Straight into the running for my album of the year comes this brilliant collection mined from a rich seam of Canadian musical talent I’ve had the pleasure of listening to this year, The Falcon Lake Incident from Jim Bryson & The Weakerthans is out on CD at Maple Music and at Kelp Records on quality 180 gram vinyl, Spinner has the full back story to this recording. I was going to wait until my vinyl arrived before posting to give the full picture but the download is so good I know the vinyl is going to be something special.
I’ve been a fan of Bryson since hearing his track One Cigarette that appeared on Bob Harris Presents Volume 4 and can heartily recommend any of the albums from his back catalogue, but this one is stand-out and his best yet, melodic and memorable tunes some great production touches and instrumentation, the album has many highlights for me, not least Freeways In The Front Yard featuring vocals from fellow Canadian Jill Barber, The Weakerthans John K. Samson also adds his vocal talents to several songs on the album, Metal Girls in wonderfully infectious and Wild Folk one of my top tunes of the year.
I first came across this artist through a Daytrotter Session and enjoyed what was offer so I was more than willing to oblige when I was sent a CD copy of the bands first full length release, the album was fan funded through Kickstarteran increasing popular way of artists getting their music from a live setting to CD / Vinyl and a great idea.
April Smith has the kind of voice that’s so lush and feisty it’s got to be the star of the show and its around her vocal that this eleven track début is built, tales of love lost and found, of jealousy and secrets, of love unrequited, the support comes from the excellent Great Picture Show featuring Steve Purpure on Bass, Marty O’Kane on lead guitar, Brandon Lowry on keys and Elliot Jacobson on drums and percussion – there’s a host of additional players on the album adding, brass, strings, ukulele and accordion too.
The album kicks of with an infectious hand clap adorned number which sets the listener up nicely for a ride through its retro cabaret pop selection box.
If the No Depression community had it’s own Hall of Fame I’d be shouting from the rooftops for one particular nominee from these shores to be in the inaugural honours list that would be Jon Langford,there’s no doubt in my mind that the former drummer and guitarist with punk band The Mekons is more than deserving of greater recognition.
With The Mekons Langford released an distinctly British indie cow-punk album Fear & Whiskey (Pitchfork , Popmatters, eMusic ) that is still as vital as it was on release back in ’85, after upping sticks and leaving the UK to relocate in Chicago in ’92 Langford became a founder member of The Waco Brothers and mainstay of The Pine Valley Cosmonauts with numerous other collaborations and album guest appearances with fellow musicians including The Sadies, John Hiatt and Alejandro Escovedo, his wonderful art, a radio show and visual arts performances you’d be forgiven for thinking there was more than one Jon Langford.
His latest musical project is released on Bloodshot later this month, teaming up with fellow Waco Brothers stalwarts Alan Doughty (bass) and Joe Camarillo (drums) along with Jim Elkington (guitar) – collectively Skull Orchard (the name borrowed from Langford’s début solo album from 1998) the album Old Devils features 12 original tunes that leave no doubt that Langford’s a master at the mix and match of punk ethos, indie sensibilities and roots thematics, a really engaging album that refuses to be categorised and stands as another original piece of art from the prolific Mr Langford.
For those of us with functioning turntables the added the good news is in addition to the CD release the album gets a limited edition vinyl issue, this will include two extra tracks, bonus artwork (you know it’s going to be good) and a download of the album too of course.
There’s no sister and there’s no band either, this is the musical project of 21 year old art student Johnny Ruby – that’s the musical AKA for Marlon Rabenreither – Vienna born and Los Angeles-raised, he’s currently in London where he’s studying visual art at Goldsmith’s University of London, all very confusing, but a listen to this guy’s début EP “A Shot In The Dark” clears it all up and if the art doesn’t sell on the evidence of this recording he’ll have little problem keeping the wolves from the door with his music, The Sister Ruby Band EP was recorded at his home studio with Ruby/Marlon playing and arranging all of instruments, this five track release showcases his talent and marks him out as one to watch.