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Folk / Country / Singer-songwriter

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Benoit Pioulard

There's barely a bad record out this week. How are you going to pay for it all? Credit Card is the answer. Buy now - worry later. You'll want this one too, its chirruping, pointy acoustic guitar meanderings, clangy percussion, homespun but fantastic melodies - this aint half as ambient as I was expecting from its sleeve and the op...view item »

Karen Dalton

Jacob Olausson
Morning And Sunrise

This Jakob Olausson album opens with a cheery number called 'Don't Drown In Sorrows', in which he borrows the chord sequence from Cameo's '80s classic 'Word Up' and slows it down to a suicidal lollop through the mysterious swamps of this Swedish sugar beet farmer's internal misery. This g...view item »
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Laura Marling
I Speak Because I Can

"I Speak Because I Can" is Laura Marling's second album and arguably her best. Released in 2010, I view this as a massive step forward from her 2008 debut "Alas, I Cannot Swim", which did show that she had something special. I still think "Ghosts" is one of her best songs, However, she seems more consistent and confident in her performance here....view item »


Ace! A new Charalambides CD! Five years in the making this baby has been. Considering a human child takes 9 months to be born from conception you'd expect this to be good and on first listen I can confirm that is the case. The core duo of Tom & Chrstina Carter are aided and abetted by...view item »

Wooden Wand

Though I've certainly pulled my fair share of Wooden Wand records from the Norman Records stock room I've pretty much never knowingly heard any of his music. I assumed he'd be on the whole Cam Deas/solo guitar hero vibe or perhaps on more of a folky tip so I was fairly surprised when I pr...view item »

These Trails
These Trails

These Trails were a duo made up of couple Margaret Morgan and Patrick Cockett. This eponymous outing was the only material they recorded. It was recorded in Hawaii where they lived. Listening to the album, I can only imagine that this is folk music is influenced by their surroundings. It’s kind of organic, beautiful and uplifting. ...view item »

Simone White
Silver, Silver

Wooden Wand And Catherine Irwin
Sing The Songs of Hazel Dickens

Six Organs of Admittance

I've wanted to seriously check Six Organs of Admittance for a while now. To drown out the boss muttering curses about our supposedly slack warehouse pulling prowess & general incompetence about town, I've placed our aged, dilapidated headphones on my fatted head to indulge myself in RTZ, a lavish reissue of his 4 track demos and obscure excursi...view item »

Oh Michael, Look What You've Done: Friends Play Michael Chapman

Having seen Michael Chapman play a few weeks ago I'm all of a sudden a fan of his (and it looks like I've converted Phil too!). He really is a superb performer, straddling the line between Jack Rose-like finger picking and more traditional singer songwriter type stuff. Now in his seventies...view item »

Kev Fox
King For A Day

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Stevie Jackson
(I Can't Get No) Stevie jackson

Hush Arbors

It's been three years since Keith Wood's last Hush Arbors release, so here's a very welcome double LP comprising two live sets. The first was recorded solo in Sheffield in '07 and was originally put out as a super-limited CDr release. It's terrifically pretty so it's nice to see that it's been pressed on vinyl n...view item »

Kurt Wagner & The Altered Statesman
Something Missing

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Sergeant Buzfuz
Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself

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Alexander Tucker
Third Mouth

I love this guy. Well, when I say love I don't want to have his kids or owt but... actually I'll start again. I love this guys music. I've been hooked since Old Fog and when someone finally releases that on vinyl I'll be well happy! His last album Dorwytch (his Thrill Jockey debut) was a total work of genius and if you didn't pick up a copy then...view item »

Sands Hollow
Half The Night Is Candlelight

Ruby Fray

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Nikki Sudden
Tel Aviv Blues

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Smoke Fairies
Blood Speaks

The opening track on this much more fully realised album by the once-folk minstrels sounds so much like someone else it's driving me crazy. It doesn't rock as such but it's nicely upbeat. They now inhabit a sound which could be said to be somewhere between Sandy Denny, Kate Bush and class...view item »

Deer Tick
Divine Providence

Anyone in the mood for some raw sounding country rock? I'm new to these guys. I'm only three minutes into the first song and I'm sure that's Jools Holland playing boogie woogie in the background. Not a great start! John McCauley has one of those gravelly drawly voices that you'll love or ...view item »

