David Olney “Don’t Try To Fight It” (Red Parlor Records 2017)

The rules are there are no rules. These seem to be the only guidelines followed by David Olney in the creation of ‘Don’t Try To Fight It’, the latest addition to his considerable catalogue that covers over 40 years recording. Olney is described as something of a ‘Renaissance man’ being not just a recording artist, but Shakespearean actor, writer of sonnets, radio show host in Nashville and online blogger. Clearly a man of considerable talent and interests then and that shines through in ‘Don’t Try To Fight It’, an album that defies easy categorisation. Continue reading “David Olney “Don’t Try To Fight It” (Red Parlor Records 2017)”

Oceans are Zeroes “Oceans are Zeroes” ( Independent, 2017)

Oceans are Zeroes impinge a power-pop sensibility on the hugest Mogwai-meets-Mercury Rev songs imaginable creating a wall of rock sound backdrop behind high and steely vocals. The initial effect is to be bowled over by a veritable tsunami of sound, breaking on the beaches and throwing out sparkling rockets rather than more humdrum flotsam and jetsam. It’s infectious and initially exhilarating, such an insistent rush of music. Continue reading “Oceans are Zeroes “Oceans are Zeroes” ( Independent, 2017)”

Robyn Hitchcock “Robyn Hitchcock” (Yep Roc 2017)

Robyn Hitchcock releases his twenty first studio album, his first since 2014’s ‘The Man Upstairs’, and has chosen after all these years an eponymous title. “It’s ‘Introducing Robyn Hitchcock” he has said, working on the principle that the album will serve as a good entry point for those new to his music. Like it and you’ll find plenty similar throughout his career and if you don’t, well there’s no point in investigating any further. It’s not difficult to envisage many who will be prepared to seek out further work by this surrealist music icon after listening to this as it is a triumphant return. Hitchcock relocated to Nashville in 2014 and the seeds of this album were sown when he was tempted into the studio by producer Brendan Benson who urged him to make a record like the Soft Boys and Hitchcock has responded by delivering a piece of work that ranks alongside anything he has done. Continue reading “Robyn Hitchcock “Robyn Hitchcock” (Yep Roc 2017)”

Jason McNiff “Rain Dries Your Eyes” (Tombola Records, 2017)

Delve into the Americana UK archives and you’ll find a lot of love for Jason McNiff. Over the course of 15 years and six albums, McNiff has constantly found favour with assorted reviewers (a task in itself) and his 2003 album Nobody’s Son was our album of that year. A running thread throughout the mentions and reviews is bewilderment as to why McNiff is not more celebrated with comments such as “the UK’s most underrated Americana artist” bandied about. So much for Americana UK being taste makers but we can take comfort in the fact that others such as Mojo, No Depression, The Independent and Time Out all concur and despite that McNiff remains something of a secret. It’s somewhat shameful that when the charts (such as they are) are populated by chaps emoting in a singer songwriter fashion and who are best known for the colour of their hair or their hat sense that someone like McNiff is relegated to cult status. Continue reading “Jason McNiff “Rain Dries Your Eyes” (Tombola Records, 2017)”

Dire Wolves “Excursions to Cloudland” (Beyond Beyond is Beyond, 2017)

Four tracks do not an EP make – not when they time-in at up to 12 minutes – so make no mistake, this release from Dire Wolves is a fully fledged album. Excursions to Cloudland is a mostly instrumental excursion into the sphere of tightened up jams, cut with hypnotic riffs and looping bass runs. Dire Wolves pledge an allegiance to the Space-Rock ethos of Hawkwind, and with ever present chirps of violin and strange electronic bleepings on opener Enter Quietly there’s certainly a good nod to the line-up of that band which included Simon House. Continue reading “Dire Wolves “Excursions to Cloudland” (Beyond Beyond is Beyond, 2017)”

Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)

This is a good record – nicely written, songs performed well, you can’t really want for much more! Richard Laviolette is the real deal, a singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada, Taking the Long Way Home is his eighth album since his debut recording (Mary Carl) in 2005 and it’s clear that he’s honed his craft over those intervening twelve years. These are songs about family and friends, about love and loss, about strong characters and about a sense of mortality – all human life is here. Laviolette clearly draws on his own experiences as the inspiration for his songs and, along with some serious heart searching, there’s also some philosophising and not a little humour – My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I know) certainly raises a smile on the title alone.  Continue reading “Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)”

Danny Worsnop ‘’The Long Road Home’’ (Earache Records, 2017)

Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria and We Are Harlot fame has gone solo and released a country record. We’ve seen stories like this coming out of Nashville in great Americana records by Don Henley, to more questionable releases from Steven Tyler. Danny certainly has a story to tell, from homelessness to drinking problems and hospitalisations, and it shows in the record, with plenty of well-written songs that do feel personal to him. Continue reading “Danny Worsnop ‘’The Long Road Home’’ (Earache Records, 2017)”

No Line North “Dreams of Trees, Part 1” (Twin Lakes, 2017)

This is, effectively, an EP – just five tracks – but Part 2 is scheduled for release later this year and will “maintain its folk leanings and delve more heavily into garage rock”. Meanwhile Dreams of Trees Part 1 will be available digitally and on limited edition cd from the end of April (April 28). The press release calls this a “uniquely unified sound….transcending and bending genres…” so there is an obvious level of expectation which, on first listening, this recording really doesn’t deliver. Continue reading “No Line North “Dreams of Trees, Part 1” (Twin Lakes, 2017)”

Doug Schmude ‘’Ghosts Of The Main Drag’’ (Independent, 2017)

The great thing about music, and particularly Americana, is that it comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. Songs to make you cry, to make you drink, to get you off your seat and to jam to. Doug Schmude is no different, and I haven’t quite heard much like him in the genre. Comparable to bands like Blink 182 or All American Rejects, he has added a deal of twang and instrumentation, as well as lyrical depth, making an interesting, messy and worthwhile album. Continue reading “Doug Schmude ‘’Ghosts Of The Main Drag’’ (Independent, 2017)”

Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)

Oh yes, this’ll get the party started! If you like your Honk with a fair bit of Tonk – and vice versa – then Arty Hill’s new live album is going to be right up your gardenia lined Avenue. This is what a live album should be, gritty and down to earth; you really feel like you’re at a Saturday night gig. Arty’s sound is a little bit Nashville but with a lot of that Bakersfield earthiness thrown in – a bit reminiscent of Buck Owens or his modern day disciple, Dwight Yoakum; so it was more than a bit of a surprise to discover that Arty Hill and his excellent band, The Long Gone Daddys, hail from Baltimore. Continue reading “Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)”