folk . americana . blues . r&b . rock&roll


Genre pick of the week Cover of Heartbreaker - Remastered Edition by Ryan Adams.

Ryan Adams

Heartbreaker - Remastered Edition

    Heartbreaker is the debut solo studio album by Ryan Adams, originally released September 5, 2000. The album was recorded over fourteen days at Woodland Studios in Nashville, Tennessee and has since established itself as one of alt-country’s most iconic records.


    Andy says: Most people would say this was Ryan Adams' finest hour. Includes the classic "Come Pick Me Up".


    2xLtd LP Info: 180g double vinyl.

    JM Airis

    Wild Birds

      Below the hustle and bustle of New York City’s streets, lies ‘Terminal NY’, the bunker-come-recording studio of Wisconsin journeyman-songwriter JM Airis. It’s where Wild Birds was conceived - Airis’ striking new noir-folk album that’s all set to soar from the grit of the Brooklyn basement and circle the Empire State Building, bringing a moment of calm to the pulsing heartbeat of the big city.

      Airis covers a lot of territory with this album, from the swaggering to the solemn as he delves into the darker side of Americana music. Filled with heavy emotions and heart felt lyrics, Wild Birds pushes the prominence of airy spaces, synth notes, and the relegation of guitars to a supporting role pushing this recording to the edge of folk noir, if it’s even definable.
      From structure to sound, Airis is deliberate in his creation of making even the least audible punctuations perfect. Every single chime, raw rhythm, and acoustic string reverberation is exactly as Airis intended it to be, all while not being over produced.

      All together, Wild Birds is a bare-eyed view from above, a finished mirror of the simplicity distance provides and a back-to-the-land reminder that not everyone in the city is singing songs about the hustle.

      Whilst Airis’ previous offering Indian Summer was applauded for its traditional grass roots approach that couldn’t be further from his time as drummer in NYC outfit Dead Sparrows, Wild Birds brings everything bang up to date with the prominence of synths, airy spaces and the relegation of guitars to supporting role.

      Surrounded by old 50s and 60s tube schematics and internet forum kits that manifest as functional Microphones, EQs, Compressors and Preamps within the concrete and tin frame of the converted textile warehouse, what they lack in authenticity is more than made up for with their unique and honest sound. From the southern-gothic style of ‘False Birds’ that recalls the lo-fi nature of BRMC’s semi-acoustic album Howl, to ‘Infinite Sun’s neo-country slide guitar and the moody narco-blues of ‘Cant Hurry’, each song stokes the fire that is Airis’ creative process and is a further exploration into the darker psyche of Americana.

      Recorded almost entirely by Airis himself, leading the way on guitar and vocals, he also enlisted the skills of Young Magic’s Melati Malay who provides backing vocals to the blissed-out, reverb heavy ‘14 Shadows’, plus the technical expertise of Kloke records’ Kloke (high guitar), Ryan Olson (electric drums), and Solid Gold’s Adam Hurlburt (bass) with the “Wild Birds” live band consisting Graham Finn (synth/slide guitar/bass), Street Smells’ Evie Beach (keyboard/drums), and Alan O’Keeffe (guitar).


      2xLP Info: Double LP on black vinyl (please note no download code included).
      LP comes with a loose insert.

      Shana Cleveland & The Sandcastles

      Oh Man, Cover The Ground

        ‘Oh Man, Cover The Ground’’s softly-stated melodies and breezy air operates on its own sense of time. Though the songs still settle comfortably into threeminute parcels, their gestation bucked at the convention of pop music’s stringent time format.

        “I’m really into meandering, fingerpicked open-tuned acoustic guitar, like John Fahey and Robbie Basho,” says Shana Cleveland. “I started playing guitar in that style during a year right before I moved to Seattle when I was lonely and bummed out in the San Fernando Valley and found solace in spending long afternoons fingerpicking slow moving improvisations.”

