Sunday, 26 February 2017

NEIL McSWEENEY - A COAT WORTH WEARING

Friday 10 March 2017 sees the release of Sheffield songwriter Neil McSweeney’s fourth album, A Coat Worth Wearing. Produced by award-winning folk producer Andy Bell and the second release for new imprint Hudson Records, the album builds on the success of its predecessor, Cargo, displaying a marked development in Neil’s sound and approach. Its nine songs were conceived as a piece and subsequently recorded together, largely in full-band live-takes, over seven days in the beautiful Welsh countryside.

Neil McSweeney emerged from the flowering of Sheffield music that gave the world Richard Hawley and Slow Club and has since established himself as ‘a songwriter of rare ability’(R2). Setting lyrics that deal with the contrasts and contradictions of life to romantic melodies as hopeful as they are melancholy, McSweeney’s finely-crafted songs have been championed by his peers as well as across national radio and mainstream and specialist press. Since the release of Cargo in 2013, McSweeney has made increasingly big waves on the English folk scene picking up main stage festival appearances and collaborating with the likes of Jon Boden and Fay Hield. 


McSweeney has toured extensively throughout the UK and mainland Europe on his own and as support for the likes of Richard Hawley and Bellowhead. He will continue to tour around the release of A Coat Worth Wearing, then throughout 2017 and beyond.

Tour dates...

8 March Biddulph Arms, Stoke on Trent
10 March Queen’s Social Club, Sheffield.
13 March Green Note, London 
17 March Labour Club, Retford
18 March Indiependant Cafe, Scunthorpe
23 March The Musician, Leicester
25 March LV21, Gillingham
31 March Herman Chapel, Oswestry
1 April Garmon View House Concert, Conwy

Praise for Cargo....
Deeply felt, brooding songs rich in imagery” The Guardian
A songwriter of rare ability” R2 Magazine
Songs so subtle and well-crafted that you can’t help but be drawn in” Drowned In Sound
Steelier than your average troubadour” Q Magazine
McSweeney is the genuine article. Highly recommended” Express



Wednesday, 4 January 2017

THE BRAINIAC 5 - JOURNEY TO X

Rejuvenated psych-explorers THE BRAINIAC 5 return with Journey To X, their second full-length outing since their 2012 reunification. Buoyed by the success of 2015’s Exploding Universe, and an appearance on Cherry Red's acclaimed Another Splash Of Colour psych box set, the band have made a quick return to Alchemy Studios in North London and with the help of producer and engineer Kenny Jones and the arrival of new drummer Joe Malone, have stripped back to the two guitars, bass and drums format of past glories, yet continue to move forward with renewed energy and fresh ideas.

Say the band, “After experimenting with sax and flute for our last album, we thought that this time we would revert to our core four-piece psych/punk guitar orientated template. With the introduction of the powerhouse drumming of Joe Malone, we’ve certainly come up with some blistering music in this vein. However, somewhere along the journey we seem to have also wandered off on some other new paths. A touch of the smoky jazz cellar and African influences, a slight nod to country-blues and beyond. With lyrics inspired and influenced by Elizabeth Jennings, Robert Graves and The Golden Bough, we think this makes for a heady and intriguing mix, yet still all somehow manages to sound like The Brainiac 5. The journey has been exciting and fulfilling and has resulted in what we feel is our most complete and accomplished work to date.”

Emerging in the mid-70s out of the UK’s isolated yet thriving South-Western scene, the Brainiac 5 relocated to London, where their Mushy Doubt EP had already caused a stir. Sharing stages with the likes of The Soft Boys and The Barracudas and finding fans in John Peel and Alex Chilton, they split before their debut album World Inside was released through celebrated psych label Reckless (Bevis Frond, Black Sun Ensemble, Mu).

With frontman Charlie Taylor returning from years in the US, the Brainiacs reconvened, resulting in 2013’s Sun Ra-inspired Space Is The Place EP which garnered effusive reviews from the likes of The Wire and Shindig! The following year’s When Silence Was Sound anthology and the all-new Exploding Universe also received praise from Mojo, Record Collector, R2 and Vive Le Rock magazines, as well as from psych and outsider websites around the world. Journey To X will be simultaneously issued on CD, download and deluxe 180g gatefold vinyl.

Release date 20 January 2017

Album launch at The Gunners, Blackstock Road, London N5 on Saturday 21 January from 4pm, with special guests Morton Valence, Mark & The Clouds, The Green Ray, Proudfoot and more.... FREE admission!


The group’s music has a freshness and verve that makes their recent reformation seem entirely justified. Prog
It’s like finding something you never knew you’d lost. The Wire
The West Country’s answer to Television. Shindig!
Punk energy harnessed to a serious Ladbroke Grove attitude, the result a wonderful cornucopia of sound. Terrascope
This is acid punk at its best. **** R2

Thursday, 25 August 2016

TOMMY HALE - MAGNIFICENT BASTARD

Eight years on from his last release, the Dallas-based singer-songwriter returns with nine songs whose recording he describes as “emotionally difficult,” though the resulting LP is unarguably his most rewarding.  

