This is a fine second record from Maps & Atlases, following on from ‘Perch Patchwork’ in 2010. Hometown Chicago was left behind for the wide open spaces of Nebraska to record ‘Beware & Be Grateful’ and a gem has been plucked from the Omaha air. 


Touchstone comparisons for this band include fellow Chicagoans, Wilco, some Vampire Weekend  ‘maths’ guitar, Fleet Foxes harmonies and Tape n’ Tapes indie bounce but, all these are  passing  glances really as the band have their  own niche, with this mix of sound and the distinctive vocals of  David Davison.


They come across as a hard working group of fine musicians continually looking for the next rhythm. ‘Beware & Be Grateful’ has ten songs and is a real ‘grower’ of an album. After the second and third listens, I found myself reaching for the record with a big smile on my face. It’s varied in styles and sound and rhythmically packed all the way. A great leap forward, this band could get really quite big, quite soon!


Maps & Atlases are Erin Elders (guitar), Shiraz Dada (bass), Chris Hainey (drums), and Dave Davison (guitar/vocals)








Old & Gray  



Remote & Dark Years  

Silver Self  


Be Three Years Old  


Old Ash  






Beware & Be Grateful is released on 17 April 2012 via fatcat records  


RCUK Interview 


April UK Tour
16 – Cooler,
17 – The Garage,
18 – Night And Day,
19 – Nice ‘n Sleazy, Glasgow
20 – Brudenell Social Club,


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A very pleasant record for a sunny spring day.  Difficult second album? Not much sign of that here, with the song writing and musicianship making a steady climb up from the debut Reservoir.

Perhaps though, the excitement is slightly tempered, as the album does not drift too far style-wise away that debut but the new record has a fresh touch and a real 'life' about it that should keep the band active for the next twelve months or so. Much like Los CampesinosFanfarlo are one of those up and coming bands that you can see being on the indie circuit for a while to come.

There’s not one stand out sing-along on this album, of earlier songs like ‘The Walls are Coming Down’ (yet, more listening may prove me wrong) It is however, an easy record to pick up and play again and again.






1.      Replicate
2.      Deconstruction
3.      Lens Life
4.      Shiny Things
5.      Tunguska
6.      Everything Turns
7.      Tightrope
8.      Feathers
9.      Bones
10.     Dig
11.     A Flood
12.     Everything Resolves


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This really was the sound that drew me to gigs as a young man in the Seventies. Pure blues based long haired, balls out rock! Imagine a three piece power trio, bass, drums, guitars, gravely voice vocalist. Big amps cranked up to maximum volume and there you have Mount Carmel!


The band hail from Columbus, Ohio's and are made up of  Matthew Reed, Patrick Reed, and Kevin Skubak. They were signed to local bael Siltbreeze Records for their self-titled Mount Carmel album in 2010 and have stayed there for this year’s follow-up Real Women.


I actually started listening to this record after listening to the recently (and also excellent), Big Brother And The Holding Co, ‘Live At The Carousel Ballroom 1968’ CD and found that ‘Real Women’ sat perfectly well into that listening mood.


This music is blues rock whichever way you look at it, vocals sung over the guitar, pounding bass and drums. Melodic blues stretches and blisteringly glorious rocking out.


Think current band’s Dead Meadow or Black Mountain or past bands Cream, Free, Taste and guitarist led bands by Rory Gallagher and Robin Trower and that should give you the flavour as well as having you reach for you wallet.


For me a stunning record, let’s just hope they make it across the water for some live shows.








01. Swaggs

02. Real Women

03. Oh Louisa

04. Be Somebody

05. Choose Wisely

06. Hear Me Now

07. Don’t Make Me Evil

08. Rooftop

09. Lullaby


Mount Carmel

Siltbreeze Records  


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5 tracks and 12 minutes of noise-pop, swearing and huge amounts of energy. Extreme fuzz abounds as the London duo tear through the tracks. The 5 tracks here (loud, loud, quietly weird, loud & loud) worm their way into your brain with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, insistent and angry but without sacrificing the tunes. 


Of the five 'Kill Birds, Eat Shit' is undoubtedly the best, the perfect amalgam of Blake Ivinson's fuzzed up bass, Stacey Owen's bashed drums, melodic choruses and lots of shouting. On this form the pair could well turn out to be the English answer to Sleigh Bells - only better, because they're from London!


The EP came out today on Gravy Records - get it here  or on the usual download sites. The band are currently on their way to California having torn SXSW apart, but they'll be back in the UK for shows in London (The Shacklewell Arms) on April 6th and Norwich (Take 5) on April 7th.



  1. Housebreaker
  2. Chasing Tail
  3. #PRAYFORBUSTER w/Foot Village
  4. Kill Birds, Eat Shit
  5. All Dogs Go To Heaven Part 2






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It seems very strange to be writing a review of this record, roughly twelve month’s after I  first heard it and saw the band live at SXSW in Austin. 

