AmericanaFest 2021 UK goes virtual!

The year usually starts out strong for Americana artists, music business professionals and fans. There is a dizzying array of genre specific conference seminars, industry opportunities, and showcases in East London, all topped off with a star-studded awards ceremony.

The tireless board members (including CEO Stevie Smith, DJ and festival impresario Baylen Leonard and artist manager Charlie Pierce) weren’t going to let a little thing like lockdown get in the way of supporting, representing and advocating for Americana in the UK. They took the whole shebang virtual.

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From meeting Noel Gallagher half the world away to signing to Creation 23: Sister Psychosis reveal all

Following the omnipresence of Oasis and the brothers’ solo efforts, many a teenager dreamed of meeting Noel Gallagher. Few made it happen the way that 18 year old Amanda May did. She posed as a caterer to blag her way backstage: “I got to meet him, hang in his dressing room and watch the gig from side stage so I was pretty happy. He was such a cool dude. So friendly and humble. When he introduced himself to me I found it so bizarre. Like of course I know who you are mate!”

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Petric flashback to the magic of live music

Canadian country pop trio Petric are stoked to be releasing their debut album Flashbacks.

They worked with Grammy nominated producer Chris Baseford (Avril Lavigne, Nickleback) to craft a nine track record filled with ballads and bangers, including Single Problem which has been streamed over a million times to date. It was the highest charting single by a Canadian independent artist in 2019.

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Silverstein’s innovative livestreams

Last year, we reported on how Silverstein creatively responded to the despondency of lockdown by inviting fans to call in their thoughts and using those recordings in their video for a COVID-19 era reworking of Infinite.

The Canadian band are continuing to innovate in response to the challenges of the pandemic. Over three weekends in February they will perform three different sets featuring greatest hits, acoustic jams, and Discovering The Waterfront in its entirety. So far, so nostalgia tour, right?

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How can Mayday Parade follow 5 million streams? A live EP, of course!

Mayday Parade fans soothed the pain of missing the band’s high energy live shows by enjoying their Out of Here Sessions live stream in October 2020. It was recorded by Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount who also produced Mayday Parade’s Out of Here EP which has been streamed over 3 million times since its release just before lockdown.

The live set recorded at the producers’ Screaming Eagle Studios was so well-received that the band decided to release the highlights as an EP, Live At Screaming Eagle.

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Let’s close out 2020 with a video round up!

Drive By Truckers cover a Ramones classic
Black Lungs is a sign of things to come for Architects
Will you take the blue or red pill from Crown The Empire?
Chino Moreno is back with †††
Need to relax? Check out Can’t Swim‘s ASMR video
Take a trip to Toronto with Logan Mize and Donavan Woods
Lindsay Ell is number 1 in Canada again
Streets To Ourselves plays everything himself
Head to a Canadian cottage for Peach and Quiet
Mystic Peach explores distorted visions of the past
Jon Wright and Liv Austen’s creative explorations
Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams present a canine love story
Hayley Ross is Moving All Around
Just Tommy (and his cousins)
Chris Lane has made Big, Big Plans
Cassadee Pope’s California Dreaming with Sam Palladio
Manny Blue has a new video for his new song Old Money
Darling Boy strikes gold with a new wave pioneer and new beer!
Burning Pools celebrate strong women
The Hellfreaks make a run for it
Grammy winner Josh Stevens’ ode to his daughter
Anna Krantz thinks we need to talk about Suzie
American Teeth, TWIN XL, and otherworldy beings
Raquel Lily’s mushroom trip
Covey’s tramatic cinematic otherworld

Drive By Truckers cover a Ramones classic
To close out a challenging year, Drive By Truckers have released a cover of The KKK Took My Baby Away originally by Ramones. It features on their new album, The New OK, out now. It’s their second record of the year, dictated by circumstances because the twists, turns, and tumult of the year meant they ended up with more than an EP’s worth of material and time on their hands.

Patterson Hood spoke for many a musician when he said:

“To call these past few months trying would be a dramatic understatement. Our lives are intertwined with our work…I don’t have hobbies, I have this thing I do. To be sidelined with a brand new album and have to sit idly while so much that I love and hold dear falls apart before my very eyes has been intense, heartbreaking, anger-provoking and very depressing. It has gone to the very heart of our livelihoods and threatened near everything that we have spent our lives trying to build. Here’s to the hope that we can make 2021 a better year.”

Black Lungs is a sign of things to come for Architects
Black Lungs by Architects has been viewed over 1.5 million times in under a month. It’s a taster of the band’s post-apocalyptic new album, For Those Who Wish To Exist, due out on Epitaph on February 26, 2020. The 15 track record will feature collabs with members of Parkway Drive, Royal Blood, and Biffy Clyro.

Will you take the blue or red pill from Crown The Empire?
Hard rock band Crown The Empire surprised fans with an interactive video for Red Pills. Inspired by the Marix, they filmed a promo that goves viewers a choice at the 2:10 mark. Will you take the red pill or the blue pill?

Chino Moreno is back with †††
Deftones’ Chino Moreno is no stranger to darkly heavy music, but his latest release is more nuanced. His band, ††† (Crosses), has released a surprise cover of 90’s electropop band Cause & Effect’s The Beginning Of The End.

