(LP, Digital on Mexican Summer)


There are plenty of ambient acoustic guitarists out there, but Hayden Pedigo has a way of standing out from the crowd.  Lately of Lubbock, Texas (see Holly, Buddy) and before that Amarillo, Pedigo is quite an eccentric character.  He’s found time to run for city council of Amarillo at the age of 25, feature in a movie about it (Kid Candidate), model for Gucci, and put a sticker on this LP that says “This is the best guitar of the past 100 years.”  And just look at those album covers – they’re anything but an indicator of what the music inside sounds like.  Previous album Letting Go’s (2021) cover shows him (if it is him) looking glum in Kabuki makeup in front of a tractor-trailer, while in this one he’s standing with a piercing glare in front of a car on fire in a Walmart parking lot, his skin as blue as Violet Beauregarde after she turned into a blueberry in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.  But he makes great music.


A fingerstyle guitarist from the Fahey school, Pedigo puts great emphasis on melody in his compositions, and it shows.  All his pieces would work just as well as songs as instrumentals, but his playing is beautiful and captivating.  Thanks to a furious period of rehearsing, he was able to go into the studio and knock out virtually all the 6 and 12-string guitar parts on the album in a day.  Then it was over to Trayer Tryon (electric bass, piano, synthesizer), Robert Edmonson (piano, electric bass), and the ubiquitous Luke Schneider on pedal steel to fill in the light atmosphere.  The soundscapes are understated compared to some other recent acoustic guitar releases, but still spot-on.


I love some of his little touches, like on the playful “Elsewhere” and others, how he’ll stop and pause mid-track, play a little interlude or two, pause again, and return to the primary melody.  “Elsewhere” features a delightful tune, and Luke Schneider’s backing pedal steel is just perfect.  You can almost feel Pedigo and Schneider stop and take a breath before the lovely final chord.  On “Signal of Hope,” Pedigo says he was going for a Bert Jnsch/John Renbourn thing.  I’ll let you be the judge whether he succeeded, but it certainly is another corker.


On the title track, Pedigo adorns the piece with harmonics, just one more special touch he applies that works just right.  Pedigo pulled the title from National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney, who died in 1980 at age 33 after a puzzling fall from a 35-foot cliff in Hawaii.  In one of the notes found in his hotel room Kenney wrote “These last few days are amongst the happiest I’ve ever ignored.”  It’s another melodic gem from Pedigo.  In an amusing video for the track, he appears as a guitar instructor on a DVD from about 20 years ago trying to teach the viewer how to play the song.  It features encouraging comments onscreen like “Don’t forget to trim your fingernails to keep them at a consistent length,” “Rubato is your friend,” and “Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You’re doing great!”


Closer “Then It’s Gone” is another pretty highlight, and a perfect way to round out the album.  Hayden Pedigo’s still in his twenties but he’s been making records for about ten years now, and feels like he’s only been finding himself and achieving what he’s aiming for in the last two albums.  This record is so calming and peaceful, so soothing it’s guaranteed to make your day better.  The bizarre album cover only shows Pedigo never takes himself too seriously, a good reminder for all.

(Mark Feingold)

=  July 2023 =  
Gadsby & Skol
Eliza Skelton
Bevis Frond
Penny Ikinger
Ichiko Aoba
Bobby Lee
Soft Hearted Scientists
Hayden Pedigo





(LP/CD from Blue Matter Records )

Either recently released or coming very soon, the latest releases on the Blue Matter label continue the quality as well as the variety of their previous catalogue.

     Originally formed in Toronto way back in 1970, the three-piece Gadsby and Skol never really took off and folded after a few gigs together. However in 1995, Guitarist Charles Gadsby finds the tapes makes a few calls and the band get back together to finally record the album they wanted to make back in the seventies, the album eventually being released in the UK on CD by Woronzow records in 2001. Now completely remastered the album is being released on vinyl for the first time.