        This casualness is evident in the music - you can hear it in the airy ambience of album opener ‘Butter & Eggs’, the gentle piano and strings accompaniment on the title track, the particularly Fahey-esque explorations of ‘Itching Around’ and ‘SPATM’. Even the timeline of the album’s development seems to defy the ephemeral haste that permeates so much contemporary music.

        The bulk of ‘Oh Man, Cover The Ground’ was recorded in Shana’s basement. “I wanted it to sound casual and kind of loose like my favorite folk albums, so we didn’t practice much before recording and a few of the musicians were playing the songs for the first time.”


        Ltd LP Info: The LP is available exclusively to independent retailers on limited edition lake blue coloured vinyl (90 copies for the UK & Eire). A digital download card is included.

        Eddie Cochran & Gene Vincent

        The Saturday Club - Red Vinyl Edition

        Two giants of rock 'n' roll on one album featuring fully remastered rare broadcasts of the two of them together on that very last tour Eddie Cochran would do before his tragic death. Limited RED vinyl LP contains free poster and ticket facsimile as well as being mastered specifically for vinyl. Contains 6 classic hits “Summertime Blues”, “Be Bop A Lula” “Twenty Flight Rock”, ”Hallelujah I Love Her So“, “Something Else” and “C’mon Everybody”. Includes the track “White Lightnin’“ which features BOTH Eddie and Gene together on the same song! In depth liner notes by Author Max Decharne and classic design by Sophie Lo.

        Black Halo the second full-length release from Jon DeRosa, following up 2013's A Wolf In Preacher's Clothes (Rocket Girl). After moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in early 2014, DeRosa began frequenting Joshua Tree and other sparsely populated nature destinations in California. His spiritual attraction to and fascination with the solitude and openness of these new landscapes, combined with his penchant for 60's pop songwriting and orchestration, largely inspired the vast "West Coast" sound of Black Halo.

        Though the amply bearded, heavily-tattooed DeRosa looks the part of Hells Angel- meets-Source Family member, his striking baritone is more in tune with the Golden Age of crooners, 1950's Nelson Riddle arrangements and 1960's teen love songs. Known for his dreamlike ambient-pop work as Aarktica, DeRosa integrates those signature otherworldly elements into the songs on Black Halo, combining a certain kind of occult mysticism with a refined orchestral sound. His ability to successfully blend such disparate elements is what makes his music so strikingly original and DeRosa such a singular character. But then again, this is the kind of thing that can happen when your past includes studying under minimalist pioneer La Monte Young, making records with Alan Sparhawk of Low, collaborating with Stephin Merritt, and touring Europe with Lydia Lunch.

        For the recording of Black Halo DeRosa returned to Brooklyn to work with his musicians and long time collaborator and producer Charles Newman (The Magnetic Fields, Soko, Gospel Music). The two returned to Los Angeles for further tracking and vocals, and to work with multi-instrumentalist Brad Gordon (The Weepies, Dan Wilson) on the orchestral arrangements (Brad also co-wrote "Blood Moon" with DeRosa). The record features vocal contributions from the exquisite Carina Round (Early Winters/Puscifer), as well as the DeRosa/Round co-written duet "Dancing In A Dream." Finally, a most notable collaboration comes in the shape of "When Daddy Took The Treehouse Down," which DeRosa co-wrote with the inimitable Stephin Merritt (The Magnetic Fields). 

        Golden Gunn (Steve Gunn And Hiss Golden Messenger)


          Golden Gunn is Steve Gunn and Hiss Golden Messenger (Merge Records).

          This self-titled collaborative album was originally released as a limited Record Store Day title in 2013.

          This 2015 re-press is limited to 660 copies pressed on 140 gram silver vinyl with download card.
          In September 2012, songwriter and singer M.C. Taylor of Durham, North Carolina; multi-instrumentalist and recordist Scott Hirsch of Brooklyn, New York (who together helm Hiss Golden Messenger) and accomplished New York-based guitarist and songwriter Steve Gunn (recognized for his solo prowess as well as his work with both the Gunn-Truscinski Duo and GHQ), were motorvating from Raleigh to Monkton, Maryland, when they encountered Dickie. He needed an extra thirty cents and a ride as the transmission on his yellow Pontiac was gutted. He rode shotgun and told the boys his story.