This is the first new music for Moreno and guitarist Shaun Lopez since †††‘s self titled record in 2014.  

Need to relax? Check out Can’t Swim’s ASMR video
Can’t Swim heralded their new EP Someone Who Isn’t Me (out now on Pure Noise Records) with this ASMR video for Casey. ASMR is autonomous sensory meridian response; a pleasant tingling situation designed to relax you.

The band already set the bar high with their Foreign Language EP featured Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday, Frank Carter, and Drew Dijorio. The latest record explores beats and emotions.

Take a trip to Toronto with Logan Mize and Donavan Woods
At this point, we’re so travel starved that we’re looking to music videos for a change of scene. The promo for Logan Mize’s Grew Apart lets us virtually drive through Toronto during collaborator Donovan Woods‘ scenes. The video has been streamed over 17 million times. It joins Mize’s other 2020 duets I Ain’t Gotta Grow Up with Willie Jones and Get ‘Em Together with new labelmate Clare Dunn. These earnest country songs are set to feature on Mize’s new album, Still that Kid, due out on January 27, 2021.

Lindsey Ell is number 1 in Canada again
Canada’s clearly the place to be so we’re celebrating their celebration of incredible guitarist and singer-songwriter, Lindsay Ell. She’s earned her second number 1 at Canadian country radio: “I am beyond thrilled to celebrate my second #1 in Canada. I have written so much of my heart and soul into my latest album, and to release music in a year like 2020 has been quite the rollercoaster. But to top this year off with a celebration like this is truly incredible!”

She co-wrote wAnt me back with Kane Brown, Matt McGinn & Lindsay Rimes. Wondering about the capitalisation? The capital letters across the song titles on her sophmore album spell out a message.

We salute Ell for speaking out to help survivors and for being an absolute badass on guitar, so we reckon her CCMA awards and ACM nominations are well-deserved. Check out this session for more of a sense of what she can do.

Streets To Ourselves plays everything himself
Staying in Toronto (we wish!), Canadian musician Daniel Peachy has recently released his solo album Suspension of Disbelief under the name of Streets To Ourselves. Solo is the operative word; he sang and played everything himself.

Head to a Canadian cottage for Peach and Quiet
There’s a Canadian theme brewing so we’ll stay there (we wish!) for Peach and Quiet’s charming video, Empty To Fill. What a fantastic writing shed!

Their new album Just Beyond The Shine, featuring Canadian indie folk/roots contemporaries, is due out on January 15, 2021.

Mystic Peach explores distorted visions of the past
Let’s segue from Peach and Quiet to Mystic Peach. One of the few upsides to the pandemic is the rise in creative use of archival footage for music video. Mystic Peach’s singer, Curtis Gale, explained:

 Josh Whettingsteel came to mind and as a huge fan of his work, I was impulsive and decided he was the one. I could already see it in my head – This Is England imagery, distorted dystopian visions of the past whilst confronting it with soft homosexuality and natural “feminine” beauty. All I had to do was explain to Josh what the song was about. All credit goes to him. He managed to get inside my head which I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. I won’t insult anyone’s intelligence on what this is about, I’m sure you can read between the lines.”

Jon Wright and Liv Austen’s creative explorations
Another one of the scant few silver linings for musicians in 2020 was a bit of time to skill up. It’s been great to see accomplished guitarist Jon Wright developing his photography and videography talent over the year.

The song is a gift for fans of Austen’s early career EPs. Austen and Wright were praised by those fans for helping to make lockdown a little bit more bearable with their high-production value ‘Livstreams.’

Bonus entry for Austen’s Come Find Me When You Wanna Talk here because we love this banger, and because we’re impressed that she learned how to perform the song in British Sign language. As if that wasn’t enough, Austen – who portrayed a multi-lingual robot in the Channel 4 TV show Humans – also learned Japanese this year. Really puts our achievements of baking a single loaf of bread, making cheeseburger soup, and growing a tomato into perspective.

Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams present a canine love story
Another welcome development is the rise in the use of dogs as actors in music videos. Yes, it’s a thing!

Remember Homeward Bound? Or the infinitely superior Milo and Otis? Well, in the noble tradition of awkwardly imputing complex human emotions into the actions of animals, we present to you Your Mind’s Walking Out.

Marlon Williams

Their debut collaboration album, Plastic Bouquet, will be available digitally, on black vinyl, a limited edition ‘Root Beer’ coloured vinyl (300 copied), and a’Sea Glass with Pink Marbling’ coloured vinyl, limited to 1200 copies.

Hayley Ross is Moving All Around
Another way of doing things is simple but effective visuals to foreground the beauty of the song. Check out Hayley Ross’ video for Moving All Around for an example of this. The EP of the same name is one for fans of Mazzy Star and Juanita Stein.

Just Tommy (and his cousins)
Points for honesty, so shout out to Just Tommy for admitting that his video plans went awry:

“Originally, I’d planned on having a bunch of people submit Tiktok-style videos and then my dude would stitch them together and make a sick video. Because people are people, that plan zero percent worked, so I went to plan B and just shot a music video and had some fun with my family. The kids in the video are my cousins.” 

