FolkWorld #51 07/2013

CD & DVD Reviews

John Wilkes Boothe and the Black Toothe "S/T"
Own label; 2013

www.johnwilkesbootheandtheblacktoothe.bandcamp.com

Now here is a combination that was practically designed for me—psychedelic folk merged into southern murder ballads. This Asheville, North Carolina trio has fine command of dark folk songs, sung and played with energy and heart. Their harmonies and even some of the song stylings remind me of Forest, a very fine band whose style I do not often hear in newer bands. The guitar playing is more than just strumming, as they have passages that mobilize the melodies and create intriguing bridges. And of course, these are not all murder ballads, per se, as they blend light and dark themes using elliptical imagery an odd themes. There are even some rock moments to liven things up. Variety is the spice of life. This is creative music that is easy on the ear and will reward you as you give it many relistens and it is worth so much more than the ‘free’ price tag they put on it.
© David Hintz


Cam Penner "To Build a Fire"
Own label; 2013

www.campenner.com

What begins as almost an instrumental progressive album quickly moves into the more familiar sound of highly personal folk music. There is a fascinating blend of lush instrumentation and simple ukuleles, banjos, and guitars. Cam Penner’s chilling voice directs the course of the song. And that course travels many paths from western blues clubs to Appalachian trails or from a New England coffee house to a rural Southern porch. The songs are fully up to the interesting arrangements and skillful playing. Penner should be a favorite of just about every modern or old school folk fan, provided they get one good listen to his songs. He will pull you into his world immediately. With lines like “I miss Memphis more than Tennessee and I miss Texas more than it misses me”, you get the idea.
© David Hintz


Anne Marie Almedal "Memory Lane"
Proper, 2013

www.annemariealmedal.com

There is great tradition at the heart of this album. It is easy to imagine Almedal listening to Anne Briggs or Bridget St. John albums in her youth, especially on an album called “Memory Lane”. She still manages to bring a fresh vitality to it all, and it does not sound dated in the slightest. She has a cadre of excellent players with guitars, keyboards, some nice strings, and the always excellent ever present Danny Thompson on bass. Although this comes from Norway, these songs seem quite global, aside from maybe the slightest of icy ethereal tones. The album plays through well enough, but make sure you stay with it for the closer, “The Wanderers”, as that has an epic musical scope, yet still retains a heartfelt folk song at its core. There is some real quality here.
© David Hintz


The Mike Eldred Trio “61/49"
Rip Cat Records, 2013

German CD Review

www.mikeeldredtrio.com

Although this has all the trappings of a straightforward blues band format, I was pleased to hear some nice original rock songs. “Mr. Newman” is almost a pop song, but it rocks out smartly, with a nice bluesy guitar solo taking it to fade-out. I wish there were a few more like that. The album is all original, although heavily traditional blues riffs do prevail. The guitar work is strong and does invite me to the live set, more than a replay of the record.
© David Hintz


Southern Tenant Folk Union "Hello Cold Goodbye Sun"
Johnny Rock Records; 2013

www.southerntenantfolkunion.com

A mournful violin sets the tone for this fifth album of this fine Edinburgh collective. All the usual acoustic folk instruments work their way in to these mostly dark, soul stirring folk songs. Male and female voices alternate leads, reminding me of the delicate nature of a band called Presence from many years back. Yet it is the modern crazed arrangement of something like “Crash” that really sticks in my mind. This album varies things between these extremes in various deftly executed ways, displaying a crafty and creative approach that not too many bands are capable of.
© David Hintz


Dave McPherson "Dreamoirs"
Graphite Records; 2013

www.dave-mcpherson.co.uk

This album is more in the indie rock category than folk, although there is quite a bit of acoustic guitar amidst the strings and electric instruments. You may know Dave McPherson as the leader of the British band InMe. This solo effort has some high quality big production moments, such as that on the appropriately named “Her Majesty’s Prism” as the sounds bend and twist into large building kettledrum like bursts. The vocal mannerisms remind me a bit of Muse, although this music is not quite up for the arena. And that is as planned, as this has a personal approach to it all. If the mainstream gloss does not bother you, there are some fine songs here. But somewhere on Side 2 (or songs six through 10) it did get a little tiring.
© David Hintz


