Browsing Category

Americana Music Blog

America has been serving up slices of Americana since the mid-19th-century. The genre is an all-encompassing term for a variety of music styles that found their roots in America, including blues, bluegrass, country, and roots-rock. More often than not, Americana is a fusion of one or more forms of roots music, and it is commonly synonymous with folk-based country and singer-songwriter music.

Some of the most iconic Americana artists include Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earl. Steve Earl remains popular to this day; his 2021 album, J.T., was listed as one of the best Americana albums of the year. Other artists that featured alongside Earl on the albums of the year list included Brandi Carlile, John Hiatt, Jack Ingram and Strand of Oaks.

Prior to 2010, Americana was considered a niche genre, yet in a transition that no one anticipated, Americana moved into the mainstream. The artists responsible for pulling the genre into the limelight included The Lumineers, the Avett Brothers, and of course, Mumford & Sons. Despite being a British band, Mumford & Sons became one of the best-selling Americana artists in recent years. They made history when they became the first British band since Coldplay to make it big in the US and sell more than a million albums. Yet, Mumford & Sons held their hands up to admit that without The Lumineers, their success wouldn’t have been possible.

In the late 90s, the Americana Music Association was established in Nashville; and they still have their finger on the pulse to this day. In 2021, they named Black Pumas as the group of the year, Brandi Carlile as the artist of the year and Charley Crockett as the emerging artist of the year. It’s not surprising to see Black Pumas named as one of the Americana artists of the year; the Austin-based act has amassed over 100 million streams with their most popular soul psych song, Colors. They also picked up three Grammy nominations in 2020.

Americana received another uptick in interest with the release of the blockbuster film, A Star is Born, which followed a roots music raconteur (Bradley Cooper) on his quest for fame. Bradley Cooper’s character may have been fictional, but plenty of Americana history and culture was poured into the critically acclaimed film that became an overnight sensation; both Lukas Nelson and Brandi Carlile appeared in the film. It seems that as long as there are artists committed to planting roots of Americana into their music, it will never go out of trend.

Jennings Couch speaks for the overtly headstrong in his Americana-Esque Indie-Pop-Rock amalgam, No Hands

NYC-born, London-residing alternative artist Jennings Couch is putting every artist in the assimilation game to shame with his viscerally unique approach to genre-fluid ingenuity.

If you can imagine what it would sound like if Post Malone and Imagine Dragons met somewhere in the middle, you will start to get an idea of the innovation that melodically sparks through the entire duration of his transfixing track, No Hands.

The Americana-Esque instrumental amalgam of indie, pop and rock, creates a solid platform for the deadpan yet rhythmically sharp vocals that will tattoo themselves in your mind from the first hit. Lyrically, the track is for the overtly headstrong so intent on making their own way they don’t realise the distance they’ve created from the people that leave their hands outstretched to hold. The way the singer-songwriter approaches the lyrical concept is nothing short of genius.

No Hands will officially release on January 27th. You can catch it yourself on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Joey Sherman sings the beatnik blues in his acoustic rock single, Moonlit Night

Moonlit Night is the seminal lo-fi acoustic rock single from the singer-songwriter, Joey Sherman, who needs little more than an acoustic guitar, his engrossingly assured vocal timbre and his beatnik lyrics that will easily appeal to any fans of Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan.

As the ardent chords ring, Sherman transfuses Midwestern soul into the soundscape that may be rough around the edges, but it is still a shot to the heart for anyone who knows how it feels to constantly be rebuilding themselves from the ashes of their former lives with scant foresight over which path to push forward on at the crossroads.

Moonlit Night is now available to stream on YouTube.

Follow Joey Sherman on Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Californian solo artist, Beau James Wilding, put the grit in folk with his reverently fervid single, SET MYSELF ON FIRE

With the choppy discord in the acoustic guitar strings against his gravelly punk blues vocals, the Californian solo artist, Beau James Wilding, orchestrated a roots rock masterpiece with his latest single, SET MYSELF ON FIRE.

We didn’t need his bio to inform us of his intense emotional relationship with sound and music. But learning that the relationship was strengthened after he was left legally blinded by a disease at eighteen made the fierily ardent passion in SET MYSELF ON FIRE burn with even more reverence.

Any fans of Dogs D’Amour and The Quireboys won’t want this fervidly impactful single to pass them by. The dark poetic imagery in the lyrics paired with the frenetic pace of the guitar rhythms that consume the instrumental arrangement with their ragged timbre is a sobering multisensory experience that reaches the pinnacle of gritty folk.

SET MYSELF ON FIRE will officially release on January 13th. Stream it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Barnyard Stompers – Punk Rock Girl: A Honkytonk-Punk Rock Antithesis of a Love Story

Barnyard Stompers

I never knew how much I needed a gritty Americana track with psychobilly tendencies about the incompatibility between honkytonk guys and punk rock girls until I heard Barnyard Stompers’ narratively enticing single Punk Rock Girl. If you thought that Nick Cave could weave a compelling set of lyrics, prepare for your idol to be sonically knocked down a peg or two by Barnyard Stompers with their quintessentially country tones and ability to reel you in hook, lyric and sinker.

With touches of desert psych to the rolling basslines in the intro that give way to the definitive twang of Americana guitars and the astute observations about the contrast of the two cultures, “he doesn’t have a clue why you want to burn shit down”, it’s impossible not to get immersed in the antithesis of a love story.

Towards the outro following the Gretschy psychobilly riffs that fade into distorted obscurity away from the solid rockin’ rhythms, there is a twist! The honkytonk man was once a punk rock boy; he liked the new wave, ska, hardcore, psychobilly, and oi but threw away his DMs because there’s nothing punk about punk rock anymore. I can wholly relate.

