Tag Archives: Americana

Gig Review: Hip Hatchet – The Bicycle Shop, Norwich. 14/01/2014

15 Jan

Hip Hatchet

He’s a long way from home and his band aren’t here but as he stands alone on a cosy stage, board games piled high and nameless fish exploring their tank behind him, Philippe Bronchtein, aka Hip Hatchet is bringing a little piece of America with him tonight. His inspiration comes from the road on which he roams and with such a vast expanse of countryside available to him in the States, there are many highways and byways to experience, strangers to meet, women to fall in and out of love with and whiskey to be drunk. All of which is here with him tonight, that backpack of memories has made the trip with him and there are yarns to be spun.

Tucked away underground in a town which, with its beards, tattoos, good beer and nice people, is as close to Portland, Oregon as he has found so far, the intimate setting of The Bicycle Shop is sold out and the audience is hanging on his every word and note. A deep, rumbling voice 30 years older than its owner fills the room and barely a word is uttered as tales of woe, of love, of laughter, heartbreak, redemption, optimism and despair take hold of each and every one of us. For little over an hour we are his, enraptured and captivated as his musical dexterity, remarkable as it is, is surpassed by the kind of lyrical deftness and intelligence that would have many a poet laureate kicking the cat in fits of jealous rage. Not just because of their cleverness and evocative imagery, but because each one is imbued with powerful emotion and meaning. Not a line or word is wasted or superfluous.

He is an incredibly engaging character, bursting with an easygoing charm and charisma. Not many people could drop out of a song halfway through to explain an upcoming reference, the slip straight back in and still have the audience in peals of laughter when the reference is made. In between singing his stories, he tells us more, of where a song comes from, of 3 day drives and the people he met, of the kindness of strangers and fences that were scaled when it ran out. The warmth and genuine affection for his friends, for his travels and indeed for us, his audience and listeners is evident and reciprocated tenfold.

With us as his orchestra, Philippe conducts our mood and our emotions, bringing us to joy and despair as he pulls on our heartstrings with these elegant and compelling moments of blues, folk, Americana and incredible storytelling.

At the start of the evening we are challenged to name the five nameless fish. By the end of the evening, only two have been christened. We are too busy travelling down the road with Hip Hatchet, sitting with him in his dusty Subaru as the tumbleweeds roll past, the mountains loom ahead and poetry trips from his lips and into our souls.


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Free Download: Lo Fine – “All We Need Is Hell”

1 Nov

Lo Fine

Sounding at first like a gentle alt-american lullaby, Lo Fine’s “All We Need Is Hell” is wonderfully autumnal. Deep oranges, browns, yellows and gold twist and flutter as the guitars scuff along like a pile of leaves meeting the gleeful wellies of numerous small children.

Reminiscent of early Eels, this is less novocaine for the soul, more an opiate such is its addictive and warming quality. We may all be off to the land of the damned but with a loving strum of the guitar, this is a rainbow ride along the river Styx. A dreamy and confident way to burst into the underworld, but with enough edge within to casually flip Hades the bird as it passes through. There is a light psychedelic quality to it, perhaps then it should have been Psilocybin mushrooms for the soul, as the beats layer guitars which layer vocals like a hypnotic lava lamp filled with real lava.

Fronted by Kevin O’Rourke, the Massachusettian band have made “All We Need Is Hell” (the first release from, and indeed first track on, the band’s forthcoming album, Want Is a Great Need) free to download via the Soundcloud player below for a limited time.

’Want Is a Great Need’ is due for release on 5 November and can be pre-ordered here.


Via Gold Flake Paint

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Review: Dim Peaks – “Time Of Joy”

2 Sep

Dim Peaks

In our younger days, mentions of California generally came accompanied by thoughts of Hollywood, and valley girls with their bleached blonde ‘like, totally omg you guys’ type of personality. Nowadays our perception of California stems more from the records we listen to than the TV shows we saw as a teenager. As such we tend to think more of a laid back, sunshine coated world of quiet hills rolling along the coast.

