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.
The Defiants’ 2016 debut (review link) was a safe but enjoyable outing that did plenty to satisfy Danger Danger fans in the absence of any new material since 2009’s reunion record Revolve. Alongside vocalist Paul Laine, The Defiants comprise almost three quarters of the current D2 line-up: Bruno Ravel, Rob Marcello and Steve West (The Defiants’ slightly-less-than-official fourth member). Something of a melodic rock legend in his own right, Laine was the perfect fit for Danger Danger when they parted company with Ted Poley in the ‘90s and Zokusho (it’s Japanese for ‘sequel’) proves that there’s still plenty of songwriting chemistry bubbling away between Laine and Ravel in 2019.
Rachel Sermanni’s third LP sees the Scottish singer-songwriter largely turning away from the dirty guitars that peppered 2015’s Tied To The Moon for a smoother, more grown-up outing, shifting the focus onto her arresting, intimate voice. So It Turns, the record Sermanni herself calls ‘folk-noir’ (it lives up to the label) was produced by Axel Reinemer and has been in the can for three years. Good things come to those who wait of course and, thankfully, So It Turns is now seeing the light of day via an independent release.
Since reassembling their original five-piece line-up nearly ten years ago, Unruly Child have given us three top-notch slices of gently progressive AOR in the vein of their classic 1992 debut. Worlds Collide (2010) and Can’t Go Home (2017) were both put out by Frontiers while 2014’s Down The Rabbit Hole was independently released but all three albums showed a band that still has plenty to offer. Now, in their 27th year, the band return with Big Blue World. Marcie Free’s indestructible, made-for-rock voice has lost nothing and it’s this voice - along with Guy Allison’s upfront keys and Bruce Gowdy’s ability to fuse acoustic and electric guitar textures - that make Unruly Child so unmistakable.
Morganway first came to my attention earlier this year when they unexpectedly appeared in the RGM inbox. The track in question was ‘Frozen In Our Time’ and my classic rock taste buds were instantly sated as Morganway presented a sound that owed a debt to the likes of Dire Straits (musically) and Fleetwood Mac (vocally) while the addition of fiddle delivered a folky musical curveball. This early positive impression would be further enhanced by subsequent singles and cemented by a really terrific live show at Black Deer Festival. I had a feeling that Morganway might be on to something a little bit special, and I’m pleased to report their debut album doesn’t disappoint.
You probably never noticed, but a lot of the pop music you grew up on was born in Scotland. You can’t have been raised in the 80s without escaping Simple Minds; in the 90s without strumming along to Del Amitri, or in the noughties without tapping your toes to KT Tunstall. And now, multi-award-winning folk singer-songwriter Karine Polwart has drawn on these decades, among others, to bring you her latest release: Scottish Songbook. This celebration of the history of Scot-pop began when Karine gathered two dozen songs together for a live show she took to the 2018 Edinburgh Festival. A year on, eleven of those songs coalesce on an album that is reverent, revealing and - above all - rewarding.