= November 2020 =  
 the Left Outsides
 The Pilgrim
 Moths and Locusts
 Allysen Callery
 Keiron Phelan
 Quietened Dream Palace
 Sam Burton
 Martin Stone
 Nick Jonah Davis
 Heather Trost
 Dodson and Fogg
 Daniel and Palmer
 Aquarius Lux



(LP from Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records  )

It’s been quite a year of releases for Alison Cotton and Mark Nicholas, known collectively as The Left Outsides. Aside from that sumptuous Eighteenth Day Of May reissue back in May (the 18th no less) we’ve been blessed with two full length Alison solo releases (four if you count the initial cassette releases) and now a second long form release for The Left Outsides, following the recent vinyl debut pressing of last year’s A Place To Hide.

To describe their latest offering in cricketing terms, each delivery is slow to medium paced and make liberal use of the outfield in terms of natural found sounds, with oars cutting through water here, church bells, crunching leaves and closing doors elsewhere. Vocal duties are more or less equally shared between the protagonists which also makes for a balanced juxtaposition of tone and texture. There is less reliance on harmonium this time around with Mark’s guitar noticeably to the fore, often resulting in a stimulating effect on the neck hairs. And while The Left Outsides have travelled far since their days as part of Eighteenth Day of May they have left a trail of breadcrumbs leading back home. Whereas the base sauce can still be identified as part of the folkish diaspora, though, from there they concoct different musical landscapes encompassing the drone, a soupcon of slowed-down Latino rhythms, almost disconcertingly perky pop sensibilities and a curiously overcast soundtrack of Laurel Canyon.

Assiduous Mark and Alison watchers will note that not all of Are You Sure I Was There? has the pure scent of new born baby about it. ‘My Reflection Once Was Me’ featured on A Place To Hide (indeed they did us the honour of leading with it at last year’s Terrascope Woolf extravaganza) and is here in all its hymnal majesty, underpinned by Mark’s single note dirge riffing and featuring a sonorously kneecapping viola that leaves me with the overwhelming urge to oak panel the office veal crate and never leave. The single ‘Things Can Never Be The Same Again’ is a steely half sibling with bitter notes companion to the peerless title track of their previous studio album All That Remains, driven by some muscular and jarring guitar while the fittingly entrancing ‘Séance’ recently featured on Help The Witch a compilation album based on Tom Cox’s book of ghostly short stories of the same name and which believe me is well worth investigation.

The rest of the album is similarly cast in exquisitely crafted and often gut-wrenchingly beautiful melodies. ‘The Wind No Longer Stirs The Trees’ possesses a timeless quality that seems instantly comforting and familiar, a quite upbeat folk-pop melody with Alison’s vocal lines falling away as if shedding leaves. It also possesses a typically winning swoon section possessed of wordless vocal, viola and singe chord guitar cascades. It sets an immediately demanding benchmark and they hardly falter thereafter. ‘Only Time Will Tell has the air of big production value that harks back to some of those cusp of prog classic singles circa 1968, while The Stone Barn’ is built on the foundations of ‘Helpless’ and similarly hewn country rock ballads. You can also easily imagine Mr Young intoning and puffing away on ‘Between The Lines’ (the track which contains the line which gives the album its title). It’s all typical of how The Left Outsides take an unassuming but tasty template and hammer out their own sound, working it into intricate and fascinating shapes. There are even hints of Forever Changes-style orchestral sweeps in the bridge section of ‘A Face In The Crowd’ (joined by an affirmative spoken-word call-to-arms in the outro). By contrast ‘November On My Mind’ is jaunty in a way that evokes The Easybeats’ ‘Friday On My Mind’ and a certain ‘California Dreaming’ but how reassuringly typical that they should dedicate such a sweet tune to the dreariest of months.

A rich feast of autumnal indulgence, Are You Sure I Was There? is one for those who groove on the gloom and who appreciate the beauty and depth in this kind of deliciously refined melancholia. Quite how The Left Outsides aren’t much more widely-known remains something of a mystery and one can but hope that they will reach a broader and more appreciative audience with what is their most accessible and radio friendly release since The Shape Of Things To Come. With the Cardinal’s left foot and the some well-earned US distribution firmly behind them one can only hope their time has come at last.

(Ian Fraser)



(Cassette/DL from https://pefkin.bandcamp.com/)

It has taken me longer than anticipated to get around to reviewing this album, so long in fact that the cassette has now sold out, although you can still stream/download the music on Pefkin's Bandcamp page and you should.

    Containing three long droning tracks, fans of Gayle Brogan will not be disappointed as “Eddying” floats in on a ripple of drone and field recordings, Gayle's voice at its sweetest as she paints pictures to accompany the sound. As the track moves forward the sounds writhe and entwine, creating a serenely textured soundscape with a hint of the discordant, the music changing as it flows, the drone ever rising becoming more dissonant as time passes.

   Continuing in the same vein, “Deep Sea Deep Time” is like floating in the middle of a vast ocean, absorbing everything around, living in the moment, safe yet completely alive. Again the voice adds a delightful sweetness to the piece, flashes of sunshine sparkling off the waves, rippling bass notes creating movement allowing the sounds to ebb and flow.