Punk Rock Girl will officially release on January 13th. Check it out via the band’s official website.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

Paraguayan Southern Rock troubadour Sunburned River is beguilingly defiant in his cinematic single, Go On

Paraguayan Southern Rock troubadour Sunburned River closed 2022 with the release of his heart-wrenchingly defiant single, Go On.

Starting with choral 70s folk-rock tones, the disarming single seamlessly builds around orchestrally cinematic and baroque motifs, complementing the rugged acoustic guitar timbres and the low ethereal hum of his evocative vocal timbre. If that wasn’t enough sonic beguile, the singer-songwriter orchestrated an electric guitar riff solo for the ages.

Regardless of who you revere as a guitar hero, Sunburned River’s talent while ripping through the soaring lead guitar work is breath-takingly superlative. The only thing on par with his instrumental ability is his captivatingly immersive songwriting skills.

The official video for Go On is now available to stream on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Terry Blade warns even unconditional love has its limits in his Country-Blues single, ‘Won’t Be Around’

Two-time recipient of the Global Music Awards, Terry Blade, lined himself up for more prestigious accolades by recording his latest single, Won’t Be Around. The stripped-back simmering melting pot of Gospel-Esque Soul, Blues and Country commands your adoration from the first gravelled in feisty-fervour vocal note.

From there on out, the lyrics compel you to take stock of the protagonists in your life as you’re reminded that unconditional love always has its limits. With his voice commanding the soundscape, which paid homage to the roots of Americana with the minimalistic trickle of bluesy keys and strummed acoustic guitar notes, you’re left with no option but to be arrested.

During his career, which sheds light on his experience as a black gay artist, Terry Blade has picked up over 40 awards, And something tells us his glory days are far from behind him.

Won’t Be Around will officially release on January 6th. Hear it on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Two cultures collide in Rob Carey’s consoling amalgam of Americana and proto-rock NEW YORK STATE OF PLAY

Any fans of Violent Femmes and the Psychedelic Furs will easily find a place on their playlists for the jangly proto power-pop guitars against bluesy twangs of Americana in Rob Carey’s latest era-spanning alt-indie single, NEW YORK STATE OF PLAY.

The blissful harmonies entwined with the enrapturing warmth of his nostalgic tones pushed into overdrive, bypassing innovation, around the Billy Bragg-Esque edge of everyman blues, are a melodiously amalgamated remedy for the soul.

By day, Rob Carey is a mental health nurse and counsellor. By night, he uses his understanding of the complexities of the human psyche in his compassion-driven singles, which efficaciously envelop you in their consoling melodicism.

NEW YORK STATE OF PLAY officially released on December 14th. Hear it on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Ye Angst – 15: A Superlatively Succinct Alt-Indie Rock Remedy for the Soul

The indie singer-songwriter Ye Angst is renowned for sharing his artistic vision through the looking glass of youthful angst. In his evocatively enriched discography, which dates back to 2011, the perfect example is his exemplary single, 15. The jazz-blues piano keys around the Americana folk-rock body unravels as a superlatively succinct remedy for the soul.

In the same way, Cohen, Cat Stevens and Lou Reed emanate elevated grace, Ye Angst is in the habit of implanting ethereally cathartic instrumental accord in his singles that will effortlessly take you to a higher plateau while the lyrics and vocals pull you back down to our ennui-imparting earth.

Nearly a decade has passed since the release of 15, but the timeless single still resounds with glistening gospel for the impiously disenfranchised. Even around the complex instrumental interludes that give way to Journey-Esque heart-in-throat vocals, you’ll be caressed by the upliftingly melodic single, which perfectly rounds itself with orchestral strings for a filmic touch.

Succumb to the soul in 15 by heading over to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

What it means to be lost: Jamos Blood – Flesh and Back to Bone

Jamos Blood sludged up blues-rock in the standout single, Flesh and Back to Bone, from his debut EP, Blood Brothers, which delivers swampy riffs, train track rhythms and a sense of ennui that cries out to the disenfranchised by uncertain futures masses.

Gonna walk my dog til he don’t walk no more” beautifully and sentimentally encompasses the notion that everything is fleeting in a cruel world which pulls away every anchor, eventually.

The EP was recorded with Blood’s late brother, Clayton, which puts even more context behind the titular disposition and the themes of love and loss that will wash with any Waits and Petty fans.

As someone who is no stranger to grief, it was all too easy to connect with Jamos Blood’s psyche in Flesh and Back to Bone. The sense of lost listlessness with splinters of optimism that can often feel naïve was captured with such finesse in the roots-driven rock hit it is easy to view Jamos Blood as one of the most important voices of our era.

Flesh and Back to Bone is available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Chris Landry un-reliced roots music in his debut album ‘Marylou’

Chris Landry is a well-known name in the Ottawa music scene; the singer-songwriter and musician has been writing, recording, and touring since the turn of the century. At the start of his accoladed journey, he livened the punk and rock scenes. Now releasing music as a solo artist using his own name as a moniker, he’s delivering roots music entwined with a sense of soul that brings to life his observationally arresting lyricism.

His debut album, Marylou, was officially released on November 8th. The title single is a compellingly contemporary reiteration of country that proves his maturity as a songwriter. After the desert-y bass rumbles in the prelude, on top of the foot-stompin’ percussion, his vocal melodies soar above the pedal steel and organ wails, giving that iconic country sound a new lease of life with the same zeal of Kurt Vile.

Chris Landry’s debut album is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast