Friday, 5 February 2016

Best of 2015: The Best Americana Albums of the Year

Happy New Year. So I'm back. I apologise for the delay in getting to these posts. I did promise them a few weeks ago but January has been the post Christmas recovery as I planned. So to start my review of 2015, I plan to feature the best Americana albums of the year. This list highlights the best of the year from international artists. I have gone with just ten artists here. I try to keep it nice and succinct. So here are my favourite albums of the year. They are nearly all American which is no surprise. There is a lot more than americana here. There is a bit of soul, alt-country, americana and more. So if you are still looking for something to catch up on and listen to, well I hope this list helps.

Leon Bridges - Coming Home

                    This album came out of the blue for me, I had never hear of Leon Bridges before the middle of 2015. I caught this song on the radio and was hooked. I can easily say it has reinvigorated my love of soul music. A genre I have ignored for a while now. It's the perfect summer afternoon record. The style is blatant in it's homage to the classic albums of the soul hey-day of the mid 1960's but who's just great. 

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free

The follow-up to the excellent SouthEastern, Something More Than Free is more a continuation than any major departure of style. The album probably is related more to 2011 "Here We Rest". Jason brings back the band, the arrangements are simple and the results are superb.

Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

This collection of songs has been receiving quite the amount of praise in 2015. It might not fight the strict parameters of americana (is there strict parameters?) but it's soulful, affecting, honest stay with you for a long time,

Tim Lee 3 - 33⅓

I like Tim Lee 3, In the kindest way, they are workmanlike and get the job done. What I mean by that is that you know what to expect from a Tim Lee 3 album. They never disappoint. If you like your alt-country straight with no frills then this is the album for you.

Butchers Blind - A Place In America

I couldn't find a track to feature here (only available on Spotify I'm afraid). I'll get working on that. But this band do alt-country rock so good, I would be a fool not to include them. A melodic collection, with paino and guitar taking the lead on many of the tracks, this is a superb collection of songs by a band that is only getting better.

John Moreland - High on Tulsa Heat

John Moreland is starting to get attention in the U.S. It's deserved. The man has one of those lived in voices. You believe every word he sings and every word in this album adds to a lifetimes of experiences. The tracks are laid out simply which allows the words to shine.

Have Gun, Will Travel - Science From An Easy Chair

I've been an admirer of Have Gun,Will Travel since I first came across them a few years ago. I was looking forward to this release but never expected that their latest album would chronicle the journey of Ernest Shackleton and his attempts to reach the bottom of the world. What made a band from Florida tackle this topic, I'm not sure. Does it work? Definitely. While the subject matter may not fit your typical americana release, the songs are respectful, heartfelt and just damn good. A wonderful release.

Lucero - All A Man Should Do

Another band that I am always keeping tabs on, Lucero returned this year with their eight studio album. After eight releases, you think a band might have reached the ability of their creative juices. But this album sounds so fresh, There are songs of regret, musings on life however this is one of the bands most poppy records and it's all the better for it.

Andrew Combs - All These Dreams

Andrew Combs is a man that knows his country. The collection of songs in this album feel in many ways like classic country of the early 1970's when country stated to make a strong impression on the pop charts. Andrew composes some beautiful tunes of themes of love, sorrow and more that sit on arrangements that already feel like they are classic songs.

Gretchen Peters - Blackbirds

This release by Gretchen Peters was not one I expected to have on my best of this year. I'd been aware of Gretchen only by name before and hadn't given her music a proper listen. Her work with Ben Glover brought to this; "Blackbirds".  The title track is a sorrowful murder ballad and the theme of death sways around the rest of the album. With a number of great guest artists, this album manages to bring what are common themes in country music and add some fresh perspective. 