Willis Earl Beal
Acousmatic Sorcery

Willis Earl Beal is hot shit, folks. He's the latest plucked from homeless obscurity dude to be marketed direct into your ears. Is his record any good? Well, it's a bit nuts, I'll give you that. I was surprised by how lo-fi the recordings were it being on XL. I was expecting some hi-fi so...view item »

Peter Kasen

Backbone Of The Nation

I do not have the reissue, but I do have an original copy of this LP. It is a great recording, a time capsule. I was so excited to find an original pressing of this gem a few weeks ago in a charity shop in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the same town the album was recorded and released from. I will end up selling this to raise some money, but I will be g...view item »
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Thomas Truax
Monthly Journal

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Justin Townes Earle
Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now

I've not been the most ardent follower of Justin Townes Earle, but I've enjoyed Harlem River Blues quite dearly. This here album seems very much like one of those 'point in time' records ... an artist writes some songs pertinent to his current mental state, goes into the studio with a backing band he just assembled, and knocks out a 'live in the...view item »

Eric Chenaux
Guitar & Voice

Elfin Saddle

Mairi Morrison & Alasdair Roberts

As Alasdair Roberts's career progresses he seems to be further entrenched in the rich history of Scotland's folk music and its Gaelic traditions. On this album he's aided by Mairi Morrison on vocals who sings in Gaelic and is from the Isle of Lewis which is miles away from here. Alex Neil...view item »

Thomas White

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Joanna Newsom And The YS Street Band
The YS Street Band EP

JOANNA NEWSOM & THE YS STREET BAND! (good Springsteen gag) Here she is again our helium filled heroine this time with a band in tow. Sounding medieval she skips over the harp and vocals like a sprite on fast forward. It really does capture a wonderful moment in time and I'm totally sucked into the period drama. Track 2...view item »

Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang
Island Brothers

Seemingly impervious to criticism despite regularly sounding like a Bob Seger B side, Bonnie Prince Billy unleashes another slab of his classic rock on my aching ears. The first few minutes is your regular countrified stagger with choral vocals, Neil Young's guitar sound and Jools Holland's piano trills which takes an abrupt ...view item »

Sore Eros
Know Touching

I had a dream last night that I owned a rabbit and I went away for the weekend and forgot to feed it. When I got back it had been forced to eat its own ears. So is it just a coincidence that I get the new Sore Eros album to review? (boom boom!). Its currently playing and what I'm thinking about is this:- isn't The Wire's so called 'hypnagogic' p...view item »
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Daniel Rossen
Silent Hour / Golden Mile

Daniel Rossen's name will no doubt be recognisable to those of you familiar with the work of Grizzly Bear or Department Of Eagles. 'Silent Hour / Golden Mile' is a six track collection that sees Rossen indulging the possibilities afforded to the solo artist. Here Rossen takes the sum of w...view item »

Luke Roberts
The Iron Gates At Troop and Newport

How many lonesome singer songwriters does it take for someone to figure out that we don't need any more of them?  I'm not sure if there is an upper limit but if there was some kind of cull then Luke Roberts would be on the right side of the cut. He peddles a kind of back porch melanch...view item »
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The Instrument

According to its press release, this LP is based around theatrical improvisational techniques. I'm genuinely uncertain as to what that means in the context of the music and what the difference is between those and musical improvisational techniques but what I can tell you is that this alb...view item »

Yva Las Vegass
I Was Born In A Place of Sunshine

Apparently Yva is a motherfucker says the press release. Bit harsh possibly when you're trying to get folks to buy the record? Who wants to buy a record by a motherfucker? Well this particular MF used to be in Sweet 75 with Krist Novoselic of Nirvana fame. They never took off as you well k...view item »
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Notes to an Absent Lover

Barzin have a rather splendid and lovely new long player out on Monotreme on LP and CD. 'Notes To An Absent Lover' really grabbed my attention when we played the promo copy. Now my personal tastes are often light years away from singer songwriter stuff but every now and then something will come along and stand out. This is one of those records. The...view item »
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Liam The Younger
After The Graveyard

