January was a busy month at RGM with loads of news, new albums and tours announced. If you've missed anything, or just have a hunger to check out some new music, why not take a listen to our first Spotify Playlist that showcases artists featured during the month.
2018 got off to a great start with the arrival of the first EP by Walker McGuire and continued with strong releases from Glen Hansard, Mary Gauthier, Althea Grace and the debut from Dane Joneshill. Amongst the newcomers featured in January were folk duo Percival Elliott who bought us 'Forever' which bodes well for an upcoming album and multi-national country/pop duo O&O released a new single. Elsewhere Norwegian Torgeir Waldemar won't release his new album in the UK until March but for those of you who prefer things with a little more rock edge 'Streets' should fit the bill. On the soundtrack front, 'American Folk' looks like a cool film and the soundtrack is folktastic. January concluded for RGM with a trip down to Islington Assembly Hall to catch Deer Tick play two sets, one quiet and one not so quiet which was pretty cool. February is just around the corner and who knows what'll turn up, all I do know is a new favourite song/artist is waiting to be discovered.
Scott Matthews is one of those artists I just can’t imagine not being there. His solemn, haunting vocal style has been winning over fans ever since his acclaimed debut, Passing Stranger, was released in 2006. Back then, amid the acoustic singer-songwriter boom of the 2000s, there emerged a handful of acts that may no longer make huge commercial waves but still continue to make exquisite, interesting records. New releases from the likes of Polly Paulusma, Tom Baxter and Tom McRae - all contemporaries of Matthews - are a comforting reminder that great songwriters can and do endure, regardless of time or fashion. A new album from Scott Matthews (or any of the above) is the sort of thing that, even before I hear it, helps to restore my ailing faith in humanity.
Growing up there was one album that never seemed to be very far from the old stereo in the back room (as we called it) of my family home. That album was ‘Johnny Cash at San Quentin’ and to this day I can’t hear that album and not think of my Dad. There always seems to be a debate over the Prison albums but for me, it’ll always be ‘San Quentin’ that I’ll reach for and Johnny Cash would, in a roundabout way, become the inspiration for Red Guitar Music, but that’s another story. I have a good deal of respect for John Carter Cash and the Cash family who’ve treated the Cash catalogue, in the nearly fifteen years since Johnny Cash passed with great dignity. No signs of mud-slinging and courtroom battles here, maybe the likes of the Zappa and Prince families should take note.
Looking back, It must have been four years ago and the fledgling RGM was just starting to get noticed by Pr companies and labels. It was an exciting time; a review of the self-titled Parker Millsap album would lead to an invite to see him open for Old Crow Medicine Show on their UK tour, at The Roundhouse in London, in support of the ‘Remedy’ album. Parker was excellent and he fully lived up to the promise of his record and Old Crow would be up next. Now, to be honest, I wasn’t really fully aware of O.C.M.S. much beyond ‘Wagon Wheel’ but a very quick spin through the highlights of their back catalogue on the day of the show made me think they could be pretty good. Obviously, as any fan of the band knows, they’re a monster live act with songs and musical dexterity to burn. Needless to say ‘Remedy’ became pretty popular in the RGM office in the days that followed so when ‘Volunteer’ hit the RGM inbox I was very keen to check it out.
Norwegian singer-songwriter-guitarist Torgeir Waldemar will be no stranger to regular readers of RGM as we reviewed his second album ‘No Offending Borders’ back in 2017. An album of sprawling classic rock with more than a passing nod to Neil Young & Crazy Horse ‘No Offending Borders’ was a quality record (if you’ve not heard it I urge you to seek it out). The record exhibited an, often meandering, rough-around-the-edges 70’s rock approach that was in stark contrast to his debut release, which owed more to the California infused sounds of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriters of the early 70’s. Bearing this in mind, it should come as no surprise that for his latest release Waldemar has taken a good look at both albums and made a few changes. The more stripped back folky sounds of the debut album have been seriously electrified while ‘No Borders’ material is now laid bare.
This band’s moniker may make them sound like a municipal leisure centre but, thankfully, an unassuming supergroup is actually what lies behind the name. BWP are Robin Bennett, Danny George Wilson and Tony Poole. Many readers will know Danny Wilson from his time fronting Grand Drive and Danny & The Champions of the World and some will know Robin Bennett from his work with The Dreaming Spires but BWP’s secret weapon is veteran guitarist and producer Tony Poole. Poole was one half of Starry Eyed and Laughing who released two records in the mid-1970s earning a reputation as the ‘English Byrds’. If you pair Poole’s pedigree, and famed mastery of the 12-string Rickenbacker, with Wilson and Bennet’s background in contemporary harmony-driven Americana you’ll already have a decent idea of where the band are coming from.