Skinny Lister release new single ahead of album and tour

Batten down the hatches ladies and gentlemen, for tempestuous folk-punk renegades – SKINNY LISTER – are back with an explosive new single: “38 Minutes”.

Take it as a forewarning, for the London sextet today also lay out the incendiary plans for their long-awaited fourth studio album: ‘The Story Is….’, a record set to drop from Xtra Mile Recordings silo on 1st March 2019.

Continue reading “Skinny Lister release new single ahead of album and tour”

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Odetta Hartman, new album and tour

mailOdetta will perform at The Islington, London on 24th September. She’s also just announced a string of European shows in support of Micheal Nau & The Mighty Thread*.

‘Old Rockhounds Never Die’ is a bonanza of beautiful contradictions: intimate yet fiercely internationalist, spiritual and yet tangible, sweet and also sexy. It convenes with the ghosts of the past while marching relentlessly forwards

Drawn from experiences as far-flung as riding a train from San Francisco to Chicago with an old-style, rootin’-tootin’ cowboy for company (‘Cowboy Song’), to experiencing the intense natural beauty of Icelandic waterfalls (‘Dettifoss’), it’s a record that taps into the musical traditions of the past while being a collection of songs about living in the moment.

Tuesday 18 September  – Kantine am Berghain – Berlin, DE * – TICKETS

Wednesday 19 September – Loppen – Copenhagen, DK * – TICKETS

Friday 21 September – Ekko – Utrecht, DK * – TICKETS

Saturday 22 September – AB Salon – Brussels, BE – INFO
Monday 24 September – The Islington, London – TICKETS

Thursday 27 September – Le Pop Up du Label – Paris, FR * – TICKETS

Saturday 29 September – East Side Tavern – Dublin, IR – TICKETS

Raised by pioneering parents on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC, Odetta’s milieu was a “colourful culture of artistry,” that included early exposure to community activism, renegade film screenings, poetry readings and trips to CBGB’s. Inchoate punk and hip hop were aural wallpaper, as were the 45s spinning in the household jukebox featuring her dad’s extensive collection of soul and afrobeat records, as well as her Appalachian mother’s classic country selections. A classically trained violinist with a penchant for back-porch banjo, Odetta combines these variegated sounds of her childhood with her personal passion for folk music and the musicological legacy of Alan Lomax. Lomax is writ large on ‘Old Rockhounds…’ at least in spirit anyway. Odetta plays all the instruments on this and her debut ‘222’.

Continue reading “Odetta Hartman, new album and tour”

Seán McGowan announces debut album and tour dates

6abc8b5f-779c-4342-ab2f-924152999c9cSeán McGowan has announce the release of his debut album, Son of the Smith, through Xtra Mile Recordings on 11 May 2018. Preorders for the album on CD, LP and digital are available at this link

https://seanmcgowan.lnk.to/sonofthesmith 

The first single taken from the album is ‘Off the Rails’, out today -14th February – which you can check out below.

‘Off the Rails’ sears along with an e-bow guitar drone thrumming underneath while Seán gives the lyrical equivalent of an arm around the shoulder and kiss on the cheek of his mates for being there for him.

As a glimpse into Son of the Smith, it captures his band absolutely ploughing through the parts he wrote for them. In that spirit, Son of the Smith captures everything live. Recording at SS2 Studios in Southend with labelmate Sam Duckworth (AKA Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.) and Jay Malhotra, drums were done without a click-track, each instrument colliding with the rhythm. “It feels urgent, like it could tip over the edge at any point,” Seán says. 

Continue reading “Seán McGowan announces debut album and tour dates”

CradleRock – Craig Johnstone (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

a2426392199_16When I first encountered Craig’s music it was via the refreshingly raw, honest and self-deprecating country-punk meets frantic folk collision of last years We Humans album. And if within that that wonderfully raw musical landscape of satire and sympathy, profanity and profundity the spirit of such mercurial artists as Tom Waits, Frank Zappa and the much overlooked Bob Log III lurked in the corners, here they act as a spiritual steering group.

 

And in the same why that Craig previously deconstructed, twisted, wilfully broke and then reassembled country music into stark new shapes, here he does the same job of stripping down and retuning any number of other genres from folk to country to indie and from rock to blues to pop and everything in between. If lazy journalists, like me, revel in our labels and pigeon-holes, Cradlerock will prove to be our undoing, existing in a place either way beyond generic borders or perhaps where they all collide and destroy each other, I haven’t quite worked out which yet and putting it into adequate words is often tough.

