Archive for January, 2005

Another Exclusive – Kelly Joe Phelps’ New Live Disc

Monday, January 31st, 2005

Kelly Joe Phelps has long been one of the most talked about acoustic bluesmen in the Pacific Northwest. He’s got cred in the blues world and indie world too. He can play hundred year old blues tunes and make them his own or he sing one of his own songs and floor people as diverse as Steve Earl, Cameron Crowe, Bill Frisell and Tim O’Brien.


His new live disc Tap The Red Cane Whirlwind is going to be released on Feb 1 on Rykodisc. Kelly recorded this record in his two favorite haunts McCabe’s and The Freight and Salvage. These are very intimate and soft songs. Here are two songs from this upcoming disc.

Right click and save as and then add song title and .mp3

I Am The Light Of The World

Waiting For Marty

Click here to preorder from

Dixie Dirt – Deserving of a more grandiose post

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

But it’s Sunday and this is all I’ve got time for. Dixie Dirt have a couple albums available, in fact one is available as a free download from Lynn Point Records here.


Purchase their newest record, On Our Way Like We Never Met, by clicking here to get to Makeshift Music.

Anyway here’s a couple of songs from their website, mostly stripped down, melancholy music:

Why Do You Have To Leave [Download]

Fall Of The Roman Empire [Download]

Eraser [Download]

Jenni Albert – Some Gentle Morning Music

Sunday, January 30th, 2005

Jack from Revolution In The Head left a comment that he needed good morning music so I found some more for this groggy Saturday morn. I’d like to tell you something special about Jenni Albert but her bio is inconclusive although her music is not. Through 4 independent releases Jenni Albert has been honing her jazz/folk chops.


Heaven [Download]

Simple Mood [Download]

All The Nothings [Download]

Baltimore [Download]

You can buy all of her releases directly from Jenni Albert, just click here.

When the folk show at KBCS in Seattle and WFMT in Chicago proclaim someone the next big thing I listen

Saturday, January 29th, 2005

In 2004 both stations gave that honor to Joe Crookstan and his album Fall Down As The Rain. This is a little bit precious and too traditional for me but I’m guessing many will like these intimate personal songs from Joe Crookstan.

The Sylvan Song [Download]

The Good Stuff [Download]

Mostly [Download]

Little Pink [Download]

Some French Music By Coralie Clement (exclusive)

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Coralie Clement made a splash in 2002 with the release of her debut record Salle Des OPas Purdue now she’s back in 2005 with her followup Bye Bye Beaute. I know next to nothing about french music so maybe La Blogotheque or David F can fill you in more. Her bio and refer to french singers I’ve never heard as a reference. There aren’t many American singers or many in popular culture that you can compare her breathy vocals with. I could say Madeline Peyroux or maybe even Patricia Barber but I’m not sure if that’s even close.


Here’s a first listen to 3 tracks from her 2005 release due out in Febuary 2005 on Nettwerk America.




Click here to pre-order from

Daniel Johnston Calls Yo La Tengo At WFMU Studios And Performs Speedy Motorcycle

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

Blog Up a great new French blog has posted my #1 moment of live radio. Sunday nights at WFMU in E. Orange NJ bands would come in and play live. One auspicious Sunday Yo La Tengo was in the studio and this was sometime around the release of their breakout record New Wave Hotdogs and Daniel Johnston called up on the telephone to sing lead vocals over the phone for the band. The song they chose was a Daniel Johnston number called Speeding (or speedy) Motorcycle. It’s goosebump time I swear to you.


Here’s the link to Blog Up’s post and two versions of the song, both are great but the first one is the version I’m referring to.

mic harrison (from the VRoys and Superdrag)

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

As far as I van tell Mic Harrison has played with the Vroys and Superdrag. His 2004 release is on Valley and his website links to two songs that showcase his full band alt-country sound. Guests on this record include Todd Steed from that Nashville Tells project and Doug Gillard of Guided By Voices. Click here to purchase Pallbearers Shoes.


Something To Let You Down [Download]

River City Bluff [Download]

Hole In My Heart [Download]

Syd Straw has always had a lot going on…

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

Sometimes I wish she would just focus on her music and put out a new album every 15 months or so like everybody else. As it is we’re approaching 10 years since War And Peace came out on Capricorn Records. Syd Straw started out as a backup singer with Pat Benatar and then joined that alternative super group The Golden Palominoes (there have been many incarnations but she was in the first with Michael Stipe and co). Her backing band at times has been The Skeletons (who also were the Morrells).


