I recently received a new cd from the band Gooey from Chicago. They actually have a fine pedigree with members from the band the Wrightwally’s. Juan Avila is the main songwriter and singer and he does a great job with these jangly, pop tunes. How a “regular” guy from Chicago can sound like the Finn Brothers is beyond me? They are part of a great bill at the Abbey Pub in Chicago on Oct. 20. They share the stage with the Radio Nationals who will bring their twangy americana sound from Seattle to Chicago. Check out the songs below from Gooey’s self-titled debut and Radio Nationals’ The Place You Call Home:
Archive for September, 2004
And this didn’t work out?! How come? Anyway they had a good run and we all wished them well but recently Clair Danes admitted an affair with her co-star Billy Crudup who then had to dump his pregnant wife. It’s not pretty. Hopefully Ben Lee can use it to benefit his music. Here are a couple of songs from Ben Lee including “Float On” borrowed from Music (For Robots). This is a Modest Mouse song that I’m not familiar with, I’m not a big fan of Modest Mouse. I just don’t get ‘em. But I like Ben Lee’s Version alot. The other two Ben Lee tracks are from Something To Remeber Me By that came out in ’97 on Grand Royal.
This was a shocker for me too but it’s true – two of the country’s best singer-songwriters were married recently (within the last several years). Again this one makes sense, Iris Dement has made a name for herself singing about her life growing up on a farm, her topics for songs have branched out from there. Greg Brown also sings of the rural life and the intrusion of the city on the country. He too lives on a farm. They are both tremendous live performers and will both bare their soul to an audience, to the extent that last time I saw Iris she couldn’t finish a new song she’d written about her mother because of her tears. Here’s a couple from both Greg Brown and Iris Dement. They all comment one way or another on the pace of modern life, rural life or urban sprawl.
Iris Dement from The Way I should
Iris Dement from My Life
No Time To Cry
The next week or so will feature singers who are married to other singers (or performaers). It will feature Victoria Williams (has been married to two singers), Lyle Lovett, Iris Dement, Ben Lee and maybe more if people add suggestions to the comments page.
Victoria Williams was married to singer Peter Case for 6 years in the 80′s. It’s not too surprising since there is a similarity in the music that they both create. Victoria Williams is an unusual singer for many reasons. Her delivery is very unique and her content matter is often unusual (nature, dogs, friends who have passed away). Even though I’m a big fan sometimes I find her style too hard to listen to. Victoria was diagnosed with M.S. late in life and has been suffering from it ever since. She moved to the desert hoping that would help, the first Sweet Relief album was for her, with all of the proceeds going towards her health care costs. She continues to tour and perform with The Creekdippers (with Mark Olson formerly of the Jayhawks). Here’s a couple of songs from her 1990 release Swing The Statue and a couple from her ’94 disc Loose.
Swing The Statue
Why Look At The Moon
TarBelly ANd Featherfoot
When Harry Went To Heaven
When We Sing Together
Happy To Have Known Pappy
Peter Case is one of America’s great songwriters. He was a member of both The Nerves and The Plimsouls. When The Plimsould broke up he went in a different direction and became a singer-songwriter intent on telling story’s often inspired by his hobolike lifestyle. Here’s one song each from three Peter Case solo records:
Dream Syndicate was one of the seminal indie bands of the 80′s. They had a slightly pschadelic sound and were leaders in LA’s Paisly Underground movement. Steve Wynn eventually closed up shop and ventured out on his own collaborating with members of The Silos, House of Freaks and David Roback of Mazzy Star. As I mentioned below he also worked with Giant Sand. Poking around the internet for the Giant Sand posts below I found Wynn’s comprehensive web site with many mp3 rarities. Below are two Steve Wynn tracks from his solo records and one cover of Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey”.
The 1990′s started with a bang for Giant Sand. They released one of their best records to date with Swerve. It’s chock full of guest stars with Chris Cacavas (Green On Red), Steve Wynn (from Dream Syndicate), Julianne Hatfield, and Poi Dog Pondering. Three songs from Swerve are available below, they are “Can’t Find Love”, “Some Kind Of”, and “Trickle Down System”
Ramp is another protypical Giant sand record. It features the classic lineup of Howe Gelb, Joey Burns, John Convertino, Paula Brown and Indiosa. Burns and Convertino went on to form Calexico, Paula Brown was/is Howe’s wife and Indiosa is his 5 year old daughter. Victoria Williams , Pappy Allen and Rainer were guests on Ramp. Each song has something going for it on Ramp, but the two below show the extremes of the Giant Sand sound at this point. “Romance of Falling” is a great rocker while “Wonder” is sung at a whisper with only acoustic guitar.