   Finally, “Swan Wing Burial” takes into a magical realm, voice and instruments blending into plainsong atmospherics, the listener led through mystical cloisters adorned with roses and a glowing ambience. Truly contemplative, the piece demands that you listen intently, preferably with low lighting, a solitary pleasure that is blissful and very inviting.

   Sold out as a physical release this album is crying out to be released on vinyl, the perfect format for this enchanting collection, so if anyone fancies starting a record label your first release is ready to go. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/CD/Digital on Heavy Psych Sounds Records)

Italy’s The Pilgrim has released their second excellent album in as many years, …From the Earth to the Sky and Back, and don’t forget that leading “…”  The story of The Pilgrim has similarities to that of Custard Flux.  It’s an album of psychedelic rock made with mostly acoustic instruments as a side project from guys normally affiliated with a heavier band.  And also similar to The Talented Mr. Curvey, one chap does the lion’s share of it.  And finally, as with Custard Flux, the results are quite splendid.  (But they don’t really sound that similar).

Gabriele Fiori is the main man for both Heavy Psych Sounds Records and headbangers Black Rainbows, and The Pilgrim is his other baby.  They released their debut in 2019, Walking Into the Forest, another fine LP.  For this follow-up, he’s ably assisted on drums again by fellow Rainbow Filippo Ragazzoni, and Ryan Lee on pedal steel for a couple of tracks.  But Fiori handles everything else, and it’s a lot.  He’s a magnificently talented musician.  When most people hear “acoustic” and “rock,” they think psych folk or some such.  As for The Pilgrim, er, no.  This is Rock.  Superb Rock.  And terribly sorry, just one more Custard Flux parallel, there are passages that go by where you don’t even notice it’s acoustic, not electric instruments making such a filled-out sound.

The Pilgrim comes out strongly right out of the gate, with lead single “Mexico ‘84.”   On this and every song, Fiori holds onto and stretches the bejesus out of nearly every syllable at the end of a phrase, “you can be so satisfi-i-i-i-ed.”  It’s a very cool sound.  He adds a blistering fried electric guitar solo (shhh, he doesn’t do it often on this acoustic album but I wish he did).

Fiori is reaching for a Western desert vibe imagery, replete with visual undulating waves of heat and uncoiling rattlesnakes in the dust.  And just check out that fantastic cover art by Marteen Donders.  Nowhere is this imagery more lyrically grounded than the ode to a spaghetti western, the suite “Obsessed By The West Part I, II, III, IV.”

Whether it’s the acoustic guitar speed-freak mastery on “Lion” and “Riding the Horse,” the false endings of “Fool Around” and others, or the fantastic flamenco flourishes of “Cuba,” Fiori brandishes sensational songwriting and musicianship.

The second half of the album touches on more introspective subject matter, often dialing in our personal insecurities, late-night self-doubts and love’s regrets.  Still, the playing remains superior across the board, witness the mind-blowing “Solitude.”

Heavy Psych Sounds is possibly the best when it comes to giving you your money’s worth with deluxe artwork, packaging, merchandise and other goodies, and this LP is no exception, so check them out.

I give a rousing recommendation for The Pilgrim and this LP.  It’s full of great lyrical imagery, ace songwriting, and spirited high-energy acoustic performances.

(Mark Feingold)



(LP/CD/Cassette on Weird Beard Records and NoiseAgonyMayhem Records)

Moths & Locusts hail from Nanaimo, British Columbia and have graced our collective ears with a series of finely crafted, creative and dynamic Cosmos bound psych rock releases over a number of years blending earthy and dark doom and stoner rock with spacey psychedelia and kosmische . As a musical collective and in well paired collaborations such as with Damo Suzuki and Twink they have demonstrated an adventurous approach to their sonic palette where soothing melody and sometimes seething power work hand in hand to great effect. Moths & Locusts  have previously journeyed into space with Twink on the excellent ‘Think Pink IV: Return to Deep Space’  and now they go a little further out beyond our universe on ‘Exoplanets’ which has apparently been 10 years in the making.

Opener ‘Cocaine Kangaroo’ opens with a squall of noise before hitting its stride with a solid seventies style riff that has touches of Black Sabbath and a big hit of Levitation era Hawkwind in its urgent and spacey, almost motorik boogie drenched in cosmic noise. It’s a boisterous and infectious start to proceedings. ‘Ghengis Khan’ follows and cooks up an intense and intoxicating psychedelic brew with effects drenched and distant chanted vocals, floating flute melodies, electric drones and textures and ritualistic drumming creating an eastern tinged otherworldliness that intensifies further in powerful guitar and drum led breaks. ‘Nero’s Surgery’ begins gently with an acoustic based tune that slowly breaks down and becomes enveloped in snatches of distorted guitar solos, electronic sound and vocal treatments. It’s experimental and a little unsettling but on a record that visits uncharted worlds it fits in quite nicely. ‘A Ram Named Drama’ is another rhythmically strong track where vocal snippets, an array of spacey ambient noise effects and an insistent riff work up a space rock sweat around the beat. It has a strong Krautrock feel at times and yet a kind of new wave energy lies within.  ‘Avulsion’ turns up the bass and guitars once more with an energetic riff and beat that is perhaps more Route One than other tracks but nonetheless it’s a quality foot tapper and head shaker.

