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 



What do you think of this record? Let us know here

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 

The next great hope for ‘Rock n Roll’ comes from Minneapolis, Minnesota in the shape of Howler, with ‘Give Up America’ 

It is a great record, it’s full of energy, sing-a-long songs that even, could become anthems, but at the end of the day, the record just drips of the Strokes. There is nothing wrong with that, don’t get me wrong, other than lacking originality I suppose. The only worry as I sit writing this, is, that I am humming’ New York City Cops’


The album even coming out at a Stroke like punching 30 odd minutes, will keep the band busy on the live circuit all year, let’s just hope that they can build their own unique reputation during that time. This album will certainly be on many a car stereo during 2012!





   Beach Sluts

   Back To The Grave

   This One's Different


   Too Much Blood

   Wailing (Making Out)

   Pythagorean Fearem

   Told You Once

   Back Of Your Neck

   Free Drunk

   Black Lagoon

A really delightful album is heading your way from Mary Lorson & The Soubrettes. It’s called BurnBabyBurn' (no relation to the Ash song) Mary Lorson who handles vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion (phew!) began her career twenty years ago as the lead singer of the noisepop band Madder Rose., was it really that long ago???

The songs on BurbbabyBurn are just lovely. Lorson has added standup bass and subtle banjo provided by Ameila Sauter and Leah Houghtallng. Described as  a “sort of a hybrid theatre piece/indie rock record” the songs on BurnBabyBurn are just lovely, Lorson has added standup bass and subtle banjo provided by Amelia Sauter  and Leah Houghtaling.

Opener ‘Busboy’ has gentle piano and you can hear the’ theatre’ element when the piano is involved. Mary’s voice is pure velvet. Guitar drive ‘Manclub’ and that velvet voice expands even further on ‘Lately’ ‘River has (we love) a banjo and an Americana rhythm. So as you can see the album is very varied in style. It’s a long way from Madder Rose as you would expect. BurnBabyBurn’s eleven songs just drift by. A record for the car, a lazy Sunday morning or just to lift your sprits. Sit back, shut your eyes and listen to 'Only One Number 2' you won't regret it!








Bubble of Pretend


Crystal Ball

Only One Number 2

These Police

Let 'Em Eat Little Debbie Cakes

I Don't Care

BurnBabyBurn is released on 13th February 2012 (An ideal Valentines gift!)

Guided by Voices are back (I think) with the original line up of Kevin Fennell, Robert Pollard, Tobin Sprout, Greg Demos and Mitch Mitchell. I am presuming the band are back, they were in line to headline the ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror’ Event at Alexandra Palace in May but then, pulled out because they had broken up, now, we have a new record! 

It’s the first album of new material from this lineup of the band for fifteen years and first impressions are very favourable, indeed it struck me as very much like early days REM. The songs are fresh, alive and interesting.


During their own early days GBV were at the point of many bands today, financing their music by way of their day jobs, self-releasing five albums between 1987 and 1992; Their fifth album ‘Propeller’, found them a record label and 1994's Bee Thousand was their, lo-fi breakthrough.


The band’s career is well documented and they have always had a hardcore of support so, the on-off nature of the band is well expected, the new material though was a welcome surprise.


From the psychedelic start of Laundry & Lasers with trademark sonic guitar, via lovely Strings on the Peter Gabriel like 'Hang Mr Kite' to the Big Star ish 'The Unsinkable Fat's Domino' the album is pure Guided For Voices. I guess the nearest touchstone today to GBV, if you don't know the band is, The Flaming Lips. So let's get out there and buy this record, it will certainly brighten up your January day!


We have to hope this is the start of a new lease for life for the band and that live dates will eventually follow.







1. Laundry and Lasers 

2. The Head 

3. Doughnut For A Snowman 

4. Spiderfighter 

5. Hang Mr. Kite 

6. God Loves Us 

7. The Unsinkable Fats 

8. Domino 

9. The Big Hat and Toy Show 

10. Imperial Racehorsing 

11. How I Met My Mother 

12. Waves 

13. My Europa 

14. Chocolate Boy 

15. The Things That Never Need 

16. Either Nelson 

17. Cyclone Utilities (Remember Your Birthday) 

18. Old Bones 

19. Go Rolling Home 

20. The Room Taking Shape 

21. We Won't Apologize For The Human Race 

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!



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