Tylan "{One True Thing}"
Own label; 2013

www.tylanmusic.com

Tylan is actually Tylan Greenstein, perhaps more familiar to you in her group known as Girlyman.[48] This solo effort has folk and country elements with plenty of pop sensibilities. Her voice is rich and expressive and the songs all develop their themes in clear and controlled manner. There are some instrumental surprises, which help me dig in more deeply such as those on “St. Stephen”. I wished for more moments like this and often I felt I needed more of that to fully appreciate this album. But then, I surrendered to its straightforward charm and execution and found a simple, direct album of 12 heartfelt songs. And her voice is just too good to ignore. I can’t argue against that.
© David Hintz


Eric Bogle with John Munro "A Toss of the Coin"
Greentrax, 2013

www.ericbogle.net

68 years young, Eric Bogle continues to bring out the folk music. Scottish born, but living in Australia for all but through the early part of his adult life, he plays straight up folk music that has elements of at least three continents deeply embedded. His voice is aged, but is still ripe and filled with emotion and experience. John Munro helps on guitar, mandolin, and a few other strings, while he has a full band and some excellent violin playing by Emma Luker. Although these are mostly original songs, along with a few by Munro and others, this has a traditional feel throughout. The band often lays down a swaying feel, something between a slow sea shanty and a waltz. Yet there is still room for some social/political criticism such as that in “Home is the Hero”. But if you like your folk straight up, no chaser, with a smart laidback band who lets the veteran do his thing, then you can do no wrong here.
© David Hintz


Black Jake and the Carnies "Watching Waiting" [EP]
Own label; 2013

Article: Instrumental Fury

www.blackjakeandthecarnies.com

This is a five song EP that is as deep in the woods as most of us will never be. It is foot stomping bluegrass folk with even a gypsy feel now and then due mostly with the fiddling. There is a bit of Pogues attitude here with music that is just a bit crazier than that of the Black Twig Pickers. I was not sure what to make of this as it opened, but by the end of the fifth song, I was out of my chair, bopping around the room to the uptempo riffs. They are from Ypsilanti, Michigan (far more fun to say than to visit), home of Eastern Michigan University, but you can see shadows of this band at the porch of the most broken down farmhouse 100 miles from where you live.
© David Hintz


Jann Klose "Mosaic"
3 Frames Music; 2013

www.jannklose.com

This is similar to the classic singer songwriter era with just enough of a modern indie rock feel worked into the style. Still, the soul and folk rock feeling owes quite a bit to the early works of Elton John, Jackson Browne, and Tim Buckley. There are some moments of bombastic 1980s guitar battling soaring vocals such as in "Long Goodbye" that may be a bit over the top, but this will still cut it with some. I prefer the more introspective moments with acoustic guitars and electric embellishment where Klose gives his range a workout. Make no mistake about it, this is classic mainstream music that would have climbed those radio charts quite easily many decades back (and still may). There is still an authenticity and strong talent at work that makes this a nice diversion from the twists and turns in the indie world. Jann Klose brings back those good memories of sharing mainstream rock and pop with childhood friends. His quality wins the day with this release, and if you need any proof of the confidence he has in his voice, just know that he covers Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” to close out the album. Anyone who can bring that off will win me over, and he did it.
© David Hintz