The centrepiece of the record is the almost 16 minutes long title track and it’s quite a journey. A reflective, ambient opening section of guitar and flute enriched beauty slowly gathers pace with controlled vocal harmonies and restrained drumming entering the mix before fuzz laden and brooding guitars and ecstatic solos, growling bass, dark, distorted and disturbing drones, freer vocals, crashing drums and cavernous harmonies break loose, turn the energy levels up and take the music into the spaceways and occasionally the edge of chaos. Amazingly the flute rides this wall of sound and indeed matches it for drama, in a sense providing a defining features of the music until quite some way in. For all the noise that is generated as the track progresses it has moments where it takes a breath and there is light and calm in short interludes. The dynamics of the track are wonderful. After this epic excursion into space, ‘Fresh Red Blood’ brings the record home with an atmospheric kosmische infused gliding cosmic vibe where modular sounds and melodies engulf the beat to fade into the starry beyond.

This is a wonderful record filled with atmosphere, groove, a skilful balance of serenity and power and indeed plenty of imagination and invention establishing otherworldly moods and mental journeys befitting the album title. As a soundtrack for the final frontier it’s the logical choice and as ever this is a limited release so my advice is to invest at warp speed.

 (Francis Comyn)



Available on limited vinyl LP from bandcamp.com

This is the ninth studio album from New England folk artist Allysen Callery, where haunting songs are delivered expertly by unadorned finger picked acoustic guitar. It is fairly stark and draws heavily from the British based folk artists who rose up in the late sixties and early seventies, if you didn’t know its provenance you may well believe that you have stumbled upon on a long lost early seventies classic. She is certainly a terrific finger picking guitar player with a voice in which I hear shades of Shirley Collins.

The record starts with “Beautiful Teeth”, (a sore point as I’ve just come back from my first dental visit in six years), it is a hushed song of quiet beauty. “I Can’t See You”, adds some sparse electric guitar from producer Myles Baer. “Sea Change”, a song about the sea and of change, a lovely guitar figure accentuating her poetical words to fine effect. “Tarot Card” also features some electric guitar from Myles, a song about preordained futures and of speaking in riddles with lovely finger picked cyclical guitar figure. “Fair Warning”, is a knowing song about beautiful things, beautiful things which are also full of poison. The last song on side one is a beautiful instrumental straight out of the Takoma School of guitarists entitled “In Your Perfumed Chambers”.

“November Man”, is about Nick Drake (who the album is dedicated to, along with all the quiet ones). The traditional song ‘Katie Cruel’ is up next and she does a great job on it highlighting the melody with her expertly played finger picking, the strings ringing out cleanly. “Elemental Child”, is a nature song, of sun, wind and rain. Another cover appears next, the Anne Briggs song “Go Your Way”, accompanied by some exquisite acoustic guitar. “I Remember Everything”, of shadows and dreams, with a very pretty melody. The album ends with “Our Lady Of The Highway”, a gentle yearning song of quiet grace and beauty. This is one of those albums for long dark winter nights with a flickering fire and a glass full of malt whisky.

(Andrew Young)



(Limited to 111 Vinyl LP’s available from www.somsverker.com )

Hailing from Uppsala in Sweden Urtidsdjur are a four piece band consisting of Emil Niklasson: guitar and vocals. Gustaf BostrÖm: guitar and vocals Kettil Engberg: drums and vocals and Affe Kihlberg: bass and vocals. The band name refers to a prehistoric animal.

If you are partial to the music of Dungen and Trad Gras Och Stenar then you will absolutely love the music of Urtidsdjur. This I believe is their debut album and a bit of a corker it is too.

Opener “Karta And Kompass” has plenty of twists and turns and adding in some saxophone, there are some delicious melodies, which being sung in Swedish I can’t inform you of what the song is about. The lengthy “Väntar På Riktning” slows things down and is quite expansive with glimmering electric guitars ringing out to a chorus of Kom Kom Kom, some excellent wah wah too. “Vandringssång”, has some Jaw harp and a nice tricksy guitar riff which they all bounce off. The album has a really tasty organic sound, which lends itself to analogue; in fact vinyl is definitely the right format for the band. Side one closes with “Klockor Klämter”, which translates to bells are ringing, features some beautiful shimmering pedal steel guitar playing from Nick Widen.

Side two starts with “Luftslott” named after a castle in the air, is a fairly catchy rocker on which the band fire on all cylinders. “Människa”, slows things down a bit, a pastoral melodic song informed by a lovely descending bass figure and spacey keys. “Olyckskorp”, has a glammy feel to it, in three distinct parts, again it is melodic and organic with expansive drums, deep bass, crunchy electric guitars and drifting steel. The album ends with the lengthy “Hitta Hem”, which bleeds into ‘Eben Ha-‘Ezer in which lead and wah wah guitars create a nice bad upon which the band sympathetically play along to. I love the sound of this album; it has been well recorded. My new favourite Swedish band, I recommend that you to seek out a copy.

