The Pedaljets “Twist the Lens” (Electric Moth Records, 2020)

Americana is now a very broad church, and The Pedaljets are very much at the outer rock edge of it. Singer Mike Allmayer has a definite touch of Tom Petty about his voice and songs like ‘Downtown‘ would have been at home on the first two Heartbreakers albums. Their PR for the album describes them as “a mixture of Rust Belt Rock and Grain Belt Americana” suggesting a collision of Springsteen and Neil Young. Continue reading “The Pedaljets “Twist the Lens” (Electric Moth Records, 2020)”

Neil Bob Herd & The Dirty Little Acoustic Band “Every Soul A Story” (Cattlecall Music 2020)

‘Every Soul A Story’ is the debut solo album from Neil Bob Herd, the former lead singer and guitarist of Alt Bluegrass band, The Coal Porters and an eclectic mix it is. Herd is ably backed by The Dirty Little Acoustic Band which consists of fellow ex-Coal Porter Paul Fitzgerald (various instruments), Glenn Lambert (bass) and Gary Smith-Lyons (drums). On some tracks they’re superbly augmented by Lucy Edwards (accordion) and Gemma White (fiddle). Continue reading “Neil Bob Herd & The Dirty Little Acoustic Band “Every Soul A Story” (Cattlecall Music 2020)”

Drive-By Truckers “The Unraveling” (ATO Records, 2020)

‘The Unravelling’, the 12th studio release by Drive-By Truckers pulls no punches, let us be upfront about that. As such it may well divide opinion as much and the increasingly bifurcated world on which it provides caustic comment. Musically it could make many friends. Some songs roll on a riffing piano superstructure that supports Mike Cooley’s and Patterson Hood’s instinctually complimentary guitar playing, others escalate the meter to full out rock and there is judicious use of acoustic guitar and strings.  The musical canvas on which the Drive-By Trucks paint their exhaustive observations of their homeland is first class. The usual band signature is evident – southern rock infused with country and filtered through Replacements-like brio. Continue reading “Drive-By Truckers “The Unraveling” (ATO Records, 2020)”

Stories of the West “Maybe That’s Good for You” (Young Ancianos, 2020)

Stories of the West is Tim Francis, a singer-songwriter from the Twin Cities, whose past is shrouded in mystery, or at least absent. There are no album notes, no bio, only a simple website to stream the album from making it apparent that the launch was sudden and probably independent. This means that the music speaks for itself, and it speaks volumes. Reminiscent of ’90s Alternative bands such as Better Than Ezra, and Ben Folds Five, ‘Maybe That’s Good For You‘ is excellently produced, and very well played. Francis has clearly been playing the guitar for a long time and in a variety of styles. Continue reading “Stories of the West “Maybe That’s Good for You” (Young Ancianos, 2020)”

Miss Tess “The Moon Is An Ashtray” (Tone Tree Music, 2020)

It’s hard to believe that the 12 tracks on ‘The Moon Is An Ashtray’ clock in at less than 40 minutes. The songs bring together all of the best elements of more than three decades of American music. From 50s ballads that bring Kittie Wells and Patsy Cline to mind to songs that breathe new life into the best of the 70s Nashville Sound—it’s all in there. It gives the album the expansive scope of an epic journey. But perhaps the most impressive and enjoyable things about the album are that it makes it all seem effortless. Every song feels both fresh and familiar. Continue reading “Miss Tess “The Moon Is An Ashtray” (Tone Tree Music, 2020)”

Robert Vincent “In This Town You’re Owned” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)

There’s no reason to waste any time, so let’s get straight to the point.  Robert Vincent’s third album ‘In This Town You’re Owned’  is a corker (for those not familiar with this UK term, that’s a really good thing!) and from the moment the first notes of the opening track ‘This Town’ descend upon your eardrums, to the fade-out on the final track ‘Cuckoo’, the quality of the songwriting, the performance and the production never drops beneath a level that can only be described as outstanding. Continue reading “Robert Vincent “In This Town You’re Owned” (Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

The Birds of Ontario “The Birds of Ontario” (Independent, 2019)

For their self-released album of the same name The Birds of Ontario shamelessly dial the clock back to the 1970s, and a worthwhile trip back in time it is too. Opening track ‘She’s Got Time‘ references the Rolling Stones, driven by a fat riff, and very Jaggeresque vocals, while the second track  ‘Trick of Survival‘ has echoes of The Faces, and throughout the album nods to favourite sounds can be heard, including Mott the Hoople, T Rex and even early Status Quo. Continue reading “The Birds of Ontario “The Birds of Ontario” (Independent, 2019)”

Bonny Light Horseman + Sam Airey, The Lexington, London, 1st February 2020

 Remember when Mary Travers told Peter and Paul, “To hell with this, I’m through with this crap. Jerry gave me a call and I’m going to go sing with the Grateful Dead“?  Bonny Light Horseman surely do, and they brought that alternate reality to fruition in The Lexington for their first ever headlining gig in London. They are a side project band for Anais Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson (of Fruit Bats) and Josh Kaufman, supported by JT Bates on drums and Michael Libramento on bass. Their recently released album has been garnering rave reviews – deservedly – making this sold out gig in the intimate Lexington an unmissable prospect. Continue reading “Bonny Light Horseman + Sam Airey, The Lexington, London, 1st February 2020”

The Haden Triplets “The Family Songbook” (Trimeter Records/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

That ‘Family Songbook’ sounds so routinely Haden Triplets; just like we might expect it to if we’d heard (and enjoyed) their first album on Third Man Records, is perhaps something of a wonder. Despite the heft of the history, influences and associations that the sisters lug around with them their character still manages to shine remarkably brightly through the haze of the record. This has to be something that we would welcome from any artist and any record, indeed if it weren’t verging so close to being a ‘management speak’ cliché we might laud the LP’s ‘authenticity’. In this case however it is perhaps not always to the benefit of the record, but more of this later. Continue reading “The Haden Triplets “The Family Songbook” (Trimeter Records/Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

The Hanging Stars “A New Kind Of Sky” (Crimson Crow, 2020)

The Hanging Stars have always had the “cosmic Americana” tag hung around their necks but on ‘A New Kind Of Sky‘, their third release, they fully deserve to be so called as they wander wonderfully in a rather blissed out fashion across a set of songs which recollect hazy lysergic days. Taking cues from classic forebears, the band have forged a sparkling album which, on the strength of the songs and the sheer excellence of the playing, allows that it too might one day be considered a classic. Continue reading “The Hanging Stars “A New Kind Of Sky” (Crimson Crow, 2020)”