There is an online record store called Miles of Music (MOM for short). They don’t have every title like Amazon but they do have every significant alt-country, americana, bluegrass and roots title that you’ll ever need. They carry lots of self-released and micro indie cds. It’s a great place to explore because thier editors have already done a lot of the work in whittling down the selection. I found Nels Andrews there among others. Like Giant Sand, Nels is based in the southwest; Albuquerque, New Mexico to be specific. And like Giant Sand you can hear the desert creep into his songs. Below are three songs from his debut Sunday Shoes:
If you knew anything about me you’d know I love Giant Sand. Early tunefull Giant Sand, middle period experimental Giant Sand and late period noisy Giant Sand. I love Howe Gelb solo records and Giant Sand’s rythm section spinoff discs (Calexico). There are so many great or interesting or challenging songs, ballads, rockers, duets with his wife or daughter, slow country, instrumentals and blues that this post will be in at least two parts. The first part is early Giant Sand 84-88 or so. The first two tracks are taken from a Homestead Records (Sonic Youth, Big Black, Nick Cave, Big Dipper, The Chills, Beat Happening etc) release called The Love Songs from ’88 (if you were alive and buying music in 1988 you know that Homestead was the label).
The next two are from a best of disc on Demon Records put out in ’89. But the two songs below are from ’85. These early songs are Giant Sand’s most accessable, later period Giant Sand got a lot more eclectic sounding and difficult to immediately grasp. Like many great American bands often it took a European label to truly appreciate the talent that they possessed. Giant sand is no exception and you can find many early releases on European imprints.
The two best things about creating a blog are finding old music you haven’t listened to but stands the test of time and sharing it with other people and finding new music (actively looking for…) on the web. Blogging forces someone who already spends too much time listening to music to do it even more. So I was happy to find some mp3′s on the web that fit into my criteria. Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter are on Barsuk Records (home of Rilo Kiley and John Vanderslice) and from these song selections they play weepy alt-country, Jesse Sykes has a great smoky/smooth voice and she has collababorated on her new record with Whiskeytown founding member Phil Wandscher. It’s amazing that from Whiskeytown you got Ryan Adams, The Damnwells and now this. Here’s a song from her new record oh, my girl and one from a previous record Reckless Burning:
The best Tiny Lights record by far is their release on Gaia Records entitled Hazels Wreath. Tiny Lights was kind of a pyschadelic folk rock band from NJ. They actually had Jane Scarpantoni on cello who has since been featured on ebery single indie rock record needing cello. One of the best things about the band was that before you saw them at Maxwells the lead singer could be your waitress in the front room. This was almost as good as buying wine from the guy from the Mekons at Elston Wine Discount in Chicago. Good luck finding the cd it seems out of print. Here are some great songs from that disc:
I was mentioning The Feelies to someone yesterday so I decided to dig out my Feelies cd’s from the late 80′s. I think of The Feelies as part of the seminal late 80′s scene in NY/NJ, their contemporaries were The Fleshtones, Galaxie 500 and Tiny Lights. The Feelies played fast and loud taking the energy of punk but redirecting it into nerdy rock. The Feelies were pretty influential in the late 80′s they originally signed to Stiff Records in 1980, their debut was released on cd by a German label then they signed to Coyote Records (distributed by Twin/Tone) and then Coyote was distributed by A&M Records. They were one of the first bands that we deemed hip that signed to a major label. I’ve got some songs from Crazy Rhythms and from their A&M debut Only Life.
Over The Rhine for me was a mysterious band. I had several of their recordings and enjoyed them alot but never looked into their story. In fact they were a mystery to me me – from their sound I assumed they were from Europe or Canada. Well now that this Blog thing came along I have to know at least a little about a band before I post. So it turns out Over The Rhine is from Cincinnatti Ohio of all places. They have tons of famous friends including the Cowboy Junkies, Ron Sexsmith and Sara Mclachan. They have a bunch of records out including a 2003 release I just brought called Ohio. It’s a double disc and is really representative of their sound – I heartily reccommend it. Here are some songs that were posted to their website – they are some of their fans favorite songs. Check back here for some songs from their new release OHIO.
