Pageants - John Lafayette Ramey - The Mojo Slide - Hawkmoon

Pageants - Cacti for Clothes.

Background - The new Pageants single "Cacti For Clothes" has just been released. The single teases the band's upcoming release 'Forever' and follows the lead single "Chai ( חַי)".

Pageants were formed by Rebecca Coleman in the aftermath of leaving Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop) in 2010, a band in which she was a founding member at the age of sixteen. Frustrated with clashing personalities and differences in musical sensibility, she, along with two other Avi Buffalo defectors, set out to revive the simplicity and spirit of earlier days. Diaristic yet dreamy and abstract in nature, her songs merge pop levity with melancholic lyrical undercurrents. 

Collaborating with boyfriend Devin O’Brien to flush out demos, their debut LP, ‘Forever’ was close to completion in 2015. When label interest around the album hit a wall, the band decided to hold off on finishing the record while pursuing other opportunities. Coleman continued to write, O’Brien focused on engineering and producing, while also being picked up by Cherry Glazerr (Secretly Canadian) to tour as their bassist and drummer Dylan Wood went on to play with Best Coast (Harvest). Inspired by fresh material and perspectives, Pageants decided to finish ‘Forever’ earlier this year and will be releasing their debut album on November 3rd. Website here.

We featured 'Chai (חַי‎)' at the beginning of September and the new single 'Cacti for Clothes' is a very fine follow up. The energy levels are up a little more, however the refreshing vocals and sharp musical arrangement ensures the catchy appeal is retained, as is my struggle to pin this duo into any specific genre.


John Lafayette Ramey - Let Me Down Easy.

Background - John Lafayette Ramey is a familiar face on the Los Angeles roots music scene.  Although his own music isn’t in the country genre, he’s played sideman with some of the best country musicians around; Grant Langston, Dave Insley, Ted Russell Kamp and Austin Hanks to name a few.  Ramey even played Gibson Amphitheatre with Austin Hanks opening for Lynrd Skynrd. 

Exposition Lines is Ramey’s third solo release and carries elements of both roots Rock and straight-up pop music.  “I’ve always been more on the pop side than say, Grant Langston or Austin Hanks,” the artist clarified.  “I became involved in the LA roots music scene not because I harbored ambitions to play roots or country music, but because as it turned out, the folks in the roots music scene were the people that could actually play.  I love folk, country, blues, and R&B, and all the great Americana music, and it’s all a huge influence, but it’s not how I define myself as an artist.”

John Lafayette Ramey's Exposition Lines Releases on October 20th. Starting with the punk-like energy of "Cheap Rent” to the acoustic folk ballad "Guadalupe," before the build up of the sixties-type pop gem "Jenny." He wraps up his new release with the country blues of "Sad Song Sad Town" and the Willie Nelson inspired ballad "Still With Me" as he pulls off his best classic country vocals. Website here.

'Let Me Down Easy' is just one of the song styles you will hear on 'Exposition Lines'. John Lafayette Ramey tests the boundaries of what might be called Roots, Americana or Country music. All is done with natural heartfelt passion, high quality musicianship, and material that just begs for a second listen.


The Mojo Slide - Folsom Prison Blues.

Background - From the home of innovative, genre defying music - Nub Country Records - comes the new covers EP from The Mojo Slide. Classic tracks given the unmistakeable Mojo Slide treatment. 

If you like Country, Americana, or just great music played by amazingly talented musicians then this EP is for you.

The Mojo Slide is a group of musicians, hailing from Cambridgeshire, united in their passion for blues-inspired alternative music. Formed in 2011, they released their debut album 'Twist Your Bones' in November 2015 on DO IT Records.  

The album features a contemporary mixture of classic rock 'n' roll, and blues rooted alternative rock.  They have had radio play on BBC, Absolute and Planet Rock, amongst others.

The Mojo Slide are: Mark Wilks (vocals), Mike Fenna (lead guitar), Matt Legg (rhythm guitar), Danny Savage (bass guitar), Michael Graham (drums), website here.

Now I learnt something about the song 'Folsom Prison Blues' today (and forgive me if I am the odd one out on this). I always associated the song with the live 1968 recording at Folsom Prison & made an assumption it was written for that. Now I can plead not guilty in as much as I was not born when it was first recorded and released by Johnny Cash, as that was back in July 1955. So what of the cover version by The Mojo Slide? They power the whole thing up, put their own style on it, and along with the other cover songs, make the exercise, more than worthwhile.


Hawkmoon - Speed Of Dark.

Background - Hawkmoon are the collective musical identity of Pat Hehir, Liam Hehir and Reuben Aptroot. Their soon to be released debut album The Saturn Return is an album produced to fill a void in the current musical landscape, where distorted guitars, eclectic songwriters and ‘rock’ have gone underground.

After numerous live gigs, festival appearances and EP releases with earlier incarnations of Hawkmoon and Reuben's Ultrafeedy, the three would be brought together in 2013 under the Hawkmoon banner to create music that was thoughtful, challenging, bold and fresh.

After releasing Silverline, Hologramatic and Storms Gather, three diverse singles displaying the musical breadth of their album, Hawkmoon have released Speed of Dark, the fourth single from the record. Speed of Dark is one of the older songs from the album and was recorded in Reuben’s home studio whilst being produced by the band.

“Speed of Dark has been one of our key songs since we started playing it” says Hawkmoon drummer Liam Hehir. “I remember Pat showing me a chord progression and melody and much of that has survived to this day. It’s a great example of band members enhancing each other’s work. I added the military-like drum part and Reuben’s lead and e-bow parts really completed the mood.”

Speed of Dark is Hawkmoon at its darkest. With an ominous lyric complemented by an eerie, apocalyptic arrangement of marching rhythms, brooding guitars, haunting harmonies and a tense cello part, Speed of Dark is one of the cornerstones of The Saturn Return. Facebook here.

Having featured Hawkmoon a couple of times earlier this year, the new share 'Speed Of Dark' is most welcome. It might be one of the bands darker pieces however it's also my favourite so far, with all it's majestic alt rock glory.



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