The Civil Wars, a duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White, seem to be on the same trajectory as the low Anthem over here in the U.K., tiny shows since last summer have now escalated to a sold out show at the Shepherd Bust Empire to a UK tour and headlining Roundhouse show in November. So yes, they have taken off!


Barton Hollow had its official UK release on Monday. the songs remain a treasure all the way through with the vocals and harmonisation a pure delight..


The live show is something else as well. Their closeness makes you think, Butterflies and love (but they are not a pair apparently).


So a great record packed with great songs, but I’m already waiting to LP number 2.








20 Years

I've Got This Friend

C'est La Mort

To Whom It May Concern

Poison & Wine

My Father's Father

Barton Hollow

The Violet Hour

Girl With The Red Balloon


Forget Me Not

Birds of a Feather


SXSW Review March 2011


After a wander to the emusic party, it’s back to Paste for the Civil Wars. This duo of Joy Williams and John Paul White met in a studio last year and found that their harmonies gelled so well, they ended up forming the band and producing a delightful album and a,well, sugar coated live show.


Apparently they are not ‘an item’ but you wouldn’t know from their closeness on stage, perfect hair, dress, teeth ,smiles, soaring angelic harmonies, cries from the crowd sum up the performance. “They don’t even need beer” “I just want to play with butterflies” and “I have never loved two people so much”. All of which is taken in good humour and the song’ Dead Man Walking’, indeed provide a harder edge. These guys could just find themselves on the Low Anthem’s coat tails (there was even a member of Low Anthem spotted at the bar).


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Taking a break from Engineers, founder Mark Peters and producer/band member Ulrich Schnauss have handed us a beautiful piece of music that, actually belies the title. 

Tranquil is the pace of the album all the way though and as we kick off with 'The Messiah Is Falling’: vocalist Judith Heck chimes in with  "So lost in time, so lost in you" which pretty much sums up the vibe of the record.


We are more in the world of Eno and David Sylvian on this record rather than any shoe gazing experiences but, it really is a lovely album and a nice change in listening. Just shut your eyes and drift away.







The Messiah Is Falling

Long Distance Call


Yesterday Didn't Exist

Rosen Im Asphalt

The Child Of The Pigeon



Gift Horse's Mouth

Underrated Silence

A town in north east Oregon, La Grande was named by a French settler in honour of its natural beauty, and is where Portland’s Laura Gibson found the muse for this record. 

Laura continues to mature as an artist and with this lovely album really hit’s the mark. A voice that is pretty unique delivers the songs with heart and soul. The record also contains fine support from the ranks of Calexico, The Decemberists, The Dodos, and drummers Rachel Blumberg and Matt Berge.


Diversities in song style across the entire record means a rewarding listen, to this talented artist





   1. La Grande              

   2. Milk-Heavy, Pollen-Eyed          

   3. Lion/Lamb             

   4. Skin Warming Skin              

   5. The Rushing Dark            

   6. Red Moon        

   7. Crow/Swallow          

   8. The Fire          

   9. Time Is Not              

 10. Feather Lungs




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Well Cloud Nothings are certainly a sonic power source to be reckoned with. Hard on the heels of 2010’s ‘Turning On’ and 2011’s ‘Cloud Nothings’ comes, 2012’s ‘Attack on Memory’. and this time Dylan Baldi’s four piece Cleveland  outfit are produced by Steve Albini, whose electric wand  is waved over the entire LP. 

There is a moment of gentleness as the album starts with ‘No Future/No Past’ but, don’t be fooled, soon the wall of sound and vocals hit. ‘Wasted Days’ is infectious and close on nine minutes long indeed, a ‘Garage Rock’ assault on the senses!


Dylan Baldi has a two tier vocal style, normal and banshee like screamed lyrics, which when set against the ‘wall of sound’ only adds to the intensity. With just eight songs on the record the album retains sharpness throughout which, even in today’s world, is easy to concentrate on.


The pace is unrelenting and hence, I don’t think there is a seismic change of gear here but, what Albini has brought to the show is a crisp, clear production.


Baldi said to Pitchfork magazine (light heartedly?) that the recording session was seemingly immersed in apathy ("Steve Albini played Scrabble on Facebook almost the entire time. I don't even know if he remembers what our album sounds like," ) But to me, it would not be the same record without  Albini.


There is Dinosaur Jr and MC5’s here and modern day comparisons to Yuck without a doubt. This record has an undoubted energy, soak it up!







1. No Future/No Past 

2. Wasted Days 

3. Fall In 

4. Stay Useless 

5. Separation 

6. No Sentiment 

7. Our Plans 

8. Cut You


Studio albums  

Turning On                           2010 ( Carpark Records)

Cloud Nothings                   2011  (Carpark Records)

 Attack On Memory            2012  (Carpark Records)

First of all I think we can establish that Sharon is a music fan at heart. The album notes not only contain the stellar cast list involved in this album, but also introduce us to her recommended listening suggestions.


