Back in 2019, singer songwriter Steve Hewitt released his debut album ‘Bigger Than Words’. With its blend of folk, pop and country influences, the album had a timeless feel, often reminiscent of the more stripped down Lowen & Navarro recordings. It was one of Real Gone’s top albums of 2019.
The Autumn Killers may have been new a new name on the rock scene for 2020, but the band’s core members were already veterans of the UK rock scene. Vocalist Rob Reece had previously been a member of Swivelhead, 91BC and his eponymously named Reece, and guitarist Duncan Richardson had twenty years experience as a session musician. You’d think, given the amount of hard yards the duo had already put in, that their debut EP ‘Dance Floor Mayhem’ would have sounded like the work of a professional band. Unfortunately, its songs – in addition to being hampered by a demo quality production and a drum machine that sounded like a plastic tub being hit with a stick – were plodding, uninspired and hopelessly clichéd. ‘Chains’ – a song about “a relationship that felt like being in chains” – chugged along as if a bunch of beginners were experiencing their first studio booking and hammering out an old Black Keys tune in a lumpen manner; ‘I Don’t Mind’ attempted something of a groove, but ultimately sounded like an average pub band paying tribute to the 90s and, worse still, the title track failed to garner any real excitement, sounding like a plodding version of The Cult with no real passion. At its best, the EP could be called unpolished; at its worst, you might even find it falling somewhere between boring and terrible.
Ghost Dance Collective’s self titled release from 2018 was a joyously retro affair. Its mix of 60s riffs, reverb and haziness combined with a late 80s indie cool created a great sound. Their all-round retro cool and occasional Byrds-ish jangle would almost certainly appeal to lovers of the classic output from Creation Records, and although traces of bands like The Brilliant Corners could be heard, it was more than clear that this was a band with more than enough of their own talents.
With a maudlin heart that could be compared to The National and Elbow, but driven by a noisy and distorted wall of sound that ensures they never sound too much like either band, October Drift’s debut album ‘Forever Whatever’ was an enjoyably downbeat affair. Between a solid sound and some brilliantly constructed rock pop hooks, it was the kind of record that was broad in appeal for the indie/rock fan. The events of 2020 meant that the band weren’t able to promote the release via a mass of live dates, but their online presence and a few very vocal fans more than helped to spread the word.
It’s been well known for a while that Molly Tuttle is one of the biggest and brightest talents among young artists in the Americana scene, but the couple of tracks that have been released ahead of her covers album shows how well she’s able to adapt her talents to other people’s material. We’ve already heard her interpretations of Grateful Dead and Neil Young songs, but here is something unexpected…and quite special.