Recorded in rural Wiltshire with his friends from acclaimed alt.country outfits The Snakes and The Redlands Palomino Company, the record – Tommy’s third as a solo artist – draws on a wealth of musical styles, from gospel-tinged soul to delicate pop balladry and driving rock ’n’ roll, while at its centre sits its author’s unmistakable voice. Fragile and reflective one moment, bristling with soulful intensity the next, it’s a unique ingredient of Tommy’s music, and one that has aided his rise, over 20 years, from frontman with raucous cult rockers Swank Deluxe to multi-faceted solo performer and respected face on the Dallas music scene.  

Magnificent Bastard carries the weight of this history and more, mixing punk and ’70s rock influences on the brooding ‘Backburner’, reminiscing over a well-spent youth on the title track and unravelling threads that stretch back to Tommy’s childhood.  

In the wistful ‘Homecoming Mum’, the singer recalls the schoolboy practice of buying elaborate wearable bouquets for their sweetheart – a Southern tradition at homecoming football games  – while the album’s centerpiece, the anthemic ‘Save Me (The Ballad of Odell Barnes Jr)’, finds him pondering the plight of a high-school friend who, convicted of murder, ended up on Death Row. Tommy describes this song, which he started to write eight years ago, as “the most important story of the record.”

“It really affected me,” he says of the moment he found out that Barnes, who Tommy hadn’t seen since his late teenage years, had been killed by lethal injection in 2001. “I don’t know if he did the murder or not, or anything like that, but I want people to know what it is and to know the story.”

While these character pieces showcase Tommy Hale the storyteller, others suggest he has naked sincerity licked, too. Can I Lay Down Next To You? and Simple Song, the album’s most tender tracks, make the listener feel as if they’re eavesdropping on private moments in their author’s life. In fact, so direct is the latter song that the singer felt himself squirm when he played it to producer/guitarist Simon Moor and multi-instrumentalist John O’Sullivan – the album’s co-writers and two people who, alongside drummer Dan Tilbury and keyboardist/engineer Nick Beere, make up a creative team for whom Tommy has “tremendous respect.”

“I think this is hands down the best collection of work I’ve ever put together,” he says. “And a lot of that’s because of the talents of all those other guys.”

Magnificent Bastard is released through Holiday disaster Records on 30 September.






Tuesday, 16 August 2016

THE LUCKY STRIKES - THE MOTION AND THE MOVING ON

From the marshlands of the Thames Delta comes the fifth album from Southend on Sea’s Lucky Strikes.  The Motion And The Moving On is the band’s most personal album to date, covering everything from dead-end jobs and missing home to overwhelming grief and mental turmoil. But ultimately this is an album about salvation through music. That life on the road, with your brothers, can save your soul.

It was recorded at Reservoir Studios in north London with producer and engineer Chris Clarke from Danny and The Champions Of The World and features long-time Lucky Strikes collaborator Toby Shaer on fiddle, flute and saxophone.

Formed in 2006, the Lucky Strikes have released four critically-acclaimed albums encompassing garage blues, spaghetti western psych and Celtic folk. Their self-titled debut was recorded warts and all in their hometown of Southend - rough and maybe not quite ready, it was full of the piss, spit and aggression of youth. This was followed by The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick in 2009. A patchwork narrative centred on the man who killed Delta blues pioneer Robert Johnson. The record saw the band move from the monochrome palette of their debut to a more widescreen vison of Americana.  Piano, strings and pedal steel wove together to reveal a compelling musical tale.

Gabriel, Forgive My 22 Sins came next in 2011 and built on the vast Americana of its predecessor. Partly inspired by Nelson Algren’s Man With the Golden Arm, it tells the story of Frankie Valentinez, a boxer who took a bribe to throw a fight and then descended into madness. For 2013’s Exile And The Sea, the band found inspiration closer to home. From the archives of their local newspaper offices, they retold stories of the carnival queens, roughnecks and scoundrels of Estuary folklore. The album was voted one of the best of the year by Vive Le Rock magazine.  

The Lucky Strikes are fronted by MG Boulter, a sometime member of the Simone Felice Group, Emily Portman’s Coracle Band and an accomplished solo artist. He’s joined by Will Bray on drums, Paul Ambrose on bass, and Dave Giles on piano and accordion.

Release date: 30 September, Harbour Song Records

The Motion And The Moving On will be preceded by a single/video ‘War Drums’ in early September.

