Rock'n'Reel, UK September 2012 (5/5)
Two Dollar Bash have been in existence for nigh on fifteen years but, with their three members spread across Europe and Haiti, it's taken them time to come up with their fourth album. And yet with Mark Mulholland, Joe Armstrong and Matt de Harp contributing their own songs fairly evenly, « New Adventures » is a surprisingly cohesive set.
Opening with Armstrong's fiddle-led instrumental « Skunk River Rag », Mulholland's title track sets the scene for the rest of the album, with its late-period Byrds 'cosmic cowboyu' feel.
Recorded over various on-the-hoof sessions with a revolving door of guest musicians, including fiddle, organ and pedal-steel, the quality of songs is superb throughout, with Armstrong's « Same Old Lie » and the Wilco-ish ballad « Pioneertown » being particular standouts. Easily a contender for non-American Americana album of the year.
Rhythm and Booze, UK, April 2012 (9/10)
This week has been full of listening to wonderful new discoveries and reaquainting with a few old favourites, one such newbie (well to me anyway) is the wonderous stripped down sounds of Two Dollar Bash, a trio of singer-songwriters (two Scots and a Frenchman) combining to create delicious rootsy folk and stripped back country.
The band originally formed back in 2003, since then they’ve performed all over Europe and the US, taking in three successive years at the prestigious SXSW Festival in Texas along the way. The band have also found time to release three critically acclaimed albums before heading bak into the studios last summer to begin writing their fourth full length release, New Adventures. The band members took their time writing and recording their latest album, recording when time and location permitted (the three members are scattered across different continents),the band could have recorded their contributions separately but prefered to gather in one place when available, in a bid to make something more intimate.
And in truth the first word I’d use to describe this mostly acoustic affair would be intimate, followed by warm and perhaps spellbinding, you see Two Dollar Bash seem to have taken a 60′s era Laurel Canyon folk influence added a touch of straight up country, thrown in a few barroom dust kickers and come up with a uniquely organic, spirited and somewhat deliciously raw sounding roots album that lovers of say Guthrie, Cash, (Harvest era) Neil Young, CSN or Dylan will lap up in their droves.
The album opens a short snappy instrumental that features finger plucked banjo, acoustic guitars and sawing fiddle, setting the mood brilliantly for the rustic treats ahead. Two Dollar Bash follow up with the stripped back Americana of the Mark Mulholland helmed title track, complete with a lovely harmony enriched chorus and an instantly infectious melody that instantly compells your foot to tap whilst you gleefully hum along. Matt de Harp crops up next with the shit kicking straight up country of Blame It On Me, a track that could have been lifted straight out of Nashville with it’s combination of banjo, fiddle and world weary vocals.
From there on the aformentioned Mark Mulholland, Matt de Harp and fellow songwriter Joe Armstrong offer up a fine selection of prime time folk, stripped down country and rousing roots rockers from the gorgeous early morning sun-kissed San Francisco Morning to the twanging country rock of Same Old Lie via the Dylan goes country like duet (with Sister Chain) Floating Through and then there’s the driving Beatles-esque rock of Take It From You, showcasing a completely different side to the bands sound.
Whilst it would be easy to digest each and every morsel on here, it’s only right I leave something for the listener to discover for themselves, however I will say that no review of New Adventures would be complete with a mention of the traditional Irish drinking song influenced Rolling Down The Road, a rollicking folky tale of drinking and avoiding trouble or the brilliant heartfelt and poignant singer-songwriter fare of Foster’s Goodbye.
New Adventures is a real delight from start to finish as Two Dollsr Bash manage to combine all the essential elements of roots in one handy package.
