Saturday, 26 November 2016


TOP 15 plus 1

This selection was my toughest, originally I had over 50 songs and several by the same artists (Larkin Poe/Climbing Trees/Hunter&TheBear/Ron Pope/The People The Poet/Michael McDermott AND OTHERS)

In the end I decided on 1 song per artist and narrowed it down to 15 plus 1

I have not put them into any order apart from my song of 2016, and that changes daily, in fact every single song on my list could be #1

OK,here goes:


My first song is a cracking tune from Tadhg Daly, his voice reminds me very much of Brother & Bones and 
the track I have chosen is 'Don't Tell Me'

Don't Tell Me is the second single taken from Tadhg Daly's debut EP 'Taghazout'

This fella was introduced to me by James Wilson who has a superb blog website:



Taken from his excellent album 'High On Tulsa Heat'is the superb track  'Sad Baptist Rain'
I think what draws me to this song is the 'springsteenesque' of it.
As far as folk singers go, John Moreland is a baby — barely 31 years old and less than five years into his nascent solo career. But the Oklahoma native’s harrowing, resonant voice, emotionally intense subject matter, and intricate finger picked guitar riffs mark him as a much older, wiser man



After establishing his career as a soloist, Pope reinvented himself as a biblical long-haired and bearded bandleader fronting The Nighthawks, a tidy seven-piece assembled in the E Street Band’s image. Guitar, bass, drums and keys are the meat and veg in their stew, but seasoned richly with blasts of Sax horns on Hell or High Water 

This superb song is taken from their self titled album released earlier in the year.



I remember the first time I heard this young band play this song. And I was lucky enough to hear and see it live. It totally blew me away, the passion,the drive, the determination and the total awesomeness just knocked me for 6.
It kicks off with acoustic guitar and harmonica with a story of how the road goes on, just like life really.And it finishes with a superb electric guitar solo from James..and what skills he has for one so young.
The base of the song was started by lead singer James father about 5 or 6 years ago, and sadly he has passed away since. 
I now fully understand why there is so much passion from the lads when performing this superb song.
This is a quote from James
its written about his old gibson guitar case which has now been passed down to me which has also been quoted that "it looks like it was blown up in WW2" .'

I wish these lads would do an official video for this superb track as the only one I have is my recording and it does not do it justice.



Sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell have a gem of a record that finishes off their highly acclaimed 'reskinned' album (which is my album of 2016).The track is just over 2 minutes in length but does not distract to how superb it is, and for some time it was my song of 2016.
 It really is a beautiful track that highlights what superb vocalists these girls are.

Unfortunately, there are no decent video clips of this song so I have put a link to the track on spotify. Plus I have added a YouTube clip too (the song starts about 2 minute mark )



Taken from the superb album 'The Light', this song is another long one at over 6 minutes in length. 
The song has a gentle nature, perfect for the casual listener, and this compliments an interesting use of instruments, especially prominent in the intro, which lasts nearly one and a half minutes. This creates a feeling of experimentation, and gives the sense that Uncle Lucius has approached this album with a sense of freedom. Indeed, their website reports that they celebrated their independence from their record label: “Most bands celebrate a long-awaited record deal. Uncle Lucius saved the champagne for when they got out of theirs.” ‘Taking in the View’ also quotes The Beatles: “Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been,” and Ray Charles: “I’ve got a woman over town who is good to me,” adding to this feeling of freedom and experimentation, while hinting at their own eclectic music taste, something that comes across throughout.


THE PEOPLE THE POET----------------- CLUB 27

Following on from their superb debut album 'The Narrator' (which is now one of my top albums) must have been a difficult thing for TPTP to do. Or you would have thought so...nope. They bring out an outstanding 6 song EP 'Paradise Closed' and this song 'Club 27' epitomises the talent that runs through their veins.
It is based on all the artists that have left this earth aged 27 and what a party they must be having upstairs.
I have to say that the song writing skills that emanate from these fellas is just sublime.



This superb track was introduced to me by Adam Wilson on his superb radio show 'The Quiet Revolution' on Harborough FM every other Tuesday at 10pm.
As soon as I heard it I was hooked and decided to investigate further, the album it came from 'Real Midnight' is a gorgeous thing and there are a few tracks I could have included.
This song tells us of reminiscing and that we cannot change the past but just relive it in our memory..good or bad...



Featuring  Rob The Man

“Spider in the Roses” is a fierce and infectious track that cautions the listener about a woman who isn’t quite as sweet as she seems. Although the lyrics are expertly weaved using the creepy crawly as a metaphor, Willis says the song’s premise came about after the pair actually stumbled upon a spider lurking in a nearby rose bush.
We looked at each other and just laughed,” Leigh explains. “We didn’t even have to say it. We started making up lyrics right there. The next day we were hanging out with our friend Libby Umstead. She loved the idea and we dove right in. Sometimes songs write themselves. This one felt like it already existed, we just needed to bring it to life. We later went back to LA and recorded it with producers Nick Furlong, Colin Brittain, and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg from the UK band BONES. It was nothing short of magic.”

When I first heard this track I honesty thought Larkin Poe had brought out a new track...and that is a compliment to all concerned.


Sean McConnell ------- Queen Of St.Mary's Choir

One of the freshest new voices coming out of Nashville has actually been around for a while.
His name is Sean McConnell, and though he’s barely on the senior side of 30, he’s been putting out indie records since he was 15. He’s also made a mark as a songwriter, covered by the likes of Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley and Christina Aguilera.
I’m a sucker for a strong vocal and McConnell delivers with Queen of St Mary’s Choir, a song about McConnell’s parents, which showcases the best vocal on his self titled album and it sends shivers down my spine every time I listen to it.



Well, they had to be in my top songs of 2016 didn't they. The problem was choosing which one, and if the December single is 'Won't You Ever Come Home' it is going straight in here.

This song epitomises the direction these 4 talented fellas are going....ROCK
The whole production is just superb including the excellent video that accompanies the song.

This track was their 3rd release from their forthcoming debut album.

If these guys play a gig near you....GO..... YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.



Ok, a bit of a cheat as this single was originally released in 2015 but the album it was on was re released in a deluxe format in 2016, so therefore it qualifies..and it's my list.