    As you can imagine from a three-piece band formed in 1970 the music is heavily influenced by Blue Cheer, Cream and Hendrix, lots of fuzzy riffs, soaring guitar and a great ryhthm section which keeps thing ticking along nicely. Opening with a couple of power chord and the aforementioned soaring guitar the instrumental ‘Guitar Dog’ sets the scene, chunky riffing and a Hendrix groove demanding that you whack the volume up before ‘Jam and Guts’ takes over, a fine seventies riff the bedrock for a gritty vocal and plenty of melody, good stuff. Even better is ‘Stop’, Gadsby really letting rip on his guitar, you can see why Nick Saloman loves this stuff, the tune one of the highlights of the album getting stuck in your head long afterwards. Equally good is the driving ‘I Don't Know’ some powerful drumming courtesy of Rick Skol giving the song plenty of energy as it question life choices then rocks out with some screaming guitar, bass throb and  harmonica.

    Over 11 tracks the album maintains its energy and drive each song a little gem that complements the next,the whole album a joy to listen to with both ‘You Could Have’ and ‘Who Calls You’ mellowing thing out in a lysergic kinda way, the band getting their groove on beautifully, the latter reminding me of a rockier Country Joe and the Fish, the album brought to a close by ‘Number Six’, another fine rockin' number with plenty of fuzz and attitude the guitar taking centre stage once again, the only lyrics being quotes from ‘The Prisoner’ TV series.

If you love a guitar trio then this is definitely the album for you, go get one.

    Sounding like a more gothic All About Eve with lysergic tendencies Eliza Skelton has created a fantastic collection of tunes that manage to sound modern and familiar at the same time. Opening track ‘Above Whitehawk Hill’ twinkles into existence with moody intention, the vocals immediately capturing your ears with their quality and tone before ‘One Daughter’ has you completely hooked with delightful rhythms and a swirling production that brings the song to life, the vocals again being the star of the show. Moving on, ‘Curlew’ begins with the sound of a Curlew, the tune cloaked in an early seventies vibe a it rolls majestically along driven by tight drumming and a warm bass line, a sweet violin adding melody and texture to the tune, the whole thing drawing to a close in a writhing frenzy of sound before morphing into the traditional sounding ‘O Willow Waly’ the vocals drifting over some moody ambience before a dark and distorted guitar takes over. Equally atmospheric, ‘The Lookerer’ caresses you with sound, the gentle melody intertwined with shimmering violin and a delightful piano motif creating one of my favourite tunes from the collection, easy to get lost in and definitely worth repeating.

     Changing tack slightly, ‘Serenade of Rough Music’ has a slowly rising jazz feel and lyrics that take you by surprise, the vocal arrangements taking the song to a new level before a trumpet and saxophone add a layer of graceful elegance to the tune sounding like something Van Morrison would create.

     To end, the sweet simplicity of ‘The Time Traveller’ is followed by ‘We're the Wild Dogs’, the former featuring a softly spoken acoustic guitar and gentle chimes, whilst the latter keeps the acoustic guitar and adds a hazy, lazy ambience, a drifting cloud of sound that hovers around the room allowing the lyrics to be heard clearly, the shining vocals remaining the star of the show.

   Featuring contributions from Paul Simmons, who also took the photos, this is a great quality collection that, as it says on the press release, is not to be missed. So don't miss it.

    I refuse to believe that there is anyone reading this that is not aware of Nick Saloman and his journey from Psychedelic guitar God to top quality songwriter, all documented under the name Bevis Frond. Well, as the title suggests ‘The Long Stuff’ turns its focus the the Guitar God persona being a collection of  lengthy tunes with plenty of guitar work to be enjoyed. The tracks on disc one were originally released as a limited edition CD in 2002 whilst the second disc features four never before released gems including a 24 minute live version of ‘Superseded’, recorded at the Dr Sardonicus festival in 2019, that is worth the asking price alone, the track opening with a squall of guitar noise, Nick weaving his magic on the fretboard before the whole thing takes off heading into outer space with purpose and energy a-plenty. Throughout the tune the band keep it tight but loose (and how we love that) there is plenty of room for manoeuvre yet each musician is in tune with the rest ensuring things never get sloppy and Mr Saloman is allowed to Shine out, his guitar work taking us all to another dimension with a great big grin on our faces.

