The Weight Band
WORLD GONE MAD
No Stage Fright From These Big Pink Veterans.
Normally I have a pathologic hatred of looky-likey bands; so even though the Press Release was a bit vague I still approached this release with appropriate caution.
But (*Spoiler Alert) the end result is just fine and dandy; as The Weight Band, who are made up of musicians from the Band’s latter touring version pay homage to the forefathers of Americana AND Alt. Country in the finest way without resorting to lazy cover versions of the Hits; but carefully selecting a couple of rarities and a Jerry Garcia cover to compliment 8 of their own songs; which sound pretty damn authentic.
Obviously for fiscal reasons The Weight Band sound uncannily like The Band; and the title track World Gone Mad sounds just perfect in that context; blending a little bit of old-school hippy wisdom with 21st Century cynicism; which is why the originals music still stands tall today.
Once I’d put my original reservations to one side I quickly fell in love with the raunchy You’re Never Too Old to Rock and Roll, which will be included on the mythical RMHQ Soundtrack album.
This is immediately followed by Big Legged Sadie (from Saskatoon) which genuinely sounds like the Band in all their finery having a ball on a cheeky love song.
I’m sorry if I keep ‘comparing and contrasting’ but it’s difficult not too, as we have three singers here who all sound very similar to Levon, Robbie and Garth; and their instrumentation and playing is as razor sharp as you’d expect too.
With that in mind; I’ve sort of treat this album as ‘the album the Band never made’ and in that context Every Step of The Way and Fire in The Hole work perfectly well; and the beautiful I Wish You Were Here Tonight sounds even better and could easily have been an out take from Cahoots.
But; then again Heat of the Moment and Bob Dylan’s 1998 Day of the Locusts, while fitting the format perfectly well somehow manage to take the music in a whole new. exciting direction.
There is also one song here that straddles both of those formats and that’s the blue collar bodacious Country rocker, Common Man which is easily my favourite song here and sets the course for whatever The Weight Band choose to release next.
As they are first and foremost a touring band; the album closes with a Live track The Remedy, which truly showcases what this band are all about and manages to whet my appetite for any future UK Tour.
Released 14th September 2018
Anton & The Colts
NO END OF THE LINE
Country Rock Deluxe From The Clydeside Delta.
As I said a couple of weeks ago; it’s becoming very popular for one review on RMHQ to beget another from an artiste who read the original words and thought “I bet my album would fit in there too.”
Which brings us to a Scottish Americana act called Anton & The Colts and their debut album, which really, really does fit into our crazy little world like a hand in a glove.
You all know by now I judge everything by the strength of the opening track; and here the muscular Alright captured my attention within seconds. Anton’s breathy and gravelly voice alongside a white hot band make compelling listening; and your investment pays off handsomely with a very well constructed Americana/Country song; that belies it’s Scottish roots.
For some reason; and I hope I’m wrong I can’t help imagining the band wearing faded flared jeans and Converse Allstars as their luscious long hair flops across their faces when I hear the likes of Blues to Bed and Rock and a Hard Place; as they are both Country Rock Deluxe, making me hark back to the time I discovered bands like The Burritos and Poco decades ago.
Several of my friends who take their music far too seriously are going to miss out here; simply because Anton & The Colts don’t come from Tulsa or Fresno; but trust me this album is 100% Americana with Weekend Millionaire and Gypsy Heart being the type of sharply observed imagery that writers in East Nashville (and South London!) would give their Apple Mac to release.
To some degree what I like best here is the way this band blend imaginative light and shade throughout, reflecting real life and real people in The Summer That Could Never Be Outdone and the darkly delightful From My Fear too.
My choice of Favourite Track won’t please everyone; as to the uninitiated it will just sound gloomy; but it’s a song that hit me like a punch to the heart the first time I heard it; and I have subsequently wallowed in the richly observed tale of personal depression that is My Black Dog and Me for many days and nights now.
A very brave song to write and even braver to put music too and release out into the wild; but an articulate tale that sums up this horrible ‘feeling’ one gets as well as any one else I can think of.
There really is a lot to like; and be impressed with here and it’s obvious that Anton & The Colts have ‘paid their dues’ for many years before going into the studio; and the result is pretty damn exciting and deserves to be heard by an appreciative audience South, East and West of Hadrian’s Wall!
Released 7th September 2018
FORGET ABOUT GEORGIA (EP)
The Sound of Americana Plus.
