Thrum (Tenement and Temple Electric), C2C Aftershow , SWG3 Glasgow,  8th March 2019

No strangers to previous C2C fringe events, Johnny Smillie and Monica Queen appear tonight under their old moniker Thrum as opposed to their most recent incarnation, the duo Tenement and Temple, the difference perhaps best explained as the latter having the volume set around five, the former way up to the fabled eleven. Their late-night set does start with a haunting acoustic version of John Denver’s ‘Fly Away’. Then, instead of sticking to the safe option of an acoustic country tinged showcase, Queen straps on the Telecaster that was slung behind her back and they upshift into an electric set of indie-inspired Americana. It’s a policy that pays off in the brutalist concrete surroundings of the SWG3 venue. Continue reading “Thrum (Tenement and Temple Electric), C2C Aftershow , SWG3 Glasgow,  8th March 2019”

Mules And Men “Thinking Sideways” (Independent, 2019)

There’s no disputing the talent, energy and togetherness that this unique band bring to the table. You can argue over the genre – they call it ‘Acid Celtgrass’. What that means is open to interpretation, pigeonholing was never an AUK preference. What matters is that Luke Coffey and his gang of Irish reprobates sting the listener with razor- edged hoedowns not heard from the Emerald Isle since The Pogues last raised hell . Continue reading “Mules And Men “Thinking Sideways” (Independent, 2019)”

Palmer T. Lee “Winebringer” (Team Love Records, 2019)

Palmer T. Lee is familiar as one half of The Lowest Pair. He, along with partner Kendl Winter, have released five commendable albums under that name since 2003. Now, the pair are taking a break from their day jobs to pursue solo projects. Lee’s is the first to surface and it surfaces with a real splash. Continue reading “Palmer T. Lee “Winebringer” (Team Love Records, 2019)”

Blue Rose Code + Roseanne Reid, The Fallen Angels Club, St. Lukes, Glasgow, 7th March 2019

The always mercurial Ross Wilson brought his latest incarnation of Blue Rose Code to Glasgow for a sold out show which was both a pleasure and a delight to be present at. One thing you can be guaranteed at a Blue Rose Code show is that familiar songs will be prodded, poked and bent into unfamiliar patterns. Not in a challenging or offhand manner (as can be the case with an artist like Dylan) but rather that Wilson’s songs are his offspring and we are privileged to see them grow and develop, all the while retaining their personality. A case in point tonight was the original gospel element of ‘Grateful’ transformed into a spongy reggae lilt, lovers rock almost with Wilson proclaiming, “I and I are grateful” towards the end. Continue reading “Blue Rose Code + Roseanne Reid, The Fallen Angels Club, St. Lukes, Glasgow, 7th March 2019”

Ben Bedford “The Hermit’s Spyglass” (Cavalier Recordings, 2019)

‘The Hermit’s Spyglass’ is the fifth studio album from Illinois songwriter Ben Bedford. Weighing in at just a second short of twenty-seven minutes this is an invitation to a sojourn with Bedford at a farmhouse (The Hermitage) on the edge of the Illinois prairie to witness the coming day. So rub those bleary eyes and start with ‘Morning Rise’ where “Out on the rise, west of the town, where the tall Needlegrass burns to the ground. We sit inside, together apart, and a window of light shines in the dark.” Continue reading “Ben Bedford “The Hermit’s Spyglass” (Cavalier Recordings, 2019)”

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)”