Written by the brilliant Chris Stapleton.

Stuck halfway between the worlds of Motown and modern-day pop, "Crash and Burn" could, at first listen, be mistaken for a Bruno Mars song. Once the track's brawny, big-hearted hook barrels its way into the mix, however, it's pure Stapleton. "Crash and Burn" topped the country charts in September 2015, just a handful of weeks before Stapleton's career-changing performance at the CMA Awards.


THE WESTIES -------------------- IF I HAD A GUN  

I could not leave out Mr McDermott could I?
This album is just a thing of sublimity and choosing a track to be in my top 15+1 was very difficult indeed.

Six on the Out, the Westies’ sophomore album revisits many of the elements from their debut album 'West Side Stories' and manages to hit a few new heights. The band, comprised primarily of singer-songwriter Michael McDermott and multi-instrumentalist Heather Horton, effectively occupy the singer songwriter, American and folk/rock worlds all at once.
“If I had a Gun,” the first track on Six on the Out, paints a vivid yet stark picture of pain and sorrow. McDermott’s vocals are expressive and forceful. The Westies’ arrangements are poignant, and move the song forward with authority.
In my humble opinion McDermott is up there with Springsteen, both vocally and lyrically.
Unfortunately this song is a rarity on YouTube so I have given you 19 mins of Mr McDermott, but the track is at approx 5 mins....



Silver Torches is the performance name of Eric J. Walters.
 He is based in Seattle, Washington. 

Woman In Rust is only 2 1/2 mins long but that does not deteriorate from the superb quality held within the song, an sometimes less is more.

It's a gorgeous song which gives us the impression of a lonesome troubadour heading down a lonely road, guitar on his back being joined throughout the song by the elements of electric guitar, piano and percussion which results in all aspects of the band playing in a band stand or a porch to a selective crowd.

What a journey Eric gives us.



If you know me you will know how much I love his band, musically of course.
 This year they gave us their 'difficult' second album 'BORDERS'

Now the stand out track to me was 'Heading South' which has now pushed 'Happen' from their debut album into second place.

Heading South is a superb track and even better live as the guys, especially Matthew, really belt it out with some gusto.
It starts out quiet and just builds and builds and builds into a fanfare of a musical orgasm which leaves you wanting more and more.

I have to admit this was my song of 2016 up until a few days ago, but unfortunately I have opted for something else... and as Matthew once said "always the bridesmaid" 






Taken from his brilliant album  'Willow Springs' is the absolute superb song

Michael wrote this song just after the death of his father,and you can feel the emotion in every single word in the 7 minute long song.

The first time I heard it I cried, it effected me that much and my dad, bless him, is still alive and well.

It certainly hits home that relationships between father and son are sometimes flawed, sometimes hurtful, sometimes difficult, sometimes loving, sometimes regretful, sometimes just downright hatred but in the end life is way too short and sometimes a hug and the words 'I LOVE YOU' are needed a little.

I can only imagine the pain of loosing your father and I am absolutely dreading the day, and this song tells me of the little things in your life that really matter..the stories that your dad tells you, some true, some fabricated but all resonate and stick in your mind.

I suggest you plug your headphones in, turn the volume up,lay back and listen. Get the hankies ready as there may be tears

Michael..thank you for a beautiful and song.

This video is just a thing of tearful beauty too

Wednesday, 23 November 2016




As promised, Hunter & The Bear are giving us a song a month until their debut album release next year on May 12th.

This month the tempo has been brought down several notches with the brilliant
 'I Am What I Am'

The 4th release is a beautiful track which I had the great pleasure of hearing at The Convent on 23rd June this year, and I distinctly remember Jimmy telling Will the pressure was all on him as it was their first playing.
The pressure did not show as it was performed superbly.

This track is a definite paradigm shift from their last release but still superb in it's production and delivery. 

It really highlights their songwriting skills as a collective unit and some may say it's a love song full of sensitivity,emotion and feeling and I,for one, would not disagree.Also the live version adds a slight rockier side to it too, and with lead guitar Jimmy Hunter showing off his superb guitar skills to add to the gravel voice of lead singer Will Irvine it certainly will blend  superbly into their debut album.
From the opening chords of Will, to the closing harmonic chords of the 3 guitarists accompanied by the deft cymbals of Gareth, the whole song is a thing of majestic beauty.


What has impressed me so far in the 4 tracks is the melange and the heterogeneous of skills these four young men have shown in their production and delivery.

They have the potential to be huge and with the forthcoming album due in May, I just hope their breakthrough comes sooner rather than later. 

Their fan base is growing steadily and they have a nucleus of hard core fans who are behind them with each step they take and who are willing to travel great distances to support them.

They have already lined up Scottish tour dates to coincide with their album release and full details can be found at their website. Other dates are to be added very soon.

Just to refresh your memories below are the previous releases




Sunday, 6 November 2016




Ok, where the fuck do I start???
I love my music and I love my live music too, especially local talent,and believe me there is an abundance of superb musicians in the South Wales area. Now my sister puts me to shame with her charity stints, marathons,mountain climbing, lands end to John O Groats cycling, kayaking, naked sumo wrestling...anything what could I do, I mean I am not really built for strenuous activities....ask the Mrs!!... 30 seconds in and I am on the frigging gas and my knees are knackered and that was down to me attempting to run,both knee ligaments torn..ouch...
 Next was to decide which charity..that was pretty simple really MNDA. mainly down to my sisters influence and I thought I could draw on her experience and expertise plus contacts and apart from that it is an excellent charity.



But, as I said I love my music.So one night at Hobo's, Bridgend, I was watching Fire Fences and John Nicholas perform and after the gig I was chatting away to John about life,women and music and I mentioned to him about doing a charity gig and how easy would it be. I kind of press ganged him there and then into saying 1st act was nailed in. 

The next morning (Sunday), I put it out on Facebook land about doing a charity gig and asked all the musicians I know if they would be willing to participate.At this point no money had been mentioned.
By the end of the night I had over 3 dozens offers of playing, including some artists willing to travel and play for free..and I mean travel..London,Liverpool, Bedford and USA
The issue with the USA artists was covering their transport costs plus unfortunately they had to be discarded but The Nadas and Speedbuggy USA would not be forgotten so easily.