    Elsewhere on the disc we find the delightful ‘Yet Another’ , a leftover from the ‘Little Eden’ sessions and one definitely worth hearing with all the classic Bevis trademarks intact, whilst two unheard demos complete the line-up with ‘Here's a Little Love Song’ having an Eastern feel, probably due to the electric Sitar that underpins it, the tune slowly creeping into my head to become a favourite Bevis Tune, the quality of the songs that don't even make it onto albums, is, as always, amazing. The other demo, ‘Skyline Commander’ continues the winning streak, a moody organ leading us in before the guitar riff gets our toes tapping, knowing we are in for a good time. As the song picks up pace the instruments begin to entwine creating a softly psychedelic mood , all you have to do is lie back and enjoy the trip, the music ebbing and flowing beautifully.

   Ideally I would now like to give you a brief summary of disc one, but sadly, despite working perfectly several times previously, the disc now refuses to play in my CD player. However, from memory it is all bloody excellent and you have probably bought it already anyway so go ahead and enjoy it. Cheers.

(Simon Lewis)


(Available on Off The Hip)

In celebration of her twenty-year solo career Ikinger (whose career actually goes back nearly 40 years to her time in Australian garage rockers Wet Taxis) assembled this special Record Store Day release featuring her collaborations with various international bands from North America, Japan, France, and her native Australia. The set features re-workings of old favourites along with previously unreleased live and studio recordings from her personal collection. Ikinger launched her solo career in 2003 with Elektra which she recorded with her Australian band and released via Career Records run by Ron Sanchez from our friends in Donovan’s Brain who back Ikinger on the previously unreleased version of ‘Spinster’ included here.

     The set begins with the sultry ‘Voodoo Girl’ an Ikinger co-write with bassist Vinz Guilluy from her French band Penelope Inc. Featuring a ferociously haunting duet between Ikinger’s guitar and Penelope Inc drummer Dimo Déro on saw(!) that sounds like Yoko Ono in the middle of a nightmare, it sent chills up my spine. The aforementioned ‘Spinster’ combines Donovan’s Brain’s sinewy psychedelia with another sexy Ikinger vocal that’s both seductively alluring and dangerously provocative. The three-pronged guitar attack of Ikinger, Ron Sanchez and Colter Langan is a thing of beauty.

    Ikinger turns into a bluesy swamp goddess for the soulful ‘Southern Man’ - imagine Janis and Nina pouring their hearts out with a little Tina Turner on the side and you’re halfway home. ‘Siberia’ (co-write with Déro during lockdown) is a violent maelstrom of metallic skronk with punky overtones recalling vintage Patti Smith and featuring legendary bassist Jim Dickson along for the ride. (Dickson previously played alongside Rob Younger in New Christs and joined Younger and Career Records co-owner Deniz Tek in the reformed Radio Birdman lineup.)

     You can get a feel for the explosive Penny Ikinger live experience via three tracks with her Australian band Penny Ikinger’s Marbles. The songs originally appeared on her most recent album Tokyo (Off The Hip, 2018) backed by her Japanese band The Silver Bells. It’s an immersive and exhausting head crush, with ‘Tsunami’ (performed inside the Christ Church Chapel Of Rock in St. Kilda, Victoria) particularly living up to its title!

     ‘Sycamore Tree’ was also recorded live, albeit at a rehearsal for Ikinger’s 2004 tour backed by Donovan’s Brain. It’s a dreamy late night trawl full of hazy, heady substances and a spooky Mazzy Star vibe. If you’ve seen the classic 1956 Oscar-winning French short The Red Balloon (Le ballon rouge) you’ll appreciate the wonderful ‘Red Balloon’ wherein Ikinger recounts an imaginary trip with a red balloon. Ikinger’s fairy tale story/lyrics are accompanied by Marita Dyson (The Orbweavers)’s wistful harmonies and cinematic musical accompaniment from co-writer David Banahan (aka Burning Sand).

