Nine Mile Records
The Coolest Blues, Funk and Country Swamp Music You Can Imagine.
Sadly; such is the backlog at RMHQ that this album; from one of our favourite artistes has sat around unplayed and unloved for over a month now; but such is our love for Patrick Sweany that we knew we would get the best out of it when the time was right; and that proved to be last Sunday.
The sun was high in the sky and it was so hot my cold beer was soon warm beer; so I had to keep refilling my glass as I let this music seep into my soul.
Hallelujah! Opening track Old Time Ways was exactly as I’d hoped it would be; Sweany on top form howling from the heart as a red hot band makes every single note count; and not a single one is out of place.
This is already Swamp Music par excellence, mon ami.
Sweany’s cool groove continues through Up and Down and on third track Country Loving he slows things down to an evening stroll through the Everglades pace, as Charles Hodges takes on a Professor Longhair role at the piano while Sweany croons (if such a word can describe his grizzled tones) the sweetest of honest love songs.
In its own way ANCIENT NOISE is a ‘move on’ from what I remember of his last two albums; with a new found maturity to the construction of songs like Outcast Blues, Play Around (with its Roy Orbison undertones) and more especially Get Along which could easily have become an over excited stomp; but Sweany and bandmates show incredible restraint on a chest tightening Soul-Rocker.
Back in the olden days I don’t know if the songs Steady or album closer Victory Lap would have been described as Rock Ballads; as that term has gone out of fashion now but both are articulate, intimate and very easy on the ear while retaining Sweany’s trademark powerful honesty in every breath and stanza.
There’s also the surprising inclusion of a pseudo-political song that delves into the troubled past of the USA and more importantly The Southern States. At first I thought Cry of Amede was just a nod in the direction of Dr. John; but delve deeper and you will hear a history lesson that will send a shiver down your spine; as Amede Ardoin who was a Creole musician in the 1930’s and was cruelly beaten for receiving a handkerchief from a white woman as a gift. Sweany gets the unpleasant story across without ever sounding maudlin or even preachy; just giving us the facts in a sensitive and rather beautiful manner.
With so much to choose from; and so many songs that sound exciting, interesting and often just plain fabulous I’m going for the Country Funkylicious No Way No How as my favourite track; simply because it was the first one that I found myself murmuring the chorus too.
This is the third of eight Patrick Sweany albums we’ve reviewed here at RMHQ and each one has come along into our lives just when we needed some rough and ready, sweaty and cinematic Southern Blues with a splash of Rock n Roll flavoured bourbon; and he delivers all of those things with gentlemanly panache.
Released July 6th 2018
CHILDREN OF PARADISE
River House Records/Virtual Label.
Passion, Politics and Raw Power From New York’s Finest.
I’m not sure what’s left to say about New Yorker Willie Nile……he was a stalwart of CBGB’s back in the 70’s, releasing two critically acclaimed albums, then in 1981 got involved with ‘legal problems’ with a record label; but kept playing bigger and bigger shows, then he made another couple of albums in the 90’s …… then he finally found his rightful place in the Rock mainstream with a series of albums that proved he still had fire in his belly and a hundred songs in his heart …..a ready made Rock & Roll music machine for a new century.
Those who’ve had the honour of seeing Nile and band play live won’t be too surprised by the first few acapella verses on Seeds Of a Revolution; as this guy can actually sing…..but I can’t remember him doing this on record before. The song itself is a ‘signature’ Willie Nile modern neo-political rock song for the internet generation; a gut wrenching tale of the images that he has seen on the TV News effecting his sensibilities; and alongside a couple of other songs here couldn’t be more timely.
The much gentler sounding Folk Song, Getting Ugly Out There is in a very similar vein; and is the exact type of ‘protest song’ the experts try to tell us isn’t being written any more; but they are and Willie Nile is one of the finest exponents of this lost art.
For a man ‘of his age’ Willie Nile can R.O.C.K better than most youngsters these days; and on Earth Blues; alongside his trusted band he spits and snarls as he lists all of the things that are going wrong with the world around us. In many other hands this ‘message’ could be quite twee; but with Willie you can’t help but listen, nod and agree with every single word as he assaults all of our senses in every groove.