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Liam The Younger
Clear Skies Over Black River

Is there a mid-point between Jeffrey Lewis and Will Oldham? If there is then this guy surely inhabits it.  He has that sorta nerdy narrative style of Mr Lewis at times but seems to be more at home singing about rivers and rural back porch worries than city and social anxiety.  It...view item »

Black Velvet

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Phil described this as a star studded supergroup. I mean how can a record that features not only the guy from Tarentel but also some Barn Owl and Date Palms people be described as anything but? The first track opens with a kind of didgeridoo noise that sounds like its been created with th...view item »

Mike Wexler

On first listen, this is very lovely stuff - we'll see, over time, whether its pleasures are passing or permanent. For now, though, Wexler's sounds to me are not too unlike, say, Nick Drake taking the vocal spotlight on a John Martyn album circa 1973. But more than either of thos...view item »
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Simone Felice
Simone Felice

The Clearing

Bowerbirds are a band I've paid scant attention to in the past. This is no reflection on the quality of music produced by the group, more it's a case of there's only so many hours in the day. Now on their third album for Dead Oceans, Bowerbirds purport to have produced their most conside...view item »

Cass McCombs
WIT'S END / Humor Risk

If you've heard the past album, then trust me that this one is just about as good, but you may find the listening experience different. It's a little quieter and dirge-like, not as hook-laden, and the average song is longer, the last one being over nine minutes. I did find the vocal lines to get repetitive in many parts, as they often followed m...view item »

Jennifer Castle

The signs aren't good on opener 'Summer (for PLC)' which drifts along with the word 'summer' in every line which grates on these ears, as does Castle's voice on 'Neverride' which just a little too Newsom for me but things really come together on 'Powers' which is a gorgeous slice of atmos...view item »
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Loch Lomond
White Dresses

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Palace Brothers
There Is No-one What Will Take Care Of You

Palace Music
Lost Blues & Other Songs

It's difficult to imagine anyone starting to listen to Will Oldham's work with this collection of singles, rarities and live recordings. There is some feeling of flow to the arrangement of songs but it feels like a collection rather than an album. This all probably sounds like a criticism but it's not, it just means that this is more of a fan re...view item »

Sophia Knapp
Into The Waves

I Thought I Was An Alien

Yair Yona
World Behind Curtains

Think we've had a 7” in by finger-picking super genius Yair Yona before. This guy is an absolutely killer guitarist and it's all the more surprising due to the fact that he's an Israeli-born composer who seems to have mastered what I'd consider to be a strictly American style. Inspire...view item »
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La Maison De Mon Reve

RECORD OF THE WEEK . Oh God almighty its here. I forgot all about this  - CocoRosie on Touch and Go. This is fecking incredible. Its two ladies from Brooklyn, New York one of whom apparently kisses Devandra Banhart. Obviously some saliva has passed through or something because she sings just lik...view item »

Ali Whitton & The BrokeRecord Players / Sarah Williams & The So Called Friends

Ali Whitton & The Broke Record Players have a split with Sarah Williams & The So Called Friends. This is acoustic singer songwriter gubbins with a very slight country element that may well appeal to fans of The Young Republic and that sort of thing. 12" on Wakey's Louder Than Bombs. ...view item »

No Refuge

The new album from Immigrant is quite a gentle offering...which is exactly what I thought it was gonna be like. After all I do know about every artist working in the UK at the mo.Which comes in handy as Immigrant doesn't seem to exist on the old interweb. I typed in Immigrant and the only band called Immigrant th...view item »

Neal Morgan
In The Yard

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Karl Culley
The Owl

Oh, I do like a nice owl, me. Always a sucker for the owls. On this CD, Karl Culley offers up 11 tracks of his relaxing singer-songwriter outpourings, with his fairly high-pitched voice kind of reminding me of Dave Brock from Hawkwind in their folkier moments, weirdly enough. That aside t...view item »

Karl Culley
Bundle Of Nerves

Josh Ritter
Bringing In The Darlings

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Jim Johnston
Voyage Of Oblivion

Funny the things you come across when you work at Norman Records. Jim Johnston used to sing in Bristol's sorta trip-hop pioneers Monk And Canatella whose 'Who's Who?' single for some reason became part of my life for a brief period around the end of the 90's - probably due to their associ...view item »