          Originally engaged as a fanciful and casual collaboration between Hiss Golden Messenger and Steve Gunn, under the newfound artistic direction of Mr. Silk, Golden Gunn instead gradually developed into something more singular, evocative, and visionary. Trading loose concepts and recordings back and forth across state and Mason-Dixon lines, Taylor, Hirsch, and Gunn conjured these tunes in response to the rhythm tracks Dickie programmed on his antique drum machine. When they could reach him, Dickie weighed in with elliptical comments and encouragement but his flip phone was always breaking, and by the time they were ready for mixdown, he was reportedly in Malaysia.

          Formally speaking, the largely instrumental album includes some new selections and confections from each of the players which were then transformed through the amber BluBlockers of Dickie Silk and honed into an altogether stranger collaborative session vibe, copping feels from Silk favorites like J.J. Cale, Waylon Jennings, Boz Scaggs, and the Average White Band. Featuring additional contributions from Terry Lonergan on drums, Abigail Martin on flute, and Nora Rogers on mountain dulcimer, the resulting rig maps the scary wrong side of the country-funk tracks, exploring the odd, compass-busting entanglement of plodding old drum machines and sinuous, simmering guitars and synths.

          Steve Gunn

          Boerum Palace

            Boerum Palace is Steve Gunn’s second album, originally released in 2009. The album starts off with a headlong rush into the hypnotic “Mr. Franklin”. Gunn’s fluid playing style, especially as portrayed within this track, provides ample space for the development of infectious musical themes. The track ends in a dextrous duel between Gunn’s guitar and guest Marc Orleans’ (of D. Charles Speer & the Helix, Sunburned Hand of the Man) vicious pedal steel.

            The album mixes Gunn’s long-form blues / raga / psych explorations alongside briefer cuts that equally display his songcraft. These tracks, such as “Variation II” and “Jadin’s Dream,” demonstrate that Gunn is equally confident with shorter or longer compositions. Gunn’s voice is joined by an ethereal turn from the Vanishing Voice’s Heidi Diehl on the album’s central and haunting “House of Knowledge.” The track opens with a building central guitar theme.

            This theme allows Gunn to layer on further guitar explorations. The tone set by these musical themes builds into the duo’s vocal delivery that delivers volumes despite being uttered in gentle tones. Other highlights include “Cryin’ Eyes,” an inspired reworking of J.J. Cale’s “Crying Eyes” featuring backing instrumentation from Marc Orleans, and the richly textured album finale “Mustapha’s Exit.”


            Ltd LP Info: Third Pressing On BLUE Vinyl. Included is a free download card and insert.

            Joni Mitchell

            Court And Spark

            "Court And Spark" completed Joni Mitchell's transition from folk-singer to sophisticated rock auteur. In addition to her meticulously crafted melodies and evocative, image-rich lyrics, the songs here are breezy and immediately appealing. This is in part due to Tom Scott's L.A. Express, a sinuous jazz-based combo, but also to Mitchell's knack for pop hooks, which abound on "Court And Spark". The album's accessibility made it Mitchell's most commercially successful, yet the personal intensity and insight of her songwriting never wavers.

            "Help Me" was a hit single, as was "Free Man in Paris", an expansive pop frolic that is reputedly a dig at industry mogul David Geffen. Mitchell returns to the terrain of piano balladry on "The Same Situation" and "Down to You;" yet even on these, as on the excellent social satire "People's Parties", one can hear the influence of jazz on her vocal phrasing and intonations. The rock & roll romp "Raised on Robbery" and the bluesy, comic swing of "Twisted" mix things up a bit, showing the artist's increasing ability to master and manipulate any form. "Court And Spark" is one of Mitchell's finest albums, confirming her standing - at long last - as one of the most important and subtle talents of the rock era.