Dave Rawlings Machine - Nashville Obsolete

The Dave Rawlings Machine are in fact  Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch and have been for many years. If you are not aware both record using either names but always together. Both artists write on this album and it's great as a result. The lyrics vary from humorous wit to the sombre depending on who is behind the words. It's beautifully arranged and wonderfully produced. Just a lovely record.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Eirecana Podcast: December 2015 - The Best Americana of the Year

Bringing you the best of americana, alt-country and folk from Ireland and internationally.

Eirecana Podcast - Podcast VI: The Best of 2015

It's my last show of 2015. As it's the end of the year, it's natural to reflect on the year that was. So this episode is the start of my reflection on the year that was. Check out some of my favourites of 2015 below with more to come, I'm sure in January. 

You can download the episode via iTunes here and all other great podcast download services. The playlist is below.

Subscribe here
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbours
Here We Go
Leon Bridge
Coming Home
Coming Home
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
John Blek & The Rats
Guard My Borders
Randolf & The Crokers
Conversations Amongst The Ruins
Jason Isbell
Something More Than Free
Something More Than Free
Joe Fury & The Hayride
Oh, Judge
13 Hours
Stephen Young & The Union
DutyFree 200
Ben Glover
Too Long Gone
N.C Lawlor

The Mountain Man Band
Play That Song

The Hard Ground
Trypethch EP
The Mariannes
Lost at Sea
Lost With All Hands
James McMurty
Aint Got A Place
Complicated Game
Gavin Glass
Better Left Alone
Sunday Songs

Wanna Know More?

If this is the first time you are coming into contact with the Eirecana podcast, let me give you a little history and the who, what, when, where of the podcast.

I already host a radio show on Flirt FM but have always had the desire for a podcast. It gives you a bit more freedom to play what you want and talk more freely about life, the industry and whatever else comes into my head. So in summary, the podcast will feature a few things: it will be (i) a monthly show  (ii) it will feature the best music of the month (from what I've listened to) and (iii) it will be a lot more relaxed and personal than the radio show.

The best way to be sure that you will catch the latest episode is to subscribe here on iTunes. If you have an android phone, use an app like Podcast Republic to listen to the show.

If you have music that you would like to submit to the show, get in contact with me: ron [at] eirecana [dot] com or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Aborist: Bringing some deft touches to the americana genre

It's funny how you come across some artists. I was browsing through No Depression last week and happened to find myself reading Lee Zimmerman's series on Americana Abroad in which he covers the genre all over the world. One such artist that he mentioned was Aborist, a man by the name of Mark McCambridge. I listened to a few tracks and that has led to today's post.

I was sure I had head Mark's voice before and only after a bit of digging did I figure out where that was. Mark was once part of The Holy Innocents which I featured on the blog way back in 2012. Since then Mark has went out on his own. He first started performing as Arborist in February 2013.

Paradoxically, he left the Holy Innocents as he was unhappy with the direction and working on someone else's songs however he ended up working with Ben McAuley who he was in The Holy Innocents with on his new project.

Handily Ben is a sound engineer and drummer and so has come on board to the Arborist project.
Even more so than the Holy Innocents, who had a americana twinge to them but with a strong indie sway, Arborist in not shy about highlighting the fact that it is an americana outfit. Mark's style has some wonderful aspects. His songs are beautifully composed and pieced together. He even stated himself that he prefers the studio than the live space and it clearly shows in his songs. There is clear craft in songs like "Boarder Blood", there are a number of different parts to the melody but they are arranged to fit perfectly together around Mark's warm vocals. Sounding like what would happen if the Decemberists and the National wrote a song together, the tune feels like a modern waltz with a superb chorus to enjoy.

Mark has pointed out Jason Molina and Mark Mulcahy (two of my favourite artists) as some of his favourites, the ability to carry a song through using the voice not just as a way to get the lyrics out but as an instrument itself that can set the mood for any song. Mark and guess vocalist Kim Deal convey this ability in his recent single "Twisted Arrow". Powerful and impactful, the song seems to simmer along along with the occasional sudden spark, it draws you in.

