Archive for the 'Americana' Category

EP – In Between the Lights – Naama Hillman

Posted by admin on 1st June 2008

While I have many relationships with artists, labels and PR/Communications companies, there’s nothing quite like the buzz of finding music by myself. Admittedly this is often helped by the many podcasts I listen to, and one in particular, the DarkCompass podcast is where I discovered Naama Hillman, who was being interviewed at the Goldhawk Sessions. I immediately like what I heard and when she mentioned the free EP on her website, it wasn’t long before I had it in my possession.

The EP is made up of 5 tracks, including one which was a very nice surprise. The first track “Falling” reminded me of Tracey Chapman. Now at first you may think this is a little out there, but there is just something in Naama’s phrasing that is really similar. On MySpace Naama describes one of her genres as Americana, a genre I always have trouble with. I understand what it’s meant to be, but many times, I just can’t make the comparison. When “Let’s Go Out Tonight”, Americana wasn’t my first thought, but another certain American, Jewel was. This is very much a compliment, both feature strong vocals and acoustic guitars. I kind of forgot about Jewel, many years ago, but the similarities hit me like a shovel in the face.

The next track is probably my favorite, which is surprising as it’s a cover, where the original is one I’ve never really liked that much, the unofficial theme tune of Preparation ‘H’, that old Johnny Cash favorite, “Ring of Fire”. OK, everyone’s heard the jokes before, but I just can’t help adding to them. Comedy aside, this is a stark rendition and a very beautiful one at that. It was certainly one I played a good half a dozen times, the first time I put the EP on and one I’ve played on it’s own a few times since.

“Glory” is probably my least favorite track on the EP, as it feels a little busy and I couldn’t quite focus on it. Rounding of the EP is “I’ll Be Home”. The Jewel sound is very distinct on this track and it’s a very nice track to end things with.

Conclusion : While I don’t think there is enough on this EP to really allow it to shine, I can at least see a huge potential here and will be looking into Naama’s work a little more. Certainly as a free download, this is a cracking bargain and I’m sure one that many people will enjoy immensely.

Posted in Americana, Folk, Rock | No Comments »

EP – Love and Anxiety – Sleeper Car

Posted by admin on 17th October 2007

I didn’t quite know what to make of this CD when I first put it into the CD player. It has a very Celtic, almost country feel to it. Yet again, I see the term Americana used by a band and it was then that the Byrds came to mind, specifically the later part of the Byrds catalog, which I have to admit, if I’m honest, wasn’t my favorite era of theirs, but they still managed to shine the odd spark of brilliance. So there was no one more surprised than me, when I found myself really getting into the first track “Lay It Down”. This is a track that conjured images of the wild west and dusty saloons and I found myself almost shooting a video in my head.

“I Won’t Break Down” is a softer sounding track, with a great chorus and some really nice guitar work. Throughout the verses I found myself almost mesmerized by the acoustic guitar that sits so subtly underneath. I put aside the puns I had for “Anti Climatic Girl”, which has a real relaxed sound, almost akin to a drawl. “Caliber Eyes” continues the relaxed sound and I almost forget that I’m not listening to some classic album of yesteryear.

“Hold Me Now” has a slightly more contemporary sound, but still underpinned, by the great work preceding it on this 6 track EP. It was with this track that I realized the production is spot on. Not once do you feel overpowered by either the vocals nor music, it’s just perfectly balanced. The final track “Follow”, is is probably my favorite track on the EP, it has an ever so slightly disjointed feel to it, but it really works in the tracks favor, giving it some real body to bite into.

Conclusion : I have to admit, had I see this album on the shelves of a record store, I would probably discounted it in an instant. It’s so satisfying then to be able to delight in finding another gem, from a genre that I’m suddenly becoming quite a fan of.

Posted in Americana, Folk | No Comments »

Album – No More Beautiful World – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Posted by admin on 11th October 2007

Comparing a band to Neil Diamond, can either be taken as a huge compliment, or a slap in the face, depending on your perspective. Here it’s meant very much as the former. It’s almost like Neil Diamond for the 21st century, with Neil Diamond’s very melodic vocals, backed by a terrific band and some killer songs. OK, so comparisons to an aging, 60s and 70s superstar are not something every band will appreciate, but the end result here is something quite special.

The album opens with “Hello New Day” and you can’t help but be swept up with the positive vibe of the album. This really is one of those albums, you need when you’re a grumpy git in need of some spirit elevation. In fact I had it on my portable player, while waiting for the bus, as my wife told me she wouldn’t be able to pick me up from work. I don’t take the dreaded bus often, so my mood was decidedly jaded.

When I hit play button, after selecting this album, it was almost like one of those moments, when you are standing in a torrential downpour and then the rain stop and the sun fights it’s way through. That’s exactly how I felt when “Hello New Day” started. This was the first time I’d actually really listened to this album, and thinking that this was one trick pony, “Bottom of the Bay” came on and I was immediately blown away, by the apparent consistency of this album. There’s 14 tracks on this album and I have to say I’m very hard pressed to pick a single song that failed to live up to the expectations that had been heightened by the first two tracks. I know this is going to be a difficult album indeed to select a single song for the podcast, so I just may have to do a “Good Luck Joe” and feature two… that is if Roger lets me.

Something I always find strange, is this album is classified as Americana, which is a classification that has always baffled me. To me this is classic pop/rock and fantastic pop/rock at that.

Conclusion : A terrific album, that has been on constant rotation in my CD player for a good few weeks, and will no doubt be played for a long while to come.

Posted in Americana, Country, Rock | No Comments »