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Folk / Country / Singer-songwriter

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This begins like Arcade Fire doing an anti-folk number before falling into a hole that David Berman might have dug one day whilst thinking of directions to take the Silver Jews in. Or possibly a ramshackle downbeat hybrid of Bon Iver & Fire on Fire? This is the new project of some former & current Great Lake Swimmers members. It's all a ...view item »

Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light I

Earth are one of those bands who have had a long an distinguished career without having the good fortune to regularly pass by my sumptuous ears. About a year ago I heard one song by them which earnt itself repeated plays on my battered old gramophone. This new LP is almost exactly what I would expect given that first encounter, compris...view item »

Drakkar Sauna
Leave That Hole Alone

Shit, I ain't sayin' nuttin' 'bout dat title. Nuttin'! And I ain't talkin' no jive 'bout deys taste in shirts on da cover neither. You do dat yo' own selves. Third Man do little bits and pieces of various things revolving around the axis of Americana and this one plops into the 'folk-rock-country-pop' barrel which I seem to remember them stickin...view item »

Ed Askew
Here We Are Together Again / Yellow Dollars

Can't find too much out about this dude but he's been making music since the late 60s. Having said that he's not released much... Just one LP on ESP Disk in 1968 and then an LP on De Stijl in 2005. What's he been doing in the meantime? I'd like to think he's been selling burgers in burger vans for the time in between (that's what all the best ar...view item »


The obvious comparison the minute this begins is Jose Gonazalez. He's got a similar playing & singing style has this Michael Owens. A sort of metronomic guitar picking style embellished with sympathetic piano, violin & cello on some songs, low-key percussion popping up on other tracks too. From tender, dreamy folk-pop to more virtuoso at...view item »

John Vanderslice
White Wilderness

Despite releasing 10 albums to date under his own name, John Vanderslice mainly plies his trade as a producer and is an absolute obsessive production nerd. His production techniques are experimental and have given us some superb songs, "Too Much Time" from 2009's "Romanian Names" being a particular highlight of his career. Given his desire to ex...view item »

Giant Sand
Long Stem Rant (25th Anniversary Edition)

Giant Sand is an acquired taste. Where Valley of Rain, Storm and Love Songs tend to sound like a sloppy R.E.M. with a singer who hasn't quite figured out how to sing, Long Stem Rant finds Giant Sand taking a left turn into more experimental territory. This makes for a strange and sometimes difficult listening experien...view item »

Iron and Wine
Kiss Each Other Clean

Never been a big fan of Sam Beam's Iron And Wine project as it always seemed to me like an alt. country-by-numbers affair and was obviously meant for different ears. Well on 'Kiss Each Other Clean' any assumptions I've made about the artist are clearly invalid in 2011 as this is a pop record, a tastefully performed and well informed pop record a...view item »

Elfin Saddle
Ringing For The Begin Again

Elfin Saddle is the work of long time art and music collaborators Jordan McKenzie and Emi Honda and 'Ringing for the Begin Again' is their second record and first to be made available via Constellation Records. Constellation seem to be branching out a little in recent years and Elfin Saddle are a really appropriate signing for the label. The group'...view item »

Sufjan Stevens
All Delighted People

Sufjan Stevens' new one sounds amazing. The first track alone has more ideas and originality than a million other twats I don care to mention. His creative output has been super pretty much from the get-go and this record is superb too. The first track 'All Delighted People (Original Version)' references the classic "Sounds of Silence" by Simon ...view item »

Elfin Saddle

Who are Elfin Saddle? This is a delightful & sumptuous package whatever. Seemingly they're an experimental folk/sound art duo (a 3-piece live) who also specialise in eccentric organic sculpture & stop-motion animation built around delightfully random detritus. This is the culmination of their work - a bizarre 23 minute film & some tr...view item »

Jason Collett
Rat A Tat Tat

Fans of Jason Collett's know his sound tends to veer on the poppy side with a little "throw back" edge to it. I like to call it music from the "Quentin Tarantino Soundtrack" era. While fans of his previous work may be thrown off by the mellower tracks on this album. What makes him different from every other pop rock John Mayer clone is that his ...view item »

Life of Love

These guys are doing something a little unusual. They're an NY based outfit who blend folksy art-rock, gospel, Americana & and an abstracted form of psychedelic blues into something that sounds much more appealing than what I just said. The lady singer is the main draw here. Somewhere between the Karens Dalton & Carpenter with maybe a bi...view item »

The Tallest Man on Earth
Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird