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Andy says: With songs as unbelievably good as "Help Me" and "Free Man In Paris", this has to be one of Joni Mitchell's most gorgeous albums. Come on: get Joniated!

            Joni Mitchell

            Ladies Of The Canyon

            Joni Mitchell's third release found her moving away from the wistful folk of her debut and "Clouds", branching out into the progressive pop and jazz elements that would define her best work. The bright, poppy "Big Yellow Taxi", the album's single, is here, as is her epoch-defining "Woodstock", a soulful, stirring song about the 1969 rock festival that was later covered by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. But the material on "Ladies Of The Canyon" is uniformly strong, demonstrating the mature style and vision that made her one of the leading voices of the 70s.

            On songs like, "Conversation" and the title cut, Mitchell's lyrics begin to turn toward to the quirky, personal poetry of interior landscapes, focusing with a writer's eye on scene, detail, and the dynamics of human relationships. Her instrumental palette is broadened too, with colourful, textured arrangements that make greater use of piano, as well as strings, reeds, electric keyboards, and percussion. Some songs, like the sweet, chiming "The Circle Game", seem a bit naive, but these are counterbalanced with darker songs like "The Arrangement", a stark ballad. In all, "Ladies Of The Canyon" was Mitchell's first classic album, one that helped pave the way for its watershed successor, "Blue".


            Ltd LP Info: 180 gram heavyweight vinyl.

            Ben Watt & Robert Wyatt

            Summer Into Winter / North Marine Drive - White Vinyl Edition

              Everything But The Girl band member Ben Watt was strongly influenced in his first steps by mentor Robert Wyatt. This album brings together a collaboration between the two, and Watt's pre-EBTG solo album, both originally released on Cherry Red in the early 80s. The LP starts with “Summer Into Winter” the legendary 10” written and performed together by Watt and Wyatt. This is followed by the English-folk milestone of the 80s “North Marine Drive” by Ben on his own. The album includes a rare gem cover of Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”.

              From the mid-50s to the early 60s, R&B belonged not just to men with guitars, but to women who sang with hungry voices on stages and in studios across the US. Their roots were planted in the blues of Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, Ida Fox and Bessie Smith, the gospel of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the jazz of Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. Their legacy lies in the recordings collected on 'Ain’t Gonna Hush' by journalist (Mojo, Record Collector) and R&B authority Lois Wilson.

              Selected because of their collectability and popularity on the club scene, the 76 tracks on the 3CD set 'Ain’t Gonna Hush' include contributions by crowned queens of soul Etta James and Aretha Franklin, and other luminaries like Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown, Little Esther, LaVern Baker and Betty Everett. But lesser-known names are also well represented, whose recordings, like most of the songs collected here, sold poorly, but fetch huge prices today. Their lack of success was not due to ability, performance or quality of songwriting; every artist here (including Kentucky-born rockabilly musician Joyce Harris) shouts, screams and hollers as if their lives depend on it, every song is perfectly crafted. But due to bad luck, lack of promotion or simply the fact that with a market flooded with choice, the competition was tough and these 45s fell through the cracks. Here those unfortunate turns of fate are redressed with a collection that compiles the forgotten alongside the famed. Ain’t Gonna Hush reasserts the eminence of revered voices and proposes the coronation of a larger cast of R&B Queens.

              Also available on 32-track limited edition 2LP vinyl, with an illustrated, annotated insert.

              The rawest, DIY gospel ever resurrected. The West Side of Chicago was just an annex of the deep rural South for Gene Autry Cash and his flock of recent Old Dominion transplants looking to cut their fiery, unadorned sounds indelibly to plastic. His Jade label absorbed those God-fearing artists: family bands with wailing kids and barely amateur groups sourced from local parishes, infused with reverberations of country and western and deep soul. Glinting authenticity shines from every track on Numero Group's Saved And Sanctified: Songs Of The Jade Label like a diamond in the unpolished rough - each group completely convinced that salvation comes through song.

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