It is that time of the month when we feature some of the artists who have kindly sent me their albums through the excellent ReviewShine service. As always there have been some real gems. Here are a couple of them.
First up are Piñataland, whose new album "Hymns For The Dreadful Night" comes out on 16 August. When I first downloaded it I had it on in the background without really concentrating and it sounded like a pleasant Americana album. Which it is. But when you listen more carefully it becomes a lot more interesting. There is an individuality and intelligence in the songs that really makes them stand out.
According to their own blurb, their "lyrics are about the murkier corners of the American past, and they sound like the lovechildren of Stephen Foster and Kurt Weil, or maybe if Up With People covered Laurie Anderson. The subjects of their darkly romantic tunes include digging up the corpse of Thomas Paine, godless 1670s Brooklyn, and the A-Bomb". Fortunately I didn't read that before listening to the album or I might never have bothered. But I'm glad I did.
Particular favourites are "An American Man" and this one, which borrows liberally from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Chuck Berry. I have no idea what they are on about but I like the way it sounds.
"Hiawatha" - Piñataland
Next up are Butchers Blind (no apostrophe it seems). From what I can gather they are a vehicle for the songs of one Pete Mancini, and while they are a little more conventional than Piñataland they are no less effective. The blurb mentions the likes of Gram Parsons, The Band and Wilco but for me the comparison that sprang immediately to mind was the Jayhawks. Which is no bad thing.
Butchers Blind's new album is "Play For The Films" and it comes out this weekend.
"Brass Bell" - Butchers Blind
Today's final selection is a bit of a cheat as I did not get it via ReviewShine, but it fits very well with the other two and it is too good to ignore - the "it" in question being "Gypsy Summer", the new album by Cam Penner. It is top-notch Americana from start to finish and I would heartily recommend it.
"Ghost Car" - Cam Penner
Now to the clips, which for once I have tried to link to the music. First we have possibly the only other popular song to refer to Hiawatha.
For Pete Mancini of Butchers Blind, here is Warren Zevon with a tribute to his Uncle Boom Boom.
Which leads inexorably - in my mind at least - to this: