Uncle Brent & The Nostone Salt & Lime/Sarah (single)

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Uncle Brent & The Nostone
Salt & Lime/Sarah (single)

The crazy cats first got in touch with RMHQ last year with a single release BEST OF ME just as Mrs. Magpie had been rushed to hospital and we went into ‘lock down’; but thankfully they kept in touch; and here we have their latest Double A-Side single… Salt & Lime and Sarah.
The first thing that struck me was the amazing energy these guys produce on SALT & LIME while also managing to combine melody with a catchy chorus; something I haven’t heard for a long time.
It’s kinda cool too that they compare the lovely young lady Margarita to the alcoholic tincture of the same name.
Unrequited love is always a great subject for a song; and the guys don’t disappoint one iota; with a song that has one foot in Country and the other in Rock and would be perfect for daytime AM radio all Summer long.
The flip side Sarah’s Creek is more of a modern Americana Gothic Ballad; with a very dark message when the story slowly unfolds under an ever evolving and epic and cinematic backdrop, that will make your jaw gape.
I guess even in Texas it’s all too easy for bands to fall into the ‘covers trap’ but thankfully the likes of Uncle Brent & Nostone are sticking to their principals writing, performing and occasionally releasing their very own master-works and the world is a little bit better today because of it and more importantly these two wonderful songs.
Now; if only I still had a radio show!

Released July 14th 2018
https://nostonemusic.wixsite.com/band

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The Cordovas Jumping Hot Club, Newcastle.

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The Cordovas
Jumping Hot Club
Gosforth Civic Theatre.
Newcastle

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.

http://site.cordovasband.com/

Full photo-set by HarrisonaPhotos https://www.harrisonaphotos.co.uk/Music/The-Cordovas/

Luke Tuchscherer PIECES

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Luke Tuchscherer
PIECES
Clubhouse Records

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.
Tip-top.

Released July 6th 2018
http://www.luketuchscherer.co.uk/

Creedence Clearwater Revival FORTUNATE SON (video)

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Creedence Clearwater Revival
FORTUNATE SON
Craft Recordings

If ever a song was an unofficial anthem for the current state of the United States it would be FORTUNATE SON by Rock legends and Forefathers of Country Rock which in turn begat the whole Americana movement Creedence Clearwater Revival; and today we received this fantastic video for said song…….and a cryptic message foretelling a ‘Special Release’ in the Autumn to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of their self-titled debut album in 1968.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1968 self-titled debut album introduced the world to guitar-playing brothers John and Tom Fogerty, drummer Doug Clifford, and bassist Stu Cook, four young men out of El Cerrito in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though they emerged in a place and time where trippy psychedelic visions were the order of the day, CCR bucked the trends and instead tapped into a rich, traditional seam of American music that connected to blues, country, rockabilly, gospel, folk and R&B.

While their contemporaries were unfurling mind-bending musical excursions with elaborate productions, Creedence crashed into the upper rungs of the album and singles charts with songs that wasted nary a note or word, overflowing with raw soul and unbridled energy. Although the band members were only together for four years under the Creedence Clearwater Revival appellation, they managed to accomplish more than many artists do in their entire career – they released 14 Top 10 hits, six Platinum albums, and one Gold in just four intensely prolific years, all powered by John Fogerty’s gut-level growl, with Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford providing just the right kind of gritty, in-the-pocket punch to propel CCR’s vision.

The band’s West Coast origins notwithstanding, Fogerty’s voice contained echoes of everything from the Chicago blues bite of Howlin’ Wolf to the Alabama twang of Hank Williams and the Memphis swagger of Elvis Presley, creating an archetypal example of Americana decades before anybody ever thought of using that term to define a musical genre.

For all the indelible guitar hooks and commanding vocals the CCR catalogue contains, their songs are more than catchy tunes. CCR was a people’s band in more ways than one; hand in hand with the accessibility that made their music relatable to just about everybody, there was a strong sense of identification with America’s common folks, the ones whose stories were told in the songs.