Formed ten years ago; Lukas Nelson with Promise of the Real have pretty much flown under the radar even they more or less became Neil Young’s touring band in 2014, it wasn’t until last year that he and they came to my attention with the self titled album Promise of The Real; which is all quite odd as he’s one of Willie Nelson’s sons and has also played alongside his father since his teens.
But; as I said a year ago; this record isn’t about Willie or Neil…….it’s 100% Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real.
The opening track is a radio edit of Forget About Georgia from the last album and which owes as much to The Band as it does to anyone in Nelson’s life. A powerfully observational gut-wrenching tale of lost love that takes on a life of it’s own as Lukas’ pained voice and an understated backing, are interspersed with some spine tingling guitar interludes from the sharp end of the fretboard.
Later the same song gets majestically extended to a full on eight minutes and becomes something of a cinematic Americana Operetta that will have you clinging onto the armrests of your seat as the story slowly unfolds into a slow, sensual and dusty closure of almost epic proportions.
The second song Giving You Away follows in a similar steamy Southern fashion and would have made a great single in its own rite; as it’s the sort of heart breaking ballad that will have you pulling into the side of the road when it comes on the car radio.
With only five tracks to play with, and Forget About Georgia is repeated of course means that are really only 4 songs here; which is why the inclusion of a pretty note by note retreading of Bowie’s Life On Mars has baffled me for three weeks now. I have to presume it must be one of his favourite songs; but he doesn’t actually do anything new and he even sings in a ‘Flat Estuary’ accent which isn’t a million miles away from The Thin White Duke at that time in his life.
Then there is our Favourite Song here, by far ……Start To Go is more like it; as Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, take a giant step into the swaggering and rocking-most end of uncharted Americana Territory, and the result is staggering as, with the addition of some snarling punky geetar alongside harmonies that sound like the Georgia Satellites covering the Faces these guys show how professional they are; but can still have a ball too with a cracking Country Rock song that Rolls too……..please, please, please let this be the formula for the next album!
Released 7th September 2018
Renegade Maverick Records
Classy Country-Pop and More From Nor’n Ireland.
I can’t remember who I saw then supporting a couple of years ago but I do remember young Nor’n Irish band blowing someone famousish of stage at Sage Gateshead; and I’ve subsequently kept in touch with their stop-start career.
Without going into too much detail here; The Rising are no longer a 5 piece band; but a tight as a drum 3 piece with Chantelle McAteer at the fore, singing and playing an assortment of keyboards, guitarist Chris Logan and Brian Mellors providing a rock solid bass behind them (drummers and pedal-steel players are added extras).
The aptly titled MOVING ON opens the album; and the feisty trio throw down the gauntlet not just to their doubters, but also the burgeoning British Country Movement with a passionate modern Country Rocking breakup song that Chantelle sings as if her life depends on it.
The tempo slows down on next song Forgive and Forget; but the mood of the broken hearted singer remains just as raw, just as it does on the bitter sweet Rebound.
Already I can imaging teenage girls everywhere poring over the lyrics thinking “they are singing about ME!” Just as Mrs. Magpie did all those years ago after some imagined slight I’d managed during one of our early dates.
Later the melancholy Rebound and Back To Me and Rebound follows in a similar ‘young love gone wrong path’ path; but is a whole lot more traditionally Country in style and will have them dancing in the aisles whenever played live.
While The Rising will easily fit in alongside The Shires, Jess and The Bandits etc. they certainly have their very own take on what they do; with influences like Chrissie Hinde and maybe even Debbie Harry coming through songs like Just Another Name and Roundabouts as much as Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert do on the exciting Take a Hint and the melancholic and love lorn Even If The Stars Fall For You.
After listening to this album on and off over the last few weeks it’s apparent that this trio who wrote or at east had a hand in writing every song here; write from the heart and their own experiences, both biter and sweet.
Which brings me to the RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ accolade which has caused some friction in our house; as when I told my beloved that With You was by far the most outstanding song here; as it combines ‘all that is good about Traditional Country Music’ but with a ‘delightful modern twist’ she looked at me as if I’d gone mad, because the ‘delightful heartbreaker’ Love Is is the ‘best love song’ she has heard in years.
Experience tells me she who must be obeyed must be correct (even when she’s wrong!)…..so let’s call it a tie.
While a very commercial release by our normal standards; I have thoroughly enjoyed MOVING ON in the same way I enjoyed the first Shires album; and it’s an exhilarating pleasure to see and hear another rising musical talent coming out of Nor’n Ireland and hopefully onto the World’s stage.
Released 3rd August 2018
Country Legend Shows the Hip Young Gunslingers How To Write and Sing Americana.