She’s done work in TV, both as an actor and a singer. But once again it’s been her music that has really struck a chord, that and her live shows. I’ll never forget the record release party for War And Peace at Double Door when she stormed off the stage to yell at loud people at the bar or later when she accosted Wesley Willis for being too disruptive. Anyway here’s 3 songs from War And Piece:

Right click and save as songtitle and .mp3

The Toughest Girl In The World


Almost As Blue

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Jules Shear update and exclusive first listen from new unreleased album

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

I was contacted by Jules Shear’s manager with an update on Jules and what he’s working on. Jules is taking a sabbatical in Asheville, NC from his actual home in Woodstock, NY. He’s been working on and apparently has just finished a new record. I’m thrilled to be able to present an unfinished, just guitar and voice, song from this upcoming release. It’s called “Bad Connection”


Bad Connection (Right click and save as song title and .mp3)

Here’s a link to Jules Shear’s entire catalog (more or less) on Amazon

This is the first in a series of posts featuring exclusive first listens from new records by The Grascals, Coralie Clement, Ethan Daniel Davidson, Kelly Joe Phelps, Robbers On High Street and The Impossibel Shapes so check back soon.

Todd Steed and The Sons of Phere – Knoxville Tells (with the only known song about Tina Wesson)

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

Todd Steed and his Tennessee friends put out a record called Knoxville Tells that seems to be a time and space capsule about East Tennessee. Here’s the whole story of the making of the record courtesy of No Depression.

The record is available on tiny Lynn Point Records, they’ve been kind enough to put up three full length mp3′s to sample and from this taste I think the whole thing is probably essential listening. With songs about the malls in Knoxville, seeing Tina Wesson from Survivor at the convenience store, factories closing and even Peyton Mannings Shirt this is very topical stuff about one place at one certain point in time. Here’s 5 from Knoxville Tells (appearences by Tim Lee, Scott Miller and Mic Harrison):


New Knoxville Girl [Download]

East Town Mall [Download]

North Knoxville [Download]

Tina Wesson [Download]

Nobody Listens To Me [Download]

Jules Shear is someone I’m not quite sure about

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

Who is he? I wasn’t exactly sure until I wrote this piece. I was always confusing him with Harry Shearer or was it Jools Holland. set me straight. Jules Shear is a singer-songwriter who has garnered tremendous critical acclaim throughout his career but whose songs have only been hits once being performed by other singers.


I first encountered Jules when Big Boss Sounds came out in 1988 under the band name Reckless Sleepers, this was on IRS and was the one release by Reckless Sleeper (Jules and The Cars’ Elliot Easton). Previousely he had been the leader of Jules And The Polar Bears. I never had cable in my formative years but if you did you’ll recognize Jules as the first host of MTV’s Unplugged. He left after 13 episodes.

In the 90′s he’s released several well received records but the one I love and the one that would be a desert island disc for me is Between Us (which is an album of duets). There are songs with Ron Sexsmith, Roseanne Cash, Patty Griffin, Freedy Johnston and many more – 15 songs in all. Here are just a couple of my favorites:


The Last In Love (with Paula Cole)

It’s All Over But The Smoke (with Ron Sexsmith)

Betrayel Takes Two (with Angie Hart)

Right click and save as, add file name and .mp3.

Music Blogs Heading In The Wrong Direction (Editorial)

Monday, January 24th, 2005

I jumped all over a fellow blooger today and that wasn’t right. But I think this free ipod, free pc referral scam is bad news. I see it popping up on a lot of blogs that I like. People who visit the blog are begged to help the blogger win one product or another (or even to help pay for the hosting costs or buy a t-shirt). The visitor to the blog is guilted in a way to take part as they are receiving free music by visiting and in exchange the least they could do is help the blogger win an ipod shuffle.

We write our blogs to promote music not to profit from the traffic that comes our way because of the music. If you are hosting music “illegally” (i.e. without the band or labels consent) and most of us are, it’s simply not right to then try to profit in any way from the exposure and traffic that the music you linked to provides.

Posting music illegally is one thing if you truly feel that doing so will help the band or label you are promoting. But taking part in all of these scams is just giving the RIAA the amunition it needs to shut us down. Perhaps this is alarmist but as we all know Moistworks was just recently forced to shut down…who’s next?

Now back to the music with AJ Roach

Monday, January 24th, 2005

Grew up in the Appalachian mountains, his bio stresses that when he sings about the mountains and Appalchia it’s because he experienced that culture firsthand growing up. I’m very impressed by the three tracks that are available for download from his site and I am surprised I’ve never come accross AJ Roach before. His one release is called Dogwood Winter and is available through his site.


AJ’s got a great website with a great links section that I will be stealing ideas from all week long. Many of the artists he links to also appeare on Dogwood Winter; including Laurie Lewis, Nels Cline and Noe Venable.


Here’s three from Dogwood Winter:

Granddaddy [Download]

Mountain Heir [Download]


Different Song, Same Title Theme!? (13 songs by Boo Hewerdine, The Bible, Dramarama or John Easdale)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2005

The first of the “same song title, different song” series is “Last Cigarette” by Boo Hewerdine and Dramarama. Boo Hewerdine was the lead singer of the British band The Bible. My impression of The Bible is that they were a precursor to bands like James, Oasis and others. I first came upon Boo with a duet record he did with Darden Smith called Evidence. It was a strange, beautiful record thematically focusing on the southwestern United States but sung by an Englishman and an Austinite.