On tunes like “Born on the Bayou” and “Green River,” Creedence harnessed the sonic hoodoo of almost dangerously deep, “swamp rock” grooves to propel vivid New Orleans imagery. “Long As I Can See the Light” floats luminously with the kind of sanctified soul feel that we’ve come to expect only from the South. And the spry country two-step of “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” finds its feet in Nashville, at least in a spiritual sense. While CCR’s signature song, “Proud Mary,” is a Southern-soaked riverboat travelogue, with stops in Memphis and the Crescent City.

Even some of the covers of Creedence’s tunes have become part of history—Ike & Tina Turner’s sped-up, R&B-slathered 1971 recording of “Proud Mary” almost rivaled the original in popularity. And an astonishing array of artists, from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to R.E.M. and the Ramones, have recorded “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” to home in on the reach of just one of their profusely covered songs.

The group also performed a historic headlining set at Woodstock, and toured the world before disbanding in 1972. CCR’s music endures today – still in popular rotation on the radio, and heard regularly in films and TV shows. Having sold over 30 million albums in the U.S. alone, Creedence received a rare Diamond certification from the RIAA in 2016, marking 10 million units in sales for their 1976 compilation album, Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits.

The appeal of Creedence Clearwater Revival isn’t tied to any one era or milieu; whether it’s 50 years ago or 100 years from now, all you need is a pair of ears to pick up on their sound. As John Fogerty once sang on a certain 1969 hit single, “Over on the corner there’s a happy noise/People come from all around to watch the magic boys.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Sons of Bill OH GOD! MA’AM.

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Sons of Bill
OH GOD! MA’AM.
Loose Records

A Cerebral Musical Journey From Virginia to Seattle Via The West Coast.

This is another band who seem to have passed me by; even though I have three disparate tracks in my collection which I must have downloaded for my old radio show.
So it was with a completely open mind that I pressed ‘play’ two weeks ago.
Phew.

Opening song Sweeter, Sadder Farther Away wasn’t what I was expecting at all, as it’s something of a sensory overload… with an ethereal piano at it’s heart and a melancholic voice re-telling something of a modern Gothic love story.
Firebird ’85 which follows is nearer what I was expecting from Sons of Bill; with it’s harmonies and Lo-Fi sensibilities filling a claustrophobic Alt. Country love song.
It’s difficult, but fun trying to describe the Sons of Bill ‘sound’ as it flits around like a sparrow; one minute it’s the jangly guitars of Where We Stand; then it’s almost psychedelic Pop with Before We Fall; which is immediately followed by the transcendental Alt. Country of Green to Blue; which begets Old and Gray which could be the Jayhawks or Wilco at their finest.
Although none of the brothers sound in the slightest like Michael Stipe; it’s been REM that has sprung to mind when I found myself becoming ensconced with Easier and the album closer Signal Fade, alongside several others too; but in their defence Sons Of Bill appear to have taken a lot of musical influences and distilled them through their Virginia moonshine still and come out the other end with their very own and distinctive style of intricate Alt. Country.
It’s difficult to pin-point what I like most about the Wilson Brothers aka Sons of Bill; is it the magnificent guitar playing? The harmonies that only siblings can truly produce? Or is it the deeply thoughtful songs that they write and sing so beautifully? Or is it a combination of all three? Probably the latter as the RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ proves with Believer_Pretender. Played LOUD in the car it almost shook the wing mirrors off; yet it also proved the perfect soundtrack when oozing out of the speakers in the garden on a hot and sunny afternoon.
Oh God Ma’am is a harshly beautiful album that slip slides seamlessly from track to track, taking the listener on a cerebral journey unlike anything else I’ve heard this year.

Released June 29th 2018
https://www.sonsofbill.com/

Bobo Byrnes TWO SIDES TO THIS TOWN

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Bobo Byrnes
TWO SIDES TO THIS TOWN
Broken Silence

The Best Kick-Ass Heartbreakin’ Alt. Country Rock LA Has To Offer.