I've been meaning to check this guy out since a friend heard me playing Bill Fox and enquired whether it was The Tallest Man on Earth. After my initial confusion about Fox's height, I assumed it was this one he was talking about. Like Fox, he plays a very Bob Dylan influenced form of lo fidelity music that is kept incredibly sparse. I'm not mass...view item »

Eric Chenaux
Dull Lights

ERIC CHENEAUX has a CD out on Constellation. 'Dull Lights' it's called & avant country / folk is his game. A large dose of Appendix Out/Alisdair Roberts, A spot of Lucky Luke in mushroom enhanced soundcheck mode on opener 'Skullsplitter' , a spindly Smog having a nervous breakdown....'Worm & Gear' is brilli...view item »

Doug Paisley
Constant Companion

I guess the comparisons between Canadian singer/songwriter Doug Paisley and his fellow countryman Gordon Lightfoot are inevitable as they both play gentle country-ish acoustic ballads. Paisley’s songs are beautiful, nicely arranged, acoustic guitars, organ, harmonies and a rhythm section that just does ex...view item »

Nancy Elizabeth
I Used To Try

A 7" is available by the lady once known to her schoolmates as Cunliffe. I'm sure it got twisted a little into an unpleasant bastardisation at some point by some horrid reprobates. So she's now just known as Nancy Elizabeth. 'I Used to Try' is raggedy, slightly psychedelic tribalistic folk somewhere between Beth Orton & Sandy Denny. It's q...view item »

Ben Calvert
The State Of Travel EP

Ben Calvert releases a 7" called The State of Travel EP and it's very Nick Drake/ Belle & Sebastian singer songwriter acoustic folky type stuff....view item »

Men An Tol
Through the Quoit

Static Caravan once again delve into the folk oevre with an LP by Men An Tol called 'Through the Quoit'. Now a lot of these modern readings of the Fairport Convention template can seem rather forced and a little insincere. This, however does seem to be a lot more natural take as if the band were born to play this music. The melodies and harmonies a...view item »

Eric Chenaux
Warm Weather With Ryan Driver

I've lost touch with Constellation these days, I've not even heard this guy before but apparently he's had a couple of other albums out on the label prior. I'm quite surprised at how straight-ahead folk this is but it's decent quality stuff. Definitely more on the light Americana end of things, the press release probably hits the bullseye when i...view item »

Philip Selway

The album clocks in at just over half an hour of songs driven by acoustic guitar. Selway's vocals, accompanied by female vocals in some songs, show decent range - sort of a toned down Thom Yorke. The songs feature a variety of quiet instrumentation in addition to the acoustic guitar. In my limited listens thus far, there's no drumset to be heard...view item »

Cat Power
You Are Free

The other 'biggie' this week and a record to get really excited about is the new one from Cat Power. I'd been worried that since the gorgeous Moonpix she had lost the plot a bit but my fears were unfounded. This is a really excellent record. Chan Marshall's voice is a thing of unbelievably beaut...view item »

Cat Power
What Would The Community Think

Of course all albums worth reviewing are five stars, and every "best of" is so personal as to be meaningless. Cat Power is so insular as to be beyond review. You either feel her pain, or you don't. If you have ever seen Cat Power live, you have been treated to either the most moving or most embarrasing performance of your life-- sometimes both i...view item »

Cat Power
The Greatest

CAT POWER is back with new single 'The Greatest'. Lifted from the long player of the same name this is a sultry piano led smoocher with strings that's somewhere between Mazzy Star and Dido (eeek!). It has that late night crying into your drink vibe'.Love & Communication' is a stripped down acoustic live so...view item »

Dylan Leblanc
Paupers Field

You can bracket Dylan LeBlanc with Jonathan Wilson in that he's a young guy who, in recent years, has recorded some authentic '70s singer/songwriter stuff. This has more of a country vibe than Jonathan Wilson's mystical Laurel Canyon-style weed-infused albums. "If Time Was For Wastin'" and "If The Creek Don'...view item »

Songs You Can Sing

I used to like one of those scuzzy Chicago math rock groups years ago called Table. I thought "What a shite name for a band, they must be good", which unfortunately doesn't apply to the clothing company "Bench" whose range of designer togs are obviously stitched by 6 week old blind kittens with frostbite on their paws. Nattering...view item »

Robert Horton
Sleep, Wake, Hope And Then

Yet another release in on Music Fellowship this week is a CD from Robert Horton. 'Sleep, Wake, Hope And Then' sounds cool, a bit darker and noisier than the other stuff I've heard on this label. The press release says "Horton conjuring spirits with his homemade instruments, teasing objects with contact microphones, squeezing tones till they sp...view item »

