Screen Door Porch – Modern Settler

Americana as a genre means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, this album pretty much sums up what it means to me, a little rock, a dash of roll, electro-acoustic, splash of harmonica, twang, slide, improvised kick drum, blues, harmonies, a history lesson – oh an banjo, don’t forget the banjo.

The bands eponymous debut release featured on Beat Surrender back in 2010 though the follow-up release managed to fly under our radar but I’m glad their latest release Modern Settler landed safely in the inbox as it’s a thoroughly enjoyable recording.

Screen Door Porch / Facebook / Twitter

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Mary Caroline – Life on Earth


Mary Caroline’s new album Life on Earth clocks in at a svelte twenty five minutes and features eight self-penned tunes, the Canadian singer-songwriter lives in a remote trapper’s cabin, 600km from the town of Yellowknife in the Northern Territories where her day job involves working on an Animal Planet/Discovery show Ice Lake Rebels.

The recording was made during the summer in Hamilton Ontario’s converted church studio Catherine North, and supported with funding from regional art grants earned from FACTOR and NWT Arts Council, when not working the day job or recording Mary is out on the road across Canada and has played numerous festivals and also supports local projects, paying back the grants in-kind by bringing her music to children in the remote communities of the Northern Territories and organising the Tseko Celebration of Women in Music in Yellowknife.

I asked Mary about the background to a few of the songs on the album and she was happy to oblige.

“I wrote Life on Earth sort of abstractly thinking about what might go on a recording sent into space about life on earth, but not some romantic interpretation of it, but more what is left as we grow into adults and loose the idealism of our youth. But than I set it to a kind of peppy simple guitar riff for a sense of irony.

Songs of Winter I wrote while in Yellowknife. Its a song about falling in love in the dead of winter, but its just so dam cold out that you can’t really do anything about it, so you just bundle up in your cabin and wait for the frost to come off the window and the wood pile to shrink, and spring to come so you can pursue your love.

Full Moon is also a song full of northern imagery. I was hired to do a youth music workshop in a remote First Nations community in early November. We had to cross the liard river by foot, because the ice wasn’t thick enough to drive on. In fact there were still spots on the river where steam was coming up from the open water. Then on the way back at night we had to bring a riffle because there were wolves hunting in the area. It was such an intense experience that I wrote a song rooted in the events of that day.”

Mary Caroline / Facebook / Twitter


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The Paranoid Style – Rock & Roll Just Can’t Recall


Recently had a conversation with a friend about why I spend a inordinate amount of time listening to new music, must have spent 15 minutes waffling on with lots of intangible and untenable justifications when in fact it would have much easier to have just handed over a copy of this EP and left it at that because this five track release from The Paranoid Style makes the argument for me, visceral garage-power-pop that burns through the primary auditory cortex into the hippocampus and births multiple ear-worms.

On track two, New Age Tricks, vocalist Elizabeth Nelson sings “the explorers got it wrong there is nothing to discover”, in the context of this EP I’d say that’s a white-lie as whilst there’s nothing revolutionary on the EP the way it’s all put together is just perfect, the writing is acerbic and insightful, Elizabeth’s vocal diffuses out somewhere between Wendy Morgan, Helen King and Ludella Black and the band features backing from a number of indie luminaries including Bruce Bennett (A-Bones), Timothy Bracy (Mendoza Line) and Will Rigby (The dB’s).

The production was handled by Brian Paulson (Wilco, Superchunk) who’s done a fantastic job in pulling it together, whether the guitars are jangling over the top of the lyrics in classic indie-pop style or playing out as low driving 90’s riffs juxtaposing the pop-leaning vocal it all works brilliantly, the EP is five tracks long but will keep you entertained all day – I’d challenge you to resist not hitting the repeat button over and over. Powerful Pop.

No prizes for spotting the references, here’s my favourite from the EP, Bound To Be Vacant.

The Paranoid Style / Facebook / Twitter

Out on Battle Worldwide Recordings on March 2nd.


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