Fear not though dear reader; this isn’t all doom and gloom; All Dressed Up and No Place To Go, Rock n Roll Sister and the amazing Don’t must surely have all had their roots in our guy’s sweaty CBGB’s days; surely? Rock? Punk? Power Pop? Who cares; as these are all just 4/4 head bangin’ boogie songs of the finest pedigree.
Then there is the inclusion of a couple of rather beautiful love songs, that show Willie’s mellower side; with his storytelling as sharp and intelligent as ever on Looking For , Have I Ever Told You and the poetic All God’s Children, which finds Nile at the piano and sounding ever more like Randy Newman each time I play the song.
Then we must select a ‘favourite song’, which is never easy with Willie Nile albums as each and every song has it’s own special narrative that makes it very special indeed; but I’m going for Secret Weapon, a delightful love song that’s a little bit different from what I’ve come to expect from Willie Nile and band. It’s a sensitive Rocker with a razor sharp Punky edge to it and could be perfect for AM Radio; especially Matt Hogan’s glorious guitar playing and solos throughout.
I’m not sure if this is Willie Nile’s ‘best album’; but it’s certainly in the Top 3 and there are more than a few songs here that would easily make it onto any career retrospective should such a curio ever be released.
Willie Nile? He’s got some very famous friends who have sung his praises over the years; but he’s far from being a musicians’ musician or a songwriters songwriter; his music is for absolutely everyone who likes quality Rock and Roll; and he’s one of the few acts who are just as exciting on record as they are on stage; and if you ever get to see him and the band play; you will know what a mean feat that is.
PS The cover artwork is outstanding too; made up of some stunning black & white portraits of people who live in Nile’s neighbourhood in Greenwich Village and taken by Cristina Arrigoni.
Released July 27th 2018
The Herron Brothers
STUCK IN THE SUN
There’s not an awful lot I can say about this charming, catchy, folkie, poppy song from The Herron Brothers……part Lightning Seeds and part The Proclaimers it really has been our anthem here at RMHQ for the last couple of sunny weeks (when we aren’t singing “It’s coming Home!” of course).
Real life brothers from the far outreaches of North Northumberland and more recently residing in Derby; The Herron Brothers have their debut album out in September…..and we can’t wait.
Released 6th July 2018
Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes
SOME GIRLS (Quite like Country Music)
Deep and Dark Uneasy Listening for the Discerning Music Lover.
Somewhere in the deep and distant past I’m sure I once reviewed Australian Lachlan Bryan’s BLACK COFFEE album for a magazine; but I can’t find any sign of the album in my collection; nor me words either.
My memory was more of a singer-songwriter in the Folk troubadour style rather than the Country/Americana act the album title and accompanying Press Release would suggest; and opening track I Hope That I’m Wrong ironically proves me correct.
This rather special song and story,treads a path that neatly straddles world weary Folk and the type of laconic Country music we associate with Townes and Guy or more recently Slaid Cleaves or Josh Ritter.
Possibly with Josh Ritter in my mind, I love the way Bryan (and the Wildes) create many and various velvety layers to go with the rich tapestry that songs like Careless Hearts, The Cemetery Near My Hometown and especially Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man weave each time you hear them.
First and foremost Lachlan Bryan is an exquisite storyteller, who isn’t afraid to challenge the listener with some of his subject matter. Peace In the Valley is a very sombre Folk song about a young woman who goes missing; and told from the view point of her helpless father; and will send a shiver down your spine at the end.
Another dark tale that sparkles with life is Stolen Again; where he takes the roll of a man who woos a beautiful girl away from her lover, then spends his time worrying about losing her to another. Very clever and lyrically very astute.
As usual I didn’t look at the back of the album cover the first time I played the disc; so got a delightful surprise when I recognised the dulcet tones of the young lady he duets with on TVZ’s Don’t You Take It Too Bad; yes…that really is Lindi Ortega playing Emmylou to Lachlan’s Gram on three minutes of absolutely majestic Country Folk.
And that’s not even the best or most memorable song here!
That title is a tie between another duet, this time with Shanley Del; The Basics of Love which genuinely made me swoon the first couple of times I heard it; to some degree Bryan plays second fiddle to the lady in question; which is quite brave for the ‘headline act’ but it works incredibly well on a song that could stop your heart in the wrong conditions.
The other is a Waitsian lament with Bryan alone at the piano; Sweet Bird of Youth before a gently picked ‘Jazz guitar’ enters the fray to add even extra pathos, if indeed any more was needed; but makes for the perfect accompaniment to feeling sorry for yourself after midnight.