Holisticism will tell you that you can start anywhere and it will lead you to the right conclusion, so let’s start with the fact that there is a strange synchronicity at work from time to time, especially with the inclusion of the antique standard Big Rock Candy Mountain, a hobo’s dream of paradise which the character Rudy sings in William Kennedy’s depression era classic novel Ironweed. In the film that character is played by none other than Tom Waits! Coincidence? Well, probably but interesting none the less.

Interesting because it is the Waitsian pulse more than any other, which beats at the heart of this madcap musical adventure. There is the same feeling of being at a ramshackle apocalyptic carnival surrounded by circus freaks and tents filled with warped mirrors. There is also a strange sense of musical hall nostalgia, like the orchestra pit of an otherworldly theatrical show that seems to exist in a strange dimension were Clive Barker meets The Muppet show.

The music seems to serve as a sort of sonic Rorschach test, the industrial grind of Ear Bastards making me see car plants, the skittering sounds of The Tea Room conjuring bugs on a night light. You have a go…it’s fun. There are times when Craig is happy to sail better-charted waters and the brilliantly named Smoakumifyagottam is a raw, garage rock rabble-rouser that could have easily found its way on to a Gun Club or Bad Seeds album. Mainly, however, he likes to subvert expectation and it is this arch-eclecticism, which holds everything together.

You put one weird song on a conventional album and it is a gimmick. Two such songs and you reveal yourself as having had a short inspirational flash but then nothing to follow it up. A fifty-fifty split of convention and conviction shows schizophrenia in the song writing process. A whole album of songs that wander such uncompromising pathways with only fleeting contact with the tried and tested approach to form and function and you know that the artist in question is doing something outstandingly original. And CradleRock is nothing if not outstandingly original….not to mention humorous, self-deprecating, weird, brilliant, disarming, raw, honest, satirical, mad and everything else that goes with the glorious territory of being a total outsider.

Weeding Out The Wicked – The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

IMG_0098Last time I dipped my toe into the crazy waters of The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show it was to experience their clattering cider-punk-country-hoedown Tightropin’ a song which gave me the opportunity to roll out all those literary juxtapositions and two worlds colliding musical metaphors. But a full album is a whole different affair. Here, rather than just the quick snapshot that a single offers, you get a fuller sense of the musical landscape this intriguing band calls home.

Opening salvo, Winter Walks, offers a wholly unexpected and slightly disarming start, a more plaintive, pastoral introduction to the band than the one I was subjected to, but never the less threaded through with wonderful dynamic changes, mournful stings and Beatle-esque descending progressions. This is quickly followed by the frantic cow-punk of Tick Tick and thus the boundaries of their sonic kingdom are quickly defined.

And whilst there is a lot about this album which reminds you that the folk urges of this side of the Atlantic and the country twangs of our colonial counterparts are certainly generic cousins, there is a lot more at work here too. Whilst Lose Your Step is classic wistful reflection with a UK postcode and Country Singer has all the references that its name implies, the most interesting tracks are the ones that throw you a few curveballs. Serial Killer is a strange punk musical hall gang show, Magazines is a classic pub rock era strut that Nick Lowe would be proud of and the track from which the band takes their name is a splendidly drunken waltz. And even after pinballing between all of those musical demarcation lines they still manage to surprise me with Circling The Airport, a cinematic, soundtrack of a song that, however hard I try not to, has be thinking of The Goo Goo Dolls Iris, for all the right, sky-scraping and emotive reasons.

Going into an album on the strength of one song is always interesting, sometimes you realise that a band are a one trick pony and the single is all you needed to hear anyway, other times you find that it isn’t representative at all. After hearing Tightropin’ a few months ago, Weeding Out The Wicked turns out to be the best of both worlds. That song is representative of only one part of the bands sound and through the course of the album they take wonderful sonic journeys through associated genres and conduct interesting cross pollinating experiments but all the while the sound is cohesive, fresh and original. It isn’t often that you find that happening, I can tell you.

New Music of the Day – CLXXVII – Tightropin’ – The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show

17192483_1801413136845269_1044643200231661306_oFrantic, that’s the word that springs to mind. Ramshackle, that’s another. Frantic and ramshackle but wonderfully so. Two Man Travelling Medicine Show are a perfect storm of roots music, bluegrass stomps played with a punk swagger, pastoral folk taken on a white-knuckle ride on an out of control cider cart. Country-core? Cow-punk? Who knows?

