Country & Folk

New album: Dave Hause || Haunted Churches: Live From Hamburg

American singer/songwriter/guitarist Dave Hause is currently doing a Haunted Churches Tour in Europe. Last week I attended his only show in the Netherlands, which turned out to be an almost two-hour masterclass in showmanship, a craft expertly built up over a lifetime in multiple hardcore/punk bands since the 90s. Together with his younger brother Tim Hause (vocals, guitar) and their friend Mark Masefield (keys, accordion), he not only managed to captivate musically, but the interaction with the audience also led to more than a few laughs, and he even had a cure for the Dutch Disease which silenced the chatter at the back of the room. The fact that there were fans present who had seen the artist live 15+ years ago with his punk band The Loved Ones (and still remembered it clearly) as well as teenagers who were not yet born at the time (but were now making their crowdsurfing debut) says a lot about his appeal.

April last year, Dave Hause released his heartfelt sixth solo album Drive It Like It’s Stolen (featuring instant classic Damn Personal), which he followed up in November with the Versus LP and in early 2024 with Nurses on vinyl, both consisting of re-recorded songs from The Loved Ones in the style of his current work. We’re talking about honest, acoustic folk-punk, skillfully played and convincingly sung. On stage it becomes even more evident how good all this is, and anyone who wants to be persuaded (or wants to relive it) can buy two performances from the current tour – in churches in Hamburg and K​ö​ln (Germany) – online now.


Add to wantlist: Haunted Churches: Live From Hamburg and Haunted Churches: Live From K​ö​ln are out now digitally, available on Bandcamp.

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Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of January 2024

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

She Lied || Cover: Acumen || Original: The Rockin’ Ramrods
With their Mark VII LP on Rad Girlfriend Records, Carbondale, Illinois-based garage punk outfit Acumen finally make their debut on vinyl. Besides two originals. we get eight raw garage rock covers of nuggets from the psychedelic 60s, including this 1964 classic.

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New album: Old Heavy Hands || Small Fires

It still is a nice story, how Old Heavy Hands came into being. Almost naturally, because Nathan James Hall (vocals, guitar), Larry Wayne Slaton (vocals, guitar, keys) and David Self (lead guitar, vocals) from the Legacy Irons Tattoo shop in Greensboro, North Carolina, Josh Coe (bass, mandolin ) from the bar next door, and John Chester (drums) from the bar across the street, bumped into each other daily, where music quickly created a bond. The songs for their new LP Small Fires were born during acoustic sessions inside the shop, and finished in their practice space built in Hall’s barn – filled with snakes, spiders and chickens – where friends and family walked in and out to contribute to the record. It has become an album with a big sound, massive vocals, thumping drums and heavy guitars, a mix of southern rock, Americana and grunge – with a punk rock feel – but as heartfelt, warm and soulful as possible. Impressive and memorable.





Small Fires, produced by Danny Fonorow & Old Heavy Hands, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Spitting Daggers Records. Also featuring Laura Murphy (backing vocals), Carri Smithey (backing vocals), Josh King (backing vocals), Casey Cranford (saxophone), Eli Fribush (saxophone), Zac Lee (trumpet) and Justin Gerringer (trombone).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Old Heavy Hands

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New album: Brown Horse || Reservoir

The music we love most is authentic, sincere and real – it starts with feeling and believing. Americana six-piece Brown Horse, based in Norwich, UK(!), fits that description seamlessly. The songwriters/musicians – Ben Auld, Emma Tovell, Nyle Holihan, Patrick Turner, Phoebe Troup and Rowan Braham – call themselves alt-country nobodies, but that will soon change now that their beautiful debut album Reservoir has seen the light of day. We get ten guitar-driven songs with enchanting idiosyncratic vocals. The content is dark, the sound is warm, the atmosphere is melancholic. An authentic, sincere and real record.


Reservoir, produced by Owen Turner, is out now on CD and vinyl LP through Loose Music.

Add to wantlist: Loose Music

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New album: Lily Seabird || Alas,

Ready for an impressive piece of indie-folk, with influences from grunge and shoegaze? Lily Seabird is a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist from Burlington, Vermont (US), and her sophomore full-length Alas, touches my soul. The title, including that comma, refers to an expression often used by her friend Ryan Collins who passed away in the middle of recording this record – an expression of grief but also for letting go. The songs are about loss, coming of age and sadness, but there are also moments where happiness takes over. And that’s what you feel, not only through the lyrics, but even more so how those versatile vocals convey them, and how the instruments manage to touch the raw emotions. Listen, for example, to standout track Grace, in which an irresistible and uplifting melody turns into an outburst of howling guitars, but also in the other songs the instruments – not only guitars, bass and drums, but also piano, fiddle, strings, mellotron, organ and saxophone – to follow the different sentiments. An impressive piece of indie-folk.




