Portman’s ability to weave new songs from old yarns, unveiled on her 2010 debut The Glamoury, is maintained with verve on this follow-up. Again the Northumberland-based singer mixes antique folk with myth and touches of magical realism, as in Hinge of the Year – inspired by Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus – a new year’s tale with “vodka, wine and blood in the gutters”. Portman’s ethereal vocals work well enough alone but are best showcased by the cello and viola accompaniments of Sleeping Beauty and Ash Girl, both reminders that faerie land can be a dark and brooding realm. Marvellous.
Regrettably, with their final effort, San Francisco, American Music Club went out with a whimper, not a bang. An undeveloped, erratic collection of songs, the record suffers under the weight of overly slick, commercial arrangements, and production which renders tracks like “It’s Your Birthday,” “Wish the World Away,” and “Hello Amsterdam” as bland alterna-rock; only the effervescent “Can You Help Me?” manages to absorb and transcend its glossy pop veneer. Still, Mark Eitzel goes down swinging, conjuring a handful of haunting gems — the best cuts on San Francisco, from the luminous opener “Fearless.” to the achingly tender “The Thorn in My Side Is Gone,” are also the most simple; AMC never needed adornment, just a sympathetic ear.
Coffin Up Blood,is a combination of Americana, Alt. Country, JUG-Rock, Blues, and Florida Swamp-Noir.Every nuance of the band’s distinctive sound is here. Most bands might use a jug, harmonica, wash tub bass, mandolin, or washboard as a single effect in a song here or there, but with The Bloody Jug Band, those are just some of the band members’ primary instruments, and they can be prominently heard, without taking away from the rest of the song.
The album is again dominated by O’Hooley’s inventive piano playing, first heard when she was with the Unthanks, but here she also adds accordion, while the occasional backing is provided mostly by strings. To this the duo add their finest harmony singing to date, particularly on the unaccompanied tracks: the Irish ballad She Lived Beside […]
GP is American singer-songwriter Gram Parsons’ debut solo album. Working with a crack band of L.A. and Nashville’s finest (including James Burton on guitar, Ronnie Tutt on drums, Byron Berline on fiddle, and Glen D. Hardin on piano). Mastered from the original master tapes, and going far beyond the multiple digital reissues that never opened […]
Small Sur’s sound is composed of tidy layers of ambiance that are both robust and beautiful. The sustain pedal on Abelow’s electronic keyboard is key. The aesthetic most closely resembles droopy artists such as Will Oldham, Dolorean, and the Red House Painters, bands that require a serious commitment to sit, think, and not nod off […]