Even when Lachlan Bryan and the Wildes decide to ‘rip it up’ it’s more of a Summer Stroll in the park, than a city centre riot; and that keeps the mood flowing with the infectious toe-tappin’ Hill Country (rocker?) It Tears Me Up (Everytime You Turn Me Down).
This isn’t ‘easy listening’ on any level; but will appeal to lovers of articulate and occasionally daring song writing from a songwriter and ace band on the cusp of a major breakthrough, if this album is anything to go by.
Released UK & Europe 29th June 2018
Shipcote & Friends
Low Fella Records
With World Cup Fever currently hitting England like a huge Novichuk attack; our friend and local hero Shipcote has sent us his new single ‘Football Focus’ which comes from his last album, Old is Cool and will also serve as teaser for his new album due out in Autumn 2018.
A genuine Football fan; Shipcote’s a season ticket holder at Gateshead FC, and has written this lovely and literate ode to Britain’s favourite pastime from the heart; and even named it after the iconic 1970’s BBC Saturday afternoon sports programme.
IN THE BOYS CLUB
Bluzpik Media Group
A Thrill a Minute Blues and Soul Roller Coaster Ride.
I knew absolutely nothing about Kat Riggins before opening the envelope containing her latest and second full lengthCD; but……and this is a huge compliment; the sleeve alone would have made me pick it up in a record shop and ask the chap behind the counter if I could hear a track or two.
Then after hearing the first couple of bars from the hypnotic opening track Try, Try Again I would happily have parted with 10 English pounds.
It’s a Soul song, it’s Blues too, it might even have a smidgen of Gospel in there too but this song contains so, so much more too.
Troubles Away; follows and slows things down with a real back porch Country Blues; with ‘vinyl hiss and scratches’ for added authenticity……and my, oh my what a powerful and expressive voice this young lady has. The type that sends shivers down your spine and used to have blokes queuing at the stage door with bouquets of flowers and marriage proposals.
Like all of the best Blues and Soul singers Ms Riggins manages to surprise at every turn; and rocking our world in a way you could never expect with Kitty Won’t Scratch, a feisty duet with guitarist Albert Castiglia they make the speakers shake and Fistful o’ Water she makes Janis Joplin sound like a teenage choir girl!
But it’s her slow and sensual songs that have won my heart ……..Cheat Or Lose could and should be a ‘by the numbers’ song; but this one with Darrell Raines sultry keyboards sounds like something I would expect to hear on Blue Note; and on Don’t Throw Me Away Kat turns the tables by being the one who done her man wrong; and begs……really begs for forgiveness.
To me; this album is primarily S.O.U.L with a side order of the Blues; with the emphasis being very much on the stories in the self-penned songs and Kat Riggins’ distinctive and emotional voice; with everything coming together in the finest way on the funky Tightrope and even more especially so the title track A Girl in a Boys Club; which comes very closely to being a feminist anthem; but is mostly a hell of a good fist bumping song for the end of the evening.
There’s even a ‘secret track’ tucked away in here too; with Kat letting her voice do the talking on a rather beautiful short and sweet acapella ‘interlude’ called Living Testimony, that could have been recorded in a Baptist Church and if it wasn’t should have been.
Then of course I am now obliged to select a Favourite Song; which has been genuinely difficult; but I’m going for Johnnie Walker; a thrilling and exciting Blues Rocker, but this one comes from the darkest pits of Kat’s heart; and the band glide in and out with some awesome licks and a ‘most Blues wailin’ mouth harp’!
I can only imagine how powerful and thrilling it must sound when played live.
Not for the first time this year; and I hope not the last, it’s unearthing albums like this one, her second and being able to hail artistes like Kat Riggins from Miami, Florida to the world at large that make all of the hours I put in worthwhile.
Released June 23rd 2018
KICK OUT THE TWANG!
Enough Twang and Bang to Break 1,000 Hearts.
I do like a new musical sub-genre; even making a few up myself just for the Hell of it; but one of the earliest ‘genuine ones’ is/was Cow Punk; of which one of my favourite bands of all time were proud purveyors….Jason and The Scorchers. So for someone else to use that moniker to describe their music has to be of interest; doesn’t it?
Then, of course there is their swamp infested version of Last Train to Clarksville which opens the album……yes sirree Bubba; this is certainly going to be right up my street.
