Gun Outfit “Out of Range” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2017)

It took precisely two songs on this latest release from the estimable GO before I was convinced that this would be their strongest record so far. I was right; though these two songs are a brilliant introduction to the record, the other songs all have their merits but let’s start at the top. Ontological Intercourse announces the record with a curlicue of feedback before the guitars proper open with a ringing tone and proceed to cycle and tag like a frisky puppies – they create the kind of musical landscape that Steve Gunn or William Tyler have been painting, the literary lyrics perfectly at home in these surroundings and the matter of fact delivery by Dylan Sharp roots them in the every day. It’s an opening that sets ear hairs to erect. Continue reading “Gun Outfit “Out of Range” (Paradise of Bachelors, 2017)”

Langhorne Slim “Lost at Last Vol 1” (Dualtone Records 2017)

Langhorne Slim has taken a “step sideways” from 2015’s The Spirit Moves in order to move forward. The result is a more stripped-back offering that retains much of Slim’s defiant introspection albeit in a more lo-fi folk style than previously. Recorded at Stinson Beach, California where views of the ocean have inspired numerous artists, “Lost at Last” sees Slim channel his desire for individuality into thirteen tracks that may lack some polish but gain a raw authentic feel. It’s a collection of songs, recorded almost spontaneously with a backing cast of seasoned Slim veterans like bassist Paul Defiglia and drummer Malachi DeLorenzo who also takes producing credits alongside Mt Davidson of Twain who contributes pedal steel among other things. Continue reading “Langhorne Slim “Lost at Last Vol 1” (Dualtone Records 2017)”

Nathan Bell + Jack Henderson, Fallen Angels Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 17th November 2017.

Ten months after he wowed an audience at Celtic Connections, Nathan Bell returned to Glasgow as promised. In the interim he had ditched a proposed album of love songs, electing instead to record a modern protest album, Love > Fear (48 hours in traitorland). Appalled by the election of “a clown,” Bell was like a modern Woody Guthrie on the album, his tales of ordinary folk, ground down and abandoned, delivered with conviction. Continue reading “Nathan Bell + Jack Henderson, Fallen Angels Club, The Admiral Bar, Glasgow, 17th November 2017.”

Buffalo Killers “Alive And Well In Ohio” (Alive Records, 2017)

This is the BK’s eighth record and it was self-produced in their own studio, so there’s no one else to blame. It’s not an inch away from their usual muddied fuzzy sound. They indistinctly reference classic rock and classic country rock, and they’d probably kill to be likened to Crazy Horse but their default sound is a kind of Claymation version of that music. Where Crazy Horse will often soar, with them it never leaves the ground: it’s heavy where it doesn’t need to be and obscured where it should be clear. Continue reading “Buffalo Killers “Alive And Well In Ohio” (Alive Records, 2017)”

Richard Schroder “Drive” (Tinderbox Music, 2017)

Richard Schroder certainly looks like he’s put in the spade work with his debut album, seeking out advice from songwriting coach, Steve Seskin, who says that what separates the debutant from his peers is his willingness to undertake endless re-writes of songs in order to hone them to perfection. Aside from the two years it’s taken him to make the album, Schroder also surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in the business, including Duke Levine (who’s worked with Roseanne Cash and Mary Chapin Carpenter), as well as getting the record mastered by a Grammy award winner who’s assisted Carrie Underwood. Continue reading “Richard Schroder “Drive” (Tinderbox Music, 2017)”

Billy Stoner “Billy Stoner” (Team Love Records, 2017)

Billy Stoner’s unlucky number has to be 37. That’s because it’s taken this record 37 years to see the light of day, and during that time Stoner also spent 37 months in prison – the latter a pivotal time that sabotaged what was shaping up to be a promising musical career. In at the ground level of the outlaw country scene in the 1970s – which was turbo-charged by the arrival of ‪Willie Nelson‬ in Austin – Stoner fell in with the wrong crowd at the end of that decade when he was caught in a DEA sting and this resulted in him being institutionalised until 1984 – even if it sounds like the prison warden was sympathetic to him forming a band of fellow pickers in prison called the Austin Fall Stars. Continue reading “Billy Stoner “Billy Stoner” (Team Love Records, 2017)”

James Fredholm “Love Is The Answer” (Honeybee Records 2017)

James Fredholm’s debut album is unusually accompanied by a small book of his poetry, titled ‘Uncaged.’ This is a clear indication as to where his priorities now lie as, having spent much of his adult life pursuing a business career, Fredholm considers himself to be on his “road not taken” as a full-time poet and singer-songwriter. Described as a “country/indie/rock” artist, Fredholm’s music covers the gamut of all three, although it isn’t particularly easy to classify.   Continue reading “James Fredholm “Love Is The Answer” (Honeybee Records 2017)”

Gløde “Ø” (Membran, 2017)

Gløde announce themselves with the ambitious anthem As We Speak that bridges the gap between the Choir of Young Believers and Elbow. It’s a song that builds and builds and is full of self-confidence, unafraid to push ever wider ever bigger as though they are inventing themselves for the purpose of filling stadia. Then comes Lady In A Dress which cuts everything back, exposing the lyrics which aren’t strong enough to sustain interest – the songs are like a perfume advert come to life, all artificial and surface glamour. Songs like Make Up rely on the strength of the voice and of the narrative and they fail on both counts. Continue reading “Gløde “Ø” (Membran, 2017)”

Coal Minor Canary “The 3:42 EP” (Independent, 2017)

I’m down with the legendary Quentin Crisp. The great man once said that “There is no need to do any housework, because after four years the dirt doesn’t get any worse.” I agree wholeheartedly. Just what is it with dust? You wipe it up. Then, a few days later, you have to do it again. Where does the bloody stuff come from? Crisp also said: “I never spend time doing anything today that I’ll have to do tomorrow.” What a great philosophy. Perhaps if I was a Canary flying through the trees, I would be liberated from the mundane task of housework. David Hage is a singer-songwriter from North Eastern Pennsylvania who records under the moniker of Coal Minor Canary. He knows a thing or two about dust: coal dust. He describes his tunes as being “dusty, black diamond music.” Continue reading “Coal Minor Canary “The 3:42 EP” (Independent, 2017)”

David Crosby “Sky Trails” (BMG, 2017)

David Crosby always wanted to sing jazz, and he made some forays into jazzier territory even within The Byrds with songs like Mind Gardens, but has really only indulged this urge more fully within the most recent releases from the duo Crosby-Nash and, most completely, with his work with CPR. Sky Trails features the R of CPR – in the form of Crosby’s biological son James Raymond – across the album and as producer whilst the P – that’s Jeff Pevar – appears on one track. Perhaps unsurprisingly Sky Trails sounds quite CPR-ish. Continue reading “David Crosby “Sky Trails” (BMG, 2017)”