Category Archives: Americana



‘Slacker Americana’ from Kentucky / Chicago based State Champion, the bands new release Fantasy Error is out later this spring on Sophomore Lounge, both the bands previous releases are in my record collection and have featured on Beat Surrender, Stale Champagne in 2005 and Deep Shit in 2011, the new album is also available on vinyl too.

Clocking in at a vinyl optimum of 45 minutes the band have infused the critical elements of rock and alt-country into a wonderfully tumbledown creation, that shakes, rattles and rolls itself along a meandering musical path.

State Champion

State Champion / Facebook / Twitter / Sophomore Lounge

Michael Dean Damron – When the Darkness Come

When the Darkness Come is the latest release from Micheal Dean Damron which is set for release on the 24th of May. The former boxer, member of the 101st Airborne and frontman of punk-country band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House, brings to bear his life experiences to create an album of heavy gravitas on which he tackles personal demons, loss, death and advocates to the right of the US political spectrum; as well as his own songs there are a couple of covers Were Getting Closer to the Grave (Luke the Drifter,a.k.a. Hank Williams) and Am I The Only One Drinking Tonight ( Doug Stanhope and Mishka Shubaly).


Vanessa Peters – With The Sentimentals

Vanessa Peters - 'With The Sentimentals' - cover (300dpi)

Over the last twelve years Vanessa Peters has played more than a thousand shows in the US and across Europe, the Dallas based singer-songwriter releases today (May the 11th) a new collaborative album, With The Sentimentals, that was recorded  in tour time-outs during April & October of last year.

The ten-track release includes nine original songs from Vanessa and kicks off with a cover of Hem’s Pacific Street which along with all of the songs on the album was recorded  ‘live’ by  Vanessa together with husband and bandmate / producer Rip Rowan and The Sentimentals a Copenhagen based Americana band featuring  M.C. Hansen (guitars), Nikolaj Wolf (upright bass) and Jacob Chano (drums).

Vanessa Peters & The Sentimentals (2)

The Sentimentals have collaborated with Vanessa previously playing together on two trips to Denmark and one back in Vanessa’s home state of Texas though this is the first time they’ve got together to record, the album was created from two sessions that took place in studios located in the Danish countryside and without the need for overdubs:

“The Sentimentals are a really fluid, organic band, and they work well like that – they like to do two, three takes of a song, and then move on and that gave the album this lovely, cozy, laid-back feel,” explains Vanessa.

Three of tracks are re-workings of songs from Vanessa’s excellent back catalogue (previously on Beat Surrender) and the prolific songwriter is already working on new material for an album tentatively slated for release this towards the end of this year.

The plaintive opening cover track fits well with Vanessa’s songwriting style and vocal, the piano of the Hem original replaced by guitar with the result sounding a little more uplifting and reminiscent of Fields of Gold, the first of the new tracks Call You All The Time continues with the melancholy through the lyrics but juxtaposed against a livelier country shuffle back-beat, the first of the three re-worked tracks is next up, Big Time Underground which originally appeared on the 2006 album Little Films (recorded with Ice Cream on Mondays) along with Fireworks which also appears later on this release, in both cases the ‘new’ arrangements are stronger and suit the songs better, the remaining re-worked track is Afford To Pretend which was originally recorded for the 2006 EP, The Blackout.  

The album has a dynamic borne from the two separate recording sessions and the old v new material but maintains a sense of fluidity too – the songs are trademark Vanessa Peters, melodic, thoughtful and heartfelt and this latest album can only win her music more fans.


Vanessa Peters / Facebook / Twitter

The Barker Band – The Land We Hold Dear

The Barker Band return with their sixth album The Land We Hold Dear,  the band took time out with their plans due to the sad loss in April 2012 of one of bands founder members  Lenny Barker, the father of band members Jake (vocals, banjo, mandolin) and Sam (vocal, banjo, mandolin, guitar).

Lenny was a huge inspiration to the band and it was through his record collection and encouragement that the twin brothers diverse musical influences developed, listening to everything from the Carter Family to Black Sabbath, the featured track above is one of the last tracks he played on and the brothers felt it was the only right to dedicate the bands new album and pay tribute, in  Jakes words;

“His loss has left a big hole in the band and we wanted to honour him with this album. We poured our heart and soul into it, and for good measure we also put a heavy dose of banjo in there … it is what he would have wanted,”

“We wrote ‘Don’t Fear The End’ in honour of our dad Lenny,” adds Sam. “We very much stuck by the ethos we have always had when recording a new album; of surrounding ourselves with good friends and family and even enlisting the help of our friends in other bands. Hackney based blues/folk band ‘The Ramshackle Union’ join us on the track ‘Didn’t Leave For Sea’ “

The band have being playing and recording since 2004, alongside founding members Jake and Sam are Laurie Sherman (guitar) with Nella Johnson (vocals), Tom Wright (bass), Ru Sheeve (drums) and Simon Cohen (fiddle).