So I had a plethora of artists with a huge mix of genres, ranging from Americana,Country, Rock and Soul.

Now...who do I get to headline and support?
One of the first people to approach me to play was James Clode, the main man and great vocals of Whitehall Parade (formerly James Clode Band). I will always remember what he said 'Whatever You Want Rob' and those words stuck with me and always will. 
Now I have seen Whitehall Parade play a few times and they always,always entertain, in fact one evening they played for nearly 3 and a quarter hours.

So, 2 artists nailed in, now a venue.
Several Emails and Facebook messages sent and I had offers of 3 venues
1 Moon Club , Cardiff (capacity 180 with a squeeze)
2 NosDa bar, Cardiff (capacity 100 ticketed or 200 non ticketed)
3 Earl Haig , Cardiff (capacity 200 ticketed)
After weighing up the options I decided on The Earl Haig. For several reasons really, 
1 easy parking ,
2 easy public transport,
 3 cheap booze prices, 
4 Nice spacious venue, 
5 Easy to manage the door.
Whitehall Parade were also supplying the PA and sound man, who I have to say was superb.
Now trying to get a date from Earl Haig was pretty simple BUT trying to get a date from the venue AND Whitehall Parade was not that easy as there are 8 of the buggers and James had to communicate with each one to try and get them to agree.
Oh this point I had brought the date forward too, from April to September...

Eventually after several days of messaging and emailing we had a date..23rd September and we had 2 artists...let the planning commence.
By the way all this was done withing a week.

So....a third artist/band was required, now who could I get to compliment John and WP? A few bands sprung to mind but I decided on Little Folk a 4 piece folk band from S Wales, a nice family affair (plus a friend). Now I had heard these guys on the wireless but never live and I liked what I heard, so through the power of tinternet I searched out Dewi and asked if they would be willing...YES was the immediate acts sorted,venue sorted, pa sorted and sound man easy was this..when will it go tits up? 23rd September, Venue Earl Haig..3 acts done....

Ticket prices next...capacity 200 £5 a ticket. Can we can raise £1000??
This was when all sorts of ideas started flooding in: Raffle,Lucky Dip,Auctions,Merchandise,Posters etc...

First up was an idea of a tee shirt design and tickets, but how do I pay for these? SPONSORS...

FaceBook again to the rescue..let's start messaging business people and begging commenced

I won't bore you with the details but I did get 2 sponsors, 1 was an old work colleague of mine, Marc Wakeham, who has his own driving instructor business


The second was an old school mate Spiro Borg who owns Spiros Fine Dining Catering


Both gents kindly donated and that enabled me to pay for merchandise, which in turn raised more funds

I had tee shirts and mugs made for the event

Now the design for the tees and mugs were done by Lesley Nemes, yes him, the bassist from Haircut100

He owns a superb design company and when approached, without hesitation,designed the HurleyFest logo for free and nothing was to much for Les.. totally brilliant and utterly professional

He submitted many designs and also designed the posters

I have to say the feedback from people on the design was unbelievable.

So we had the tees,posters up were tickets, do I go for on line only or a list or physical tickets..I decided on on-line and physical.
The tickets were superbly done by an old,old,old.old schoool friend of mine Tracey Hanlon (nee Hegarty)
The design of the tickets was kindly done by Clare Martin, and I was going to use her excellent design for everything, but I decided on the guitar logo, with hindsight I should have stuck to one design and going forward I will do so.

So, Tracey designed and printed 150 tickets and I put 50 tickets on line too at , who kindly donated 10% of their booking fee to the charity too.

So, we were all set up to I thought about raffle etc and what happened next just blew my mind.
I started to message artists,bands and companies on FaceBook asking/begging them to donate to the charity...well I can tell you I was not expecting the response I got from nearly everyone I approached.
Some bands, mainly the bigger ones, did not respond but in the main everyone I approached agreed to donate. Now when I say donate I was expecting a cd....
I got way over 200 items of merch..200 ,friggin hell..what the hell was I going to do with it all. Mrs H was pulling her hair out. I was getting package after package delivered.

Now some donations stood out. For example Nelo, a band from Texas who I love, were contacted and without hesitation sent me 18 Tee shirts and over 40 albums..What The F*** ,AND it cost them £50 to post.
Wo Fat, another band from Texas (must be in the water) sent me every album they had,signed, plus a limited edition screen print poster and a signed drumskin head...WOW

Thunder, the UK rock band, sent me a huge bundle of stuff, cds dvds,tees which I ot a donation of £250 for (more about that later).
Honestly the amount of stuff I had was mind blowing and damn well humbling.
I had tees,cds,dvd's,drumsticks,drumskin heads,wrist bands, badges,posters,pens,vinyl,screen prints,hoodies,hats,caps,mugs,watches, just shit loads of stuff.
Now some of this stuff was to good to raffle or lucky dip so I decided to put them on Ebay. Now I really did not want to do this as I felt it was detrimental to the artists and companies involved but I had to maximise every penny, so a few item were put on Ebay and I think I was justified in doing so. For example I had an Inglorious signed cd and drumskin which reached £ other signed merch selling for £30 to £50, at the end of the day it was the charity that was the winner.


Sunday, 30 October 2016




Hunter & The Bear are releasing a track a month until their album release on 12th May,2017

I remember, somewhere along the long line of interviews, an interviewer claiming this band as "Folk-Rock" and Will, lead vocals, quickly intercepts and states 'ROCK'.
Well, if you thought otherwise, this track really embeds any misinterpretation of what genre they are.
This track truly delivers Rock in mega proportions.It puts Hunter & The Bear to the front of the queue with a huge statement..."WE ARE ROCK"...

It is all well and good telling people you are a rock band, but Hunter & The Bear have shown us, with 'Who's Gonna Hear You?' And that is what it is all about...showing..and when you see them live, it is a show, and is the video that accompanies this brilliant song

From the opening crescendo of percussion it hits you 'Like a rabbit in the headlights'
It is certainly a degree of a paradigm shift from their previous 2 releases of 'Oh Daisy' and 'Renegade', which were more of a melodic rock.