Maverick (UK) 2012 (4/5) (link to original page)
It's not the first time that the Europeans and Caledonians have produced high quality Americana folk-country music, where you could close your eyes and hear Neil Young or CSNY; think Ed Vanderveen, think Cosmic Rough Riders. The difference with Two Dollar Bash is that you recognise the references but you get much more besides. NEW ADVENTURES is an exuberant 21st century showcase for three highly talented young musicians-two Scotsmen, Mark Mulholland and Joe Armstrong, and a Parisian, Matt De Harp. They started to play music together nearly twenty years ago, busking in the streets of Prague and have honed their skills and abilities ever since. Between them they play an impressive array of acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandola, harmonica, bass, mandolin, 12 string guitar and percussion-all of which feature to dazzling effect on this album.
It's a brave and neat touch to open an album with an instrumental but that's exactly what Two Dollar Bash do here. "Skunk River Rag" is a lively banjo and fiddle driven piece that would make a fine companion to the classic film soundtrack number from the forty-year-old film DELIVERANCE, the unforgettable "Duelling Banjos." Each band member shares in the songwriting credits. Mulholland penned six of the album's tracks and Armstrong and De Harp contribute four each. They also take turns as lead vocalist throughout the course of NEW ADVENTURES. The title track is one of those songs that grow in stature with repeated listening. Its Byrds-like 12-string cadences and harmony laden chorus could make it a strong choice as a single off the album. Another Mulholland track that really resonates is "San Francisco Morning" with its Dylan-esque JOHN WESLEY HARDING simplicity. The lyrical use of city vignettes has real charm with lines such as 'Austin in the sunshine. There's parties everywhere. Just dive into the music and come back up for air.' A string quartet motif adds to the beauty and timelessness of this song.
There's a quirkiness and sense of introspection to some of De Harp's songs that is reminiscent of the work that the late Ronnie Lane did with his post-Faces band, Slim Chance. Added to this is a certain jauntiness a la Lindisfarne. "Blame It On Me" would sit nicely beside the 1975 single "Don't Try 'N' Change My Mind" while the delightful banjo and harmonica driven "Time With You" is a song of which Alan Hull would have been proud. Original songs yes, but with a mighty fine ancestry!
My favourite track on the album, however, is Armstrong's "Pioneertown." It begins with a fine electric guitar riff that reappears throughout the song. The lyrics are wistful and elegiac and the heartfelt vocals and soaring melody are clearly inspired by the best rock balladry of Gram Parsons. The final two songs on this excellent album contrast strongly with each other. "Take It From You" has all the hallmarks of two hoary old English 1960s bands with the opening garage-style, guttural, rhythm-guitar-stuttering phrases from The Troggs' "I Can't Control Myself" spinning forward into a pop lyric that Ray Davies might have penned for The Kinks' 1966 masterpiece FACE TO FACE. The album closes with the gently reflective "When We Wrote Letters." This final track begins with a sensitive guitar picked phrase as Mulholland produces a nostalgic lyric of how life and love used to be, in the vein of Paul Simon's "The Dangling Conversation." The delicate thoughtful piece completes this set of adventures with quiet and confident assurance. NEW ADVENTURES has clear threads that lead back to other songs, other musicians, other times; yet it is a modern album that ties and loops bygone talents into a tapestry for today. Two Dollar Bash have woven together a skilful album brimful of new and unexpected adventures. Simon Beards
Electric Ghost, UK, April 2012
Their extensive repertoire spans a range of styles including country, blues, folk, bluegrass, rock'n'roll and swing.
Leicester Bangs, UK, Mar 2012
Hey hey, my my! Having just released his solo album 'The Cactus And The Dragon' (reviewed for Leicester Bangs recently by yours truly), here’s Mark Mulholland again, together with Matt De Harp and Joe Armstrong, who make up Two Dollar Bash. There’s a strong cast of ten in the wings as well, who all contribute something to what I can only describe as glorious, ramshackle (in an off-the-cuff way) Americana. The album could have been made yesterday, as the title track and "Take It From You" demonstrate, with such a freshness about them, all bright and shining; or half a century ago (a century ago even!), as "Floating Through" (my favourite as I write this) and "Blame It On Me" reveal their heritage. The tracks tumble out of the speakers, paying no heed to building up a sound, as if the band just turned up, tuned in, and decided to play whatever came to mind from their own personal repertoire... or so it seems. Yes, all of these tracks are written by them, all are original, individually penned by one of the band, and shared in the making.
