mike davies column july 2020


Great news that GOODNIGHT LENIN have been reborn, the first new blossoms coming with the single In The Midnight Hour (Tiny Moon), a rework of live number Shut The Door now with strings, resurrecting their trademark soaring heaven-vaulting sound and here channelling the likes of Mogwai, The National and The Walkmen as it builds to a climax and then ebbs away into silence. A new album, Never Ending Album, is in the pipeline and will be preceded by frequent free download tracks, the next due in July.


CHRIS TYE has a new single out on the usual streaming platforms, So Distracted an otherworldly keys-backed (a synth harp perhaps?) number with a metronomic beat and choral-style backing vocals that is rather like being swept up by the incoming tide, the lyrics of which largely speak of finding them time to get things done and not being, well, distracted.


THE EVELYNS are a trio born from lockdown, comprising are Zoe Titchener and Mike Weston from Every Thread and Goodnight Berlin’s Adam Blair, their Bandcamp download singles Brighton Rock and Things recorded in spare bedrooms, across different parts of Birmingham. The former, Titchener on lead vocals with Blair joining in the chorus is a strummed guitar and piano shimmer reflection on a lost relationship, the latter, spotlighting Blair, is another strum, this time abut trying to make one work (“You know it's hard for me but I'll try/You know I'll push out all the bad things/And the demons in our life”).

Another fine Americana contribution from Birmingham, SWAMPMEAT FAMILY BAND comprise Dan Finnemore, T-Bird Jones, Tommy Hughes and former Pop Will Eat Itself member Richard March alongside contributions from Joni Coyne on vocals and Stewart Johnson, from The Broken Hearts on pedal steel.

Their second album, Muck opens with Be Here To Love Me which borrows its guitar riff from the J Geils Band’s ‘Centrefold’ while the track itself has a hint of Dylan about it, moving on to the tumbling chords and pedal steel laced Mothers Lies which brings on the horns for a Texicali feel, heading back into crunchier, guitar riffing Drive By Truckers territory with the midtempo If You Want Me To before kicking up a flurry of dust on the urgent drive of Over Your Head.

Monkey See, Monkey Do is the sort of punchy Stones country swagger with a feel of the rockier side of The Jayhawks while, by way of a switch, horns back in action and guitar set to twang, The Ballarat Ghost is cinematic instrumental, then there’s another swerve into Baby Made Her Plans which, again streaked by Johnson’s steel is a softly sung, gently rolling cosmic country number that calls to mind classic Dan Penn.

Hope I’m Wrong is another riff-driven swagger designed to get the crowds stomping along with Friends On The Floor all loose-limbed guitar and bass, heading to the end with guitar-slinging rock n roller Foggy Notion where Creedence and Jerry Lee are behind the bar and winding up with dobro shimmering across the clip clop trotting ‘Sleazy Rider’ where, Coyne on harmonies, their John Prine affections positively glow.

roots-and-branches.com 2020