Over the Ocean "Be Given to the Soil"
Spartan Records; 2013

Like when Fred Neil opened his album with 'Dolphins' so many decades before, Over the Ocean starts off with a deep and contemplative look at 'Herons'. It may be rooted in the Fred Neil style, but sounds more in the newer Bill Callahan/Richard Buckner interpretation. After that folkier beginning, you get everything from hard psychedelic rock to lo-fi spaced out, tripped out folk music thereafter. I hear approaches to the sort of Scandanavian psychedelia of an Algarnas Tradgard or International Harvester, although there is not quite the ethereal qualities of those epics. But there is a strong control of dynamics at work with deep folk and hard psychedelia. At times, there is also a Lou Reed 'Berlin' style dreariness which I rather like, although it can be a bit too down for some listeners. But there is good exploration at work here, sonically and emotionally, and these are the types of journeys I want to take when I put an album on. “Obscene” showcases the full panorama of their sound. Although I am familiar with the sounds here, I don't know what is around each corner as I take the turn into these dark alleyways. Even when the songs go on a bit much, this is a fresh approach to forms that I listen to frequently and this record will warrant further exploration.
© David Hintz


Josh Rouse "The Happiness Waltz"
Yep Roc, 2013

www.joshrouse.com

Simply stated, this is soft and focused singer songwriter material. Yet there is a breezy nature even as Josh Rouse sings his heartfelt lyrics. Try as I might, I cannot get Josh Ritter out of my head as a comparison point. And although obviously the same first name is the reason, there is a similarity here if you add a touch of Kenny Rankin and Dan Fogelberg as well. It takes some skill and confidence to soften the tones when you arrange and sing your material and still create interesting songs that people want to explore with you. Josh Rouse has succeeded here far more than not with many songs that will be worth revisiting for careful listens (Try “The Ocean”). And if you just want to float away with the relaxed atmosphere, you can do that as well. Although you will enter deeper places in your thoughts, than you may have anticipated at the outset.
© David Hintz


Underhill Rose "Something Real"
Own label; 2013

www.underhillrose.com

Although this female trio leans far too deep in the country territory at times, more often it recalls a deep Appalachian rooted folk bluegrass combination that the Coen brothers helped remind people of some years back in "Oh Brother, Where Aren't Though". This has that lost rural folk vibe where you imagine Alan Lomax taking old cowpaths to small out of the way hamlets featuring local musicians who make music for their own pleasure. These North Carolina ladies are able to bring out pleasure, both with their great sense of melody and also with delicate phrasing that employs more restraint than power. Add the fine dynamics throughout, and all the songs build a sturdy foundation. This is the kind of record to stay with for all thirteen songs, as the magic slowly unfolds over time. The atmosphere may seem simple, but there is great care here in its construction. This one surprised me and I am glad I let each of the songs pull me further into their world as the album progressed.
© David Hintz


Wax Mannequin "No Safe Home"
Zunior; 2013

www.waxmannequin.com

This album starts out on a high level and stays there throughout the ten songs. There are variances along the way, but the overall breezy, relaxed nature of the mood is sustained with a steady pace. The delicate bass and drums are felt more than heard giving a rare groove to folk music and allowing the guitar and low-key vocals to stay light but intense at all times. There is something very tricky going on here as these guys make this sound far easier than it is. Actually, this band is the work of Canadian Chris Adeney, but he has hired a good cast of characters to assist him here. This is music to smile to, as you sway back and forth to the easy beat. These guys have great skills, whether they are aware of it or not, and they have created a fun and engaging album of music that is as light as cotton candy, but makes for a fulfilling main course.
© David Hintz


Haight Ashbury "3: Perhaps?"
Lime Records; 2013

www.haight-ashbury.co.uk

If you are into dreampop and lighter shoegaze music, this album is worth your investigation. The female vocals float in the air drifting in and out of the foggy wash of musical layers formed from steady rhythms, keyboards, and various electronic effects. The electric guitar also kicks in strong enough to form well-structured rock songs. They even sound like the Jesus and Marychain at times, with the amps a little bit below eleven thankfully. I am not sure what this is doing in Folkworld, as you can’t stretch this into Folk by even the most liberal definition, but I am happy to have it, as it is a long and smart rock album with lush production and some highly interesting songs. This Glasgow based band could make it in a big way.
© David Hintz