There’s nothing on here that’s overly derivative ("San Francisco Morning" reminds me of The Schramms, mainly the string arrangement and the vocal, and somewhere else I caught a glimmer of John Prine, but that’s it). There’s nothing on here that is second rate. These fourteen songs are pure, heartfelt beauties, of a matchless, quirky variety, with quality assured, with that ever so slightly shambolic edge that enhances the authenticity of the music. Pure joy, pure and simple.
Fatea, UK, Mar 2012
How's this for cosmopolitan? Two Dollar Bash [presumably a variation of Dylan's Million Dollar Bash ?] are four former buskers [three from Glasgow and one from Paris] who got together in Prague and are now based in Berlin! What's more they play the most authentic-sounding Americana you'll hear this side of the Appalachians.
Their sound is a combination of folk, country and rock and sounds like the Gram Parsons version of the Byrds circa Sweetheart of the Rodeo with Nashville Skyline period Dylan thrown in for good measure. If you like banjo, mandolin, guitar and harmonica with harmony vocals on top, you'll love this.
The album opens with an instrumental "Skunk River Rag" ,which ,as its title suggests sounds like the soundtrack to a western movie . The first song, title track "New Adventures " sounds to me as though it could be an outtake from "Notorious Byrd Brothers " with its chiming guitars and deep harmonies. Excellent stuff!
Next up is the bluegrassy "Blame It On Me ", complete with banjo and fiddle which put me in mind of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. "San Francisco Morning " is an atmospheric acoustic guitar and strings ballad which is just lovely. TDB then launch into "Same Old Lie", a country rock song that wouldn't sound out of place on a Gram Parsons album.
There is a change of style on "Rolling Down the Road", which has a Celtic folk feel to it ,which refelects its subject matter [drinking in Belfast].It also features some fine mandolin . Similarly, "Keep Holding On" has a folky feel with some great harmonica, which reminds me of early Lindisfarne.
Apparently, Two Dollar Bash evolved in Prague in the early 1990's from an acoustic band with the delightful name of The Oul' Bogwarriors. In the years that they have been touring together ever since , they have clearly developed their songwriting, playing and singing skills to a very high standard. If you like authentic-sounding American roots music, give this a listen, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
American Roots, UK, Mar 2012 (4 stars from 5)
If ever an album evoked the early days of country rock, for me at least, its this one. Ever since the first play, bands such as the Byrds, Burittos, Poco and the lesser known but equally talented Goose Creek Symphony among many others have come to mind. What makes this album even more of a pleasurable listen is the fact that there are only fleeting glimpses of these bands that ‘invented’ the genre. There is no copyist element at work, with this being, within the constraints of that loose genre a highly original recording that pays homage to the past but is very much an album for this century. You could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps one member of this talented trio hails from the Appalachains and the other two from maybe Los Angeles or perhaps San Francisco, but you would be very wrong. Mark Mulholland and Joe Armstrong are both Scots whilst Matt De Harp is a Frenchman!
Rootsville, Belgium, Oct 2009
"La grande force du band réside dans le fait que chaque élément
écrit ses propres chansons et peut chanter en lead singer, les
autres faisant les choeurs ou les harmonies.