It’s odd to think that to me Jim Lauderdale was actually a ‘discovery’ at SummerTyne 2017!
This is his 30th full length album in a career that spans……well, I will be diplomatic and just say ‘a long time’; but he really did only hit my radar last year with two great concerts at Sage Gateshead and that wonderful London Southern album.
With so many great songs already under his belt it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Lauderdale just ‘phoned it in’ these days; but hey……this guy is a Professional and as the title song TIME FLIES, which opens the record proves, he can still not just write a cool contemporary song but deliver it in his own distinctive manner better than most of those hip young gunslingers that the music press slavishly adore these days. Time Flies is another timeless slice of Country/Americana music that could have easily been released in the laid back Country Rock days of the 70’s or 80’s; but his whip smart lyrics sound so very apt today to my ageing ears.
Jim can still turn his hand to what used to be C&W but we now know as Countrypolitan, most noticeably with the slow drawl of When I Held The Cards, the two-stepping Wild On Me Fast and of course the magnificent When The Cars Go By Fast, which is Country as Country gets these days, with a raggedy fiddle, some razor sharp pedal steel and a gloriously ghostly backing vocal from Lillie Mae Rische.
There are guests aplenty in the background (Chris Scruggs, Kenny Vaughan and Jay Weaver to name but three) but TIME FLIES is all about Jim Lauderdale as a songwriter AND Singer, with my priority certainly being the latter.
I’ve grown to love Jim’s voice in the last year; as it’s so distinctive and expressive as he gives relatively simple songs like Violet and It Blows My Mind a personality and gravitas I don’t think anyone else could achieve.
In the glorious tradition of Country music Jim isn’t afraid to have a bit of fun too, with the inclusion of the delightfully twee Slow as Molasses and the toe-tapping shuffle of While You’re Hoping; which will surely both go on to become staples of his concerts.
Then of course there has to be a Favourite Song, doesn’t there? For a few days I was definitely going to choose the finale, a gorgeous Country ballad that defies time and maybe even genre….. If The World Is Still Here Tomorrow; but the aspiring hipster in me is going for the Honky-Tonky, rolling and rocking Wearing Out Your Cool which may or may not be written about me! Probably not methinks; but I’m pretty sure Lauderdale has someone specific in mind; even if it’s not your favourite Rocking Magpie!
Unlike most of his contemporaries in Nashville Town these days, Lauderdale doesn’t live in the past bemoaning the passing of time since their glory days writing songs for Country Radio. Time moves on with indecent haste and Jim Lauderdale has adapted to the new Countrypolitain and Americana movements better than anyone else of his generation that I can think of.
Released August 3rd 2018
AMONG THE GHOSTS
Southern Rockers That Come At You Like a Rusty Switch-Blade in a Bar Fight.
Hailing from Memphis and lauded across the South of the USA, Lucero have never been the most regular of visitors to these shores, so I’ve only ever seen them once……but what a show! A show that remains in my Top 10 of all time.
That was all a long time ago; and it pains me to say so……but I don’t actually own any of their previous records…..so…..can they replicate any of that sweaty energy on disc?
Of course they can!
The title track AMONG THE GHOSTS opens things up like a rusty switch-blade in a bar fight; with Ben Nichols alternating between growling and howling on a dirty slice of Gothic flavoured Southern-Rock, that both frightens and delights.
Because I can’t really remember any of those songs that sweaty and beery night in the Cluny, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the actual songwriting and stories contained in all of these powerful rockers.
I’m sure the band will let loose when they play Cover Me and For The Lonely Ones but alongside Everything Has Changed there is a restrained power that keeps threatening to let loose; but is constantly reigned in like a cowboy breaking in a wild pony.
As a ‘man of a certain age’ two bands from my past appear to cast a shadow over AMONG THE GHOSTS; and that’s Bob Segar and Bon Jovi, with Lucero using acoustic guitars and a piano in a way I’ve not heard for decades to supplement their trademark ‘sound’ on Back To The Night and the wonderful Rock Ballad Always Been You; which even Mrs Magpie likes.
I’ve loved playing this in the car with the windows down, yet the two songs that tie for ‘Favourite Song’ status are both very gentle and incredibly well written, demanding that the listener stops what they are doing and actually concentrates on the music itself.
I didn’t recognise it, but Loving is a reworking of of Ben Nichols theme tune to the wonderful film of the same name and is now one of those delightfully gentle ballads that a Rock band uses to get their breath back just before they let rip on their encores. Turn the lights down low and just wallow in the world weary beauty that Lucero has created just for you, and no one else.
