Lost Harbours “Towers of Silence” (Liminal Noise Tapes, 2017)

This recording is many things – it is haunting and ethereally beautiful in places. It is well performed and produced. It is intriguing and often quite fascinating. What it is not, in any way, shape or form, is Americana. There’s been quite a bit of discussion at AUK recently about what actually constitutes the Americana genre of music and, while there’s a bit of disagreement about an exact definition, there is general agreement that Americana draws on American roots music – blues, country and folk. Continue reading “Lost Harbours “Towers of Silence” (Liminal Noise Tapes, 2017)”

Alex Rex “Vermillion” (Tin Angel Records 2017)

Alex Rex (as Alex Neilson) is the singer, songwriter and drummer from Tumbling Bells. And that is just the start. In musical circles and beyond, this musician from Glasgow, has a huge reputation. Rhythmically, he appears unexpectedly, for instance, in Shirley Collins’ “Lodestar” where, on the first track he is playing cymbals, and, in “Pretty Polly,” the drum beats from half way through, are his!  But “Vermillion” is his debut solo album, and as such, should be taken note of, and applauded. The title itself is a clue to the colourful and often challenging nature of the songs Alex has written. His voice bears testimony to the value of his lyrics. Continue reading “Alex Rex “Vermillion” (Tin Angel Records 2017)”

Interview: Christopher Rees

A delayed train meant I had a moment to use the ‘library’ on the platform provided by WH Smiths, and a rapid peruse of Uncut Magazine, in which I stumbled across a review of ‘The Nashville Songs’, cool title, by Christopher Rees, cool hat in the picture on the sleeve.  A brief exchange of emails later and his collection of songs co-written in Nashville landed in Yorkshire, almost as quickly as my train did.  It’s wonderfully sung, sharply recorded and must be one of the best British Americana records this year – it’s Cymrucana at its best. Continue reading “Interview: Christopher Rees”

Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires “Youth Detention” (Don Giovanni Records 2017)

This is the album that, despite the title, sees the combative and essential Alabama rock outfit who are more ‘punk’ than many of the modern bands who claim to be, hit full maturity. It is also an album that goes beyond any “protest” label and instead paints a picture of a fractured society from within, albeit one that offers no little optimism. Continue reading “Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires “Youth Detention” (Don Giovanni Records 2017)”

Lydia Ramsey “Ghosts” – Listen

Amongst the many fine songs on Lydia Ramsey’s most recent album, Bandita, this song Ghosts is a real stand out.  A hypnotic guitar line, a little banjo and a gorgeous fiddle melody blend together to give the song a suitably  haunting tone.  It draws on Lydia Ramsey’s growing interest in her family tree as she explains “I began to learn of my roots in Appalachia and further back in Ireland, and how many of my ancestors shared a love of musical creation. I found it fascinating that this love of making music was passed on through generations, and now here I was, doing the same thing, picking tunes, loving it.  I wanted to tell their stories”.

Track premiere: Cameron Blake “After Sally”

Michigan based Cameron Blake has his new album “Fear Not” coming out on November 17th – with an ensemble of nearly 50 musicians, he deals with a variety of subjects including the Tiananmen Square protests, Baltimore race riots and this track which we’re premiering this morning. Cameron says of the track: “After Sally is about the effect a trauma (loss of a child) can have on a relationship. I had some friends who went through this recently. I noticed that they both grieved differently as individuals but were forced by the situation to grieve together. I imagine it was a difficult dance between selflessness and self-care.”

Dirty Dozen: Sam Rochford

Sam Rochford is a 25-year-old Connecticut native now living in Nashville where she was formerly an on-air correspondent for 650 AM WSM’s “Nashville Today” show hosted by Devon O’Day. Prior to moving to Nashville, she was the host of “Markov Music” on Boston’s popular internet radio station, WEMF. Sam has been publishing videos to YouTube and Facebook for the last 5 years, garnering a dedicated following for her musicianship, and quirky personality. Continue reading “Dirty Dozen: Sam Rochford”

Juanita Stein “America” (Nude Records, 2017)

This record reminds me a lot of the Coco Hames record from early in the year; a solo debut that explores several styles is always a pleasant listen but lacks an essential sense of identity to mark it out from the crowd. At times where the songs need something to push them on, they drift. Stargazer is a case in point, it is lovely, her voice is good, the melody is satisfying but it just doesn’t reach out and grab me. Similarly Cold Comfort resurrects standard Country tropes, pleasantly – it doesn’t do anything, which is frustrating as she is clearly capable of more than just settling for these pleasant genre pieces. Continue reading “Juanita Stein “America” (Nude Records, 2017)”

Josh Ritter “Thunderbolt’s Goodnight” – Listen

Paste are carrying the new single by Josh Ritter today, the second track to be released from his new album “Showboat” which is out on September 22nd. He told them: “Ever notice how on postcards you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or going down? This was in my head for several years as I rolled the idea around, tried to make it fit and then gave up… Finally, one day, between walking the dog and putting the kid to bed, I sat down and played a few chords at random and the idea rose to the surface like a hungry fish. The song itself took about ten minutes to write—proof that most of the time even when I’m feeling lazy and useless, there’s a song going round and round in the back of my mind, forming and waiting for its chance to hit the stage.”