Iamthemorning "iamthemorning"
Own label; 2012

iamthemorningband.bandcamp.com

Speaking of lush, from St. Petersburg comes this strings, keyboards and female vocals led album that leans far more to classic progressive music than that of new age. There are some pop melodies and it reminds me a bit of Renaissance with more delicate vocals. The music has that classical music with modern pop and rock moves woven in. What really is intriguing is the similarities this bears to cult folk-progsters, Carol of Harvest. Anyone who has heard that lone album should be interested by now. This may not be up to those lofty heights, but the breathy vocals and thicker sounding songs fit into that heavy style as well as anything I’ve heard in the last few decades. And there is just enough folkiness at the core for the crossover fans.
© David Hintz


Olaf Sickmann "New Living Room"
Timezone, 2013

If you are a John Renbourn fan, then you may want to give this fine finger stylist a try. His guitar playing has that clean precision of John Renbourn, although he does not vary the songs as much and stays in a range more similar to that of Al Petteway. This is fine company to keep and the playing is continually flowing, expressive, showing skill and just enough emotion to make it all worthwhile—even for the more part-time acoustic guitar fans. This is all instrumental without a lot of trickery, except that of which happens naturally after years and years of practice.
© David Hintz


Rik van den Bosch & The Dandies
"Rik van den Bosch & The Dandies"
Own label; 2013

www.rikvandenbosch.com

This album has that down and dirty rural folk feeling, but adds plenty of rock pace and even a ripping electric guitar solo at times. The vocals are nasal and stretch into the melodies with ease as the guitars and rhythm section keep things lively. Rik van den Bosch may be from the Netherlands, but he and his band capture the American south as good as anyone. He did spend some time as a youngster travelling from New Orleans to New York and clearly took good musical notes. This is a fun album through and through, and they even close with a delicately finger picked folk instrumental, which could fit in on most any folk album.
© David Hintz


JC and the Supernumeraries
"For What You Seek (You will Find)"
Village Bike Records; 2013

www.jcgrimshaw.com

Speaking of southwestern US rural folk, this album continues down that dusty path, even as the band is from England. The band, led by JC Grimshaw, does have international flair and carries itself with chins up and eyes focused on ways to bring out the fun times of this bluesy rockabilly-lite folk rock. They do take some side paths into deeper darker terrain similar to that of some of the dark Denver folk with a vocalist similar to Baltimore’s Adam Trice (Red Sammy). This is one you want to stay with the whole way, because even as the vocal style stays in a fairly tight range, the music carefully moves around into different spaces. And check out the title cut and “Black Pearl Necklace” for two long and fascinating musical journeys.
© David Hintz


Susan James "Driving Toward the Sun"
Own label; 2013

German CD Review

www.susanjamesmusic.com

Even before the steel guitar warbled its way into the mix, the country roots were loud and clear. Susan James does have a fine voice and there are a few songs that seem to have something working well with melodies and story telling. This works best is when there are folkier moments, such as that on “Tule Fog”. Otherwise, this is a little bit too straight up country (or at least that California brand of country rock) for me. But her talent is there and she should have a solid audience for this material, especially as she has previously worked with such names as DJ Bonebrake and Tommy Stinson.
© David Hintz


The Incredible String Band "1968 – Live at the Fillmore"
Hux Records, 2013

First, here is my resume with regard to the Incredible String Band: I own all 12 studio albums; 5 live albums; one biography; a complete set of magazines devoted to the band (700 pages or so); over 30 solo albums of band members; the ‘Be Glad’ film; two tribute records; and two concerts featuring all three founding members in different combinations. Obviously it was exciting to see this live recording released, but as with even my favorite bands, my first question is whether I really need another live album and will I listen to it more than once? Not only is the answer yes, but I would also say that you could actually introduce newcomers to this legendary band by playing this album. First, it is recorded at the perfect time with “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter” released and “Wee Tam/The Big Huge” to come. They even play “Ducks on a Pond” and “Maya” in this ten song set, even though they were unknown to the crowd. There also is an unrecorded oddity “Pig Went Walking” which is worth getting. And if you like Robin Williamson’s “October Song”, they this ten minute version is a must with Mike Heron’s fine sitar work pushing this into jam song territory. There is even a missing section as the tape ran out during the recording (although I hear that this is still longer than versions on some bootlegged recordings). There are no weak spots in these songs as this profound duo is living in their prime of life and creativity. It is nice to have one more document attesting to that.
© David Hintz