“Simply too good to ignore. You heard it here first” R2 magazine
“Like The Waterboys on trucker pills” Q magazine
“Dark and dirty Americana to chill your soul” Classic Rock magazine
“The songwriting sensibilities of Ray Davies… informed by Kevin Coyne” Americana-UK
“They're the best thing to come out of Southend since Rossi's ice-cream.” ***** Morning Star



Tuesday, 9 August 2016

SCREAMING BLUE MESSIAHS BOX SET

“There’s an English band I like very much. Nobody seems to have heard of them. They’re called The Screaming Blue Messiahs and I’m pushing them like mad. I think they’re really good. There’s an element of The Clash in them that I really like. But there’s something else there. I’m not really sure what it is. There’s an exciting guitar player. He’s a sort of a new wave guitar player, but they’re an angry mob from London.”
David Bowie, Words & Music Magazine, 1988

Post-punk blues/rockabilly trio SCREAMING BLUE MESSIAHS have their original albums included in a new box set.

Formed out of the ashes of Feelgood- and Beefheart-channelling London pub rockers MOTOR BOYS MOTOR, the band released their Vic Maile-produced debut mini-album Good And Gone through Big Beat Records in 1984, before signing to WEA for the full-length Gun-Shy in 1986.

Touring the world, including several dates with THE CRAMPS, the band – guitarist/vocalist Bill Carter, bassist Chris Thompson and drummer Kenny Harris – released their second full-length album Bikini Red – featuring Top 30 single ‘I Wanna Be A Flintstone’ in 1987. That year, no less a figure than DAVID BOWIE proclaimed them his favourite current band, inviting them to play two stadium dates – Cardiff Arms Park and Sunderland Roker Park –  on his Glass Spider tour.

Switching to Elektra for 1989’s Totally Religious – recorded in Miami, Maryland and London – a falling-out with the label caused the album to be withdrawn, and the band split the following year, playing their final show at London’s Subterrania venue in June 1990. Their major label catalogue has long since been unavailable.

Compiled by Easy Action Records with the full co-operation of all three band members, across five CDs Vision In Blues includes all four of their original releases, plus a fully audio-repaired and re-mastered live recording from Zurich in December ’89. The set is bolstered by numerous bonus tracks, including five from a show at London’s ULU, and illustrated by a lavish 24-page booklet, with cover design by Bill Carter himself. It’s topped off with a 7” single featuring of ‘Vision In Blues’ c/w ‘Let’s Go Down To The Woods’/ ‘Good And Gone’.

Easy Action are also issuing a full-length version of the Good And Gone album on limited edition coloured vinyl.

Release date 2 September 2016






Tuesday, 2 August 2016

PROUDFOOT - FLOWER OF LONDON

It’s been six years since Proudfoot released the BJ Cole-produced Lincolnshire, an album with its boots in Nashville but its head in the English county of Michael Proudfoot’s birth in the prairies of the East Midlands.

Since then, Michael and guitarist/collaborator Duncan Kerr have been meeting in the former’s basement, recording demos for a new record. Flower Of London is the result. Duncan Kerr is a veteran guitar wrangler from Stiff Records recording artists Plummet Airlines and their spin-off The Favourites, two almost-made-it outfits that morphed out of Nottingham’s pub rock and punk scene. Michael, then singing in wine bars and restaurants to bolster his student grant, was a fan of both these bands. “I thought, if ever I have a band, I want that guitar player in it,” he says of Kerr. A mixture of happenstance and necessity brought the two together almost ten years ago and they have been working together in London ever since as Kerr’s other gig in psych-punk outfit The Brainiac 5 allows.

Both Proudfoot and Kerr knew that this record would be different from Lincolnshire. “I love country music and early rock n’ roll, but I am essentially a child of the 60s,” says Proudfoot. “I can still vividly remember the moment The Beatles came into my world via Thank Your Lucky Stars. We lived, literally, in the middle of nowhere surrounded by potato and wheat fields, The Beatles sound made it seem as if anything were possible and I fell for it hook line and sinker. Music has been in my life ever since”

Flower Of London coalesces Michael Proudfoot’s interests in The Beatles and the Beat Boom, soul, folk and reggae with Kerr’s virtuoso powerpop/punk/country-rock guitar chops into something not too far from the mature New Wave pop of Costello, Parker and Difford & Tilbrook. This time, Michael’s songs are drawn from a wider, more urban spectrum. Flower Of London trades in the anomalies of life, love, leaving and those he has known, good and bad. Album opener ‘Pathfinders’ is about his mother’s first fiancĂ©, an RAF pilot who perished over the English Channel. “The good thing about songwriting,” says Proudfoot, “….is that you can make a single statement about a lot of things or a statement about a single moment. It seems to me the things that affect us most are like that, they are global and big like politics and war or tiny moments in the macro when someone says or does something you love or hate…. That’s what this record is about”.



The album release will be preceded by the single/video ‘Pathfinders’.

Release date:16 September 2016