Back in 2002 when Americana UK was one years old, we held a mini-festival at the Masque venue in Liverpool which celebrated the best of UK americana. Thanks to my shambolic organisational skills, the event over-ran by so long that half the crowd ended up missing the headline act, alternative-rock band Witness from Wigan who’d just a year earlier released an album on the Island label with a distinct americana tinge. It’s fair to say we liked it rather a lot – “it’s almost impossible to describe the elation you feel on completing the first listen to ‘Under a Sun'” we beamed. And it still sounds spine-tinglingly epic today, with no better example than a track which NME called “the best single REM never wrote; chords crashing and splashing in a melancholic Californian sun.” Perhaps their kiss of death was that they weren’t quite gloomy enough for our genre.
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