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose

If Willy Wonka was from Newcastle and like, changed gender this would be the first album- Yours truly, cellophane noise is akin to being inside a circus tent while its raining outside .There are musical tumblers jugglers and High-wire acts with Beth Jeans Houghton as Ring-mistress - very much in control but now and again letting the more...view item »

Mirel Wagner
Mirel Wagner

King Creosote And Jon Hopkins
John Taylor's Month Away

Try as I might, I'm just not overly keen on this King Creosote and Jon Hopkins album that has been lauded by everyone, everywhere it seems. I certainly can't hear the Talk Talk influences that have been bandied around. This is not at all to say its awful, Quite the opposite - its very pl...view item »

Wilco (The Album)

Wilco the band's 7th studio album is "Wilco" the album and it opens with "Wilco" the song. It's an almost "Lady Madonna" style stomp. This is not their best and there aren't a great deal of outstanding moments, but to my mind, as it's a Wilco album it is naturally of a decent standard. There's a nice 1970s warmth to the whole thing. "One Wing" a...view item »

The Asa Hawks
Roadkiller EP

The lead track on this EP from Leeds alt-country types Asa Hawks is really reminding me of the Pretenders. They have that same kind of melodic straightforwardness to them. After that they strip things back down to more of a country feel, with added banjo (and I think I hear a bit of under...view item »

Barry Adamson
I Will Set You Free

There is a lot to like on I Will Set You Free. Barry Adamson does not disappoint with this eclectic group of mostly hard-charging tunes. My favourite cut is The Sun and the Sea, but I also like the driving, grinding Get Your Mind Right which is at times evocative of the Rolling Stones' Street Fighting Man; The Power of Suggestion with it's thump...view item »

Oddfellow's Casino
The Raven's Empire

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Craig Finn
Clear Heart Full Eyes

Iain Chambers
Rituals And Passtimes

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Golden Calves
Collection: Money Band + Century band

Bit of history lesson, this. Before he was Wooden Wand, James Toth put out a couple of weird little Jandek-influenced psych-folk records under the name Golden Calves way back in the mid-'90s. They contained elements of noise influence within their music and played predominantly within the ...view item »

King Creosote
Flick The Vs

I feel like i should be more familiar with King Creosote and 'Flick the vs' is only fueling my interest. It would seem that Head honcho of Fence recordings and Domino superstar King Creosote knows how to make interesting and fun pop music. 'No-one had it better' is a belter of track and makes for a more than appropriate opener. Catchy vocal melodie...view item »

The Rip Tide

Have you heard of this guy Beirut? He's some hot new young talent bursting onto the scene apparently. He plays lushly orchestrated pop in the style of the likes of The Divine Comedy or maybe a more accessible take on Sufjan Stevens's early work. There's loads of brass on this, his de...view item »

Dead Gum

On my lengthy Christmas sabbatical, I toiled away in the sorting department of York's Royal Mail office delighting in my daily dose of 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' and 'Last Christmas' pumping through the tinny warehouse speakers. Either my ears have been softened by the constan...view item »
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Chuck Bettis
Urgency Renewal

Chuck Bettis is pals with that band Big Blood so they've put a CD out of his stuff on their own Don't Trust The Rain label. Bettis is one of them spontaneous composition types so, as you can imagine, 'Urgency Renewal' is chocker with systematically chaotic compositions. It was recorded over a period of time in different locations with...view item »
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Simon Waldram
The Day The Signal Died

C. Spencer Yeh

Loving the photos of a completely fucked piano on the cover of this album for starters, really evocative imagery and the colours are great. Aside from that, the music on this CD is not what we've come to expect from Mr Spencer Yeh, who we know best for his playful screeching free jazz/n...view item »
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The Pine Hill Haints
Tales Of Crime

Arkham Karvers
The Prices They Pay

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Emiliana Torrini
Love In the Time of Science

Emiliana Torrini had been around for a while in Iceland, but with Love in the Time of Science, the rest of the world was given an opportunity to hear her amazing voice. And what an introduction. Her soft vocals and light background music is folksy and beautiful, and with such a start as 'To be Free', this is the kind of album you're going to tur...view item »