Floatstone "Meet Floatstone"
Own label; 2013

www.floatstone.be

Although this singer songwriter folk guitarist hails from Belgium, his folk music is as universal as it comes. His English lyrics are witty and thoughtful, while his singing style is warm, but with a little bite to it. The acoustic guitar has the sharper bite as the strings are struck with focus and energy and create a sharp and powerful resonance to this music. He adds some interesting percussion at times and plays everything himself. This is folk music for now with all the antecedents there deep within, but fresh and brimming with clarity. Hopefully Floatstone can continue to tour the globe and get more people interested in his music. He is a fine member of the world folk scene.
© David Hintz


Jason MacDonald "Got a Ways to go"
Own label; 2013

www.jasonmacdonald.com

This Cape Breton folkie has an interesting style that is firmly between energetic agitator and mournful storyteller. It is an interesting high wire act that works extremely well on the better songs like “Old Town” and “Loon on the Lake”. His warm style and full band arrangements will easily pull you in. Whether you stay, will depend on how well you can walk the walk with him and get into his songs. I will need a few more listens to know for sure, but there are a few compelling songs to devote some more time to.
© David Hintz


Maxim Cormier "Maxim Cormier"
Own label; 2012

German CD Review

www.maximcormier.com

Here is yet another Cape Breton musician showing off his folk skills on acoustic guitar. Yet there are electric and eclectic touches to these instrumental and mostly Celtic traditionals. He sometimes does it alone and other times, gets some help from fiddle and mandolin among others. It is mostly fast paced and has a lush comfortable feeling generated, but nothing too overtly deep, just well played and melodic.
© David Hintz


Jennifer Leonhardt "Songs my Mother Sang"
Grassroots Records; 2013

www.jenniferleonhardt.com

This is an album of traditional American folk songs, with a frequent Appalachian feeling. Fans of Karen Dalton and Jean Ritchie should take note. You get many standards you know such as “May the Circle Be Unbroken” and “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” along with others less familiar. This also reminds me a lot of Anne Briggs with a preference toward a cappella versions, yet including several light band arrangements to give some added variety. One difference here with that of some of the famous older albums is that most songs have well developed harmonies with two female voices. There are some fascinating arrangements, including “Joshua and Moses” which almost delves into wyrdfolk. Normally, I may wonder if it is terribly important to seek out new traditional albums like this, but surprisingly enough, very few people do a decent job of this, that when something sounds as timeless as this with just a dash of modern flourish, it is worth seeking out.
© David Hintz


Noel Peterson "Humility"
Own label; 2011

www.noelpeterson.com

Noel Peterson presents ten songs here that have an even balance between rock, folk, and maybe even some pop moves, all done in an indie fashion with a full band and strong sound. The production is quite good—check out the startling guitar ending in “Erase it All”. That is the sort of contrast that livens up steady rock songs. I wish there was a little more of it, but what is here on these ten songs is well worth a listen. Peterson has an earnest style and quiet intensity as he delivers his songs. He easily slots in with the modern indie rock scene. There is plenty of interest here for music fans across the spectrum.
© David Hintz


