Sean McGowan: Son Of The Smith

This came as a download and we thought it was Shane McGowan, drunken Pogue; we were not expecting the “cor blimey guv’nor” sound of the latest everyman poet McGowan clearly hopes to be. McGowan is a cross between sturdy man of the people Frank Turner and young voice of the streets Jamie T. His band […]

Ray LaMontagne: Part Of The Light

We’ve not heard much of LaMontagne — who was famously inspired to write music after waking up one morning to the radio playing a Stephen Stills song — since his debut Trouble, which was folk-based reflections on life and death. It sold 500,000 copies but we guess his subsequent albums did less well: his second […]

Jack Carty + Gus Gardiner: Hospital Hill

Hospital Hill is Jack Carty and Gus Gardiner, whom we could claim to know all about, if we lied. Never heard of them. Carty won the 2010 acoustic singer-songwriter of the year award at the National Music Oz Awards, while Gardiner was with Australian rock band Papa vs Pretty. Despite being limited by us never […]

Neil Young: Roxy Tonight’s The Night Live

This is a live release whose backstory is perhaps as interesting as the actual album. It was originally released as a record store day package, so more of a treat than essential listening, good as it is. The 1973 gig, the inaugural show at the Roxy in LA, was the first public performance of the […]

Aidan O’Rourke: 365 Volume One

Top marks for O’Rourke for inventiveness; he wrote a tune a day for a year, hence the title. The inspiration was James Robertson’s book 365, itself remarkable: a collection of 365 short stories, each with 365 words. O’Rourke is recording all 365 — 22 down, 343 to go after this — but only releasing the […]

Neil Young + Promise of the Real: Paradox

For parts of this movie soundtrack you think, “If Heineken did soundtracks…”; other parts are apparently men eating crisps in a field and playing guitar, so less so. Paradox is a film directed by Neil’s other half, Daryl Hannah. Its plot: Sometime in the future past, the “Man in the Black Hat” (Young), the “Particle […]

Courtney Marie Andrews: May Your Kindness Remain

Her previous albums have been noteworthy simply because she has a nice voice, and sometimes that’s all you need. This new one is deeper and slower, and while it takes more time to get used to — it’s not pop — it’s ultimately better. In a coincidental echo of the Basil Athanasiadis album (see this […]

Fatoumata Diawara: Fenfo Something To Say

We were never not going to like this: Diawara played with/on AfroCubism (the original idea of the Bueno Vista Social Club album) and with Benin’s Orchestre Poly Rythmo de Cotonou — two of our most-played world albums — as well as Herbie Hancock, and she combines the roots sound of the more traditional bands with […]

The Handsome Family: Through The Trees

This re-issue — it’s 20 years since The Handsome Family first released it — is bloody marvellous. Its basic sound could be 100 years old, a couple of (rather sinister) folks with beards and overalls making country music on a porch, but it’s got a modern feel and the lyrics are heartfelt; in fact, that’s […]

Finbar Furey: Don’t Stop This Now

If you’re into folk and associated genres, this is an album you must buy. Finbar Furey is an Irish legend, part of the Fureys. He toured and played hard, and life took its toll in 2013, when he had a near-fatal heart attack. He’s over it now (“A fella asked me if I had an […]