Becca B
Single:Dear Diary
Label:Red Dragon
As a city, Nottingham boxes well above its weight when it comes to producing singer-songwriters, having a good music course at the local uni helps of course, but singer/songwriters like Becca B show that there's also plenty of scope for artists that fall outside of that arena. "Dear Diary" is acoustic pop as it's supposed to be, well thought out with a little bit of edge. Her debut single for Red Dragon, gives Becca B the chance to showcase her talent to a wider auience whilst continuing to hone her undoubted talent. This is a single of an artist with a good deal of promise.
Eliza Shaddad
EP:January - March
Label:Self Released
We're a bit late in coming to Eliza Shaddad's EP, "January - March", but were not going to let a delay stop us from bringing this four track, well five of you count the 'hidden' one, to your attention. Having previously gained recognition as vocalist with Clean Bandit, Eliza Shaddad hits a rich vein of traditionally inspired folk goodness for this EP. Laidback vocals carry a dream across the most delicate of guitar sounds for a series of songs that border on the edge of folk blues and an almost timeless feel. I'd love to understand what Eliza could do with a full album.
The Mighty Boss Cats
Album:Ticket Of Life
Label:Self Released
Blues album "The Ticket Of Life" has been out a little while, but has recently been brought to our attention largely because The Mighty Boss Cat's principle songwriter, Richard Townend has been nominated for a Blues Award for his song, "Hang An Innocent Man". There's a nice feel to the album, it's got a relaxed vibe, you can feel in musicians are relexed with each other and that allows them to add those little flourishes that are often missing from bands that have yet to really grow into their skin. This is an album to kick back to and forget your cares for an hour or so.
Farmer Jason And Buddies
Album:Nature Jams
Label:Hip-o Records
Farmer Jason is the alter-ego of Jason & The Scorchers front man, Jason Ringenberg and "Nature Jams" is a childs tv show that educates through songs. Needless to say it's also attracted a bit of a cult following, not surprising when you consider guests include the likes of Alison Brown, Ruthie Fister, The Saw Doctors and Suzy Bogguss, amongst others, even members of Cheap trick get roped in. Sure it's a cheesy as hell, but you can't help but enjoy it. The musicianship is of such a high quality and the arrangements fun. Once heard you're not going to forget "Dison The Bison".
Andy Gibbard
Having been in and managed bands on his native Guernsey as well as doing a bit of presenting, singer-songwriter-pianist upsticks and moved to London in order to build up a career, think a musical Matt Le Tissier and like Le Tissier, he came with a sense of creativity and flair that may have not have developed the same way if it had started on the mainland. "Heart" has a welcoming lyrical style that gives Gibbard a story telling feel with a piano accompanyment, which helps set it apart from the guitar brigade and gives the whole a different spin.
Maiki Makovski
Album:Thank You For The Boots
"Thank You For The Boots" is slightly further off the wall than we would normally go, but as there's very little about this Mallorca born of Macedonian & Andalucian decent singer-songwriter that lines up with convention, what the heck. Maiki Makovski mixes a heady cocktail of acoustic pop rock with world and new wave infusions and then simply launches it on an unsuspecting audience. It's powerful stuff, think Kate Bush with a continental accent, innovative and refusing to be pinned down. Not my standard fare but highly evocative and rewarding to listen to.
Roger Knott
Album:The Field And The Sky
When a new album from Roger Knott drops through the office letterbox, it's like welcoming home an old friend, this is the 5th album we've covered and his seventh overall. Roger's weapon of choice is Americana with a heavy country bent. Whilst he's as English as cottage pie, his albums definitely have that apple pie feel to them. Knott is quite a songwriter from the love, life, journies school to create albums that have a real down home feel. "The Field And The Sky" reveals he's still one sharp writer/performer who gives a lot of himself in his performances and has a country heart, Grand.
Dara's eponymous album kicks off with a real blues stomper in the shape of "Guilt", a track that starts to show the beginnings of a tortured soul, a theme backed by the next track, the more gosple driven, though still hard, "Hold Of My Soul". This is an album that features blues as an instrument of redemption and by doing so expresses it's links with the early practitioners of the genre. Yep sure it's more contemporay in the sound, but there is no mistaking the anguish in both songs and performance. Whilst it might also make you feel a little uncomfortable, you know that's what it's about.
Boat To Row
Label:I Started The Fire
Since their strange decision of a tape only releases back in 2010, midlands based multi-instrumentalists and harmonisers Boat To Row, have gradually being raising their profile as well as taking a more modern approach to formats, with the latest single "Grassmarket" available on a number of different formats. With a number of festivals already booked this summer, Boat To Row are a band you should expect to see and more of over the course of the summer.The sound has strong roots in folk, but neatly flips into a more acoustic pop sound that gives it easy accessability.
The Brew
Album:The Third Floor
"The Third Floor" from British blues rock trio, The Brew is heavier than most of the blues we carry on these pages, but we were seduced into listening by comparisons to the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Led Zep. On listening, it's easy to see why the band cracked Germany and central Europe, first, but does also raise questions as to why they've not managed to attract a similar following in their home country, yet. Hopefully with an album supporting tour in the autumn, they can make some progress in that direction.
Lisa Redford
Lisa Redford is a singer songwriter who manages to share her time between England and New York and listening to her new EP, "Reminders", it's fascinating to see how both locations bring their influence to bare. The centre of the EP, "Summer On The L" and "Dreaming In Crowds" feel like they could have been conceived in a diner, before being Anglocised, whilst I felt the opposite way about the tracks that sandwich them in "Reminders" and "So Many Words". Either way it's lead to a delightful ep that really captures the essence of the songs.
The Steamboat Cabaret
Album:Happy Go Lucky
Label:Tummy Touch
Imagine a Bonzo Dog Band for the 21st century and you're pretty close to imaging The Steamboat Cabaret. "Happy Go Lucky" is as bright and breezy a collection of English eccentricity as you'll find anywhere. Now I know that that can be a bit of an acquired taste, but if you like the likes of Thackray, this really should appeal and appeal a lot. Since recording this Samantha Eames has unfortunately secumbed to cancer, but she fought for long enough to ensure she managed to finish her parts on the album and leaves a great legacy. This is a good fun good time album, no mistake.

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