Obviously I can’t know everyone on the Americana scene; that would just be silly; but I do like to think I have my finger on the button; yet somewhere along the line I’ve totally missed multi-Award winning Bobo Byrnes in any of his guises be it solo or as part of Riddle of the Stars, The Fallenstars or The Brown Coats; all of whom sound like I’d love ’em!
Hey ho; on to Bobo’s latest solo effort which appears to be a reworking of some of his songs with the Fallenstars and the reason that I’m giddy with excitement.
It was the complex guitar lick that opens first song Angelia that first caught my ear; and when the band drop a musical time bomb after about thirty seconds I just knew this was going to be a doozy of a record.
Yup I can tell that quickly.
Angelia is an atypical Blue Collar Small Town Country/Americana love song about “driving to those high tension lines/where the night sky is so fine/Angelia/I want to dream with you tonight”.
OK Bruce trademarked such songs many years ago; but Byrnes and band do it so damn well and from the very bottom of the heart, you just know he’s not heard The River or if he did it was when his Dad’s played it.
Then up pops the dreamy Heart Like Mine; sung with a slight rasp to the throat and with bass player Mrs Tracy Byrnes adding extra pathos with her harmonies you just just know in your heart Mr Byrnes wrote this one long and lonely night in a cheap motel 100’s of miles from the love of his life.
For a solo-album Byrnes makes a mighty big noise on a few songs, which would have been Country Rock a few years ago but are probably Alt. Country or should that be Ameripolitan these days?
Who cares?
When I first heard the poignant Welfare Cadillac and the absolutely fizzing Summer Wine I did not just imagine Byrnes playing them live; but what the videos should look like as the notes and words filled the room.
I hear plenty of ‘good’ music by writers who use a ‘formula’ and there’s nothing wrong with that; but sometimes I hear songs where the writer just had to get the words down on paper without a thought or a care in the world regardless of the outcome; Vegas which closes the record is just such a song, from the heart and to the heart.
With six and a half of the songs here from his own pen (or I-Pad?) Byrnes roves himself to be quite the songwriter; but his rendering of the kick-ass Glad by Tracey Huffman, Matthew Ryan’s Dam and more importantly Chris Knight’s Jealous Kind show what great taste he has and a clever musical brain too.
But it’s his own songs that have impressed me the most with two fighting for the top spot of Favourite Track; will it be the laid back and reflective Last Hurrah or the left of centre Massachusetts where he actually duets with Tracey? Hmmmm; not easy but I’m going for the latter which again conjures up not just memories of Bruce when he was cool but guys like Robbie Fulks too.
Plus; as a collector of great couplets, who among you isn’t impressed with “Back in College when we were DJs/Elvis was Costello and whenever we played Red Shoes/we danced the night away!” Come on; maybe it’s an age thing but to me Elvis IS Costello too.
Not for the first nor I guess last time this year I’ve made another amazing discovery and now can’t wait to shout the name BOBO BYRNES (and Tracy Byrnes!) from the RMHQ Rooftop……..you gonna love this album.
Trust me; I know.

released April 08th 2018
https://thefallenstars.com/home

Felix Holt & The Radicals THE NEXT BIG NOBODY

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Felix Holt & The Radicals
THE NEXT BIG NOBODY
Maiden Voyage Recording Company