(Andrew Young)




This is the second alum from Keiron Phelan & Peace Signs, following on reasonably swiftly from predecessor Peace Signs released in 2018 an unexpected peach of an album. Unexpected because he sang on it and I primarily knew him as an instrumentalist with State Widening River, Smile Down Upon Us and Ellis Island Sound amongst others.

The musicians accompany him with aplomb, led by James Stringer’s Piano. The musicians are Keiron: Vocals, acoustic guitar and flute Jenny Brand: clarinet, Jack Hayter: pedal steel and violin, Giles Barrett: bass guitar, Ian Button: drums with Ben Kelly and Thom Punton adding colour with tuba and trumpet.

Opener and title track “Hobby Jingo”, has some fine slippery steel and clever wordplay, it’s very upbeat and summery. An achingly beautiful clarinet and piano melody introduces “You Never Put A Man On The Moon”, again it is very playful with shades of Elvis Costello and Richard Hawley should you require touchstones and it’s also a hell of an earworm, what we have here is a classic pop song. “Candy Floss Hair” has such a light bouncy rhythm and is the one that reminds me most of his Smile Down Upon Us band. The snappily titled “How Are You Getting Home, Imogen” is informed by plenty of steel. “The Man Who Sang Eurovision” is introduced by a haunting flute melody and sees Keiron playing his primary instrument with a delicate fluency. Again it is soufflé light confection. “New Best Friend” is about as rocky as things get on this album, there is not an electric guitar in sight but Jack plays some stinging slide lap steel guitar fills throughout.

Jack takes centre stage for the first cover song on the album; a cover of Vangelis’s “Break”, his pedal steel playing on this is ever so inventive, accompanied by James’s stately piano. Another soufflé light melody introduces the ever so hummable Cinnamon Synthesis and poses the question; have you ever felt love like this? It sees Keiron let lose in a perfumery. A brief reprise of the title track called “Jingo Piano” by James, then “What Kaiser Did”, which is a jaunty waltz about Kaiser Wilhelm 11. Things slow down with the beautiful baroque melodies of “After The Last Hurrah”, a haiku like mantra about working hard to set yourself free. A short funky “Sixth Form Poetry” is fun and again has some great wordplay. The final song is the second cover version on the album, Bill Fay’s “Goodnight Stan”, on which Keiron is accompanied solely by James’s elegant piano playing. This is a breeze of an album and a pure joy to listen to. 

(Andrew Young)



(Available on CD from www.ayearinthecountry.co.uk )

This is the last release of the year from A Year In The Country and features music from Grey Frequency, Field Lines Cartographer, Keith Seatman, Pulselovers, Sproatley Smith, The Howling, Folclore Impressionistas, Listening Center, The Seance, Widow’s Weeds, Handspan, Vic Mars, The Heartwood Institute and A Year In The Country.

It is an exploration of closed down cinemas, either derelict or abandoned to decay, the dreams and ghosts of a public building, faded snapshots of a bygone age. Again it comes in two sumptuous editions Dawn and Dusk put together with their meticulous note to detail, each a hand-finished limited edition cd, and using archival giclee pigment inks, also they come with a badge.

Grey Frequency light up some autumn rain, Field Lines Cartographer are woozy and narcoleptic. Keith Seatman gives us a Saturday carousel of a tune, menacing and scary. You can rely on Pulselovers to deliver and they do a great job on “The Gaumont Frieze”. Good old Sproatly Smith appears with a song inspired by his gran who worked in the Ritz cinema in Hereford, his merry band making mischief in the background whilst she reminisces to synths and birdsong. After Ice creams it’s time for a little armchair travel with Folclore who visit an abandoned Russian cinema. Listening Center go to the Metropole with “Meet You Outside The New Metropole”. Then we are at Saturday morning club with The Seance who have ingested too much sugar for “Minors Club”.

Widow’s Weeds deliver a treatise on the “Celluloid Ghosts” of Scottish cinemas long lost in the mists of time. A ghostly disinterred female voice calling us from our stupor. Handspan are new to me and they do something interesting with converted samples of watches and chains. Jonathan Sharp’s The Heartwood Institute are something of an institution for ayitc and they draw on past experience as a cinema projectionist to imbue “Carbon Arc” with a suitable ghostly aura. A Year In The Country remember a time when we clung to the spinning reels and flickering images of non digital cinema with “Memoirs Of A Magic Lantern”. The record ends with Vic Mars who takes us back to the Odeon in High Town with its art deco interior before it became a sterile shopping precinct with “Only The Clock Remains”.

(Andrew Young)



(LP/CD/Digital on Tompkins Square Records)


He had me at “Tomorrow’s down the line.”


That would be the opening line from “Nothing Touches Me,” the first track from Sam Burton’s stunning debut LP proper, I Can Go With You.  The songwriter from Salt Lake City, and lately of Los Angeles, has kicked around with a shoegaze band and released some solo DIY music on cassette before being signed by the venerable San Francisco label Tompkins Square, purveyors of the highest quality acoustic music.