Their Kids Song:
Most Uncle Tupelo fans know that the bands two main singers and songwriters were Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Since the surprise ascension of Wilco (led by Jeff Tweedy) it seems that Jay Farrar has been somewhat left behind. But he continues to release excellent albums highlighted by his trademark singing style. Here are three songs available for download on his website. “Out On The Road” is from 2003 Terroir Blues. “Damn Shame” is from a 2002 ep and V”oodoo Candle” from 2001′s Sebastopol.
Greg Trooper is another one of these artists floating below the radar. For whatever reason he’s not on the a-list of singer-songwriters, at least he wasn’t on my list until Floating. On his 2003 release floating he emerged from his typical singer-songwriterness to an album that eclipses that genre and it’s at times wishy-washy sound and production. Floating is more of a complete album with a more muscular sound and more dynamic instrumentation than his work in the past. When Dar Williams (or even Bob Dylan back in the day) attempted this they were scorned by some in the folk world but for Greg Trooper this is the best he’s ever sounded. Track 1 is called “The Road So Long” and it’s the perfect driving song, if you’re not singing along to the chorus after a listen or two you can get your money back. Track 5 is called “Hummingbird” and as near as I can tell it’s about a father that had to stop playing his guitar and grow up (The Hummingbird was a guitar released by Gibson in 1960 go here for more info) Gibson Hummingbird info
Way too busy today to host my own song selections. Instead there are two brand new songs from Andrew Bird (used to be in Andrew Bird’s Bowl of Fire). Andrew Bird used to be on Ryko and I guess they found out he has no commercial potential (ie he doesn’t suck) because now he’s been picked up by Ani Difranco’s label Reighteous Babe Records. And while I’m not the hugest Ani fan she does have good taste in music. Andrew Birds Bowl of Fire records in the past have been a melding of hot jazz, folk and rock. I think now that he is just Andrew Bird he is coming accross more as a singer-songwriter which is ok by me. Here’s two songs from his latest release Weather Systems “Lull” and “Sovay”:
Is it because they ryme? Is it because of the climate? What is it that creates so many amazing singer-songwriters? Ellis Paul is a Boston based singer-songwriter who usually affects all who hear him. Everyone I know hears Ellis and then loves Ellis. So maybe we’re all wrong but there is something about Ellis Pauls songs and delivery that is one of a kind. The first three songs below are from his latest release Speed of Trees. “Speed of Trees” is the title track and explaines how slow he moves when he is around his loved one. The second is called “Breaking Through The Radio” and it describes a fans near obsession with a band. “Maria’s Beautiful Mess” is a mystery to me I’ve heard it a hundred times but still haven’t followed the story. The last song below is taken from Ellis 2 disc live album, the song is called “Converstions With a Ghost” and it is just that. Coincidentally this last song is a duet with Patty Griffin who I mention in the previous post and who happens to be from Austin.
I was going to put something up from my collection maybe Ellis Paul, Lucinda Williams, or Patty Griffin until I came across Joe Henry Mp3′s on the Anti website. These two songs are from Henry’s 2003 release Tiny Voices. What I like about Joe Henry is the fact that he can write the perfect pop song but recently he’s stuck to making more experimental recordings mixing ethereal sounds with jazz and folk/roots. He can make straight ahead accessible music but chooses not to; fitting then that he is on Anti Records the home of Tom Waits, Neko Case, Nick Cave and Elliot Smith. There is a great review at Allmusic.com where they give Tiny Voices 4.5 stars.
Perhaps the least well known folkie with consistently the best music may be Dave Moore. He records infrequently on Red House Records. His last record and the one I’m most familiar with is called Breaking Down To Three. In the past he has worked with Greg Brown and appeared on Prairie Home Companion. Every one of the songs on this record could be posted here, they each have their considerable merits. But the ones I respond to the most are “Mr. Music” which is a great commentary on the music business and “All The Time In The World” about the death of his toddler daughter (prepare yourselves it may well be the saddest song you’ll ever here).
Like We Had All The Time In the World
Although there is only one hour of morning left here in chicago I thought this song, which I first heard on someone elses blog, was perfect for Monday morning. Apparently two of the guys in this three piece are in the band Railroad Jerk. This means nothing to me – how about you? The vocalist as well as the upbeat message of the song reminds me most of Jonathan Richmond. The song is “Life Is Still Sweet” by White Hassle, provided by Orange Recordings website (check it out I’ll be there soon too).