Willy Mason
So Long

Willy Mason has a new single out on CD and etched 7" and it's a slab of bar room mid west country folk with a bit of college rock thrown in for good measure. Rather mainsteam we thought... Get your plaid shirt on, get pissed and bottle someone really hard in the face. Yee har.......view item »

Tyson Vogel

The album starts gently with some lovely sounding acoustic guitar. They are picked strings, bell like, warm and full in tone. Someone's done a good job on the recording here. Now, the second song is still brimming with the acoustic guitar but backed up with a slow, sonorous drum and cello. And vocals, and now piano. This beautifully recorded...view item »

The Owl Service and Alison O'Donnell
The Fabric of Folk EP

The Owl Service have this 'The Fabric of Folk' EP out on Static Caravan with Alison O'Donnell. This is full timbre spook folk, the lady has a remarkable voice. She's like a possessed gypsy with a stunning range, a right powerful voice that folds itself round you like velvet on 'The Wooden Coat', a beautifully gothic number. Then it goes proper Stee...view item »

Sun Kil Moon
Admiral Fell Promises

Oh bloomin' hell. Can the day get any better? The king of melancholic autumnal songwriting is back.  2008's stunning 'April' set was so deep and dense and sprawlingly gorgeous that it took at least 2 years for the thing to fully sink in. Now out of the blue we have another one to digest. I probably need a week with this to give a full d...view item »

The Owl Service
A Garland Of Spring

Am back at work now and you'll notice how much worse the reviews get. Trying to concentrate on writing reviews here while bald headed goons run around like numpties is a nightmare. The Owl Service then....They had a CD out on Static Caravan a while back and here's their 1st full length album 'The Garland of Spring'. I love the word length me. Mr Ow...view item »

Gemma Ray
It's A Shame About Gemma Ray

I really like this album, it's timeless and unique. I don't care if they're covers of songs they are all just straight slick diamonds o' coolness. You can't go wrong, and if you do, it might as well be with Gemma Ray singing ya down the waterslide at her simply-super-fly finest. Go ahead and buy this for Halloween and it will taste just like can...view item »

David G. Cox
David G. Cox

Not sure what to tell you about this guy as I've never really heard his stuff before. On first listen it sounds like Tom Waits style Americana music that absorbs a little of the blues, country and folk along the way. The most distinctive thing about it is Mr. Cox's super gruff vocal delivery. From the sound of him you'd think he was some weary t...view item »

Mare's Tails

What we have here is a fine collection of intimate, folky lullabies from this Leeds-based project. For the most part we're in pure acoustic guitar territory but there are occasional flourishes from other instrumentation and low-key rhythms do rear their heads, contributing heavily to the predominantly waltz-like air of the album.. Apparently thr...view item »

Hamper McBee
The Good Old-Fashioned Way

It's an informative record sleeve. You know immediately it's by Hamper Mcbee, you know he's from Monteagle, Tennessee and you know he knows how to handle a woman after a few drinks. He looks like he means business. Also worthy of note is the killer moustache on board Hamper's face... it's nothing but genius. The album was recorded in 1977 and it...view item »

Damien Jurado
Caught In The Trees

Damien Jurado is known for writing lo-fi, folky songs dealing in betrayal, heartbreak and other such problems. “Caught in the Trees” then, is a bit different. Whilst he has always been a writer of sublime melodies, he usually keeps things very low-key. It opens with the glorious up-tempo “Gil...view item »

Roland White
I Wasn’t Born To Rock ‘n Roll

I Wasn’t Born To Rock ‘n Roll is a nice showcase for White's Monroe-style mandolin, which is in fine form here and is nicely recorded. Banjo picker Alan Munde pretty much steals the show at every turn, delivering solos that are rock-solid and classic-sounding, but with intriguing new wrinkles in the note-choice and technique. White's lead singi...view item »

Pernice Brothers
Goodbye, Killer

“Goodbye Killer” is The Pernice Brothers 6th studio album. It is more immediately upbeat than the uninspiring “Live A Little” that preceded it although Joe Pernice’s vocal comes across a little like Ed Robertson (Barenaked Ladies) “Bechemel” which is just w...view item »

The Acorn
No Ghost

The opener "Cobbled from dust" immediately introduces you into the sound and tone of the album. Lyrically its warm, and heartfelt yet being experimental and familiar all at the same time. Theres "rock" songs to be found here as well. "Crossed the Wire" is a monster of song, throwing you into an entire different pace from soft spoken songs like "mis...view item »

