Sweet Gum Tree “Sustain The Illusion” (Dreamy Bird Records 2017)

In the 1980’s alongside, all of the hardcore, reggae and The Fall, John Peel occasionally championed some bands that didn’t quite fit; they were self-consciously ‘arty’ and most of them would end up on 4AD records or just fade into obscurity – they fell somewhere between The Wild Swans and Swans Way. SGT have a grand(iose) sweep and a sound that is steeped in the 1980’s the synthesiser sounds and the ability to embrace the embellishments without any self-consciousness. Sometimes it is possible to put your finger on exactly the precedents. On Someday there a definite whiff of the Blow Monkeys, both in the vocals and the structure of the song; elsewhere the influence is filtered and fully absorbed, they leak out like a dark root showing in a head of blonde hair, there are a few phrases of Rollercoaster where I can almost feel Smash Hits in my hands. Continue reading “Sweet Gum Tree “Sustain The Illusion” (Dreamy Bird Records 2017)”

Andrew Combs “Canyons Of My Mind” (Loose Records 2017)

Sometimes Americana is a fickle genre; it spins off down blind alleys and one way streets in all kinds of maverick directions. Other times it shoots straight from the hip. You may have read that compelling article we poached (I mean borrowed) from Guidelive.com several days back concerning its nature. In case it passed you by, it delves into the age-old question of the pigeon hole. To get back to the matter in hand, Dallas singer songwriter Andrew Combs has released his third album which is a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit pop but quintessentially all American in sound and suggestion. Continue reading “Andrew Combs “Canyons Of My Mind” (Loose Records 2017)”

Son of the Velvet Rat “Dorado” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2017)

It would be the understatement of the year to describe the torn and ragged instrument that is Georg Altziebler’s throat as “cracked” or “whisky scarred”. It’s a hollow rattling thing that speaks of dry deserts and lonesome travellers. Dark as the shadows in a Sergio Leone movie, dust covered, careworn and heartbroken. And just as it took an Italian film maker to reinvent and renew the Western as a genre, Son of the velvet rat (Georg and wife Helke) have so far made their music in their homeland of Austria whilst still sounding as if they have recorded in a small studio behind a shack somewhere out in the Californian desert. Continue reading “Son of the Velvet Rat “Dorado” (Fluff & Gravy Records, 2017)”

Rebecca Pronsky announces UK dates

Brooklynite singer-songwriter Rebecca Pronsky has announced an April UK tour in support of her most recent album “Known Objects” and new non-album single Where Are You Now? The latest album was apparently “originally conceived as a duo album, but once the recording studio was up and running, the environment proved too tempting to stop at just voice and guitars. Surrounded by an ever-growing flock of talented special guests, and no strict schedule or deadlines, they were able to take their time, Pronsky’s songwriting and vocal agility shining as never before while Bennett’s production and arranging skills flourish.” Oh and the Mirror said nice things about her, describing her as “part Stevie Nicks, part confessional troubadour”  And we all like a good troubadour.  Here’s those dates.  Continue reading “Rebecca Pronsky announces UK dates”

Aimee Mann releases new video from “Mental Illness” album – Watch

Aimee Mann’s new album “Mental Illness” (with a fantastic cover) is out next week, the follow up to 2012’s “Charmer” where she returns to a more musically soft-spoken but still lyrically barbed approach, exemplified by her current single, Patient Zero.  She’s released a video today for the first track on the record Goose Snow Cone which is rather lovely and features a cat called Goose (and her vet).   Continue reading “Aimee Mann releases new video from “Mental Illness” album – Watch”

Nick Ellis “Daylight Ghosts” (Mellowtone Records, 2017)

Throughout this record Ellis’ guitar playing is excellent and the sound is clear and resonant (it was recorded in Liverpool St George’s Hall Crown Court Room) and it’s clear the further that Ellis gets from standard acoustic singer-songwriter fare, the better he sounds. The opener The Grand Illusion survives only on its guitar playing and the following Hanging Around with its poppier melody weaves a far more interesting pattern. Ellis has the voice for rock and the fingers to play pretty much whatever he pleases; the beautiful cascading phrases of Carillon are brought back to earth by the vocal. Where the pieces are unencumbered by the vocals they really stretch out as Dance of the Cat and Good Morning Mr Hirons show. Continue reading “Nick Ellis “Daylight Ghosts” (Mellowtone Records, 2017)”

Emmylou Harris to play anniversary show at the Ryman

News from Rolling Stone Country this morning: “Emmylou Harris is set to kick off a year-long celebration of the 125th anniversary of Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium with a special show there on May 2nd. The Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame member will reunite with the members of the Nash Ramblers, the acoustic/bluegrass band she formed in the early Nineties, with whom she recorded At the Ryman, a live album recorded on the hallowed stage in 1991. Among the members of that group were guitarist Jon Randall and mandolin player Sam Bush ­– bass player Roy Huskey Jr., passed away in 1997. Continue reading “Emmylou Harris to play anniversary show at the Ryman”

Dweezil Zappa tours 50 Years Of Frank

Frank Zappa certainly out did other fathers – nothing as simple as a Boy named Sue for Frank. Moon Unit, Dweezil, these are names of distinction. Well, they’re distinctive. So Dweezil got an interesting start – he also got to hang around with a lot of guitar players and got to be a master of the guitar himself, releasing his first single at the age of 12. Eddie Van Halen produced that. As a tribute to his father who died in 1993, Dweezil has been touring Zappa senior’s music for a decade
– and this has led to another strange family moment. He is no longer allowed to use his touring name – Zappa plays Zappa – despite this being unarguably true. Continue reading “Dweezil Zappa tours 50 Years Of Frank”