Alas,, produced by Lily Seabird & Benny Yurco, is out now digitally, on on cassette through Bud Tapes. Also featuring Greg Freeman (guitar, piano, fiddle, percussion), Noah Schneidman (bass, percussion), Zack James (drums), Michael Nau (backing vocals), Seth Kauffman (strings) and Benny Yurco (guitars, bass, percussion) on selected tracks. The album is dedicated to Ryan Collins.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of December 2023

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

One final look back at 2023 before we start 2024. In December we not only came across countless Christmas adaptations, but we also listened to cover releases by Jim Bob (This Is My Mix Tape), friends & family of Dan Sartain (Dan Sartain Vs. The World (is gonna break your little heart)), various artists from the Dualtone roster (Discovered & Covered), Trevor Horn (Echoes – Ancient & Modern), The Anchoress (Versions), Dave Finney & The Procrastinators (Covers) and Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection (Aquarium Drunkard Lagniappe Session 2), and to tributes by various artists to Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Smiths, Metallica (all on Cleopatra Records) and Guided By Voices (Rusted Gear Records), but below you can hear ten other melancholic cover songs to evoke nostalgic feelings.

My Shadow Tags on Behind || Cover: The Cribs || Original: Adam Green
On Capitane Records’ 2-LP Moping in Style: A Tribute to Adam Green, 26 largely well-known names – Jeffrey Lewis, Regina Spektor, Father John Misty, Devendra Banhart, The Libertines, Sean Lennon, The Lemonheads, and so on – show how many good songs the American singer/songwriter delivered after his life in the Moldy Peaches. Lots of successful material, but I particularly enjoyed hearing British indie rock band The Cribs again.

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Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Singles and EPs of 2023

Our final year-end list is my 50 favorite Singles & EPs of 2023. ICYMI, Dennis published his last week, and we previously both shared our favorite albums of the year – mine here and Dennis’ over here.

I am presenting these singles alphabetically. Ranking them is near impossible and getting my longlist back to 50 releases was hard enough in itself. If there is one takeaway from this list and our other lists it’s that 2023 was a pretty amazing year in the sonic underground.

Find my list below, and a Spotify playlist with 80% available content of my list here. Wishing you happy holidays and see you all next year!

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Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Singles and EPs of 2023

By now you’ve probably seen our lists of favorite albums – here‘s Niek’s and there‘s mine – but 2023 also gave us lots of short format releases that were wantlist worthy. Below you can listen to the Top 50 singles and EPs that I enjoyed the most last year (note: individual songs are excluded). I would have liked to purchase some more physically, but that’s quite an expensive challenge with retail prices where 15 euros (16 USD) for a 7″ single and 40 euros (43 USD) or more for a six-track 12″ EP are no exceptions. Anyway, luckily there are other ways to hear them. Looking over the playlist, I guess that this music is a bit faster and wilder than that of my AOTY list – what is too exhausting for a full-length, works well for just a few songs. In my world you could have a fun dance party with this, including a few moments of rest in between to recover.

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Music Year-End List || Niek’s Favorite Albums of 2023

2024 is upon us! Time for the wonderful tradition of ranking the finest records of the year. Do I take this process too seriously? Of course! But I tried not to overthink it too much this year, to simply let my list reflect the albums that brought me the most joy in 2023 – it really is as straightforward as that. My list features 50 records I wholeheartedly recommend, many of which transitioned from my wantlist to my collection – you can glimpse them in the picture atop this post. I also included another 50+ notable mentions, and I still feel I left out some really great stuff.

That says a lot about what an amazing year for music 2023 was. And yet, I worry about how sustainable the current musical landscape is. The shared struggles of label owners, bands halting tours due to escalating costs that far outweigh the benefits – these stories trouble me. Then there are the developments at Bandcamp, Spotify and Twitter/X. The potential of these platforms to create something of value for artists, labels and listeners is limitless, but the people in charge keep self-sabotaging, laying-off staff and in case of Spotify, perpetuating financial challenges for the independent artists and labels we passionately support.

I think that makes sharing music recommendations, encouraging people to buy records and visit shows more crucial than ever. Remarkably, 2023 brought renewed recognition and appreciation of music blogs, driving increased readership for ATW. So yeah, there also is reason for optimism. Let’s see what 2024 will bring.

To all the artists and labels we write about, and to our fellow bloggers, I’d like to thank you for your tremendous contributions in 2023. Let’s keep swimming against the stream of mediocre algorithms together.

On topic! Find my list below – and check out my playlist with most of the releases here. If you frequent this website, you know what to expect: pop hooks, crunchy guitars, jangle stuff, underground pop, ramshackle lo-fi production, indie rock, garage rock, power pop and punk rock. Hungry for more and something different? See Dennis’ amazing list which is more eclectic and boasts approximately 90% (!) unique content.

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New album: Cartwrights || Years At A Time

Obviously American singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Greg Cartwright (Reigning Sound, The Compulsive Gamblers, The Oblivians) is a hero of ours. Nice to see that his work has inspired Mike Fraser (vocals, guitar), Wayne Marcin (bass, guitar, vocals) and Stu Rankin (drums, vocals) to start a band and eventually borrow his name. Cartwrights’ new full-length album Years At A Time contains nine tracks that fuse garage rock and indie folk, without shying away from big gestures. Vibrant guitar riffs, thundering drum rolls, raw vocals and even a whoo-hoo-hoo sing-along chorus (in King of Tonight) – the musicians from Thunder Bay, Ontario (Canada) hand over a solid and heartfelt roots rock record.



Years At A Time, written by Mike Fraser and arranged by Cartwrights, is out now digitally, and soon on CD and vinyl LP, through Lost Dog Records. Also featuring guitarists RJ Little and Casey Laforet on selected tracks.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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