Dramarama had a semi-hit with “Anything, Anything” and then achieved some fame and glory as one of the bands on last seasons Bands Reunited on VH1 (don’t you just love that show). Here’s both of their song “Last Cigarette”.


Last Cigarette Boo Hewerdine

Last Cigarette Dramarama

Right click on any of these songs and then add song title and .mp3

Bonus Songs:

Boo Hewerdine Baptist Hotel

Baptist Hospital

Song For a Friend

Boo Hewerdine and Darden Smith Evidence

Evidence [Download]

Bell, Book And Candle [Download]
(a truly beautiful song!)

I Can’t Believe My Eyes [Download]
(a new song from Boo only available online)

The Bible (Boo Hewerdine’s first band)

Crystal Palace [Download]
(I think this was their minor hit)

Red Flag [Download]

Bonus Songs Dramarama Stuck In Wonderamaland


70′s TV

California Uber Alles [Download]
(new song from John Easdale, lead singer of Dramarama)

Everybody Dies [Download]
(another new song from John Easdale)

Josh Ritter Live

Sunday, January 23rd, 2005

I’ve become a big fan of Josh Ritter. I’m eagerly awaiting a new release. Until that comes here are some live tracks from an excellent Josh Ritter Fan Site. These may be some of the new songs to be featured on the upcoming record.


The Right Time [Download]

Monster Ballad [Download]

Lilian [Download]

Here’s “Kathleen” from Hello Starling

Kathleen [Download]

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A little Sun Volt (not really)

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

It’s the Novemeber Allstars. 15 inches of snow in Chicago and some downed servers means a very short post today.

church shot

Waiting [Download]

Feet In The Sands [Download]

Tin Hat Trio ( the opposite of Norah Jones)

Friday, January 21st, 2005

While I was listening to Jesse Harris I discovered that members of Tin Hat Trio, Bill Frisell and Norah Jones contibuted to his latest Verve release While The Music Lasts. These guests may well be the best part of this record. Like Norah Jones, Jesse Harris can sound sublime on first listen but there’s little of substance on repeated listens. Here’s two songs from While… the first with Rob Burger of Tin Hat Trio and the second with guitarist Bill Frisell. The guests and the pleasant vocals make this almost worthwhile just very unoriginal.

Right click, add song title and .mp3


Open Your Eyes

Meanwhile the opposite can be said for the San Francisco folk, chamber, jazz, rock, experimental outfit Tin Hat Trio. Tin Hat Trio, like the best music on Songs:illinois, jumps and even ignores genre boundaries in the pursuit of an original sound. Tin Hat Trio are impossible to pigeonhole within one release or even over their whole career. This may be why their first two releases were on a classical imprint (Angel Records) and their latest is on one of the most original (read bizarre) labels currently active – Ropeadope.


Here’s three from The Rodeo Eroded on Ropeadope. “Willow Weep For Me” is sung by Willie Nelson:

Right click, add song title and .mp3

Fear Of The South

Holiday Joel

Willow Weep For Me

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Magnolia Summer – Summer Moon (Just typing that warms me up on this cold Chicago day)

Friday, January 21st, 2005

This St Louis area band is led by multi-instumentalist Chris Grabau (who is also in

Waterloo). Magnolia Summer recently released their debut Levers And Pulleys and followed that up with touring and a spot at 2004 SXSW. They were also nominated for three awards at the annual St. Louis Riverfront Times Music Awards. Here’s Summer Moon plus two more from Levers and Pulleys. Buy it here [Download]

msummer window 2

Summer Moon [Download]

Pushing The Needle To Hard [Download]

Wish You Well [Download]

Can I make it more than a week without mentioning Greg Brown?

Thursday, January 20th, 2005

It seems like the answer is no. Trailer Park Records has a new release by The Pines who are essentially Benton Ramsey and David Huckfelt. Benton is the son of Bo Ramsey, Greg Brown’s long time guitarist, collaborator and producer. As a result Bo is featured on this record, as is RedHouse Records artist and Iowa City resident Dave Moore.

Stevenson Hotel Breakdown [Download]

Dave Olson – Another in the long line of excellent Iowa City singer-songwriters

Thursday, January 20th, 2005

What do they put in the water there anyway? Dave Olson was influenced by the two pillars of Iowa City folk-rock, Greg Brown and Bo Ramsey. He’s played with Neko Case, Big Sandy, Johnny Dowd, and Robbie Fulks. His debut is called #80 and can be purchased no here for only $10. Here’s two songs from #80:


Postcard [Download]

#80 [Download]