The Vietnam War  hail from New Zealand. They were voted for in our Top Ten of 2011 for their self titled debut. The album is lovely. Reminiscent of Son Volt, Wilco et al and with massive staying power and varied styles. Re-playing is an essential joy!




High Window

Heavy On My Mind

Love Is Nothing


So Long

Beat My Time

Murder Song

Saw A Light

Two For One

Monster Song

Wish The Same

Same Thought  

The Sounds


I could not put my finger on the vocal style, which sounded familiar even with, the unfamiliar harmonies supplied by Vivian Ginn which, lend an angelic aura to the songs. Then, I discovered that ‘Heirlooms’, is a side project of Jerry Vessel, former Red House Painter and touring member of Mark Kozelek's Sun Kil Moon which, meant that everything then fell into a lovely place. 

Each song is sweet and introspective; ‘Andrew and Emma’, ‘Marianna’s Peace’ and ‘Blackness from Blue’ are exquisite.  Acoustic, pedal steel and bass guitars interweave with violins and vocals. A buried treasure uncovered. This is a gorgeously fragile record that weaves itself into your consciousness


Information on the project and band is very sparse, one quote say’s “Inspired by the rural surroundings in which he now lives, Vessel found the time and solitude to reflect and write...". Certainly, this is a beautifully reflective record.


The band features members of American Music Club and Ani Difranco's band. The album is released on the Caldo Verde label.  







1. Andrew & Emma              

2. Anyway, Sweetness                

3. Forever The Moon                   

4. Marianna's Peace                

5. Annie                  

6. Blackness From Blue                  

7. Beautiful Summer               

8. Ukulele Song       

9. A Flower My Love Grows           

10. Incidental Music for Obeo



The latest, and best, release from Audio Antihero this year is the brilliant debut album from singer-songwriter Benjamin Shaw The title track lasts for less than a minute of scratchy, acoustic piano and vocals, before giving way to possible the best track on the album, 'How To Tell The Depth Of A Well'. Great lyrics and a melancholy melody make this a brilliant track that deserves to be heard and loved by all - my favorite lines are probably "You shouldn't blame it on the Tories even though they're vile, and you shouldn’t fill their lungs with water just to make my smile", although "I shouldn't fill you up with babies, we wouldn't know what to do, and you shouldn't tell your man he's useless even if it's true" comes a close second.

'Interview' is next, a sad tale of our need to work for The Man to earn a crust, even though we'd rather be doing something else. This is followed by Somewhere Over the M6, a slow, sad tale of love turned sour (there's a lot of sadness on this record). Next up, is the instrumental (but still sad) 'An Exciting Opportunity' and this is closely followed by 'Hey, Where's My Deputy?' which to me portrays the tedium of a dumb day, where literally anything happening would be an improvement.   

A psychedelic explosion to the senses courtesy of Andy R. (né Andy Rauworth) and drummer Craig Nice (né Craig Fleischman) otherwise know as Gauntlet Hair from Denver Colorado (where they relocated to, from Chicago). Andy and Craig, we are told, have been playing together since they were 15, almost a decade ago, so plenty of time to get this debut smoothed then.   

The Mars Volta, Yeasayer, and  general  Garage Rock noize spring to mind immediately the album kicks in with ’Keep Time’. Two singles were released before the album ("I Was Thinking..." b/w "Our Scenery") and ("Out, Don't..." b/w "Heave") neither of which make it to the album but came highly recommended.


The debut album was recorded in the Chicago area last spring and that Chicago rawness carries onto the album‘s rock sound. So if you like your rock with a big sound, then Gauntlet Hair is a great listen and much like Seattle’s duo ‘My Goodness’ looks like making 2011 the year of the rocking duos!





Keep Time

Top Bunk

Mop It Up

My Christ

Lights Out



That's Your Call

Shout In Tongues

One of the best albums of 2011 comes from a sextet from Newcastle; Lanterns On The Lake, even the name of the band conjures up a haunting feel. Fragile vocals and words, fused together with widescreen guitars and instrumentation. 

Following on from some lovely EPs, which came out earlier in the year with handmade covers and a wax seal (how do you actually open them, without spoiling the effect?) comes the debut album, ‘Gracious Tide, Take Me Home’.


This is one of those very rare albums that lifts the hairs on the back of your neck, and from the first listen sounds just perfect. The Last Town Chorus had a similar effect back in 2006, with the ’Wire Waltz’ album.


Hazel Wilde is Megan Hickey this time around and a Laura Marling-esque figure she is too. Adam Sykes shares vocals and between both of them they cast a magical spell along with Paul Gregory’s soaring guitar.


‘Lungs Quicken’ opens the album with an ambient feel before Hazel’s sublime vocals take effect. Adam takes lead vocals on ‘If I've Been Unkind’. After these ten minutes have passed free free to fall in love with this record on ‘Keep on Trying’.


Don’t think the whole album is celestial either. ‘A Kingdom’ is an up tempo song even though it is inspired by a book of letters sent home by WW2 soldiers. The album actually contains eleven wonderful songs for you to curl up with on a cold winter’s dark night, in the warmth of your favourite chair.


By rights, with this album and the constant touring the band seem to be undertaking, they should be enormous this time next year….well at least headlining the Shepherds Bush Empire!



It is not often you find someone so adapt in the movie world that they can switch and make such good music outside the regular day job. ‘A False Parade’ has a dark Warren Zevon esque approach and packs a varied pace.’ The Emperor’s Old Clothes’(ballad) and Atmosphere’ (rocker) are cases in point early on. 

