Hillfolk Noir 'Radio Hour' - Self-Release

With the popularity of acts like Pokey La Farge and The Wyios there is a growing taste for music with an entertaining energy that is rooted in a past but is given a future by a range of acts  who take the influences of a different era and add something that is, if not unique, is certainly individual. Here the six piece band run through their latest set of Travis Ward's songs with spirit and genuine feeling. These songs which, when Travis and Alison Ward share the vocals on, have a great feel to them with simple but effective percussion, solid upright bass and an overlay of banjo, kazoo, harmonica, singing saw and washboard to give the songs some added bite. On, what is, their take on sideshow string-bands, punky-indie folk and back-porch mountain music. Radio Hour has a introduction and some between song adverts to help the illusion of the title along. These guys have played on stages with some notable names as well on street corners when the occasion demands. Wherever they play you will be drawn to the infectious spirit of the songs and the swingin' rawness of the music on offer. Songs like The Great Grizzly Bear Scare and Rattler In The Outhouse speak of more primitive times where fun could be had without electricity or social media for that matter.

Old Sledge 'Don't Let Your Deal Go Down' Self-Release

The sleeve notes on this album makes it clear that Old Sledge need to make this music. Music drawn from across the ages from countless old 78s, from different times, different places but not necessarily from a different set of needs. They are young enough to have been raised on different music genres but have been drawn back to this old-time aggregation of country and blues forms. The bring enthusiasm and energy and no little skill to their delivery of these often timeless songs. The trio blend their voices but both Chance McCoy and Sabra Guzmán take lead vocals on the songs, the latter brings a plaintiveness and purpose to the songs she sings while the former sings with conviction and clarity. The songs including some instrumentals with Ben Townsend's banjo to the fore draw from a wide repertoire of songs. These include the title track written by Fiddlin' John Carson, Roscoe Holcomb's Boat's Up The River, Danville Girl from Doc Boggs and a slew of traditional songs like Deep Elum Blues and St. James Infirmary. Old Sledge deliver their old-time music for modern times with an understanding and intent. The bass of Jake Hopping rounds out the quartet of players who are the players who created this life-affirming album. There are a lot of bands out there drawn to this style of music, some are better than others, though all are committed to breathing new life into old songs. Old Sledge skill is in the spirit they bring to these tunes, that a strong sense of where these songs came from and where they need to go now. That in itself is something to applaud, as is this convincing album.