Dream Machine “The Illusion” (Castle Face Records, 2017)

Having wound up his band Warm Soda, going out with an excellent final album, Matthew Melton returns with his new band Dream Machine. Gone are the power pop leanings of Warm Soda and in comes a late sixties “heavy” band, which, not unlike H.P.Lovecraft, mixes swoops of electric organ and a garage rock feel but then also adds in the not-part-of-the-summer-of-love attitude of early Black Sabbath. Continue reading “Dream Machine “The Illusion” (Castle Face Records, 2017)”

Hannah Aldridge “Gold Rush” (Rootsy Music, 2017)

Hannah Aldridge. Remember that name because, I suspect, you’ll be hearing a lot more of it. “Gold Rush” may well be the best “non-name” release of the year to date but though Hannah Aldridge herself is not that well known yet (and it really is only a matter of time) you may recognise the surname, since her father is well respected Nashville songwriter Walt Aldridge – proving yet again that old adage that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. Continue reading “Hannah Aldridge “Gold Rush” (Rootsy Music, 2017)”

Almost Charlie “A Different Kind Of Here” (Words On Music, 2017)

Almost Charlie are a collaboration between Berlin based composer Dirk Homuth and New York based lyricist Charlie Mason and A Different Kind Of Here is their third album under the moniker. Recorded in Berlin the album features Homuth on various strings and things and vocals, his wispy voice couched in various settings, gentle pastoral reveries, woody string backed settings and piano based ballads with an occasional moment of briskness allowed to intrude. Continue reading “Almost Charlie “A Different Kind Of Here” (Words On Music, 2017)”

My Darling Clementine “Still Testifying” (Continental Song City, 2017)

The thought of working with our sweet and loving partner may be enough to send many of us quivering into the corner (or perhaps the pub) but that’s exactly what husband & wife team Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish did when they formed My Darling Clementine. Is it a marriage made in music heaven? Or do I hear the sound of divorce bells and a guitar being inserted unceremoniously into a tetchy spouse’s rear end?  By this stage – 3 albums and over 400 live shows since their inception in 2011 – we have to presume that something about it works for them and, with a good dynamic between the two singers, a complimentary vocal style and well-pitched harmonies, there is enough to choose from that does. Continue reading “My Darling Clementine “Still Testifying” (Continental Song City, 2017)”

Donald Byron Wheatley “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” (Maiden Voyage Recording Co, 2017)

Rear-ended by a car which sent me and my bicycle flying through the air, the kerb-stone rose up and smashed me in the face. Paramedics diagnosed a broken nose, fractured arm, wrist and cracked ribs, and as I lay there bleeding, I pondered that the only other thing to have made such an impact on me recently is this amazing new album by Donald Byron Wheatley. Moondogs and Mad Dogs is essentially a tribute by Wheatley to his father ‘Big Don’, who came from a family of showmen who have worked on fairgrounds up and down our fair land for the past one hundred and fifty years. ‘Big Don’ turned little Donald on to the kind of music he loved and would play to him both on record and on his acoustic guitar: Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, and singers like Bessie Smith, Big Mama Ford and Van Morrison. Continue reading “Donald Byron Wheatley “Moondogs and Mad Dogs” (Maiden Voyage Recording Co, 2017)”

Ben Millburn “Local Honey” EP (Independent, 2016)

It was Marcel Proust who wrote: ‘To a young pup in love, a bitch’s ass smells sweet.’ Austin, Texas resident, Ben Milburn has testified a true story, on his new ‘Local Honey’ EP, that to this young pooch, his beloved was the sweetest, most fragrant thing he had ever experienced in his life; before she finished him, crushed under heel like an empty packet of cigarettes; dismissed like a dog, pausing only to yell, ‘Smell ya later, Sucka!’ Milburn’s EP is like a mini-opera in four acts: boy meets girl, boy adores girl, girl fools boy into thinking she likes him too, then girl takes him for all he’s got and throws him away like an empty book of motel matches. Continue reading “Ben Millburn “Local Honey” EP (Independent, 2016)”

John Alexander “Of These Lands” (Independent, 2017)

John Alexander is a Scottish singer-songwriter with a ton of influences and a load of natural talent. With people like John Martyn, Greg Brown, Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters on his list, as one would expect pretty and fluffy doesn’t come into the equation. His lived-in vocals and rootsy style of playing see images of the road, and everyday life ease across the skyline in authentic fashion. Alexander’s music isn’t short of takers. One track from his last album “Nowhere To Go” was used on the US TV show, The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, and with his sound steeped in good old-fashioned earthy organic roots Americana,  Alexander possesses a sound more akin to the banks of the Mississippi than his native River Clyde.  Continue reading “John Alexander “Of These Lands” (Independent, 2017)”

David Starr “The Head and The Heart” (Independent, 2017)

Americana singer-songwriter David Starr, with a well-received tour of the UK and a new 6-track under his belt, finds his reputation as a performer has taken on another dimension. Such is the quality of the recording I find it hard to accept he isn’t a bigger name. Then again, that goes for a number of acts, and vice versa regards those hailed as stars, in reality nothing special on the Americana (or otherwise) scene. Depending largely on word of mouth, Starr is a most articulate singer-songwriter. Continue reading “David Starr “The Head and The Heart” (Independent, 2017)”

Daudi Matsiko “An Introduction to Failure” (Naim Records, 2017)

It’s clear from the moment the steely opening arpeggios breath life into Daudi Matsiko’s first full release, that this is going to be an up-close and personal journey. It’s one that starts like a rainstorm with opening track Home’s gentle bursts of fingerpicked melody giving way to a more substantial flow of strummed heartbreak. Before too long a bass drum brings the promise that it’s going to hammer it down and as the song builds, it briefly does, before giving way to the gentle drip of the storm’s end. Continue reading “Daudi Matsiko “An Introduction to Failure” (Naim Records, 2017)”

The Holy Innocents “Fortune” (Independent, 2017)

Belfast based The Holy Innocents surely have a rock’n’roll heart as they released this album late last year on vinyl and it’s only recently that a CD version has become widely available. A listen to the album reveals that the blood pumped through this heart has been transfused from across the water as it’s a wonderful homegrown amalgam of rootsy country, rock and country rock. Continue reading “The Holy Innocents “Fortune” (Independent, 2017)”