‘The Tramp’ was produced by the National’s  Aaron Dessner, who also slots into the main guitarist role. The album also contains contributions from Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf (The National); Matt Barrick (The Walkmen); Zach Condon (Beirut); Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak); Rob Moose (Antony and the Johnsons); Julianna Barwick and Thomas Bartlett (Doveman).


Sharon has said that “this album was written and recorded in a very transitional time in my life. I was touring a lot and when I would return to New York, I had no steady home. The studio turned into my one constant”. In a way I guess lines can be drawn with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon's recording of ‘For Emma, Forever Ago' tucked away in a log cabin. Isolation and concentration on the task in hand can create wonderful results and that is just what has happen here.


Whoever the guests, Sharon is the centre point of the record. Her song writing gets better and better. Her vocal delivery gets grittier when required and harmonious or gentle if that is what the words and melody desire.


Warsaw starts the album at a steady pace with acoustic guitar then a fuller sound as the song grows and you quickly become immersed in what could be a four minute song, but actually lasts just over two. You find yourself longing for more, straight away.


’Give Out’ continues the build to ‘Serpent’ which arrives to rock your world. The record then take a delicious turn to the sublimely gentle ‘Kevin’s' and 'Leonard’.In Line’ has a steady blues vibe whilst. 'Alll I Can' maintains the intense tone via an electric organ and horns.


‘Tramp’ is Sharon’s third record and her debut for the fine Jagjaguwar label. Borne out of 14 months of scattered recording sessions this could really be a turning point in Sharons career, although I expected that to happen after its predecessor, ‘Epic’. 


Sharon’s songs have an honestly that really makes you sit up and think. ‘Tramp’ will certainly get under your skin (in a nice way) as it becomes essential listening. I am sure this will be in a lot of people’s records of 2012 come December. Oh, and those recommendations Sharon has for us include, Doug Keith, Heather Woods, Megafaun, Olga Bell, Small Black ,Scary Mansion and Ed Askew.










Give Out




In Line

All I Can

We Are Fine

Magic Chords


I'm Wrong

Joke Or A Lie

Has the Laurel Canyon moved to Stockholm? On the strength of this delightfully beautiful album, you would think so.  

This is sisters, Johanna and Klara Söderberg’s second album which, was recorded in Spring 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska. Produced by Mike Mogis who has worked with the likes of Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis and Monsters of folk, The Loin’s Road is a feast of Americana, with some country twinges on the side and is a full band effort.


The girls' father Benkt is on bass, Mattias Bergqvist drums, while Mogis and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes, together with, a host of Omaha-based musicians fill the record with glorious music. Album closer 'King of the World' features the Felice Brothers, and local hero Conor Oberst, appears on the last verse.


A quality record all the way through, the Girl’s really do sound like American natives, I am not sure why that is but, the Scandinavian accents, really give the vocals depth and strength when singing Americana tunes.  First Aid Kit have definitely been to the Americana and country scene for inspiration and really acknowledge that on ‘Emmylou’.


The girls I heard over the weekend are still not old enough to order a drink at a bar, that being the case, they surely have a long career ahead of them!






1. The Lion’s Roar 

2. Emmylou 

3. In The Hearts Of Men 

4. Blue 

5. This Old Routine 

6. To A Poet 

7. I Found A Way 

8. Dance To Another Tune 

9. New Year’s Eve 

10. King Of The World 



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Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero’s new record was not that highly anticipated in my musical world. They burst onto the scene with their undoubted guitar sensibilities and magnificent inter-action with the acoustic version of the instrument, a while ago and whilst it was mesmerising for a time, you really did start to know what to expect next. Scratch that big time now, C.U.B.A. is an unexpected but very welcome triumph and really shows that this pair are prepared to push the boundaries towards new horizons.  

The songs are favourite tunes from their own catalogue re-arranged and recorded in Havana with a 13-piece Cuban orchestra.   I guess we could drop a few points because we are not talking new material here but, the songs have such a (new) life and variation from the originals that they seem new anyway.


Cuba itself is a wonderful island to visit with a rich musical heritage but, if you can’t get there, Rodrigo y Gabriela will be bringing the band C.U.B.A. to the UK in February. I think most shows are now sold out but, if you can get a ticket somewhere, then grab it and let the sun shine in, on your winter world.







Santo Domingo              




Master Maqui            

Diablo Rojo            


Juan Loc      



UK Dates 

O2 Academy Glasgow (February 21)

Manchester HMV Ritz (22)

O2 Academy Brixton (24)

The Stealers are on the Angry Badger record label, which blasts ‘Classic Rock’ 2012 style from it’s home in Southampton. The Stealers are no exception, to this style with their four track ep.  

Opener ‘Crazy Days’ is the ‘rocker’ in a Thin Lizzy, Pouges, Strokes type way. The remaining three songs edge towards AOR but are nice songs for all that.


No re-invention of the wheel here but, if it’s your type of music, you will be satisfied and eager to hear more.





Crazy days

Fade Away

Summer 08





Buy here 

Angry Badger Records 

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