Jazzwise, UK, Sept 09
„Constant touring and a swag of confidence-building rave reviews have fine-tuned the foursome's already formidable songwriting skills and enhanced their earthy, richly textured sound. Recorded in a farmhouse in the Czech Republic, this excellent third album has all TDB hallmarks – literate songs, versatile musicianship and good honest music, delivered with the sheer joy of playing. Think acoustic guitars, lap steels, harmonicas and banjos. Alternating lead vocals and straight-up harmonies. Think a European version of The Band, or a modern day Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.“ Jane Cornwell (review of „Lost River“)
Maverick, UK, Feb 2009
"...the group’s organic, authentic sound provides plenty of moments to savour, taking in folk, country, blues and acoustic rock ... this has the potential to impress any fan of uncontrived, richly-textured roots music."
MazzMusikaS, Belgium; Jan 2009
“...one of the best European acoustic folk/country bands. The four musicians...are not only outstanding instrumentalists and singers, but also very talented songwriters.”
Brand New Country, BBC Radio Scotland, June 2008
"I really enjoyed this album, and I think you will too... it's a really great sound" Bryan Burnett, introducing "Lost River"
No Fences, Germany, February 2008
"Echte Musik mit Herz und Seele von echten Musikern mit Herz und Seele" Christine Helmeke
Green Man Review, USA, December 2007
"This is heartfelt and very true Americana, and I bet they do a good live show." Gary Whitehouse
Songlines, UK, December 2007
The blue, blue grass of Scotland and Berlin
This is good ol' time American music. There is blues, folk, country and chugging R'n'B in here. The auras of Canned Heat, Woody Guthrie, Neil Young and Springsteen waft on the breeze. And ... there is an echo of the Rolling Stones down-home bluesy vibe in here. ..Two Dollar Bash consists of three Glaswegians and a Parisian (who does, tantalisingly, sing a great, uptempo blues number - "Roulez, Roulez" - in French, midway through the album) based in Berlin...
This is classic, big skies and bar rooms American music, and that is no bad thing. There are evocative songs here with harmonies, mandolin, banjo, guitar and particularly good harmonica playing from Matt de Harp. Jane Cornwell
My Revelations, Germany, December 2007
Alle wissen: Country ist was für ewig gestrige Wildwestromantiker,
Folk was für speckmattige Duscheverweigerer und Blues die Musik der
- keine Ahnung, der restlichen Trauerklopse halt. So die eine Meinung.
Jazzwise, UK, September 2007
"What with their downhome laments, impressive three and four part harmonies and exemplary banjo pickin', Two Dollar Bash could be lifted straight out of the Appalachians. Turns out they're a – wait for it-Berlin-based acoustic/folk/country band, originally from Scotland and France, having evolved out of Prague collective The Oul' Bogwarriors. No yee-hahs, then (well, except for a few near yodels on the toe-tapping, harp-heavy „Old Mail Train“), just great original songs, fine musicianship and a wealth of influences ranging from North American folk blues and country with Celtic and European styles. Ex-buskers all, the four wield their different combinations of guitar, drums, mandolin, banjo and the rest to beguiling effect. Stand-outs include the see-y'all later track „Taking a Taxi“, the poignant ballad „Rosalyn“, the chugging „Ticket to Vilnius“. Intelligent lyrics tell of loss and longing, love and friendship, and always, of packing bags and moving on. The world is a musician's oyster, after all." Jane Cornwell
Sächsische Zeitung, Germany, November 2007
Americanischer Sound mit Europaischer Seele - die Band Two Dollar Bash spielt genau das morgen Abend ab 21 Uhr in der „Alten Bäckerei“ am Grosshennersdorfer Sportplatz. Die vier Musiker von Two Dollar Bash stammen ursprunglich aus Schottland und Frankreich und vereinen in Ihren Songs Einflüsse aus dem nordamerikanische Folk, Blues und Country, aber auch Keltischer und europäischer Stilrichtungen. Unplugged und bis zu vier Stimmen fasst Two Dollar Bash der intuitiven und expressiven Spielfreude freien Lauf. Ihr Handwerk haben die Bandmidglieder bei längeren Aufenthalt in Dublin, Prag und Grenoble in verschiedenen Folk-, Punk-, Rock- und Swingbands erlernt. Die Erfolge der Band können sich sehen lassen. Im September 2005 gewann Two Dollar Bash den „Rising Legend Award“ des 30. Old Time Country & Traditional Music Festival in Missouri Valley (USA). 2006 wurden sie als eine von vier Bands weltweit für ein Showcase zur “International Country Night” auf der Popkomm in Berlin ausgewählt. 2007 begann mit Auftritten in Irland, Belgien und Deutschland, gefolgt von einer ausgedehnten Tour durch die USA und Kanada auf den renommierten Musikfestivals South by Southwest in Austin (Texas) und der Canadian Music Week in Toronto.