We have Golden State residents Dim Peaks to thank for this perception as their debut album, Time Of Joy is a blissful moment of stillness in an otherwise hectic life. Like bobbing in a boat on an empty lake, a bait-less string tied to your toe to catch fish that aren’t biting.

Their soft Americana rarely flips the dial to any setting above tranquil. Brushed rhythms gently lap against the shore of mellifluous guitar and occasional piano melodies while Niilo Smeds’ vocal recounts tales of the world around us. “Slumberland” could easily be a destination rather than a song title as the album is so warm and relaxing. The whole thing is completely at ease with itself and its surroundings, a calm and welcoming world where friends drink and laugh in their lush, green garden setting.

While it is laidback and calm, Time of Joy is never downbeat or morose. In fact the whole thing is peppered with little moments that will bring an easy smile to your face. Moments like the organ sounds of “Yellow Mountain” or the flashes of psychedelic wobbliness layered into the Kinks-esque folky-pop of “Long Goodbye”, flashes that add a ripple of heat shimmer to the album’s horizon. Lyrical moments like “rejecting rejection/I’ll sell my sorrows/at the sorrow fair” on the title track that catch in your mind and make you wish you’d thought of them.

It’s only 30 minutes long but its 10 tracks feel neither too short nor too long. It has been beautifully crafted and constructed for our listening pleasure, and it is a pleasure. Listening to Time Of Joy is like laying back on a hammock made of clouds, sunshine on your face, gently swaying from side to side as the cool summer breeze gently nudges you along, and who doesn’t want to do that?

’Time Of Joy’ is released on 3 September via the always amazing Gold Robot Records, and can be pre-ordered here.


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Free Download: Dim Peaks – “Reason”

1 Aug

Dim Peaks

Hailing all the way from California, Dim Peaks (great name btw) are here not so much to rock your world, as give it a gentle push on a swing. All while singing about the world passing by as you rock back and forth with the wind gently caressing your face.

Taken from their debut album, Time of Joy, which is due out in September on the always excellent Gold Robot Records (you know the ones, they released the sublime Young Hunting album this year), “Reason” is a delightful slice of folk infused Americana. It may be laid back in sound but it isn’t lacking in substance or style. Vocalist Niilo Smeds gives us fleeting moments of Lou Reed in his style and intonation while the guitar dances an intricate dance barefoot across the grass, through streams and amongst corn fields. It glides along easily, floating just inches above the ground, intuitively finding its path through the people it observes and draws from for its lyrical inspiration. It’s really quite lovely so click on the player below and grab your free download, before they are all gone.

”Reason” is taken from the debut Dim Peaks album, ‘Time of Joy’, which will be released on 3 September and is available on limited edition coloured vinyl from Gold Robot Records. You can pre-order your copy here.


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Watch: Dare Dukes – “Meet You at the Bus”

27 Jan

Last week we spoke briefly about the rather lovely Dare Dukes latest release, Thugs and China Dolls. We say briefly because frankly, we should have spent a little more time talking about just how eloquent a lyricist Dukes is. We certainly should have mentioned how his observations on the foibles of suburban life, set to a combination of banjo, horns, pianos and poetic harmonies are just so damn endearing.

Still, at least now we have the chance to revisit one of the tracks from the album, the charming “Meet You at the Bus”, as this week he has released a video to accompany the song. Accompany being the operative word, as Dukes’ beautiful warm narrative is perfectly encapsulated by director Max Benitez’s tale of two teenagers in love, enjoying a day in each other’s company. A day that, naturally, began when they met on the bus.

Describing the video, Dukes explained that “I was trying to capture the great American leaving-on-a-jet-plane narrative the comes up again and again in popular music, and I was trying to run it through the brains of modern-day Romeos and Juliettes looking for escape from all the things that Romeos and Juliettes get fed up with. Max [Benitez’s] video perfectly captures the poetry and innocence of this kind of reckless escape.”

He’s not wrong, our favourite bit is when the Romeo is showing off to the Juliet on his BMX. Take a look for yourself below and if you don’t crack a smile while watching you just might want to double check that your heart isn’t actually made of stone.

Dare Dukes — “Meet You at the Bus” from Dare Dukes on Vimeo.