     The final selections were recorded with her Japanese band The Silver Bells who backed her on her aforementioned Tokyo album. The Bells bring a Crazy Horse vibe to ‘59th Floor’ while Ikinger wails in her snarky punky delivery and Ikinger pulls out all the stops on her rip-roaring solos on Kim Salmon (The Scientists)’s garage stomper ‘We Had Love.’

Jeff Penczak




Once in a while a performance comes along so steeped in beauty it stops you dead in your tracks.  Such is this set by Japanese songstress Ichiko Aoba, recorded at the Barbican Milton Court in London.  This is loveliness incarnate.  Many of the tracks are from her brilliant 2020 album Windswept Adan – one of my favorite albums from that year.  But here that intimacy and the songs are reinvented by augmenting Ichiko’s vocals and guitar with live strings by the 12 Ensemble, and what a reinvention it is!


Already her guitar playing and ethereal voice were stunningly gorgeous, but here with these string accompaniments they’re truly heart-dissolving.  To listen is to fall instantly in love.  The Robert Kirby-esque arrangements are magical, performed with astonishing subtlety by the 12.  The resulting pieces can be seen as almost distant relatives of impressionist classical works such as Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun or Clair de Lune, or Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess, albeit these are with vocals, in Japanese.


Interestingly, the release omits the applause between most, but not all, of the songs.  This has its own, perhaps unintended otherworldly impact on the whole.  But the entire performance is available on video on Youtube, so if you’re interested you can see it for yourself with applause (and audience!) intact, and can confirm that Ichiko herself is indeed as lovely as she sings.


Choosing favorites is impossible, but the back-to-back-to-back “Red Silence,” “Hagupit” and “Dawn in the Adan” in the heart of the running order are simply jaw-dropping, as is the elegiac “amuletum.”  And they haven’t invented words yet to convey the timeless beauty of “Asleep Among Endives.”  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself needing a hanky.


There is one track beset by technical difficulty, proving this is indeed a live show, when Ichiko came out for an encore to sing “Akatombo.”  In switching from her trusty guitar to a piano in another part of the stage, the microphones weren’t ready.  But the song is enchanting nonetheless.    And on the closing encore “Hello” (ironic to end a concert with a title like that) it’s just Ichiko on electric piano and vocals, and it couldn’t be more delightful and mesmerizing, right up to the final chord.  The term “angelic voice” can be cliché, but hers really is.


This release is my runaway favorite of the first half of the year, and the competition isn’t even close.  This is the one.  It comes in as one 13-track, 51-minute lullaby.  Not bad for something in which most of us won’t know what she’s singing.  It doesn’t matter, her language is universal.  Thank you, Ichiko, for this precious gift.


(Mark Feingold)



(LP, Cassette, Digital on Tompkins Square Records)


Bobby Lee returns with his third album of guitar-driven instrumental cosmic American music by way of Sheffield UK.  Whereas the previous Origin Myths (2021) was an acid-fried one-man band masterwork that burned brief and hot, on Endless Skyways, Lee expands to the full-band treatment.  The album is longer and covers more stylistic territory, while still managing to retain Lee’s core sound of a woozy-headed stew out of a sun-baked scene somewhere in the western US, with mirages undulating and UFOs darting in and out.


There’s room in Lee’s cinematic universe for the chugging along boogie of “Reds for a Blue Planet” and the motorik groove of driving the autobahn through the Nevada desert on “Impregnated by Drops of Rainbow,” which Lee revisited and expanded brilliantly from Origin Myths.  He slows it down for the contemplative “Thunder Travelling to Loftier Mountain Heights,” which beautifully contrasts Lee’s shimmering tremolo guitar with Guy Whittaker’s tip-toeing piano.


Good things come in small packages, such as the 47-second “Rainbow Reprise,” comprising The Hanging Stars’ Joe Harvey-Whyte’s chiming pedal steel over a synth; it is all Cosmic and all Country and all excellent.  But if you were pressed to choose one song which encapsulates Bobby Lee, that would be the psychedelic album peak “Acid Grassland.”  The track benefits from the full band behind him.  His guitar snakes along plugged into a pedal or three, the band clopping along in a muggy swamp boogie, with a filthy slide guitar thrown in for good measure.  Closer “Folsom Point Blues” ain’t no Johnny Cash – Cash was into speed, and this is all floating tufts of six-string marshmallow fluff for a late-night comedown.