Rootstime magazine, Belgium, September 2007
De heren van Two Dollar Bash spelen al sinds 15 jaar samen in verschillende
combinaties. Heden ten dage verblijft de bende in Berlijn terwijl er toch
geen enkele Duitser te bekennen valt in de groep. Hun landen van oorsprong
zijn Schotland (3 leden uit Glasgow) en Frankrijk (één bandlid
uit Parijs). Dit notoire gezelschap bestaat uit Tony Rose (gitaar, zang),
Matt de Harp (mandoline, harp, gitaar, zang), Mark Mulholland (banjo,
mandola, gitaar, zang) en Joe Armstrong (gitaar, bas, zang). Zoals je
ziet: allemaal gitaristen en zangers en zo treden ze ook meestal op (zie
foto), mooi naast elkaar zittend met elk een gitaar (of banjo) en een
microfoon. Hun repertoire omvat een hele resem muziekstijlen zoals country,
blues, folk, bluegrass, swing en rock’n’roll. In september
2005 wonnen ze de “Rising Legend”-award op het Country and
Traditional Music Festival in Missoury Valley, Iowa. Vorig jaar deelden
ze de affiche nog met namen als Patti Smith, Snow Patrol en Antony and
the Johnsons op een groot popfestival in Engeland. De heren zijn uitstekende
muzikanten die beïnvloed werden door de Noordamerikaanse folk, blues
en countrymuziek maar die toch een eigenheid meegeven aan de originele
nummers die ze op hun twee albums “Two Dollar Bash” en “On
The Road” voor de toehoorders etaleren. Op het debuutalbum “Two
Dollar Bash” van vorig jaar zit de cowboysound vervat in “Old
Mail Train” en “The Devil And The Angel” en de ballads
“Taking A Taxi”, “One Day I’ll Be Gone”,
“Rosalyn” en “Ticket To Vilnus” vertellen over
reizen, over de liefde en over vriendschap. Twee coversongs op dit album
: “White Freight Liner Blues” van Townes Van Zandt en “Mountain
Song” van Louisiana-singer-songwriter Jimmy Bozeman. Ook de nieuwe
CD “On The Road” gaat op de ingeslagen weg voort. 13 songs
waarvan 11 eigenhandig geschreven zijn en “Whisky” van Russ
Miller gecoverd wordt. “I Am A Pilgrim” is een traditional
in dit countrygenre die voortreffelijk gebracht wordt in een Springsteeniaanse
Nebraskaversie door Two Dollar Bash. Mijn favoriete songs op dit album
zijn “Put Your Hand In Mine” en “Wayward One”,
beiden geschreven door Mark Mulholland en de New Orleans-cajunversie van
“Roulez-Roulez” met mondharmonica en wasbord, geschreven door
Matt de Harp, die ook verantwoordelijkheid heeft voor het mooie “So
Blue” en het al even mooie “Time To Go” (met heerlijke
banjoriffs). Two Dollar Bash is een gezellige bende die rustig en ongestoord
verder bouwt aan een muzikale carrière die spoedig wel eens zou
kunnen worden verder gezet in Amerika, het thuisland voor dit muziekgenre.
