New song from Adam Remnant

July 14th, 2014

This is by no means a new song from Adam Remnant. He did just post it but it was recorded in 2009. It’s lofi and probably wasn’t meant for official release but frankly any chance I can get to listen to Adam I take. You may no Adam as the chief songwriter and frontman of the band Southeast Engine; due to a number of circumstances Adam says that band is no more. Good news is Adam is working on his first solo release. Hopefully you’ll hear it here first in the coming months.

Rock Salt & Nails [Download]

New music from Little Sur – “Ache”

June 11th, 2014

I’ve been adding “The Coast Towards Home” to every playlist and mix cd (yes I still make mix cd’s) for a year and a half since I first wrote about it here. Little Sur is the NYC band that is resposible for that slice of indie folk goodness and now they have a new 8 song album out called Modern Studies of Ancient Time. No one song on the new record jumps out like that one but taken as a whole the record is stark and gorgeous throughout. Lots of shimmering instrumentation and dreamy sounds – think Belle and Sebastian meets Cocteau Twins (not really but that’s all I’ve got for now).

“Ache” is the song that is growing on me. It’s mellowly epic (or epically mellow). Get the album here.

Ache [Download]

Carsie Blanton – “Laziest Girl In Town”

June 2nd, 2014

While I was exploring (read stalking) Devon Sproule’s Facebook page I saw a picture of her friend Carsie Blanton and it reminded me of how much I love her music. A few clicks later and I learned she has a new record due out in June called Not Old, Not New. It’s a jazz covers record. Usually I’m not a big covers guy – I’d rather hear original music. But since Carsie has already proven she can pen an amazing original (check out this one here) I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt and will assume there will be more originals right around the corner.

You can pre-order the new record on Bandcamp here.

Laziest Girl In Town [Download]

PS Yes, I know it’s been a long time between posts and this could very well be the last ever. We’ll have to wait and see.

Doug Paisley – “Strong Feelings” (No Quarter, Jan. 21)

January 27th, 2014

Doug Paisley was a bit of a revelation when I heard his 2010 release Constant Companion. For me he was something new but yet clearly an old soul. His sound is a blend of southern blue eyed soul and byrd’s era alt country. While comparisons to Dr. John, Ry Cooder, and The Band may not be completely accurate Paisley’s rich analog sound, deep resonant vocals and timeless lyrics are akin to all of these and many others.

The new album is called Strong Feelings and was released last week on No Quarter records. Here’s “What About Us” From the new record as well as “No One But You” from Constant Companion.

Impossibly Doug Paisley is not all over the interwebs or the music blogs. However you can find out more from our friends Hear Ya here and Aquarium Drunkard here.

What About Us? [Download]

No One But You [Download]

David Dondero – “This Guitar”

October 15th, 2013

David Dondero will always have a place on this little music blog. “Rothko’s Chapel” is one of my favorite songs and over 9 albums of original material David Dondero has always been able to capture what his life is like. The new album is called This Guitar and it’s that title song that I link to here. The song deals with David’s feelings for his guitar and how it (guitar, music, touring) has ruined and saved his life.

This Guitar [Download]

The Coloradas – “Big Empty” (Oct 22)

September 26th, 2013

Roy Davis sent me a tune off of the Coloradas new record Big Empty the other day. I am taken by the stark and lonely sound of the song “All I Can Do For Today”. I can’t describe the music of the Coloradas any better than the band itself:

It often sounds like the blues. It sometimes sounds like country music, back when country music sounded like itself. There are moments of mountain bluegrass, dark folk, and old time. The songs are written and earnestly delivered, re-interpreted as folk music, complete with fingerpicked guitars, clawhammer banjo, and soulful mandolin. There’s a pentecostal junkyard man, a soldier with a drinking problem, and a handful of first-person narratives.

You can pre-order the new record here right now.

All I Can Do For Today [Download]

Americana supergroup Willie Sugarcapps shines on self-titled debut

September 24th, 2013

So I’ve been a little bit out of it here at Songs:Illinois. Not a lot of posts but I’m still here. I guess I haven’t been paying a ton of attention to the roots music gossip either because I had not heard of the americana supergroup Willie Sugarcapps. Formed out of a singer-songwriter in-the-round that takes place at the Frog Pond in Silverhill Alabama by Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps, Corky Hughes and a duo called Sugarcane Jane.