Bobby Lee comes up big in this much anticipated record.  He knows how to blend his guitar, usually treated with some combination of tremolo, reverb and delay all cranked to their limits, with differing influences all under the umbrella of his unique brand of cosmic country, and it works just right.  He also knows his band members’ strengths and gets the best out of each of them.


(Mark Feingold)



Hip Replacement Records

CD/DL www.softheartedscientists4.bandcamp.com

Nathan Hall’s Soft Hearted Scientists make a welcome return; Nathan has been playing with his Sinister Local’s as of late. After 2016’s ‘Golden Omens’, Nathan appeared to have put the band to bed, but luckily for us they sail again. He recorded seven albums from 2017 until last year’s Golden Fleece as Nathan Hall And The Sinister Locals.

The Scientists consist of Michael Bailey – bass, Paul Jones – electric and acoustic guitars plus backing vocals, Dylan Line – keyboards, electronics and sound effects with Nathan - lead and backing vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, electronics and sound effects, with Spencer Segelov – drums on half the tracks and producer Frank Naughton playing drums on the other half, Frank also invented some of the special effects on the album.

Waltz Of The Weekend is deliciously lengthy, 72 minutes on a single 12 track disc, with four tailor made compact radio friendly psychedelic pop singles, one of which ‘What Grows In The Garden’, opens the record in fine style, all heavenly harmonies and swirling synths. The title track arrives draped in languid sitar and reverb, Nathan says of this track “it’s a psychedelic waltz inspired by a trip to Tintern Abbey. It features an outrageously over the top haunted middle section that sounds like it Bohemian Rhapsody performed by ghost monks, with Hank Marvin playing surf guitar in another dimension”.

‘Sea Anemone Song’, starts off sprightly enough, but the subject of domestic gloom waylays it, the song gradually disintegrates towards the final stages, breaking up into the ether. Another of those short, sharp psychedelic pop songs is up next, ‘Rode My Bike’, it’s terrific fun, clever, multi layered and as made as a box of frogs, the following ‘Gadzooks’, utilises a lot of the same lyrics as Bike, but sets them to a completely different melody, strings and some crazy lead guitar are prominent, a similar melody to ‘The Witch’ on Mark Fry’s classic album Dreaming with Alice, is playing merrily away, somewhere in the distance.

‘Who Loves The Moon’, is brilliant, classic SHS, a yearning, multi layered mini symphony, a lament to lost love. After a brief intermission, ‘The Fixer’ arrives and is the third of our four tailor-made, radio friendly, psychedelic pop songs. ‘The Things We Make’, is a musical ballad about musical creativity, it tells of a haunted evening in Wales, many years ago, the song appears to have been abducted by the ghost of Lee Scratch Perry halfway through, resulting in some echo laden effects dub. ‘Vicious Vivian’, is the remainder of our psych pop nuggets, stuffed to the gills with vocal and instrumental hooks. ‘Creepers And Vines’, is another gem of a song, seven minutes of drifty, languid sounds, it’s clever and playful, a series of lovely, gentle melodies, twinkle away.

 ’Venus Fly Trap’, which follows, is also seven minutes long, a nightmare of Nathan’s imagination , in which he is on trial, faced with a corrupt judge, jury and hangman, all eagerly vying for his blood, it’s quirky and has a queasy melody. We arrive at the end of album with possibly the longest and ambitious song that the band has recorded/released, ‘Lost Mariners’, an eleven minute psychedelic seafaring song, complete with San Francisco acid rock guitar solos, plenty of sound effects and oodles of analogue synth towards its conclusion, lost in the sea mists and far from home, a watery grave on a haunted seabed.

This is a fabulous album; it’s inventive, clever and extremely listenable.

(Andrew Young)