Burton’s buttery smooth baritone grabs you immediately.  His wistful, melancholy songs recall the music of early Tim Buckley or Nick Drake, with a voice sounding not a million miles away from early John Denver.  The album, produced by Jarvis Taveniere, has a lean feel, with Burton’s acoustic guitar and plenty of echo on his vocals, plus a small backing band of bass, drums, keyboards, and occasional pedal steel.  And you will find that’s all you really need to support Burton’s captivatingly beautiful songs and singing.


On the aforementioned “Nothing Touches Me,” Burton is joined by Kacey Johansing on vocals, drums and keyboards.  Her understated but valuable backing vocals recall Emmylou Harris’s contributions to Bob Dylan’s ‘Desire’ and albums with Gram Parsons, or Nicolette Larson’s work with Neil Young.  Burton’s songs are autumnal, personal works tailor-made for leaves falling and blowing about a wooded path.


Sam follows this with another killer track, the title song “I Can Go With You.”  With a drop-dead gorgeous melody, all minor and major seventh chords (translation:  sad and poignant) and that voice, the song is swoon-worthy, if people still swoon.


Songs like “Stagnant Pool” and “Wave Goodbye” with their slight train-going clip clop beat, and the mournful “She Says That She Knows” with its soft, plinking piano and synth, only add to the wondrous magic.


The album’s soaring highlight is “I Am No Moon.”  Softly strummed and sung, the rising and falling strings by Eliza Bagg are in a Lee Hazlewood-type arrangement, rocketing the song from already beautiful to utterly timeless and breathtaking.  I will never ever grow tired of listening to “I Am No Moon.”  Burton says, “it’s about the inevitability of change, how we must make a choice when we are confronted with it.  That we cannot remain in reflection.”


Going from strength to strength, the pretty “Illusion” tugs on the heartstrings, and features a nice accordion or harmonium turning into synth, while “Wave Goodbye” adds lovely 12-string guitar to Burton’s dulcet tones.


Jarvis Taveniere’s production is very basic, nothing fancy, and it works just right on the album, when you have writing and a voice as moving as Sam Burton’s.  But I’d love to see a follow-up with someone handling production and arrangements like what Jonathan Rado tastefully did for Weyes Blood or Gus Seyffert did for Bedouine.


It may be unwisely early to do so, and this has so far been another very strong but painful year, but I’m going to boldly plant my flag and say I Can Go With You is my #1 album of 2020, and challenge all comers to knock it off that perch in the remainder of the year.  Sam Burton’s sound, though gentle through-and-through, is instantly magnetic and charismatic, and will touch you with its inner warmth.  You can’t not love this peaceful, graceful album.


(Mark Feingold)



(book and 4CD boxed set from Shagrat Records)

Subtitled ‘The Mad Dog Chronicles’ and enticingly catalogued as Mad Dog Box 01, leaving us salivating for another box or two of outtakes and other assorted goodies before we’ve even started, this glorious 4 CD collection follows the late, great Martin Stone’s musical explorations between 1992 and 2014, including most notably stints with the marvellous Wolf People, the glorious OTs (Old Tossers) and even the briefly re-formed Mighty Baby, although also chronicling acts as diverse as the Tallahassee Rent Boys, Soupcoupes Violentes, Almost Presley and Totally Hank.  Martin Stone was equally at home playing rockabilly, swing, punk, country, blues and rock guitar, and was just as distinctively, individually, singularly brilliant at each and every one of them. Like Micky Jones of Man, Martin was a soloist who never seemed to play the same phrase twice.

This is a rich seam of music which has to my knowledge never previously been mined. Like many fans of Martin Stones’s work with Mighty Baby (and there can be few Terrascope readers who didn’t grab the wonderful 6CD boxed set of their work released by Grapefruit last year, even though many of us had all of their records in any case) and Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers (who similarly had a 2CD collection entitled ‘Real Sharp’ released by Last Music), I lost track of Martin around that curious time when pub rock morphed into punk. He briefly appeared on the 1977 ‘Bunch of Stiffs’ label compilation, and I well remember queuing up outside Wessex Records in Bath one damp morning that year hoping that the promised copy of the Pink Fairies 45 on the nascent Stiff Record label ‘Between The Lines’ (catalogue number Buy 2) had arrived as promised; it had, and it didn’t disappoint! Sadly however Martin’s tenure with the Fairies that had promised so much delivered so little, beyond earning him the nickname ‘Mad Dog’, and petered out with no further recordings being released.

Martin, somewhat amazingly perhaps to those of us who knew of him only through his music, dropped off the musical radar and reinvented himself as an antiquarian book dealer. Apparently, he was one of the very, very best at that too. A year or so after he passed away his friends from the world of rare books published ‘The Remarkable Martin Stone’ (printed, rather beautifully I might add, by Alastair Johnston at the Poltroon Press in Berkeley, USA) which celebrated Martin’s “other” life and exploits. Martin himself meanwhile relocated to Paris, where his distinctive wardrobe and elegantly wasted physique (“like a psychedelic Wurzel Gummidge”, according to Wreckless Eric) made him hard to miss, and he only gradually slipped back into music, although very little was released beyond the occasional cassette - a notable exception being a CD by Les Homewreckers released back in the mid-90s on the U.S. label Casino Records featuring Martin Stone on guitar and vocals, Laurence Barma on vocals and a backing band that included Martin’s erstwhile Chilli Willi chums, Pete Thomas and Paul Riley on a couple of tracks. Comprising mainly Stone originals plus a stellar cover of Donovan’s ‘Hey Gyp’, it’s a snapshot of where Martin was musically at a time when his reputation as a legendary book scout was gaining momentum.