Here’s their song “Oh, Colorado” from their new self-titled debut available here.

Summer’s Almost Over (new music from Tim Easton, Pokey Lafarge and Peter Cooper)

September 12th, 2013

It’s the summer and hard to get motivated to do blog posts with the sun shining here in Chicago. Nevertheless there are a couple of releases that should be on your radar but due to the state of music pr, the decline of radio, and the demise of music blogs I’m guessing that they are not.

Peter Cooper is a successful music journalist but first and foremost he is a wonderful singer songwriter. His new album Opening Day is his third… Here’s the title track:

Opening Day [Download]

Tim Easton has become a man about americana much like Eric Ambel before him. He’s a modern renaissance man; producing, playing on and collaborating with many of the greats in the genre. But it’s his own solo work that made a name for him and that is what continues to resonate. His new album is called Troubled Times and here is the retro title track:

Troubled Times [Download]

Finally Pokey Lafarge – what can you say about Pokey!? He’s very nearly a national treasure. His new self titled record is out now.

What The Rain Will Bring [Download]

Sam Baker – “Say Grace” (Aug. 27)

August 6th, 2013

It’s no secret how I feel about Sam Baker, it’s been 4 years since my stunt blog post on his record Cotton. To recap back in 2009 I said I would stop writing the blog unless people bought his new record. I was happy with the results and I’ve been back at the blog ever since. But a new record by Sam Baker is still a special day in the songs:illinois world. That’s because I’m constantly amazed by his music, by his off putting at times halting vocalese but as always it’s the songs and the characters that inhabit them that are most unforgettable (although on this record the band really steps forward!).

As I said the music on the new record Say Grace is spectacular. Sam produced this himself and claims it’s his most orchestrated record yet. Say Grace features Gurf Morlix, Anthony Da Costa on guitar, and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s drummer Rick Richards and more. Whether it’s the guitar freak out and accordion of “Beast” or the stark piano of “Tattooed Woman” or the simple finger-picked guitar (and equally simple sentiments) of “Isn’t Love Great” the arrangements and playing on this record stand out. Lyrically Sam is in complete command of his imagery.

On “Isn’t love Great” he juxtaposes imagery of “fishnet and leather” with a couple holding hands and words like “princess, gimp, and limp” with “isn’t love great” and “isn’t love grand”. The song is a parable which states that no matter what type of love people share it’s a lovely and wondrous thing. That’s not a theme that is easily shared in a way that doesn’t come across as either pompous of pretentious; here it’s neither.

On the song “Ditch” Sam examines the working class man and his troubles. With lines like “crawling back down in the ditch today”, “glad I got work, glad I got paid”, and this description of his wife “my wife thinks she and Taylor Swift were twins at birth, separated at birth” you get a pretty good mental image of this ditch diggers life.

“The Tattooed Woman” is an ode to unrequited love and “the tattoed woman that sleeps in my bed”. This is what Sam Baker says about this one with it’s imagery of rain and impending doom:

Unrequited desire

We recorded the piano (Steve Conn) in Nashville added drums (Rick Richards) vocal (me) second piano with effects (me) in Austin and guitar in Alberta (Anthony daCosta). The piece opens with a 17th century French melody then morphs into a meditation on the sleeping woman. It returns to the French melody in the bridge and in the outro I learned that melody as the hymn

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent

when I was a child.

I can’t possibly absorb the totality of this record nor can I say where it will stand in the Sam Baker’s cannon. But I’ll tell you what. I’m glad this was made, I’m glad there is someone like Sam Baker making music, and I’m glad I am able to share it with you. I guess I’d like to say grace for all of that.