Sometimes artists can get confused between making records and making music, but these guys have truly amalgamated both into one and that is a rarity in itself.
The whole production is just brilliant and every listen gets better and better.

This 3rd track release, from their forthcoming debut album,really embeds their fingerprint on the album and leaves us imagining what the full album will be like.



I think Hunter & The Bear have truly stepped away from their folk roots now...or have they? We will have to wait and see.


It's always a difficult decision choosing my favourite albums of the year, and this year is no different.

I have narrowed it down,in no order, except the top 3


Whiskey Myers come ridin’ out of the Southern sunset with ‘Mud’, their latest album release steeped in the tradition of such legendary acts as The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Southern rock bands, from the 1980’s onwards, will always be compared to legends such as Lynyrd Skynyrd andZZ Top. Throw a pinch of The EaglesLed Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones in to the mix and you have Whiskey Myers! I say a pinch, what I actually mean is a large dose! Some bands create their own unique, instantly recognisable, sound. Others pay homage to their influences, and this band from Palestine, Texas seem to have managed both on their release ‘Mud’.

 If Southern Rock is your thing, then this

album is definitely for you.

Oil & Water by Lee DeWyze

Folk has always been a part of Lee DeWyze’s music, especially evident in his independent releases before his American Idol days.
His post-Idol debut studio album Live It Up, however, which produced two singles Sweet Serendipity and Beautiful Like You in 2010, had stronger pop leanings.
Sophomore effort Frames and now, his latest release Oil & Water, sees the season nine Idol winner drawing closer to his folk roots once again.
The 10-track release feels like a collection of tender and intimate songs – right from the start, with album opener Again, DeWyze invites listeners to a place of personal vulnerabilities.
Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, he reveals his feelings of loneliness, aching to return home to the arms of a loved one, a sentiment he repeats in West.
Elsewhere, he is faced with moments of indecision in Learn To Fall and Way Too Long.
The songs on Oil & Water are driven mostly by just a guitar, and subtle melodies and sentimentality. As the instruments are kept to a minimum, DeWyze’s gravelly vocals are front and centre in the album, shining brightest on the title track and Stone. The latter especially has a great, simple hook which did well on the radio.


Named after the 19th-century campaign against alcohol, the Temperance Movement aren’t exactly the sound of 2016. They’re a British blues-rock band that could have been blasted here direct from the 1970s: specifically, they evoke mid-period Led Zeppelin and Free, though opener Three Bullets does venture a little forward in time, recalling the raucous stomp of fellow Glaswegians the Fratellis. This may not be a band at the vanguard of avant-garde futurism, then, but they practise their stock in trade rather well.

This second album is laden with big, chunky riffs and swaggering anthems tailor made for waving scarves and throwing beer: “Ya got to get yourselves free,” yells gravel-throated bluesy shouter Phil Campbell over Jimmy Page-style riffola.
They do vary the mood: I Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind and A Pleasant Peace I Feel are gentler and reflective, although the latter gradually ends up in the same big singalong as the rest.



As their fourth studio album ‘The Light’ shares their enigmatic penchant for song-writing, whilst incorporating an influx of styles that threatens to propel them, finally, into the spotlight.
Opener ‘The Light’ introduces us to a four-piece stepping into unknown territory, infusing rollicking blues and roots with groove and funk overtones, that are infectious right from the off. Kevin Galloway’s vocals are soulful, yet turn tender in the slow and sultry ‘Age of Reason’ and ‘Nothing To Save’. The latter seeing Galloway’s vocals croon with a touch of longing, and soar in a reverberated crescendo in the second chorus amid a bed of lounging electric guitar twangs.
We’re also introduced to the bands’ diverse yet poignant song-writing (where four heads are better than one), and lyrics like “Where we come from will never mean as much as where we’ve been”; perhaps suggesting that this is Uncle Lucius at a turning point in their career?
It would be unfair to pigeon hole Uncle Lucius in just one genre. Their inherent southern fried Americana twanging guitars are a recurring theme, and in ‘No Time Flat’, such instrumentation is delicately paired with guest female vocals that harmonise with Galloway’s — reminiscent of the vocal marriage of Cash and Carter.
At times, ‘The Light’ does threaten to wane, but the collective bring it all back with the barely recognisable use of synths and keys. A clunky, heavy-handed piano melody drives ‘Ouroboros’ with a more rock n’ roll edge, while ‘Don’t Own The Right’ draws back the rowdy, playful folk rhythms from the title track. If heard live it would probably have the room erupting into riotous dance affair.
There’s a sense of unrivalled freedom on ‘The Light’ that’s hard to find on other records. From start to finish, Uncle Lucius provoke images of the open road, exploring scenes in the Deep South and taking it easy. It feels like they’ve been let loose on this record and haven’t held back with experimentation. This is a pensive look at leaving something behind and heading into pastures new.


With over 15 years in the music industry AND having released several albums and EPs, Sean McConnell released his self titled album this year. Over his career to date McConnell has penned songs for popular artists in Country such as Tim McGraw, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts and Martina McBride so it’s safe to assume that you may have heard the singer-songwriter’s work, even if it you didn’t know it was him.

Following a few repeat listens, you find yourself wondering how Sean McConnell isn’t dominating Country music. You could argue that he leans more to Americana but at the heart of this record is good old-fashion story-telling and the instrumentation leans heavily into Country. Whatever you want to call it, Sean McConnell is as near damn perfect an album as you’re ever likely to find and with a voice as powerful as McConnell’s, it could finally be his time to break through in his own right as an artist.