www.dorfdisco.de, Germany, November 2007
Es gibt sie noch, diejenigen, deren Welt schon morgens schlecht und unverändert gegen einen ist, gleich was man dagegen unternimmt. Diese, im amerikanischen als "Country" bekannte Sichtweise der Dinge ist auch die von Two Dollar Bash. Kein Lied in dem nicht von irgendeinem Trübsal oder Unglück die Rede ist, kein Zustand, der nicht von heilloser Leere und deren unvermeintlichen Abrutschen in Alkoholismus zeugt. Und wenn man schon unter einem Wolken verhangenen Himmel auf die Sonne wartet, dann tut man dies als gestandener Mann, dem nicht viel anhaben kann, keine unglückliche Liebe und auch kein tragisches Schicksal. Denn anhänglich sein, oder gar jemanden auf die Nerven fallen, das ist das Letzte was der dieser Haltung innewohnenden Ehrenkodex vorschreibt. Und so leben und spielen Two Dollar Bash abseits jeder Beachtung durch die Medien ihren Country und Folk vor ein paar Berliner Gleichgesinnten in den gleichen dunkelgrauen Stoffmänteln und klobigen Schuhen, deren Welt längst vom Fortschritt aufgefressen wurde. Was bleibt ist diese traurig schöne Mundharmonika, das durchgehende schwirren der Westerngitarre, das ab-und-zu anziehende Banjo und das nur selten, und wenn dann zart zu vernehmende Schlagzeug neben den ehrlichen, vom vielen Zigaretten, Bier und Whisky geschmirgelten Stimmen von Tony Rose, Mark Mulholland, Matt de Harp und Joe Armstrong. Gott hab sie selig will man sagen, wäre diese schon zweite CD in einem Jahr nicht so herausragend gut, dass sie damit bis nach Nord Amerika touren, auf das South by Southwest Festival eingeladen werden, während ihnen in Berlin gerade mal ein Gig vor 10 Freunden im English Bookstore Friedrichshain bleibt.
Twangfest, Nürnberg, festival announcement
Properganda Magazine, UK
Organically sprouted from an early 90s Prague-based acoustic band with the wonderfully evocative moniker The Oul Bogwarriors, Two Dollar Bash are three Scots and a Frenchman who intuitively pick up on the nuances of American country, folk and rock that can trace a direct lineage back to the folk music of their own countries. They have a natural instinct for simple, haunting melodies, with narratives revolving around road trips, ailing relationships and the eternal internal battle of good and evil. The Devil and the Angel is a beguilingly old-fashioned up-beat lament about one man’s fight to be good in the face of temptation in the shape of whisky and women that would not be out of place on an early Johnny Cash record.
Although they have earned those button-badges by immersing themselves in the music and imagery of rural America, their own urban roots and the individual members’ foray into wistful indie and dirty rock’n’roll occasionally cheekily pop their heads over the parapet. Mark Mulholland’s inventory of “a packet of biscuits, an old tin of beans, a sackful of memories and a handful of dreams” sounds more like the contents of Belle & Sebastian’s tour bus than the cargo of a wagon-train, while the exuberance put into their take on Townes van Zandt’s White Freight Liner Blues reveals a band who could just as seamlessly knock out a Stones or Stooges tune with the same aplomb.
Mulholland’s fragile, Dylan-tinged vocals sit comfortably next
to Tony Rose’s deeper, more authoritative tones, but both pin down
the emotional intensity that this kind of music thrives on. Just because
it’s been done before doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done
again, and again, if you really mean it".
"Next up at Rancho Relaxo came Two Dollar Bash. Comprised of three guys
from Glasgow and one from Paris who are all currently living in Berlin,
it was a bit intriguing that their sound is self-described as folky americana.
With harmonicas, guitars, and mandolins at hand, their songs were of an
ever-changing style. First they had a classic country western sound, and
then they morphed to old time rock and roll sung in French, before settling
Date review added: Tuesday, January 02, 2007