The record’s focal points are Johnny’s gravelled vocals and scorching guitar solos. The said guitarist is Kevin Armstrong who, is a true Master of his trade then there is, Quillon Larratt on drums, Rob Lucas on bass, Andrew Spooner on keyboards and Christine Lockhart, Vashti Gleave and Laura Matthews on backing vocals.


With such heavyweight backing the songs struggle to remain sparse, which may have suited some of the arrangements more, however, take it as it comes and you have a winner on your hands, The record was written and recorded over the last two years in gaps between screenwriting and film-making which, must has given a wide ranging perspective to the song writing.


As a debut it is impressive and I think a ‘grower’. Another idea would be an acoustic / electric gig, covering the album in both styles and, a bonus disc of acoustic demos!






1. Shoot You Down

2. The Emperor's Old Clothes

3. Atmosphere 

4. A Roll Call   

5. Anthem (For Wasted Youth)

6. First Blood to the Young One

7. America Sleeps

8. Wrong Man (In the Wrong Place)

9. Vincent

10. The Virus   

11. Wrecking Ball



SuperHeavy; A new group with a guy who knows his reggae, a lady with a fabulous voice and vocal range and a man who should really be fronting a rock n’ roll band with, his raw intensity, as he spits out the lyrics. Actually not so new, after all, the Super group that is SuperHeavy is Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, A. R. Rahman, Dave Stewart and Damian Marley but for a moment, disregard the heavyweight members and give the music a listen.


A record packed to the brim with music, nothing wasted or lacking in the production, musicianship or presentation. There is a budget here but, with that budget comes pressure. These guys could has just as easily tripped themselves up and produced a lemon, but this record has all come together.


For her third album of intricate pop songs, Annie Clark recruited John Congleton as producer, Beck keyboardist Brian LeBarton, and Midlake drummer Smith to record in her hometown of Dallas, Texas. The result is a very classy album, in fact the finest solo record yet that St. Vincent has delivered.

The record is quite spellbinding and never drops its interest for the listener throughout its entire length. With numerous twists and turns both lyrically and musically, the album has a freshness with every play. It is an album that will leave people out there who download just a few random tracks in a quandary because the style changes so much throughout the album. If you are one of those guys, sorry but you will need to download the whole record!

This is not an album you leap to put on when the sun is out and you feeling up, without a care in the world but this is actually, an album you may well readily put on first thing in the morning (idea for that early morning dazed train commute) or, last thing at night or just perhaps, when everything is not so rosy in your Garden.


Ex-Sparklehorse musician Adam Wiltzie, and composer Dustin O'Halloran are A Winged Victory For The Sullen. They have produced a solemn even reverential recording of beautiful music, piano, strings, an ambience woven into a spider’s web of contentment.

A delightful five song taster of a lot more to come hopefully from Diagrams and Sam Gendes, an ex stalwart of hip folk collective Tunng.

The songs are very varied on the ep from the opening of ‘Night All Night’  with an acoustic  base and honey rich vocals, a lovely song , to the second song  which adds brass and strings and just about a much fun  as you can have with a song, that’s the free flowing  ‘Antelope’ .

Hill brings in some electronics and yet another change of pace.  ‘Woking’ again a nice song this time, with a big ‘Elbow’ feel. Final song Icebreakers is just plain beautiful in a folk groove, with added thunder.

So in conclusion a superb ep that certainly leaves us eager for more.

Diagrams play the End of The Road Festival this weekend and the physical EP still seems to be on Amazon, so get it while you still can.



From the opening cords and blast of horns we are comfortable, warm, cosy and happy in familiar territory. ‘A Candle's Fire’ the opening song is pure and simply, sublime. 

‘The Rip Tide’ is (as usual with Beirut) short at 33 minutes but, I guess as the saying goes, "always leave them wanting more"
Santa Fe is equally impressive as the opener, pure joy. ‘East Harlem’ is a change of pace to Zach Condon’s delicate side. ‘Goshen’ has beautiful piano set against Zak's vocals and that ever present brass chimes in.
On ‘Paynes Bay’ the horns (is there a clarinet there?) are heart wrenching at the start before the song catches pace and the title song, The Rip Tide' is an epic.
Like the early autumn chill that has been affecting the UK in recent days, you may well have been grabbing that jumper out of the cupboard for extra warmth; that's exactly what The Rip Tide offers.
I'll leave the rest of the album for you to discover because, every home should own this album and yes after the final song 'Port of Call' we are left wanting more!
1. A Candle's Fire 
2. Santa Fe 
3. East Harlem 
4. Goshen 
5. Payne's Bay 
6. The Rip Tide 
7. Vagabond 
8. The Peacock 
9. Port Of Call 


It’s a pleasure to discover a band just by chance and with a great record. Satisfaction even, when you can say to your mates, great record by the Ladybug Transistor and they say “who?, never heard of them” and that would have been me less than 24 hours ago. Now I am even a bit smug, if sixteen years too late. 

Thanks to the record store listening post (Rough Trade Records East) I was able to spend some time being captivated by this lovely record during my lunch break. It came as a bit of shock to learn that this band have been around for sixteen years and ‘Clutching Stems’ is their seventh album! 

Formed in 1995 in (where else?) Brooklyn, the band seems to have had a stable (Gary Olson) yet at times, shifting personnel, they also suffered the tragic death of a band member. The band is recorded as being part of the Elephant Six Collective, who can count the likes of Jeff Mangum, Apples In Stereo and The Essex Green amongst their ranks. In 2006 the band contributed to the recording of Kevin Ayers' album ‘The Unfairground’ which Gary Olson also produced.  

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