54-40 La Difference: A History Unplugged

With an old-timey radio filter and minimalist guitars on 1994’s “Ocean Pearl” (which gives way to a fully-fleshed out singalong with horns and backups), 54-40 begins La Difference: A History Unplugged, an acoustic/reworking retrospective in the vein of Matthew Good’s Rooms and Headstones’ One in the Chamber Music.
This 10-song collection tackles a great variety of the band’s work, from 1996’s Trusted by Millions(melancholy takes on the usually upbeat “Crossing a Canyon” and “Lies to Me”) to the noughts (a somehow more playful “Casual Viewin'”) and the ’80s (a stomping “Baby Ran” and a beautiful campfire singalong of “I Go Blind”) and refreshes it with the help of newish guitarist/pianist Dave Genn and a collection of talented friends. “Since When” gets the biggest face lift here – fitting, as the track was always a bit of an oddball in the band’s collection, a left turn after its early-mid ’90s pop rock hits. This rendition of the title track from their 1998 record has wind instruments, claps and the biggest acoustic goodness you could ever ask for – not that we ever wanted to forget the original, but this is a totally different song.
The heart of the disc may be “One Day In Your Life” – to this listener, one of the band’s signature songs. Gone are the throbbing bass lines (Guitar plucks? Synth throbs?) of the ’87 single, replaced with a simple toe-tapping acoustic guitar strum and subtle accordion. The songs of 54-40 are basically Canadian standards at this point, so why not put a new coat of paint on ’em? A very cool project from a band that never goes out of style.



A solemn yet sturdy set of songs, Griffin House’s new album, So On and So Forth (self-released on March 4) takes a confessional tone that aptly informs these heartfelt narratives throughout. Sung and strummed with clear conviction, the songs find House sharing his sentiments in ways that are both compelling and convincing. Their titles speak to the subjects at hand -- “Yesterday’s Lies,” “Games,” “Played the Fool” etc.” -- but it’s the sturdy arrangements and emotive vocals that effectively underscore the passionate delivery.
“Paris Calling and “Stop and Rest” find House in a comparatively jubilant mood, but the fierce determination reflected on “A Hiernymous Bosch” and lead-off entry “Yesterday’s Lies,” not to mention the pensive and deliberative “Wrecking Ball,” each reflect the fact that he obviously invested his feelings and sentiments in each of these incisive offerings.
Ironically, his house band (pardon the pun) was wholly new to him when he entered the studio, making the results they achieved all the more impressive. Not surprisingly then, the album’s next-to-last track, “Silver Lining,” sums up House's optimism, as he looks forward to the future and beyond his somber reflection.
Newly sober and obviously inspired, House has made an album that ranks among the best of those he’s released thus far. Hopefully it will be the one that ultimately elevates his standing to wholly deserved new heights.



You remember that feeling don’t you? Of course you do. It’s a feeling of warmth and happiness – a feeling you had when you were driving down an open road or lying beside the one you loved.
But it’s a distant, tracking feeling with a sense of nostalgia, and mixed in are memories of rain, heavy emotions and time.
You remember that feeling alright, and it’s what Silver Torches gave us in “Heatherfield,” released Jan. 1.
It’s the perfect album to begin a new year. In the midst of resolutions, looking forward and wanting to do better, you take a moment to slow down and recollect not just on the year that’s passed, but all the moments leading up to now.
In it there’s love, heartache, longing and a sense of belonging. There are drunken nights, old friends, the girl who got away and lessons learnt with each passing phase.
All this is wrapped together beautifully in Silver Torches sophomore album. Singer/songwriter Erik Walters transcribes timeless lyrics woven together with melodies reminiscent of home.
Each song is a memory, a moment and a story relatable to all. There’s a bigger picture to be found in the album, and a central theme connects each track to one another.
Walters begins with a clear story line – “Woman in Rust” paints a picture of the drunken wanderer, aimless and a little lost. He sinks into “Cal,” a somber tune, honest and unsure: “Somehow it’s hard to pick up the dial/It’s so easy to disappear.”
Then, somewhere in the middle, we’re reminded of familiar faces, the girl who slipped out of reach and old friends we wish we had known better or stayed in touch with.
One of my favourite songs on “Heatherfield” is “New Year,” the fourth track that fits perfectly in the middle of the album. It is a wonderfully sentimental recollection that stumbles along with the weight of alcohol and missed opportunities.
“Heatherfield” doesn’t stay stuck in the past though. It opens up to the present and hopes for the future, holding onto ideas of what the next day will bring.
Sometimes, though, those ideas don’t come into fruition and failure heavies our hearts. In the painfully honest “I Was King,” Walters highlights the pangs of unfulfilled expectations: “I was a dreamer with a plan for the world … I was ashamed/My head was in flames.”
The last track however, leaves us with a lasting realisation. Despite years behind us and the changes we face, no matter how dishevelled life makes us, home can still feel like home, and knowing that brings a sense of comfort.
In his final verses to us, Walters sings, “Someday this weight will be lifted/Someday I’ll finally sleep/Someday I’ll make some sense of it all/In this worn out driver’s seat.”
Overall, “Heatherfield” is a beautiful piece of Americana and a staple for any roaming heart or weary soul. It’s a lovely reminder of where good music can take us and how an old sound can seem so new.


Not many people, unfortunately, have heard of Dai Robs. Me included. Unless you live in Welshpool or the surrounding area.
I was introduced to his music by Chris Clark, of Hunter &The Bear, and I am so glad of that.
 Listening to Dai is reminiscent of Will Hoge,Stephen Kellog or Griffin House, however Dai is his own man and you could say listening to the others is like listening to Dai.
This album is sublime, full of Americana,pop,easy listening and just damn good music.

So, last year he launched a "Kickstarter" campaign in order to raise funds to produce his debut studio album. This campaign commenced on September 3rd and by October 5th, with 83 backers, had reached an amazing £2455... and so it began.

The self-titled album was released on March 10th and was recorded at Backyard Studios in Wales.



Now and again a band pops up that instantly gets you hooked...well The Broadcasts did just that. Full of energy,passion and just raw commitment to their cause. This album is just superb.Self written, and just so so good, by a band of young men that ooze talent all directions.

The bands overall standing of musicianship is tight, the music itself sounds good. Just as with any band the lead vocalist can make it or break it for them and there are several points in the album where James Davies’s lead vocals made my eyes open and my mouth curl downwards in to an upside down smile due to being so impressed with the vocal. Imagine Liam Gallagher with more control or Simon Neil of Biffy Clyro with less of an accent. Very strong.

