Jangling and smouldering in the way you might associate with The Sadies, Nikki & The Phantom Callers play country-rock with a hint of classic mid-sixties production. ‘Mamas Should Know‘ is the B-side of their new single and is a plea and an admonishment to all mothers for support and a helping hand to their children “And if you die before we wake, don’t leave it all up to us to figure it out alone. / Mamas should know what to leave when they go, if they’re not ready to fly. / What to reap, what to sow, what to leave for the crow. / Write it down, so we’ll know“. Where songwriter and singer Nikki Speake is coming from is a personal space – raised by her grandmother after she lost her mother at a very young age which she has said led her to “explore the sense of confusion, of feeling lost without answers, and eventually growing up to put together the puzzle pieces of your own identity.”
It’s no coincidence that there’s a cinema-graphic scope to this darkly rocking ballad, the latest single from ‘Our of Luck’ the forthcoming EP from multi-instrumentalist Jack Ellis. Talking about the track, Ellis’ has explained that it is “loosely inspired by the David Lynch movie ‘Wild at Heart’. Crazy lovers on the run from an angry mother, a private detective, and a hit man tracking them down. What more do you want? So yeah, a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde where everything is risked in the name of love.”.
That’s hyperbole – not so much lost more carefully stored away in a tape archive but never previously released. This track, ‘Time Song‘ has been heard before though, it was played at a concert celebrating the UK’s entry into the European Common Market in 1973. That landmark event of course evolved into a long and fruitful association with our fellow European Union partners, a state of fraternal bliss that we’ll continue to enjoy for another seven-ish months. So it’s timely that this song should reappear now, and it’s an apt teaser for the upcoming 50th anniversary release of ‘The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society’ which is out on BMG on October 26th. The wistful ‘Time Song‘ will be among the bonus tracks. That it could also be a teaser for a few Kinks gigs is, perhaps, too much to hope for. Stranger things have happened though.
Aaron Carroll Hodges is a musician, composer working in New York here he has previously created a body of work that straddles the line between dark-pop, krautrock, and ambient hum. For his latest album ‘Au Sable‘ he ahs recorded under his great-grandfather’s name and taken something of a sidestep into beautifully textured folk inspired music. Hodges recorded the album partly in his apartment in Brooklyn and also at a friend’s home studio: it features supple fingerpicking, layers of guitar and piano, bright vocal harmonies as well as ominous drones and field recordings, which lend songs such as ‘Long hair‘ an expansive and epic feel.
On first listen, the gentle, dreamy ‘Through the atmosphere‘ sounds like a lullaby – but the song is actually a reflection on mortality, death and the afterlife. All set to a gently repeating acoustic accompaniment, it was inspired by a stroll in a forest taken by Jonathan Brown who explains that he was “thinking about a good friend of mine who had recently passed away. I was somehow trying to communicate with her beyond the grave. As I was walking in the forest, I came across a tree with a small red sign nailed to it with a first name followed by a date of birth and death. I thought it was strange to find this deep in the ‘bible belt’ of Holland“.
Taken from the third album by Leland Ettinger, ‘Luck of the draw‘ shows off her musical roots, inspired in equal measure by Joni and the Floyd. Which, it transpires, means a CSN ‘Wooden Ships‘ type sound that has the rich Laurel Canyon vocals melded into tempo changes and solid rock riffing. Leland Ettiger has spoken of the concept nature of the album saying “I wanted to make a true album that feels like an emotional journey and a singular entity, even though everybody tells me that people don’t perceive music this way anymore. I think that there are still people who want the traditional emotional journey of an album. It’s like a novel, and the songs are the chapters that inform each other and give depth to one another.” We think she’s right.
Micah P. Hinson has a new band for his new album – ‘When I Shoot At You With Arrows, I Will Shoot To Destroy You’ is credited to Micah P. Hinson and the Musicians of the Apocalypse. The band is actually anonymous – they’re all early influences on Micah P. Hinson and they helped record the album in a space of 24 hours and then, out of respect for the album’s inspiration, the silent and unknown carved statues of musicians that adorn part of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, they chose to go uncredited. In the cathedral the musicians surround St. James – inferring that Micah P. Hinson stands in the same position relative to his band as a musical martyr. Micah P. Hinson has hardly shied away from controversy and sometimes difficult allusions – and also a lot more than allusions in a life spotted with incidents including a severe back injury, a violent road accident, a love for drugs, a hate of drugs, time spent behind bars and more. He is a compelling artist, not someone you’re likely to always agree with, an inventive lyricist and a libertarian to what can seem to be the point of idiocy. A bundle of contradictions. Micah P. Hinson will now sing for you.
Marek Kubala has spent time playing his music around the North of England, but has now relocated to London. With the move South comes the debut EP ‘Awhile‘ which is released this Friday. The lead single it ‘Tableturn‘ which combines Kubala’s keening vocal with delicate finger picked guitar and Nick Drake-esque lush strings. There’s a tale of unfairness with advantage being taken in this song, which pivots around an opportunity to deny the pain and reassert emotional control. Deep moods wrapped up in gossamer threads.
Love is a beautiful thing, and Odetta Hartman clearly agrees. She gets quite effusive about her partner Jack Inslee (who provides the electronica and found sounds on this track). Almost too effusive, as she gushes “this song illuminates the fuzzy feelings of first love. We’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to travel the world, exploring & playing music together. From rainbows & waterfalls in Iceland, to Medieval medinas in Morocco, we have climbed mountains & crossed rivers, blossoming our love along the way.” Yeah, ok, don’t go overboard. ‘You, you‘ is a strange blend of different styles all supporting Hartman’s distinctive vocal – it’s taken from the album ‘Old Rockhounds Never Die‘ which is out later this week.
As mainstream country continues to becomes hollow and glitzy pop music about trucks and beers and dogs and girls (or boys) then this lead single from JP Harris’ new album ‘Sometimes dogs bark at nothing‘ is definitely alt-country. With a quavering vocal, strummed guitar and weep-weep-weeping pedal steel this is a classy track with lyrics you can’t forget “When I quit drinking / all my memories come back clear / you’ll find me weeping / and sipping off a bottle filled with tears / …./ when I quit drinking / I start thinking / of starting up again.” Harris’ voice has a lived in timbre which comes from his life credentials of travelling the USA, often alone, hitchhiking and hopping freight trains while making his living as a farm labourer, shepherd, woodsman, and carpenter. This is the real thing.