The Tattooed Woman [Download]

Here’s the title track:

M. Lockwood Porter – “Judah’s Gone” (another Oklahoman made good – riyl John Moreland, John Fullbright)

August 2nd, 2013

I usually don’t let the madding crowd affect my judgement. But M. Lockwood Porter has been getting some attention for his debut solo record Judah’s Gone and I’m going to jump on the growing bandwagon. While it seems like Porter has appeared out of nowhere the fact is he’s been playing in bands since he was a high schooler in Oklahoma, a college student at Yale, and now a bay area resident. With his background as an okie farm boy and saddled with an ivy league education it’s no surprise that his songs are so well written. While his vocals may be rough around the edges that may endear him to me even more. On the title track his voice wavers in all the right places making the song more powerful. Pick up the whole record here via Bandcamp.

Judah’s Gone [Download]

Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers – “Malverde”

July 29th, 2013

One of the best compliments I can give a record is to say that it was very difficult choosing which song to share with you. That was the case with this new release from Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers. Should I go with a punk sounding song like “SHT YR FKN MTH MY DRLNG” or a more sedate song like “Tired” or maybe one with pedal steel like “Dead As A Doornail” for the americana fans out there.

How bout none of the above?! What I love about the new album Malverde is that it’s pretty hard to classify. I hear strains of Matthew Sweet, Violent Femmes, Jayhawks, Wilco, and probably Texas bands like Centro-matic and Spoon. “Our Love Is Real” is a great example of the band performing a song that feels bigger and better than a simple genre piece. It’s epic in a way that I typically don’t hear in a band that is as bootstrapped and indie as this one. You can buy the new record from Danny Rush and the Designated Drivers here via Bandcamp.

Our Love Is Real [Download]

OK I cheated and am slipping in this live version of “SHT YR FKN MTH MY DRLNG”

Update and another song from Seattle singer-songwriter Kevin Long and new record “Buena Vista”

July 22nd, 2013

I tried to like some of the big new releases out now and in the foreseable future. It’d make this blog easier if I could just suck it up and write about one of these records I got in the mail or in my inbox. But it’s an unheralded record I wrote about last month by a folksinger from Seattle that has me jazzed up again. I’d just much rather point you in the direction of a record like this that you may not have heard about than add my small voice to the cacophony of praise for someone with more of a “story” (Jason Isbell for example). Click here to read Kevin’s coda and his take on the need for a “story” in today’s music world.

“Colors and Hues” is a song off of Kevin Long’s new release Buena Vista; it has more of an indie folk sound and production than the first song I linked to from this record (here). If you’re going to buy one record why don’t you make it this one and support an artist that is struggling to make heartfelt and honest music in a day and age when that sort of introspection is rare.

Colors and Hues [Download]

Here’s kevin performing a cover of Fiona Apple’s song “I Know”

New Mando Saenz record – “Studebaker” (w/Kim Richey, Bobby Bare, Jr.)

July 5th, 2013

This is the third record by Nashville singer-songwriter Mando Saenz and it’s the third time I’ve covered his music. To my ears he’s one of the best lyricist working in “americana” as well as a distinctive singer. The new record sees Mando collaborating with the likes of Kenny Vaughan, Pete Finney, Jedd Hughes, Kim Richey, and Bobby Bare, Jr.

The song “Hard Time Tennessee” has all the elements you could want in an americana song: including references to blind men, stray dogs, and hard times. And I’m assuming that’s the masterful Kenny Vaughn on electric guitar. You can buy the new record Studebaker here now.

Hard Time Tennessee [Download]

Gregory Alan Isakov – “The Weatherman” (July 9)

July 4th, 2013

It’s been six years or more since I wrote about Gregory Alan Isakov’s debut record The Gambler (at the time I could only link to his MySpace page). In that time he’s gone from an undiscovered gem to an acclaimed critics darling with a small legion of faithful fans. Musically not too much has changed – his music still has that “gauzy layer of slight reverb that gives the songs below a hint of both mystery and maudlin sadness” that I mentioned in my original review. His songs are less intricate stories and more vignettes or scenes.

Here’s a song from his new record, his third, entitled The Weatherman.

The Universe

P.S. It’s been at least a month since I posted on here. I have no excuse except for the fact that I found nothing quite deserving of a post. My inbox is full of junk and even the “big name” releases have been a let down. I hope you’ll stick with me during this dry spell

Denison Witmer’s new self titled record hits the spot

May 31st, 2013

Something’s wrong in this world when Denison Witmer’s new record gets hardly a mention from hype machine’s selection of music blogs. This self-titled record, his 9th or his 10th depending on who you listen to, is a little lusher than past efforts and reminds me of Ron Sexsmith, Josh Rouse and company. Guests include labelmate Sufjan Stevens, William Fitzimmons and Dawn Landes.