Nana Grizol

It's damn disappointing that this terrific band hasn't garnered more attention than this. This is the sophomore release from Nana Grizol, part of the famous Elephant 6 collective (Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, and many other terrific bands). This album smoothes out a lot of the streetpunk, live sound of the first album, and refines ...view item »

Micah P. Hinson
And The Pioneer Saboteurs

Quick, dust off them spurs, pardoner, don your stetson and marry your sister, The new album from Micah P Henson is here. Its a sprawling opus of wonder and grandiosity, a bit like the Old West itself or a night out with Keith Chegwin,if you will. This record sounds really great. All the songs are spacious and very much rooted in the mysticism of...view item »

Damien Jurado
Saint Bartlett

A reverb and hazy vibe are kind of at odds with some of the music for me on this, although I do like some tracks and how of their own time they sound. I'm more a fan of past records, though this is not bad by any means. I certainly would not start here if you are just getting into the artist. His other records are more consistent on the whole an...view item »

James Yorkston & The Big Eyes Family Players
Folk Songs

Nice of the much loved James Yorkston to take things back to basics, with assistance from Sheffield's Big Eyes Family Players, he's unleashed a blinding collection of tender traditional folk classics, mostly picked from around the British Isles. His mellow Scots burr always brings a smile to proceedings and these contemporary interpretations range ...view item »

The Adventures of Ghosthorse & Stillborn

I loved that first COCOROSIE album. It did loads for me... this new one I'm not sure about. The cover photograph is amazing though. One of the loveliest images I've seen in ages. Anyway they appear to have lost some of their cookyness and some of their songwriting skills. It's not quite as good as it used to be.... I think I pre...view item »

The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers return with album number 5. Featuring a rotating cast built around the nucleus of A.C. Newman, this collection relies on a clean anthemic mellow rock sound with an occasional country or glam twist & strong 70s FM radio leanings. With the slinky bolshy vocals of star-in-her-own-right Neko Case being the main draw for...view item »

Steve Mason
Boys Outside

Ah remember 2013? What a golden year that was. And if you were lucky it was soundtracked the baggy oddball pop of the Beta Band's Steve Mason. Mason is the sort of man who does his best to sound like an interesting Guy Garvey with polished considered pop and a few electronics hurled in. Now back out on viny...view item »

Jason Urick
Fussing & Fighting

Help...Im injured...some one call me an ambience (ambulance). This is brooding drone at its most droning. Its high on atmosphere and low on convention. There is a beat somewhere in there but not as we know it. The last un-named track is probably my fave. Its like opening the door and stepping into a tropical realm. I reckon this guy is probably som...view item »

Rob Himself
Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

Released on Rob Himself's own imprint Wide of the Mark, 'Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes' is a collection of the artists 'tried and tested' favourites recorded with drummer and general helper-outer Adam Pollard. This is pretty much straight forward, catchy-as-hell indie-rock with a hint of traditional Irish folk. Stripped down to the basics these...view item »

Bill Callahan
Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

I'm not entirely sure why Bill Callahan dropped the whole Smog thing and decided to just be himself. If anyone knows let me know. I'm too lazy to look it up. 'Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle' is his 2nd album as himself (about his 20th otherwise) and it sounds delightful. The first time I heard it I thought it was great! Though his voice is start...view item »

Tam Rush
Living Souvenirs

Don't know much about this record other than it features Richard Walters and Andrew Mears of Youthmovies as well as Einar from Eberg... That technically makes it a collaborative cross-channel super group uniting the forces of France and the UK in post-post-rock harmony. Musically 'Living Souvenirs' is not easy to define, it begins with a Current 93...view item »

Taylor Hollingsworth
Life With A Slow Ear

Taylor is a great musician, some may have a distaste for his voice. However, let me say that if you like Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band (especially songs like "Air Mattress" and "Snake Hill") than you will enjoy this. His voice, albeit unique, works great with h...view item »

Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore
Dear Companion

I went to see Daniel Martin Moore way back in 2011. This was the only one of his albums I didn't have at the time so I bought it at the gig. Just looking at the CD now, I found a piece of paper inside with Haley Bonar's name written on it. He covered her brilliant song "Wendy Bird" during the gig. Afterwards I d...view item »

Bonnie Prince Billy
Master and Everyone

Clint here with news of a brilliant album. Bonnie 'Prince' Billy returns with his first album for quite some time and the good news is:- its absolutely exceptional. I have to admit I haven't really liked the last couple of records he's done but this one is right up my alley. What to say? Well its...view item »

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