The single was produced by Chuck Alkazian (Pop Evil, Soundgarden, Tantric) at Pearl Sound Studios (Asking Alexandria, Eminem, Filter).

Chris Lane has made Big, Big Plans
Country star Chris Lane co-wrote a song to soundtrack his own proposal, and recording the event for posterity in a music video that’s been viewed over 15 million times. Lane’s concerts (remember concerts?!) resulted in 20+ proposals on stage too.

Lane has reason to celebrate yet again as the songs has topped the Billboard Country Airplay and the Country Aircheck/Mediabase Airplay charts, as well as the same in Canada. It’s his third number 1 in the United States and the fourth in Canada. It accounts for 149 million of his 1.1 billion streams to date, it’s his first number one as a songwriter (as a co-writer with Jacob Durrett and Ernest Keith Smith).

Cassadee Pope’s California Dreaming with Sam Palladio
Premiered on U.S. music channel CMT, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Cassadee Pope’s new performance video sees her duetting with Nashville‘s Sam Palladio.

As well as California Dreaming, Pope is hoping things will be back to normal-enough for festival season 2021, as she’s just been announced for The Long Road festival in September.

Manny Blue has a new video for his new song Old Money
Former MMA fighter Manny Blue rounded out 2020 with a new video for his new song from his new EP New Ink. The new song’s called New Old Money.

Darling Boy strikes gold with a new wave pioneer and new beer!
The impact of COVID-19 has been hard on all touring musicians, of course, but spare a thought for Darling Boy (Alexander Gold) who came back from a Carribean tour “to grey old London at a moment’s notice: a London so ghostly and unpopulated it felt like I’d never been there before.”

There was a silver lining, though. A golden one, actually. New wave legend Andy Patridge of XTC agreed to produce the song Golden Number, then an Argentinian brewery developed a golden pilsner named after it.

Burning Pools celebrate strong women
Woman is a decidedly feminist song by Burning Pools, a band led by former Smashing Pumpkins bassist Ginger Pooley. She was inspired to celebrate the strength of women after the trauma of finding out while she was in labour that her mother had died. Hours after giving birth, she was tasked with planning the funeral because the men in the family weren’t up to the task.

The Hellfreaks make a run for it
The Hellfreaks‘ video for Doldrum Dynasty also features a powerful woman on a run, though this one’s through the streets if Budapest and soundtracked with a scattergun metal drumbeat. Singer (and featured runner) Shakey Sue explained: “Just run for your goals, don’t stop, bring wind in your sail, be your own storm! Don’t hesitate, don’t idle, always crave for the wind”

Grammy winner Josh Stevens’ ode to his daughter
Grammy-winning producer Josh Stevens also wrote a song to celebrate women. Hello Darling is dedicated to his newborn daughter. Stevens started out as a hip-hop producer but he’s now exploring his own style with an indie-pop vibe and sometimes a smattering of beats for good measure.

Anna Krantz thinks we need to talk about Suzie
The clever video for Anna Krantz‘ new single The Trouble With Suzie deftly explains the darkness behind the deceptively sweet vocals.

American Teeth, TWIN XL, and otherworldy beings
Barred Out by American Teeth (featuring TWIN XL) is a fairly straightforward emo-acoustic performance video, but it earns a place in the line-up due to this arresting quote:

“I don’t even remember recording this version of the song. Looking at this feels like watching a dream. This was around the time I was communicating with otherworldly beings pretty consistently, so it’s quite possible I wasn’t even in my body at this time.”

Raquel Lily’s mushroom trip
Surprisingly, considering that she sings so sweetly over chilled beats, Raquel Lily is another contender for the coveted title of Most Unexpected Press Release Quote: “It’s a song I wrote about a mushroom trip I went on, and the introspection that occured on how much love and appreciation I have for someone; it was all so damn gushy and cute that I found it to be kind of disgusting and embarrassing. It was also on the heels of exploring concepts of polyamory in a long time relationship.”

Her upcoming concept album narrates a modern day coming of age story:

“You smoke some weed, you fall in love, they turn out to be a fuckboy, you’re with someone shitty, you break up, you ghost them, you still love them, you resign, you meet someone new and there’s hope again.”

Covey’s tramatic cinematic otherworld
Nice try, but this being 2020, it was going to take more than a few quotes to shock. Tom Freeman, who performs under the artist name Covey, stepped up to the plate with a creepy cinematic otherworldly video. It closes out a story that’s enthralled TikTokers. During lockdown, he’s attracted a million subscribers, and over 18 million watched his videos.

Freeman grew up in England with only a Blink-182 cassette and WarCraft figurines providing respite from a broken home. Relocating to the U.S. he faced a new type of hell – American high school:

Class of Cardinal Sin is the place you are when you’re in high school, and you graduate from all of those things into adulthood, but because of all the troubles that you experienced, you graduate to have all of these problems. ‘Congratulations, you got your degree in depression and anxiety.’ I thought it was a fun concept.”

Be warned, this video is full on!

If you liked this, check out our lockdown video round up.