Magic Car “Meteorites” (Tiny Dog, 2016)

magic-car-meteorites-cover-jpgMagic Car are a collective of musicians led by Phil Smeeton, a Nottingham based actor/singer songwriter. They perform from a mixed palette of roots influences mainly concentrating on the folk idiom for the slices of pop dappled sentiments and melodies. There are the country blues stylings of ‘Only in America’ with its harmonica and bottleneck and the swampy ‘Manwhippa’ – a pean to a dominatrix – with its fuzzed guitar and torchy vocals from Hazel Atkinson, awoman with a spectacular voice that is perhaps a cut above the songs she is given to work with. This and ‘Summer Storm’ show off her talents and represent the best of the album. Continue reading “Magic Car “Meteorites” (Tiny Dog, 2016)”

The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Cosmic Country Blue” (Aveline Records, 2016)

goat_roper_rodeoThis North Wales trio show just what you can achieve with a couple of acoustic guitars, a stand-up bass and the voice of a pinch-faced Kentucky miner’s son. Turns out you can do an awful lot – they sound as though they’ve been pickled in moonshine for generations. The harmonies flow easily, the songs sound like standards, they’re that comfortable, that skilled and as authentic as a sweat-stained sun bleached John Deere hat. Continue reading “The Goat Roper Rodeo Band “Cosmic Country Blue” (Aveline Records, 2016)”

FELL “There Still Are Mysteries” (Nous Vous Press, 2016)

fellI’m sure that a lot of music is designed from the point of view of the listener, concentrating on what the listener wants, putting them at the centre and delivering a reassuring experience. I’m equally as sure that Nicolas Burrows doesn’t work that way, as Glaciers and now as FELL he makes music very much from his own point of view. This is considerably higher-fi than previous recordings – the songs are full of gently modulated atmospheres, though not sounding like, I’m often reminded of the American Analog Set. ‘Other Ways’ with its falsetto vocal and heat haze guitars puts me in mind of the slo-core Radar Brothers. Continue reading “FELL “There Still Are Mysteries” (Nous Vous Press, 2016)”

Michael Rank “Red Hand” (Louds Hymn, 2016)

Michael Rank 2016Michael Rank continues ploughing his exceptionally productive furrow which has seen him release six albums in four years. His previous offering, 2015’s ‘Horsehair’ was described by No Depression as “a superb album” while Americana Music Show stated that Rank was “creating some of the most interesting twangy rock and roll today”. This was both with his original rock and roll band, Snatches of Pink, and his solo career which is usually with the band Stag.  Continue reading “Michael Rank “Red Hand” (Louds Hymn, 2016)”

M.Lockwood Porter “How To Dream Again” (Hidden Trail Records, 2016)

Smashing thunknownrough what sounds like a cult singing on the side of a mountain, the album bursts into life on ‘American Dreams Denied’ with a powerful guitar lick that squeals and rocks. It reminds this reviewer of The Pursuit of Happiness. Quickly moving on to ‘Burn Away’ with its steel guitar and hint of Hammond B3 very much a 70s vibe with a lazy Younglike drum beat. Clearly a ‘Time Fades Away’ going on and the strong vocals don’t dispel the feeling as they power the song through the bridge with its lingering guitar. This is classic songwriting beyond verse chorus verse chorus etc. Continue reading “M.Lockwood Porter “How To Dream Again” (Hidden Trail Records, 2016)”

Thomas Charlie Pederson “Second Hand War” (Karmanian Records, 2016)

tp2It’s a family affair as Thomas Pederson is joined and produced by Daniel Pederson. This is a sparse album recorded by someone who has obviously listened to his Dylan and many other confessional singers and there is a spark of something wonderful here. It is only a spark at present, but there is sufficient evidence of a potential major talent at work buried deep in the grooves. This is not however an album for the casual listener. The songs are presented in a very austere way with minmal instrumentation – a guitar or a piano perhaps a ukulele and this lack of colour gives the whole a very monochrome feel and throws the songs into stark relief, and they are not yet good enough for that.  Continue reading “Thomas Charlie Pederson “Second Hand War” (Karmanian Records, 2016)”

Bruce Springsteen “Chapter and Verse” (Columbia Records, 2016)

bruce-springsteen-2016As is probably obvious from the title, this is the companion album to The Boss’ recent biography Born To Run – the songs chosen by him – and as such covers the breadth of his career, including a few pre-E Street Band recordings. It’s not exactly a best of, but with five previously unreleased tracks alongside a whole bunch of the big numbers it’s more of a musical life story. Springsteen has been a masterful exponent of reinvention – perhaps the best at this in the last fifty years. He hasn’t had quite as many musical changes of direction as Dylan, but easily as many as David Bowie. Where Bowie accompanied each side step with a new persona Bruce has managed to perform his musical shimmies whilst always remaining as The Boss. Continue reading “Bruce Springsteen “Chapter and Verse” (Columbia Records, 2016)”

Chip Taylor “I’ll Carry For You” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)

Chip Taychip-taylor-ill-carry-for-youlor is a musician who has deservedly earned much respect over the years so it seems a litle churlish to offer criticism of such a revered artist. However, even though he has written many great songs and recorded many great albums, this is not one of them. The CD is really an EP featuring five songs with three instrumental themes and an alternative version of the title song. Continue reading “Chip Taylor “I’ll Carry For You” (Train Wreck Records, 2016)”

Little Country Giants “Dead Reckoning” (Independent, 2016)

Littllittle-country-giants-dead-reckoninge Country Giants comprise husband and wife duo Cameron Federal and Russell Cook and were formed in 2004 and are one of the best kept secrets of the traditional country genre. If you liked the “Oh Brother” soundtrack and the various offshoots from that style then chances are that you will fall in love with this too. The opening track “Party Till You Fall” is an upbeat pared back country rock number followed by “Chart To My Heart” featuring tuba and french horn mingled together artfully with mandolin and soaring harmonies. Continue reading “Little Country Giants “Dead Reckoning” (Independent, 2016)”

Lizanne Knott “Excellent Day” (Proper Music Distribution, 2016)

lizanne-knott-2016‘Excellent Day’ is Lizanne Knott’s fourth album, dedicated to long-time friend and guitarist Jef Lee Johnson who passed away unexpectedly. It is also the title of the last song on the album, written by Johnson, and covered by Knott to honour her friend. It isn’t the only cover on the album, with tracks by George and Ira Gershwin, Bruce Springsteen and most notably Janis Ian, who gifts Knott the wonderful track ‘Sometimes’. Continue reading “Lizanne Knott “Excellent Day” (Proper Music Distribution, 2016)”