The songs come at you like baseballs in a pen; fast and furious belters like Rodeo Star and Get Around which leave you with sweat running down your face; then there are the deceptively slow curlers Sorry and Honky Tonk Singer which lull you into a false sense of security until you listen intently and two very Country sad tales unravel before your eyes.
But it’s Speedbuggy USA’s sidewinders that are among some of the most memorable songs here; Hold My Head Up High and Wood, Screws and Nails are the type of 99mph Twang that you’d possibly hear in a London Pub circa 1977 when Punk Rock was at it’s height; and these crazy cats would win any battle of wills with the spiky haired audience; or perhaps just the battle.
Fear not though, Speedbuggy USA know their way around a Bona-fide Country song too; and so they should after 8 previous albums; with The Devil With Me and South Bound being opposite ends of the Honky Tonk spectrum and both being packed full of the spit, swagger and enthusiasm we normally associate with bands like the Waco Brothers, The Blasters and of course Jason and the Scorchers.
Even though I’ve loved every single track on an album that should be played from start to finish with no stopping for toilet breaks; choosing a Favourite song has been quite easy; even if it is a tie!
The band’s seedy interpretation of Unchain My Heart is fabulous; and just like Clarksville proved earlier; if you are going to do a cover……make it sound like you wrote it yourself, and that’s what they do here.
The other is a song of their own; Shaky Town which is just the type truck driving Country love song that will make you want to put your arm around your lover and both sway in time to the waltz like melody, as singer Timbo runs an emotional gamut for 3 short but perfect minutes.
What’s not to like about a band with a pedal-steel that sounds like a 1,000 hearts being broken, guitars that weep, wail and sing, a drummer and bass player who keep time better than a shiny new Rolex and a singer in Timbo who sounds like his life depends on you hearing every single note that comes from his grizzled throat; and boy oh boy can they write and deliver a toe-tapping song!
Released July 6th 2018
Jumping Hot Club
Gosforth Civic Theatre.
Because of my awkward shifts at work attending to gigs is becoming increasingly difficult for me these days; but this one fell on my long weekend off; and following promoter Shipcote’s fulsome praise for this Nashville band a trip across town was in order.
By the time I arrived all of the seats were taken but there were still a few standing positions with good views of the stage.
Opening act John Wilkins is a singer-songwriter from a fishing village further down the coast called Sunderland; and someone else Shipcote told me about earlier in the year after being impressed at a Songwriters Circle.
As usual my musician friend was perfectly right, as Wilkins proved thoroughly entertaining, sounding somewhere between someone like John Martyn and Roy Harper; albeit with a gently abrasive singing style.
Two; no three songs from his thirty minute set really stood out; Halfway From Wearside, a rolling Blues about being away from his home town; Big Shot (?) with it’s delicate chorus and the ‘accidental encore’ (the promoter was otherwise engaged removing a drunk so the act just kept playing) Twice In Love; which was a pleasant surprise as it compared love the second time around with shopping at an Oxfam charity shop!
Because of the slight over run there was a very short break leaving people still at the bar as the Cordovas arrived on stage; starting with the drummer and slowing being joined one by one by his bandmates. Their introductory instrumental became even longer than expected as there were problems with a microphone; but that’s one of the joys of live music, isn’t it?
Quickly sorted the show quickly went from strength to strength for this relatively unknown 5 piece band with twin lead guitars and three part harmonies you could swim in.
Very few songs actually had intros, as the band just kept keeping on; at one stage I even noted that I couldn’t always tell when one song ended and another began as the three singers seamlessly switched from one to another.
Each certainly had their own distinctive and rather wonderful styles; and when they joined together in harmony………my knees nearly buckled.
I did pick up on a couple of titles though; Louisiana Hurricane and Just Because He Can (with its cheeky false ending) both sounded like something Little Feet or the Allman’s would have gone on to record; but that’s no surprise with twin lead guitars is it?
On a hot, stuffy and stifling Summers evening The Cordova’s understated Country Rock was the perfect soundtrack, with only bass player and singer extraordinaire Joe Firstman showing any showmanship; screwing his face up when singing and even jumping off stage to serenade the front row at one stage; but first and foremost The Cordovas are all about the music and what sweet music they make.