The Penny Black Remedy "Inhale…
Exhale… OK, Now You Can Panic!"
Soundinistas; 2013

www.thepennyblackremedy.com

Although you may be able to file this under ska-punk, that just limits the interesting variety of music here. “I’ve Got this Friend” has vibrant horns amidst worldly folk moves and worldbeats, electric guitar bursts, all showcased with a catchy melody. “Putting the Mental in Sentimentality” has a flow and energy that approaches the Ruts covering Dick Dale—I would love to hear more songs from any band that can pull that off. What works really well here, is that even when electric sounds are in play, there is a worldly folk, light gypsy feeling that is more broad based and would appeal to any fence sitters on this style of music. And although this is a band I would want to see live, this record has enough complexity to it, to warrant more relistens even if they never make it to my home town. Oh, and this is the first time I have heard Paul Slack on bass since I bought my 7” single “Warhead” by the UK Subs, so many decades ago. There may not quite be a bass line for the ages here, like there was on that song, but that is to be expected.
© David Hintz


The Plastic Pals "Turn the Tide"
Polythene Records; 2013

www.theplasticpals.se

This is pleasant rural folk rock with a little twang in the guitar, and a smooth well crooned vocal line. There is some decent blues based rock here and this goes down smoothly. Yet, I think the very word ‘plastic’ in their band name has a little too much meaning here than what I would like. There is some good material here, however, and many blues-rock fans would take to this music to some extent.
© David Hintz


Arthur Lee Land "Cracked Open"
Perfect Groove Records; 2013

www.arthurleeland.com

I am not sure even if my name was Arthur Lee, I would use that in full. But yes, this is Arthur Lee LAND, not the late singer songwriter of the immortal band, Love. So when we focus on music of Arthur Lee Land, the good news is that there is plenty to be admired here. There is a breezy west coast style, but with nimble mandolins and guitars along with crisp percussion, this relaxing music has just enough vivacious attitude to match the quiet charm of the vocals and melodies. Land plays most of the instruments here, and has a lot of skill in the technical ability and the choices he makes with the arrangements. The overall quality is dependent on the qualities of each song, most of which are at least quite good, although a few are too prosaic lyrically and musically. Still, a good effort worth a listen and the final cut has some highly inventive drone technique, which always keeps me interested.
© David Hintz


Bags of Rock "The Next Level"
Rolla Records; 2011

www.bagsofrock.com

Scottish traditional piping music infused with punk rock? This is not even the first time I have heard this sub-sub-sub genre. They add some dub rhythms and wah-wah guitar, so they play around with the rock forms, but the pipers wail away quite steadily. This is all instrumental and the sound quality is good, as the balance between pipes and rock music is just right. The familiar melody of “Whiskey in the Jar” works extremely well in this format. I had fun with this album, you either will or you won’t dependant on the genres you like.
© David Hintz


Jeff Pevar "From the Core"
Own label; 2012

www.pevar.com

In reading the back-story to this album prior to listening, it was a pretty safe assumption that the story was going to be better than the music. The good thing is that the music is still pretty good, if you like instrumental music toward the new age side of life. Jeff Pevar was not only given the opportunity to complete a soundtrack on the caves of Oregon, but he was then allowed to record his acoustic instruments in the caves themselves. He chose to take a guitar and a mandocello and just let the improvisations flow into these twelve songs. Then, he had many musical guests add various strings, reeds, and percussion to the base recordings. Most interestingly, on a whim, he wrote former Yes vocalist Jon Anderson as a fan to see if he wanted to add anything to this music. Jon Anderson wrote lyrics and even did his own recording to the tracks in a short time and returned the song which is presented here as “River of Dreams”. So Jon Anderson fans as well as melodic guitar fans will certainly take to this album.
© David Hintz


The Spin Doctors "If the River was Whiskey"
Ruf Records, 2013

www.spindoctors.com

This venerable band has been jamming away for many years now and have had their ups and downs, but considerable success along the way. This is their sixth studio album in their on/off 22-year history and it is a tasty straight-up blues effort. Whiskey is about right, although it’s the top shelf brand, as there is a smooth flow to this album, even as it dishes out the blues licks. The vocals are warm and tasty, the rhythms careful and intoxicating, with the guitar keeping it the blues throughout. Not a whole of jamming, aside from what you would expect in ten songs of normal length. If you are a fan, you should enjoy this album. If you are not, then you probably are not going to start now.
© David Hintz



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