Dire Wolves “Excursions to Cloudland” (Beyond Beyond is Beyond, 2017)

Four tracks do not an EP make – not when they time-in at up to 12 minutes – so make no mistake, this release from Dire Wolves is a fully fledged album. Excursions to Cloudland is a mostly instrumental excursion into the sphere of tightened up jams, cut with hypnotic riffs and looping bass runs. Dire Wolves pledge an allegiance to the Space-Rock ethos of Hawkwind, and with ever present chirps of violin and strange electronic bleepings on opener Enter Quietly there’s certainly a good nod to the line-up of that band which included Simon House. Continue reading “Dire Wolves “Excursions to Cloudland” (Beyond Beyond is Beyond, 2017)”

Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)

This is a good record – nicely written, songs performed well, you can’t really want for much more! Richard Laviolette is the real deal, a singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada, Taking the Long Way Home is his eighth album since his debut recording (Mary Carl) in 2005 and it’s clear that he’s honed his craft over those intervening twelve years. These are songs about family and friends, about love and loss, about strong characters and about a sense of mortality – all human life is here. Laviolette clearly draws on his own experiences as the inspiration for his songs and, along with some serious heart searching, there’s also some philosophising and not a little humour – My Grandma’s More Punk (Than Most Punks I know) certainly raises a smile on the title alone.  Continue reading “Richard Laviolette “Taking The Long Way Home” (You’ve Changed Records, 2017)”

Danny Worsnop ‘’The Long Road Home’’ (Earache Records, 2017)

Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria and We Are Harlot fame has gone solo and released a country record. We’ve seen stories like this coming out of Nashville in great Americana records by Don Henley, to more questionable releases from Steven Tyler. Danny certainly has a story to tell, from homelessness to drinking problems and hospitalisations, and it shows in the record, with plenty of well-written songs that do feel personal to him. Continue reading “Danny Worsnop ‘’The Long Road Home’’ (Earache Records, 2017)”

No Line North “Dreams of Trees, Part 1” (Twin Lakes, 2017)

This is, effectively, an EP – just five tracks – but Part 2 is scheduled for release later this year and will “maintain its folk leanings and delve more heavily into garage rock”. Meanwhile Dreams of Trees Part 1 will be available digitally and on limited edition cd from the end of April (April 28). The press release calls this a “uniquely unified sound….transcending and bending genres…” so there is an obvious level of expectation which, on first listening, this recording really doesn’t deliver. Continue reading “No Line North “Dreams of Trees, Part 1” (Twin Lakes, 2017)”

Doug Schmude ‘’Ghosts Of The Main Drag’’ (Independent, 2017)

The great thing about music, and particularly Americana, is that it comes in all sorts of shapes and forms. Songs to make you cry, to make you drink, to get you off your seat and to jam to. Doug Schmude is no different, and I haven’t quite heard much like him in the genre. Comparable to bands like Blink 182 or All American Rejects, he has added a deal of twang and instrumentation, as well as lyrical depth, making an interesting, messy and worthwhile album. Continue reading “Doug Schmude ‘’Ghosts Of The Main Drag’’ (Independent, 2017)”

Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)

Oh yes, this’ll get the party started! If you like your Honk with a fair bit of Tonk – and vice versa – then Arty Hill’s new live album is going to be right up your gardenia lined Avenue. This is what a live album should be, gritty and down to earth; you really feel like you’re at a Saturday night gig. Arty’s sound is a little bit Nashville but with a lot of that Bakersfield earthiness thrown in – a bit reminiscent of Buck Owens or his modern day disciple, Dwight Yoakum; so it was more than a bit of a surprise to discover that Arty Hill and his excellent band, The Long Gone Daddys, hail from Baltimore. Continue reading “Arty Hill “Live: Church on Saturday Night” (Independent, 2017)”

Tyne Darling “These Ghosts” (Hope Parade, 2017)

Tyne Darling is not a real person but the musical and stage moniker for Tommy Vollman, a writer and artist and it appears the subject matter of a forthcoming book. The songs apparently are a companion to various short stories that Vollman has written and cover a range of ambitious but somewhat ambiguous subjects. For example the promotional material provided suggests that Red-Letter Holiday and Come All You Ghosts offer “a no holds barred examination of the nature of rebellion and its polemic resistance.” Quite.
Continue reading “Tyne Darling “These Ghosts” (Hope Parade, 2017)”

Greg Wickham “If I Left this World” (Thirty Days Records, 2017)

Greg Wickham was a member of Hadacol, a rootsy “alt country” band who released two albums at the turn of the century and If I left This World is his first release in 15 years. Reuniting with band members Richard Burgess and his brother, Fred, Wickham was lured back into a studio as he felt the need to leave a musical message for his kids, something they could listen to when he was no longer around. Although he appears to be in fine health, the album is peppered with allusions to mortality and colleagues who have shuffled on, most notably the late Lou Whitney (who produced Hadacol) while there’s a sound clip of his own father singing a snippet of Big Iron. Continue reading “Greg Wickham “If I Left this World” (Thirty Days Records, 2017)”

Kelly Sloan, The Bellows at The Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, 11th April 2017

The schedule of a touring musician is a thing of mystery at times.  Here we find Kelly Sloan, one of what seems to be a never-ending stream of talented singer-songwriters emanating from Canada, playing to a rapt audience at the wonderfully welcoming and intimate setting of The Bellows at The Wheelwright Arms in Colyford, East Devon (population 550). The next steps on her tour; Milan and various stops around Italy, Sicily, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Credit for how Colyford became a part of that itinerary is down to establishment hosts Mark Newton and Kirstin Reynolds who, judging by the posters of past and future headliners adorning the walls, have an irresistible lure to the discerning musician. Continue reading “Kelly Sloan, The Bellows at The Wheelwright Inn, Colyford, 11th April 2017”

JD Fox & The Velvet Street Band ‘’A Tribute To Donnie Fritts’’ (Independent, 2016)

The interesting thing about a lot of tribute albums is where the new artists take the songs. Donnie Fritts was a session musician for Kris Kristofferson for 40 years, and a pioneer in the music emerging from Muscle Shoals. JD Fox, or real name Jan De Vos, is a Belgian artist inspired by the roots music emerging from America, previously having recorded a tribute to Spooner Oldham, another pioneer from Alabama. The cross between Belgium and Muscle Shoals really does have the potential to be interesting, reinterpreting these classic American songs for a European audience perhaps not as familiar with the style as those growing up in the rural south. The record is certainly crafted with love, with a groovy backing well done using traditional instrumentation. Having said that, it does feel that JD’s vocals are separate from the backing, rather than being all part of a greater whole as often happens in live recordings. Continue reading “JD Fox & The Velvet Street Band ‘’A Tribute To Donnie Fritts’’ (Independent, 2016)”