During Southern Rain I swear you could smell the acacia blossom and then during the cool groove of Common Desire it really was like being transported to Memphis on a steamy Friday night.
The time genuinely flew by and I had to check my watch as the band bade us a farewell after 75 minutes; but hang on…….who’d have thunk it; they came back for a well prepared couple of encore songs.
First of all it was Firstman alone at the piano singing something called I’m Leaving; which my mate Ian correctly suggested sounded like Randy Newman; and it did which was very impressive.
Then he introduced the two guitarists Lucca Soria and Graham Spillman who twisted and juggled a rather neat and impressive rendition of Sweet Home Chicago which yet again, showcased their skills and dexterity on their electrical guitars.
Well; what a fantastic night we all had and what a discovery for RMHQ……now to get hold of their next album.
Full photo-set by HarrisonaPhotos https://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/The-Cordovas/
Roof Down, Wayfarers on, Press Play…….
The exotically monikered Luke Tuchscherer’s previous album came to us straight out of left-field a couple of years ago; a SE England lad living in NYC and playing Americana with a side order of Country Rock shouldn’t add up; should it? But it certainly did; and I’m pleased to say……still does.
Just as I was leaving the house the postman handed me three packages, which I opened in the car. The first was this CD, and knowing I’d liked that previous album put it straight into the stereo.
Yes sirree Bub! The fizzing and feisty opening track Sudden Getaway was the start of a perfect soundtrack for last minute drive to work in the British sunshine. Wayfarers on and a delightful dose of Anglo-American Country Rock blasting out of the windows as my right foot was pressed firmly to the floor; what’s not to like?
Company Girl (Needs a Company Man) follows and my mood just got better; as a swirling organ, luscious guitars and a delightfully flat vocal took me into Neil’s Trans/Freedom and Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road arena and there we stayed for the next half hour.
Stay with me here; this isn’t no homage to Neil or Steve or anyone in particular by any stretch of the imagination; as subsequent plays reveal many other lines of enquiry; but those fuzzy guitars and razor sharp observations will appeal to the rockier end of the Americana world that Neil made his own decades ago.
Tuchscherer has his very own way with lyrics; with Batten Down The Hatches being a straight forward song about preparing for the stormy season…..or is it? Could it be a clever song about the political situation in his adopted country? Only he knows; and we can guess.
After half a dozen exciting songs based around the electric guitar we get Ghosts, a wonderfully atmospheric acoustic road song with a man reliving and revisiting his past as one chapter in his life closes; and hopefully another brighter one is just around the corner. It’s a very clever and articulate song; that was an early contender for the Favourite Song accolade.
I love the way Luke straddles the Country Rock and Americana boundaries with no shame whatsoever; as good music is just that……good music.
That first day PIECES fit my mood perfectly well; but subsequently songs have unravelled revealing some very interesting stories masked by that fantastic band. Requiem is a pseudo-political tale about the have and have nots in our world, and the anthemic title track Pieces which follows is another punchy view on the world we live in with my favourite line of the week,
“Some Folks are born/but never live.”
Ain’t that the truth!
Then there is the song that actually takes the title of RMHQ Favourite Track; See You When I See You (For the Whybirds). A love song to Tuchscherer’s former band The Whybirds who were a staple of the nascent Alt. Country scene before it had a name and certainly long before it became cool. Just like that band itself this song will go over the heads of many who hear it; but for many of us and it’s fair to say members of any other band who hears it will get a tingle in the tummy and a tear in the eye.
“Don’t look back/never look back.” Don Henley once sang; but sometimes you have to, to move forward and with this beautiful song Luke Tuchscherer can and will move on to the next stage of his burgeoning career and hopefully get the success that his former band deserved, but never received.
Just like that last album; PIECES is something you can listen to on many levels; background music in the car, a soundtrack to a cool BBQ or better still on headphones when no one else is around.
Released July 6th 2018
Grey Goon ft. Lauren Ruth Ward
I Don’t Believe In The Sun.
We listen to a lot of music here at RMHQ, mostly good and some bad; but we like to retain an open mind.
This delightful song arrived last night; and we couldn’t wait to share it with you.
Featuring our friend Lauren Ruth Ward on vocals it’s actually by a Pop single by LA Producer/Engineer/Man Bout Town Doug Walters aka Grey Goon and is destined for the Pop Charts and National radio….which may be a first for us!
Anyway, turn on, tune in…..enjoy!