Authentic, Melodious and Cool West Coast Country From North London

There’s plenty much to like here right from the get go; not least the album sleeve which when folded out reveals a glorious mono photo of young Mr Holt atop some London rooftops and chimneys.
Then there is the laid back and self-depreciating opening track which doubles as the title track…..The Next Big Nobody. Obviously intended to raise a rye smile; but Holt’s opus is not just a slight on the record industry but perhaps even a sad look at his love life.
Clever that.
For a native of London Town, Felix Holt has a delightfully authentic West Coast sound; and can write a really smart song that could easily come from Laurel Canyon any time in the last 40 years; I’m particularly thinking Buffalo 66 (True Love) and Off The Rails here; but there’s more than a hint of that Country hybrid that Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds created too in Only Then and So It May Live Again.
OK it’s probably unfair and raising expectations too high using those comparisons; but it’s done Sam Outlaw and Whitney Rose no harm lately has it?
If you are under 25 and those names mean nothing to you; and why should they? Felix Holt & The Radicals have a lovely laid-back style Country and this is why I’ve fallen in love with this record already; and I know it’s not ‘trendy’ amongst the hipster generation. but he/they aren’t afraid to use a melody…..in fact they positively embrace them in Ride On By, So It May Live Again and Only Then which all have harmonies and said melodies so luscious you could drown in them.
While obviously influenced heavily by Country Music of bygone ages THE NEXT BIG NOBODY has a gloriously modern and contemporary Alt. Country feel to it too; especially Loving Kind which closes the disc nicely and the RMHQ ‘Favourite Track’ the bitter sweet love song Now That It’s Gone; which really does show not just a songwriter at the top of his game; but a band who love what they are doing do too.
It’s kind of ironic that just like in America; Felix Holt’s cool brand of Country Music is probably too authentic and ‘on the money’ for him to ride the coat tails of the burgeoning British Country Music movement or even the Americana scene which has a lot of Folk singers masquerading as Country Acts in it.
No sirree; Felix Holt & The Radicals are the Real Deal in every sense of the expression and deserve the acclaim that acts this good deserve….all around the world; which is bigger than London Town.

Released 8th June 2018
https://www.facebook.com/felixholtandtheradicals/

 

I See Hawks in L.A. – Live and Never Learn

 

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I See Hawks in L.A.
Live and Never Learn
Self-Release/Kickstarter