It’s the same clash of Old World urges and New World sounds that saw me fall for fellow southern country-punks The Cropdusters all those years ago. It makes me think that somewhere amongst the hill forts and chalk downs of this ancient part of the world there is a ley-line, a spiritual hillbilly highway that runs along the south coast under the ocean and on through the Appalachian Mountains and thus explaining the musical connection.

Fiddles flash, guitars get abused, basses grumble and an incessant beat pushes the song ever closer to the edge. It’s the soundtrack to Stonewall Jackson leading a charge on Maiden Castle…now there’s an image.

New Music of the Day – CLIX: The March of Progress – Gaz Brookfield

15304319_1330088023689507_6838577101719640785_oMany things come to light when you dig a little deeper towards the source of inspiration for Gaz’s songs. We know he likes cider and maps and history but this latest video from the just released 5th studio album “I Know My Place” comes from a less obvious origin, Rudolph Zallinger’s famous illustration representing 25 million years of human evolution. (That old chestnut!) And faced with the enormity of his place at the sharp end of that journey the conclusion drawn is a clear and concise “what is going on?” Which unless you are Zaphod Beeblebrox venturing into the Total Perspective Vortex, is exactly the correct response.

It also inspired the usual blend of driving, sing-along, punky-folk music featuring a cast of thousands…if not many, well…some… famous faces from the back of a van, craft ale, music festival circuit captured during the hi-jinks and shenanigans of the recording process.

The Party We Came For – Joe McCorriston (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

15027401_1270837229632912_6714003727288243038_nI guess, in a way, singer-songwriters performing their solo sets are a bit of an unknown factor, or at least just the tip of their own potential musical iceberg. When they perform in the raw, one guy/girl and guitar, I’m sure you are only ever getting the bare bones of the song that is actually in their head, the news in brief of what might be a breaking, epic story. That is what is great about Joe’s latest release, The Party We Came For, as after years of listening to and loving the one man band version of events, now I get to hear his music in all its wide-screen, panoramic glory.

 

There is an element of destiny about the route being pursued here whether Joe is aware of it or not, just look at the likes of Frank Turner for a probably over-used reference, a fellow traveller of sorts down the DIY folk-punk troubadour route from solo pub shows to anthemic, full band sound. But where as the ubiquitous Mr T. opts for a very transatlantic sonic language more New Jersey than New Cross, Joe’s sound has more of a Billy Bragg feel to things, more homespun and quintessentially English, especially in the albums more reflective moments.

 

As an album it offers a wonderful cross roads moment for our hero. Obviously solo shows are often the only cost effective way of making a living for many artists these days and the sofa surfing life made possible by kindness of strangers generally doesn’t extend to a van full of musicians and a stack of amps in the living room. But The Party We Came For does perhaps offer a taste of the future, the bigger sound that these songs obviously benefit from raise questions and a tantalising glimpse of a possible next chapter in the story of Joe McCorriston.

 

 

Misery Road – Cranky George (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

13316966_10153795176694790_7146232306826004659_oI love the cyclical nature of music, the fact that the sounds of your formative years despite going through many twists and turns manage to find their way back into your life. So I’m currently sat in my office space listening to the lilting sounds of Cranky George’s latest single surrounded by one of their members past history. To my left my old vinyl collection contains a stack of Pogues records; to my right is a shelf of music books including James Fearnley’s, autobiography of those days.

But that’s the past and Misery Road and the album it comes from, Fat Lot of Good, comes from a different place. A combination of geography and the cultural heritage that goes with location, and possibly the warmer weather of the west coast are all factors that inform the bands output. James celtic punk-folk of his youth might be in there somewhere but there is a lot more too it than that.

Old world folk traditions and new world country references blend easily on the album but there are some wonderful nuances and fine details, which create their unique sound. Perfect Skin resonates with Tex-Mex vibes whilst an East European gypsy jive raises its head on tracks such as Katyusha and Waltz in Blue and if there is such a thing as Parisian café punk then The Bones is it.

There is no two ways about it, it’s a great album, one that wanders the world looking for inspiration, and cross pollinates established traditions and musical identities and manages to weave them into a sound that speaks of everywhere and nowhere. World music used to imply a style that could be identified with a   specific place, indigenous and with a certain recognisable ethnicity. As the world shrinks, maybe the term is better suited to a sound that speaks about the movement and of people, the exchange of ideas, the mixing of cultural heritage and interplay of musical traditions. And if you are not sure of what that means, Cranky George provide a perfect users manual.

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