The other is a very special song indeed, as To My Dearest Wife is based on some letters that Civil War soldiers wrote to their loved ones back at home; but more poignantly sounds like it could be about some young man today sitting in a tent somewhere he can’t find on a map without GPS; and while he tries to calm her nerves he can barely contain his fears as the band crank up the mood to a cloud busting crescendo.
The night I saw Lucero the audience was predominately made up of males, over 45 with greying hair and pronounced beer paunches; but on this album there are plenty of songs that will appeal to the females of the species and even a younger male and female demographic who love Classic Rock but are intimidated missed out on seeing the likes of Lynard Skynard, Bon Jovi or The Silver Bullet Band in the clubs, like we did.
Released August 3rd 2018
SummerTyne Americana Festival 2018
What’s not to like about a music Festival in and around one of the world’s finest auditoriums featuring the music you love during a hot and sunny weekend only twenty minutes from your doorstep? Oh; and 50% of it is FREE!
Well, for some of my hipster-cool friends who appear to live in a) the past and b) Nashville… quite a lot actually; but to those doom laden miserabilists all I can say is “Shaddupa Your Face!”
While a tad smaller and more condensed than in previous years; there was still so very much to enjoy and write home about.
As I say every year SummerTyne is a festival of two halves, with two stages inside and outside the hall curated by the Jumping Hot Club and AMA UK which are FREE to the public and introduce acts of all hues and stages of their careers to the local music fans and cognoscenti alike.
During the afternoons and of course the evenings the three Sage concert halls buzz with proper World Famous acts singing on our door step; yet the entry prices don’t necessarily reflect that as Sage tends to subsidise the prices with a look towards bringing this music to the masses.
Sadly for me the ‘real world’ in the form of my day job took it’s toll early on meaning I missed all of Friday afternoon’s Home Fries performances, which took place inside Sage on the concourse stage as it was actually raining outside!
Later in the evening I cornered a couple of friends and even artistes who had been there and apparently Sam Gibson who opened the afternoon with half an hour or so of his own intense yet commercial take on Country songs went down very well with the freshly arriving fans; and local Country-Folk duo Jinski got the party started with their relatively high energy act.
Later RMHQ friend Gem Andrews made lots of new fans with songs from across both her albums and last minute substitute Sour Mash Trio turned this ultra-modern building into a Geordie Honky-Tonk with their blistering Rockabilly songs (or so singer Jimmi told me!).
Me? I arrived at 6pm just as Wandering Hearts from that there London Town were opening their own set on the AMA UK Concourse Stage and it was instantly evident why they are on the cusp of success with their easy on the ear harmony drenched Country-Folk songs. (I now need to re-address their debut album).
This year’s Friday night shows probably highlighted the strength and diversity that SummerTyne brings better than many other years; with Shawn Colvin who would normally headline Hall 2 actually opening for the legend Graham Nash in Hall 1.
Shawn was a powerhouse of intensity during her half hour; and while I only got to see and hear about 30 minutes of Nash’s performance (I was running around photographing elsewhere all night) his on stage charisma and understated songs set the audience to ‘stun’ and ‘smile’ as they left the venue later in the evening.
Personally I hung around Hall 2 as a new name to me, Texan Country singer-songwriter Charley Crockett totally blew me away with his simple and timeless songs that spanned the last 50 years of the genre; and any guy in a cowboy hat with a Texas state flag draped over the piano who includes a T-Bone Walker song has to be a good and indeed cool guy in my book.
The headline act in that hall was English Rockabilly star Darrell Higham and the Enforcers who had the immaculately dressed crowd dancing from the get go.
My long day and another impending 5am alarm call meant that I only stayed for half an hour; but regretted missing the rest of his set.
As I made my way out I spotted a few friends arriving for the closing act of the night and another one that in previous years would have been on my ‘gig of the year’ list; a double header of RMHQ favourites Rob Vincent and Yola Carter which had those friends still salivating the next day.
If there was one single act that I wanted to see it was Arkansas Dave who played twice; with the first being a 4pm set on the JHC stage; which I missed; arriving as I did at 4.45! But I did get to see the left of centre William the Conqueror at 5, who were a strange choice to close the afternoon as it sounded the type of music more suited to late at night. But what do I know?
Earlier a singer-songwriter from Liverpool called Tom Blackwell opened proceedings and as the day progressed six different people told me I had to check him out; and as happens at SummerTyne a mate actually introduced me to Tom later in the night and as we chatted a couple of advancing years tentatively approached him to tell him how brilliant he was! (I now have a copy of his latest cassette/album….. so watch this space).