‘Down but Not Out in Paris and London’ overlaps (but doesn’t duplicate) that release, and is presented approximately chronologically with the first CD featuring Martin with Almost Presley recorded in Paris in 1992 and CD2 dominated by the Tallahassee Rent Boys and Totally Hank recorded in France between 1993 and 1996.

CD3 is absolutely essential listening - worth the very reasonable cost of admission alone! Kicking off with two collaborations with Matt Deighton (who was introduced to Martin by David Tibet, as recounted in his eminently readable contribution to the enclosed hardback book), including a fabulous reworking of Mighty Baby’s ‘Jug of Love’, it’s followed by a briefly reunited Mighty Baby (augmented by Deighton) performing ‘India’ at the Borderline in 2006 and to cap it all, none other than Wolf People with Martin on guitar recorded in their rehearsal space in London in 2012.

Nigel Cross around this time would occasionally put on gigs for an invited audience upstairs at the Doghouse in Kennington, London - I well remember seeing Woolf People there one time. Most memorable of all though was Nigel’s birthday bash in April 2011 that featured sets by the Gibson Girls (Simeon Gallu and Martin Stone), Starry Eyed and Laughing - contemporaries of Chilli Willi, and a band who are long overdue a reappraisal (if not a resurrection!) themselves - and the OTs with Martin Stone and Chris Youlden. Three bluesy numbers by the OTs are featured on Disc 4, recorded in the studio in June that same year. Marvellous stuff.

As Nigel remarks in his exemplary introduction, it was a bitter twist of fate that the very same day that the wonderful, golden being that was Martin Stone passed away, America installed Trump in the White House. Four years later the only antidote to the ridiculousness of history repeating itself must surely be to play Martin’s music back to back and on repeat.

(Phil McMullen)



(LP from Thread Recordings)

This short yet perfectly formed paean to the arrival of a daily newspaper finds our old friend Nick Jonah Davis, accomplished solo artist as well as accompanist to Sharron Kraus, Alasdair Roberts and Jim Ghedi, shining the light of his gloriously fluid, crystalline guitar work ever further into the dark underground chasms left behind by the workings once so successfully mined by the Takoma and Transatlantic labels, Davis’ delightful fretboard skills echoing both the visionary John Fahey’s American Primitive fingerpicking & slide work and on the other hand, both John Renbourn and Bert Jansch’s genius for captivating the British folk muse, the latter particularly well represented on the bluesy ‘The Muckle Master’ which closes Side 1.

Indeed, delving still deeper on arguably one of the stand-out tracks on this, his fifth album, Davis blends a delicate acoustic whimsy with Columbiform whistles and shimmering sounds of forest ambience that echoes the work of German musical collective Popul Vuh on ‘Whistle on Woolf’ - a song which Nick admits “was written in my tent on the morning of the first Woolf Music Festival!”

Like Davis’ much-lauded and gloriously multi-layered 2015 album ’House of Dragons’, ‘When the Sun Came’ opens with the title track: in this case the evocation of a hazy Summer’s day photographed through an old Leica lens, the splashes of slide guitar merging into colourful waves of shimmering light against a dextrously fingerpicked landscape. It’s a stunningly atmospheric performance, one which sets you up nicely for what’s to follow: the haunting darkness of ‘Goodfellow of the Riverside’, which is like suddenly stepping into the depths of a forest on a golden afternoon; and out again into the light courtesy of my personal favourite song on here, ‘Ramsons’ which is the soundtrack of an invigorating walk across the history-laden downs accompanied by slide guitar and finger picking that builds to an almighty crescendo.

I’m just lightly brushing the surface of a rich and complex canvas here. Every song deserves your close attention and will reward you thousands of times over. Do yourself a favour and make this the immersive soundtrack to your own second lockdown.

(Phil McMullen)



(LP/CD on Third Man Records)


This is a pleasing release of psych folk from New Mexico artist Heather Trost on Jack White’s Third Man label.  Fans of Melody’s Echo Chamber will instantly identify with and luxuriate in Heather’s brand of airy psychedelic pop and folk.  Heather and husband Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel) crafted the album over the course of 2018-2019.  The two also form A Hawk and a Hacksaw, an altogether different sounding outfit, which takes its inspiration from the folk music of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, and other Eastern European countries.


The dreamy vibe gets going right off the bat with “Let It In.”  Heather’s vocals sometimes remind me of a young girl singing to herself in her room (and in parts of “Let It In,” even sound like she’s singing under water).  She and Barnes, both multi-instrumentalists, do a wonderful job, along with a handful of supporting musicians, of creating the woozy sound space.  Trost’s primary instrument is the violin, but her fiddling is selective on Petrichor, and all the more striking when she brings it in.


