The Mickey Finn are one of those cult 60s Mod bands shrouded in mystery who have yet to enjoy a retrospective of their own – until now! They started life as Mickey Finn & The Blue Men on ska label Blue Beat, coinciding with the craze for Jamaican music which exploded in 1964. A shift to Oriole saw them gravitate to an R&B/beat sound, with help on occasion from a guitarist named Jimmy Page. Further singles in 1965/1966, the Shel Talmy-produced ‘The Sporting Life’ and ‘I Do Love You’, revealed their skill at soulful ballads. In 1967, they unleashed one of the finest nuggets of the British psych era, ‘Garden Of My Mind’, on the Direction label.
Austin and Elliott is comprised of singer/songwriters Christopher Thomas Elliott and Lisa Austin. Combining folk and rock influences, their dark but catchy original songs combine bracing harmonies, thought-provoking lyrics, and driving acoustic guitar work.Influences? Think duos like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Richard and Linda Thompson, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Richard and Mimi Farina, the Handsome Family and Timbuk 3. The more you listen, you’ll hear: Natalie Merchant, Bob Dylan, the Decemberists, REM, Robyn Hitchcock, Randy Newman, the Pogues, Pixies, James McMurtry, Todd Snider, Grace Slick, and more.
This Path Tonight is the new studio album and collection of 10 original songs from Graham Nash. Produced by Shane Fontayne, this is Nash’s first solo record of new music in fourteen years. The album is one of reflection and transition of a singer-songwriter whose career (the Hollies, CSN, CSNY) has spanned more than five decades and counting.
“What a pleasure it was recording this album,” says Graham Nash. “Shane and I had written 20 songs in a month and recorded them in eight days. The music has a different feel to my earlier albums although I hear echoes of each one. This journey of mine was one of self-discovery, of intense creation, of absolute passion.”
One of folk’s brightest young talents sets aside traditional balladry for a self-written third album centred on young love and the exuberance and shadows of twentysomething life. Maz O’Connor swoops up and down the scales with the elan of early Joni Mitchell (though her voice comes with an edge), and pieces like A Winter’s Blues and A Quiet Word roll with the ease of an able guitarist, with producer Jim Moray shading the moods with cello, pedal steel and trumpet. O’Connor shows her mastery on two songs based on paintings. Jane Grey takes the part of the doomed queen of Delaroche, while Greenwood Side gives voice to Millais’s Ophelia, remarking of Hamlet, “he would leave but a shadow behind”.
“Brand new release of a set of home recordings made by John Hartford and fiddling legend Howdy Forrester. This recording preserves a repertoire of many rare, old Hickman County, Tennessee, tunes that Howdy had learned as a boy from his Great Uncle, Bob Cates. Hartford plays banjo, Forrester fiddles, and the two share informal discussion about the tunes and their sources.” — John Fabke
It’s hard to believe that Balance The Light is Dropkick’s 14th album. The East Coast Scots certainly don’t sound (or look) like grizzled veterans of the rock’n’roll world while the album is as fresh as a daisy and brimming with energy. Over the course of 16 years they’ve gathered a well deserved reputation as purveyors of power pop and sunny jangled country tinged rock, an idiom that we rain sodden Scots seem to do well in (see Teenage Fanclub, Daniel Wylie, Attic Lights) while they are, to paraphrase Tom Waits, “big in Spain.”
Cheap Star’s dreamy vocals and urgent guitars pick up where the Posies left off in the search for the perfect guitar pop, and also visit the Country for some lovely acoustic songs with a tiny drop of Nashville twang. Their current step puts them more in line with heartache of Mssrs Chilton, Bell & Parsons….might be time to change the name to ” Big Burrito”!
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