Molly Tuttle “When You’re Ready” (Compass Records 2019)

Any artist who can secure the talents of someone such as Jason Isbell on background vocals for their debut album clearly has something going for them, and Molly Tuttle certainly has something going for her. Having already bagged a hatful of industry awards, Tuttle’s first full album release ‘When You’re Ready’ is an album of songs all written or co-written by her about the various stages of relationships – beginning, on the journey, break up, post break up, confusion – very radio friendly, and bursting with musicianship of a high standard. Continue reading “Molly Tuttle “When You’re Ready” (Compass Records 2019)”

Conor Donohue “Let Love Contaminate” (Digital Serving, 2019)

“Typically, the best albums are the ones you have to work at to get into”  Conor Donohue said back in 2012, when he was promoting his first solo album ‘Sway’.  Fast forward seven years in the career of this US singer-songwriter, and Donohue’s third and most recent album, ‘Let Love Contaminate’, which sits somewhere pleasantly indefinable towards the jaunty, tune-humming end of the Indy folk-rock spectrum, is a real case in point. For one thing, the lyrics on ‘Let Love Contaminate’ aren’t the typical Americana paeon to some semi-mythical, probably over-rated, rural or small town existence. Continue reading “Conor Donohue “Let Love Contaminate” (Digital Serving, 2019)”

Boo Ray “Tennessee Alabama Fireworks” (Soundly Music, 2019)

There’s a wide billboard on the side of interstate 24 headed westbound pointing the way to Tennessee Alabama Fireworks in Marion County, TN.  That’s a thing in the southeastern United States:  big fireworks’ stands, truck stops, motor inns, convenience stores, gift shops – practically little towns – resting on or near the borders between states.  (The one on I-95 at the North and South Carolina border is famously known as “South of the Border” and displays a giant sombrero-wearing mascot named “Pedro,” with billboards along the way that read “Pedro says ‘chili today, hot tamale!’” But I digress…)  Continue reading “Boo Ray “Tennessee Alabama Fireworks” (Soundly Music, 2019)”

Burly “Self Titled Demon” (Five Kill Records, 2019)

I hate saxophones. I hate even writing the word saxophone. It’s Baker Street’s fault. I have a near pathological hatred of that song and for a while, thanks to a Stuart Maconie penned urban myth, I hated Bob Holness.  But I think my sax life might be about to improve. Burly give good sax, see. And vibes, and jazzy drums and breathy guitar. They’re a jazz ensemble playing indie rock, basically, and it’s niiiiice. Doesn’t harm that the lyrics read like poetry, are delivered with real emotion and there’s a sense that these songs were composed, rather than written which, given their two-year gestation, this makes perfect sense and is in line with their self- described  ‘non-urgency’ style. Continue reading “Burly “Self Titled Demon” (Five Kill Records, 2019)”

Wood & Wire “North Of Despair” (Blue Corn Music, 2018)

When you come right down to it that’s all that’s making this Bluegrass sound – the wood of the instruments and the wire strung across the various necks of guitar, banjo, double bass and mandolin. It’s the rawest and purest bluegrass sound palette, and Wood & Wire, the band, have a great sounding take on this strand of American folk. Naturally there are instrumental pieces – ‘Summertime Rolls‘ is a great upbeat piece of flash, showing off the lightning fast dexterity of the players – mandolinist Billy Bright, banjo player Trevor Smith, guitarist Tony Kamel and lopingly funky bassist Dom Fisher. Continue reading “Wood & Wire “North Of Despair” (Blue Corn Music, 2018)”

The Cactus Blossoms “Easy Way” (Walkie Talkie Records, 2019)

Would you ever get sick of being compared to the Everly Brothers? Praise doesn’t get much higher when we’re talking about tight, sweet harmonies and the kind of blending of sound only possible when siblings sing together. This is something that The Cactus Blossoms, half-brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, know very well. Their debut album, 2016’s ‘You’re Dreaming’, was packed full of Everly-style, country music, a sweet trip down memory lane. So, what does new release ‘Easy Way’ bring to our ears? Continue reading “The Cactus Blossoms “Easy Way” (Walkie Talkie Records, 2019)”

Henry Derek Elis “The Devil Is My Friend” (Independent, 2018)

Henry Elis is a stalwart of the Los Angeles metal scene, fronting many bands over the years, and currently lead vocalist for the trash metal supergroup “Act of Defiance“, which was formed by ex-Megadeth memebers  Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover. Within the context of this background, the theatricality of “The Devil Is My Friend” starts to make sense. Clearly strongly influenced by heavier genres, Elis is pushing his own brand of dark ‘southern gothic americana’. We are invited Continue reading “Henry Derek Elis “The Devil Is My Friend” (Independent, 2018)”

The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Tall Grass” (Old Pup Records, 2019)

Hailing from Rhuddlan in North Wales, The Goat Roper Rodeo Band release their 3rd album, ‘Tall Grass’. Taking influence from artists such as The Band, Bob Dylan and Gillian Welch, their own brand of country music, which they brand as “Cosmic Country Blues” really refreshes the listener and makes for a mind opening experience.  Continue reading “The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Tall Grass” (Old Pup Records, 2019)”

Jared Henry “Running Wild” (Venison Records, 2018)

‘Running Wild’ is the debut album from Arkansas singer-songwriter Jared Henry – a collection of sun-soaked mellow acoustic jams, which evoke Jack Johnson at his most breezy. The result is a record which fails to inspire. Running at almost an hour, it is an overly-long set of mediocre melodies with little substance, in a style which has already been done to death. Continue reading “Jared Henry “Running Wild” (Venison Records, 2018)”

Wanderingted “I Could Be You” (Independent, 2018)

Wanderingted is both the alias of the singer-songwriter Ted Schmitz and the clue to what he sounds like. His debut album ‘I Could Be You’ is a folk-rock journey to a new place somewhere between Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he was born; a garden shed in London where he wrote the album; and his current abode and band location, Berlin. Through his downplayed, disarmingly beautiful voice over the ground of Midwestern twang from banjo picking and guitars, along with poetic elegance from the piano, Schmitz takes the listener on a wandering journey that evokes all of these places and somehow, a new place for the listener to dream of. Continue reading “Wanderingted “I Could Be You” (Independent, 2018)”