The galloping “Love It Grows” sounds like an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western score colliding with hazy French chanteuse music in some fuzz guitar-drenched cosmic musical superhighway.  “Tracks to Nowhere” pits 60s girl group sounds and drama over an arpeggiated (and barely in-tune) guitar, all broadcast from a dark David Lynchian creep fest.  The song “ends” twice, and returns from great beyond with greater production each time.


“I’ll Think of You” features a lovely combination of Heather’s violin playing and Mellotron.  She covers Harry Nilsson’s 1971 “Jump Into the Fire,” with an upbeat psychedelic treatment including a distorted version of her violin.  It reminds me a bit of goosed-up Black Angels, and even features a surprising, short, heavily processed drum solo.  If she ever gets to play it live, the song cries out for colorful psychedelic visuals behind her.  Closer “Sunrise” goes out in a reprise of the dreamy, lysergic musical theme from the first track “Let It In,” which is no bad thing.


Petrichor is well-crafted psychedelic pop sure to lighten up your day.


(Mark Feingold)



(Wisdom Twins download and “Collector’s Edition” CD/DVD package)

Chris Wade has been entertaining and enthralling us across more than two dozen releases over the past eight years, often issuing two and three albums a year. During this time, he has also written numerous music biographies (Dylan, Zappa, Madonna, Neil Young, Captain Beefheart, Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen and many more) and film analyses (Orson Welles, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen, et. al.) and directed several short films. His latest release, a 5-track EP combines these passions via an accompanying DVD (in the CD/DVD “collector’s edition”; the EP is also available as a separate download and you can watch the film online here) that sets his musical creations to visual accompaniment - a 22-minute film shot pre- and post-COVID. It’s another step forward in this amazing Renaissance man’s career.

     ‘That’s Why I Came Along’ opens the set with a dreamy bedsit rumination featuring Wade’s familiar mix of acoustic melodies and tasty electric solos and ‘Through The Dust’ continues that mellow intimate front room concert vibe. I was pleasantly reminded of Neil Young’s and Jeff Kelly’s solo careers coupled with fragrances of laid back Laurel Canyon evenings sitting cross-legged in front of the stereo listening to Help Yourself, America, and Jonathan Wilson.

     ‘We’re All Searching’ detours for a visit with the funky blues licks of the Muddy and Howlin’ variety, and the lovely acoustic instrumental sorbet ‘Close Of Day’ features a mournful Spanish guitar sound also used to good effect on several of Jeff Kelly’s recent Spanish- and Portuguese-influenced albums. It morphs seamlessly into the title track, a lullaby for a soft gentle sleep at the end of a weary struggle with overwhelming pressures of viruses, political chicaneries, and general lockdown madness. Stay inside and give this a spin to ease your troubled mind.

     I recommend focusing your attention on the audio first for full appreciation and enjoyment and then have a look at the visuals to see how Wade matched them to his music. Melancholic images of birds, cats, horses, bulls, clocks measuring time in agonisingly slow ticks, sun setting in grey cloudy skies. Everything seems to move in slow motion, as lost souls meander aimlessly with nothing to do, the fun burst out of everyone’s balloons. Empty country lanes, plazas, and fields evince a feeling of loss, remorse and loneliness as animals stroll across the camera lens as if looking for their masters, just like humans are left on their own, avoiding contact that can be dangerous and ultimately deadly. Even a brief conversation with his dad over “the dynamics are all off” shows how the tensions can turn two people against each other, creating arguments over the simplest things.

     Ultimately we stare out at a half moon while the title track plays in the background, it’s opening notes recalling the beginning of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, a poignant half-full/half-empty wish, perhaps, that anyplace but planet Earth would be a better place to be right now. But there’s always a light at the end of the rainbow, which appears right on cue to encourage us to relax, stay cautious, and hope that help truly is on the way. As the images fade to black, we end where we began with a shot of the sky at dusk, hopefully presaging a return to our lives before this mess began over nine months ago.

It’s a double treat from this always fascinating polymath!

(Jeff Penczak)


 (CD from Bandcamp)

Written and recorded by our very own Steve Palmer (Mooch, Blue Lily Commission) and Michael Daniel, this album is a collection of mellow Psych Pop tunes with a uplifting summery sheen to them.

    Opening track, “Omnisong” touches on a subject dear to all our hearts as it tells of the importance of music and song throughout our lives, doing so with a delightful melody, rolling organ and some sweet harmonies. On “Be Yourself” there is a complete band feel with some driving organ and excellent bass work creating a full sounding track,

    With a strange rambling intro, “Ice Age” reminds me of Tomorrow although I am not sure why, whilst “WTF Happened” is a lysergic waltz for summer daze that makes you smile.

    Quite possibly my favourite track, “The Advantages Of Reading” has some very strange lyrics, warm melodic bass and more than a passing nod to Early Floyd, the whole tune working wonderfully as it weaves through your head. Introducing piano and more rising organ work, “Arrow Flight” has a regal quality and a sixties sheen that is delightful leading us into the final track “The Secret of Happiness” a witty and positive tune that is definitely uplifting and is a grand way to end  sweet collection of songs that can be seen as a companion album to the Mooch album 1967 ½  which was released way back in 2008. (Simon Lewis)


(LP from Cardinal Fuzz and Centripetal Force https://cardinalfuzz.bigcartel.com or https://www.centripetalforcerecords.com ) 

Millennial space rockers Mugstar have been through some rinse cycles in recent years, losing a couple of core members and assembling a new crew, which for a time included Luke Mawdsley a Woolf II performer as part of Mesange. If they broke stride it was difficult to notice as their blistering performance at 2018’s Wrong Festival with Damo Suzuki amply (almost a pun, there) testified and which was recently the subject of a release which our Northern Powerhouse Fran Comyn covered on this very virtual vellum in June of this year.