This Is Tunng... Live From The BBC

This newie from Tunng is already a firm favourite with me. It's an LP that spans their career, and features their numerous BBC radio sessions. They have recorded sessions for Lauren Laverne, Huw “Welsh” Stephens, Marc Reilly and others. It's what you would expect from Tunng. It...view item »

Thos Henley
A Collection Of Early Recordings

Thos Henley is a bloke. He's a bloke who split up with the love of his life and went to France to live (as you do) and there he remains trying to be a bit French and that. Here's a collection of his songs which were largely recorded before he left with a few new songs chucked in for good...view item »

The Summer Is Over Before It's Begun

Unrelentingly bleak, goth-tinged folk from Maine (the birth place of Stephen King, this is the one thing I know for sure about Maine!) resident Clare Hubbard, who makes music under the name Caethua. With a handful of releases under her belt (or beneath her corset!) shared over ...view item »

Ville Leinonen
Auringonsade / Pommisuoja

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Nathan Salsburg

Carlos Paredes
Movimento Perpétuo

We got a couple of records in this week by this dude on Drag City who I've not heard of before. I can tell you he's from Portugal and he's the man when it comes to playing the Portuguese guitar. Which is different from a normal guitar - it's a short-necked, wide-bodied instrument with twe...view item »

Kissing Gate

Strange one this. It sounds like The Pogues hanging out and making music with some pop punk act. Which either way you look at it is a damn fine idea or the worst idea since my uncle decided to cut his fingernails with a scythe. It's pretty upbeat and direct and you can imagine somebody so...view item »
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Bill Ryder-Jones

Liz Green
O, Devotion!

...From the producers of 'Driving Over Miss Daisy' and the director of 'Don't Look At Me (I'm A Shrew)' comes 'O, Devotion' which critics are saying is “a classic..shame its not a film.” (New York Times) and “I didn't like it...it's too violent” (Tim Robbins)...sorr...view item »

David A Jaycock

...I broke my leg in two places, My doctor says I should stop going to those places..there's nothing like a shitty joke to liven up proceedings. This David A. Jaycock sounds like he needs some crap gags to turn his frown upside down. I don't know the feller, he could be the happiest man alive, with a basket of puppies and clothes made of sweets ...view item »

Goodnight Lenin
The Wenceslas Square EP

I also missed the 7" this Brum-based gang of folk-botherers threw into the underground musical network recently. It certainly sounds like they peddle an authentic brand of rousing traditional folk rock and flower-power-flecked whimsy. With a neat six tracks to run through it ain't go...view item »

The Cubical
It Ain't Human

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The Janks
The Hands of Time

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Harvey Lord

Harvey Lord returns with a new 17 track album on Autumn Ferment, jam packed with slightly fried variations on traditional folky themes. They're a cheeky bunch are Harvey Lord and His Existence. Not only are they precision tight and bold in their reinterpretation of the North Of England's ...view item »

Cass McCombs
Humor Risk

Cass McCombs has been knocking about for a while being rather good at what he does but not exciting me enough to invest myself in his work. This is his fifth record for Domino and his second in a year so he certainly ain't no slacker... well, not musically anyway. 'Humor Risk' starts with ...view item »

My Sad Captains
Fight Less Win More

I think it was the word 'sad' that made me think this was going to be post-rock.  Or maybe the word 'captains'. Anyway its nothing of the sort. The nearest comparison would be ace forgotten London popsters By the Fireside with their mix of krautey grooves and upbeat college rock but t...view item »


Mozart Parties
Black Cloud

Do you know when you hear a song for the first time, and it instantly reminds you of summat else? This newie from Lake District-dwelling James Bennett is a quite fragile shuffle. A shuffle that for some bizarre reason made me think of T.T.-Darby's rather memorable “Sign Your Name&rdquo...view item »
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Tom Fazzini
Stats / The Programme

Tom Fazzini was a member of Gush, Purr and also A Small Good Thing who released some ambient stuff in the '90s on Soleilmoon and Leaf in the early 2000s. His first solo record 'Neck To Neck' was released back in 1984 and more recently an album came out on Locust in 2007. I'm ashamed t...view item »

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