My pick of the album is 'The Road Goes On'. Think Skynyrd 'Freebird' but modernised...and live is even better...
When your lead singer does harmonica, acoustic and electric..well , enough said.



NEEDTOBREATHE are known for talking, rather singing, about a difficult topic: Faith. Faith is a touchy one; when people are outspoken about what they believe in, others tend to think that they are preaching what is correct – what everyone should believe in. In a world where any opinion has the ability to offend someone, NEEDTOBREATHE’s music conveys a powerful message in a way that anyone can get behind. The band’s writing makes it so the listener can pick who or what the song is about. The lyrics are so relatable that people can close their eyes, and whoever’s picture is in their mind when the song is playing, that’s what resonates throughout.
Perhaps the greatest example of this is shown on the band’s recently-released sixth studio album, H A R D L O V E . The album deals with the hardships of being on the road day in and day out. It shares the band’s troubles with keeping their relationships thriving during the time as well. HARD LOVE certainly talks about some hardships, but it also illuminates the power of moving through the difficult times and the ability to rise above.


 California-based singer-songwriter Tom Rodes released his new album Who You Were. The thirteen track collection is brimming with stories and reflections that are insightful, poignant and wisdom-filled. Rhodes’ voice delivers his words with a raspy-soulfulness (that at times recalls Jack Johnson) that exudes experience and tenderness. Whether he’s telling a young man to pick himself up after heartbreak on opening track “Crumbling Road” or instilling confidence in a child leaving home for the first time on the infectious and inspiring “Roll On”, (“Walk tall my love and keep eyes pointed to the sky, walk tall my love and you will see that you can be all that’s on your mind”), Rhodes sings with encouragement and a welcome optimism.

Those sentiments continue on the stirring album standout “Lay It Down,” as well as “Every Damn Day," while the breezy “New Aphrodite” and lively “Mission Queen” find him in love. Rhodes balances those feelings with songs about moving on including the gritty “Backroad,” and the banjo-laden, often poetic “Rye and Wrong” before closing with the title track, a stirring ode of gratitude to his father who passed in 2015: “I’m holding onto memories as if they were gold. And I know that I’m the man I am thanks to the man you were.”

Who You Were looks truthfully, fondly - and soulfully - at life, love, and family, emphasising the positive while understanding that things can often be difficult. As Rhodes advises on "Gotta Get': "don't sweat the small stuff." It's sage advice to remember to embrace moments, who you were...and even who you're going to be.



Well how could I omit this beauty. Many years their fans have been waiting to see if they could emulate Hebron.

Well they smashed Hebron out of the park and more....

Borders is just brilliant. We have pop, rock and cymrucana along with a few instrumentals that reach out and pulls you back in to listen over and over again.

Self labelled as the 'difficult' second album, we had to wait 3 years for this gorgeous production, but by god was it worth the wait....

Climbing Trees have risen to the challenge and made an album that exceeds expectations and sets them on a path that should lead to recognition as one of Wales’ finest new rock bands with world wide appeal. 

My pick of the album : Heading South



California-based singer-songwriter Rivvrs released his first full length album, Unfamiliar Skin, and with an alt-folk sound that blends catchy and fun, with smooth and soulful, he definitely has crafted a whole that is full of surprising little gems.
Now, if Rivvrs’ name, voice or sound seem vaguely familiar, it might very well be because you’ve already heard him without even realising it. His work has been prominently featured on a number of mainstream US television shows. In fact, the album’s lead single, “I Will Follow You”, was featured as a plot point in a season 1 episode of the NBC sitcom “About a Boy”.  A previous version of the song also appears on Rivvrs’ first EP, Hold On, so it is safe to say that the track stands as one of the pillars of Unfamiliar Skin. Along with opening track, “Ready To Begin” and another previously released song, “Hold On”, it reflects the album’s pop mainstream appeal.

However, that is but one facet of Unfamiliar Skin. There is also a slightly darker, more experimental side to Rivvrs’ music. Tracks such as the moody “Gnome Home”, with its sorrowful lyrics and bluesy influences and certainly influenced by Joshua James, or the funky “I Want You”, with its syncopated rhythm and stripped down verses, open doors on these other dimensions, providing more depth to the album and giving it a welcomed unpredictable quality.
We could argue that one original track after the other, Rivvrs takes us on an exciting and incredibly satisfying musical journey. One that we kind of wish was a bit longer than the album’s actual eight-song track list. That in itself though, is a testament to the album’s quality and Rivvrs accomplishment as a songwriter. 



"Paradise Closed is about the hope to live in the perfect world and live the perfect life but in quite typical British Fashion I believe if one was ever to find Paradise that we would soon moan and strive to make things better. We live in a world where we always want to better everything but sometimes we don't realise how perfect our imperfections are".

It kicks off with "Happy Being Miserable" which alludes to us Brits always moaning about things in general and we are happy just doing that.It really gives you a sing-along factor and is even better live as Leon's gravel like voice really pumps it out. It really does forces you to be happy even if you are miserable. It is a fun,catchy, sing-along number  and a great opener to this superb EP
Track 2, which is also their latest single release, is "Club 27", a dark tribute song to all those artists who have left this earth at the young age of 27.This track certainly has a hint of blues
It starts out with Leon singing in a more gentle fashion and really shows the talent he has,almost balladic like,which just shows the guys can alter the genre if they wanted to. But we soon get the anthemic chorus and ending. Just superb.

Track 3 is their previous single release "Matchday". It is,arguably one of the strongest tracks on this EP. It is certainly very Springsteen-like in its delivery and certainly grows on you with every listen.A very upbeat song with assistance on vocals from the lovely Greta Isaac. It's all about Matchday in Cardiff on rugby International day
Next up is "Same Heart" with the opening chords very reminiscent of U2. The beautifully crafted lyrics just carry you away on a tidal wave of raw emotion.The writing skills of this band is something to behold.The song is under written by a strong drum tempo and haunting guitar riffs.

Track 5 "Needle In A Haystack" follows on from "Same Heart" in the same vein with a defined U2 vibe, now that is not a criticism, in fact,it is a huge compliment to the guys. I for one think they are better than U2. The track has those haunting lyrics telling the sad story of a father losing his drug addiction battle. Again superbly written.