It’s been hard going but grafters they are and Graft this is, a collection that shows they have lost none of their sonic overdrive or more subtle cosmic sensibilities. ‘Deep Is The Air’ is the densely atmospheric introductory slow burner, drifting onto some special astral plane and which contrasts markedly with the four to the floor, eastern flecked riffing on ‘Zen Potential’ and ‘Cato’, on which we are reminded that Steve Ashton’s kick drum is the biggest this side of Alpha Centauri and provides fuel for Neil Murphy’s fast and fluid lines on what are more yer standard cosmological rock constructions. There again taking Hawkwind as a basic template shouldn’t come as much of surprise. Mugstar were after all responsible for the enduring high-watermark Hawks tribute In Search of Hawkwind which brought together imaginative and quality interpretations by such ‘Scope favourites as Bardo Pond, Acid Mothers Temple and White Hills.

It may be an age thing (goalpost moving notwithstanding I’m due for my concessionary bus pass next year) or simply that you’ve caught me in reflective mood but it’s the more measured passages that most impress here. ‘Ghost Of A Ghost’ glows moodily in a manner not unbecoming of CF label mates Dead Sea Apes with additional keys helping to pitch it mid- point between ‘Careful With That Axe Eugene’ and ‘No Quarter’. This approach is well-served too on ‘Low Slow Horizon’ a beautiful kaleidoscopic sunset on burnished wax. The closing ‘Star Cage’ manages to strike a happy medium between these more thoughtful sonic vistas and the band’s more searing rockist tendencies, the power chords contrasting with the more blissful washes of sound, a reminder of what we’ve been missing in this year of festival wipeout. Faced with a sprint to the line though it is the sharp elbows and galloping gait of the whole band sound that wins out without the need for a dip finish.

Scene veterans they now may be but Mugstar show time and again that just when you think every last drop has been drained from the vats they manage to find a new source of supply and without resorting to the scraping of barrels. Hail the new vintage.

(Ian Fraser)



It’s been a busy and rewarding year for The Weird Beard with a series of fine releases gracing discerning turntables across the globe so far and now one more high calorie wafer thin treat to end the year, with perfect timing for inclusion in that polite but slightly desperate begging letter to Santa (no doubt complimenting his excellent weird white beard) for the gift that doesn’t end up in your local charity emporium. Well rest assured that anyone lucky enough to find this under the Christmas tree won’t be heading off to reserve its slot next to unloved copies of ‘No Jacket Required’ and Brothers in Arms’ any time soon.

Aquarius Lux is a collaboration project bringing together The Wyrding Module and Primitive Knot. As might be gleaned from those names it’s a marriage made in motorik and space rock but with some serious groove and curveball goodness in the house that injects a little funk into proceedings from time to time. Setting things off we have ‘White Out in The Black Room’ where a brief wave of electronica leads into a blizzard of urgent and raw fuzz guitar with a rigid mechanical sounding rhythm that occasionally breaks down into a jazzy free form shuffle. Psychedelic organ, treated vocals and flashes of electronic noise bring interesting colours and textures to the music and are in no way subservient to the guitar onslaught but instead elevate the racket to much more than your average psych guitar onslaught.  ‘Ripped and Starlost’ is another hard hitting rocker with a pulsing bassline and meaty Stooges and Hawkwind inspired riff fuelled by another tight and heavy rhythm. Freeform spacey electronic sounds weave in and out of the riff which begins to open out and breathe after a while and a soaring guitar solo takes us to an atmospheric ambient finish. In a change of feel ‘Priestess of Phobos’ takes us to a funkier place where The Meters tight grooves, heavy spacey psych and library music type interludes come together to pack just under four minutes with a lot of toe tapping goodness. Next up the title track which keeps the funk out of the trunk with a quirky shuffle taking us into a jam like space groove that in a little over 10 minutes delivers what could be described as a kosmische garage psych space dub funk triumph (try asking for that genre in HMV) where textures and sounds are explored and brought together in a wonderful extended improvisation that would be a great thing to see and hear live (we all need something to look forward to in 2021). To finish ‘Green Suns and Flying Sharks’ has a strong nod to African electro funk which gives it a lovely groove and jazzier feel and momentum. Kosmische overtones and heavier progressive and psychedelic elements are slowly introduced but never smother the underlying and quite hypnotic electric groove. It’s very clever and complex but never loses that earworm quality. It’s a great finish to the album.

This is record full of surprises and little inventive and indeed addictive touches that invites many repeat plays. You could do much worse than to end this weird year on a high by investing in this little package of joy but as always it’s a limited run on vinyl so don’t delay. Now where’s that pen and paper? Dear Santa…

(Francis Comyn)