Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017

More than thirty years after departing from Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter is still forever associated with the band which gave him his big break. That must be something of a poisoned chalice as he’s produced a significant body of solo work over those years and his current musical unit – the Rant Band – are responsible for two of his finest albums When I’m President and last year’s Fingers Crossed both of which show him to be a songwriter very much at the top of his game. And as befits this status he works as many of the new songs into his set as possible…or perhaps that should be he works as few Mott songs into the set as he feels he can get away with. Continue reading “Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, The Stables, Wavendon, 21st June 2017”

Hot Flash Heat Wave “Soaked” (OIM Records, 2017)

Sunshine filters all through Hot Flash Heat Wave’s second album Soaked, which sees this San Francisco based four piece explore the perils of early adulthood, feelings of time passing and, more specifically, the pitfalls of dating. It’s an attractive dream pop sound which occasionally bursts out with some near-grungy guitar riffing revealing something of the band’s early influences.  Bye-bye baby is one such song, which tries to salvage some shred of self-respect from being dumped with a snarling “Bye-bye baby I really hate to see you go” which tries to turn it around, but this, like the churning guitars, is just bravado. Continue reading “Hot Flash Heat Wave “Soaked” (OIM Records, 2017)”

Roselit Bone “Blister Steel” (Friendship Fever, 2017)

Roselit Bone have been around since 2013, formed by frontman Joshua McCaslin and drummer Ben Dahmes and growing into a nine piece band, the group have had a fair amount of time to hone their sound and that time, was time well spent. It’s a rarity to find a group that are able to take a tried and tested sound and somehow flip it on its head to turn it into something so exciting, refreshing and original which is exactly what Roselit Bone do on ‘Blister Steel’. Continue reading “Roselit Bone “Blister Steel” (Friendship Fever, 2017)”

Fleet Foxes “Crack-Up” (Nonesuch, 2017)

Fleet Foxes have not been exemplifying the work ethic – having dramatically emerged onto the music scene in 2008 with the Sun Giant EP and then their eponymous debut it was a full three years until the follow up Helplessness Blues. That was three years in which the Foxes achieved an ubiquity rarely accorded a band with so little recorded material to their name. Three years pales into nothingness compared to the six it has taken to produce album number three. Continue reading “Fleet Foxes “Crack-Up” (Nonesuch, 2017)”

Ani Di Franco “Binary” (Righteous Babe/Aveline Records, 2017)

A new album from American Folk Rocker and Feminist Icon Ani Di Franco has to be cause for celebration, not least because she is one of the most creative songwriters out there and her music always engages and informs. This lastest release “Binary” is right up there with some of her best work. Written in the run up to the American Presidential election of 2016 it is very much of its time, with songs addressing the importance of reproductive rights (Play God), the need for empathy (Terrifying Sight) and the value of non violent protest and opposition (Pacifist’s Lament) – all themes currently playing out both in America and in the wider world. Di Franco’s work has always contained  a healthy amount of political awareness and is all the better for it.  Continue reading “Ani Di Franco “Binary” (Righteous Babe/Aveline Records, 2017)”

Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017

Does it get better than this – a beautifully warm evening, driving off to see Joe Purdy for the second time in a week, Bob Harris Country on the radio and Bob’s interviewing Jason Isbell. Oh and he closes the show with Waylon’s Luckenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love). Everything’s looking – and sounding – very promising. Things take a downward trend when arriving at The Horn to find there’s no crowd – and I mean, no crowd: the venue’s deserted. Even when the stage times roll around things haven’t improved all that much – can St. Albans and the surrounding area really only scrape together thirty odd people for Joe Purdy? Continue reading “Joe Purdy, support Lydia Ramsey, The Horn, St Albans, 15th June 2017”

Holy Moly and The Crackers “Salem” (Pink Lane Records, 2017)

Holy Moly indeed! There’s a lot of exciting music on this new release from North East Folk Rockers, Holy Moly and the Crackers, as they move away from their earlier folk-oriented material and explore a darker and more rock influenced direction. This album is a big departure from their previous sound, which was much more rooted in traditional folk rock. On “Salem” they’ve gone for a harder, rockier sound built around a number of songs that are more intense and starker in content than previous work. The results are a bit of a mixed bag – there are some glorious songs on here that really grab you by the throat and pull you in, songs like the opening title track, with it’s story built around the Salem witch trials of the late 1600s but used as a comment on the current rise of xenophobia and hate crimes.  Continue reading “Holy Moly and The Crackers “Salem” (Pink Lane Records, 2017)”

Steve Earle & The Dukes “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)

Back in 2004 we had Steve Earle’s “Beatles” album – “The Revolution Starts Now”; then, in 2015, we had his “Blues” album – “Terraplane”. Now we have his latest release, his “Waylon Jennings” album – “So You Wanna Be an Outlaw”. Of course, none of these are an album of covers or an attempt to sound like the artists referenced; it’s more about Steve Earle wearing his influences on his sleeve and specifically acknowledging them in the way he writes and performs for that particular album.  Continue reading “Steve Earle & The Dukes “So You Wannabe An Outlaw” (Warner Bros. Records, 2017)”

Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017

Raised in Jackson Tennessee Erin Rae has recently been Nashville’s popular choice for backing vocals and harmony work working with the likes of Margo Price and Andrew Combs. Her debut album Soon Enough saw her take the decision to step out from behind other artists and take centre stage and tonight she was  at the Green Note to promote her forthcoming album Putting On Airs while playing some songs from her acclaimed debut.  Rae has been described as Nashville’s best-kept secret but based on what I saw and heard tonight, she will not remain a secret for long. Continue reading “Erin Rae And The Meanwhiles, Green Note, London, 20th July 2017”

Hope in High Water “Never Settle” (Independent, 2017)

I covered Josh Chandler-Morris’ original EP, a few years back, and it’s always a bit odd to open a records PR and find yourself quoted back.  I find JCM voice a comfort – there is something reassuring in the records he makes with Carly Slade, I like the thought of their hometown Milton Keynes being the place where old punks end up, washed up maybe, and then the environs inspire them to make gorgeous Americana. Continue reading “Hope in High Water “Never Settle” (Independent, 2017)”