I was trying to pinpoint who or what Mark reminds me of. The combination of the lyrics and voice full of character bring me back to Villagers and Conor O'Brien. Between him and Conor Oberst, I think there is room for one more talented songwriter in this genre.

You can find out more about Mark and Arborist on his Facebook page and his own website. He has a number of songs on Soundcloud that you can listen to. the debut album, Home Burial is due out soon.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Album Review: Jayne Trimble - In The Morning

After a flurry of media updates, it back to what (I think) I do best this week. It's an album review of Jayne Trimble's most recent release "In The Morning". The album was release in 2014 but as Jayne sent it all the way to me from Canada, I think it deserves my attention.

I introduced Jayne's music on the blog way back in October 2012. At that time she has released a lovely EP; "Run Onwards". One track "You'll follow Me" is one that I still find myself humming every now and again. At that time of that blog post I think Jayne was based in the U.S. She has since relocated to her new home of Vancouver, Canada. Her style as I mentioned in the other blog post is acoustic led, folksy roots. Think of artists like Neko Case, Josh Rouse, Nancy Griffith and you are not too far off. With the release of "In The Morning", she has progressed her journey into this genre.

The album opens with the straight-up folk ballad "Lay My Burden Down". The melody and her vocal style is reminiscent of classic English folk with its simple rhythm and gothic sounding lyrics. The beautiful Hammond gives the song a sombre feel.

In contrast, the third track "Paris of Green" demonstrates Jayne's ability to move deftly within this genre. Haunted by a lap steel throughout, the song brings together a beautiful melody and supberb song-writing. The words are simple but put together carry a lot of weight. The songs carry's a lot of images within it and has you intriguiged from the start: "my favourite, strawberry's and cream/or are you sleepy". It feels like there is a lot happening in those few words and that is a skill with words that you dont hear too often.

Tracks like "Meet You At The Gate" "Kingdom Come" and "Heartache of Goodbye" carry on this ability to bring to life experiences with a slight phrase; a few short words. That might make it sound like the album is full of tracks dedicated to raw personal experiences and one that you could imagine would be difficult to get through but that's not the case at all. The songs are well crafted and each takes you on a journey, while you might expect some of the bends, not all the turns are mapped. "3 Horses" is such an example.

In The Morning is a beauftifuly constructed record. While no song stands above another on this collection, the album is all the better for it. Definitely more the sum of its parts, the vocal harmonies, the soft and deft touched of Hammond and Horns throughout the record simply allow Jayne's vocals and words to shine.

You can find the album to stream on bandcamp. It's also available on iTunes and is definitely worth a download. Check out her Facebook for regular updates from her.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Eirecana Radio: 6th May 2015 - A Tour of the Southern States

Still getting through the Eirecana radio back catalogue. This show is a special one featuring Stella Mae of The Lost Highway Radio Show. The Lost Highway has finished their run on Flirt FM for what looks like for good so I thought I would invite Stella Mae in to talk about the show. Just a few episodes more and the back catalogue is done.

Don't forget to listen back to previous shows on Mixcloud if you want some quality americana radio! Eirecana radio is on every second Wednesday at 2pm. Catch up with previous shows on Mixcloud. Any requests, send them my way too.
You can stream the show through Mixcloud. The playlist is below.

Artist (with Link)
Oh Judge
13 Hours
Turtles all the Way Down
Metamodern Sounds in country music
DutyFree 200
Rumble Shake Fort
Long Black Veil

Statesboro Blues

Shake em’ On Down

Nelson’s County Breakdown
Nelson’s County

Should’ve California

Moving On

Burring Pain

Got Sunk Down

Where’s the Love

Lost My Way

Submit Music

If you want to submit music for the show (even your own), you never know I might play it! Please feel free to contact me at the email address: ron [at] So have a listen. If you like the show, check the back catalogue on Mixcloud. If you really like the show, tell someone!