A Rare Treat for the Ears and the Soul

Live and Never Learn, the eighth album from these California Country rock ‘n’ rollers is a wonderful treat for both the ears and the soul. I’ve previously heard comparisons to that other west coast band, the Eagles, but I don’t hear it here. The Hawks are fearless where the Eagles take it easy, and their harmonies take more from doo-wop and bar-room country than, say CSN&Y. The Hawks could easily accomplish musically the Eagles sound, but they’re smarter than that, they take more chances, their sense of humor is near boundless. A case in point: The Eagles would never, could never, create such songs as “Ballad for the Trees,” “The Last Man in Tujunga,” or especially the wonderful, hilarious, and all-important “My Parka Saved Me,” which I’m going to go ahead and say is most likely the best song of 2018 so far. Seriously. We’ll come back to that in a moment, first, the rest of the album.
Novelty songs have long been a rock ‘n’ roll tradition. Remember “Flying Saucer Rock and Roll,” “Splish Splash,” or “Purple People Eater”? Yeah, novelty crap humor; but they rocked.
This is important. “Wooly Bully” rocked. “I Put a Spell on You” rocked. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to accomplish. One wrong turn at Albuquerque and suddenly you’re in “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” or “The Chipmunk Song” territory. Humor in rock ‘n’ roll is important and vital. Otherwise everything is Pink Floyd and the National—fine bands yet not what you go after when you want a rollicking and fun trip. And humor is something the Hawks seem to have no short supply of, from the way Robert Waller’s vocal on “Last Man in Tujunga” rapidly descends on the word “collapsing,” stretching it out further than any fully sane singer would ever attempt—but it works, the song needs it to be effective—to the utter lack of any sense of irony on many of these songs. They play it straight, knowing full well how to milk the laughs with a poker face. Smart, humorous lyrics and quick asides from the band such as they way the charge into a single bar of the Stones’ “Satisfaction” right in the middle of “Tujunga” and then continue on as if nothing happened, or the way the pedal steel supports the vocal in “Poour Me,” adding more layers to this wonderful tale of woe.
On several of these songs the Hawks, with Rob Waller’s river bottom vocals and the band’s inherent quirkiness, are reminiscent of the Handsome Family, yet the Handsome Family never rocked this hard, especially on “Stoned with Melissa” which is a fast-paced rocker that starts out making you laugh but takes a sudden turn down a dark alley. Life’s not all fun and games and the Hawks know this, even if it gives them pause to wonder why at times. “Spinning” is dreamy Alt-psychedelia, while “King of the Rosemead Boogie” is a barn spinner of an uptempo blues, and the title song, “Live and Never Learn,” is smooth, smooth Country. The Hawks are all over the map, yet fully in sync, the songs never sounding forced or contrived.
And now we get to “My Parka Saved Me.”
Every great album needs a song worthy of putting on repeat and this is the one. We start off with the band opening the door for the organ swells which bring us right in to a rather funny and also rather harrowing true story narrated by the band’s drummer, Victoria Jacobs, in a voice sublimely caught somewhere between the Mid-West and Valley Girl: She got high. She broke up with her boyfriend. She went for a drive down to the lake. The lake was frozen and there was lots of snow. Suddenly, a drunk driver hits her and she “spun like a donut! There was glass everywhere!” All this backed perfectly by the band in a sawdust floor bar-room band manner while a countrified doo-wop section plays the part of Greek chorus, repeating her story line by line in a perfect straight-man sort of way. No time for irony here, just the facts, ma’am. Jacobs’ story continues as she parries back and forth with the band as they break out and begin to embellish on her tale. “That’s not true!” she regales them, but they continue on unabated, facts and memories now distorting into one another as the song and story continues on with a catchy refrain and a wonderful keyboard backdrop, which works very much like Al Kooper’s organ on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” in that it percolates and bubbles throughout, creating even more interest, drawing the listener in.
This is an amazing song and indeed, album. All the disparate parts fit together wonderfully, telling a story that is tragic, comical, and all too true, in a way only a band as brilliant and as fearless as I See Hawks in L.A. can.

Review courtesy The American Magpie…..the Legendary Roy Peak.
Released June 29th 2018
http://www.iseehawks.com/

Jeff Plankenhorn SLEEPING DOGS

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Jeff Plankenhorn
SLEEPING DOGS
Spike Steel Records

Americana With The Emphasis on Country of the Country Rock Variety.

This isn’t meant to be a ‘name drop’ but I first encountered Jeff Plankenhorn’s name a year or more back when I was privy to a conversation between ‘Scrappy’ Jud Newcomb who was playing guitar for/alongside Slaid Cleaves and Jumpin’ Hot Club impresario Graham Anderson; on my return home I checked out a few of my favourite Americana albums and sure enough there was Plankenhorn’s name in the credits
Check your own collection…….and see how many albums he’s playing guitar and slide on. It’s scary.
But, not content with just being a guitar for hire; and why should he? Jeff Plankenhorn is slowly carving out a name on the Americana circuit as a singer-songwriter too and that reputation will only become ever more enhanced with this release.
The title track Sleeping Dogs opens proceedings in a laid back Country-Rock manner, with Plankenhorn not just proving what an accomplished guitarist he is; but what an astute singer AND songwriter he is too……the quality guitar playing is a given here on in, btw.
For an Americana act in an Alt. Country world; the emphasis here is Country of the Country Rock variety on quite a few songs here, with Homecoming being a Truck Driving song worthy of Little Feat or the Doobies; and Piece of Cake is in a similar mode too, which is very much a good thang around these here parts y’all.
After all these years Plankenhorn is certainly no ‘one trick pony’ and carefully mixes on some semi-biographical songs and scopes them out on the acoustic guitar; This Guitar is a prime example as is the duet Tooth and Nail featuring his mentor and friend Mr Ray Wylie Hubbard, which smoulders like a forest fire and the attention to details in the story are quite exceptional, for someone not regarded as a songwriter.
There’s another collaboration on the melancholic Holy Lightning; Ms Patty Griffin who creates the perfect foil for Plankenhorn’s deliberately dour vocal performance of a song so brittle you feel the couple may not actually finish it.
I very nearly chose This Guitar as my Favourite Track; and the love song to his wife Heaven on Earth certainly has its merits but after repeated plays I’m going for I Don’t Know Anything which may or may not have been written with me in mind! Okay……I know it wasn’t but it’s one of those songs that make you think “You too? I thought it was only me who thought that!” Plus it’s another classy Country Rocker of the finest vintage.
Obviously Jeff Plankenhorn’s been around a lot of great artistes and albums over the years; and with ‘Scrappy Jud’ sitting at the control desk it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the mix of light and shade here is very nearly perfect; with songs of all shades that will capture the listener’s moods at different times, with the rockier ones being the most surprising to these ears.

