love Trap “Rosie” (Wild Honey Records, 2019)

Love Trap from Turin, Italy are a super-duo of sorts formed by Stefano Isaia and Marco Spigariol from the remnants of a number of different groups (Movie Star Junkies, Lame and Krano to name a few) and ‘Rosie‘ is their debut release under the Love Trap moniker. Combining elements of country and Americana musicianship in the traditional band sense alongside subtle pop sensibilities within the vocal melodies and harmonies the group have crafted a unique sound which blends the two together seamlessly. Continue reading “Love Trap “Rosie” (Wild Honey Records, 2019)”

J.S. Ondara “Tales of America” (Verve, 2019)

The grand but elusive idea of the ‘American Dream’ is one of the USA’s gifts to the world. J.S. Ondara is, perhaps, the very personification of this ideal but his darkly poetic lyrics and tender confessionals expose the doubts, flaws and difficulties in chasing the myth, just like the pain to be found in the search for love. This is a timely piece of art, exploring the conflict of an outsider, with a deep affection for its culture and musical history, finding his place in modern America. At times joyous and at times bleak and haunting, Ondara’s inspiring debut album tells the story of his determination to pursue his dream of becoming a musician in a land far from home. Continue reading “J.S. Ondara “Tales of America” (Verve, 2019)”

Crooked Weather “Are We Lost” (Independent, 2010)

Had this arrived in a vinyl format we would not be surprised to see a small palm tree on a grassy island decorating the label. Crooked Weather, a Yorkshire based duo, are unashamedly influenced by the folk rock sounds of the late sixties and early seventies as purveyed back then by the likes of the Island, Harvest and Transatlantic Record labels. As such, they can be compared (slightly) to the Pentangle family, John & Beverly Martyn and Michael Chapman along with some American contemporaries. However, much like, for example, Doghouse Roses, they don’t attempt to recreate their forebears’ sounds but use their influence as a starting point for their own singular music. Continue reading “Crooked Weather “Are We Lost” (Independent, 2010)”

Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019)

Swimming Bell is the solo project of Brooklyn based Katie Schottland, ‘Wild Sight’ the debut album following her ‘The Golden Heart’ EP in 2017. That this gentle music carries nothing of the metropolis is perhaps explained by much of its creation being in the UK with collaborator and producer Oli Deacon (Lowpines), including a spell in Leeds last winter. When Schottland was incapacitated by a broken foot in 2015, she picked up an acoustic and started to play by learning Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’, and some of these tracks are so spaciously produced that you can almost hear that brush on the village dance floor, a gust of wind in ‘Quietly Calling’ for instance. Continue reading “Swimming Bell “Wild Sight” (Adventure Club Records, 2019)”

Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)

‘Light’n Up’ is the third solo album from Texas singer-songwriter and former Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez. It sees him take a considerable turn in the road to follow a new direction away from the largely hard rocking approach of its predecessors. The album is far more lyrically driven and far more varied musically. It is a very introspective and personal album, written during a challenging time for Vasquez. Continue reading “Matthew Logan Vasquez “Light’n Up” (Dine Alone, 2019)”

Megg Farrell “Megg Farrell & Friends” (Independent, 2019)

It’s easy to imagine you are listening to a live set in a smoky dive bar in the French Quarter, New Orleans when you hear ‘Megg Farrell & Friends.’ Led by Brooklyn-based Megg Farrell, the album is a mix of covers and originals set to a mix of jazz, ragtime and country. Farrell has a strong, bluesy voice reminiscent of Billie Holiday and it comes through in songs like ‘New Orleans Waltz’ and ‘New York Love Song.’  Obvious in both these song topics is her attachment to place and her bio indicates she’s travelled the length and breadth of the USA as well as living a while in Paris, France. Continue reading “Megg Farrell “Megg Farrell & Friends” (Independent, 2019)”

Various Artists “3 x 4” (Yep Roc, 2018)

Ah, those heady days of the Paisley Underground, a music scene which even when observed from across the ocean offered an alternative to the prevailing pop-scene that dominated the UK music charts. ‘3 x 4‘ offers up a kind of re-visitation of those days, observed through a distorting glass, as the various artists – The Bangles (originally The Bangs), The Three O’Clock, The Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade – each take on a track originally recorded by the other three bands. ‘3 x 4‘ was originally released as a double vinyl LP set on Record Store Day 2018, so it’s not an entirely new release, but it’s a significant enough one that it is worth noting now that it has at last been given a CD release. Continue reading “Various Artists “3 x 4” (Yep Roc, 2018)”

Neil Hamburger “Still Dwelling” (Drag City, 2019)

Neil Hamburger is the anti-comic creation of Greg Turkington, a thoroughly despicable and creepy looking individual who you wouldn’t want to see talking to anyone you cared about. It’s a brilliant creation whose characteristics and persona are presumably why these songs were chosen for covers, along with the couple of originals thrown in for good measure, but ultimately, your enjoyment of this album rests heavily on how you feel about Hamburger’s shtick. Continue reading “Neil Hamburger “Still Dwelling” (Drag City, 2019)”