This is a time of looking forward. To the familiar artists that will return. To the new artists that will be discovered. This year, like any other, comes with a wish list. Some albums will never materialise. Others will slightly disappoint. A few will remain life-long friends. Fingers crossed for the latter. In no particular order, apart from alphabetical, my 2018 wish list includes new releases by Alela Diane, Anäis Mitchell, Bill Callahan, Caitlin Harnett, Cat Power, East River Pipe, Field Report, First Aid Kit, Jacob Golden, Jenny Lewis, Jessica Pratt, Jim White, Jonathan Wilson, Laura Veirs, Lewis & Clarke, Pearl Charles, Phosphorescent, Pinegrove, Richard Edwards, The Delines, Vetiver, Wooden Shjips, Wye Oak and the artist formerly known as Young Man.

And yet, there is a special place in the 2018 wish list for a new album by Kramies (pronunciation to be determined). With rumours going back at least a couple of decades, there are unconfirmed reports that an album is finally on its way and that Ireland had some part to play in it. We wait with fingers crossed, though we have learned not to hold our breath. The hard way. In the meantime, here’s a wonderful feature by Shon Cobbs and his Behind The Scenes colleagues from Denver. It features Kramies answering questions and sometimes asking them too. Plus a lot of laughing.

Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again

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Perhaps unsurprisingly for a San Franciscan, Jessica Pratt is well at home in the late 1960s and early 1970s. With a close-miked wooziness, On Your Own Love Again is full of fragile vocals, lovely chord changes, and just a hint of patchouli oil. Somewhat disconcertingly, the album seems to start half way through. It’s as if you’ve arrived slightly late to the gig. Certainly, there’s no apparent meta-structure to the musical narrative. Just song after song. In the end they all start to blend together. The slightly sweet smell in the air kicks in. And you’re away. Lovely. But there are little conceits. On ‘Jacquelyn in the Background’ the home-taped vibe is so strong that there seems to be some genuine tape flutter at times. It makes for a really nice effect. And, in fact, the album does come to a natural conclusion with the short title track. On Your Own Love Again is redolent of a certain era, but it has a timeless quality to it.

Pitchfork review

Paste review

Consequence of Sound review

All Music review

Jessica Pratt

In some quarters the new album by the Allah-Lahs has been lauded. The album sounds like it was locked away in a vault around 1967, only to be discovered 45 years later when the late bass player’s third wife found a safe-deposit key amongst his belongings and decided to find out what was hidden therein. In fact, so true is the Allah-Lahs album to a certain Nuggets-y, 60s-era garagey sound that it more resembles an album by a contemporary covers band than an original offering. Probably their nearest equivalent are The Explorers Club, who don’t so much ape the sound of The Beach Boys in the mid-1960s as rearrange a track on Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) and pass it off as their own. So, why is Jessica Pratt any different? If Rip Van Winkle had taken a nap in June 1970 and only woken up in the autumn of 2012, then he might have been forgiven for thinking that the music scene was still populated by fey female vocalists gently strumming on acoustic guitars. Well, while there’s a certain throwback element to Jessica Pratt’s debut album, it’s also full of really good songs and, more importantly, some pretty unique phrasing. The problem with the Allah-Lahs is that they sound exactly like we would expect an undiscovered band from the late 1960s to sound. By contrast, even though Jessica Pratt is working within a genre that was popular at the time, she doesn’t sound like anyone who was singing then. This is no fairy-inhabited folk album. The vocals are too strong. This is no dirge-like collection of really intense singer-songwriter material either. Each song moves along at a pretty pace. And within any given song, there are plenty of chord changes to keep the interest up. And Jessica Pratt’s voice caresses each one equally well. Sure, there’s a certain slightly self-conscious lo-fi quality at times. But, for now, apparent late 60s throwback Jessica Pratt has produced a resolutely modern album.

Jessica Pratt Myspace page