PS As I write this I can’t help but think that the character of Deacon Claybourne in Nashville may even be based on Jeff Plankenhorn…….just a thought.

Released May 4th 2018
https://www.jeffplankenhorn.com/

James Scott Bullard FULL TILT BOOGIE.

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James Scott Bullard
FULL TILT BOOGIE.
Big Mavis Music

Bourbon, Beer, Bar-B-Q and This Album as Your Soundtrack to Saturday Night.

I was nearly up to date with this Friday’s releases and had played a couple of tracks each from four albums that didn’t quite catch my attention then, slightly disheartened I pressed ‘play’ one more time. A sound akin to Richard Manuel fronting the Old 97’s arrogantly strolled out of the office speakers, as if to tell me Lord Have Mercy should have been my first pick; not my last.
WOW! Bullard has a delightfully leathery voice and his band are red hot, to the point of melting the CD Player on that opening track; and it’s fair to say……things only get better from then on in!
WOOSH! If track #1 reminded me of ‘The’ Band, it’s The Marshall Tucker Band on the next song Wicked Ways; which is Southern Rock at it’s finest with a wailing Hammond Organ fist fighting twin guitars and a thuggish bass for prominence…….and winning.
Recorded in Florida you can virtually smell the sweat on the walls and taste the shrimp and oysters on the sultry Warpath and the sassy Evil Lovin’ which somehow starts where Skynard left off; but without the long drawn out guitar solos.
Hell! I don’t know if this is Southern Rock or even Country Rock or if either even still exists in 2018; but if they don’t…… they should, because songs like Hey Hey Mama! and Jesus, Jail or Texas sit comfortably in both categories that I grew up loving in the 1970’s and 80’s, with James Scott Bullard crossing both divides like those cool Outlaw bands did on my tin pot FM radio; but couldn’t get played on today’s Country Radio if they attached a $20 bill to the record.
Although Bullard sounds nothing like Dale Watson or Sturgill Simpson, it was those guys who kicked open the door four years ago for this type of cross-bred music; which comes unashamedly from the past but with a razor sharp 21st Century contemporary edge to the stories behind the actual songs, which are every inch as important as the crashingly Twangtastic guitars and boiler-house rhythm section which may not have been the case twenty or thirty years ago.
Where the Hell to go for a Favourite Track? The Honky-Tonkin’ Next Tear was an early contender but as the sun goes down over the yard arm, and a second empty beer bottle sits beside me I’m going for Back To You, which contains a little bit of everything that is good about this album; wailing and anguished guitars, a voice that sounds like it’s been steeped in bourbon, beer and bar-b-q sauce and a story that’s a bit of a weepy too. What’s not to like?
FULL TILT BOOGIE is definitely the soundtrack to one helluva Saturday night; but many years ago I remember the term ‘driving music’ and that’s exactly what this album is too……especially on a hot Summer’s day when you have your Wayfarers on and Baseball cap pulled way down low on and a long road ahead; with a loved one waiting for you in the distance.

Released April 27th 2018
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