The final track "When The Fire Goes Out" is a much softer track which shows off Leons vocal mastery alongside strong acoustics. It builds up to a near rapturous finale before settling down to a cool vocal finish. A great and fitting end to an orgasmic EP of epic proportions.



Ryan O'Reilly is a 30-year folk musician from Southampton. This is his debut album, after an EP in 2014. This musician went the way of many colleagues, hoof by Bars across Europe, living room concerts, music on the road. On his album, he combines old songs with new compositions and leaves us shining through in a melancholy mood, well, no wonder he treated the subject of love. Yet in pure folk it's not what brings us here O'Reilly heard. Already the first song on the album, "November," gives us a mix of folk with pop and Americana. And so there is this orientation in different versions again, be it in wonderfully touching "Northern Lights" with this heart-engaging mood in very modern-sounding "The Love That You Wasted" or in the more cheerfully gambling "Evil Quarter Mile". The conflict with the very introverted acting "The Black & The Blue", while "The One" certainly has a penchant for modern pop music. This balance gives the album an interesting mix. And should be joined by a pleasant voice, interesting arrangements and nuances in the instrumentation that enrich the music in a special way. The songs often change mood and rhythm, and thus gives us an artist with a very harmonious listening pleasure, with which it already has a certain profile. The songs are well structured, contain little surprises and make a good addition to the genre singer / songwriter. I think if he goes on like this, we will hear more from him! Incidentally, I had expressed a desire in the face of his EP "Northern Lights" almost 2 years ago:



It is clear throughout this record, that Gabe Dixon pours his heart into his music. Turns To Gold is lyrically strong and honest, and a true testament to himself, and his aspirations as an artist. You cannot help but just simply feel, as he hooks you in to the emotion being portrayed in each piece. Gabe Dixon’s immense talent has earned him the support, respect and admiration from his fans and fellow musicians, and Turns To Gold is nothing short of a brilliant and well-rounded record.



For those who thought it couldn't get much better than Canada's Po'Girl and Chicago's JT and the Clouds, another think probably came their way when in 2012 Allison Russell and JT Nero joined forces to form Birds of Chicago, an outfit so strong, so determined and so beautifully formed, that their music flowed effortlessly from the speakers like a stream of golden nectar and with REAL MIDNIGHT, it continues to do so. For proof of their unique musical bond we need look no further than Remember Wild Horses, which sees both JT and Allison sharing voices in the way that only they can. Once you have that in your head, then everything else seems to come at you like gifts at Christmas, a lottery win or old friends visiting for the weekend. The duo's meet up with mutual friend Rhiannon Giddens, who is currently getting plenty of exposure over in the UK, and rightly so, not only through her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops but with her own astonishing debut solo album, appears on the album to lend her own inimitable voice to one of the album highlights, The Good Fight. Both Sparrow and Barley have been part of the Birds of Chicago live repertoire for a while now, each appearing on the band's live release LIVE FROM SPACE and here the two songs fit perfectly with the other eleven songs. Produced by Joe Henry, the album showcases two artists at the peak of their creativity, creating beautiful secular gospel music and song at its very best.



Michael McDermott doesn’t let grass grow under his feet. The Chicago native has completed two fine albums with his side project the Westies in the last two years, and now turns his attention to a new solo effort. Willow Springs, is honestly more of the same from McDermott — but that’s definitely a good thing.
The title track paints a lush rural landscape with its finger-picked acoustic guitar, while McDermott’s powerful, every-man voice creates a poignant rolling story backed by sparse but effective harmony. Lyrically, the song finds McDermott using his big voice to big effect while the production is pitch perfect. Meanwhile, “Getaway Car’s harmonica-driven opening seems initially familiar, but McDermott’s voice is explosive as thunder and his storytelling, backed by acoustic guitar, bass drum and touches of banjo is uniquely from the heartland.
“Butterfly” slows things down even more, yet brings a relationship into focus. A backing band that includes multi-instrumentalist (and long-time producer) Lex Price, guitarist Will Kimbrough, keyboardist John Deaderick and backing vocalist Heather Horton (McDermott’s wife) continues to play a crucial and unobtrusive role — leaving McDermott’s lyrics to make the big statement. “Butterfly” is an evocative gem, verse after verse.
“Half Empty Kinda Guy” picks up the pace quite nicely, while maintaining McDermott’s lyrical bite. “Folksinger” takes another direction musically. The metaphor of the weary folk singer and a soldier in the field is seamlessly effective in its imagery. The song’s simplicity is part of its undeniable charm. “Let a Little Light In” is as close to a pop song as Michael McDermott gets on Willow Springs. The song chugs along with the joy of a new relationship. Here, the band provides a carefree backing which matches the mood set by McDermott.
“What Dreams May Come” finds McDermott going full circle. The song further highlights Michael McDermott as a producer, perfectly supporting the deeply moving lyrics with circling keyboards and sparse guitar. “What Dreams May Come” is perhaps most effective at casting McDermott’s spell and moving the listener to a different plan. Willow Springs is a thought-provoking journey, from beginning to end.
This fella, in my opinion, is second only to Springsteen in the singer/songwriter class.



If, like me, you'd not heard of The Westies,then you have missed some absolute beautiful,goose-bumping, sublime music.

Below is an extract from their website:

He looked at her at the end of the bar and said,

“I don’t know whether to kill you or marry you”

And so the shot was fired across the bow, and with it…
The Westies were born.

The meeting on that fateful night between Michael McDermott and Heather Horton set in motion a chain of events that would lead to what would later be known as the album West Side Stories.
After just avoiding a would be 3-6 year prison sentence (which McDermott is uneasy to discuss) and a spiralling life, McDermott’s chance meeting with Horton would change the course and the trajectory of his life.

Explains McDermott, “All I ever wanted to do was write songs and tell stories, like my grandparents and parents did from a long Irish lineage. With that lineage came a proclivity for drink, for mayhem, and a wee bit of crime. I write what I know and what I know, is much of the time, ugly.”