The Land We Hold Dear was record entirely in analogue with most of the work being done at London’ Soup Studies, and there was a trip across the North Sea where the band added backing vocals to tracks The Fishing Song Part 2 and Leave My Bonny courtesy of the Storm Weather Shanty Choir a six piece Norwegian shanty band which fits perfectly alongside the great songwriting, powerful lead and sibling harmonies, blending genres creatively the result is a triumph and a fitting honour to fallen band member.

Highly recommended.

The Barker Band / Facebook / Twitter

Annabelle Chvostek – UK May Tour – Be The Media

Annabelle Chvostek (solo #1, 2015, photo by Ximena Griscti)

Annabelle Chvostek is a Juno nominated singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based out of Toronto and Montreal.

Her fifth solo recording, Be The Media, may take some by surprise. After releasing two albums with Canada’s foremost folk label, Borealis Records, Annabelle has gone back to her independent roots, picked up a 1957 Kay electric guitar, and is releasing a new recording in collaboration with NY producer Jeff Oehler of Beehive Productions, drummer Tony Spina and bassist Jérémie Jones.

Be The Media takes an unconventional approach featuring Beehive’s signature ‘live-off-the-floor’ feel. The songs were recorded live with the trio in a tight knit circle in the acoustic ambience of an old century home. Additional parts were recorded later in Montréal and Montevideo. Her 2008 album Resilience placed a meticulously crafted vocal style under the microscope. In this new album, Annabelle’s voice is given free reign to let loose with songs that express raw emotions and a groove that tends more towards rock ‘n’ roll than conventional roots.

Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Annabelle’s musical career began at the age of eight when she began performing with the Canadian Children’s Opera Chorus. While pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts at Concordia University she released two recordings, One AM to Five AM (1997), a 4-song EP put out on cassette featuring Annabelle solo on acoustic guitar, and Full Stop (2000), her first full length album, in which she experiments with electronic music. In 2003 she released the jazz-fuelled Water and in 2005, the raw, angst-ridden EP Burned My Ass, featuring Annabelle on violin and guitar. All four recordings were self-produced and self-released under the label MQGV (Massive Quantities of Good Vibes).

In 2006 Annabelle joined the Wailin’ Jennys and toured the world with their award winning album Firecracker, in which she wrote four songs. Upon leaving the Jennys, she released Resilience (2008), co-wrote two songs with Canadian legend Bruce Cockburn on his Juno winning album A Small Source of Comfort (2011), and put out Rise (2013), an unabashedly political album inspired by the wave of grassroots uprisings that emerged all over the world from the Occupy Movement in New York to the G20 protests in Toronto in 2011. Rise was nominated for a Juno Award in the Roots and Traditional Album of the Year category, and both Rise and Resilience were nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

In the last year Annabelle composed and produced a score for NYC-based dance company Drastic Action and collaborated with Toronto’s Echo Women’s Choir, a 93-voice choir that performed songs from her album Rise in a packed Trinity St. Paul’s Church. She also toured in the UK, Western Europe, and the Canadian Prairies and became a mom to her daughter, Anaïs Lou.

Annabelle Chvostek – May 2015 UK Tour
with Jérémie Jones on bass & Tony Spina on drums

Sun 3 Wath-upon-Dearne, The Wath Festival
Mon 4 Wath-upon-Dearne, The Wath Festival
Thu 7 Nottingham ,Guitar Bar
Fri 8 Kelvedon, The Institute
Sat 9 Ross-on-Wye, St Mary’s Church
Sun 10 Marnhull, Dorset Marnhull Village Hall
Tue 12 London, Green Note
Wed 13 Lewes, The Elephant & Castle
Thu 14 Launceston, No. 8 Café
Fri 15 Manchester, The Klondyke Club
Sat 16 Abington, South Lanarkshire, Abington Village Hall
Tue 19 Glasgow, The Admiral Bar
Wed 20 Edinburgh, Private House Concert
Thu 21 Dundee, Clarks on Lindsay Street
Fri 22 Ireby, St. James’ Church, Ireby Festival
Sat 23 Ireby, The Globe Hall, Ireby Festival
Tue 26 Norwich, The Bicycle Shop

Sound & Vision – Lewis & Leigh

WED 6 MAY Norwegian Church Arts Centre Cardiff
THU 7 MAY The Slaughtered Lamb,London
FRI 8 MAY The Caves,Edinburgh
SAT 9 MAY Glad Café Glasgow
SUN 10 MAY Fibbers, York
SAT 16 MAY Dove Cottage-Debenham,Suffolk
SAT 6 JUNE Stroud Americana Fest
FRI 26 JUNE Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford, UK
FRI 3 JULY Maverick Festival
SAT 18 JULY Summertyne Festival

Lewis & Leigh

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