York Music Extra: New albums, a banger of a tune and turning the tables on vinyl fans

Chris Helme breaks through the vinyl frontier at Sotano. Photograph © UnknownNet Photography on Flickr

Here’s something a bit different for the city’s discerning music lovers – it’s Turn the Tables, a weekly ‘bring your own vinyl’ night.

It’s the idea of Chris Helme, whose Ruby Tuesday open mic night fixture at Sotano’s is already a weekly high point.

The new night starts on Monday July 4, also at Sotano, from 5.30pm until late.

“It’s a really simple idea,” the former Seahorses front man told YorkMix. “The first day back at work after the weekend can often be a manic Monday, so this is a chance to chill out to your own favourite records.

“You bring along your own records – strictly vinyl only – and I’ll play them for you while you sit back and enjoy the night.”

It’ll be first come, first served – a bit like Ruby Tuesdays but with records instead of live musicians.

And if you just want to pop along for some tapas and a drink without bringing records along, that’s fine too.

As the resurgence of vinyl continues and specialist independent shops, like York’s Inkwell and Rebound (both on Gillygate), attract an increasingly discerning clientele searching for rare grooves and obscure gems, I think Chris might be on to something.

Booking is recommended via Kennedy’s 01904 620222 or Sotano 01904 620230 (after 4pm).

Album review: North Country by Mulholland

 Stan Smith and Ann Dunford are the driving force of Mulholland
Stan Smith and Ann Dunford are the driving force of Mulholland

I had the great pleasure of catching early mixes of North Country a couple of months before its formal release.

This is the authentic sound of a band stripped down to its acoustic core, discovering its essential nature and becoming reinvigorated, reborn as a duo that has found its true voice.

Or, to be more precise: true voices.

It’s the intertwining vocals of Stan Smith and Ann Dunford that set Mulholland apart.

The playing’s first class too – guitar, fiddle, accordion to the fore – but the voices are what define it: always country, sometimes rootsy and, occasionally, as on their cover of Warren Zevon’s Don’t Let Us Get Sick, nudging into mellow folk harmonies that hint at the depth of their on- and off-stage partnership.

The rest of the album are Mulholland originals where the influences are clear – mid-period Nashville Dylan, latter-day Civil Wars, a dash of Cash country and hints of a host of others from The Byrds to Willie Nelson.

But Mulholland are no mere copyists. The influences are exactly that, influences. They’re undertones and signposts that don’t detract from the band’s own distinctive sound and the drive they want to take you down.

En-route you’ll encounter a mysterious stranger in Black Feathers, wistful yearnings in My Wasted Heart, an apologetic blues song and a closing rocking road song in Highway 101.

It’s what you might expect if a Bible-thumping gospel preacher teamed up with the Drive-By Truckers.

Somewhere in the middle of it all there’s a sweet love song too, Summertime, that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Robbie Robertson album.

Lovely stuff that captures the live excitement of the band and matches it with some excellent studio work.

It’s a thrilling set from a duo who are really hitting their stride.

Album Review: Boss Caine Sampler

Dan Lucas shows other York musicians who's boss
Dan Lucas shows other York musicians who’s boss

There’s been a very understated release for what Dan Lucas modestly describes as a sampler.

Dan is Boss Caine and, whether he’s solo, electric, acoustic or rocking it out with his full band, he’s one of the city’s hardest-working musicians.

We might have to wait a little longer for his Greatest Hits album, but in the meantime, this will do nicely.

Its 14 tracks are culled from the highly-prized sold-out albums The Ship That Sailed, The Rhythm And The Rhyme and mini-album Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch, plus some previously unreleased demos.

Standout tracks include Leaving Victoria, Dead Man’s Suit and the Joe Solo-penned Ghosts And Drunks.

You can catch those tracks (and buy the album for £5) here.

It’s easy to call this blues, Americana or alt-country. Fair descriptions, but those labels don’t get close to the heart of the emotion that Dan achieves here or live on stage.

As with the best country music, the darker it gets, the more he pours his soul into it.

Like Tom Waits or Johnny Cash, the sonorous bass-baritone draws you in. Now a whisky-soaked lament, now a message of hope. Hard-edged and soft-centred at the same time. A perfect introduction to one of the city’s greats.

Dan’s regular Wednesday Sundown Sessions with invited guest performers has relocated to the Fulford Arms after the closure of And All That Could Have Been.

You can check who’s on when here.

Soma Crew

A quick mention for Simon Micklethwaite’s fascinating band, Soma Crew.

Recorded live at The Woolpack with Steve Kendra and Nick Barker, the four-track Soma EP catches the trio swooping between hypnotic drone, electro-rock and psychedelia.

You can judge for yourselves here.

Wilderland 2

This is the second of the occasional Wilderland showcase gigs at Dusk, curated by Sam Griffiths. The first, back in February, caught Sam with The Lungs and Rory Welbrock.

This time, Sam’s new four-piece set up, Empire, modestly make way for magnificent local heroes Bull who take top billing in their last show before a European tour.

Support comes in a solo set from Martyn Fillingham, one half of rocking York noiseniks …And The Hangnails.

The fun and games kick off at 9pm on Friday July 1. Admission is £3 – seating is limited, so don’t be late.

California Love by A Joker’s Rage

And now for something completely different.

What does a hip-hop classic sound like when a face-painted rock band grab it by the bassline and give it 120 per cent?

This.

Lead vocalist Zakk explains: “When we do a cover, we do something unexpected and this tune is a banger.

“The fans love it and the demand for us to record it has been insane.”

You can catch A Joker’s Rage at Fibbers (tickets), supporting Larrakia, on July 22.

New open mic session

The latest addition to York’s open mic scene is at the Black Horse in Monkgate.

This eclectic Sunday afternoon session (3-7pm) is hosted by Suzy Bradley and Jez Russell and is already attracting established York performers and newcomers alike.

It’s not all music either: spoken word, comedy and magic performers are welcome too.

There’s a full PA, acoustic and electric guitars, a range of microphones and a 12-track mixing desk, and the plan is to record acts for a monthly podcast.

If you fancy having a go, why not give Jez a call on 07913 685823 or email jezrussellproduction@gmail.com.

As an extra temptation, there’s a free drink for every performer.

Review: Mark Wynn The Singles

I’ve been singing the praises of Mark Wynn for some time now. And if you’re a fan of Iggy Pop, Billy Childish or The Fall, there’s a good chance you’ll dig him too.

It was great to see him back in his native York recently, and even greater to be reminded of his wonderful, idiosyncratic singles output with the release of Mark Wynn The Singles.

We can’t do better than this review by friend of YorkMix John Moores, a York-based writer who’s become one of the leading online review voices.

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