Saturday night at SummerTyne was every inch as good if not better than previous years; starting with RMHQ favourites Curse of Lono opening for Steve Earle and mesmerising the rock crowd so much so there was a queue later at the merch table for their CD. They were followed by The Mastersons who I personally love to bits and again; on another night would have headlined Hall 2 on their own.
In between sets I ran across the concourse to photograph Natalie Merchant; she of 10,000 Maniacs fame. It’s fair to say she’s never been my ‘cup of tea’ but looking at the adoring faces of the sold-out crowd, told me that I was in the minority; but such is SummerTyne……it brings all of the disparate and loose ends together under one magnificent roof.
Before I went back into Hall 1 I nipped into the Barbour Room to see a few minutes of another recommendation; Jade Bird. It was difficult t pass judgement on the diminutive young lady in a red jump suit and battered converse playing a jumbo acoustic guitar nearly as big as she was; because her stories were nearly as long as both songs I heard. But; I did hear enough to know I need to investigate further.
Then of course there was Steve Earle and the Dukes!
I’ve been a fan for over twenty years and previously seen him live 6 times; being a bit underwhelmed the last twice……but tonight PHWOAR! He was back on form with that ‘fire in his belly’!
He opened the set with a song about and dedicated to the firefighters who were still busy putting out forest fires in his Home State then interspersed the ‘Greatest Hits?’ with fiery songs from his latest album and you could barely see the joins. Tonight Steve let the music speak for itself without too much literary interaction introducing them; and the world was a better place for it.
A long awaited day off meant that I could arrive at a sunny SummerTyne in time to see the immaculately attired CD Wallum Trio and their lovely tunes.
Next up were The Strange Blue Dreams, whose album we loved earlier in the year. The crowd seemed initially confused by the strange Gypsy infused Country-Folk, but quickly got into it and I spotted the first of the days dancers on Shipcote Hill.
As they finished I moved inside to see another recommendation on the AMA UK stage; Foreign Affairs. Hmmm; for me this sibling duo were a bit more Folk than Americana but they still went down very well with the packed to the gills audience.
Unlike previous years there wasn’t any ‘paid for’ gigs on the afternoon which left me at a loose end a couple of times; but that allowed me time for a 99 from the ice cream van and later a delicious burger and fries from one of the myriad of pop-up food stalls.
Back on the Jumpin’ Hot Club stage regular visitors Hymn For Her really ripped it up with their very own Hillbilly Country sound; much to the delight of the knowledgable and appreciative crowd.
Normally the closing act outside is something loud and rip-roaring; Blues Rock or Cajun acts being a speciality; but tonight it was the job of Southern Gothic specialists Curse of Lono to bring events to an end.
I had my reservations, and don’t know why but ……it worked. At last I could hear why I once heard them described as an Americana Doors; but that was only because the assorted keyboards came to the fore alongside Felix’s smoky vocals on a hot and steamy Gateshead afternoon.
As I’m prone to do I spent a lot of time looking at the crowd; and I’m pleased to announce that the 1,000 or so people present all looked very happy at the closure; and again there was a steady stream of people buying that CD.
Yet again I have to applaud the diversity that Sage Gateshead brings to an Americana Festival with Sunday night showcasing the very best in new, young Country Music in Hall 1 with Nashville TV star Sam Palladio headlining over the wonderful Sarah Darling who just gets better and better; and darling of the new movement Striking Matches who were so loud they would have been more suited to a Rock Festival (NOT FOR ME I’M AFRAID!).
Palladio? Interesting; as he is still looking for a specific style. He seemed more comfortable rocking out on electric guitar; but sounded more at home on the ballads from the TV series. Only time will tell which direction he ends up in.
Hall 2, just like the previous evening was completely sold out with people begging for ‘spares’ all afternoon.
I know very little of Iris Dement; but just like the Natalie Merchant audience the 1,000 or so in residence sat in stunned silence all night; but interspersing the songs with loud and long applause; and at the very end several had tears in their eyes during a long standing ovation.
My night ended with another twenty minutes in the concourse with Orphan Colours regaling the departing crowds with some delicious Country – Rock of the finest hue.
As I drove home I got to thinking again, “What exactly is Americana Music?” I couldn’t think of a definitive answer, and I doubt you have either; but Sage Gateshead have to be applauded yet again for trying and succeeding in providing some clues; and rather exciting ones too.
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
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