Michael McDermott has been around for over 25 years as a solo artist with a dozen albums under his belt, he is certainly no stranger to the industry.Think Springsteen,Tom Waits and Dylan then think McDermott.
His full name is Michael McDermott Murphy, but dropped the Murphy as there were so many of that name out there.

As Stephen King said Michael McDermott is one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock n roll talent of the last 20 years" and I for one would not argue with that.

In 2015 the duo, consisting of husband and wife Michael McDermott and Heather Horton, released their superb debut album,"West Side Stories", which was critically acclaimed.
 This debut album dealt with the troubles of inner city populace dealing with the traumas and dangers of everyday life.

This album is the follow up and is a natural progression from the 1st album and deals with the next chapter for those inner city inhabitants.  
A sophomore effort, which was released on 29th January, which promised to be as good as it's predecessor, and by god it does not disappoint in the slightest.

This second album is the second instalment of McDermott's stories and tales of  an often ugly and turbulent inner city struggle.

This album certainly reaches out to the listener,drawing them into a seedy world of danger, murder,homelessness,hustlers and deceit. 
It's also an album that tells us how human spirit can overcome diversity and negativity of life. It's an album full of perseverance and real life experiences.

The difference, musically,  in my opinion , over their first album is the tempo on a lot of the songs along with a more "Celtic" feel in certain areas with a "fuller" band involvement.
McDermott writes his songs with a "rolled-up sleeve" approach,full on,in your face,no holes barred with no punches pulled.

Heather Horton certainly compliments McDermott's gravel-like voice and brings cool stored ice to a well matured whisky which, when mixed together gives the listener a beautiful,end of day,soothing drink of sublime songs.

Part of me believes that some of these stories, and they are stories not songs, are about McDermott's turbulent,traumatic past and how he dealt with it

As Michael puts it:

"Songs of love, betrayal, murder, hope & redemption"



Even though he’s called New York home for over a decade, you don’t have to rifle too far into Ron Pope’s music to determine that the man has copious amounts of southern heritage running through his veins. With a classic outlaw-country sound embedded in the anti-Nashville scene in the 1960 and 1970s, Pope sticks to the common rambler themes of consumption, self-medication, and the difficulties of life.
His life and his music have been on his terms. Period. He’s never been the artifact of label achievement and has plotted his career in a ferociously self-governing manner. That unbending method has worked for Pope, who has tallied over 570 million combined streams on Pandora and YouTube.

Honestly, he is the American dream.
However, Pope isn’t channelling the musical ghosts of Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings due to a new development in the “scene.” He isn’t being trendy. His songs are simply a narrative of the life he’s lived; his life has been tough, so that’s what his music reflects.
He was “born in the dust and raised in the dirt”…as his drum-propelled and guitar-laced, “Southern Cross” explains. A song about finding a better half during troubled and rowdy years, the southern jam serves as an indirect and informal thank you note from a wandering soul to his compass. Coupled with “Ain’t No Angel”, Pope’s Tom Petty-esque “Won’t Back Down” swagger pushes him all in, with middle fingers in the air and an unapologetic approach to life.
These unrepentant themes thread Ron Pope & The Nighthawks together. The sprightly “Hell Or High Water” focuses on road wear; a swanky “Bad Intentions” examines good hearts and bad choices; and “White River Junction” focuses on “cocaine, cocaine, cocaine.”
Pope makes sure to show his diversity and flexibility as a songwriter through the silkier “Hotel Room” and “Leave You Behind.” With blended vocals and heartbreaking-detailed storytelling, Pope proves he can hang with the crooners between the dirt road jams. The result is a beautifully unmatched song, nestled in a batch of fantastic tracks.
A black sheep from beginning to end, Ron Pope & The Nighthawks will unapologetic clasp any rebel, pariah, or uneasy heart with a white-knuckled grip. More impressively though, is Pope’s ability to charm the good souls with an honesty that can’t be postured, making this album the “real deal” that sets the bar high for Americana in 2016.



One of my favourite things about music is the flexibility it has as a platform for musicians and fans alike. Undeniably, there’s a variety of artists, genres, styles, elements and so on that someone, somewhere will inevitably enjoy. Additionally, as music has evolved and progressed as an art-form, artists have begun mixing styles from multiple genres to create something that will hopefully standout. This is what the sister duo known as Larkin Poe have inevitably done with their musical talent; creating a package that is not only edgy, but extremely catchy and raw. If you aren’t familiar with these ladies, it’s time to get familiar as their new album, Reskinned, is their introduction to a heavier, more aggressive sound and a showcase of why they belong on stage with the heavy hitters of the rock world.
Classic southern rock and typical rock n’ roll isn’t in my wheelhouse of preferred musical genres as it generally lacks the elements of music I enjoy most. With that being said, Larkin Poe has a sound that latches onto you and pulls you into their world of music and inevitably becomes something you can’t get out of your head. It’s further helped by the sisters’ ability to effortlessly blend their background of blues, country and rock into a modernised sound. This innate talent is immediately noticed from the opening riff of the opening track, “Sucker Puncher”, which gives a glimpse into the overall style of Reskinned with it’s hard hitting guitars, toe tapping drumming and soulful vocals which are carried throughout the entirety of the album.

On top of the ability to blend the old school with the new, Larkin Poe stays true to their roots by making the music they grew up with and have a love for. Far too often we end up seeing artists stray from what made them want to become musicians in the first place. Also, since the sisters are multi-talented musicians, they use this to their ability to further separate themselves from other acts by incorporating elements from various guitars, the mandolin and violin. This gives the album a diverse sound scape that many artists rarely ever venture into, while retaining a fluid and consistent flow. Putting all this together and accompanying it with the soulful vocal styling and heartfelt lyrical content, Reskinned is an album that offers a much broader sound that can just as easily appeal to a fan of metal as it does to a fan of rock.
Where the bands previous album, Kin, saw the ladies move out of their country and Americana styling and take a more aggressive approach to their music, Reskinned is them zeroing in and refining that same approach. This is an album not only influenced by their musical idols, but deeply influenced by the duo’s upbringing in Georgia – which is something they don’t shy away from; in fact, they let us see through their eyes as if we were there with them. So if you’ve been aching for good ole fashion southern rock with a modern twist, this is the solution to your pain.