You can stream the whole thing here at Bandcamp or buy the download, cd or lp.

Keep Moving Brother, Keep Moving Sister [Download]

Kevin Long’s new album “Buena Vista” (riyl James Taylor, Richard Shindell)

May 21st, 2013

Kevin Long is a Seattle based singer songwriter whose new record Buena Vista is out now. Kevin’s been compared to James Taylor by some; both for his rich vocals and his super sensitive songs (I would have gone with Richard Shindell but that’s just me). Live I imagine Kevin’s show is just him and his guitar but on this record the songs are imbued with a string section and on some a rhythm section.

You can download the new record here via Bandcamp. Check out the beautiful title track below.

Buena Vista [Download]

The Will Callers – “What Else Is Left?”

May 15th, 2013

The Will Callers are an Austin based band that combines the whole roots music genre into a big gumbo of folk, rock, and country. They’re basically a duo comprised of Jake Murphy and Daniel Slatton but on this recording they are joined by Austin man-about-town Scappy Judd Newcomb and Bukka Allen. The record is ably produced by Ray Wylie Hubbard.

The debut record from The Will Callers What Else Is Left is available now here via iTunes or here via Bandcamp.

House Of Falling Cards [Download]

John Moreland – “In The Throes” (Last Chance Records, June 11) (Riyl early Springsteen, Steve Earle)

May 14th, 2013

The fine folks at Nine Bulletts have already covered the new record In The Throes from John Moreland. And their impassioned post will not see its equal here. Although I do have an opinion or two about the music of John Moreland and the malaise of the average music fan.

I’m sure that a comparison to early Bruce Springsteen will not shock John Moreland and company. His songs are honest like Nebraska era Springsteen and his voice has that same slightly husky delivery. The boss obviously has millions of fans but do you think even half of 1 percent is ever going to hear of the music of John Moreland. I’m afraid not. And why is that. I guess you can blame the decline of radio (esp formats suitable for music like this), the unadventurous listener, and tv shows like The Voice that reward stellar vocal performances without any substance (would it kill them to have the artist perform an original song somewhere in the competition).

I don’t know the answer but I’m just glad there are still folks like John Moreland writing songs like these and performing them in dives and juke joints across the country. Preorder the new lp or cd here.

Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore [Download]

Alastair Moock’s new cd is filled with “Songs For The World’s Bravest Kids”

May 13th, 2013

This little blog rarely contributes much to the larger society. We don’t do any good works besides trying to spread the word about deserving artists. So when the chance came to both spread the word about Alastair Moock and point you in the direction of a great cause it was an easy post to write.

Last year one of Alastairs twin girls was diagnosed with Leukemia. They have been battling ever since. And one of the few ways Alastair knew how to help was through his music (and circle of musician friends). So he (along with his daughter Clio) put together an album of songs to help kids with cancer called Singing Our Way Through: Songs For The Bravest Kids. While you can buy the record; the plan is to use the record as a free resource for patients and pediatric oncology programs around the country. Therapists and child life specialists will be able to add this CD to their arsenal of tools aimed at helping kids cope with cancer.

You can buy the digital version of the record now here, or pre-order the cd here or just donate to the project here.

Here’s Alastair and Chris Smither performing the classic song of “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”

You’ve Got A Friend In Me [Download]

Them Duqaines pen ode to Austin honky tonk The White Horse

May 8th, 2013

All my favorite Austin bands play at a place called The White Horse. Whether it’s Ramsay Midwood or Mike and the Moonpies or national acts like Elana James they all wind up at White Horse in one way or another. Now one of the “house bands” have created an ode to the White Horse and I think it accurately describes the charms of this place.

Here’s Them Duqaines with the song “Over At The White Horse” which should be available on the band’s upcoming record.

It goes without saying that you should catch the band tonight at 10pm…where else…but at the White Horse in Austin, Tx.

Over At The White Horse [Download]